More Than Friends: Chapter 3

This is a story revolving around the life of a gay man. If this offends you... well, you offend me, so go away. Also, if you're looking for a story to jack-off to, you might want to look elsewhere. I don't have plans to do any graphic sex scenes anytime in the near future.

"Ben, thanks for the incredible evening. It was really just what I needed." He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek just as the front door opened. Ethan pulled away as soon as we heard it, but it was to late. Whoever it was saw his just as he was pulling away. The guilty look on our faces didn't help things a bit.

"Ethan? What's going on out here?" asked a woman who looked to be in her mid forties.

"Mom! I.. um.." Ethan was a blubbering mess. He didn't know what to say. I couldn't stand seeing him like that, so I stepped in.

"Mrs. Templeton? Hi! I'm Ben MacLeod, a good friend of Ethan's. I'm sorry if I kept him out too late. A few of us went out to dinner and I guess we lost track of time." It was a long shot, but I hoped that if I completely ignored addressing the kiss, it would catch her off-guard and she wouldn't follow up on it. To my surprise, though, Ethan had other plans.

"Ben, thanks, but I need to take care of this." He put his hand on my shoulder, a gesture that his mother obviously noticed. "Mom, I guess we need to talk." I noticed that she hadn't said anything since she first opened the door, and when Ethan guided me into the house, I knew that if she didn't have any suspicions before, she would now.

Ethan's father was in the living room reading the paper, and looked up when we walked through. "Hello Ethan, who's your friend?" he asked when he saw me.

"I'm Ben MacLeod, one of Ethan's classmates." I intentionally downplayed our relationship, not knowing how much Ethan wanted to give away, but at the same time, all I wanted to do was cry out to the world that we were falling in love. I extended my hand for Mr. Templeton to shake. He started to stand, but Ethan stopped him.

"Dad, we'll be back in a minute. I need to talk to Mom about something."

"Oh? What about?" Obviously, Ethan had perked his father's interest.

"I guess you'll find out soon enough, but for now, I just want to talk to Mom, ok?"

His father seemed to accept Ethan's request, though a bit reluctantly, and went back to his paper. Ethan took my upper arm in his hand and pulled me down the hall. "We can talk in the den." As we walked down the hall, I noticed that Mrs. Templeton was watching me closely. It was starting to make me uncomfortable, but Ethan wanted me to be with him, so I went along. I knew he would need support to do what he was planning to do; or at least, what I thought he was planning to do.

The den obviously belonged to Ethan's father. It had that classic masculine office feeling with the dark wooden bookcases and desk, with a large leather chair and couch. The bookshelves where filled with hundreds of hardback books, picture frames, and other personal mementos. I felt slightly out of my element in the room; it was a place where Mr. Templeton was in control, and everyone else was on his time.

As I was examining the room, Ethan rolled the leather chair out from behind the desk and positioned it in front of the couch for his mother, then took my arm again and positioned me on the couch. I noticed that he was grabbing my arm a lot lately, and wondered where his sudden assertiveness had come from, until I realized he wasn't grabbing my arm to be assertive, he was grabbing it to make sure I was still there; that I would be there to support him.

An eerie silence settled on the room as the three of us settled into our respective seats. Ethan was fidgeting slightly, and his mother was staring at us with a firm look in her eyes. It was she who finally broke the silence. "Ethan, before you say anything, I want you to know that you can tell me anything, and it won't change how I feel about you." Though she was addressing her son, she was staring straight at me, and I found it hard to meet her stare. Two words kept repeating in my head, over and over: "She knows."

"Mom," Ethan finally managed to say. "Ben is not just my classmate... he's been...helping me through something that you and Dad wouldn't understand the way he does..."

His mother closed her eyes and nodded slowly, a tiny smile barely pulling at the corner of her mouth. "Ethan, you don't have to say anything more. I know what you're talking about."

Ethan's mouth hung open in an attempt to form words, but his mother continued before he was able to. "Benjamin, may I ask if you and my son are just friends, or are you lovers?"

I thought for a moment; I wasn't exactly sure what Ethan and I were. We hadn't made any kind of commitment to each other, but it was also obvious to me that we were advancing past 'just friends'. I decided to take the safe root with my answer though. "At the moment, I'd say we're friends. We haven't gone far enough to call ourselves lovers." I was looking at Ethan as I spoke to see his reaction. He smiled weakly and nodded.

Mrs. Templeton seemed satisfied with the answer. "Do you want your father to know? He might not handle it as well as I have right away, but he really should know."

Ethan nodded. "I will tell him, but not tonight. This day has been draining enough as it is." His voice was quiet, and I new he wasn't looking forward to telling his father anymore than he had with his mother; possibly even less. "I think maybe you should get going." Even as he spoke the words, I knew he didn't mean them, but I also knew that even if we were falling in love, this would be a time he needed to spend alone. But if he did need me, I'd be right there.

"Ok," I said, equally as quiet. "Mrs. Templeton, it was nice meeting you." I shook her hand and she gave me a warm smile.

"You too, Ben."

Ethan stood along with me, and just before I left, I gave him a kiss on the cheek. He blushed instantly. I looked at his mother, and she was still smiling contently. A warm feeling filled me, and I knew that things would work themselves out in time.

That night I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling and thinking over the past day. It was hard to believe that in such a short time, I'd become so close to Ethan. One day was all it took to change my life.

Suddenly, the phone rang. I glanced at the clock. It was past 1am. Who in the right frame of mind would be calling at this hour?

"Hey, Lover," came a low female voice that I knew all too well.

"Jacy, do you realize what time it is?"

"Hmm... Nope, not really. And is that how you greet me?" She began to sniffle into the receiver. "After all that we've shared, this is how I get treated?" Even she could almost hear the snicker in her voice that she tried so hard to hide. "Didn't you miss me?"

I didn't even try to hold back the yawn that emerged from my mouth; nor did I hide the sarcasm in my voice. "I'm sorry, Jacy. I did miss you, Jacy. I love you, Jacy. How's that?"

"That's a bit better, but try harder next time." Jacinda smiled on the other end of the line. "And don't say you love me. You know how I feel about you men."

"Yes, yes, we're the scum of the earth. The only thing you need us for is plumbing, in both the literal and sexual tense.." I had heard this speech a dozen times before. I never knew exactly why Jacy hated men so much; perhaps a part of it was all in fun. The only thing I knew is that it certainly explained why she preferred dating within her own gender. "So, what's up?"

"Nothing... You?"

"People don't just call at this time for no reason, Jacy. Spill it! Is this about that girl you were seeing? How's it been going, anyway?"

"Which one?"

Geez... It seems that every week Jacinda has a new interest in a girl. She calls it 'product testing', meaning that she wants to explore and see what's available before becoming too involved. I think that she has a problem with commitments. "So who is it now?" I asked, trying to keep my voice light and sarcasm-free.

"Her name's Andrea. I don't think you know her."

I could hear the giddiness in Jacy's voice. Here we go again.. "Oh?"

The voice on the other line sighed. "I know that 'oh', Ben. I know what that means, remember? Andrea's quite different from the others. She's really very shy. She'll be a challenge to train... Nice girl, though. The kind that you'd bring home to Momma." Jacy snickered. "Well, maybe not what YOU'D bring home..."

"Very funny."

"Oh, come on, Ben. Lighten up. You know I'm kidding!" She sighed. "Anyway, I was calling to see if you wanted to come to dinner with Andrea and me tonight. Perhaps bring along a friend?"

The tone Jacinda's voice carried on the word 'friend' brought a small smile to my lips. "That could be arranged," I replied, knowing that I'd have to call Ethan later in the morning.

"Great! How about that Chinese place on East Hastings? I need some more chopsticks for the apartment."

"Sure, sounds fine with me. Just don't leave with them all poking out of your coat pockets this time, all right? It looked too odd."

"You're no fun," she sighed. "I'll call you later."

"Okay, bye Jacy."

"Oh, and Ben?"

He yawned. "Yes?"

"Get some sleep, why don't you! What the heck are you doing up at one in the morning?"

I shook my head and sighed as I hung up the phone. Jacinda had a habit of calling at all hours of the night, and so frequently that my mother finally decided she'd rather I had my own phone line than be woken up by my nocturnal friend. It was an arrangement that suited me fine. And with my computer also located in my room, I only needed to leave for food.

I looked at the clock again; 10 minutes to 2. And still I couldn't get to sleep. Part of it was excitement over Ethan, but there was something else as well. Nervousness. Up to this point I'd never been in any kind of relationship. But here I was, falling completely in love, and it frightened me. During the day with Ethan and Ally, I hadn't been able to dwell on any one feeling, but now, in the silence of my bedroom, my mind was free to wander. I thought of Ethan's smiling face, and the warm, light feeling returned, and I finally managed to sleep.

I woke up, oddly, bright and early the next morning. Because it was so early, I tried going back to sleep, but every time I managed to, I'd wake up within twenty minutes. Finally, after about an hour of tossing and turning, I decided I might as well get up. I quickly glanced at the clock; 9:30. I figured it wasn't too early to call Ethan and ask him about having dinner with Jacinda. I picked up my jeans from the floor and ruffled through the pocket until I found the napkin he'd written his phone number and email address on. I quickly dialed the number and waited for someone to pick up.

"Hello?" Ethan answered in a delightfully groggy voice. It sounded so cute.

"Hey! It's Ben. Did I wake you up?"

"Ask a matter of fact..." he said, holding back a yawn. "Damn you chipper morning people."

"Actually, I'm not," I laughed. "I just woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I figured if I'm stuck awake at this hour, I might as well have company."

"Oh, I'm so honored. Why couldn't you wake up Ally?"

"Are you kidding?! Ally would kill me!" There was a soft groan from the other end of the line, but I ignored it. "So, what are you doing today? Anything exciting?"

"Well, I have a class at noon, but I wouldn't call that exciting. Other than that, I don't have anything planned, unless you wanted to do something."

"A friend of mine, Jacinda, called me last night… well, it was one in the morning… but anyway, she invited me to dinner to meet her new girlfriend. How'd you like to come?"

"To meet Jacinda's new girlfriend? Sounds good to me. Where are we going?"

"The Mandarin Garden. It's a Chinese restaurant downtown." I paused briefly, unsure if Ethan even liked Chinese food. "Is that okay with you?"

"Sure, it sounds fine."

There was an odd moment of silence over the phone line. Neither Ethan nor I was sure of what to say. "Hey, Ethan?" I finally spoke up.

"Yes Ben?"

I hesitated. "Did your mother say anything last night? I mean… after I left?"

"We had a discussion in my father's office once you left. I told her more about you and what I thought was happening between the two of us. I think that she's content with it, knowing how good this makes me feel…"

"Really?" I asked, feeling much lighter. "That's good!"

"Yeah, it is… And Ben.." Now it was Ethan's turn to pause as I heard him take a deep breath. "I want you to know how much I appreciate you being there last night while I told my mother."

"Well, after seeing the two of us kissing, I guess it was inevitable!" I said, throwing my two cents of humor in.

He didn't laugh, though, and I knew that this was meant to be a serious moment. "I really mean it, Ben," Ethan continued. "If you hadn't been there, with me, I swear I wouldn't have been able to tell her anything. Your support meant so much to me."

Even though Ethan couldn't see my smile, I was sure that he could feel it. "I'm glad that I could help. It was really sweet to see your mother taking it so well."

"Yes, that wasn't expected on my part. Unfortunately, I have no idea how my father will react. I've never been able to tell much about him," he added.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, okay?"

Ethan didn't reply.



"When you do decide to tell your father, I'll be right there, next to your side." If it was going to be as difficult to tell his father as I suspected, then I knew that he would need my support.

"Thanks, Ben."

I glanced at my clock. Time had flown by and it was past 10:30. "Hey, I had better let you get to your class, right?"

"What? Oh, I guess so. I still need to shower after my 'alarm' woke me up this morning."

"Are you complaining?" I asked.

"Not much," Ethan replied jokingly. "No, I'm not complaining at all."

"Good. How about I come by and pick you up at 6:30 tonight? You may want to get some rest after your class. This could be a long night!"

"I'll keep that in mind! I'll see you later then, Ben. Take care."

"You too, Ethan." I replied, and cradled the receiver on the base.

It was still a few hours before noon, and even though it was a rare occurrence for me to voluntarily leave my bed before noon, it was obvious I wasn't going to get back to sleep any time soon. As the saying goes, I was too high on life.

My mother was awake in her bedroom when I made my appearance downstairs, watching one of the home shopping channels she's so addicted to. When she saw me, she glanced at the clock, and then grasped her chest. "My.. God… awake… before noon… heart… can't take…it."

I rolled my eyes, but refrained from commenting. I turned on the computer, and collapsed into the less-than-comfortable chair in front of it. There are a few online comics that I like to read every day, so I read them over, then checked my email. I don't get much email; most of it is Spam from various companies that I've never heard of, with the occasional joke from Ally, or one of those chain surveys that she loves so much. It looked pretty much routine, until I noticed an email from Josh.
    Hey Dude,
        I was rummaging through the supply room, when I noticed
    you left your box and 'folio behind yesterday. You prolly already
    noticed it's missing, but I figured I'd be a pal and let you know. If
    you come by today, look me up, I'll be hanging around the art dept.
    most of the day.

    PS: You've got to tell me all about your new friend. He's a HOTTIE!!
    You wouldn't happen to know if he's available, would ya??

"Shit," I muttered as I began his note. In the excitement of the previous afternoon, I'd forgotten to pick up my art supplies from the art building. I guess this meant I'd have to make a trip down to the campus. According to the little clock on the screen, it was now just past eleven. If I had to go to campus, I might as well get it done with. I let my mother know what I was doing, and after getting dressed, I made the relatively short drive to school.

When I got there, Josh was in the department secretary's office chatting away.

"Ben!" he cried when he noticed me. He rushed over, and gave me a big hug, which I returned as best I could, not being quite as affectionate as he was. "Hey, I left your stuff in Cody's office so no one would take it." After waving good-bye to the secretary, we popped into David Cody's office to pick up my stuff. Cody is outrageous with a capital O. Just the fact that his office was painted neon red said loads about him. But he was nowhere to be found, and Josh took the opportunity to take over the office. Plopping behind Cody's desk like he owned the place, he folded his hands under his chin and grinned at me. "Now, about this new friend of yours, is he available?"

"No…" I replied, dragging out the word slightly.

Josh frowned. "He doesn't have a girlfriend does he?" he asked, sneering the word girlfriend, as if it was unconceivable to him that anyone could be romantically involved with a girl.

"No…" I relied in the same manner as before.


"Well…. Yes. Yes he does." I thought for a moment, then deciding I had nothing to loose, continued: "Me."

Josh's dropped for a second, and then his grin was back, full blast. "I KNEW IT!!" He cried. "I knew it!"

"You knew what?" I asked cautiously, even though I already knew the answer.

"Well, I've been pretty sure you weren't interested in girls for awhile now. I've never really seen you with a girl, you know what I mean? And that didn't leave much left… I must say, you do know how to pick 'em."

I sighed with relief. I had no doubt that Josh would be fine with it, seeing as he was already out to everyone and their grandmother, but I'd still been a bit nervous. "Hands off," I laughed. "He's mine."

Josh stood and walked around the desk, planting his butt on the edge. "You two should come to an Alliance meeting soon. The gang'll love you."

I grimaced. "Josh, I'm not quite ready to wear rainbow t-shirts in public, y'know?"

"Who said you had to? You just come and meet some of my friends. You're one of us, there's nothing to be afraid of."

"I guess not, but I'll have to talk with Ethan first. Neither of us are really out yet…" I trailed off.

"Don't worry, we won't make a school-wide announcement or anything. But I will have to make sure to let the guys know you aren't available. Hell, even if they know you aren't, with your looks, I'm sure you'll get hit one plenty." He laughed at his own joke. I made the decision to at least try going once, even if Ethan wasn't with me, though I hoped he would want to go.

Josh and I chatted a bit longer, but I was starting to get a little tired, like I almost always do in the afternoon, and decided to go home for a quick nap.

I want to thank my friend Stef who helped my with the editing on this chapter, and also helping with the writing chores (actually, she begged me to let her do some writing, and I finally gave in. :o)  See if you can figure out what she wrote. I also want to thank everyone who sent me all the encouraging emails.