** The following tale is fiction and contains consenting sexual material involving teenaged boys.
If this kind of material is illegal where you are, if you are underaged, or if material of this sort offends you,
you are urged to turn back RIGHT NOW.  Otherwise please enjoy.

** As with all celebrity stories, this one is no different.  I do not know the members
of Dreamstreet, I've never met them, so this story is meant to imply nothing about their
sexual orientation.  This is FICTION, which means not real, so all you legal
types can mellow out and read.  That is why you're really here anyway, right? :)

** And if you're in the mood, drop by my website, The Chamber

As always questions and comments are very welcome.  Please send them to: twisted_dreemz@yahoo.com

Prelude <The Night After>

    That Friday night on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is something I know I'll remember forever.  It was my first date, something I was sure I'd never get to experience.  It was the first time I got to show my affection for a person and the first time somebody showed their affection for me, without me waking up all of a sudden and realizing the whole experience had been a dream.  It was my first kiss.  My first sweet kiss that I figured would only happen in my dreams because it was with a person I figured I'd only have in my dreams.  Guess they really can come true after all.

     ...But so can nightmares.

    That's why I'll never be able to forget what happened that Saturday morning, the day after the night on the Boardwalk.  I got the call at about 8:00 in morning from Drake.  I'd been so excited by what had happened the night before that I didn't get to sleep until 5:00 that morning.  He told me that something extremely serious had come up and that he and the guys had to head back to New York A.S.A.P.  The concert at Great America had been cancelled and he apologized for the sudden change in plans.  It was obvious in his tone of voice that the extremely serious "something" was not a good something.  I asked in a very roundabout way what it was, but all he told me was that he couldn't really say because he didn't really know himself.

     From that second forward I was wide awake and jumping on every phone call that came through the house before the first ring was all the way out.  I was thinking the worst, because I knew if it was something like a death, or someone getting hurt, Drake would've been able to tell me.  That meant whatever it was had to be somehow bigger and more worse.

     It was hard trying to keep my concern locked down.  I was worried about the guys.  I was worried about Chris.  He didn't call me at all that Saturday and I figured that if he got the chance he'd sneak and do it like he did before.  I kept that hope burning brightly as Saturday turned into Sunday and Sunday became Monday.  That being on my mind made school suck more than usual, and made the hours at work drag on twice as long.

    Hope that I would get a phone call died more and more each day and by the time Thursday rolled around I was ready to ask my father for Drake's number so that I could call and find out what was going on.  By Friday I was almost insane and decided that if I didn't get a call within the next two days I was going to ask for Drake's number and call.  Even if it seemed out of line to him for me to be calling like I'd known the group since forever, I didn't care.  My boyfriend was a part of that group and I wanted to make sure he was okay.

     It was Saturday at 8:00 in the morning when the phone rang and woke me up.  I had it by the third ring and answered with a groggy "hello?"  Hadn't been able to sleep that night either.  Insane.  Remember?
"Hi.  Um, is Brenden there?" asked an unsure voice.

     Unsure or not I recognized it instantly.  My eyes opened wide.  I was fully awake.
"Chris." I was already sure.  "Yeah, this is me."
"Hey.  I thought it was you, but I just wanted to make sure."
"Yeah, it's me.  You don't know how glad I am to hear your voice.  Is everything all right?"

     He sighed.
"I'm glad to hear yours too.  And no.  Things aren't."

     My heart sank.  Those were words I didn't want to hear from him.
"What's wrong?  Can you tell me?"

     He was quite for a beat or two.
"If I do, you have to swear that it stays between me and you.  I'm not supposed to tell anybody about this."
"I promise." I agreed.

     The majority of what he told me made sense.  Some of the things I was a bit hazy on.  I would put the entire conversation down as I remember it, but I made a promise, so all I can say is that the situation involved a legal claim that had been bought against Dreamstreet's producers for justified reasons.  It was getting ready to go through the court system and because of that, the group was sort of on hold.  All performances had been cancelled and work on the second album had been halted.

     We didn't really get to talk like we wanted to.  But he did get to tell me that he missed me and that he'd been thinking about me and our first date ever since they'd left.  I told him I was the same way and that I'd been worried sick about him and the guys.  He told me he'd keep in contact as much as possible and that hopefully things would be cleared up and set right soon so that the group could get back to business.

    He then told me that if it was all right with me he was working on a way to get me up there with him for at least the beginning of the summer.  I told him I'd love to come out there with him, so he said he'd keep working on it.  With that we told each other I love you and hung up.  I love you.  Hmmm.  Three words I thought I'd never get to say or hear.

     Minutes turned into days and days turned into weeks.  Chris did his best to keep in contact with me and our first conversations were happy ones.  He'd figured out how he was going to get me up there with him and had worked around any and all possible scenarios that working with the group might bring.  I was excited about it, needless to say, and was looking forward to it like nothing else in my sixteen year old life.  Being apart was driving both of us crazy and we talked about stuff we could do and all the things he wanted to show me there in New York and in his hometown.

     Weeks turned into months and spring gave way to summer.  That's when the phone calls began to loose their happiness.  Things went from looking good for the group to looking bad.  We both decided it would be a good idea for Chris and me not to carry out our plan of me getting up there to be with him until things were settled.  Both of us were hoping it would be before June.  His birthday was on the 11th and mine was on the 27th and we wanted to celebrate them together.  But all things did was fall apart.

    Word started getting out in the world about Dreamstreet and the legal claim, which the media boosted up and turned into a lawsuit.  Some of the things they reported about the claim were true, while other stuff was completely made up.  At homebase, Chris told me accusations were flying between the producers and other parties and everything was getting twisted and complicated.  I felt so helpless not being able to do more than tell him to hang in there and keep faith that things would work out for the better.  I wished I could do something.  It sucked watching the life of something I cared about start to crumble and fall apart.

    Then, shit really hit the fan.  Things were being said and ideas were being expressed that Chris didn't agree with.  He was strong in his convictions and asked me if he was right to stand by them.  I told him what I thought, but that he had to do what he felt was best for him.  It was like that bridge metaphor that every parent springs on their kids when they cave in to peer pressure.  The bad part about it was the fact that those jumping off the bridge happened to be four of Chris's best friends.

    Finally, things got so bad that a life altering decision was made.  Jesse left Dreamstreet.  He'd tried his best to hang in there and had very good reasons for leaving,  but that action showed that there was no hope for the group making it out of the situation intact.  That hurt Chris and it hurt me because it hurt him.  He felt so frustrated that he started thinking that the line of work he was in wasn't worth it anymore and thought about just walking away and leaving it behind him.  In the end it all came down to petty bullshit and it was not sitting well with him at all.

     I let him know that I could relate to his frustration, anger, and hurt.  But it wasn't right for him to walk away.  He loved to perform.  He loved to sing.  He loved to dance.  That was his place right now in life and why should he give up his dream just because of something another situation had caused?  He agreed with that and let me know that he appreciated me being someone that was outside of the group and his family that he could come and talk to.  I told him that that's what a boyfriend is supposed to be there for and do...at least the good ones.  He agreed and thanked me again.

     The phone calls after that became fewer until finally they stopped altogether.  When I didn't hear from him for almost a whole month, I got bold enough to ask my father for Drake's number and called him just to check up on things.  Drake and I talked for a bit and he let me know that the guys were all okay, but that he couldn't say too much about it.  I wanted to ask if maybe I could have Chris's number if he had it, but I never built up the courage to do it.

    I kept up with the happenings by watching what little they broadcasted on the news, or Entertainment Tonight, or over the internet.  When August rolled around, word got out that the claim had been settled in favor of the producers and that Dreamstreet had officially disbanded.  Chris stayed with the producers, while Greg, Frankie, and Matt went their own way to pursue their interests.  It made me sad to find out that had happened.  All I could think about was how well the five of them got along together and how much they seemed to like one another.  They were brothers, as Frankie had said, and now they were broken.

    School started up again at the end of August and I entered my junior year in high school.  That entire month had gone by and still no word from Chris.  Drake called a couple of times to give me updates on how the guys were doing and to assure me that everything was okay with them.  Then the calls from him stopped too, and by September it was like the whole event had been a dream.

    It finally came down to me having to make a choice.  I had to look at the facts.   Chris was all the way on the other side of the continent, so unless one of us moved closer or something my chances of seeing him where not few, they were none.  Along with that there was probably so much going on in his life that he wouldn't have time to focus on things like just being a teenager, or on a relationship.  So it was either keep holding on to the illusion and stay stuck in denial, or accept the truth and move on.   I chose the latter.

    The day I did that was the night I cried myself to sleep.  I didn't realize until that night just how strong my feelings for Chris were.  I seriously could not imagine myself being with anyone else but him, or feeling for anyone else but him.  And realizing I couldn't have him anymore just...broke me.  So many emotions went through me, so many thoughts.  Everything came to the surface and took a shot at its fifteen seconds of attention.  >From the obvious hurt from Chris not calling and at least saying that he thought we should put things on hold for awhile, or saying that we could keep going and try to make things work, to the huge emptiness that built itself a home in my heart and soul.  I'd never felt anything like what I dealt with that night.  I felt like I might honestly die from a broken heart.

     It took a good two weeks after that before I was truly over everything and was apt enough to move on.  There were some things, though, that stayed on my brain that I was sure would stay with me forever.  I was never going to forget the way Chris made me feel when we touched me, or when he looked at me with those light brown eyes of his and gave me his sweet, built-only-for-him smile.  I was never going to forget the way it felt when our lips touched and we kissed.  He was my first true love, my first boyfriend, and my first broken heart.  And the love I had for him would never be forgotten or regretted.

     There's a saying that lightning never strikes twice in the same place.  Even though that's a scientific reference, a lot of people apply that statement to life.  However there are times when Mother Nature decides she wants to go against the grain.  Snow comes down in places that haven't had snow ever.  A huge storm comes through and drenches everything, despite the fact that the daily forecast said it was going to be sunny and beautiful.  A bolt of lightning arcs down from the clouds of that unexpected storm and dances eerily as it makes contact with the ground.  The thunder rumbles and another bolt of lightning cascades downward, striking the exact same spot the other bolt of lightning just hit a couple of seconds before.

    Just like Mother Nature sometimes life decides it wants to go against the grain and do something bizarre and completely unexpected.  When that happens, one will find that a lot of things become possible.

Chapter One: <Take Two>

    I'd been looking forward to Friday ever since Thursday evening, when Elaine came up asked me if she could work my hours at the Hotel.  She'd been asking everybody for hours for the past two weeks because her boyfriend had lost his job for the umpteenth time and was too damn lazy to get up off his ass and find another one.  That meant she had to pull the extra weight to make ends meet.

    All this for a boyfriend who treated her like shit and had kept her down the whole time they'd been together.  All of the girls at work, and some of us guys told her she should leave him and that she'd be better of without him.  But Elaine was one of those girls who had to have the good-looking boyfriend on her arm to show off to everybody whenever they went out or when he came in to see her, which was usually to beg for something.  Oh well.  If it made her happy then whatever.

    The teachers felt generous enough to not give us homework for the weekend, so there was no worrying about trying to finish it all in study hall so that I wouldn't have to do it when I got home.  I'd already decided what I was going to do with my day off, and didn't want anything interfering with it.

    What was the plan I was going to put into action the moment I walked into the front door of my house?  To go to sleep.  I'd been going on four hours of sleep per day since the beginning of the week because I'd been up researching and writing an English report that was due at the end of the week.  I hadn't planned to sleep all afternoon.  Just for a couple of hours so that I'd still be able to go to sleep at a regular time later and get myself back on schedule.

    I got home at 4:45 instead of the usual 3:45 or so because I hung out after school talking to my friend, Anthony.  The two of us had been very good friends since the seventh grade and he was like a brother to me.  We'd always been able to tell each other anything and everything (with the exception of the one...well, two things I hadn't told him).  That's why he felt I was the best person to come to and tell that he and his girlfriend, Michelle, thought she might be pregnant.

    Him and Michelle had done it for the first time on New Year's Eve and both of them got concerned when the whole month of January went by and her "friend" didn't come to visit her.  When the first week of February went by and the visit never happened, they got scared and started thinking the obvious.  My first question was if he'd worn protection and he told me no he hadn't.  I got onto him about it, and he told me it wasn't something that was planned.  It just happened and he didn't want to turn down his first chance at having sex just because he didn't have a rubber.

    That already had things pointing to the pregnant answer in my book, but I asked another question that might sway the vote; if he pulled out before he came.  He said that it felt so good that he almost forgot to until the last second and thought some of the first shot might have been let go inside of her.  That swayed the vote all right.  Even closer toward pregnant.

      I told Anthony that to me it sounded like him and Michelle were probably right about her being pregnant and asked if they'd taken a pregnancy test yet.  Anthony said that both of them were too afraid to because if it came back positive they knew they'd have to tell their parents, and both of them were afraid of how they would react once they found out.  I told him that they had to do what was best for the life that might be growing inside of Michelle and that they should take the test, find out the truth, and then tell their parents.  They'd probably yell, scream, cuss, and everything else, but they'd get over it because what was done was done and it couldn't be reversed.

    He brought up abortion and I said it wasn't a choice I'd make because I thought it was a legal form of murder, but that if both of them felt it was the best decision, then they had to do what they had to do.

    We talked for awhile longer until I was sure Anthony was feeling better and thinking straighter.  Then I gave him a ride home, since his car was in the shop, and went on to my final destination.

    I skipped my usual Friday rounds when I came into the house and only checked the answering machine to make sure none of the three messages were for me.  None were so I went upstairs to my room to crash.  I'd gotten a new backpack at the beginning of the school year, since my old one was shot to hell, but I was treating it with the same dignity as I did my old one.  It got tossed into the same gap between my bed and desk that the one before it used to get tossed in to.

    It was a shame all of my friends were going to be busy or unavailable during the weekend.  It had been a few weeks since any of us had been able to do anything together and I was starting to miss it.  Two of my friends were grounded until further notice for bringing home grades that would warrant death in my house.  That was Arthur and Billy.  Anthony was going out of town to visit his grandparents, like he and his family had been doing a lot lately, and the two girls in our group Renee and Amanda were going on a belated choir trip that had been promised to them the year before and got cancelled.

    I took a trip to the bathroom, before I went out to the hall closet and grabbed a dark sheet to drape over my window and block out the sunlight.  I set my alarm for seven o'clock and turned on my radio.  Call me strange, but when I was younger I used to always sleep with the radio on.  I guess the music used to pacify me or something.  I managed to break the habit when I was thirteen, but every now and then I'd have moments to where I just had to have it on.  This was one of them.

     When I turned the radio on the song with J.Lo and LL Cool J was just going off.  That song had really started to get annoying.  It seemed that anytime I'd turned on a radio that song was either going off or coming on.  I was glad to be catching it while it was going off.  I shut my eyes and started getting comfortable as the radio D.J came on.
"I swear I used to like that song before I started hearing it everywhere I go.  Now I can't stand the damn thing.  That was LL Cool J and J. to tha L. O with their new song All I Have, for those of you who don't know yet.  You know what I'm waiting for?  Since Ben Affleck and J.Lo are doing a few movies together, I'm waiting to see if they try and do a duet together.  I mean if she can crossover from acting to music, why can't he?  Anyways.  This is Delayna in for Rob today, who decided to be a punk and call in sick.  Rob, sweetie, everybody here knows that you're not sick and that you went out of town today.  So just to let you know, ya ain't slick!  Okay, enough about that knuckle head.  Now for something I've heard through the grapevine about something that's going down at Great America this weekend.  Some of you may remember that this group called Dreamstreet was supposed to perform there like last year during the spring and had to cancel their sold out performance.  Things must've gotten bad for them because the group has since split up and all the members are off doing their own thing now.  Well I heard that one of them has done a movie and is supposed to be here this weekend promoting it.  Whether or not this is true, I really don't know.  Maybe someone out there can shed some light on the subject?  If so, call me up here at the station.  And now, some lovely commercials."

     My eyes snapped right open.  One of the guys had done a movie and was...might be in town supporting it?  I hadn't been keeping up on anything Dreamstreet related since the day I put all of that behind me.  It wasn't that I didn't care about any of them anymore, it was that I knew it would make me best friends with depression knowing the closest I was going to be able to get to Chris would be through the downloaded pictures and the words that showed up on my computer screen.

     I started thinking about which one of the guys would be most likely to be in a movie.  The first name that came to my mind was Jesse.  He was the one with the most experience in television, so it was only logical that he would be the first one to make the leap to the big screen.

 The more I thought about it the more sure I became that it was him who might be in town promoting a movie.  After all, he had been the one to leave the group right when they were going through the proceedings.  That was probably the reason why.

     It was near the second commercial when the sleep I needed so desperately began beating me into submission.  I tried to hold it off long enough for Delayna to come back on and hear if somebody had called in to give her any information on which one of the guys it was.  But I didn't last.  My bed was so comfortable and my body was so relaxed that I was gone before I even knew I'd fallen asleep.

 *  *  *  *  *  *

     Somebody was ringing the doorbell.  That's what woke me up instead of the normal electronic fingernails-on-chalkboard screech of my alarm clock. I was too tired to dream, so I could hear it subconsciously.    My eyes slowly came open, already adjusted to the pitch blackness that had covered my room, and looked at my clock.  The time was 8:30 pm.
"What the...?" I started, knowing I'd set the clock for 7:00 and here it was an hour and thirty minutes later and it hadn't gone off.

    I reached over and pressed the alarm button just to make sure I wasn't loosing my mind.  Sure enough it was set for 7:00...in the morning.  I'd been so ready to go to sleep that I didn't check to make sure the little red light was on next to pm when I set the close.  "Eventually I'm going to stop doing that." I thought to myself, shutting the alarm of completely.

     The doorbell rang again, reminding me somebody was still at the door.  I pulled myself out of bed, trying to wake up as I made my way to the door.  The computer had already turned on all the lights in the house for its evening mode, so I didn't walk out into more darkness as I came down the hallway.  I was so groggy that I had to stand at the top of the stairs and fully wake myself up before I started going down them.  I'd fallen down the stairs before.  Twice.  Both times it was no fun and I wasn't looking for there to be a third.

     Normally I asked who it was before I opened the door.  My brain was still sleepy, though, so I just unlocked it and pulled it open to see who was there.  That managed to wake my brain up enough for it to function.  Nobody was there.
"It better not be those stupid kids again." I thought to myself after a few seconds of trying to figure out why I was staring at nothing instead of someone.

     This group of kids had been on a rampage lately.  TP'ing houses, egging houses, and even walking up to the door and ringing the doorbell and running.  Seven houses had been hit by at least one thing.  Me, my mother's, and my father's cars all got egged one night last week.  Everybody figured it had to be some kids that lived nearby, but nobody had been able to catch them in the act.

     I was wide awake after that and started to hope that it was those stupid kids.  I owed a major ass kicking to those little bastards.  I had to wash my car three times before all that egg yolk came off.  I opened the door completely and stepped out onto the porch to see if I could see anybody.  The lights were on outside too, so I'd be able to spot any of those little punks very easily.

    On the walkway leading up to the house from the driveway I saw somebody who looked like they were close to my height.  They were dressed in dark denim jeans and had on a black jacket of some kind.  They had a black cap on their head, so I couldn't see what color their hair was.

    Whoever it was they weren't running away, so I started to wonder if it was the other group of kids who'd been coming through the neighborhood selling candy in an attempt to raise money for some kind of trip.  We'd been hit by three different kids alone and had been generous so far.  Now it was starting to get ridiculous.
"Hey." I called out to the person walking away.  "Can I help you?"

     The person stopped and turned back to face me.  I stood there for a second with a confused look on my face, before I rubbed my eyes and looked again.  The person was still there looking just the same.  But it couldn't be who I thought it was.  Could it?
"Chris?" I inquired, my voice came out at only a few tones above a whisper.

     He smiled a bit and said,
"Hey.  You are home."

    I was incapable of forming a complete thought, much less a sentence.  All I could do was stand there and gawk at him like he was some rare thing on display at a museum.    I expected him to fade away at any second; being part of some cruel waking dream/optical illusion my mind was playing on me.  But he remained.  Solid and real.
"Uh..." my mouth came open and the sound came out.  It wasn't until a couple of seconds later that my brain realized I was trying to speak, and kick started itself back into operation.  "Uh, yeah.  What're you doing here?"
"I'm in town for the weekend doing some promotion with a couple of other people for the movie we're in.  Thought I'd drop in and see you." he said.

     So it was him who was there to support the movie, and not Jesse like I'd originally thought.  It looked like the D.J on the radio had heard her information through the grapevine correctly.

    My feet chose that moment to let me know that the bricks that lined our porch were going to work on freezing them.  It gave them that dull, chilly, almost painful feeling.
"I better get inside before I freeze my feet off." I said, glancing down at then, before I asked,  "Can you stay?  Do you want to come in?"

     He nodded.
"Yeah, sure.  If you don't mind." he answered a little unsurely.
"Not at all."

     I turned and went back into the house and he followed me.  Once we were both inside, I took a seat on the couch in the front room.  He took a seat on the opposite one.  My feet dug themselves into the thick rug underneath them and went to work on trying to warm themselves back up.

    Both of us were quiet.  I wasn't really sure what to say and was hoping Chris would be the one to take the initiative.  That's when I realized his uncomfortableness.  It was in the way his eyes kept almost looking at me, but never quite looking at me.  It was in his face.  It was in his body language, which was trying it's hardest to make him appear perfectly fine.  If I didn't know any better I'd say he was afraid to be there with me alone, face-to-face.
"So...uh, how's it been going?  How have you been?" I figured that was the best way to start things.
"Things are finally starting to get better now.  Been out promoting the movie.  Been working on my new album and performing a few of the songs when we show the movie." he said.  The uncomfortableness was there in his voice too, or rather in its tone.
"Wow.  You're working on your own CD?"

     He nodded.
"Yeah.  It's been really cool so far.  Almost like what it was when me and the guys were together, but with more freedom.  I've been testing out new sounds and new styles.  It's really cool."
"Speaking of, how are the guys?" I asked.

     That seemed to make him even more uncomfortable.  He shifted a little, scooting forward and folding his hands and sitting them in his lap.
"Pretty good.  Greg's doing his solo thing now and that's really taking off for him.  Jesse's thinking about putting his own album together.  Frankie has been sort of low profile lately, and I think Matt is working on a movie of his own.  When they found out I was coming down here they all told me to tell you what's up if I saw you."

     I shrugged.
"I'm surprised you all still remember me."
"Of course we do, man." Chris said before he was quiet for a couple of seconds, giving a glance over to the left and then added, "Especially me."

     I hadn't really given myself time to think about why Chris had gotten uncomfortable all of a sudden.  After he said that, I knew why.  He was uncomfortable because of me.  He wasn't sure how I'd react to seeing him after all the dead time between us.  Since I hadn't attacked him outside, part of him must've been relieved, but part of him must've known that he was going to have to face the music eventually.  According to his statement he was pushing for that moment to happen soon.

    All of the emotions and all of the memories I'd locked away into the past and had left behind came storming to the forefront faster than I could stop them.  From the anger fueled by the fact that he couldn't even call, to the sadness of coming to terms with the fact that I wouldn't ever see or hear from him again.  It was all there.  Before I put a lid on it all (and even a few times afterward) I dreamt about how the scene would go if I ever got to see Chris again.  Now that it was really happening, my emotions and memories took control away from me and stuffed me into the trunk.  So he was ready to face the music right now, huh?  Okay. Put it on and let's dance.
"Is that why you suddenly forgot how to make a phone call?"

     One part of him must've been ready, but the rest of him was either not ready, and or afraid.  I could tell by the way his eyes lowered, unable to look at me, and by the way his face fell just slightly.  Those unsure parts took a couple of seconds to catch up, and Chris was able to look back at me and shake his head.
"No way.  It's just that a lot of stuff was going on and I kept meaning to call, but then something would come up and keep me from doing it.  You have no idea how hectic stuff got back home for a little bit." he started to plead his case.

    Okay.  That was the obvious explanation and the one I was pretty confident he'd use.  I could understand where he was coming because yes, he probably did have a lot to deal with once he got back home.  But how long did all of that really last?  According to the media, the case was over with and the separation was final in August.  That left September, October, November, December, and January.  Yeah, there could've been things going on with getting the new album ready, or the movie, but it was just hard to believe that over a five month time period an opportunity never came along where he could've called me.  I mean I know that if it `d been me in his shoes I would've called, or I would've made arrangements to call, even if it was out of my way.
"Look, I understand, really I do.  But you can't sit here and tell me that during all that time you never had the opportunity to establish some kind of contact with me.  It didn't even have to be a call.  You could've wrote a letter.  Sent an email.  Something to let me know that you hadn't fallen off the face of the Earth.  Something to let me know that you still gave a damn." I told him.

     For a moment it looked like what I said pissed him off.  His eyes narrowed and he shot this cold glare at me.  It softened up, though, to the point to where his face looked serious and tense.  Don't think I'd ever seen that look on his face before.
"I see.  You think I don't care, just because I didn't call or try to get in contact with you until now?" his voice came out a little deeper than I was used to hearing it.  I couldn't really read any specific emotion from it.  It could've been any one or any combination of them.

     I shook my head and responded,
"Well, what else was I supposed to think?  Never got any indication to show me otherwise."

     He sat back.  His eyes never left me and his face never changed.
"Yeah, well, maybe that's because its what I wanted you to think."

     Whoa!  Wasn't expecting him to say something like that!  I sat there for a couple of seconds with a sort of dumbfounded look on my face before I said,
"You wanted me to think that you didn't care anymore?  What do you mean?"
"Just what I said.  Maybe I wanted you to think I'd forgotten about you.  Maybe I wanted you to think I didn't care." he cleared it up for me.

     He nodded a few times, eyes still not leaving mine and his face looked like it was gearing more toward angry now.
"Yeah, I had chances to call you.  Know what?  I didn't take them." He put another nail in the coffin.

    I couldn't think of anything to say.  It was like my brain suddenly clicked off its entire thought process and all I could do was stare in disbelief and feel the hurt as he sat there and told me that his non-attempt to get in contact with me was intentional, and that everything I'd felt as a result of him not calling me was intentional.  I mean, how the hell is a person supposed to respond to some shit like that?

     It seemed like it took forever for my brain to finally kick start itself back on good enough for me to at least put together one question.

     He scooted back forward into his original position.  His stare became intense, powerful enough to almost be considered threatening.
"Do you know what the biggest rumor about me is, Brenden?" he asked.  His voice was as heavy with the intensity of his stare.
"...No.  Never really been keeping tracking." I was thrown by the question and was still trying to make a comeback from the earlier brain death moment I'd had.
"I go on the internet sometimes and check out some of the websites about us just to see what the fans say.  The biggest rumor they've got about me is that I'm gay.  Initially the rumor was that we were all either gay or bisexual, but little by little it all fell in my lap.  A lot of haters came up with that rumor, people who don't even know us, and obviously don't care about the fact that we have feelings.  When the rumors first started was just when I was starting to realize that maybe I was into guys where I should've been into girls.  Because of where the rumor came from, I wanted it to be false, and I did everything I could to try and make it so.  But I think you know just as well as I do now that a person can't suppress something like that no matter what they do.  Frankie and me were each other's support.  He was the one who helped me deal with coming to terms with my sexuality, and since he was sort of going through the same thing, I helped him.  He used to have a crush on Greg when we were first starting out.  Greg found out, though, because Frankie kept a journal and he put a lot of private stuff in there.  Greg didn't know how personal it all was, he only wanted to read a little bit of it so he could embarrass Frankie later.  He found out a lot more.  Frankie had even written about me in there and how we were helping each other deal with or sexuality."

     He told me this seemingly without his eyes ever blinking and even though his type of voice was intense, it brought across every emotion he felt.  I started to wonder just how many more loops he planned on throwing me for.  Now he had me interested in finding out what happened between Frankie and Greg.
"Did he freak?" I asked.

     Chris shook his head.
"No.  He waited until we were all getting ready to go swimming.  Jesse and Matt had already taken off, so it was just me, Frankie, and Greg in the room.  He tapped Frankie on the shoulder and when Frankie turned around, he kissed him right on the lips."
"Whoa."  was the best thing that came out of my mouth.  But really, what else could I say?  Even though I didn't know him that well, I never would've expected that from Greg.
"Yeah.  Then he told Frankie: "That's the one thing you can have from me that you'll never have to wish, or hope, for again.  I'm sorry I can't help you with the rest, `cause to me it's all about the girls."  Then he told us that he wasn't grossed out and that he was still cool with us.  Eventually, Matt and Jesse found out about me and Frankie and they felt the same way as Greg."

    My brain was working back at full capacity by then and trying to figure out where what he'd just told me fit in with where our conversation had been going up until that point.
"Um...I don't mean to be a dick, but what does that have to do with our current situation?" I asked, curious.

    The intense look on his face mellowed out as he took his cap off, ran his right hand slowly through his black hair, and sat the cap on the floor beside his feet.  He looked me in the eyes again, the intenseness gone from them too, and answered me,
"I told you before, Brenden, I've never vibed with anyone else like I do with you, and nobody else broke through all my defenses like you did.  That's why I told you I freaked last time with the whole Great America thing.  Then after there was after that with the Boardwalk, and when we kissed..."

     He smiled a little bit, I assume at the memory, then continued.
"While I was back home, I thought about you so much.  I wanted you to be there with me.  I wanted to be able to see you, you know, to talk to you, to touch you.  You were in my dreams.  There were times that I wanted you so badly that it hurt."

     His eyes searched mine for any sign that might show that his words were getting through to me.  They were getting through.  I was taking in everything he said.  I just wanted to hear everything he had to say before I let my feelings show, or let out any comments.

     I don't know whether or not he was able to find what he was looking for in me, or if he just felt it was a good idea to keep going.  Chris continued,
"Nobody has ever made me feel this way.  Ever.  I knew what me and you had was true love and that you and me were meant to be.  I didn't have Frankie there to keep my grounded this time.  I started thinking about all those haters out there that wanted it to be true that I was into guys.  I didn't want them to be right.  I didn't want anything they said about me to be right.  All I could think about was the fans...the world, my family all  turning against me, and my life and career falling into the deepest pit in hell with no way to recover.  So I faltered and decided that the only way for me to stay on the straight and narrow is if you were out of the picture.  That's why I didn't call, or find any other way to keep in contact with you."

     Everything was in.  >From his revealing that his lack of contact with me was on purpose to the big finale at the end.  To be honest I sat there for a few seconds to see if he had anything more to add to that.  That was it?  That was his excuse for doing me the way he did?
"So that's it?  That's your big reason?" I said to him, stating exactly what I was thinking.

     I didn't mean to sound insensitive or anything, it was just that from the way things were going I thought he might say something else...like there was someone else.  I should've been glad that this was the reason, but...well...I felt like that was something he should've been over by now.

     Chris picked up his hat and slid it back onto his head.
"Yeah, it is." he answered while he did it.
"So do you still feel that way now?"

     The hat was on now and he was looking at me again.
"Yes.  Well...part of me does, and I'm assuming part of me always will.  But I'm not going to let that part of me be the determining factor anymore.  I can't change who I am, no matter what I do to psyche myself out, or no matter how much I want people to be wrong about me.  This just is.  And then there's you.  I don't want to hurt you any more than I already have, but I don't want to let you go either.  The main part of a relationship is supposed to be communication.  I know I screwed up on that part.  But that's why I came, to tell you what was going on with me and to let you know how I feel and to hear the same from you."

     It was very convincing hearing that from him.  It had me almost convinced that he was finally getting himself to that place in his life where he could accept himself and forget about what everyone else had to say about it.  Grant it family was hard to deal with, especially parents when it came to this subject, but that was why everything gets taken one step at a time.  Maybe he was just a slower walker than I was.

    In any case, he almost had me convinced.  I wanted to be completely convinced, and I knew it was something that wasn't going to be possible that night.  Part of the reason I wasn't all the way convinced was because of me.  I wanted some time to think about things on my own and honestly I felt like he should take the opportunity to make sure he was sure and secure about things himself.
"How long you gonna be in town?" I asked.
"`Til Sunday." he responded,  "Why?"
"You're doing the show tomorrow?"

     He nodded.
"Yeah.  Was...a...sorta hoping you'd come."

     I smiled a little to show him I was up for it.
"I'd like to, but I want you to do something for me tonight."
"What's that?"

     I moved forward and reached out to put my hand on his shoulder, and looked him directly in the eyes.
"I want you to think about whether or not you're going to be able to deal with your sexuality, and whether or not you see me and you working out." I told him in a serious, but not commanding or harsh tone of voice.

     He nodded his head, looking glad that I was showing some sign of hope for our continued relationship.
"Of course I do!  I..."

     I held up my hand to stop him.  I didn't need to defend or explain himself, or plead his case.  I just wanted him to listen and hopefully follow.
"I just want you to seriously think about it, because right now I'm not too sure about me and you working out.  And I'm going to tell you why.  I'm not out there celebrating the fact that I go for guys.  As the matter of fact it's my most closely guarded secret ever.  Few people know about it, none of which include my parents or my family.  The difference between me and you is that I know this is the way I'm going to be and I've just accepted it.  I'm not sure if you've really grasped that concept yet, and who's to say that every time me and you are apart for awhile that you won't go through this again.  I don't want to go through this every time with you, Chris.  I don't want to be worried about the possibility of loosing you every time circumstances call for us to be apart.  And I don't want to deal with the pain.  I don't think its fair that I should have to." I told him.

     I was halfway expecting him to try and jump in with something, but he didn't.  You can tell when someone isn't really listening to you and just wants you to understand their point, because they're always trying to cut in and never take a second to just sit there and take in what' s being told to them.  Chris took it in and when he didn't saying anything after a couple of seconds, I went on.
"So I want you to think about whether or not you're going to be real about yourself to yourself, and real about us.  `Cause if you don't think you can, then I don't see any point in us being together."

     He was silent for awhile, letting everything I'd said settle and do its work.  I wasn't sure how he was going to react to what I'd said, thought I was hoping for a good one.  So I was pretty relieved when he looked at me and said,
"I will."

     I gave him an inquisitive look.
"Are you sure about that?"

     He touched my hand, which was still on his shoulder, and squeezed it gently.
"As much as humanly possible."

     What he was saying was genuine.  He meant every word of it.  I could almost sense it.  It helped me feel better about the status of our relationship and that it had a high chance of remaining intact.
 I took my hand off his shoulder and stood up.  He took that as his que to do the same.
"Okay.  What time do I need to call, or where do I need to be in order to check out the show?" I asked.
"The show starts at 12:00, but you're welcome to show up early.  Your seat is already reserved.  Just give Drake a call on his cell when you're on your way and he'll give you instructions on where to park and where to come in." he said.
"Sounds good."

     Chris stood there for a moment, looking like he was debating over something in his head.  I found out what it was when he moved in slowly and kind of awkwardly to hug me.  That was cool, so he moved to hug him back to let him know it was okay.

     It felt good to hug him.  There was still that tingling feeling in my body that made me feel warm and peaceful inside.  I think it was a safe bet that my feelings were still there for him, and I was hoping it was the same way for him.
"Thanks for letting me come in and hearing me out." he said, after we ended our hug.
"Thank you for coming and talking to me.  It gives me some hope that maybe all of this might work out." I said.

     That seemed to give him more reassurance.  He smiled a little and turned to start walking toward the front door.  I joined him, deciding to show that I did have manners and at least let him out.  I opened the door for him and he stepped out, stopping just after both feet were over the threshold and turning to look at me.
"See you tomorrow?" he sounded like he still wasn't sure if I was going to be there or not.

     I smiled and nodded.
"Without a doubt."

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