All other content or otherwise are works of my own imagination. All events are fictitious in nature.
Any similarities to persons living, dead, or otherwise are purely coincidental.
This story contains strong themes of homosexual content, if this offends you in any way, please refrain from reading further. If you are not of legal age to read this, please leave now.
A/N: I'd like to thank TalonRider for editing this chapter. His unparalleled excellence and tireless effort applied to my work is greatly appreciated. Thank you!
I'd also like to thank Librent for her fantastic beta-reading of this chapter. Thank you!
Chapter 25: Tolerance
I entered my room, my legs quaking and my eyes moistening. I was home, again. My eyes skimmed the room, my mind detailing every object I held dear, everything that was mine. Emotion flowed through me suddenly, causing my lip to quiver. I stumbled over to my bed, laying face down as I let out my first sob. I sank my face deeper into the sheets as the tears fell from my eyes. My shoulders slumped and my body rocked as I wept against my pillow. The past seventeen days had taken a massive toll on me. I needed to release, to let it all out, but at the same time I held it in, willing myself to strive forwards.
But I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I was home, my shield had broken down, letting everything come to the surface.
I cried harder. My eyes and nose running onto the duvet. A hand touched my shoulder. I jumped at the contact, turning around and wiping my face. Tears were in my father’s eyes as he reached out his arms,
I hugged him tightly, “Dad.” I croaked.
“Shhh…it’s ok.” He whispered calmly, “You’re home now.”
“Don’t make…me leave…again, Dad. Please.”
His arm tightened on me, “Never again. Never again.” He repeated as he rocked me gently.
We stayed together for a while longer, until my sobbing had stopped. He continued to hold me close, running his hand across the top of my back soothingly, as though he was trying to heal the wounds.
A few minutes later I pulled back, trying to give him a grin through my streaming eyes. I noticed Mum at the door, watching us. We shared a look, her expression giving nothing away. My body trembled slightly. I couldn’t fight her. I didn’t want to fight her. I’d had enough.
She eyed me cautiously as she slipped into the room, heading towards us. I followed her as she reached the side of the bed next to my dad and sat down. She sat there for a moment, looking at me. Her face reddened slightly,
“We were wrong to send you away, we shouldn’t have done that.” She said quietly, her voice weakening, “I’m sorry, Matt.” She finished, weeping softly, inching closer to me.
Half of my mind was overjoyed to be back, to have her hold me, but the other half was still reluctant to forgive her. She’d said and done some horrible things to me during the past month. But I wanted to move on. I couldn’t keep holding things against her, otherwise I’d be guilty of the same things that she was.
I nodded, pulling her into a hug, “It’s ok Mum. It’s ok.”
minutes later we were sitting downstairs in the lounge. Mum and Dad
wanted everything to be in the open so we all knew where we stood in
terms of my sexuality. At the request of my parents, as they picked
me up from Connor’s house, Josh was told to stay there until he
would be picked up later. They didn’t want him to be involved
with the conversation, which was something that I was, frankly,
pleased with. Josh was an amazing brother for being only twelve, but
he was just that, twelve. I know some kids around his age, or even
younger have come out and stuff, but Josh wasn’t like that. He
was somewhat mature for his age, but he was a far cry from being able
to comprehend what was going on with me. It was better that he wasn’t
involved at that stage, in case things went ugly, again.
“Ok, this whole…’me being gay’…isn’t something that’ll just go away. It’s part of me and that’s it.” I said, staring at them. “It’s something that can’t change, or be changed.” I added, making it clear for them.
Mum nodded, “We understand that, Matt. We’ve spoken to some peop-“
“What?!” I exclaimed, “Who?”
Dad raised a hand, “Relax, it was just someone over the phone. Nobody we know personally.”
I shifted on the couch. Again I found myself split over that decision. On one hand I was pleased that they were reaching out, accepting help from people who offer it, but on the other hand I felt somewhat odd about someone else knowing about me. It would just take some getting used to.
“Ok…so you spoke to some people. Did they say anything good?” I inquired.
“They said a lot of things.” Replied my mum, “At first I didn’t want to call them…” She said, looking at my dad.
“But I rang them anyway.” He spoke, “I couldn’t…” He shook his head, “I thought that I had messed up somewhere, Matt. That it was my fault that you turned out this way. I needed to know if it was true.”
I frowned, “Of course it wasn’t true. You’re the best Dad anyone could ask for.” I widened my gaze to my mum, “You’re both great parents, it was never your fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it just is.”
“We know that now, and we know that it’s something that cannot be changed. We understand.” Said Dad, “But you have to understand that this is still very new to us. We never expected this so please give us a little longer.”
‘They tolerate me now, but still don’t accept me.’ I thought to myself, ‘It’s better than nothing, and a step in the right direction. I can’t blame them for that.’ I nodded, “Ok.”
“Ok. Ok, that’s good.” Spoke Dad.
“And Jamie,” I said quickly, “He’s part of my life…” I looked at them, “I love him and he loves me.” I paused, noting the small frown on their faces, “Look, I don’t want you to treat him like royalty, I just want you to recognise that we’re together, as boyfriends.
“It’s also going to take us a little more time to…accept Jamie as your boyfriend.”
I had thought as much, “Is he allowed to visit?”
They looked at each other, “We haven’t discussed that yet.” Replied Dad.
Then it was my turn to frown. Why did they have to ‘discuss’ it? It wasn’t like he was something dangerous that could go haywire in a split second! Or that he was unpredictable or something! He was my boyfriend. That was it. I lowered my gaze to the floor. While I had expected them to say no, just hearing them confirm my suspicions left me feeling uneasy again.
Dad cleared his throat, “How about you invite Jamie over for dinner tomorrow?” He suggested.
“What?” Asked Mum and I in unison.
He nodded, “It’ll give us a chance to…meet him as your boyfriend.” He replied, turning to Mum, “It’s just an idea, if you don’t agree or…” He trailed off, leaving the ball in her court.
She sat there for a moment, pondering over the suggestion.
“Mum?” I called out, gaining her attention.
She turned to me expectantly.
“I think it’s a good idea. It’ll let you see him for who he is, and you’ll see us together…” I stopped talking, noticing her grimacing over my choice of words. “What I mean is, you’ll see that we’re just like any other couple our age. We don’t go into some ‘super gay mode’ if that’s what your worrying about.” I said, trying to lift up the situation.
“It’s not that, Matt…” She began, shifting in her seat, “This is so new to us.”
“It’s new to me too.” I offered, “I never wanted you guys to know about me just yet.” I said, “I’m finding it hard too.”
Dad looked at me, “Would you have told us, about you?”
I thought to myself, shaking my head, “I don’t know. Definitely not while I was in school. Maybe when I was older or something…”
He looked sad for a moment, “And we’d never have known.”
I sighed, “No.”
We were all silent for a minute or so. Taking everything in.
I glanced up, “So, abo-“ I began, before the doorbell rang. I stood up, walking over, “It could be Josh.”
They nodded at me, “Tell him to come in here before he runs upstairs.”
“Ok.” I replied from the hall, as I reached the door. I peered through the window, noticing two people standing outside. I recognised Terry’s coat as I unlocked the door. “Hi guys.” I said.
“Matt.” He replied, a grin on his lips, “Connor says you’re back at home.”
I smiled, standing back from the door, letting them inside, “Connor would be right, I’m back now.”
“For good, I hope.” Said Monica, as she closed the door behind her, “Are your paren-“ She said, before noticing Mum and Dad enter the hall, “Hiya, we thought we’d stop by to see Matt. He left before we got back.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.” I answered quickly, “I didn’t know what else to do.”
Terry laughed, “You don’t have to check with us, you’re old enough to make your own decisions.”
“Yeah, but…” I smiled, “You were looking after me and stuff, I’d have spoken to you first if you were there.”
“Don’t worry about it, Mate. We’re here now anyway.” He replied, looking up at my parents.
I regarded his stare curiously. It wasn’t an aggressive, or even an accusing stare, but there was some definite defiance to it, some deeper meaning. I’d always assumed that it was a stare to show that he meant business, that he wanted the best for me, regardless of the outcome. That alone meant a lot. And it took a lot not to let the flood gates open again.
parents stayed for a while, mostly going over the same things that we
had just been talking about. But it was good to go over things again,
and with Amanda and Terry there too, it let me better try to gauge my
parents’ reactions to certain things. Mostly their conflict
over my ability to be in love with Jamie. Of course Amanda and Terry
continuously told them that it was the same love that they felt for
each other, but they were still a long way from accepting that. That
was the part that hurt me the most. The whole issue surrounding
everything that had happened in that month had been because I was in
love with a boy, yet, when confronted with the cause at it’s
very basic level, they were outright denying it. Obviously they
weren’t doing it in a rude or malicious way, but it was clear
that they still had a way to go in terms of understanding my love for
It was about ten minutes after Connor’s parents left, my dad going with them to collect Josh, did someone knock at the door again. Being downstairs, I walked over and opened it, expecting to find Dad and Josh, but was surprised to find Noah standing there.
I looked at him, clearly he was equally as surprised to see me.
I smiled, “Hi Noah. How are you?”
“I’m fine...” He said, a frown on his face as he studied me for a moment, “Sorry, I just wasn’t aware that you were back home.”
I opened the door further, standing to the side, “I only came home a few hours ago. I haven’t had the time to tell Jamie yet. Come in.” I ushered.
“Thank you.” He replied, “I only wanted to come and drop some things off for your parents.” He added, raising his briefcase, “But it’s good to see you, how are things?” He asked.
I nodded, “They’re getting better…” I began, noticing my mum exit the lounge, heading over, “…evidently.” I said, facing Noah again, “I don’t expect things to change straight away, but it’s a start.”
“And it’s something we’ll do together.” Spoke Mum, giving me a small smile before turning to Noah as he handed her the briefcase, “Thank you for dropping these off, Noah.”
His grey eyes left mine and locked onto my mother’s, “Not a problem.” He replied, “I’m pleased to see Matt back at home.”
She nodded, “Yes. It’s been hard for all of us, but we have to deal with it, “She began, noting me frowning, “Not because it’s something bad, but because it is different.”
I shared a look with her, wondering if she’d really changed, if she could move towards accepting me as her gay son.
“You’re right, it’s very different.” Agreed Noah, “But they’re our sons, two outstanding young men, and we love them for that.”
She nodded again, taking a look at me, “Would you like a cup of tea, coffee, or something?” She offered Noah, “Joe should be back any minute and he just wanted to go over some of the details for the meeting with the-“
I zoned out of the conversation. My parents had a knack for doing that. One minute I’d understand every word, and then they’d suddenly go into work mode, talking about this and that. I usually excused myself at that point. But with Noah standing there, removing his coat, I wondered if work would be the only thing they wanted to discuss. It seemed that even Noah himself wanted to bring up the topic about my being at home, given the way he’d give me a few glances, as if reminding me that I wasn’t forgotten.
“Hey, I’m just going to head upstairs and call Jamie,” I began, “He doesn’t know that I’m here yet…”
Noah smiled at the mention of Jamie, “I’m sure he’d appreciate that.”
I grinned back, noting the look on my mum’s face. She was trying to appear calm and somewhat happy over what I said, but it was clear that she still had some reservations about me contacting my boyfriend from home. But I didn’t care. With me being at home, I’d be calling Jamie a lot more often. It was just something that she’d have to deal with. “Ok, I’ll see you later, Noah. Good to see you again.”
“You too Matt.” He said as I moved to the stairs, “See you later.”
I nodded back at him as I skipped up the steps and into my room, closing the door behind me. I headed over to my desk, reaching for my mobile, when I noticed my computer. I stared at it for a second, before I flipped open the lid and opened up the Instant Messaging client, seeing if Jamie was online. Luckily for me, he was. I clicked on his name, causing the chat window to pop up, showing Jamie’s display picture. I wanted a picture of him, but he decided on some baseball player. Still, I was only seconds away from seeing a proper, moving Jamie, not a picture.
I reached out and typed on the keyboard:
Matt09: U there Goldilocks?
Jamie replied a few seconds later:
*JK*: Hey sexy!
Matt09: ;) Hey, u good 2 talk?
I asked, implying a video chat.
*JK*: Sure, 1 min.
I unplugged the computer and took it with me as I climbed onto my bed. I placed it on my lap, readjusted the screen and waited a moment before the little message appeared, asking me to share my webcam. I click accept and waited for it to connect. A few seconds passed, before the speakers crackled to life.
“Hey, Baby.” Came Jamie’s voice, as his image appeared. He looked deliciously cute on my computer screen. His head was propped up in his arms as he lay on his stomach on the bed. I wanted to reach out and kiss him like that.
“Hey.” I smiled, “How are you?”
“I’m good.” He replied, “How ar- You’re at home!” He exclaimed.
I grinned, “Yep.”
“What? For real?!” He asked, eyes wide.
“Uh huh. Mum and Dad came and collected me earlier.”
“Yeah, pretty much.” I smiled, looking up around my room, “It’s good to be back.”
He grinned madly, “I’m really pleased for you, Matt. You deserve some good news.”
He breathed for a moment, “Wow, this is so cool.” He mused, “So what, they just asked for you back?”
I nodded, “They came over to Connor’s house and asked for me to come home again.”
“Did Connor’s parents say anything?”
I shook my head, “They weren’t there. They popped in a few minutes ago. Just before your dad.”
“I remember him saying that he was heading over. Aww, I wish I went now.”
I grinned, “It’s ok. Hey, you free tomorrow?” I asked, remembering my parent’s invitation. Well, I wasn’t sure if it was ‘official’, but I figured that it’d be better if Jamie knew about it at least.
“Yeah, let me check my journal…” He paused for a moment, “Naah, all booked up. No time for Matt. Sorry.”
I rolled my eyes at him, “I’m being serious. Mum and Dad wanna invite you over for dinner.”
“You serious, like really serious?”
I nodded, “Yep. They want to meet my,” I cleared my throat, “Boyfriend.”
He beamed at me, “So they’re cool with me, with us?”
I sighed, “I’m not sure, probably not. I think they want to ‘test the waters’, to see how bad it is to see us together.”
Jamie grimaced slightly, “I’m feeling nervous now. I don’t wanna mess up.”
I frowned, “Like you could ever mess up. You’re like made to be perfect, you know.”
He sighed, “I don’t like the idea that we’re being ‘tested’. I know it’s your parents and all, but it don’t feel right to me.”
“I know, Jamie. But I…” I hesitated, “I really want to do this, to show them that there’s nothing odd about us. That we’re just like any other couple.”
“I would have always have done it, Matt, to have dinner I mean.” He paused, “I just don’t want to feel like we’re being analysed or something. We don’t have anything to prove.”
“You’re right, we don’t.” I watched him, “Are you ok, Babes, you seem at edge.”
“I’m sorry, it’s just a headache. I think it’s something I ate earlier.”
“Aww, Jamie. I hope not.” I looked at him, “Listen, forget about this thing tomorrow. You don’t need this stressing you out more.”
He smiled, “It’s ok. I want to go. I’ll be better in a few.”
I smiled back, “Only if you’re sure.”
“I’m sure.” He replied, before there was a knock at the door.
“One second, Babe.” I replied to Jamie, before I looked up, “Come in.” I called out, watching as the door opened, showing Josh there.
“Hey, Josh, you ok, Mate?”
He nodded, “So you back home now, for good?”
“Yep, I think so.”
He smiled, “That’s good.”
“Yeah, it is.” I replied, watching him. It was clear that he wasn’t used to these little chats, that he wasn’t sure what to do, but it really struck a chord in my heart that he’d come and check to see how I was. Josh was important to me. So very important.
“I’m gonna be in my room.” He replied, turning around.
I smiled, “Ok. Remember I’m here if you need anything.”
He looked up.
“Thanks for being so great during all of this. I know it’s been hard for you, but thanks for sticking by me.” I said. Perhaps it was too much, but I wanted him to somewhat understand what I thought of him, without it sounding too gay.
“It’s ok.” He replied simply.
I grinned, “Good, I’ll see you later.”
“You too.” He said, as he closed the door behind him.
I sat there for a minute before Jamie spoke, “You two really care about each other, don’t you?”
I opened the computer’s lid again, looking at him, “Yeah, we do. A lot.” I watched him again for a moment, “Thanks Jamie.”
“Being there for me too, through all of this.”
“Connor’s the one you should be thanking, he gave you a home.” He pointed out.
I nodded, “Yeah, Connor and his family were great, but…” I struggled for the right words, “They’re not you. You’re my boyfriend, Jamie.”
He beamed at me again, “God I love you, Matt.”
I wanted him to come over, just so I could be with him, touch him and hold him. I wanted to lay there on my bed and have him snuggle up to me from behind. “Can’t you come over now?” I giggled.
“I’d be more than happy to come over…if it wouldn’t make things worse.”
I shifted on the bed, “You have no idea how good that sounds.”
He smiled, “Well, I’m just here.” He said, waving at me, before he scratched his leg, causing the robe to slip slightly, flashing part of his cute butt at me.
“Hey, cover up or something!” I giggled.
“Why? My door’s locked.”
“I know, but you’re just…naked!” I replied, “Wouldn’t want some hacker or something to be perving over my boyfriend’s butt!”
He reached back and slapped his ass, “Oh yeah!” He grinned.
I reached down, pretending to press a button, “I’m taking a screenshot of that!”
“Come and-“ He began, before he realised he was talking loudly, he reached out to the keyboard.
*JK*: I was gonna say, Come do it yourself.
Matt09: Do what…
*JK*: Use your imagination…;)
I giggled again, “I love you so much, Jamie Keller.”
“I love you too, Matthew Blake.” He said, before I heard someone shouting from downstairs. Jamie smiled, “Was that my dad?” He asked.
I nodded, climbing off the bed, “He’s saying that he’s leaving. I’ll be back in a second, Jamie.”
“Sure.” He replied, as I stepped out of my room, walking to the top of the stairs, looking down at Noah and my dad.
“I’m going to head off now, Matt.” He said as I came towards him, “I’ve spoken to your parents about Jamie coming over tomorrow and that’s fine, if Jamie’s ok with that.”
I nodded, “I was just speaking to him. “ I replied, looking at Dad, “Said he’d like to come.”
“Yeah?” Asked Dad, “That’s good.”
Noah smiled, “Well, that seems to have been taken care of now.” He said, looking at me, “I’ll see you later, Matt.”
“You too, Noah.”
I watched as Dad led him to the front door, before he stepped out, heading to his car. I turned and headed up the stairs again, but Mum stopped me.
“Matt, dinner will be ready in a minute, if you’re hungry.” She called up, as Dad closed the front door.
I faced her, “Sure, I’m starving.”
“Ok. I’ll give you a shout once it’s done.”
“Ok.” I replied, before I continued up to my room. I closed the door and hopped onto the bed, picking up the computer, “I’m back.”
Jamie yawned, “What did Dad want?”
“He’s leaving, he’ll be there in a minute.”
“Sure.” He replied, before he looked over to his door, “Ok, Mom, I’m coming!” He shouted.
“Dinner’s ready?” I asked.
He smiled, nodding, “Yeah. I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”
“Yeah, see you later. Goodnight, Jamie, love you.”
“Love you too, goodnight.” He said, blowing a kiss at the webcam.
I smiled and blew one back, before we closed the connection.
I sat there thinking to myself for a few seconds, before I shook my head and smiled at the thought of Jamie.
next day at school was just the same crap as usual. I say crap
because all they kept going on about was revision! ARGH!!! If they
had any idea what else I had to deal with other than bloody revision
then I’m sure they’d be surprised. But they did have a
point. I had loads of exams in the coming weeks, and I had done
little preparation of any of it. I had to start, and seeing my recent
return to home, I was in as good a situation as any to begin.
“I’m so pleased for you, Man.” Said Connor, as we roamed the halls, heading to my locker.
“No, you’re just pleased to get me out of your room.” I joked.
He placed a hand on my shoulder, “You know that that’s not true.”
I nodded, “I know. But I like being home again, having my room back. Feels good.”
“I’m glad, really.”
We rounded the corner to see Li and Jamie standing next to my locker. We headed over to them, “Heya.”
“Oh, hi.” Called out Li.
I managed a smile, “Hey. You guys ready for English?” I asked, reaching my locker as I fished out my key.
Jamie stepped forwards, looking somewhat flustered, “Erm, I put that note in your locker, the one about the thing for the game.”
I frowned. I couldn’t remember a note.
“You know, the note…” He said, before he flicked his eyes towards Li, and then to me.
“Oh, yeah.” I said, playing along, “Thanks.” I said, as I put the key in the lock. Luckily, the door swung open the other way, towards Li so she couldn’t see the note. I quickly checked it over. It was a small Post-It note with a heart drawn on it. I smiled immediately, before I lifted one of the pages in my English book, throwing it in, and pulled out the book. I placed it in my bag and zipped it up, before closing my locker.
“You all set?” Asked Jamie.
I nodded, my eyes glancing from Li to him, “Yep, lets go.”
We dodged past all the other students in the hall and emerged into the English wing. We walked across into our room and took our seats. It didn’t take long for the teacher to appear, and when she did, she gave us a really easy lesson. We were to cut up quotes from the Shakespeare play that we’d studied in the year, and to place them next to the person saying them, and what they meant. It was all simple enough, until we were partnered with Li, seeing as she was sitting next to us, with Sarah next to her.
So the first part of the lesson was good, cutting out things, arranging them. Easy stuff. I couldn’t remember half the quotes though, so I had to keep looking in my book, finding the right page. Eventually we got them done, and in the correct order too, once the teacher had checked it over.
Seeing as we’d completed the task, Li placed herself on cleanup duty and proceeded to clean up all the left over pieces from the sheets we cut up, giving Jamie and I a chance to talk about him coming over for dinner.
“So you still up for it, tonight?” I asked.
“Sure I am.” He smiled.
I watched as Li scraped the paper off the table and into the bin, “Good, I’m not sure what we’re having to e-“
“Wait, Jamie, isn’t this the note that you put in Matt’s loc…” She trailed off, her eyes focused on the piece of paper as she pulled it from the bin.
I glanced at it briefly, the blood draining from my face. The note that was in my locker, the one that Jamie had given me was grasped between her fingers. Everything that was on the note was facing towards her, right for her to see. My head began to spin.
Her gaze looked up to meet mine. I peered into her dark eyes.
you enjoyed reading this chapter of American Differences.
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