Disclaimer: I do not know any of the celebrities that are mentioned within this story. As such, this is not a reflection on their true lives, it's totally fictional. The details in this story do not reflect real life events. If you are offended by gay fiction or it is illegal to read such material where you are, please leave now. Any one else, I hope you enjoy it.
Special thanks go firstly to Chris, you're amazing, you keep me sane and you're the reason I'm doing this. Viv thank you so much, you've made this readable and already provided feedback to boost my confidence.
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Living with the Bass' was one of the best decisions I had ever made. The whole family gave their love and support freely. I never felt like they felt pressured to care.
Dianne was amazing, I'd felt nervous of her at first; purely because she cared. I kept thinking of my own mother, the way I had felt when she walked away from that hospital, so cold; with no emotion on her face. She had broken my heart in so many ways; I couldn't ever forgive the pain that caused. Dianne had forced her way into my heart, slowly forcing the hurt out. It wasn't any one big thing she had done; it was how everyday she did little things, simple things, like making me coffee in the morning before I woke up or putting all my clothes into the closet instead of my bag. She simply made me feel welcome and loved and I loved her for it.
Lance decided that he had a new younger brother; for two weeks straight everything that went wrong in the Bass household was my fault. Try as he did, nobody took his bait. Nick took his childish games personally, reacting in a small rage every time Lance tried to get me in trouble. I knew he was joking and I saw them as the fun they were. Lance and I really did develop a brotherly relationship. He came to me to talk about a guy he was interested in who was at the shelter and I talked to him about Nick.
Nick in a short time became my rock. He steadied me when I was off balance. He took my constant panic attacks in stride; providing comfort when needed and forcing me to snap out of the little funks I so often slipped into.
Two weeks after moving into the house, I decided to get my GED handled. Nick was going to come too since he never got his either. Lance was in the process of graduating when his attack happened and was allowed to graduate in absence.
Nick and I went to the community college Jim had advised; the process was easy enough, all we had to do was take a minor test to decide our ability, if you passed you went straight in to take your GED test. I passed the first test, but Nick didn't.
Nick hadn't been in any form of education since he was fifteen. The tutors decided he would have to do a short catch up course to refresh his memory of all he'd learned in high school. To say he was pissed off at this would be an understatement. He seemed to think that I would see it as a failure on his part; that he didn't match me, that he wasn't good enough, or that I wouldn't think he was.
We sat in the office at the college, having just been told that Nick would require the further lessons waiting to be given his schedule.
"Nicky, what's wrong?" I asked in my softest voice, already knowing but wanting him to talk about it.
"Come on babe, I know we haven't known each other long, but I can already tell when your upset, talk to me... please?" I asked.
"It's just, it's stupid."
"Tell me Babe, look I don't care if it seems stupid, nothing you say to me is or will be stupid."
"It's just, `I' feel stupid. I mean you're younger than me and you passed the damn test and here I am a failure," he said sighing.
I sighed to myself, looking for the words to make him feel better. "Babe, you're not stupid okay! Look, I had two more years in school than you did and I only just left there. You've been away for four years; you can't expect to remember everything right at once."
"Maybe I'm not totally stupid; but I still feel it."
"Well then, I guess it's up to me to show you what you really are good at!" I said winking then leaning over to place a quick kiss on his lips.
He smiled at me before linking his hand with mine, I sat rubbing my thumb over the back of his hand, thinking about how I could make him realize he was this amazingly smart person. I decided to talk to Lance later to see what I could learn about Nick from before I arrived.
We sat waiting for the administration assistant to come out with a schedule for Nick's classes, the whole time we sat with our hands linked. I got this amazing feeling through just that small contact. It was like small bolts of electricity flowing from him; this constant tingle that never left my hand.
Finally after waiting for what seemed like hours, a small woman with greying hair walked through the office door. She looked around the waiting area, looking at the different people that sat there. Finally locking her eyes onto us, her line of sight fell to our interlocked hands and a small frown crossed her face, followed by a look of distaste. My initial instinct was to pull my hand free, and as I tried to do so, Nick tightened his grip and gave me a small smile. I guess I'd have to get used to other people's reactions. With Nick being my first ever boyfriend this was all frighteningly new to me.
She simply thrust a class schedule at Nick and mumbled for him to be back next Monday at nine a.m. for orientation. Nick looked up at her and smiled that sweet smile I love and thanked her. With that, he stood up taking me with him, reaching out his free hand for her to shake. For a second she looked at it like it was diseased before reaching out and quickly shaking his hand. Two seconds later she was back behind her office door and out of sight.
Nick let out a small laugh saying, "Well she seems friendly doesn't she babe?"
I couldn't help but laugh with him as we walked out the door to the street. Leaving the college, Nick suggested we go visit the shelter. The only time I'd actually been there was the night Lance had come across me. I felt a little nervous; I'd got the impression from both Nick and Lance that they both had a number of friends that went their both during the day and to sleep at night. Putting off meeting these people; as nice as it sounded, was pretty dumb. I'd have to face Nick's friends eventually, so why not now? I agreed to go, and we headed off in the direction that started this all for me.
I have no idea why I was so nervous walking into the shelter. After all, these were normal people dealt a harsh deal in life and like me they had all left their homes for their own reasons. I suppose the real reason was Nick held them with such high esteem. These were his people. I really just hoped they'd accept me being with Nick.
We walked into the shelter, heading down the same hallway as Lance had led me down before. We walked into the reception area and I looked through the glass seeing Lonnie sitting there since it was Dianne's well deserved day off. He nodded his head to us in recognition before looking back down at his work.
Nick led us to a door at the side of the room, as he opened it he poked his head in and I heard voices.
"Carter!" I heard yelled from behind the door. Nick's face grew into a large smile as he walked through still holding my hand.
I trailed behind Nick as we walked into the room, suddenly feeling sick to my stomach with nerves. Nick nearly dragged me forward, smiling at me and making me feel even more jittery inside. As I walked inside I surveyed the room's occupants. Standing up immediately, I saw a guy with dark hair, both ears pierced multiple times and tattoos down both his arms and he looked at Nick with a warm smile as he leaned forward to greet him with a hug. I saw him whisper something to Nick causing Nick to turn and smile at me.
"J, this is Aje."
I smiled trying to look as comfortable as possible despite my nerves, and said, "Hey, great to meet you," trying to smile.
"Alright dude, pleasures all mine," he said with a wink and smile.
Nick dragged me across the room to the couches where a few people were sitting.
"Guys, this is Justin," Nick addressed the crowd on the couch. "J, meet Jace, Chris, Howie, Kev, Brian, Chrissy and Brit," he said using his hand to indicate the person each name belonged to.
"Hi...," I managed to squeak out.
I got a mass greeting of hi's from the group all at the same time. Nick took a seat on a chair next to the couches pulling me down on top of him. He wrapped his arm gently around me pulling me back against his chest. I turned my head just slightly to look at him, just as he gently captured my lips in a gentle kiss. This caused the group next to us to start with a chorus of aww's, which promptly caused a major blush to rise in my cheeks. I buried my face into Nick's chest in embarrassment at the attention; Nick just smiled and stroked the back of my head. I turned to face the group again, taking in each of their appearances.
The guy Nick identified as Jace was first in the group. He looked tall, with thin looking long legs; his stomach looked defined. His arms were long and thin looking, I looked at his face and saw such beauty there. He looked like a model; if he was spotted by an agency I was sure he'd make a fortune. The whole look was capped off with his hair; it was shoulder length, dark brown, and wavy. It looked so right the way it curled into his face.
Next was Chris, he looked the opposite of Jace, he was shorter. I could tell he had a whole load of energy from the way he kept bouncing around. He didn't look all that muscular, he looked more like a guy you'd see playing football with his kid, than a homeless kid. His hair was short and tidy, and unlike Aje or Jace, he really didn't stand out.
Howie was so pretty. His skin was darker; he looked like he came from a hispanic background. His hair was tied back, causing it to mould tightly to his head. He was about the same height as Chris and I couldn't help but notice the way they were pressed so tightly together, with Howie's arm snaked around Chris's back.
Kevin was the most serious looking person I'd seen since the preacher back home. He looked like he was made of stone, his face showed no emotion, it was seriously intimidating. His hair was jet black; he was tall, probably about the same height as I was. His face was strange, he had sharp definition to his features; really high cheek bones, he really did look a little scary.
Brian looked a total angel. He looked so small and fragile next to Kevin, the difference was amazing. While Kevin sat cold, Brian showed every emotion. His face was like a book; I could tell just by looking at him that he was a deeply emotional person. His hair was sandy blonde and his face carried many of the same sharp features as Kevin's did, leading me to the thought they could be related, only his wore a much softer expression on it. He looked close to the same height as Chris and Howie.
Britney and Christina were obviously a couple; they were wrapped up in each others arms leaning back against the side of the couch. They both had long blonde hair; Britney had this innocent look to her, but with an edge. You could just tell that she was no angel. Christina on the other hand looked every bit the bad girl, she had a piercing in her nose and lower lip and while she had a really nice looking face, it carried an air of warning with it; you didn't mess with her or her girl.
Nick brought my attention back to him when he spoke, "Babe, I'm gonna have a quick word with Aje okay?" I thought it was pretty cute he'd asked me before leaving me alone.
"Sure, maybe I'll just get to know this group a little better," I said with a genuine smile.
Nick wore a matching grin, obviously happy I was starting to feel me comfortable with his friends. He kissed me softly before standing and moving next to Aje.
I decided to take the initiative and make contact first. There was room next to Britney so I stood and cautiously walked over.
"Umm, hey, mind if I sit? It was getting a little lonely over there," I said, putting my cutest face on.
"Hey cutie; sit your tail right down there," Christina replied.
I sat next to Britney trying to think how to start a conversation. I didn't need to worry though, because she did it herself.
"So when did you escape Tennessee?" she asked, causing me to realize right away that she knew who I was.
"Oh! So I guess you saw me on the TV then?" I replied, not answering her question.
"Well Hun, Lance told us who you were, but yeah we saw you too. Trust me, we both know what it's like."
"Yeah, it's just hard you know?" I said sighing, "I mean everyone knows me, and I hate that. I really just wish I was some kid whose parents kicked him out and nobody knew about it. At least then I could walk around without people staring at me, trying to figure out where they'd seen me."
Britney took this opportunity to run her hand over my shoulders. It was amazing, I really felt comfortable with them. I felt like we'd been friends for years. Crazy since we'd only said a few words to each other!
"So you and our Nicky huh?" Christina said, causing yet another blush to rise in my cheeks.
"Yeah," I said letting out a contented sigh. "He's great, everyone at Lance's is, Nick's just, he's different." Damn that blush was coming back!
"You know? I've never seen him like this. Nick's always been kinda guarded, not so much with Alex but, then they met right after Nick arrived here, so I guess he feels a stronger connection to him, the rest of us have drifted in over the years. Nick always keeps a distance though, Alex and Lance are the only people I know he's told his story too. I know some shit went down in Florida, I just don't know what."
Shit, I'd guessed Nick would have told his friends the reason he was here. He told me right away after all. Wow, he really must trust me I decided.
I quietly said, "He told me."
"What? Did you just say he told you?" Britney asked, shocked.
"Yeah, right after we met. We were both kind of a mess, and we talked about our pasts."
"Shit. Nicky's got it bad for you boy! I think he showed you how much he trusts you right there. That's so out of character for him it's crazy!"
I was in shock, I mean I knew how I felt for Nick; I was already starting to think it was love, even this soon, I just never imagined he would feel so strongly too.
"Can I tell you girls something, but I don't want it broadcast?"
"Hun, you can tell us anything, I think it's safe to say were gonna be friends no matter what happens with Nick," Britney replied, with Christina nodding her head in agreement.
"I think I love him, I don't know if I should tell him, it's so soon," my voice was low and had a slight nervous tone to it.
"Tell him!" Christina said, "I know Nick, and I'd bet he's saying the same thing to Alex right now."
It dawned on me that they were calling Aje, Alex, and I was getting confused.
"Alex is Aje right?" I asked.
"Yeah, his names Alexander James, we call him Alex, Aje and AJ. Nick always uses Aje, I guess its how he first knew him or something."
I noticed Nick had stood and was walking back over to where we sat. He looked at Britney's hand which was still stroking my head with a raised eyebrow.
"You macking on my man Brit?"
Britney laughed along with Christina. "If you think that Nick, you don't know me very well," she said turning her head and kissing Christina right on the lips.
Nick laughed, sliding next to me on the couch. His head dropped to rest on my shoulder.
"You okay Boo?" I asked.
Nick raised his head to look up at me. "Boo?" he asked.
I immediately blushed, not even realizing I'd called him it. "Umm, it just sorta came out I guess."
"I like it," he said, cuddling up closer and resting his head down again.
"Me too Boo, me too," I said, running my fingers through his blonde hair.
I glanced over to Britney and Christina, who were both watching us with soft smiles on their faces. Britney was pressed back into Christina as Christina's arm held her close. I knew then that I had two new friends.
I needed the restroom. I really didn't want to disturb Nick's peaceful position, but sadly, I really needed to go. I gently shook him, and whispered to him that I needed the restroom and asked where it was. He told me to turn left outside the door and it was the second door down. He shifted his weight forward allowing me out.
Alex stood at the same time, saying he needed to go as well and would show me the way. I braced myself for the best friend talk and we left the room together, neither of us saying a word. I followed Alex down the hall and he opened the restroom door and walked in. I followed, my heart beating so fast it felt like it was going explode. I walked into the room as Alex held the door open for me; he followed me in closing the door and standing in front of it, totally blocking any exit I could have made.
I could hear his voice; I just couldn't hear the words he was speaking. My heart was beating so fast it was breaking records. I heard him say Nick's name; he was advancing across the room towards me. His finger pressed to my chest firmly and I felt the small touch of pain. My mind flashed back to high school; it wasn't Alex standing in front of me anymore, it was Trace. Trace, with the football team calling me a faggot. I dropped into the fetal position on the floor, my body wracked with sobs, Alex was with me, suddenly shocked by my reaction. He rocked me back and forth; trying his hardest to soothe me. I managed to whisper `Nick' to him, he stood and literally ran out the door.
I heard Nick's voice in the corridor; he was yelling at Alex. The door burst open with Nick rushing in and things became infinitely clearer the second he touched me. I felt his arms wrap around me, as he gently kissed my forehead. He whispered to me he was there, that every thing was going to be okay. I forced myself to come forward; away from my demons.
"Boo?" I asked.
"Babe, I'm here, you're okay," he replied; sending a glare in Alex's direction.
"Aje?" I asked.
"Umm yeah?" he asked, a mixture of worry and fear in his voice.
"It's okay. I'll never fuck with him," I said; giving him my best possible smile.
Alex gently smiled at me; understanding I knew his reasons for trying to talk to me in the first place.
I heard a noise outside the door. I gave Alex a questioning look. He opened the door allowing me to see Britney and Christina there, both looking extremely concerned.
Christina was on Alex in seconds, "What the fuck Alex? What'd you do to him?"
Alex was quivering; he hadn't expected my reaction, let alone the reaction of his friends. I gave Nick a pleading look; I wanted this to end. Alex was doing a good thing when he approached me, he didn't to know my personal issues; he was simply looking out for his best friend.
Nick stood leaving me alone for a minute; he walked over to Christina ushering her out the door; leaving Alex alone with me once again. He looked over to me looking like he wanted to say something but too nervous to actually do it.
"Alex? Come here," I said; gesturing with my hand to the space next to me on the floor.
He looked like he was having an internal battle; one part of him wanted to bolt out the door and the other wanted to do as I said and make peace. The second part won out.
He walked across slowly sitting next to me. He kept a good distance between us; as if he was worried any contact would set me off again. I slid myself closer to him, slightly closing the gap between us.
"It's okay," I started, "look, we both know I'm a little messed up here. I'm sorry for freaking out on you there. It's just...," I hesitated, "it's just when you pushed me back, I knew it was you, only, I saw the guys back home. It just brought back some bad memories."
"You're sorry?" he asked. "I'm the prick that forced you back. I should be like begging for forgiveness from you. I mean, I fucked up seriously, I was only trying to see if you were serious about Nick," he said, letting a small sigh out as his head fell further.
"Look, I'm serious as a heart attack about him. You've got nothing to worry about there. Can we just forget this happened; maybe start again?" I asked.
He looked at me; a small curious smile on his lips before breaking into a huge grin.
"Hi! I'm Alex; Nick's stupid best friend!" he said; the smile growing every second that passed.
I giggled a little, "I'm Justin; the new boyfriend, pleased to meet you."
He laughed along with me at that; extending his hand to shake mine. I reached out avoiding the hand as I pulled him into a close hug.
He pulled back a little looking right into my eyes; the smile still fixed on his face, before leaning forward and kissing me.