Okay, so that took forever and three months, but it's finally here! Yay! I hope I haven't lost too many reader's interest.

Here's the fun part. This story involves concepts that are neither politically or socially correct. It contains love, and yes eventually even sex, between persons of the same sex - specifically highschool aged young men who may or may not be above the age of consent depending on where you read this. (According to the XY Survival Guide, the age of consent in Colorado, USA, is fifteen years old. Now why couldn't I have been living in Colorado when I was fifteen? Probably had something to do with the fact that I was living in California instead, where the age of consent is 18. Grr.) Now, back to the disclaimer stuff. If you are below the age of consent, or if it is blatantly illegal for you to be viewing material of this nature, then I suggest you do one of two things. Either leave immediately, or don't get caught. If you are offended by said material, then you have problems with your web browser and should contact the software dealer immediately.

My sincerest thanks to all those of you who sent e-mail. I have yet to get a negative response and it thrills me that this is the case. My personal thanks to David, who's still nagging and still concerned - keep it up my friend, you're great. To Bruce, whom I will always adore. To Divine, my friend, my confidant, my beloved. To the now three Matt's I know, only one of whom I still have the privilege of talking to on a regular basis. To Chantel, the most wonderful Fruit Fly I ever knew, and one of the many straight girls who has discovered that straight men are hell - love you babe, stay strong. To Steve, a friend in the truest sense of the word. And to Ed, best wishes my friend, get well soon.

Any comments, suggestions, criticisms, flames, death threats, rhetorical speeches, ponderings on the meaning of life the universe and everything, or anything else, should be sent to ZippyTheBookWorm@excite.com And just because I'm into shameless self promotion like that, pay a visit to my web site, at http://wonderbread5.tripod.com



Chapter Ten - Everything Changes

Narrative POV

The stars were dimming in the sky as Gareth sighed in frustration. Even though he truly had been trying to sleep, he was still awake, thoughts buzzing around in his head as Jamie breathed deeply in the regular cadence of a peaceful slumber.

Gareth envied his friend's easy sleep. By all rights, he should be dreaming by now too. After dinner with his mother and Amanda, Gareth and Jamie had gone up to Gareth's room and played Play Station games for hours. Then they talked about who they thought was the cutest actor, and even had a serious debate over which of their favorite cartoon characters would be cuter if they were real. This talk of cute boys inevitably led to a game of steal the mint, in which Jamie cheated constantly and subsequently won. He won three of the four rematches too. Gareth, predictably, wasn't all that upset. Finally they had to stop when they started yawning so widely they couldn't keep their lips together.

Jamie had slipped into sleep easily, once they got undressed and into bed. Lying on his back, it had taken all of three heartbeats for his breathing to slow down. Gareth, pressed happily against Jamie's side, had watched his friend sleeping, thinking about their relationship. Now, nearly an hour and a half later, he was still thinking. He knew what the problem was too. Right now, they were sleeping next to each other. Gareth didn't want to just sleep next to Jamie, he wanted to sleep 'with' Jamie. Not sex necessarily, although that would be awesome. What he wanted was more emotional than physical.

As the predawn light began to seep in through the open windows, glints of light began appearing in Jamie's hair. His face emerged from shadows into softly glowing skin and Gareth felt himself become very excited. Not wanting the sun to awaken his friend, he climbed carefully out of bed, and went to the windows. Quietly he drew the thick drapes into place, and the room was once again returned to shadows and indistinct lines. When Gareth turned back towards the bed, he found that Jamie was awake and watching him.

"Hi." Gareth said. Jamie smiled in response and lifted the covers for Gareth to climb back in bed.

"Jamie," Gareth spoke quietly as he settled the covers back into place and put one hand on Jamie's chest.

"Hmm?" Jamie responded tiredly.

"Will you be my boyfriend?"

Jamie's eyes opened and he turned onto his side, facing Gareth. "I would love to be your boyfriend." Jamie gave Gareth a gentle kiss, then pulled back and smiled. It was a simple matter to entwine legs and arms and soon they were holding each other in tangled mess of appendages.

Gareth thought, as he lay there, just before drifting into sleep. Physically there was very little difference. Jamie was still Jamie, and Gareth was still Gareth; but in that place and time, Gareth felt very different. He was no longer sleeping next to Jamie, no longer just occupying an area of space beside to him. Now he was sleeping 'with' Jamie, and it felt wonderful.

Just before his mind let go of waking, he realized that, for Jamie, they had been sleeping 'with' each other the whole night.

Chris' POV

So now... what? I suppose I should get out of bed and take a shower so I can get ready for the party.... but it doesn't start 'till nine o'clock tonight, and that's almost eleven hours away. I don't need eleven hours to get ready. I suppose I could go to the mall. I could always use a new outfit... maybe something for tonight? I wonder what Adam's going to be wearing...

'Oh would you just get up already?? One of us is still trying to sleep over here!'

I laughed at the irritation in Alexander's mind voice. "I suppose I could go to the mall and find you some clothes of your own... unless you want to keep borrowing mine. Of course, if I go alone, I may end up getting you something you don't like." I sent an image of Alexander dressed up like a circus clown along our link. I was quite satisfied with the horrified gasp Alexander sent back in response.

"Okay," Alexander said groggily, throwing his pillow at me. "I'm up. Go tell that person to give me a bath now."

I laughed, still lying in the bed next to Alexander. "His name is Shawn, and the way you say it you'd think he was going to rape you."

"Well who says he's not?" Alexander demanded, sounding for all the world as if he were serious. "Not like I could stop him, now could I?"

I turned my head to look at him and caught him smiling. "You know, I think you half wish he would. Don't think I haven't noticed how you always block off our link every time he comes in the room and tells you it's bath time. I think you like him!"

"I most certainly do not!" Alexander spoke with a bit too much vehemence.

"Oh? 'Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.' Admit it, you think he's cute."

"Well okay, of course I think he's cute. If you ever looked at him instead of mooning over Adam all the time you might see that he is cute! Although, that doesn't mean I like having to let him wash me when I could do it perfectly well myself. And quit quoting Shakespear."

"Awwww," I said teasingly as I got out of bed. "You poor, picked on soul. Have to let a hunk of a male nurse give you a sponge bath and all you can do is complain." I picked up the phone and dialed the number for the room the nurse was staying in, smiling at Alexander all the while. "Hi Shawn, it's Chris. Alexander is ready for his Bath now." I smiled again as I set the phone back in it's cradle. "Enjoy." Alexander just pulled himself up against the headboard and huffed as I walked toward my bathroom and prepared to shower.

Narrative POV

The midmorning sun was streaming through the windows when Amanda suddenly had a stroke of genius. Yes! If she absolutely couldn't have Adam, then she would get Adam out of the was so he wasn't interfering with her plans for Chris. It was perfect!

Quickly she picked up the phone and hit the third speed dial key.

"Hello?" said a male voice on the other line, rather sleepily. Just like him to still be in bed.

"Darling?" Amanda asked cheerfully, "How are you?"

"Amanda?" The other voice queried curiously, and then continued. "I'm wonderful, you?"

"Fabulous, sweetness, I'm fabulous. Listen, I've got a teency weency, rather enormous favor to ask of you. Do you mind terribly?"

The voice on the other end of the line laughed softly. "What's his name, Amanda? And what are the rules?"

"Oh darling, thank you!" Amanda exclaimed delighted. "His name is Adam Cross. You know, the new kid with brown hair in Drama class and on the volley ball team that you like staring at so much."

"Are you serious?" The voice sounded excited now. "He's... Are you sure it's me who's doing the favor here?

"I suppose we could say this really isn't a favor, so much as it's a mutually beneficial orchestration - and we'll just leave it at that, shall we?" The way she said it, it was almost a forgone conclusion. "And yes, he's as gay as you are darling."

"Amanda, you're an angel. You still haven't told me the rules though."

"Quite right!" Amanda said, then continued in a business like manner. "At the party tonight, get him alone with you as soon as reasonably possible, and keep him that way as long as you can."

"Oh, like that is it.... You're both of you after the same guy, aren't you?" He made it more a statement than a question, with a playful lilt to his voice that cut the possible accusation..

"Well... yes. Will you do it?"

"Amanda, I'll do whatever you ask - within reason. But if he says no, I'm not pushing him. You know that already. Listen, I've got to run. Now that I'm awake I have to spend the rest of the day obsessing over what I'm going to wear for this immaculate seduction. I'll probably end up having to go buy a whole new outfit. If I wasn't so happy about who you were siccing me after, you would owe me big time. See you tonight."

Amanda beamed into the phone. That should give her all the time she needed. "I couldn't hope for more darling, thanks a million. See you at the party.

Chris' POV

I'd never really enjoyed shopping before, usually it was a chore that I preferred to finish as quickly as possible. Earlier that week, when I'd gone to the mall with Adam and Jamie, was one of the few exceptions, and that day with Alexander was as well. It was a thrill to be able to ask someone what they thought of how this looked on me and know I was getting a truthful answer. With our link, it was as close to impossible to lie to each other as made very little difference. That being the case, when he told me that he thought I looked exceptionally good in one of the many outfits he had insisted I try on for him, I was inclined to believe him. I even consented to wear it to Amanda's party.

Of course, half the fun was laughing at some of the looks we got when I went into the dressing room with him and helped him change, then wheeled him back out and remarked on what he was wearing as if I hadn't just put it on him. Obviously we were limited to shirts for Alexander, as the casts on his legs made picking out pants rather pointless, but it was still fun.

Especially when a rather cute guy came out of the dressing room while I was critiquing Alexander, and commented just loudly enough to be heard that the dark blue of the shirt made him look hotter than a summer day in Death Valley. When I raised my eyebrows at him he blushed slightly and excused himself.

"No, wait." Alexander called after him, catching his attention. "What do you think of the outfit Chris has on?"

"Pardon?" The guy said looking a bit confused.

With a jerk of his chin, Alexander indicated me and repeated, "What do you think of the outfit he's got on?"

Smiling with a quirk that could only be called mischievous, he looked at me with an appraising eye. Mildly excited by the obvious interest he showed, I preened under his gaze and stood tall.

"It's very nice." He finally commented, his amazingly green eyes meeting Alexander's again, this time his smile was completely for Alexander. He continued talking and started walking around me as he did so. "The loose pants give just the right mixture of hinting at and obscuring everything he has below the belt. And they show off his ass beautifully!" This remark elicited a gasp from me, and I twisted around to glare at him.

'Oh shut up Chris.' Alexander sent to me in a mind voice heavy with amusement.'Take it for the compliment it is, and hope Adam has as good an eye as this guy has. I told you those pants were perfect.'

"What about the shirt?" Alexander prompted aloud. "And if you don't mind my asking... what's your name?"

"Devin, Devin McCleod . This shirt makes you look hot! I love the long sleeves, and the way it fits on you like a second skin is just lovely. Just thick enough to be maddeningly obscuring while showing everything off, and an interesting knit looking texture. I love the hair too, amazing coloring and thickness to be that long." With that, he nodded, and seemed to be finished with his evaluation.

"Who," Devin turned to Alexander, "if you don't mind me asking, might you be?"

"I'm Alexander. And this is Chris. Uh, Thompson, Alexander and Chris Thompson. Very pleased to meet you, Devin."Alexander extended his hand to Devin intending to shake hands, but seemed to forget how to close his mouth when, instead of simply shaking his hand, Devin bent down and kissed the back of it.

"Charmed." He spoke with an assurance that left Alexander speechless. I smiled, fascinated with Devin's behavior and utterly uninterested in the fact that he was now very nearly ignoring me. He straightened, but continued looking Alexander directly in the eye. "If I were to give you my telephone number... could I expect a call sometime in the next week or so? Or... if I may be so forward... are you free later tonight?"

I gaped at this handsome young man's back, giving him a good look for the first time. He had short, spiky hair a shade of deep red that I wasn't quite sure nature had given him, but it was very sexy with the deep green of his eyes, which I had noticed above everything else while he was looking at me. He was nearly as tall as I was, but not quite as broad shouldered and he looked very slender. Through our link, I could tell Alexander thought he was nothing short of drop dead gorgeous. I had my reservations, but still had the presence of mind to admit that everyone has their own ideas of beauty.

"I would love to." Alexander said, not quite stuttering past the butterflies that I was feeling echoes of in my own stomach. Quickly Devin pulled a pen and a little notebook out of his pocket and scribbled down a phone number, writing his name above it.

"Here," he said, extending the paper to Alexander. "Call me tonight about sixish and we'll make plans. I've got to run, I'm supposed to be meeting my father for lunch ten minutes ago. I look forward to tonight." With a smile and a slight nod, Devin turned and quickly strode away, his legs eating distance rapidly.

I smiled at Alexander when Devin had walked out of sight. "Well, well... look who just got a date. Now why can't guys like that be falling over themselves to go out with me?"

"Because you're the one trying to fall over Adam without letting him see it."

"Ooh, touche " I said, feigning hurt as I wheeled him back towards the dressing rooms so we could change back into the clothes we already owned, and pay for everything Devin had complimented - as well as the rest of the clothes we had picked out for Alexander. All of a sudden he seemed much more interested in the blue shirts. As for me... well, I had found my outfit for the party, that was for sure.

Narrative POV

There was sadness in his eyes as he walked the shady path in the city park. He came here often to escape from things. His parents, his thoughts... even his friends. Recently, he came here only to escape from the horror he saw every time he looked in a mirror. It was as if someone had put a curse on him, or maybe he had cursed himself. Every time he looked in the mirror he saw the same person who had always looked back at him. The same hair, same lips, same nose. Same everything... except his eyes. Looking back at him where his eyes used to be were a blur of images fighting against a gray blankness that made even the brightest smile look dead on his face.

He began to think that perhaps the person he used to be really was dead. Under the rape, and the murder, and now the torture... maybe what he had always thought of as his 'self' really had been killed.

Birds chirped happily in the trees as he walked under them. He stepped on a twig as he walked, and the sound scared a squirrel who then commenced to berate him like his mother did when he walked through the house in muddy shoes. The afternoon sunlight slanted down through the trees, playing in the air and glinting off the brook that the path was now following. It was a beautiful... but he couldn't appreciate it. In his mind he was wondering which one thing had led to all the rest. Which was it that had made him let Gregg talk him into it that first time?

He remember how it had happened... he was the newest and last to join Gregg's group. He soon realized that calling himself Gregg's friend wasn't really true - Gregg didn't have friends, he had followers - and Marcus had followed, like all the rest. Even then he had wondered why James was part of the group, but after that first time it didn't matter. Nothing really mattered all that much after the first time - or rather, after his first time. He could still hear the voice in the back of his head screaming at him that something was wrong when Gregg took him into the slums of the city, could still feel the goose bumps on his arms when the car stopped, and he recognized Eric standing watch at the mouth of an alley. He had caught his breath and wanted to run when he saw what was in that alley.

A boy, at most a year older than himself, was tied and gagged and looked like he was crying. Or rather, like he had been crying and stopped after realizing that it wasn't doing any good. The boy was naked, and it was obvious he had been raped. Marcus could almost hear what the others were saying, even above the sudden waterfall that seemed to have sprung up in his ears as his heart tried to beat it's way out of his chest. Something about the boy being loosened up, but still tight enough. He wanted to run, to forget everything he had seen. Part of him wanted to untie the boy and take him away from these animals he could only barely recognize as the people he had once called friends.

Somehow, Gregg convinced him to stay. He couldn't remember the words anymore, but he remembered that Gregg never threatened him - not even once. He also remembered that, looking at Gregg, he was terrified of what might happen to him if he did run. Even though he still wanted to save the other boy, there was no way he could do so with everyone else against him. So he gave in. He did what Gregg and the others wanted him to do. They whooped and hollered at him, teasing him about how long it was taking him. They called advice at him; what he should think about and how he should move.

Part of his mind was begging him to stop, to not do this. No matter what he'd done, this person was a human being, he didn't deserve this! But the rest of him knew that the boy didn't really care anymore, after everyone else, he probably couldn't even feel what Marcus was doing and after all... Gregg was still there, the only other one who was being completely silent. It was entirely likely Marcus would share this other boy's fate if he tried to stop now. He felt an overwhelming rush of shame with that thought, but it wasn't enough to make him stop. So he cleared his mind of everything. He silenced all the voices, forgot where he was and what he was doing, and let his body do what thousands of years of evolution still hadn't managed to breed out of the human animal. And then, finally, blessedly, it was over. He got up, pulled up his pants and walked shakily to lean against the wall of the alley.

The others came up to him and each congratulated him on finally being one of them. All of them, except Gregg and Eric. Gregg because he never congratulated anyone on anything, and Eric because he was busy cutting the ropes that had been used to tie the boys hands and feet. When he was loosed, Eric spread the boy eagle on his back and then stepped away, looking expectantly at Gregg.

Marcus, his mind still silenced, watched what happened next as though it were some sort of horror flick on TV. The boy was just laying there, drool and blood running out the corner of his mouth, his eyes half opened. His chest was scratched and bruised, as were his arms. Marcus was certain the boy saw what was going to happen. He couldn't have missed it. Even though his eyes were only partly opened, he was looking directly at Gregg. Probably he had been praying for it to happen for a long time. Marcus was vaguely shocked at what he saw, but with his mind still in denial, he did nothing. He wasn't quite sure if anything could make him think rationally again. Even the sound of the gun didn't bring him back to reality... how could it when he only barely heard it? As he stood there, watching the boy begin to drown in his own blood, the faintest traces of sympathy surfaced in his mind, but he refused to acknowledge them, and they were likewise drown.

Marcus found himself kneeling in front of the brook, watching as the remnants of his lunch were washed downstream. This was the first time he had thought of that night since it had happened, and he was not surprised at it's effect. He was curious though... he had thought of the other nights plenty of times. He had come to enjoy the raping, had even become quite adept at causing a great deal of pain in the process. And until recently he had relished the idea of taking down the 'fags' at Pishley. But something had changed, and once he thought about it, he realized that he knew exactly what it was.

His older brother, who he practically worshiped, had come out of the closet that morning during a visit from college. That news alone was enough rekindle the voices he had thought dead for so long, and now they were screaming at him again. Even here, he couldn't escape from them. Well... he knew what he was going to do now. It would be hard, but he would stop Gregg. And he would do it with the same malicious cruelty he had seen Gregg use when he had stalked and killed another boy, leaving a second one alive, weeping for his friend's life. He would hurt Gregg, and then he would stop him!

Narrative POV

Amanda was starting to worry that her brilliant plan might not work after all. The party was turning out fantastically, everyone who was supposed to be there was. Except Chris. All her effort would go to waste if Chris didn't show up. If Adam didn't show up, well then she could just say she had over prepared, but if Chris was absent then the whole thing was wasted effort.

Quickly she scanned the room for the tenth time in as many minutes. DAMN! Where was he? 'Oh, thank God,' she thought to herself as she spotted them, 'there they are!'

"There he is, in the white." Amanda said to a blond young man sitting on the arm of the couch next to where she was standing.

He smiled as she spoke... Adam was certainly cute, that he had known all along. Tonight he was looking especially hot.

"He's all mine, darling. Although... if that fine hunk a' boy next to him is Chris you might have more competition than you thought. If he's gay, I want both of them." He sighed theatrically. "Why is it all the cute ones have to congregate... like they're showing off."

"That's why you're here, stupid." Amanda said laughing. "You're one of the cute ones too, dumb ass."

"So I am." He said, accepting the compliment with a wide grin. He smiled at Amanda and winked. "Thanks for the reminder darling. I'll get started, although to do this right it's going to take me a bit."

"Whatever. I've gotta go say hi anyway." With that she kissed his cheek and strode toward the two boys standing in the doorway and looking around.

Chris' POV

I had been a bit surprised at Adam's outfit when I picked him up. He was dressed entirely in white. Even his shoes, which usually looks tacky. Somehow he managed to pull it off though. The only thing he wore that wasn't white was a small teardrop of black, on a thin black chord. It lay against his chest, just below his collar bone, and was a perfect contrast to the white banded collar shirt he had on. The silk in the shirt was so fine that I could see hints of skin tones where the material lay against his arms and neck. I couldn't see too much though, because of a very tasteful, mostly open, vest that managed to accent everything it didn't cover up by completely obscuring everything it did.

He had been waiting on his front porch, apparently talking with his mother when I drove up, so I just pulled alongside the curb and waited for him to break off his conversation and cross the lawn to the car. "Nice outfit." I said sincerely as he pulled the door closed behind him and settled into his seat.

"Thanks." He grinned. "I just picked it up today. Finding shoes that looked decent took forever."

I laughed at him as I pulled back onto the road and started towards Amanda's house. "Looks like the time was well spent. They definitely work for ya."

"Thanks. You're outfit's working too... where'd you find that shirt?"

"It was at the mall, believe it or not. Alexander helped me pick the outfit... just before he got himself a date."

"What?" He asked looking surprised. "He got a date? With who? How? When?"

I had laughed at him as he strung the questions together. "You forgot where and why. Really though, we met this guy while he was trying stuff on, and they just about fell over each other. Of course," I added in an aside, "that was after Devin complimented this very outfit. Getting complimented on an outfit you haven't even payed for yet is pretty cool."

"Cool. Was the guy hot?" Adam said this what sounded like interested dis-interest. No, I don't understand it either, but that's what it sounded like.

"Alexander seemed to think so. That's the guy's name by the way, Devin."

The conversation turned to inane chit chat from there, and in a few minutes we had arrived at Amanda's house. Or rather, we had found the street her house was located on. It wasn't all that difficult to tell, as the curb on both sides of the street was packed. I parked a good distance down from her house, and got out.

"Why are you parking all the way down here?" Alexander asked as he climbed out of the car.

"I don't feel much like getting boxed in. This way I don't have to worry about some jerk double parking or smashing into me when he tries to leave. So lets quit yackking and get in there already."

"Chris, Adam, there you are!" Amanda said to us as she emerged from the crowded front room, the volume of the music nearly drowning out her voice. "I was beginning to wonder if you guys where coming at all."

"We can't be all that late." Adam protested mildly. "And if we are, it's because mister, 'I love my car' over here made us park ten minutes down the street. Sheesh."

I laughed, but otherwise ignored his comment. "Cool party Amanda! Nice dress too!" It was true, she looked absolutely fabulous in a dark blue, full length gown. She was way overdressed for her own party, but then she was the birthday girl after all.

She smiled. "Thanks, Chris. Come on in, I'll show you guys around." And so the night started.

It really was a cool party, and as it turned out, she wasn't the only one who had arrived overdressed. Apparently she threw parties like this all the time, so everyone else knew what was coming. There were three different dance rooms, and a pool party going on outside. One of the rooms, the front room, was just your typical dance club type room, with music and decorations you might find at any one of a thousand dance clubs around the country. The room decked out downstairs was a full out hip hop joint, complete with break dancing and everything. Some of the guys down there looked really hot, and Adam seemed particularly interested in joining that crowd. The last room given over to the party was also the last thing I would have expected. A ballroom where they were actually playing ballroom music and dancing things like the Waltz. I was so surprised I actually started laughing.

"And that's that!" Amanda said as she finished telling us about the different rooms. "So, go mingle. And don't you guys dare monopolize each other- even if you did come as yin and yang. There are a lot of people out there and I have it on good authority that some of them are interested in you guys. Enjoy!"

"Cool." Adam said as we watched her disappear back into the crowd in the first room. He then turned his head and looked at the stairway leading down to the basement. "I think I'll go check out that hip hop thing she's got going on down there. Catch ya later."

"See ya.." I responded, and then he was gone. I wonder... where should I go? The pool party was out, I didn't have suit. Amanda had expressly forbidden Adam and I from monopolizing each other, so I wasn't going down stairs. Never mind the fact I haven't the faintest clue how to hip hop. So it was either the ballroom, which I did know how to do but wasn't too keen on at the moment as there hadn't appeared to be anyone in there I knew, or the club dance floor scene which Amanda herself was still in.

I finally decided to go with the club scene, and turned towards the door Amanda had gone through a few minutes earlier. As I was walking through the wide doorway, of course not really watching where I was going, I bumped into a guy on his way out and nearly succeeded in knocking him over.

"Oh, sorry man." I said turning to see who I had run into. I wasn't sure, but I had the feeling I'd seen him before.

"It's okay, I should have been watching where I was going." He smiled as he said it, making his face light up and his blue eyes twinkled. Then he winked at me conspiratorially and turned, continuing through the door and down the hall towards the basement stairs. 'Wow...' I though to myself, his features only now impressing onto my mind. Blond hair, blue eyes, about as tall as Adam, and one killer smile! He was cute!

I turned back toward the party and walked into the crowd of gyrating high schoolers. It looked like people were just basically dancing with everyone around them, so I joined the throng in near the center of the room, and soon found myself dancing face to face with a girl who I recognized from my history class. Clarice I think her name was.

I could feel myself getting lost in the music. I was dancing with Clarice, but I wasn't. Actually I think I would have danced with a tree had it popped up at that moment. It felt so good to finally loose all the thoughts I had been carrying around with me since I first saw Adam that I just let them go. I stopped worrying what he would say when I told him later that night that I was gay. I completely forgot my concerns about Amanda. I think I may even have forgotten that I was, in fact, gay.

After a while I realized that I was thirsty, and after looking around for a few minutes, pushed my way through the crowd toward the refreshment table. It wasn't until I got there that I realized I had just left Clarice where she was... but I didn't think too much of it, as I hadn't really been dancing with her anyway. At least, not in my mind.

"Hey there studly." I heard from beside me. I knew before I even looked that it was Amanda, but I smiled anyway. After all, it was a party and I was feeling good.

"Hi Amanda. Oh, by the way, happy birthday."

"Thanks, Chris. You care to dance with the birthday girl?" She smiled at me in a way I can only describe as triumphantly. Once again, I ask, how can a girl do that with her eyes!? That shouldn't be legal!

"I'd love to," I said with more confidence than I felt, offering her my arm.

"Ohh, such a gentleman. Tell me Chris, do you know how to waltz?"

I grinned. "Yup. Would you care to accompany me to the ballroom then?"

"You read my mind, handsome. Lead the way." I still wasn't thinking right, otherwise I might have been a bit scared at all the sincere sounding compliments she was throwing at me... Ah well, I guess what they say is true. 'Hindsight is ever twenty, twenty.'

Adam's POV

Okay, so admittedly I had no idea how to hip hop. I probably looked like I was going into epileptic seizures when I tried to, so I never did. I just liked watching the guys who did know how, 'cause they were almost always hot! Unfortunately most of the guys at Amanda's party had no idea how to hip hop either... it was very sad. They looked like a bunch of tweakers going into withdrawal spasms. I couldn't help but laugh as I watched them

I was standing in one of the less lighted areas in the big basement room, kind of watching the farce of a hip hop room from afar. I was just about ready to leave when I saw a very cute guy coming down the stairs. True, he wasn't as hot as Chris, but he was still some serious eye candy. Short, blond hair that had been spiked up using a fair amount of gel. Nice build, from what I could see, and although I couldn't make out the color of his eyes, the light glinted in them as he paused half way down and seemed almost to be staring at me.

I had no idea if this guy was making his way down the stairs because he wanted to try his skill at hip hop, or was just getting away from the other rooms, and I didn't care. True, I had no intention of pursuing anything real with him, but I certainly intended to let myself enjoy what eye-candy was available. I mean, I wasn't being allowed to stare at Chris all night, so why not have some fun with this guy? And he certainly had a nice looking body... I wouldn't have been surprised to find out he was on the volley ball team. Especially as I had sort of missed the first practice on account of having nearly killed Alexander the night before, and been completely zoned for the first day of class on Monday.

He had reached the bottom of the stairs now, and started making his way slowly around the crowded room. I didn't think it was possible, but every few minutes it looked as if he were looking over at me to make sure I was still there. I shook it off as silly though. He had no idea who I was, and besides, I was comfortably concealed in the shadows. He couldn't see me.

And of course he chose that exact moment to pick up two plastic cups from the refreshment table and start walking directly toward me. "You know," he said, smirking at the confused look on my face as he stopped in front of me, "with that outfit you're not going to be able to hide even in shadows. Punch?"

"Huh?" I managed to utter, slightly confused by his question and realizing that I was staring straight into a gorgeous pair of vividly blue eyes.

He laughed, then gestured with his hand. "Do you want some punch, or am I going to have do drink both of these myself?"

"Uh... Oh. Ya, thanks." I accepted the proffered cup, sipping from it appreciatively. "So, now that I know I stand out like a sore thumb, you were looking for me, weren't you?"

He grinned widely, but it still resembled the playful, mischievous smirk he had been wearing earlier. Kind of cute in it's way. Especially as he seemed to have an almost perfect complexion. "Ya, I was. You're Adam, right?"

"Ya, I am. You have me at a disadvantage, I haven't a clue who you are."

He smiled. "Ya, you missed practice the other day, and seemed a bit dazed on Monday when the coach was talking to everyone. I figured you probably could have been introduced to the president of the United States and wouldn't have noticed. My name's Daniel."

"You're right, I was a bit preoccupied on Monday." I smiled slightly thinking of what Chris had done to me just thinking of him that day. "Seems you noticed me, though."

He smirked again. That was getting really cute! "Ya, I did. I'm in you're Drama class too, but I sit on the other side of the room."

"I knew you looked familiar from somewhere!" I said, his image suddenly clicking in my mind. "So you having any fun with that behavior observation thing Ms. Patrick assigned?"

"Heh... right. Homework fun... good one." He was smiling widely as he spoke, making a great joke out of it. "Are you?"

"Yes, actually." I nodded, telling the truth. I had thoroughly enjoyed the time spent watching Chris.

"Really?" He asked, seeming genuinely surprised. "Wow, I've got a scholar on my hands." I just chuckled in response. "So scholar, do you dance?"

At this I raised my eyebrows. "Are you... asking me to dance?"

"No, I'm asking if you dance. There's a difference there." There was a twinkle in his eyes that made me feel as if he weren't telling the complete truth, but what he said made sense enough.

"Ah. Well in that case, yeah, I dance. Just not hip hop. I like watching it when it's done right though."

"Cool. Unfortunately no one else here seems to know either. You wanna go check out the club scene upstairs?"

I looked at him appraisingly, still unconvinced that he wasn't trying to hit on me. Flattering as it was, I was interested in Chris. And although I knew it could get unhealthy, I was pretty sure it was going to stay that way until he either reciprocated my feelings, or told me they were one sided. Ah well, it was no reason not to have a good time.

"Sure," I said, "that I can do."

"Alright! Let's go then."

We easily made our way through the crowd and up the stairs, Daniel leading the way. We soon reached the top of the stairs and headed for the club scene room. I wasn't sure, but I would have swore I saw Chris walking through the door to the ball room, with Amanda hanging appreciatively on his arm.

I quickly forgot about it though, as I heard my name just before I a blond steak slammed into me, knocking me flat on my back. "God, Jamie, you think you could try breaking something other than my back?" I asked him, smiling. "What's up?"

"Not much." He grinned widely. Daniel, meanwhile, was gaping at us.

"Ya," I said, responding to Jamie, "well neither am I. You wanna let me up and tell me what's got you all hyped?"

"Okay." Next thing I knew I was standing before a very excited looking pair of freshman. I was just happy Gareth hadn't opted to try knocking me over as well.

"So what's up guys?" I lowered my voice a little. "You gettin' married or what?"

"No, twerp." Jamie replied blushing.

Gareth reached up to whisper in my ear. "We're on our first official date."

"Awesome!" I exclaimed

"Okay, well that's it. We have to go find Chris and tell him too." Jamie was grinning widely, and practically beaming. He grabbed Gareth's hand and took off running, pretty much dragging Gareth behind him. "C'mon Gareth"

"Okay..." Daniel said, walking up to me. "What was that?"

I smiled and shook my head. "Freshmen... what can ya do?"

Daniel laughed at me. "Cute though. So you up for dancing yet?"

I chuckled at his insistent desire to get me on the dance floor. Despite what he had said, I was beginning to think I was being 'worked,' as the saying goes. Oh well... at least the guy's a hottie. And I can always let him down easy later on.

Chris' POV

Okay, so I was showing off. But how often does a guy get to dance something like the Waltz and have the people around you appreciate it? I know, I know, total geek material, but I enjoyed it. I liked the form and unity of ballroom dancing, everyone on the floor making the same steps, the same motions. Each couple a small, independent, yet important part of a larger, much more complex pattern. It was thrilling when it was done right.

So, there I was, dancing with Amanda, who looked absolutely stunning. We were chatting idly, talking about school and our classes, mostly Drama and the observation assignment, when the first dance ended.

"You dance beautifully, Chris." Amanda said to me, smiling as we walked off the dance floor.

"Thank you. I tell you, I wanted to kill my dance instructor at my last school, but at least she knew what she was teaching."

She laughed, then continued in what sounded like a challenge. "So, can you handle something a little less square?"

"That sounds like a challenge." I said, smiling.

"It is. You think you're up to it?"

"Ohh, bring it on!" She looked at me and chuckled.
"Just remember hot stuff, you asked for it!" She let go of my arm and made her way over to the stereo system. She hit a few buttons, then walked into the middle of the dance floor and looked at me expectantly. Seconds later, the first notes of the next song came on, and I smiled widely. This I could do! It wasn't until later that I realized everyone else had cleared the floor.

Adam's POV

I was having a blast. The music was loud, the lights were low, and my body was moving almost by itself. The way everyone else was dancing, it looked as though you were just supposed to move, have fun, and get it on with whoever you happened to be next to - guy, girl, or whatever. So I wasn't all that surprised to find that Daniel always seemed to be facing me, and was usually in front of me too. Not that it bothered me... he was as good at club dancing as he claimed to be bad at hip hop.

I was smiling at Daniel in a way that I was pretty sure said 'I'm on to you, slick!' and he was smiling back with that smirk of his that practically screamed, 'Likewise. Slick.' It was almost enough to make me laugh, but as I was enjoying myself so much, I decided to leave things as they were.

There was a momentary pause as the song ended, and the mixer changed cd's, and we headed for the refreshment table to get something to drink. Well, I headed that way and assumed he was following me - and I was right. It was as I was taking a sip from my suave plastic cup that someone shouted from the doorway, "They're doing the tango!" At this, half the room started talking, and the other half started for the doorway.

"What's that about?" I asked Daniel, wondering why everyone cared that someone was 'doing the tango.'

"Amanda loves the tango." Daniel said, rolling his eyes. "Every time she throws one of these parties she challenges some guy to dance the tango with her, and then usually ends up stomping him into the ground. Don't ask me why, but everyone seems to care. All the gossip around school for the next week is going to be about the poor sap she's about to humiliate."

"Really?" I asked, mildly intrigued. "Weird."

"I know." Then he smirked again. "Wanna go watch?"

I had to laugh at that. "Sure, I'd love to."

When we got into the ball room the first thing I noticed was that almost everyone from the other rooms had managed to fit inside, as well as a good number of people from the pool side party as well. The second thing I noticed was who it was Amanda had challenged to the tango. Of course it was Chris, who else would she be trying to get her hooks into. That devious little schemer. I had to smile, she was certainly putting up a good fight.

"Wow..." I heard Daniel say quietly. "He's beautiful..." I didn't say anything at the moment, but silently I had to agree. In fact, they were both beautiful. And they were both amazing dancers. It looked like Amanda had found her match in Chris. They were graceful, sure, quick, and passionate, as I've since learned the tango must always be. There were moments where each of them looked ready to spring away and end the dance, and just as you thought it was inevitably over they would spin and be staring into each other's eyes again.

I watched as they danced, and always I wanted to be the one Chris was looking at in that way. I wanted to be the one he let spin away from him just before he would pulled me back and I would find myself staring up into his intense eyes.

"I think she's met her match this time." Daniel said in a quiet voice.

"Not surprising." I said just as quietly. "I've yet to see him try something he couldn't do. Of course, I've only known him for all of six days."

"You're probably right though..."

It was, predictably, that exact moment when mother nature decided I could use a bathroom break. I didn't even know where the bathroom was... Amanda had neglected to mention that when she gave us her little tour. "Uh, Daniel, do you know where the bathroom is?"

"Oh, yeah dude. Follow me." He turned led me out of the room, then down the hall towards the foyer. As we got back to the entryway, he turned towards a grand staircase and started up the stairs. Yes, she had a grand stair case.

"You sure we're allowed up there?" I asked, hesitating.

He smiled again. "We're not usually. But I'm one of Amanda's closer friends, so she won't mind. Besides, the other bathroom is gonna be trashed by now."

I nodded in agreement, and started up the stairs after him. "Just be quiet though," he added, "her mom shouldn't mind either, but there's no reason to tempt fate."

"Yeah, I will."

"Here it is." He said, opening a door just down the hall from the top of the stairs. He smirked as he stepped back. "Enjoy. Just, uh... don't fall in."

I chuckled as I stepped passed him. "Don't worry. I'm a big boy. I can wipe my own ass and everything."

"Ewww, too much info, dude. Just 'cause you gotta do your business doesn't mean I want to hear about it. Yuck."

I smiled as I closed the door. Okay, I had to hand it to him, this guy was fun. But I wasn't really thinking that at the moment, I was too busy... doing my business as he had put it. I finished, and shook my penis to get out anything that was hiding. I hate it when I zip up, only to find a small wet spot that shouldn't be there - and as I was wearing white pants, I didn't want any wet spots. I quickly flushed, and washed my hands, then opened the door to find Daniel staring at me from his perch against the wall opposite the door. I smiled at him, but was puzzled by the look in his eyes. He looked like he had won something.

"C'mere." He said. "I wanna show you something." He was still smiling as he started walking deeper into the hall.

When we had passed a couple doors, he stopped in front of one, and pushed it open. Beckoning me to follow, he slipped into the room. As I entered, it was dark and he didn't seem very inclined to turn any lights on. "Uh, Daniel?" I was a bit nervous. What were doing in here anyway?

I was about to ask that very question when he swung the door shut behind me, then turned to face me in the dimly lit room. He was standing very close now. I could smell his cologne and the pleasant scent of clean sweat beneath it. It was a heady mixture, and I found myself stammering as I spoke. "Wha... what are you d-doing?"

He stepped forward, slightly. It wasn't a big step, and there was still room between us, but he suddenly felt very close. It was a strange sensation, and I wasn't sure yet if I liked it or not, so I stepped back. He stepped forward again, and I tried to back further away, but I found the door was right behind me. He stepped forward again, and I found that, at least in some way, I liked the feeling of his body so close to mine. He was warm, and strong, and so close to me now that I could smell his breath as he stared me in the eyes. A small part of my brain was wondering 'What about Chris?', and the rest of me was wondering when Daniel was going to kiss me.

It was dark, and with Daniel in front of me I was getting hot. He shifted his weight, and was pinning me to the door with his body. My pants were becoming increasingly uncomfortable, and Daniel's face was so close to mine I could almost feel his lips. And suddenly I needed to feel his lips, needed to wrap my arms around him and hold him while he kissed me, and so I did. I leaned that infinitesimal bit further toward him and felt his lips press against mine. I brought my arms up and caressed his back, and moaned as he placed his hands on my waist, pulling me forward, pressing my body firmly against him. I felt his mouth open slightly, and his tongue brush softly against my lips. I opened my mouth slowly, and welcomed his tongue with my own. We kissed long and hard and passionately, and I moaned again when he placed both his hands behind my waist and pulled forward roughly while pushing into me. I could feel the heat of his erection hard against me and I was nearly lost in a haze of white.

My senses were slowly leaving me, and although I knew I was kissing Daniel, my mind suddenly latched onto a picture of Chris, and I gasped. I sprang back against the door and put my arms against Daniel's chest, pushing him away. "I can't!" I said breathlessly, "I can't." He stumbled back, his eyes still unfocused and a look of uncomprehending bewilderment on his face. I turned towards the door and tried desperately to pull it open, to escape from the dark room and the lingering memory of Daniel's kiss.

I had finally managed to get the knob to work, and pulled the door open an inch when Daniel's hand slammed it shut again. "Wait!" He said, sounding almost desperate, "Just... Just wait." He was still pressed against me, this time his body was against my back, and I was feeling very trapped and very unsure of what was about to happen. I was pretty evenly matched against Daniel in a fight, but I didn't want it to come to that. I didn't want to hit him unless he really and truly gave me no other way out.

"What?" I asked quietly, not trusting my voice to anything more than a whisper.

"Just wait." He stepped back away from me, and let go of the door. I could easily have left right then, but something made me stay to hear what he wanted to say. My eyes closed and I breathed in sharply as light exploded from an overhead light, flooding the room.

"Before you go out that door," he said, sounding resigned and strangely far away, "answer me just one question." I turned to look at him, and saw that he was sitting on a very large bed in the center of a large room. I chuckled as I realized that must have been where he was hoping the kiss would lead, albeit under very different circumstances then he now found us in.

I smiled at him. "Are you going to ask it, or do I have to guess?"

He smirked again. "Okay, but since you can't guess I get two question instead of one."

"Oh? Well, fair enough. Ask away." I walked further into the room and settled into a chair facing the bed.

"It's Chris isn't it. He's the reason you 'can't', isn't he?" There was no malice in his voice, just amused resignation.

I nodded. "Yes, he is the reason. I'm not sure if he's gay though... So I guess that makes me the ass here, stopping a perfectly good kiss cause I'm mooning over a guy who I might not even have a chance with."

"Na, you're not the ass. You were set up." He grinned as he said that. "Amanda asked me to distract you while she made her bid for him. Of course, you being so damn hot, I wasn't too difficult to convince."

I groaned in sudden understanding. "That conniving, scheming, cunning, plotting little brat. Gotta give her points for deviousness though. Sorry you got dragged into this, I wasn't aware we were allowed to call in reinforcements."

He shook his head and smiled. "Don't worry about it. I knew when she asked me that you might well be to obsessed to want anything to do with me. Truth be told, after seeing the way you were staring at Chris while he was dancing with Amanda I pretty much gave up all hope of even getting a kiss out of you. I'm glad I was wrong about that much at least... you are one damn fine kisser, dude!"

I felt my face go immediately hot, which I knew meant I was blushing furiously. "Thanks. You were pretty good yourself. I think I nearly lost consciousness there for a second."

"Ya, I know. That's why I pushed into you so hard, I didn't want you leaving early."

"Ouch... I guess I left kind of early anyway. Sorry about that, but like I said, I've got a thing for Chris until he tells me to shove off."

"I told ya, don't worry about it. But that does bring me to my second question." Here he stood up, and walked over the chair where I was sitting. Looking down at me, he spoke softly, "If he ever does tell you to shove off... you think we could try picking up where we left off?"

I looked at him in mild surprise. There weren't very many guys who would be this cool after being told they couldn't have a chance unless someone else struck out first. "Don't make any plans based on this answer, cause I intend to give Amanda a real run for her money, but if Chris does turn out to be straight... well I think it's pretty safe to say you've got yourself a date."

"Cool beans, dude!" He said, his face lighting up. I stood and followed him as he walked towards the door. "Well, good luck with Chris. If you see Amanda before you leave tell her I said good luck to her too. As for the rest of the party... I think I'm gonna go have me a wet dream in which you are the main star." He winked at me as I stared at him in surprise. It's one thing to know other guys have wet dreams. It's another thing entirely to be told that someone wants you to be part of their's. "Bye hot stuff."

I was so shocked it was all I could do to stutter out a strangled, "See ya," before he had opened the door and left the room, flicking the light off and leaving me in darkness. I stepped out of the room after him quickly. "Wait a sec there, mister," I said, determined to leave him as flabbergasted as he had just left me. I was determined that I would not be out done, not again, and not tonight.

"Ya?" He asked, with that smirk of his that made him look so damn sexy.

"Let me give you something worth dreaming about." I grabbed him, pulled him forward, and gave him a kiss square on the mouth. It was nothing compared to what had happened earlier, but it was definitely more than what he gave his mother. He was so surprised that I had pulled back and was winking at him before he had a chance to kiss back.

"Wow..." he said, dreamily. "I knew I was going to enjoy this party." We both smiled.

It was then that I heard a strangled gasp from down the hall. Both our heads whipped towards the noise, and I was shocked to see a pale faced Chris staring at me from the bathroom doorway, the blood still draining from his face. He blinked rapidly for a few seconds, as though he were trying to convince himself that what he was seeing was real. Then, so suddenly I was surprised he could move so fast, he turned round and bolted for the stairs.

"Chris, wait!" I shouted, running after him, pushing past Daniel in my haste. I heard him grunt, and turned around quickly, very nearly causing myself to fall over. "Daniel, are you okay?"

He smiled at me and waved his hand towards the stairs. "Go on idiot, catch him before he does something stupid. Go!"

I smiled at him gratefully, then turned and ran after Chris quickly, distinctly aware of the sound of the front door slamming shut. I don't remember running down the stairs... I think I may have fallen down a few of them, but the next thing I knew I was at the door, yanking it open and jumping out into the night after Chris as I saw him running quickly down the street towards his car. I took off after him, but soon lost any hope of catching him. He was much too fast.

Chris' POV

I was running. Where was I running to again? Oh yeah, there, my car. I tripped over a sprinkler head and swore as I stumbled, but managed to keep my balance and continued running towards my car. Finally I reached it, and pulled frantically at the door. Open, open! Why won't it open!? FUCKING OPEN ALREADY! Idiot, it's locked! Keys, pocket. Okay, keys, which one is it? Someone's calling my name. Adam? Why's he coming after me, let that other guy give him a ride. FUCK!  Tears were streaming down my face as I finally got the key into the door. Turn, now open. OPEN! Why is it still locked? Dammit, open! Okay, put the key back in, turn it the other way. Pull the handle, YES! The door opens! Thank God. Get in the car. Start. Start!!! Idiot, you have to get the keys. Where are the keys? In the door still. Open the door, get the keys.

There's Adam... he's talking to me, saying something about it not being what I thought it was. Not what it looked like. You were kissing that guy, what else could it be?

'Chris? What's wrong?' Alexander's voice sounded loud and painful to my panicked mind. 'Out, GET OUT!!' I screamed mentally, and slammed a wall around the ball of sensation that was Alexander. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't think at all. I was sitting oh the curb next to my car, hugging my knees and rocking, the door open and the keys still in the lock.  What was happening to me? What was wrong?

Laughing... laughing! Why is it laughing? No, no he's not supposed to be able to get out! I put him in the jar, he can't get out! No, NO! White pain erupted in my head, and the laughter was all that remained. The laughter, and the hideous face of the demon. "I told you, pretty prince. I told you, you would be mine."

Adam's POV

I wasn't quite sure what to do. Chris had ended up sitting on the ground next to where his car was parked, and was holding his knees and crying. The keys were still in the door of the car where he had left them, and as I looked at them I did the only think I could think to do. I pulled them out of the door, put them in my pocket, and then helped Chris over to the passenger side of his car. He walked where I led him, like a large puppet, but by the way he was leaning on me I didn't think he would stand by himself. Carefully I guided him into his seat, and buckled the seat belt for him. As I walked back around the car to the driver's side, I wonder what was going on and how I was going to explain this to Dianne.

It wasn't until we had nearly reached Chris' house, Chris staring silently and in all probability sightlessly ahead that I suddenly remember Alexander's warning from the other day. "...if you hurt him... I will do everything in my power to destroy you utterly." I couldn't remember it exactly as he'd said it, but I remembered enough to scare me. What if Alexander saw Chris like this and thought it was my fault? Wait a minute... is this my fault? I mean, all I know is that he saw me kissing Daniel and then flipped out. I still don't know why he flipped out, so how can it be my fault? I certainly didn't mean for this to happen.

Thinking about that was giving me a headache, and as I had just pulled up into Chris' driveway, I decided to worry about it when it was more relevant, like when I was talking to Alexander. Quickly, but quietly, so as not to awaken any of the staff, I climbed out of the parked car and then went around to Chris' side to help him get out of the car.

Getting into the house was relatively easy, as all I had to do was use Chris' keys to open the door. The hard part was getting him up the stairs. Getting him to put one foot in front of the other to walk from the car to the door had been easy, but getting him to raise his feet to go up stairs was next to impossible. I practically had to move his legs with my hands. About half way up, after having just yanked on Chris' thigh for the umpteenth time, I suddenly thought that where I was touching him could be very erotic and a total turn on in different circumstances... I smiled, and shook my head at the thought. Sometimes I was just incorrigible. Still shaking my head, I let out a resigned sigh and continued dragging Chris up the stairs.

Finally I had him up all those blasted stairs, and in his room, and I still didn't know what to do with him. He was sitting on his bed now, still looking almost catatonic as he sat kind of slouched in on himself, his eyes looking unfocused and lost. I knelt before him and took one of his hands in both of my own as I stared into his lost looking gaze. "Where are you, Chris?" I said, almost whispering.

"Where ever he is, it can't be a good place to be." I jumped at Alexander's voice, but found that I wasn't terribly surprised to hear him. I turned to look at him and was quite surprised to see a very attractive red head standing behind his wheel chair. "Adam, meet Devin. Devin, Adam."

I stood and accepted the handshake Devin offered. "Charmed," he said in a gentle voice. "What's wrong with him?"

"I..." I faltered, looking at the floor. I wasn't terribly thrilled about having to admit that I didn't know why Chris was in such bad shape. Nor did I want to admit to Alexander that Chris had seen me kissing Alexander. "I don't know." I finally finished rather lamely.

Devin seemed to accept the answer, and started looking around at the things Chris had put up as decorations. The posters and crystal figurines seemed to be of particular interest to him, and he busied himself with studying them as Alexander wheeled himself next to the bed and laid his hand on his brother's. After a moment, he turned his chair towards me, and gestured for me to pull up Chris' desk chair. I did, and sat next to the bed facing Alexander, with Chris sitting between us.

"Something happened Adam. I think you know what it was."

I hung my head and stared at my hands in my lap. "I... I know what happened just before he started acting all weird, but I don't know why it effected him like this."

"Tell me," he prompted, determinedly, but not unkindly.

I looked up and held Alexander's gaze desperately with my own. "You have to believe me, Alexander, I never meant to hurt him. Never!"

Alexander looked at me suspiciously for a moment, then nodded his head. "I believe you. Now tell me." He spoke very quietly but his voice carried a power in it that surprised me. Again I was overcome by the feeling that Alexander was not someone to be trifled with.

Still unsure of how to begin, I took a deep breath and opened my mouth. "I... I... Chris saw me kissing another guy in the hallway at Amanda's party. I was... Well I was showing off I guess. He came on to me before and kissed me and I just wanted to show him that I could knock his socks off with my tongue. That's what Chris saw, me kissing Daniel. He got this weird look on his face, then he started running and I don't know what happened until I caught up with him at his car. He was just sitting on the grass kind of crying." I gestured towards Chris as I finished talking, to indicate the catatonic like state he had assumed. "He's been like that ever since."

Alexander looked at me for a minute, then shook his head. "Idiots, both of you. You should have just told Chris how you felt. He's got a gay cousin who he obviously loves, and he's got a gay twin brother, who he accepted even after he found out. At the worst you would just have had a straight friend who was cool with the fact that you were gay. And him!!." Here he rolled his eyes and huffed in exasperation. "You didn't back off when you found out Jamie was gay, or when you found out I was gay. But still he wouldn't tell you. God, you too are so blind. It's no wonder this happened."

My mind was still trying to get over the part where Chris still wouldn't tell me something. "What wouldn't he tell me?" I asked, somewhere between hopelessly confused and certain I knew what he was talking about. Then I skipped the last thing he had said. "What do you mean it's no wonder? What has happened? Do you know how to make him better?"

"What he wouldn't tell you is that he's as gay as you are. It's no wonder this happened because he let his fears about telling you eclipse all his other emotions. What's happened is that his demon has scared him into hiding, and the only way to help him is for you to talk to him."

Now I was really confused, and must have looked it too because Alexander sighed and spoke again, very calmly as if trying to make sure I understood him. "It's probably the bit about demons that has you the most confused, so let me start there. Demon might not be the best word for it, but it fits, so that's what I'll use.

"Everyone has demons, something they're terrified of. For some people it's water, for others it's death, and there are even people out there scared of gay people. As people grow and change, their demons change too. For example, some people are terrified of heights when they're children, but eventually grow out of it. Demon conquered. But then they discover their scared of something like spiders, a new demon. Chris' demon, the one that's scared him so badly now, is actually twofold. He's terrified of rejection. He's scared that everyone he cares about will abandon him if they find out he's gay. Frankly, I don't understand that part of it. Everyone he cares about, except his parents, and now you, already know. And as you know about Jamie, Gareth, and me, his fear concerning you baffles me. The second part, and probably the part that has scared him so badly now, is the fear of being alone. Forever. He's afraid that he'll go through his whole life with no one to love him. He told me today that he was going to come out to you after the party, so I guess my telling you in his place isn't so bad. What he wasn't going to tell you is that he's convinced he's in love with you. Whether or not he really is in love with you, or has just become infatuated with you, is entirely beside the point now, what matters is that he thinks he is. That conviction, coupled with seeing you kiss someone else is probably what triggered his panic. Now, to put it metaphorically, he's fighting his demon and probably losing. I don't know if it will work, but the only way I can think of to help him is for you to talk to him. Tell him what you told me, that you are in love with him. Don't lie to him though, that would just make it worse. I think probably just you talking to him long enough will bring him back alright."

When Alexander stopped talking the silence in the room felt like it could shatter glass. At least that's how it felt to me. "How can you know this?" I asked him, unsure if I could yet believe everything he had said about demons and why Chris was acting like someone had turned him into a marionette, then dropped the strings.

He smiled, as though he knew exactly what I was thinking. "Call it a twin thing. I just know I'm right about this. Trust me, and talk to him. If he's not awake by morning, Dianne is going to insist on taking him to the hospital, and all they'll be able to do is tell you he's not responding to stimuli, as if we didn't already know that. Talk to him Adam. Guide him back to himself. You might want to get more comfortable once I go, and you should probably strip Chris and put him in bed." He turned towards Devin, who was standing across the room still looking at one of Chris' figurines. "Devin, I think it's best if you went home. Let me wheel you to the door?" He smiled widely as he spoke, and his voice sounded as light and happy as I had ever heard it.

Devin replaced the figurine he was examining, and walked over towards Alexander. "Okay," he spoke, his voice still sounding gentle, although he seemed disappointed to have to leave. Only then did I realized that he must be the guy Adam had been on a date with. Not bad taste, not bad at all. Of course, I was much more concerned with Chris, and as Devin began wheeling Alexander towards the door, I turned my full attention back to my beautiful friend.

I reached up and brushed away the stray locks of hair that had fallen down into Chris' face. "You are beautiful, my friend," I said in barely more than a whisper. I waited until I heard the door close before I stood up to undress him. I took his watch from his wrist and set it on the night stand next to his bead. Kneeling at his feet I untied his shoes and removed them, along with his socks. I was mildly surprised to discover that even Chris' feet looked beautiful.

Slowly I stood, and carefully debated which to take off first... his pants, or his shirt? Both were exciting prospects, but I decided to get his shirt off first, as that would be harder to do once I laid him down on the bed. True, I had seen his chest before, and even better I had seen it all wet in the pool! YES! But still, pulling the cable knit shirt up over his head and seeing him again was a breath taking site, even in his lifeless state. His chest was perfectly formed, and looked hairless, and his abs looked amazing. His skin was warm and soft as I lifted him to his feet so that I could pull down the bed covers. I positioned him on the bed, with the covers pulled almost all the way off and stared at him as he lay there, his eyes only half open and still unseeing. I stared at the buckle of his belt, wondering. Ever since I had seen him, what was it, just six days ago? Ever since, I had hoped that I might be able to undress him one day, but usually the fantasies had included him being aware, as well as being a willing participant.

Finally, I just bit my lip and determined that I could do this. I could take his pants off and I could pull up the blankets and would not take advantage of him! With some small effort I did manage to get his belt open, and undo the button and zipper to the front of his pants. The soft material of his black silk boxers was revealed, and I swore again that I could do this. Carefully I pulled his pants lose, keeping a hold of the waist of his boxers so as not to pull them along, even though I wanted very much to do away with them completely. Finally I had the pants off, and he lay there in nothing but his boxers, his hair a dark fan beneath him. I stared at him, and marveled. If Alexander was to be believed, Chris felt for me much as I felt for him. Chris, the beauty laying in the bed before me, wanted me. He wanted me, Adam Cross. Why? What did he see in me? I couldn't answer, but it was enough to know that he did.

Noticing goose bumps beginning to form on his exposed skin, I pulled the blankets up and covered Chris up to his chin. I pulled the chair I had been sitting in while talking to Alexander up to the bed, and fished one of Chris's hands out, holding it in both of my own. 'Talk,' Alexander had said...

"Chris... I'm pretty sure you can hear me. You're eyes are open, and although you're not being very responsive, I think you're probably hearing everything around you. Alexander said you have a Demon, something that you're afraid of. You probably heard him explain it already, you were right here when he did. But he said I should talk to you, and as I can't think of anything else to talk about you'll just have to live with hearing about it again." I paused, a smile coming to my face as I continued. "Of course, if you want me to stop, you just have to say so. No? Oh well, here goes then."

"Alexander said you're afraid of rejection, that all the people you care about will abandon you if they find out that you're gay. I don't know about everyone else, but I'm not going to reject you for being gay. I already told you that, but I guess it's still a pretty scarey thing to have to admit to someone, given today's society. I mean, look at all the stories on the news about people being killed or kids being disowned and thrown out in the streets because they're gay. I guess I'm just rambling now, but my point is that I understand why you're scared. I suppose I'm scared too, sometimes. But don't be scared because of me Chris, if for no other reason than because I'm gay too."

"I guess you probably figured that out though, when you saw me kissing Daniel. That's his name, by the way, in case you don't know him. Apparently he's in our Drama class. And he's on the volley ball team. I'm still not exactly sure why I kissed him... I told Alexander it was because I was showing off, but I don't think that was all of it. I guess I really am attracted to him, you know. He's really cute. But the one thing I kept thinking, while I was kissing him when you saw us, was how much I wished it was you instead of him. I know, I know, that makes me sound like a real ass hole. Maybe I am, maybe I am an ass."

"This talking thing is harder than they make it sound, you know? This whole time I've been trying to tell you something and I keep coming up with something else to talk about. I guess I should just say this, then, before I lose my nerve and all." I took a deep breath, I tried very hard not to rush through what I was about to say. "I think I love you Chris. I do. I know it's really soon, having only met you on Monday and now, on Saturday night I'm telling you that I think I'm in love with you. But... well... there it is." I waited, hoping, but nothing happened. I sighed, but started talking again, determined that if talking was what would help him, then I would talk until I was blue in the face.

"Okay, so that didn't snap you awake. So much for the power of love, huh? I don't know, maybe it's just slower tonight than usual. Let's see... what else can I talk to you about that you might want to know? Well... Alexander said the other part of your demon was being afraid of being alone forever. He said he thinks that maybe when you saw me kissing someone else, that was what triggered this... this... whatever this is. I don't know, I guess I have a hard time believing someone like you would want me enough to go loopy just cause you caught me kissing another guy. Speaking of which, I would just like to point out the fact that I am here, talking to you, and not with Daniel. Who knows... if I were with Daniel we'd probably be making out or something, but instead I'm here, talking to you while you stare lifelessly at the ceiling. I'm not a bit ashamed to admit that you're scaring me Chris. You're scaring me a lot. Alexander said that people have different demons as they grow. Well one of my demons used to be that I wouldn't ever find anyone to love the way I think I love you, and now that I found you, you've gone and locked yourself away in your head where I can't get to you. Maybe that's my new demon now, the thought of losing you completely. I don't know, maybe if you don't love me I could still be happy being your friend. But I can't have even that if you don't wake up." Tears were now streaming down my face as I begged my friend to wake up.

"Please Chris, I need you." I whispered quietly, sinking to my knees and resting my head on the bed next to him.. "I need someone who will love me, or at least like me. I need a friend Chris. I haven't had a real, real friend in a long time Chris. You're the first person I've met who I could love. Ever since my dad... I need you Chris, I need you." Tears leaked from my eyes and I pressed my head into the blankets covering Chris' body. I was so absorbed in what I had been saying, I didn't feel it at first. Chris was using his free hand, the one I wasn't crushing in a death grip, to comfort me by running his fingers through my hair. I looked up at his face and saw him looking at me, his eyes focused again. His hand tightened in my own.

"I need you too, Adam." He said very quietly. "I need you too."

I knelt up quickly, used my sleeve to wipe my eyes dry. "You're awake! You heard?"

He smiled, and his beautiful eyes held my gaze, even as I stood slowly, his hand slipping gently from mine as he pushed himself into a sitting position, the bed covers pulling down until I could see the waistband of his boxers.. "I heard. Thank you Adam. And, I just wanted to say... I love you too."

I watched his face in awe as he stepped out of the bed and stood slowly. I stared up into his eyes as he rose to his full height. He doesn't exactly tower over me, but 6'3" is still tall enough that at almost 5'10 I have to look up a bit to stare him in the eye. In the strangest out of nowhere thought I've ever had, it suddenly occurred to me that this must be why women wore high heels. That, and pretty much every other thought along with it jumped out of my head as, for the second time that night, I found myself being kissed in a bedroom. I don't know, maybe I had just heard about it happening so often that I projected it here, or maybe I was just too wound up, but whatever the case, I swear I saw fireworks as I kissed him back, long and hard. Even without using his tongue he left me breathless when he finally pulled away. He smiled at me as I became aware for the first time that he had wrapped his arms about me. "So, how's that for kissing your socks off?"

I was still having trouble catching my breath, and the feeling of being held so securely wasn't really helping at all. All I managed in response was an unintelligible grunt.

"Really?" he said with a mischievous smile. "I'm sure I can do better." I moaned happily as I found myself being kissed again. Damn he's good, where did he learn to set off fireworks like that! I eagerly opened my mouth when I felt his tongue brush lightly against my lips, and moaned again when he began exploring my mouth with it. I suddenly became aware that I was hard, very nearly painfully so, and I was almost certain Chris could feel my hardness pressing against him. I concentrated just slightly more and found that I could feel his hardness pressing against me as well, and then the fireworks became supernovas, and I momentarily forget that any part of me aside from my mouth even existed.

"So," Chris said, after the second kiss ended, "how was that?"

I gasped for a few seconds, unable to form words. "Where did you learn that?" I finally asked, voicing the first thought that popped into my head.

He smiled triumphantly. "You'd be surprised what you can learn just by reading. And there's a lot of stuff to read on the net."

"So," he said, stepping back and affording me a very nice view of his tented boxers, "you think it would be okay with your mom if you stayed the night?"

"Yeah, probably. She knows how I feel about you, so I doubt she'd mind." It was true too.

"Well then, c'mere and let me undress you. Although... I suppose I ought to warn you that I don't usually believe in having sex on the first date." He smiled as he said this, but the tone made it clear that he was serious.

"Are you sure?" I quipped, light heartedly, "That kiss of your's would probably be considered just as amazing."

"Oh no, believe me. Technically I may be a virgin, but when we finally have sex, you won't be able to talk straight for days." He grinned devilishly.

I gaped at him. "No way you're a virgin. Or at least not a first time kisser! You can't have learned all that from reading!"

"Well okay, so I kissed a guy at a party once when I was fifteen. He was drunk of his gourd and I was as horny as I've ever been. It was late, and everyone else there had already passed out, including my ride. So this guy starts hitting on me, I guess he was about twenty at the time, and I thought he looked gorgeous, and we started making out. I was horny enough that it probably would have been a lot more than just making out if the guy hadn't ended up passing out just as he was starting to feel me up. I'll tell ya right now, that's a major turn off!"

"Ewww," I laughed with him. "That's horrible."

"True, but it was good practice. Now get over here and let me get those clothes of you so we can go to bed. I am so exhausted."

"You're exhausted?" I demanded, even as I stepped towards him and moved my arms around while he took off the vest I had on over my shirt. "You try lugging your own dead weight up that insanely long staircase, then you can complain about being exhausted."

He laughed. HE LAUGHED! The brat! "Why didn't you just take the elevator?" He asked, as he pulled my shirt over my head, his tone making it sound as if it were the most obvious solution in the world. I suppose if I'd known about the elevator....

"You have an elevator?" I demanded, my voice momentarily muffled by my shirt.

"Yes," he answered, throwing the shirt over the back of the chair that was still next to his bed, his hands then going for my pants. I might have been a bit more embarrassed about the bulge in the front of my pants if his boxers had not still been tented. As it was, I was still painfully hard.

"Now he tells me. Couldn't have told me while I was lugging his heavy carcass up the stairs, nooo, couldn't do that. Had to wait until he was pulling my pants down, didn't he?"

He laughed out loud at this, and tossed my pants onto the chair as well. Somewhere along the line he had managed remove my shoes and socks as well, but for the life of me I couldn't remember when. Maybe he really had managed to kiss my socks of.

He walked over to the wall and flipped the light off. "So, what say we go to sleep now? You must be pretty tired after lugging my heavy carcass all over the place."

I chuckled at him, and opened my arms to him as he walked back towards the bed in the dim light cast through his window from the waning moon. I luxuriated in the full body hug he gave me, and then progressed to kiss his socks off! I may be shorter than he is, but I have a lot more experience, thanking you very much! Not that I didn't see stars too mind you, I just did a lot more than I had the previous two times.

"Wow..." was all he managed to gasp when we finished. "Just... wow."

"See, lover boy? I'm not half bad at that myself."

He laughed again, almost huskily this time. Wow that was sexy! "Not at all. Just one question? Are we going to count this as our first date?"

"Ooh," I hummed happily as we moved for the bed and climbed in. "I like that idea. You know, I just realized something."

"Oh?" He asked, pulling the covers up around us and wrapping his arms around me from behind.

"Yeah," I said happily, then continued in a sing song voice, "I've got a boyfriend, I've got a boyfriend."

End Chapter Ten

Okay, so there it is. Long, oiy. As before, all comments should be sent to ZippyTheBookWorm@excite.com And just because I'm still into shameless self promotion like that, pay a visit to my web site, at http://wonderbread5.tripod.com

Thanks for reading.