I want to thank you guys for the incredible feedback I've gotten on this story so far! You guys have truly inspired me to make this the best series I can! Here is the new chapter, and look for more soon, k? Let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by my website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org (And don't forget to sign the GUESTBOOK!) Seezya soon!

"A Class By Himself 6"

It was one of those days where the rain seemed to just materialize out of thin air in the early afternoon. It started out your average sunny day, and by the time you got a chance to look out of the window again, the storm was already in progress. As I came out of my second period class, I saw Tanner waiting to walk with me to my next classroom as always. But he seemed preoccupied with the rain at the moment. He was sitting on one of the school's large window sills and staring out into the storm, lost in a dreamworld of his own making. As I approached him, his incredble aura shining brightly as he subconciously tugged at his lip, it almost felt wrong to snap him out of it. I just kept walking closer, admiring his beauty as his gaze pierced the window and danced in the rain outside. His face was so blank at that moment. As though his mind and spirit were content to just be completely absorbed in his thoughts. His hair was perfection, his slim body leaned delicately against the glass, one leg propped up and one foot on the floor. It was so beautiful a sight that it was almost enough to make me as nervous as I was the first day I saw him on the morning bus. It was that sudden lightning strike of reality that made me say "Wow! I'm actually in LOVE with this boy!" I walked right up to him without him even seeing me, and quietly sat down beside him. "Hey..." I mumbled, still drawn to his peaceful appearance.

"Oh...hey Derrick. Sorry, I was just thinking." He smiled at me, but never once lost that calmness in his demeanor. That dazed appearance that let you know that he was in a whole different dimension at that moment. The best part of all that, however, was that he was willing to invite me into it with him.

"Thinking about anything special?" I asked.

"Just how much I love you. And how much I wish I could be enjoying this rain with you...somewhere else...alone." He sighed, and even though he was still smiling weakly, he seemed kinda sad about it. Like his longing was causing him pain somehow. My heart went out to him. It'd be a living fantasy to be able to run of with him into the downpour and kiss him with all of the emotion that I had to give.

"Yeah....me too." I answered sincerely. We were in a hallway full of students, so even the slightest touch of his shoulder, or show of 'un-manly' affection, could mean exposure. That alone kept me from expressing myself fully, cautious of what would and would not be considered anything more than a sign of a close friendship between two boys. Anything else was....you know....'taboo'. Sighhhh...I hated this. Tanner evidently had something on his mind, and good or bad, no matter what the reaction of our so-called peers, I wanted to hold him. I wanted to plant a kiss on his lips and hug him close to me while I whispered sweet phrases and comforting words in his ear. If only we lived in a world where people minded their own business...something like that might be possible.

"I'm sorry. I hope that I'm not being weird." Taryn said. "It's just..." He lowered his voice to a whisper, "It's hard not to want you sometimes."

"I know. But the good thing is..once we get out of here, you get to have me. Remember?" I was hoping to cheer him up a bit, and if it didn't work, he at least pretended that it did.

We kept our eye contact for a while, and I felt it in my heart when his smile returned to his face. "So are you still coming over tonight?"

"I wouldn't miss it for the world." I told him. "But I told an old friend of mine that I'd come to his party first. I'll just be hanging out for a few minutes or so. Then I'm all yours dude. Lord knows I wouldn't pass up a chance to spend time with your family." I said with a hint of sarcasm.

"Hey now! You know, it may sound like total bullshit to you, but I think they're really starting to like you, Derrick. Seriously."

I looked him right in the eye. Tanner was a good student, an awesome friend, and an even better kisser...but he was a TERRIBLE liar! I tried to play along with a grin. "Oh really now? They 'really' like me, huh?"

"Yeah. Why just yesterday they were telling me how much they...um...well...they were just saying how..." After allowing him to fumble around at it for a few moments, I just smiled and raised an eyebrow. He gave it a rest, knowing the gig was up. "OK! OK already! You got me." He said.

"Uh-huh....I thought so."

"But they mean well, honestly. Don't take it too personally, ok? My family doesn't like anybody. You don't know how hard it is to get them to like each other half the time."

"Exactly. And that's while I'll be doing all I can to stay out of their way all night so they don't have to deal with my awful presence in their precious kingdom."

"I know, I know...I'm sorry dude. Trust me, if I could trade in my family for a new model, I would. But I still want you to come...for me? They won't bother you too much. I'll do what I can tonight to keep them away from you. I PROMISE."

"Don't worry. I can take a few punches if it means spending time with my favorite guy. It's not like they HAVE to like me."


"No, it's alright. Really."

"No...no it's NOT alright. They're going to be nice to you tonight or so help me...I'll threaten them by saying that I'll turn gay and not produce them any children to inherit the family jewels." He got a smile out of me, and I saw him giggle playfully in response. I couldn't help but want to kiss him all the more. Right then, right there. I leaned closer, so tempted, so intrigued about what would happen if all these people were to find out that their golden boy was in love with the school outcast. To see what would happen if we were able to freely display what our hearts already knew was the truth. But paranoia always got the best of me, imagining the worst possible case scenario for us both in retaliation for finding out we were 'fags'. So I just settled for being close enough to catch a whiff of the wonderful scent that was Tanner's shampoo from his morning shower. Then I regretfully leaned back against the wall. But he knew that my soul was kissing him lovingly at that very moment, and I saw a warm shiver go through him as he returned the invisible liplock with the shine of his pretty eyes.

I smiled sweetly in Tanner's direction, and held my eye contact long enough to let him know that what I was feeling was getting stronger. He could practically read my mind at this point, and I saw that recognition of my affections in his smile. My hand awkwardly reached forward. I just HAD to touch him. Can you understand that? My heart wouldn't let me go another second without feeling his shirt, his skin, his hair...oh God, I wanted to be with him so badly right then. Instead, I let my hand land on his collar, my thumb secretly rubbing a small smooth area of his neck. I wasn't sure if it made him 'frisky', or saddened him more to not be able to touch me back right away. But there came a moment when the touch wasn't enough. So with a quick glance to make sure the coast was clear, I mouthed the words 'I love you' and he responded the same way, his grin forcing an electric charge to dance up my spine. He stood up, giving me his hand, and helped me to my feet to walk me to class. But just as we pulled ourselves away from the rainy portrait of the window, I saw Chris standing on the other side of the hall. He was looking right at me, staring in fact, and I didn't know how long he had been standing there. I stopped in my tracks, wondering what kind of rude assinine remark I could expect from him. But he didn't say anything at all this time. It was only because Tanner was there, I'm sure. EVERYBODY loved Tanner, and wouldn't take the chance of not being on his bright side. If I had been alone though, he probably would have gotten a few cheap shots at my self esteem before going to his next class. It was his duty as 'someone better than me' to remind me of how low I was on the totem pole. However, as strange as it sounds, and as much hatred as he had for me, I think he actually had this feeling of respect for Tanner. Even though Tanner was probably more like a 'competitor' to his image than an actual friend, I think a part of Chris actually wanted to get to know Tanner and be on his side. Like he had plans to form an alliance and have the two of them take over the entire school together. They would probably succeed too if it ever happened. It was a weird concept, but most of the kids who wouldn't spit on me before, all took notice of me now. They hated me and admired me at the same time. After all, Tanner was a bit of an enigma to everybody but me. I was the only one he told his secrets to, the only one he ate lunch with, the only one he spoke to in the halls. At least at any length. The others tried to get close to him all the time. Oh MAN, how they tried! But he didn't WANT to be closer to them. All he wanted was me, and he never hesitated to tell me so. How's that for an ego boost.

Chris just kind of looked at me, and then walked away without a single word. I don't think Tanner even noticed he was there. And if he did, then he didn't care. Just as well, nobody needs to be reminded how much people despise them ALL of the time. Tanner and I walked all the way down the hall and he dropped me off while heading on to his next class. There was such a feeling of...I don't know...this tingly sensation that flowed freely through my body whenever I thought about him. Or talked about him. Or thought about him. Or even heard his name. I just used 90% of my day to think of my boyfriend moving in slow motion, savoring every detail. Every breath that I took was a treasured one, and it made it seem like the whole world was full of gumdrops and lollipops. I had been told how silly and goofy love could be. And I always thought that the whole idea was a corny vision created by some guy with the creativity of a potato. Always thinking, 'fine, you're in love. But for God's sake quit being so stupid about it!' I always thought that it would never be ME grinning like some idiot and making kissy faces across a crowded room. Not ME! But those weren't just crazy visions. It wasn't the cheesy ramblings of a five year old or the result of a mushy greeting card. It was REALLY like that! When the love is real, it truly is that silly, that fun, that spectacular. To just want to touch and be close to someone EVERY single second of the day! To think about them constantly. To know in your heart, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that you would deny your soul mate absolutely nothing...that's a hard feeling to have, much less describe. Nobody realizes it when it's happening to them, but looking back on it, they all go, 'what the hell was I on back then?' I wonder if I'll ever look back at myself ten years from now and see just how utterly ridiculous I am whenever Tanner is around me. Who knows? Who cares? As long as Tanner is still in my arms that day, so we can share that laugh together.

I should have known that it was coming, but there was no way to avoid it, so why try? I later went to my gym class and of course, Chris was in there getting dressed and cracking jokes with a few of the others. I just walked passed him, hoping to get away without the hazing. Psh! So much for THAT strategy! "What's up, 'slug'?" He said. He'd recently started calling me that. About two weeks earlier, if I remember correctly. As if 'Derrick The Destitute' wasn't enough of an insult. Anyway, by calling me 'slug', he was implying that I just lived and rummaged in filth. Wonderful. JUST wonderful. You know, for an asshole with the brains of a empty milk carton, he had an interesting creative spark every now and then.

I ignored him, even with his cronies watching and egging him on with their laughter. I just didn't have the heart to battle it out with the likes of Chris at that moment. Life was good, and the last thing I needed was another headache. I just got undressed in my own little corner of the locker room without making any contact at all. After he tried to get a rise out of me two or three times without a reply, he got tired of the game and just blew me off. I guess my mom was right. That trick really DOES work every once in a while. So after a few minutes, the room started to empty little by little until only Chris, me, and a few stragglers in another part of the locker room remained.

As Chris stripped down to nothing but his boxer shorts, I was tempted to look again. To catch another glimpse of that sweet body of his...you know...NOT that I was interested! Because I wasn't. Just...ONE more look, that's all. What can I say, he had a REALLY cute ass! I can't help but tell the truth...it was mouthwateringly round and perky. Definitely drool-worthy. If only I could detach it from the rest of him and take it home with me. His class was having swimming lessons now, so I knew that he'd be changing into his tight little Speedo trunks any second, and I'd get a chance to let my eyes roam over those globes just like they did last time. I can't believe that I'm actually looking FORWARD to this. After all he's done to me, I should be looking for a sharp object to fucking SHANK him with! And yet, here I am, ready to mentally feast on his smooth teen flesh as it is displayed in the raw right here in front of me. So I slowed down with my activities getting into uniform, and took a few sneak peeks at what he was up to. I kept glancing over, out of the corner of my eye, and that's when I saw him pull his shorts down. Exposing the beautifully tan-lined cheeks that I had been dying to see again since the first time. I looked directly at them as he bent over to take them off. I held my breath, making sure that he didn't catch me watching, and I kept my eyes glued to those fabulous ass cheeks of his. Jesus...they were so...so...JUICY looking! I wanted to bite into them like a ripe peach! Especially whe he put his swimming gear on, each leg going into the hole, watching his long strong legs and sweet apple cheeked bottom wiggling into his trunks. Mmmmm...it was VERY cool to see. BELIEVE me! I was trying hard not to stare openly at what was going on, but it was hard not to look. They were such taut little buns, with a smooth, tight, frictionless surface that made you want to just reach out and grab them. Better yet, to rub my face back and forth against them until I exploded from the sensation. THAT would be sweet!

Then, just as I was taking an especially long look at him, mentally licking the surface of that cute ass, he turned around. I saw a flash of his testicles, the ridge of a well sculpted, nicely sized penis, and a thin blond patch of pubic hair. It had whipped around so fast that it jiggled slightly, and I wasn't able to look away fast enough to maintain my innocence. So I just diverted my eyes to the floor and prayed that he didn't catch me looking.

"What are you doing?" He asked. He seemed slightly irritated.

"Who me?" Nice stall tactic, dork! "Nothing...." And I attempted to pretend that it never happened. But I could tell that he was watching me out of the corner of his eye. Did he know? Have I just given him the ammo he needed to truly destroy me forever in the eyes of everyone else in the school forever?

"Derrick..." He started, sounding like he was about to pound the shit out of me, but just then, half the Lacrosse team came into the locker room and stopped to pat Chris on the back.

"Chris! Dude! Listen, we've got this little 'project' going on this afternoon, why don't you come join us?" Said one of them.

"I already told you guys...I don't want anything to DO with that. And you shouldn't either. It's wrong." Chris said, and they mocked him for it.

"Awww....look who's growing a heart all of the sudden. You've GOTTA be there. It's gonna be hilarious. We've got this kid so backwards that he won't know what hit him."

But Chris refused. "No way. I don't even know what kind of kick you guys are getting out of this. It's just stupid, leave it alone. We've got other things to worry about anyway." Chris said. But the others just roasted him more by laughing and saying he was a wuss for not going along. Whatever they had planned, I guessed it must have been some kind of macho bullshit thing, they sure wanted Chris to go. "Come on, do you know what the coach will do to you if you guys go through with this? We can make the finals this year. Don't do it. C'mon Clint...I know YOU'RE with me. Aren't you?"

But Clint just smiled in response, and the others piped in. "Clint's the gel that's holding the whole thing together bro! He's the most important part! It's time this kid got what he deserved." Jocks...whatever. They probably were planning to scare some poor little girl senseless because she stepped on their lawn. Who knows what these lunk heads do after school? But the cool thing was seeing Chris being seen as...normal, or maybe even less than average, among his peers. They teased and ribbed him as an equal. I must say, after seeing most of the kids around here falling all over him like he was some kind of god, this was a totally different experience. I listened to their conversation for a while, but as soon as I heard it winding down, I decided to high tail it out of there before he remembered that I was watching him. Before he remembered to start swinging his fists in my direction. Shit...too late.

The other guys left the room before I could get fully dressed, leaving Chris in nothing but some skimpy swim speedos. The room fell dead silent, and I looked over to make sure that he wasn't getting ready to smash me into a bloody pulp. What I saw really surprised me. He was blushing! Actually blushing! Like he was scared that I was going to do something perverted to him. It was weird. All this time, never even a hint of fear or shame from this boy, and suddenly he was making sure to cover himself up with his towel and looking to see if I was still watching. Hahahaha, maybe he was a homophobe in the worst way. Maybe this was the one way to scare him off for good. Ahhh....the possibilities. Finally, 'Derrick the Destitute' wins a round. I walked right by him and felt good about actually getting to him for a change. As I walked passed him, I stared him directly in the eye. I could see the nervous twinkle in his gaze, his breath caught in his throat, his body pressed back against the lockers and quivering slightly in my presence. I was almost tempted to shout out, "BOO", and scare the living shit out of him. But why push it? I was happy with the result as it was. It was enough to make me feel good for the rest of the school day.

Tanner and I rode the bus home together, the rain pelting the windows harshly as the thunder rumbled around us. Tanner always took the window seat, and as I glanced over at him, I noticed he was mesmerized once again. Looking at the reflection of the raindrops on the bus window being cast onto his face, it almost gave the appearance that he was crying. The shadows of raindrops gliding down his cheeks. "Are you alright, dude?" I asked.

"I'm fine. I just...I love rain, you know. There's such a peaceful vibe to it. A rhythm, a calmness, a sound. It just fascinates me sometimes." I secretly took a hold of Tanner's hand and put it in mine. He looked at me with an intensity that was unbalanced, more lust than anything else. I think the rain was just making him really horny! "So, you're coming to my little family gathering tonight, right?"

"Ahhhh....I suppose." I moaned.

"Derrick, you have to come. Don't flake out on me tonight, k?" He smiled, his finger tickling the palm of my hand.

"Yeah, I'll be there. I promise. Just as soon as I find a reason to run out of this other party I was invited to." I said.

"Who's it for?"

"Just a big get together. Some of my friends from my old school. They invited me to a few other parties, but I always tell them that I can't make it. I guess, after a few rejections, I should probably go. It's not like I meant to alienate them or anything. I don't want them to think I'm ditching 'em." I said. "It's strange, but I really miss that place sometimes, you know?" When I thought about it, as much as I loved Tanner, it was nice to be a part of the in-crowd once. At least from what I remember...it had been so long. Almost a year. I was wondering if the others would even remember me at this point. I'm sure even my old friends had replaced me with new 'stand ins' by now. But I promised some people that I'd go, and I'm going. I'll just make an appearance, and dodge out twenty minutes later so at least people can say 'Derrick was here'. Then again, what if they DID remember me? What if I had a great time, and left to go to Tanner's parent's party where everybody and their children were these stuffy rich types who were all either snobs, brats, jerks, or egomaniacs? And some 'gifted' rich kids fell into ALL of those categories at once. They were true works of art indeed. I swear, if one more person asked me what my parents did for a living, I was going to stab them with that weird shaped utensil on my place mat that I have no idea how to use. Who CARES what my parents do? I'm a teenager for goodness sakes! Tell me to stay in school, slip me a quarter, and leave me alone. What other conversation do I really need to engage in with an adult anyway at these things?

"Thinking about the party?" Tanner asked me.

"Huh? Hehehe! Shit, how did you know?"

"You always get this sick look on your face when you're thinking about my family. Kinda like the face you make when you eat an oyster for the very first time."

"I've never eaten an oyster before." I smiled.

"Well...believe me, that's the face." Tanner grinned briefly, but then got serious and sighed a little to let me off the hook. "Listen, if you really don't want to go, I won't make you. You've been to enough of my little family functions and suffered enough of their abuse to last you a lifetime. I'll understand."

"Hmmm...let me think. Will you be there?" I asked.

"I kinda have to be." He said smiling sadly.

"Then I'm sure it'll be great. I'll be there. Not for them. For you." He looked back at me and seemed too dazed to even smile. "And for the free food." I added. He slugged me in the arm as his smile spread out in all its glory in front of me.

"ALMOST a sentiment that I could appreciate." He said, and I leaned over to gently butt him with my shoulder. The two of us shared that moment, and despite the hazing I was sure to get, I couldn't resist a night with Tanner to save my life, so why even pretend that I wasn't gonna be there?

We didn't say much else for the rest of the bus ride to his house. We just exchanged some loving looks and a few secret touches of the other's leg. Then he got up and waved goodbye as he walked the rest of the way home. He left me his umbrella to keep me dry, he was always such a sweetheart, and walked through his front gate in the rain. He said he did it all because I didn't have an umbrella of my own and my house was further from the bus stop than his. He never stopped thinking about me, never. It's good to know that it wasn't just me that was addicted in this relationship. I really wanted to kiss him before he left. I'll definitely have to make up for it later.

I got home and cleaned up to get ready to go out to this party. I figured 8 o'clock was a pretty decent time to show up. You've gotta pick a good time, you know? Otherwise, you'll look like a geek. Just a tip I learned the hard way, I suppose. But nothing looked right on me. All of my clothes seemed to be either too old or too fancy for a hometown party. I didn't want them thinking I had turned 'preppy' on them. I picked out something that sort of mixed up the old casual me, and the new 'uptown' me. I don't it looked TOO bad. Geez! I'm such a fashion misfit sometimes! Just get in the shower, Derrick, and throw on something out of the dirty clothes hamper. Whatever.

The time rolled around, my mom was able to drive me halfway on her way to work, and I splashed the rest of the way through the rain. It wasn't hard to tell which house it was, the lights and music could be seen and heard from a block away. Always a sign of a good party. The ones who were old enough to drive had cluttered the driveway, the lawn, and most of the street on both sides. This thing was evidently a little bigger than I thought it was going to be. I walked up to the front door and smoothed my hair. I checked to make sure there were no wrinkles in my clothes, and did a quick breath check. Okay, all is good. I'll just sneak my way in, talk to the two or three people who even remember my name, and then it's on to Tanner's house. Easily said, easily done.

I rang the bell and a girl answered the door. She looked familiar, but I wasn't quite sure who she was by name. "Hey..." I said timidly, ready to explain who I was and why I was there.

But then...this look of surprise came over her face and she said, "OH...Omigod! Derrick??? Omigod!!! KICK ASS!!! How ARE you?" She nearly broke my neck giving me a hug, and having her jump up and down at the same time didn't help.

"Hehehehe...I'm...I'm fine! How are...uh...YOU?" Whoever this girl was, she was certainly happy to see me. No need to ask her what her name was and ruin the moment.

"COME IN! COME IN! I can't believe you made it! Hey you guys! Guess who showed up?" She yelled.

Now, mind you, I remembered a little more than half of the faces in that room, but only a few of the names. The rest were reduced, in my mind, to yearbook photos, classroom filler, and bodies to dodge in the hallways on my way to class. That's it. But you would have thought that a celebrity had shown up when I walked through that door. Suddenly people were hugging me and shaking my hand, and telling me how good it was to see me. And what did I do? I just kept referring to everyone as 'sweetie' and 'dude' and 'bro' and 'hey'...hoping no one would figure out that I didn't know them from a hole in the ground. But after about fifteen minutes, not only had every last one of them talk to me, but they were introducing me to other people as their long lost 'buddy'. I began to believe my own hype and actually felt comfortable with everybody. It was like being brought back to my life again. People asked about ME! And my life! And my interests! Not 'how much I made' or my parents made or my stock options and college funds. They didn't look down their noses at me. They didn't brag about all the things they had and have competitions over who had the biggest house. They didn't make rude comments, talk about therapists, or pets named 'Foofie', and they didn't have summer homes to visit. They were just...normal. They played basketball and video games and enjoyed going to the mall without melting a credit card with purchases. And they liked ME. It felt like being as popular as Tanner was, or Chris, or any of them. I wasn't even equal, I was well liked by a lot of people. The guys made me feel welcome, the girls made me feel sexy. Some of them even winked at me a few times. I found myself talking to a group of people at once, instead of hiding in a corner to talk to Tanner. It felt so damn GOOD to be one of the 'pop' kids again. I had forgotten how cool it could be to be....well...'cool'.

I was pulled aside by a feminine touch. "Dude, you missed SO much! Tommy Joplin got arrested for carrying a GUN to school! Wendy thinks she's pregnant, but she CAN'T be pregnant, but she THINKS she is..." I had this one girl catching me up on all of the gossip, and she seemed to have a computerized database full of it lodged in her brain. But it was fun to hear her mention names that I remember. "And Billy is still here, but he doesn't talk much anymore. He just walks around all day writing in some stupid journal or something. And both Ryan and his best friend Tyler moved away, but they're not too far away. They might even show up tonight. OH...and do you remember Drew??? Dude...he's GAY!"

My eyes widened. "Hahahaha! Drew? Get out of here! No way!" I said. Damn...I remember Drew as being REALLY cute too!

"Swear to God! He came out to everybody, like, soon after you left. Is that strange or what? I never knew anybody who was gay before."

I giggled wickedly to myself. "Yeah, well, you never know."

I looked at my watch, and realized that I had already been there for an hour an a half! Geez, I was having a little TOO much fun. I figured that I'd just finish this punch of mine and take off. I told a few people that I had to run, and they all seemed so sad to see me go. I got handed about 15 phone numbers at once and was forced to give out twice as many. My mom is gonna LOVE taking messages for me over the next week or so. So far, so good. Tanner's party had just started at 9 PM, so I won't miss much. I'll just hop on a bus, ride over to Tanner's house, and it'll only take me a half hour. No problem.

"FUCK YOU!" I heard it come from the side of me. Evidently, two boys were involved in a little argument or something. The whole party kind of stopped to look for a moment, but they weren't really interested for long. I guess if there aren't any fists swinging, then it's no big event. Then this cute kid with blond hair starts pushing his way past people quickly, and heads straight for me. He bumped my hand pretty hard as he stormed past, and the remaining half cup of my punch splashed out and right onto my shirt. The boy just kept going, no apology or anything. I sat there with this giant red stain on my shirt, feeling the ice cold liquid seeping through it to freeze my chest with its arctic touch. Okay....so maybe I'll go home first and change again. One full hour to get to Tanner's instead of a half. Not TOO bad, I guess.

Instead of saying good bye to any more people, and possibly filling my pockets with even MORE tiny slips of scribbled on pieces of paper with phone numbers, I decided to sneak out the back door. "Import beer man. It rocks!" Someone shouted out. Okaaaay....whatever pal. Sleep it off man. I went out the back way. I saw an old buddy that I actually recognized sitting out on the steps watching the rain, and figured I'd say a quick hello on my way out.

"Aaron, what's up man? Long time no see." He smiled when he saw me, but only halfheartedly. Great, I finally remember somebody's name, and they're not in the mood to talk.

"My, my, my. The prodigal son has returned. How are they treating you up there in 'pretty pretty' prep school, dude?" He said.

"They're nice...well...not 'nice'...but, you know...they're....they're..."

"Treating you like shit, huh?"

"YES! Every single day. Hehehehe! I'll survive though." I laughed.

"You should have done like Ryan and Tyler, man. Move someplace somewhat normal. I'll bet you they're not having any troubles at all out there." I could still tell that there was something wrong with him, no matter how natural he appeared. There was a sadness in his tone. Behind his eyes, even. So I figured I'd lighten things up a bit.

"So...where's Craig? It's not normal to see you two apart for more than a minute. You two still drawing comics and stuff?" I was hoping to cheer him up, but that evidently backfired. Aaron seemed to get even more disturbed than he was before, and got up from the stairs right after I said it.

"Actually...um...we...we don't talk anymore." Oops, I think I picked the wrong subject.

"Oh....oh wow....dude, I'm sorry to hear that."

He looked down at his feet. It almost looked like he was ready to tear up. "Yeah..........me too."

"I didn't mean to bring up any bad...." But he interrupted me.

"Don't sweat it. No big deal. Sigh...uh...it was good to see you again Derrick. Don't be a stranger, k?" Then Aaron brushed himself off and walked away. This wasn't turning out to be such a great night for him, that's for sure. I looked at my watch and headed on out to catch the first bus to Tanner's place.

"Hey, have you seen Taylor around?" Somebody asked me. Another familiar face, but not one that I recognized. Some track team type with dark hair. Good looking though.

"Taylor, who?" I asked.

"Ah, nevermind. I'll find him. He's got to be around here somewhere. Say, good to see ya again, Derrick. Take care man." And then he ran in the house. Great, ANOTHER person who knows my name. I hardly remember his 'face', much less his name. I started walking around the outside of the house when I ran into somebody else.

"Hey, Derrick. Say, have you seen Jordan around here?" What do I look like, an information booth? Where were these people coming from anyway?

"Jordan, who?"

"You know...Jordan." Oh yeah, like THAT clears everything up.

"Taylor, right?" He nodded his head and I made the assumption that the other kid was who he was looking for. "I think he just went into the house."

"Thanks bro. Take it easy." And 'Taylor' ran in to join him. As fun as it was being recognized, it wasn't the same. I felt the love, the friendship, and all of that. But I was out of the loop. I didn't feel that 'connection' anymore with the rest of them. I mean, kids were moving away and coming out of the closet and breaking records at the old arcade and getting new stepbrothers...and that 'Justin' guy from my history class seemed to have disappeared off the face of the Earth without a trace. How was I supposed to somehow fit back in as a piece of this puzzle when I have been so far removed from it for so long? Weird. I took one last look at the party, and then walked away without turning back. I'd be back one day, sure. I'll keep in touch, make a few more appearances, and have a good time. But...this isn't where I belong. Not anymore. It didn't feel right. Even with all of the merciless HELL the new school put me through. With Tanner is where I belong. And all the intolerant bullshit that surrounds him doesn't change how I feel about him one bit. His family and classmates will just have to learn to like me. Because I'm not going to just go away. In fact, I'm getting closer everyday. So they will either deal with it or they won't. That's that. To hell with going home, I'm going to Tanner's house straight from this party, just like I planned.

As the bus took me across town, I began to feel better and better. About myself, about my relationship, about everything. It was uplifting. For the first time, I was standing on the line between my present and my past, and I felt like I could easily stand alone. Even better...I could move forward. I didn't need the attitudes and snotty comments, I didn't need the praise and the recognition...I didn't need to stand on either side of the equation. All I needed was the ability to stand on my own two feet. And realizing that for the first time can be a very liberating feeling indeed. Especially when you know you're going to wander through the lion's den. With a stained shirt, no less.

The bus dropped me off and I walked the last block or two without getting too soaked in the rain. The last thing I wanted to do was track mud all over Tanner's house and have his family think I was raised by pigs or something. But as I neared the house, waiting for the usual 'what are you doing here' look from the doorman, that enlightened feeling of confidence came back to me with a vengence. The rain seemed to wash away any doubt that I had about being there, about being with the boy I love. I quickened my pace, and soon my mind was just overflowing with a burst of self esteem. To hell with them. I can do this. I WILL do this. If I could be a star in my old school, I can be a star anywhere. I went through the gate and made my way up to the house. I rang the bell, and before the doorman could even give me 'the look', I handed him my sopping wet jacket, making sure to get him at least a little wet with the splash, and pushed my way past him. Fuck him too. I had a huge stain on my shirt, but screw it. I'll find Tanner and borrow one of his for the evening. Problem solved. It felt good to be strong enough to not give a shit. REALLY good.

"Derrick! Dude, you came!" I heard Tanner coming up behind me, and he gave me a 'manly' hug from behind. But I could still feel the love behind it, even if he did try to make it look good. "I'm glad. I was starting to think...hey, what happened to your shirt?"

"Hehehehe, accident at the last party. Long story. Do you think I can borrow one of yours for tonight?"

He leaned forward and whispered, "You've already gotten into my pants plenty of times. Why would I worry about a shirt?" And he grinned as he started off to his room. I followed, but we had only gone a few steps before his mom stopped him. Standing in front of us with a face that looked like it was peeled off of an angry dragon and slapped onto her skull.

"Tanner...where are you going?" She said. She looked me over, taking an obvious offense to me showing up to their little shin dig wearing a stained shirt. She didn't make any attempts to hide it with her stare either. "Derrick...I wasn't aware that Tanner invited you here...'again'." Oh, that was lovely. I know she's my boyfriend's mom and all, but what a fucking bitch!

"Hello, Mrs. Scott." I answered.

"I'm not sure you noticed, but you have a...'stain' on your shirt." She said.

"Actually...it was an accident ma'am." I refused to lower myself to her level and be rude. Unlike HER, my parents raised me to have manners.

"I'm sure it was. Tanner dear, why don't you let Derrick get something out of the box that we're donating to charity. It should fit him just fine."

"MOM...!!!" Tanner was appalled. His jaw dropping in embarassment.

"That's okay Mrs. Scott. I believe Tanner has a shirt upstairs that will fit me." Bite your tongue, Derrick. Don't let them get to you.

"I...I suppose that will work too then. Fine. And maybe he'll even let you keep it, so you'll have something to wear for any other parties you might go to. Then you can sit with a classy crowd." She replied. From the look on his face, Tanner was about ready to either die of shame, or break a chair over his mother's back. Either way, I knew I didn't want any trouble. I started walking towards the stairs, dragging Tanner behind me so he wouldn't say something that might get me kicked out of there.

"Awww...thanks ma'am. But I don't want to sit with a classy crowd. I'd rather stay here with you wonderful people instead." And with that, I walked up the steps quickly. It was kind of funny to see Mrs. Scott's evil grin turn into an insulted scowl. Two points for the poor kid! Between getting recognized at the last party, spooking Chris out in the locker room, and cramming two fingers up that barracuda's ass for a change, I was three for three! It was awesome. Maybe it was the storm, or the alignment of the planets or something, but I felt like I could get away with anything at this point.

I got to the top of the stairs, pulling Tanner into his room and shutting the door. He was still majorly pissed off. "The NERVE of her! Dude, I'm so sorry! I can't believe she could be so mean to you! This shit has GOT to stop! I'm gonna go back down there and..."

But before he could finish, I grabbed him gently by the ears, pulled his face close to mine, and planted a big kiss on his lips. I had been waiting all week to give him a big smooch like that, and it tasted absolutely divine. I broke the kiss with a loud smacking noise and looked into his eyes. Just then, he started giggling out loud. "Hehehe...what?" I asked.

"...I'd rather stay here with you wonderful people instead. Hahahaha...I get it. You bitch!" He laughed.

"You're a little slow today, aren't ya?"

"Hey, I was mad. So sue me." Then he delicately wrapped his loving arms around me and kissed me with a passion that made my knees buckle. His tongue licked playfully at mine, and then he stopped to just lay his head on my shoulder and hug me. "Sigh...I love you. Soooo much Derrick, you have no idea."

"Yes...I do." I said, and I kissed him again. Then he stepped back as I took my shirt off. He looked at me as I stripped it off of me, and I could see a familiar lump forming in his pants. Then, I threw my shirt on his bedroom floor and stood bare chested in the middle of the room. He reached out to rub his hands lightly up and down my sides, kissing me on the neck. I sighed, but had to push him back a little bit. Regretfully. "Tanner...your shirt?"

"Yeah..." He whispered, and he began to unbutton his own shirt, more and more of his smooth, flawless, chest coming into view with every button.

I snickered at him and said, "Hehehehe...NO dude...your SHIRT! You were supposed to give ME another one to wear, remember?"

"OH! Oh yeah! Right!" He laughed. "Hehehe, sorry."

Tanner had the cutest blush forming in his cheeks, and it made me smile. "You were gonna 'do' me right here with your mother and a party of people downstairs?"

"Um...no..." He giggled shyly.

"Oh my God...you WERE, were't you?"

Tanner buttoned up his shirt again and reached in his closet to throw me one to put on. "Maybe." Seeing him turn the cutest shade of pink while letting that sensual smile cross his thin lips, just made me run over and kiss him again and again. He was SOOO adorable when he was being bashful.

"We'll have time for that later. I promise." I said, and I rubbed the front of his pants tenderly as he buttoned up my shirt for me. And boy did he take his sweet time, enjoying the sensations rushing through him as my hand massaged and stroked his hardened need for me. Our eye contact never swayed during the whole process, and when he was finished, we were both tempted to lock the door and go at it right then and there. But we settled for another few quick kisses and decided to get back to the party. I've never felt so full of emotion as I did in Tanner's presence.

Instead of going downstairs right away, Tanner sat me down on the top step to talk for a while. After all, he had to wait for his little 'problem' to go down before he could be arond people again. On the winding staircase, we could look down on the whole party, and Tanner began to spread a little gossip of his own. Like the girl at the last party, but believe me, rich folks have much better gossip. "Now...you see that guy down there? He's got this weird fetish about ladies shoes."

"Lady's shoes? He gets off on that kinda stuff?" I asked.

"Yeah! And that lady down there, that's his wife, she's cheating on him with the fat, bald guy in the corner. And HE'S cheating on HER with one of his secretaries. Now, the secretary has been having sex with two guys at once from the same law firm, and I hear that one of those guys is actually sleeping with somebody who goes to our school!" He totally shocked me with that one.

"WHAT? Like a teacher, right?"

"NOPE! A 14 year old boy!"

"Awww...dude! No way!" We laughed ourselves silly for about twenty minutes on that top step. He knew every story, every dirty little secret. It was so cool. They had all spent so much time snooping into each other's business to find out how they made their individual fortunes, that all of the other secrets just kind of unfolded with them I guess. The things I heard, my God. And I'M supposed to be the outcast of this crowd?

"OH, OH...dude, watch this!" Tanner said, getting up on his knees to look closer. I moved over to get a better look, and saw two ladies wearing the same dress standing pretty close to each other. "Now watch! That's Mrs. Jansen, and she hates to not be the only one in a room to be wearing a certain dress. I just saw her slip 100 bucks to the cocktail waitress, no doubt to get her to spill that last glass of red wine on the other lady. And the OTHER lady is Mrs. Henglemeyer, and SHE just gave 100 bucks to that waiter to spill hot soup on Mrs. Jansen!" The whole thing sounded so ridiculously immature. Like a game some kids in the 3rd grade would play. I didn't believe it and figured he was pulling my chain. But, as I watched closer, I saw the cocktail waitress move into position. And sure enough, with a fake 'oops', she spilled the drink all over Mrs. Henglemeyer and made it look like an accident. The dress was ruined, and the two ladies exchanged a dirty look before Mrs. Henglemeyer walked off. What a bunch of jerks! Tanner and I laughed to ourselves, trying not to be discovered at the top of the stairs where we were safe. But it was too hard to hold it in. Then Tanner, while almost out of breath said, "Wait...wait...watch the waiter pocket the other hundred without spilling the soup!" And once again, Tanner had the whole thing down to a science. Hahahaha! Rich people, gotta love them.

"Tanner. There you are. Come on down here sweetheart." Drats. His mother had found us out.

"Uh oh...she's being 'sweet'. That means she's going to show me off to somebody like the racehorse I am. Sigh...look, this is embarrassing enough for me already. Why don't ya just walk around a bit and I'll meet up with you in a few minutes. K?"


"Love you."

"Love you too." I whispered back, and I watched as Tanner fixed his hair and walked down the stairs to have some people he didn't know tell him what a handsome little heartbreaker he is. Sometimes, I really didn't envy him at all.

I made my way to one of the other rooms and helped myself to a tray full of some squished up croissant sandwich type thingy that tasted a bit like ham and mayonnaise. It was good, but I couldn't define it if I wanted to. I was going back for more when I accidently bumped into somebody. "Oh, excuse me." I said. But when the other person turned around...it was Chris! "Oh...it's you."

"Geez, does Tanner have to carry you EVERYWHERE? You're like some ugly old luggage that nobody can seem to get rid of." It's nice to know that, even dressed up and looking good, he can still be an asshole.

"Funny, I didn't see YOUR name on the invite list. I'm surprised they even let you in." I said.

"Of course I'm on the list. My dad has got more cash than half of the people here thanks to a few good investments and some business sense. And now he owns an entire chain of restaurants all along the..."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah...that's nice." I said. "Great talking to you, Chris. We'll do this again sometime. And thanks for not boring me or anything, ok?" And I just started to walk away. So he's got money, big deal. Who cares? Who needs it?.....I need it. Sigh...if I had that much money, my mom would never have to work again. Ah well, there's always the lotto.

"Jealous?" He said. Why the heck was Chris following me?

"Did you ever stop to think that maybe I don't want to hear it?"

"Don't want to hear it because you're jealous. Go ahead, say it. I know you are."

Just then, Tanner came over to join me. "Sorry about that. Say, come here, I want to show you something."

"Tanner, my man. What's up bro?" Chris said, looking for a handshake.

"...Hey Chris. Glad you could make it. Come on Derrick, this way." Tanner said it so unemotionally that it was hard not to laugh in Chris' face. Tanner wasn't rude, but I doubt that Chris really registered on his radar as far as friends was concerned, and I KNOW that had to be eating away at him! Especially since he's got half of the school thinking he's some kind of god. Jealous? Of HIM? Hardly, I had what I wanted. Let's see him top that.

Tanner took me into this half empty room, and sat down at a piano. "So...what do you want me to play?" He asked.

I gave him a strange look. "You play piano???"

"Hehehehe yeah. Since I was about 7 years old. So what do you want to hear?" He smiled up at me, and I felt that magnetic pull between us, begging me to kiss him again. I told him that I didn't know any...piano songs. So he pulled me down to sit on the bench next to him and began to play this soft mellow intro. It sounded like some kind of classical piece for first couple of seconds, and then all of the sudden, he began banging out Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" as hard as he could on the keys. I laughed out loud, and some of the guests looked over to see what the heck was going on. We tried singing along, but were laughing too hard to really manage more than a few words at a time.

"Tanner! What have I told you about playing games on that piano!" His mother hollered. "You play something 'decent' or don't play at all." He leaned over to playfully butt me with his shoulder and just played around on the keys a little bit. He was doing it much more quietly now after being scolded. But the smile on his face let me know that he didn't really care. He was just happy to be there with me.

I could see it in his smile, in the sparkle that danced in his eyes, and somehow....I knew he could see it in mine.

"I can play too." Came a voice from behind us. We lost the privacy of the moment, and looked up to see Chris standing over us...again.

"What?" I said, obviously annoyed.

"The piano. I can play a few things too. My teacher showed me a few tricks here and there. Watch, scoot over a bit." He said, forcing his way onto the bench. I was almost at the end of my patience as far as his attempts to get in good with Tanner were concerned. Tanner stood up and Chris sat next to me. He started to play some complicated classical piece, and it was well done. Really good in fact. But I hated him so much that I just didn't care. It was the kind of crowd pleasing display I could expect from someone like him. He kept playing and reaching over me, so I decided to rattle him a little bit. I remembered the horror on his face in the locker room, and used it to my advantage. I leaned closer to him while he was playing, and put my hand on his thigh.

"That's really good, Chris. Do you know 'Great Balls of Fire'?" I asked, giving his leg a playful squeeze. Chris practically flipped out and screwed up every note for the next few minutes. He looked SO nervous. It was hilarious. It looks like I've found a secret weapon. Or more appropiately, a form of pest control.

"Why don't we give you some more room to play, Chris?" Tanner said, pulling me up from the bench. I couldn't help but giggle happily to myself. Chris took a few seconds to recompose himself, and then he started to play again. As he was doing so, Tanner and I snuk out of the room and went back up stairs. We closed the door again, and as soon as we were sure the coast was clear, Tanner turned off the lights and we resumed our little game of tonsil hockey in the dark. Let Chris entertain all he wants, I'm sure somebody down there will give a damn. The darkness contained the sexually charged smacking our lips, the slow motion of our tongues intertwined. I was so thirsty for him, all the time, it never stopped beig my number one focus. The rain outside was surrounding us with the most melodic sound of hypnotic drops. It was like a lullaby, and it made me want my lover even more. I leaned back against the wall, and Tanner pushed up against me. He used his hands to balance as mine traveled down to knead the soft cheeks that had given me so much pleasure in the time that I've known him. He sighed, his breath passing from his lungs into mine as we hungrily tasted each other's kiss. Our breathing increased and I was so stiff that I thought I would burst out of my pants any minute. He was softly...rhythmically...grinding against me while we kissed, his smooth circular motions making me shiver. A soft moan escaped my lips, and I crushed him against me, kissing him even harder than before.

"Tanner? Tanner, honey. Where are you?" We could hear his mother searching for him again. I swear, that lady was ONE hog call away from being locked in a fucking closet for the rest of the night!

"Shhhh!!! Wait a sec." Tanner whispered, and he released his arms from around my waist to go listen at the door. "Shit! She's coming! Um...HIDE!" He pushed me towards the bed, and we both scurried under it like a couple of rats. We pulled the sheet down enough so she wouldn't see us under there and kept quiet. We saw her open the door, call his name again, searching around like some kind of evil sentinel guard or something. Then she just left. We both breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief before Tanner began to squirm his way out. He hadn't gotten all the way out, and I held onto his legs, keeping his lower half still under he bed with me. Holding onto his belt, I slowly crawled closer, stretched out on my stomach, and I pressed my face along the insides of his spongy thighs. I inhaled deeply, the scent of his sex filling me up. It was dizzying. The heat coming from him was so deliciously warm, and he grinned as he looked down at me. He leaned back on the floor, and I moved up far enough to bury my face in the groin of his pants. I rubbed my hungry lips back and forth across his growing bulge and lightly chewed at his stiffness through the material. He whimpered a little and pushed himself up into my face, lifting that cute round butt of his off of the floor. My heart began to pump faster, and I was in ecstasy as my actions gave into temptation.

I unzipped his pants, using my wet tongue to lick at the flesh beneath the open front of his boxers. I savored the lingering flavor of my favorite boy, and opened the single button that was keeping me from the sex I craved. Only moments after setting his hard 6 inches free, I lovingly took Tanner into my mouth with one long passionate suck. I immersed myself in his taste, feeling his thighs tighten slightly from the sensation. He shifted a bit to steady himself, his ass flexing with every breathless whimper that escaped his lips. I made sure to enjoy this, gradually lowering myself all the way to the base, and I held my warm lips there while Tanner spasmed and squirmed beneath me. Working him with the gentle wriggling of my tongue. "Mmmm...ohh yeah..." He whispered. "This...this is so wrong..." He giggled softly, not wanting me to stop.

I guess it WAS kinda daring, but that made it even better. He tasted sooo good, so very good. I constricted the grasp of my lips around his shaft and sucked tightly as I traveled back to the tip of his hardness. I began to bob slowly on him, and he entangled his hands in my hair, giving in to the sensual heat of my mouth. My head was touching the bottom of the mattress, the bed creating a low ceiling for what I was doing to Tanner's length, bu it kept him in my mouth the entire time, and his hands kept me from bumping my head. My tongue glided back and forth over the ridge of his sculpted cut, and it drove me wild. I was humping the floor in time with my oral administrations. I knew it wouldn't take much longer for either one of us.

"Tanner...you up here?" Came a voice from not far outside the door. It was Chris! He was coming up the stairs!!!

"Oh SHIT!" Tanner yanked himself from my sucking lips with a 'slurp' and stuffed it back into his pants. I could still taste him...DAMN this asshole for even BEING here!!! I crawled out from under the bed and tried to fix myself so that I wouldn't stick out too much. What did he want NOW??? Was he gonna fucking tap dance for Tanner or what?

He knocked on the bedroom door, and Tanner turned on the lights before letting him in. "Hey...what are you guys doing in here?" He asked.

"Nothing. Just talking." Tanner replied. He didn't really hate Chris, but he didn't know him either. Like I said, I don't think he cared one way or the other.

"Talking about what?"

"Murder." I sneered, upset at the interruption. Tanner nudged me in the side with a cheeky grin. He didn't want me to be rude. Alright, alright, I suppose I could be a gentleman for the rest of the night. I mean, it was almost midnight. How much longer could this party go on for?

"Just talking about everyday shit, that's all." Tanner said. "Are you enjoying the party?"

"Yeah, it's great. You've got an awesome house. It's pretty big."

"Not big enough." I mumbled, and this time Chris gave me a secretive dirty look. Clearing it up quickly to talk with Tanner again.

"Well...." Tanner said, after a brief pause in the conversation, "Why don't we...go back down and grab something to eat, huh?" And that became the end of our little interlude. Next time I'm setting a bear trap outside for Mr. Wanna Be Popular here!

We led Chris back down to the party and attempted to not let him get in the way too much of our good time. But everytime we tried to get some distance between us, he was right there next to us. It was like he was trying not to talk to me on purpose, just my boyfriend. I watched him with Tanner, and he was just trying so hard to get on his good side. It was shameless. Tanner wasn't stupid, he knew it, but he played along anyway. I attempted to play along too for a while, but it was just strange seeing Chris be nice to anybody. So it was a hard role to get into. It's hard to think that Chris was worshipping Tanner like he was some kind of celebrity or something.

"Long time no see, kiddo." Tanner turned to see who was talking to him, and it was his cousin Jackie. The one who was so sweet to us on our Valentine's Day date.

"JACKIE! Cool! What are you doing here?" Tanner ran over and gave her a huge hug, leaving Chris in mid sentence.

"I was driving one of the limos outside tonight. It's a shit job on a night like this, but I needed the money. There's this gold digging chick at work that I'm trying to hook up with. Maybe I can get her to write her name on a hundred dollar bill, huh?" She smiled. I tell you, it was refreshing to see her again. Someone cool enough to be comfortable with who she is. And to be so wild about it too. "Anyway, my shift's over tonight, so I'm out of here."

Chris wasn't saying much to me at the moment, in fact he seemed rather uncomfortable all of the sudden. It was just him and me standing there, but he kept his eyes down on his feet and didn't utter a single word. Not even an insult. Weird...even for him. Whatever. He wasn't saying anything, so I went over to Jackie and said hello. "Hey Jackie."

"Derrick? Awww...how are ya babe? You just can't get enough of these lovely gatherings, can you?" She smiled.

"Yeah, you know me." I said. She chatted with us for a few minutes, and then took Tanner to meet a friend of hers. I was left standing there alone with Chris again. I think the fact that Tanner wasn't impressed with his antics was getting to him. Good! Screw him. And since he didn't seem even the least bit interested in talking to me the way he was for Tanner, I left him standing right there as I made my way back to the food trays. I got some stuff, and just hung out in a corner to eat. That's when Chris slowly shuffled his way over. He had a different look on his face, something I had never seen before. It was strange. "You don't look happy." I said.

"I'm fine." He said. But I could tell, he was nervous. I don't know why, but he was.

"Are you sure?" I asked, but he gave just me a REALLY dirty look. "Look, I'm just trying to help. I'm sorry I cared."

"Like I need YOU to care, Slug-Boy. Save it." He said angrily. "And for goodness sakes fix your hair. You look like some kind of dork or something." He said, and he used his hand to harshly brush it out of my eyes.

I pushed his hand away quickly. "Don't TOUCH me! What are you? My mother or something?"

"Whatever. Dude, you are the most pathetic rich kid wanna-be poser that I've ever met. I don't even know why I'm talking to you."

"You know what? Me either." I wasn't sure how many times I was going to have to walk away from this brat before he got the message, but I was going to find out. I suddenly thought about having him follow us up the stairs so we could pay some waiter to push him back down and break his neck. Might be fun to watch. It would definitely put an end to this party, that's for sure.

As soon as the thought crossed my mind, an incredibly loud boom of thunder came crashing down on us from outside, and a bright flash lit up the room from where a bolt of lightning must have struck not far away from there. The power surge shorted out the lights, leaving all of us in the dark. We heard some commotion from the other room. People started looking around and complaining and before long, they were reaching for their coats. Tanner came to find me and Chris and told us that the party was basically over. If you ask me, it was just getting interesting. He gave Chris an impersonal handshake, but with a smile, to say goodnight. Me? I got a hug. Right in front of his mom. It took all I had to not look over Tanner's sholder and stick my tongue out at both of them.

Since Jackie was still around, she offered to give me a ride home instead of calling my mom all the way out there again, and I happily ran through the rain to get in the back of her limo. I waited for a minute or two until she came back. But before she took off, she said, "Okay kiddo. Here we go. I had to pick up another little passenger, and we'll drop him off first. Ok?" And as luck would have it, BAD luck that is, it was Chris again. I could SWEAR that fate was laughing its ASS off at me right about then!

"NOW who's everywhere like some ugly old luggage?" I said. He just looked at me, frowned, and climbed in the back seat next to me. He didn't say much of anything for the first five minutes of the trip home, but then he mumbled something under his breath. I couldn't quite make it out. It sounded sort of like 'I can't fucking believe this' or 'I fucking hate this'...or any combination of mumbled words. "What?" I asked, just as irritated as he was.


"No, tell me what you said."

"NOTHING! Got it?" What was he going to do? Punch me in the nose like some elementary school bully? Fuck him! I've already taken more from him than I should have to put up with...than ANYONE should have to put up with! And I wasn't ABOUT to be 'nice' to him now that I didn't have to!

"You know what, asshole? You DON'T have to ride home with me tonight! You can get your ass out and walk anytime you feel like it!" He just shook his head in disgust, but he didn't say anything in his defense. "What happened to Mr. "My Dad Owns A Chain Of Restaurants"? Shouldn't HE be driving you home tonight, rich boy?"

"You SHUT UP about my dad! You don't know a damn thing about him!" He shouted.

"Hey...pipe down back there. Let's all play nice, we don't have far to go." Jackie said from the front, lowering the window between her and us. She wasn't really eavesdropping, but she knew a conflict when she heard one. So we leaned back and didn't say anything to each other for a while. But once again, he started talking first. But it was what he said next that really surprised me.

"He left me." It was like his whole voice had changed. Like all of that cocky confidence was gone and let him speak from the heart for a change.


"He LEFT me! Okay? He left me. He found some random bimbo at the party and he just...he left me." Chris put his head down, either from shame or from sadness. Maybe from both.

"I'm...I'm sorry dude. I didn't know." I still hated him, but far be it from me to kick somebody when they're down.

"Whatever. Just leave me alone." He pouted and I didn't push it any further. But I guess he felt bad about it, because after a few silent moments, he turned to say, "Um...thanks. Sigh." It almost was enough to give me a heart attack. Chris? Being a human being? Go figure.

Suddenly, the limo came to a screeching halt. I looked out the window, and saw some little red haired kid, maybe about 10 years old or so, racing as fast as he could in the rain. There was another kid not so far behind him on the other side of the street, and they were both heading for the intersection fast. The light had changed, and the little boy just kept on going. A few cars blew their horns and scared the heck out of him, making him lose control and fall over in the middle of the street. I saw the cars stop in all four directions as the boy toppled over into a heap. The other boy looked on, but must have been in an awful big hurry, because he just kept speeding off into the darkness. A few people got out of their cars to see if the little boy was alright, and Jackie was going to go too.

"You guys stay put. I'll be right back." She said, and she got out of the car. She left her blinkers on, and they filled the car with this rhythmic clicking noise that accompanied the raindrops perfectly.

Chris and I sat in silence for a moment, and that's when I said, "Look...everything aside...I really am sorry. Ok? I'll just leave it at that."

Chris glanced over at me with such a strange look. Like it was mixed up between a billion emotions at once. But it seemed like he was trying to force the hatred out to the surface anyway. That's when he frowned up again slightly and said, "Dude, your hair looks so damn stupid."

I wasn't sure whether to laugh at him or punch him in the eye. I was leaning more towards the latter. The NERVE of this jerk! Then, with little hesitation, he reached over to touch it again.

"Knock it OFF!!!" I shouted, smacking his hand away again. But this time, it didn't stop there. Before I could even get his hand away from me fully, Chris swiftly jumped forward at me! And before I had any idea of what was going on...HE KISSED ME!!! Right on the fucking LIPS! I didn't know what the hell was happening at first, and I struggled hard to get him off of me. Finally, I pushed him back against the seat across from me, and we both looked at each other, breathless after our little tussle.

"WHAT...what the hell was THAT all about?!?!?" I shouted. I think it scared him, and he began to breathe really really hard. I don't think HE knew what he was doing either. "Chris? Dude..."

"SHUT UP!!!" He said suddenly.

"Shut up??? Dude, what the fuck? You just...you..."

"I SAID SHUT UP!!! I swear to God, if you tell anybody about this, I will beat the living shit out of you on a daily basis!!! You GOT that? I will make your life a living hell! You think you've got it bad NOW? You haven't seen ANYTHING yet! Got it?" The look in his eyes was so intense. That mixture of fear and fury. The kind that you see on those wild animal shows where they're protecting their nest from a giant predator. "GOT IT???" He yelled again. I nodded, but that wasn't good enough. "SAY IT!!!"

"I won't tell anybody! I swear." That seemed to calm him down a little bit, and just then, Jackie got back into the car.

"I think the little boy's gonna be alright. As a matter of fact, I think he was actually smiling about the whole thing." She said. Then she looked at the emotions on our faces in the rearview mirror. "...Are you two okay back there?"

"We're fine." I said. It was hardly an incriminating reply, but Chris' gaze shot daggers at me anyway.

"Alright. I'll take your word for it. But I usually have to smoke two joints and drink a shot of Jaeger before I can get a look like THAT on my face." She said, and happily drove us the rest of the way home.

The car was deathly silent for the rest of the trip. Chris didn't utter a simple word, he didn't even look at me. I honestly believe he was scared to. Maybe even as scared as I was to look at him. He wanted to KILL me, I could just feel it. I wrestled with my own thoughts for a while, and I wasn't quite sure what to make of all this. Did Chris...I mean....did he...LIKE me? Is that even possible? Ewwwwww! That's gross! No way in hell! As soon as I get home, I'm going to gargle with bleach and baking soda until all of the germs are gone! SICK!

Jackie arrived at his house first, and let Chris out of the car. He didn't say anything, not a single word, as he stepped out into the rain. But as soon as he closed the door, instead of running inside to stay dry, he turned around and looked directly at me through the window. No umbrella, no nothing. And even though it was raining, I could have sworn that some of those drops on his cheeks weren't from the rain...they were tears. The painful look in his eyes will probably be with me for the rest of my life. It wasn't anything like I ever expected to see from him. He watched the car as it drove off, keeping eye contact with me the whole way. And it left me feeling more mixed up than I ever had been before. He doesn't like me, he CAN'T like me! Not like that! He doesn't like anybody!

"How are you doing back there, sweetheart?" Jackie asked.

"....Huh?" I was so lost in thought that I wasn't expecting her to say anything at all. "Oh...yeah, I'm...I'm fine. I suppose."

"Did he 'say' something to you? The little spoiled brat! Don't let him get to you."

"No...no actually, he didn't. It's cool. Really."

"Alright. Just you remember that there are people out there who would give their heart and soul to you at the drop of a hat. Who cares what he says?"

"Yeah...who cares...?" I said. But I knew that something very strange had happened tonight. All day actually. One extraordinary event after the other. I guess the rain brings out the weirdest things in people. I need time to think. A LOT of time!

That's it for this chapter! I certainly hope that you guys enjoyed it! For those who want to know about the little 'extras' that were added to this chapter, you would have to read the entire "Rainy Day Update" on the Shack Out Back website. It's a series of five or six stories that all intersect and take place on this one rainy night! So check out the notes in the "Website Plus" section of the site at http://comicality.gayauthors.org to see it all! And please let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net kewl? Thanks for reading! Seezya!