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Author's note: To my collaborator, my sweetie, my little brother and best friend... You have been the one who has held my hand, without you this story wouldn't be what it is. Thanks Davey. Any comments can be sent to Thanks Sweetie!

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From Behind Those Eyes - Chapter 10

When I sat down at our usual lunch table, the sun shining warmly down on us from above, I was greeted by Jules and Sean who, by the looks of things had gotten pretty close since the last time I talked to Jules. I was happy for her, for them, and I was smiling. I guess I was pretty happy for myself too after the amazing weekend I had just spent with Jesse.

“What’s up guys?” I asked as they both looked at each other conspiratorially. It was as if they were consulting the other so as not to give anything away.

I looked from one to the other and then back again before I laughed and asked, “So you guys are together then?”

Jules looked appalled that I would even suggest such a thing out loud, but the smile on Sean’s face along with his blushing cheeks told me everything I needed to know. I recognized that smile. I saw it on my own face every time I looked in the mirror. “Well, I’m happy for you,” I said genuinely. That made Jules smile, though she admitted nothing.

Rachel and Melodie had shown up and the three girls were huddled together giggling about something as I spotted Jesse across the courtyard with his friends and he smiled at me as our eyes met. I couldn’t help it, in fact, I didn’t care anymore. I smiled back and Sean noticed, turning to see what it was I was smiling about. He never questioned me though as he turned back in my direction.

“So where’s Bobby?” he finally asked me.

“I don’t know, I was just about to ask you the same thing,” I replied.

“He’s probably with some girl again,” he suggested, rolling his eyes at the thought.

I guess I had been staring at Jesse again because Sean stood up and made his way over to Jesse. I hadn’t really noticed him leave the table and to be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention to anything except for Jesse, but when Sean appeared in my line of sight, talking to Jesse, I took notice of that. Definitely. What was he doing?

Before I knew what was happening Sean was walking back to the table with a very worried looking Jesse by his side. “Hi,” Jesse said very hesitantly, obviously worried about the repercussions of him being seen with me. It’s not like he could explain to Sean though, that the reason he didn’t want to come over to our table was because we were secretly boyfriends.

“Hey Jess,” I said with a smile that told him there was nothing to be worried about. “How are you?”

“Umm, good…,” he said almost as if he was asking me if that was the right thing to say. Sean had taken his seat again across from me next to Jules so I slid over, offering Jesse the seat beside me. Hesitantly he sat down, probably deciding that it would be more awkward if he remained standing the whole rest of the lunch period.

“I’m glad you came over here,” I offered, trying to ease his worries.

“You are?” he asked sounding surprised.

“Yeah, me too,” Sean said smiling, as he flashed me a look that said ‘you’re welcome’ even though he wasn’t exactly sure what for.

Our shoulders were touching as we sat there next to each other on the bench of the lunch table and as my leg slid against his under the table his head snapped in my direction, not at all subtly, before I reached across and my hand landed on his leg. Discreetly I squeezed his thigh, letting him know I really was okay with this, and he seemed to relax a little after that.

I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t a bit strange having Jesse sitting there next to me, but we all got over that quickly enough, and pretty soon we were all laughing and talking together. I was really glad that everyone had been so accepting and welcoming to the idea, and before we knew what had happened, Rachel and Melodie were saying goodbye with Sean and Jules right behind them, leaving Jesse and me sitting there alone.

“So that went well,” I said, looking over at Jesse, smiling at him.

“Yeah, I guess it did,” he agreed.

“So what are you doing tonight?” I asked him.

“Nothing really. Why, what’s up?” he wondered.

“Well, I think…, no actually, I’ve decided. I’m gonna tell my dad tonight,” I informed him.

“You’re sure that’s what you want to do?” he asked, not because he was trying to talk me out of it or because he thought it was a bad idea, but just for conformation.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I said confidently and he returned my smile.

“Is there anything I can do?” he offered. “Do you want me to be there with you when you tell him?”

I hadn’t actually even considered Jesse being there when I came out to my dad, it had been just the two of us for so long and I felt like we needed to sit down together and I would finally just say it. I’m gay.

“No thanks. It means so much to me that you would even offer, but I think this is something I have to do on my own,” I told him.

“I understand, I promise. You don’t have to explain,” he assured me and I knew that he did. “So, what do you think he’s gonna say when you tell him?” he asked.

I really wasn’t sure, I mean I was fairly sure he wouldn’t freak out at me or scream and yell, or make me leave; but all this time I had been considering telling him, I had mostly just been worried about my own feelings and how it would affect me. What if he’s disappointed in me, what if he ends up hating me, I didn’t want to let him down.

I guess I had gotten lost in my thoughts because Jesse finally said, “Don’t worry, you’re Dad seems like a good guy, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

I smiled at him, more than a little appreciative of his support and feeling like I could really use a hug right then. We were looking into each others’ eyes, and I found myself asking, “Is there someplace we can go? Someplace… safe.”

He seemed surprised at what I was asking, although he understood exactly what I meant. He thought for a minute before nodding and then he stood up and walked away knowing I would be right behind him. I followed him, as I had done before, and watched as he repeated the same path from the previous time I had followed him until he disappeared, eventually reappearing one door down again, although this time I was standing by that door waiting for him to open it for me before I ducked inside.

“Thanks,” I said as our eyes met again.

“For what?” he asked as if I was being ridiculous.

“Well, for being here for me like this,” I pointed out as if it was obvious.

“You mean like you were for me,” he rebutted. “That’s what you do when you care about someone right?”

“Well, yeah,” I admitted as he smiled and I felt the color rise in my cheeks again.

He pulled me into a hug, the one I had been needing, and I clung to him. I was sure that he could tell that being in his arms was exactly what I needed as my body melted into his embrace. I took this time to let him comfort me, to soothe me, while my mind was on overload wondering and worrying about telling my dad.

I had lost track of how long it was that I had been indulging my own needs as we stood there wrapped together when he gently said, “He’s still going to love you Stephen,” as if he had been reading my mind and knew my secret fears.

My response to hearing him say those words wasn’t verbal, at least not at first. His hand was gently gliding back and forth across my back as I finally let go of him, backing up enough to allow me to look him in the eyes. “It’s amazing how you do that,” I said. “You always seem to know just what I’m thinking and what to say to make me feel better.”

He only offered me a soft smile as I said, “I seem to be saying this a lot to you, but, thanks Jess. I….” I stopped myself, as much as I felt it, I just couldn’t tell him yet, and revealing one huge thing a day is my limit.

I think he knew what I meant though because he said, “I know baby, me too.”

We stood there next to each other, happy and nervous before I leaned over and kissed him softly; not a kiss full of passion, the kind we had many of this past weekend that make you forget everything else around you, but more of a loving kiss that told him I knew and I was grateful to have him in my life, even if I couldn’t get myself to say it out loud yet.

“So, I feel bad even asking this,” I began as he regarded me curiously, “but would you wait at the park by my house tonight… just in case?” I would feel so much better, braver maybe, just knowing that he was close by if I needed him.

He understood and said, “Yeah, I’ll do whatever you want me to.”

“Thanks,” I said, “I guess we better go to class,” and he nodded in agreement.

It was six-thirty already before I was finally heading home from practice. I decided that a shower was a good idea, not only would I get clean, but hopefully it would relax me a little and give me a chance to get my thoughts together. Dad was already home when I got there, making dinner, so I didn’t have much time though.

As I sat down across from him at the dinner table, he asked, “How was your day son?”

I looked at my dad, and I knew that until I told him the truth about me that I wouldn’t be happy. It felt wrong not being honest with him. I knew Jesse was sitting in the park down the street waiting, probably wondering what was going on. I didn’t like the thought of him sitting there worrying about me either.

I smiled as I thought of Jesse and it gave me some peace of mind, knowing that I had someone to love, someone who wanted to protect me and make me happy. It suddenly occurred to me that my dad had those same qualities, just in a different sense of the word.

I was ready, tired of pretending, tired of running from my feelings. Lately I had been myself, the real me, and I didn’t want to be anything else. I was finished wondering who I was supposed to be and just decided that I was ready to be me. It’s not like I was having an identity crisis or anything, I just never knew what I was missing until I found it… in Jesse.

“Son, is everything okay?” my dad asked.

That brought me back to reality quick enough, and as I thought about his question I smiled. “Yeah Dad, almost…,“ I trailed off.

He was looking at me curiously, wanting to ask me what I meant, but I think he was trying to be patient, to let me say whatever it was that was obviously on my mind.

It was time. “Dad, I need to tell you something…, but I need you to let me finish before you interrupt me okay?” I don’t know if the sudden look of worry that flashed across his face scared me more or if I was more motivated by it. I didn’t want him worrying about me, and I guess that the way I started this whole conversation left him wondering what was going on, but he respected my request and just nodded, silently pleading with me to go on.

“Well, I’ve met someone, and…, it’s getting pretty serious between us,” I said and I saw a look of relief come over him. I’m sure he was thinking, ‘that’s the big deal?’, but he had only heard the easy half of what I had to tell him, so his relief only caused me more nervousness.

After an awkward silence between us I guess he felt it was safe to speak again and he said, “Well, that’s nice son.” I saw the smile playing across his face, like he was about to tease me, and while I knew he was above any ‘Stephen and whoever sitting in a tree’ songs, I knew that what I was about to tell him was not going to be what he expected to hear.

He confirmed that as he asked, “Is it Jules?”

I tried not to let that get to me, but I’m pretty sure I flinched when I heard him say that. I guess I understood where he was coming from and that would have been an obvious guess, but I simply said, “No.”

His curiosity was getting the better of him as he asked, “Well then, who is it?”

Deep breaths, lots of them. Finally after what seemed like an eternity of silence I said, “Well, it’s… Jess.”

There, it was done, or at least I had taken the first step. I don’t know if I had been expecting to feel relief or like a huge weight had been lifted off me, but I didn’t.

“Jess? As in Jesse, you’re friend I met the other day Jesse?” he stuttered out, looking for immediate clarification.

“Well, yeah. I think, no… I know…, Dad, I’m… gay,” I said as the tears I had been fighting couldn’t be held back anymore. “I’m sorry if I’m letting you down. I’m sorry if you can’t accept this, but…,” I sobbed out.

He was out of his seat faster than I had seen him move in a long time. I told myself, and I knew deep down that he would never hurt me, but I was suddenly terrified. Terrified that he would hate me, that he would be angry or disappointed, I had let him down.

But just as quickly as all that had passed through my mind I was wrapped in his arms, my head buried against his chest as I sobbed. “Oh God no son, that doesn’t matter to me,” he said as he held me in the arms that had always made me feel safe and protected since I was little.

I visibly relaxed as I heard him say the words I had been longing to hear. Once I had calmed down some I realized that being in his arms meant that he must still love me and that I wasn’t a big let down.

He asked, “Do Jesse’s parents know?” That was a fair question I reasoned.

“Well, they know about him, but I don’t know if they know about us being… together,” I admitted.

“So, I take it Jesse knows that you’re telling me this,” he said, questioning me further.

I nodded and then I blushed remembering that Jesse was still at the park, probably going crazy worrying about what was happening. My dad noticed because he asked, “Okay, what is it?”

“Well, Jesse is… waiting down at the park actually,” I admitted, smiling.

“So, get him over here,” my dad practically ordered. While I was still a bit skeptical about how my dad would act when now faced with my boyfriend instead of just my friend Jesse, I did as I was instructed and called Jesse who arrived in less than five minutes looking very uncertain.

We hadn’t had much of a chance to discuss my dad’s reaction to the news, but when he walked in the door, my dad walked right up to him and took Jesse’s hand in his saying, “So you’re the one he’s been smiling about.” Jesse looked at me from over my dad’s shoulder and I just smiled, knowing that everything was all out in the open now and that we could at least be ourselves here.

My dad really surprised me tonight. Not only was he accepting and understanding, but he was welcoming, and he didn’t even do the whole ‘be safe’ talk either, which I can assure you I was relieved about. I mean I knew that it would come eventually, but on the first night, he just let us be… us.

Jesse called his parents to let them know he would be having dinner at our house, and after we finished eating we all sat down together in the living room to watch a movie. I really wanted to talk to Jesse, to tell him what had happened when I told my dad, and I know he wanted to hear it, but we didn’t want to stir up any uncomfortable situations so we just waited. I knew I would have a chance to talk to him about it when I drove him home later.

My dad sat in his chair, the same overstuffed chair he always sat in since I could remember, while Jesse and I sat next to each other on the couch. My dad never said anything about it, but I did notice him watching us instead of the movie on several occasions. I’m not sure what he was looking for exactly. Maybe he was looking for some signs that he could have missed earlier, maybe he wanted to make sure we weren’t getting a little too cozy with each other, like that was gonna happen, but when he winked at me once when I caught him watching us again I decided that maybe he was just happy that I was happy.

After the movie ended I said, “Dad, I’m going to take Jess home now.”

He nodded saying, “Don’t be too long Son, there’s school in the morning.”

“I know Dad,” I responded as we headed for the door.

We were almost to the door when my dad said, “Stephen…,”

We both froze in the spot we were standing and Jesse’s eyes met mine asking a silent question. What did he want? I had no idea what my dad was going to say so I just tried to look confident before we both turned to face him.

“Bring that boyfriend of yours back soon,” was what he said as we stood there in front of him expressionless. Did he actually just say that?

“Uh, yeah… okay,” I managed to get out, even in my state of total shock.

I grabbed Jesse’s arm, dragging him out the door with me as I said over my shoulder, “I’ll be back soon.”

I don’t think either of us started breathing again until we were safely in my truck and on the road to Jesse’s house.

“So… wow,” Jesse said, articulating perfectly what we both were feeling.

To which I responded, “Yeah…,”

It was clear that we were both shocked at how the evening turned out, me coming out to my dad and him meeting my boyfriend, but we were happy anyway. My dad had been fine with what I told him, he had been great to Jesse, and my friends had been good to him earlier that day at lunch as well. It seemed that things were slowly falling into place.

It was a quiet ride to Jesse’s house, both of us silently appreciating the way things had turned out tonight when Jesse finally spoke up. “Umm…, so do you have a few minutes when we get to my house?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yeah, I can stay a little while,” I agreed. “Why, what’s up?”

“Well…, I was thinking that we could tell my mom since your dad knows now,” he said, and I recognized the need I heard in his voice to be honest with his parents just as I had wanted to be with my dad.

I hesitated only for a moment before I asked, “You’re sure she’ll be okay with it?” I wasn’t sure if I could handle any confrontation yet. I had spent so much energy and put so much on the line already tonight, and even though it all turned out great, I didn’t want to ruin it.

“Yeah,” he assured me, “I wouldn’t do it otherwise.” That made sense to me, clearly, and if my last visit there was any indication of what his mom thought, she already knew anyway.

“If that’s what you want Jess, then sure, I’m cool with that,” I offered as his smile replaced his unsettled look he had on his face the past few minutes.

When we arrived at his house and I parked out front of his house, he turned to me smiling and said, “Thanks Stephen, I’m so glad that we’re finally gonna get this all out in the open so we don’t have to hide anymore.”

As much as I liked the idea of not having to hide my feelings; the way that just one smile from him could fix everything, the way that I was so easily swept away by the feeling I got each time his soft lips touched mine, I was more than a little uneasy about the idea that our relationship, our feelings, would be out in the open for everyone to see. My dad and his parents, maybe, but anyone and everyone, I knew I wasn’t ready for that yet.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked me, noticing the uncomfortable look on my face. “Did you change your mind about telling my mom?”

“Uh, no, but…,” I started. I paused though, not sure if I had the right words to tell him how I was feeling.

“But what?” he asked, clearly wondering what I had become so hesitant about.

“It’s just…,” I sighed, “the thing is, I mean you know I’m not ready for everyone to know yet right?”

I hated being so uneasy about the whole thing. He deserved more from me, we both did. I knew eventually there would come a time when everyone would know about us, and when that day came I knew that I would have him standing by my side and that’s all that mattered, but right now I just couldn’t get the nauseous feeling in my stomach to go away.

“I know baby, I guess I got a little over excited. I just…, really want to be able to be with you whenever I want, no hiding from anyone anymore,” he said.

I understood, I really did, because I wanted the same things too. As I sat there in my truck outside of his house, next to this boy I was falling in love with, I realized that for our relationship to be what I wanted it to be I would have to give myself fully to this. I knew that for me at least, we would be lost without each other.

My eyes found his and I simply said, “I know, me too.”

He knew I meant it, and he leaned over and hugged me, his arms pulling me close to him. He was this amazing guy, always putting his feelings aside for mine, and he was mine, my boyfriend. I smiled knowing that before I gathered any remaining courage I had and said, “Come on then, I guess we have some news for your folks.”

His face appeared before me as he pulled away from the embrace he had offered me and I saw the smile on his face, shining brightly, all because of me. That was definitely something I never wanted to live without.

We were at the front door and he was nervously fidgeting with his keys before he stuck them in the door to unlock it. I found this amusing since I was under the impression that we were merely here to confirm his moms’ suspicions. He pulled his key out of the door before he promptly dropped them and I laughed, finding his unnerved behavior somewhat entertaining, that is until he stood up from picking up his keys and I saw the uncertainty in his eyes.

It took no time at all for me to have him wrapped safely in my arms offering comfort and support. I understood him being nervous, I just didn’t expect it. He was always so together, so in control of his feelings.

“We’re in this together Jess,” I whispered gently as he clung to me. I felt him nod against my shoulder but he made no move for the door. “Jess, look at me,” I said hoping he would see I was sincere.

He did, and when our eyes met I knew that he needed me now like I had needed him earlier in the day when he held me. His blond wisps hung down over his forehead and I brushed them gently aside before my hand landed on his neck, my thumb gently framing his face. Our kiss started out tentative, sweet, but it never took long for us to realize we wanted more than that and I requested entrance to his mouth as my tongue brushed across his gently lips before he granted my request.

I was quite aware of the fact that we were standing on his front porch for the world to see, and while I loved kissing Jesse, I wasn’t ready for anyone to see us yet. He had relaxed against my body and I took that as a good sign before I reached over and grabbed the door knob opening it about the same time I pulled away from him. As much as I would have loved to stand there and kiss him all night, we had something we had to do and I had to go home soon.

He was definitely startled when I shoved him inside, but when he looked over at me and I smiled at him he just laughed, realizing that I had successfully got him in the house.

“Mom,” he called out. “I’m home.”

“Okay honey,” we heard come from the kitchen.

He rolled his eyes at me in exasperation before saying, “Could you come here a minute please?”

“Sure, just give me a second, I’m sort of in the middle of something,” she responded.

We stood there looking at each other trying to remain calm while we waited for her arrival from the other room. When she finally appeared from the other room she was smiling and said, “Well hello boys.”

“Uh, hi Mom,” Jesse said trying to hold his composure together.

I had no idea what his plan was, how he planned on imparting this information to her so I only added, “Hello Mrs. Green.”

“Mom,” he said impatiently, “I want you to meet someone.”

“Well, honey, I’ve already met… Stephen,” she said as she looked in my direction for confirmation of my name. I nodded in agreement.

“No, Mom,” he jumped in, interrupting, “I want you to meet my boyfriend,” he barely got out before he looked over to see his dad standing in the doorway.

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