Three Roads: Chapter 43, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (Part 1)


For a very long time, Dr. Jill Taylor had believed that everyone was put on Earth for a specific reason. Some were supposed to be great leaders who were able to mobilize and get their people involved. Others worked on a more individual, but no less important, level of being a good friend, or being at the right place at the right time with genuine words of kindness or a simple smile. She had always considered herself lucky that she knew her purpose from a very early age. As she sat in the Pride Center listening to Richard speak, a very warm feeling came over her and a smile spread unconsciously across her face.

Richard stopped talking mid sentence, "What?"

At first she didn't understand what Richard was referring to, but then she felt herself smiling and cleared her throat, "It will sound very strange."

"I'm sure whatever it is I've heard stranger."

"I had the feeling that right now at this moment, I am exactly where I am supposed to be."

"Where else would you be? We scheduled this meeting like two weeks ago." Richard said plainly.

"I meant in the scheme of things; physically, spiritually, I am supposed to be right here in this place right now."

"I don't think I understand."

Dr. Taylor waved her hand in the air, "It's fine. I shouldn't have even said anything."

"Are you sure? I think I kind of get what you're saying."

Dr. Taylor was unconvinced, "It's fine, plus I've got a stack of papers on my desk that I need to go through and a discussion about God and fate will not get me out of here any time soon."

"One last thing," Richard started, "You know I'm going to run for President of the student government this spring."

This time Dr. Taylor was aware of the wide smile across her face, "I figured as much."

"It'll be a conflict of interest if I say that I'm supported by the Queer Straight Alliance and the Pride Center so how should I handle that...assuming I have the support of both."

"You certainly will have my support, but I think I'm uncomfortable with having the Pride Center endorse someone. Considering it's not a club and that you and Joey are staff members, I think it would be best to leave the center out. You are of course more than welcome to use any resources here for your campaign."

"Thank you...and the QSA?"

"Have the members vote at one of the meetings once campaigning officially begins in the Spring. As long as they vote to endorse you, I don't mind."

Richard was not at all worried about getting his fellow members to support him for the elections.

"Is that everything?"

"It is." Richard nodded, "I'll probably come by your office before the week is over."

"Please do."

"Hey doctor." Joey smiled as he walked into the room.

"Joey, how was your thanksgiving?"

"It was good. My brother came down and we had dinner with Cooper and Toby."

"Eric didn't join you guys?"

"Oh no, he went home."

"Well, I have to run, but it was nice seeing you." Dr. Taylor smiled.

"You too."

"You're late." Richard said as soon as Dr. Taylor had exited the room.

"It's the Monday after Thanksgiving, give me a break."

"Some of us have things to do you know."

"Going out to lunch with the girls?"

Richard smiled, "Depends on which girls you're talking about. I'm having lunch with Toby, Cooper, and Eric."

"Tell Cooper he's an asshole." Joey said as Richard put his backpack over his shoulders."


"Just cause."


As soon as Richard spotted his friends in the corner of the pizza restaurant on campus, he saw Cooper's hands go up in a gesture of frustration, "What the hell took so long? We said the pizza place on campus, not on Mars."

Eric hit Cooper on the shoulder and then turned to Richard, "Ignore him. He gets like this when he's hungry."

Richard scooted in the booth next to Toby, "Oh, Cooper, Joey said you're an asshole."

"I love that kid." Cooper smiled warmly.

"Are you excited about the upcoming tennis match?" Richard said nudging his ex boyfriend playfully.

"You have no idea," Toby smiled, "practice has been going so well, my ankle is feeling good, and I feel so much better mentally. It's going to be a fantastic season."

"Just don't mention Brian and he'll be fine." Cooper said with a wry smile on his face.

Toby mustered the meanest look he could on his face as he stared at Cooper. Richard saw the silent exchange and looked at Toby, "You and Brian don't get along?"

Toby was still glaring at Cooper as he spoke, "We get along fine. Cooper just likes to be a little bitch. But I like him more than he likes Jon."

Cooper was no longer paying attention as he was eyeing one of the workers who was approaching their table with what looked like their order. She sat down the large pepperoni and sausage pizza and a bunch of napkins. She began to walk away but Cooper called her back, "Uhhh...can we have plates?"

"Oh did you guys need them?"


"Ok, give me one sec."

Cooper gave a loud sigh of frustration as she walked away, "No bitch, I don't need plates, I'll just lay my pizza on the dirty ass table."

"You don't like Jon?" Eric asked with an unreadable expression on his face.

Cooper turned around quickly at the mention of Jon's name, "What?!"

"You don't like Jon?" Eric repeated.

"Who said anything about him?"

"Toby said you didn't like him."

Cooper turned to Toby and gave him a look very similar to how Toby had looked at him just a few minutes ago.

"I don't get it," Eric continued, "Why don't you like him?"

Toby wanted to slap Eric upside the head for asking such a silly question, but he decided to stay out of it for now. The waitress came back with four paper plates and sat them on the table, "I'm sorry about that."

"It's more than ok." Cooper smiled, thankful that there was a distraction from the conversation. The boys ate in silence, in part because they were all very hungry, but also because no one was sure of what to say. Richard broke the silence first, "I fooled around with a girl."

Cooper dropped his pizza in anger, "You really need to warn me before you drop some weird shit like that."

"Are you serious?" Toby asked.


"Why would you bring that up?"

Richard shrugged, "I didn't know what else to say. Are you mad?"

"Is that why you brought it up?"

"No! Honestly...I'm a little confused by it all."

"What happened?" Eric asked taking a bite of his pizza.

"Wait...wait," Toby interrupted, "Is it someone we know?"

Richard nodded, "Melinda."

"That is just nasty!!" Cooper practically yelled.

"Oh come on, she's attractive." Richard said defensively.

"Yeah, if you like girls."

Eric again nudged Cooper, "Be nice! How did this happen?"

"We sort of planned it. I kind of had been dropping hints that I was interested in doing something."

Eric was curious, "Did you guys go all the way?"

"No, we just had oral. Is this really ok to talk about?" Richard asked turning to Toby.

"I'm fine. I think if you were talking about a guy, it might bother me, but a girl...there's no way I could compete with that." Toby smiled.

Eric spoke up again, "Why did you choose..."

"Don't say her name!" Cooper yelled, "As long as you don't say her name I'm able to imagine that this is a guy we`re talking about."

"What about Bliss?" Eric said, reworking his question to accommodate Cooper's request.

"Cause if it was a one time thing...I wouldn't want to do that to her."

"Was it a one time thing?" Toby asked.

"I don't know. It's definitely different and I'm so used to guys...it was just different."

"I'm going to regret this, but I have to know what's so great about it," Cooper started, debating whether he should really ask, "but eating her out...was it like eating ass?"

"No, it was very different. Eating her was like...a very wet French kiss."

Cooper pushed the tray with the pizza on it away from him, "I won't be able to eat ever again."

Richard laughed, "You asked?"

"And I wish that I hadn't."

"It was funny cause I was looking for something to grab or to jack and there wasn't anything. I was just staring at it like what do I do. I did get to do the alphabet on her though."

"The alphabet?" Eric asked confused.

"Yeah A...B..." Richard was moving his tongue through the air as if he was tracing the letters.

Eric nodded, "Oh, got ya. Ohhh..." He said as if he had smelled something bad.

"Did she like it?" Toby inquired.

"Yeah, her favorite letter was H." Richard smiled.

"Ok, conversation over!" Cooper said putting his hands in the air, "We can talk about anything else but not this."

"Alright, I'm sure I've grossed you guys out enough." Richard smiled.

"Whatever floats your boat." Eric shrugged.

"I guess so. You know Dr. Taylor said something weird today. She was saying that she felt like she was exactly where she was supposed to be today when we were having our meeting."

"Like in life?" Eric asked.

"I guess so. I didn't really understand what she meant."

"She's lived a pretty successful life," Eric said, "I mean just listening to her talk about the Pride Center and kind of conceiving the idea and then seeing it become a reality has to be pretty powerful stuff. Plus she`s pretty active in the gay community."

"That's true," Richard said, "I guess I just have never experienced that feeling."

Toby was surprised, "Really, not even when we first got together back in high school?"

"We were like 16 or 17 then, I don't think we were thinking like that back then, hell I don't think like that now. Have you guys ever felt like that?"

"I don't think so," Eric started, "I sort of felt like that when I graduated high school just cause I was so glad to be getting out. But that's not a real feeling. I was just so ecstatic that not too much else mattered at that point."

"I know I have," Toby said, "When I first got home after everything that happened last semester I was just so messed up and feeling like a huge fuck up. But then like I just started to think how maybe this was a good thing. If life was really that smooth how would God ever teach us lessons?"

"I don't know if I buy into that," Cooper said, "We're not supposed to know what that feeling is like right now in our lives. We're slumming through college right now learning a bunch of shit we'll never use, but it's all supposed to make us a more well rounded person, when really we'll just be spit out into the system exactly the way we came in. We're too young, we haven't lived long enough to really understand what that feeling even means."

"Mr. Sociology has arrived." Toby teased.

Cooper smiled, "I can't help it. It's really opened my eyes to a lot of stuff."

"As if your eyes needed to be any more open." Eric smirked.

"We need to get going soon. I'm going to stop by Tim's house before his Mom gets home." Toby yawned.

Richard rolled his eyes, "I confessed about Melinda, so it's your turn. Is there something going on between you and Tim?"

"No one asked you about Melinda. You gave us all the juicy details on your own."

Cooper made a loud sound as if he were vomiting and Eric looked over concerned until he realized that Cooper was playing around, "You're such an idiot, I swear."

"Mike likes it when I do that."

"How is that going by the way?" Richard wondered.

"Fucking fantastic except the fact that no fucking is going on."

"Bummer...back to you," Richard said turning to his ex boyfriend, "answer the question."

"Nothing is going on or is going to happen. I think he finally understands that. We're just friends and he's struggling a bit I think with not having school and I think he just feels a little lost at the moment."

Richard nodded, "So you feel sorry for him, got it."

"I don't feel sorry for him. I am helping out my friend and at the same time hopefully making amends for a situation I helped to create."

"Ah, the new and improved Toby rears his halo covered head again." Cooper laughed.

"I'm leaving before I cause a scene." Toby smiled as he bumped Richard to signal that he wanted out of the booth, "Do you want to come with me to see Tim?"

"No," Eric said, "I got lots of stuff to do and plus we're supposed to hang out this weekend I think."

"Ok, I'll just drop you guys at home and then head over."

"Sounds like a plan."

"Well thanks for the lunch guys. The pizza was good." Richard smiled.

"It was wasn't it? I'm really full." Eric agreed patting his stomach.

"I wouldn't know, all this talk about unnatural things ruined my lunch." Cooper said looking at Richard.

"Such a drama queen." Toby said.

"Alright boys, see you soon." Richard waved as he headed back towards the dorms.


Tim counted the change before handing it to the customer, "There you go, enjoy your day." He smiled. The customer returned his smile and exited the ice cream parlor. Tim realized that he had dropped a bit of chocolate chip ice cream on the counter, so he proceeded to wipe them down until he was satisfied that they were clean. When he finished, he thought back to when he worked at Sammy's Sandwiches for that one day and how crazy the old man was. He wondered what had become of him. There were no customers waiting in line and around the parlor all the customers seemed content, so Tim went to the back where he knew Jon was taking inventory. Surprisingly, in the few weeks that Tim had been working here, he'd found Jon tolerable. They had even had a few general conversations, though neither would admit that they were starting to slowly, but surely, warm up to the other.

"Hey Jon, it's pretty quiet out there, do you need any help with anything?"


Tim had noticed that Jon hadn't been himself since he started his shift a few hours ago. He had been abnormally quiet; even when Jon wasn't speaking directly to him, he could be heard talking to another worker, on his cell phone, or singing a tune that was playing on the radio. The fact that he had been so quiet had caused Tim to wonder if something had happened between him and Eric.

"Are you ok?"

"I'm fine."

Tim turned to walk away, but he thought he would put himself out there, "You know, if you needed to talk or anything or just vent, I don't mind."

"Tim, if there's nothing to do than just go and enjoy it alright? I said I'm fine."

"Asshole." Tim whispered under his breath. Tim sat down on a stool that had been put in front of the cash register and looked around to the various patrons still in the restaurant. No one was alone and they all seemed to be having animated conversations. He never realized how much college provided him with a social outlet. He still saw Toby at least once a week when he would come over, and Eric still called him and they hung out every now and again, but besides those two he really didn't have any other friends. That had never really bothered him before, but since school was taking up so much of Toby and Eric's time, they weren't always available. He glanced at the clock on the wall and was surprised to see that he only had ten minutes until he would be off of work. He started to count the cash register to make sure all the money was accounted for so that he could leave right on time. Toby was coming over for his weekly visit and he didn't want to keep Toby waiting. He heard the bell ring that announced that someone new had come into the restaurant and he momentarily froze when he saw Jack walk in.

"Do you work here now?" Jack smiled.

"You knew that already. I told you online weeks ago."

"I know I was just joking around, jesus."

"Shouldn't you be in school?"

"School's out already and plus I'm a senior now. I have more than enough credits so I can leave early. Can I have a pint of mint chip ice cream?"

"Sure. Have you applied to schools yet?"

"Just one."

"Let me guess, Sunnydale?"

"You must be a genius." Jack said sarcastically.

"I don't go there anymore you know."

"Yet. And I don't know what you think, but I don't base every decision I make on Tim Henderson. Granted, I like you and it's really your loss that you don't want any of this."

Tim couldn't help but laugh, "Ok Jack."

"I'm serious," Jack said lifting up his shirt half way up his stomach, "I've been working on my abs."

"Put your shirt down!" but Tim did notice that there was some nice definition in Jack's stomach.

"Do you even like me?"

"Why do you ask me that every time you see me?"

Jack spoke barely above a whisper, "Because every time I see you, you treat me like I'm nothing."

Tim was annoyed, but he tried to speak as kindly as he could, "That's not true. I like you a lot...as a friend. If you would just be cool and accept that then maybe we could hang out sometime."

"You're just saying that so I will leave you alone."

"I just said that if you behave we can hang out. Your dad doesn't want me around you anyway."

"My dad doesn't know anything."

"Well he came to bat for me, I have no idea why, but he did, and that probably kept me from going to jail. Do you know why?"

Jack rolled his eyes, "My dad has a savior complex. He likes to come to the rescue and help anyone he can. Anyone, but me or my mom."

Tim had never heard Jack reference his mother before. Tim had even considered the possibility that Dr. Brown might have never been married and therefore adopted a kid, "What does your mother have to do with anything?"

Jack looked like he wished he hadn't said anything, "Everything."

"I don't get it," Tim frowned trying to figure out what Jack was getting at without prying too much, "If you're not going to Sunnydale because of me and you don't like your dad, who is the President of the university, why do you want to go there?"

Jack smiled, "Let's just say that payback's a bitch."

Tim put the lid on top of the pint of ice cream and slid it across the counter, "That sounds a little scary."

"Yeah, well some people have it comin, how much is it?"

"It's on the house."

Jack smiled, "Thanks. Well, since I'm not giving you cash then I guess I'll give you this." He quickly leaned forward and gave Tim a quick peck on the lips. Tim had been caught by surprise, not that it mattered, he wouldn't have known what to say anyway, "We really should hang out sometime." Jack laughed as he left the shop.


"Sorry, I'm late." Tim yelled as he ran down the driveway to Toby's car, "I got held up just a little bit at work."

"It's cool," Toby said getting out of the car, "I just got here. I didn't know if you had eaten so I brought you some left over pizza."

"I hadn't eaten yet. Thanks. Who'd you have lunch with?" Tim asked unlocking the front door.

"Eric, Cooper...and Richard."



Tim was making his way to his room with Toby following close behind, "I didn't realize that Richard hung out with you guys."

"Well him and I still talk just like me and you do."

"I meant I didn't realize Eric and Cooper were hang out buddies with Richard." Tim said a little bitterly.

"They don't really hang out together unless I'm there, but they get along just fine. What's wrong?"

"Richard's being a jerk to me and it's not that I care, I just don't know why."

Toby gave him a look of disbelief and laughed.

"Ok, so I know why. But you saw how he was at the party I thought he was going to kick my ass or something."

Toby shook his head, "He's not going to do anything. He knows it'll piss me off and we're really trying to be friends and be on good terms with each other. You're not helping matters by egging him on though."

"Even if he can kick my ass I'm not just going to sit there and take it. But it is nice to know you care." Tim smiled.

"Why do you say things like that?" Toby said somewhat angrily.

"I was sort of kidding."

"It's not anything to joke around about. Why do you think I make the effort to come over here at least once a week?"

"I thought because you felt sorry for me."

Toby took a deep breath and there was a long silence between the two of them. Tim didn't want to say anything else to make Toby even more upset than he had apparently made him and Toby didn't want to say anything out of anger, "I'm here because we're friends and because I do want to try and make better my part in everything that happened to you last year. Some of it is for my own sanity, but most of it is because I really do care and like being here."

"Thanks for saying that," he saw the look on Toby's face and quickly clarified, "I believe you. I really do, it's just I feel so left out lately. You guys are all in school and you have your classes and assignments to talk about, and what do I have? My new job at the ice cream parlor working with someone I don't even like."

"It's not forever. Have you found out from the school if they're letting you back in for the spring?"

"I didn't apply."

"Why not?!"

"Because, I just got kicked out. There's no way they're letting me back in this soon."

Toby was angry again, but he was trying his best to control it, "How do you know that if you didn't try?"

"That kind of thought process got me here."

"I have to say Tim, the self defeatist attitude is not doing any good for you at all. Not to demean your situation but yeah you did some bad shit, it caught up with you, and you're paying the price for it now. You got to get over it. There are plenty of people who have lived through much worse who are all right now."

"You're probably right." Tim said not in the slightest bit convinced. Toby thought back to the conversation he had at lunch with his friends, "How do you know this isn't where you're supposed to be?"


"How do you know that this isn't like exactly where you're supposed to be in life?"

"I doubt that I was supposed to be kicked out of school."

"You don't know that. You might learn something during this time that will help you later in life and it will all be worth it. How do you know this isn't part of the bigger picture...apart of God's plan?"

Tim rolled his eyes, "I don't know if I even believe in God to be honest. If He does exist he sure didn't help me out."

"What do you mean?"

"I just mean before I got into trouble. Where was that little voice in the back of my head that is supposedly God to tell me I shouldn't be doing what I was doing."

"Come on Tim, that's not fair. And He might have been whispering to you, maybe you just weren't listening."

"That's convenient."

"Maybe, but did you really need someone else to tell you that what you were doing was stupid?"

Tim folded his arms, "Let's stop talking about this before I get mad."

"I didn't say that to make you mad."

"Ok, but I don't want to talk about it anymore. You said I should put it in the past so let's put it in the past."


"Since when have you become Mr. Christian anyway?"

Toby stared hard at Tim, "Are you asking because you want to know or are you asking because you're being a smartass?"

Tim couldn't help but smile, "I want to know, it's a noticeable difference."

"You know my family is really religious and I've always believed in God, but ever since I took that time off last year, I've really been trying to find peace and get closer to God. I felt really lost last year and I didn't know what to do and my grandma kept telling me to pray. She always says that, but instead of having God be this escape route I use only when I need something or get in trouble, I'm trying to be more proactive and just appreciate the good things I have. I've even been thinking about going to church again and seeing how I feel about it."

"I think it's cool if that's what you want to do. Like I said, I don't know whether I believe in God or not."

"One day you'll figure it all out." Toby said confidently.

"I certainly hope so."


Joey had his elbows propped on his desk, his head resting in his hands as he stared at the doorway. His eyes quickly shifted to the stack of papers that were sitting next to him. They needed to be filed, and even though he was bored out of his mind, he did not feel like doing any work. He sighed heavily and turned to the computer and debated on whether or not he would get in trouble if he downloaded AIM to at least be able to talk to someone while he was here. A knock on the door pushed his thoughts away and he saw Chase standing at the door looking as sexy as ever.


"Hi," Joey smiled, "Did we have a meeting scheduled?"

Chase took a seat, "Nope, just coming by to give you some good news."

Joey knew that whatever Chase was going to say was not what he really wanted to hear, "What's up?"

"I booked the gym for our basketball game in a few weeks."

"Sweet, is the QSA going to get a bill or anything?"

"Naw, we took care of it. It wasn't near as much as we thought it would be."

"Cool, I'll let Dr. Taylor know."

"I see you're hard at work." Chase smiled.

"It's the Monday after Thanksgiving give me a break!"

"You just had one." Chase laughed.

"I'm lazy what can I say?"

"Oh, you know what I wanted to ask you?"

"No, I don't."

"Ha Ha. Are you going to play in the game and show off your skills?"

"You said that with a smirk, you jerk!"

"No I didn't." Chase's smile gave away his statement's true meaning.

"What you think just because I'm a homo I can't play sports?"

"No, I'm sure you'd be a good figure skater."

Joey stuck up his middle finger, but laughed anyway, "Don't let Dr. Taylor ever here you say anything like that or she'll lecture you for hours on end."

"I don't normally joke around like that...just with you."

Joey was uncomfortable with the eye contact that he and Chase were sharing and he was the first to break it, "I think that if you were gay, you'd be out. You're like a really confident strong person."

"You're wrong, I wouldn't tell anybody." Chase said firmly.

"What about your friends and family?"

Chase shook his head furiously, "I'd go to my grave with it. It'd stay between me and God."

"I don't understand."

"What's there to understand?"

"I don't think being gay is that big a deal, but me not telling people would be a lie."

"I don't think so. It's your own personal business, only God needs to know."

"Lying by omission is still lying," Joey said, "and again I ask about your friends and family. That would be a part of you they didn't know."

"Why would they need to know that?"

"What if someone asked you point blank if you were gay. What would you say?"

"No one would ever ask me that. I don't look gay, I don't talk gay, no one would ever think I was."

"Hypothetically, what would you say?" Joey pressed.

"It doesn't matter. I'd do a lot of things hypothetically that I'd absolutely never do in the real world."

"Like what?"

"I'm not answering that either."

"That's cause what you're saying makes absolutely no sense. I could understand not screaming it from the hills, but to not even tell the people you claim to love?"

"It's not for them to know."

Joey decided to push Chase a little on his stance, "You only say that because you think being gay is wrong."

"It is a sin. It's no worse than lying or murder or anything else because God sees all sin as the same."

"But you lie and I'm sure at some point in your life you've told a friend or family member that you've told a lie before."

"But living a gay lifestyle is living in sin. You're repeatedly and purposely committing that sin."

"So I'm going to Hell?"

"That's not for me to decide." Chase said simply.

"I'll take that as a yes."

"Don't put words in my mouth."

"Sorry, but being judged by someone who doesn't know what it's like to be gay and doesn't know what they're talking about always makes me a little upset."

Chase stood up, "You don't know what I know. You're judging me too."

"I'm not condemning you to Hell though."

"I'm not condemning anyone! I don't know what happens, but I do know what the Bible says, maybe you should read it sometime."

"Yes, because a book that was written trillions of years ago will really help guide me in today's world. Anything that doesn't talk about the internet is out of date in my book." Joey said.

"You have no idea how dumb you sound."

"Well no one's keeping you here, there's the door."

Chase shook his head in disgust, "Stupid faggot!"

"Fuck you and get out before I call the campus police."

As soon as Chase exited the Pride Center, Joey ran around his desk and closed and locked himself inside. Once he was sure the door was locked, he picked up the phone and dialed Brian's cell phone number.


"Brian, it's Joey. Will you come to the Pride Center like now? I really don't want to be here by myself."

"Are you ok?"

"Can you just come please?"

"Yeah, I'm on my way."


Eric and Cooper were sitting at the kitchen table both doing a little reading before relaxing for the night.

"I found out in my intro stats class that we'll get to do our own little study over the next two courses I'm excited." Cooper said.

"What are you going to do yours on?"

"I don't know. She said we're going to go through this huge data set that has the data already collected and we'll pick two variables and start from there."

"That actually sounds fun."

"It's not too late to change majors." Cooper joked.

"Yeah right. I'm trying to graduate no more than a semester behind."

"We should try and do it so that we graduate together." Cooper said.

Eric smiled, "I think that would be cool."

Their doorbell rang and both looked at the other, "Did you invite anyone over?" Cooper asked.

"No, did you?"


"Should I get my bat?"

Cooper shook his head, "No, if the both of us can't take an intruder then we deserve to get our asses kicked." He looked out the peep hole and had a repulsed look on his face when he turned to Eric.

"Who is it?"

"It's Jon."

Eric stepped in front of Cooper and opened the door, "Jon...you look like shit."

"That's not a nice way to greet someone." Jon said stepping forward.

"Wait! You sure you want to let him in he's obviously been drinking." Cooper whispered to Eric.

"Are you drunk Jon?"

"Not enough, because I still can form a sentence."

"How'd you get here?"

"I drove."

Eric grabbed his arm and brought him into the house, "I'll be back." Eric said as he led Jon to his room. He came back a few moments later, "He's in bad shape, I think he's going to have to stay here tonight."

"Why can't you take him somewhere else?"

"He ended things with the guy he was seeing."


"Don't be mean, Cooper. He's upset."

"Well he can be upset somewhere else."

"No! I live here and he's my guest."

"Fine, but I thought we were hanging out."

Eric softened his expression, "Don't make me feel guilty. He needs me and you know he can't drive and go somewhere else in his condition."

"Fine, do whatever." Cooper said walking back to the table.

"You're not the only person who's allowed to like someone else!" Eric yelled. He walked quickly into his bedroom and closed the door. Jon, who was laying in Eric's bed, turned towards him when he heard the door close, "Cooper doesn't like me does he?"

"He likes you."

"It's ok that he doesn't. I don't give a shit and I don't give a shit about Marcus either."

"That's his name?"

"Yeah, he's an asshole."

"How much have you had to drink?"

"Enough." Jon laughed.

"What happened?" Eric asked as he sat down on the bed next to Jon.

"I got the dreaded it's me not you speech. Which means he's probably already with someone else as we speak. But I don't care it's his loss anyway."

"Obviously you do care."

"No, I just want his heart to break into a million pieces and I hope his stupid dog runs away. He loves his dog more than anything."

"I can't imagine you around an animal of any kind." Eric teased.

"Yeah, that bitch was going if we got really serious."

"Where are your keys?"

"In my pocket, why?"

Eric held out his hand, "Give them to me. You're gonna stay here tonight and I don't want you to even think about getting in your car."

"I told you where my keys are, you can get them."

Cooper heard the talking stop and then the giggling ensue as he tried to continue reading. He wouldn't have been able to concentrate anyway as he tried to figure out why Eric had said what he did just a few minutes ago. His cell phone began to vibrate noisily on the table and he was thankful that it was his sister, Angela, calling since he didn't really want to talk to anyone else.

"Hey sis, what's up?"


He could tell immediately from her voice that she was upset, "What's wrong?"

"I hate to tell you this over the phone, but you need to come home now."

Cooper stood up from the table, "Ang, you're scaring me. Is everyone ok?"