This story involves sexual contact and male/male relationships. If this is something that you find offensive, you have no business being here and need to leave now. If you are under the age of 18 or not of legal age in your area, GET OUT. If this content is illegal in your area LEAVE.

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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 11

I couldn't decide if her look of surprise, my look of shock over how direct Jesse had just been with her, or his wide eyed reaction to his dad walking in just in time to hear his declaration was more obvious as he stood there looking from one of us to the other, waiting for some kind of response to his abrupt statement. His eyes caught mine momentarily as I flashed him a look of sympathy before he looked to his mom, silently asking for her approval.

His dad didn't say anything as he stood there looking at us. He was a big man, one I would definitely be hesitant to deal with. I'm not really sure why, just something about him seemed unapproachable, then again, this wasn't exactly the ideal way to meet someone for the first time.

"Oh, wow," his mom said as she looked at me again. I suddenly realized what it felt like to be on display, judged, and it was nerve wracking to say the least. I just tried to appear confident, after all, I did want to make Jesse proud to call me his boyfriend. I knew how difficult this was for him and I tried to push my selfish thoughts of discomfort to the side as I was scrutinized.

Finally, after what seemed like forever she looked at Jesse again and said, "I'm happy for you honey." She kissed him on the cheek and then said to me, "I'd love to meet your mother sometime Stephen."

This wasn't the first time I had to deal with that. People don't normally think that a kid my age has lost his mother, so I was indifferent to it, or I was trying to be. A sad look flashed across Jesse's face before he pulled his mom aside to whisper something in her ear, but it was nothing compared to the look that was slowly coming over her as she heard his words. No doubt he was telling her that my mom had died.

I wasn't really prepared for what happened next, nor was I expecting it, but when his mom wrapped her arms around me, I felt so many things. I get hugged a lot, nothing new there, but this was different.

There is a look, sometimes subtle, sometimes all too clear, that all moms seem to have. They can give this look to anyone... anytime, and most of the time, no words are even needed to make it clear what she's thinking. Like that look, there's the `make it all better' kiss, and the hug.

The hug. It sounds pretty straight forward; two people, arms around each other, holding one another for some period of time... except when one of those people is a mom. For some unknown reason, they have the ability to repair the souls' wounds. A new, fresh wound, or an old, hidden wound, it makes no difference.

Jules mom, Linda, she would hug me like this all the time when I was younger... I missed it, a lot. I could admit that, as I stood in the entryway of Jess' house in his moms' arms, at least to myself. I don't know what happened really; whether it was me getting bigger, older, or if it was that I was around less and less, but those hugs were few and far between now-a-days.

My head was in disarray, all the thoughts and feelings that are usually an afterthought for me since they only really applied to me, were all up front begging for healing. I know that's a lot to expect from just one hug, it's not realistic, but for those few minutes I was in her arms, it was instinct.

I held tighter to the soft angora sweater she was wearing. She was small in my arms, seemingly fragile. It was ironic how her small package held such immense power. My mom always smelled of vanilla, but not her, she smelled... like berries, sweet. She was sweet.

"Thanks," I whispered to her as I finally convinced myself to let go.

She didn't say anything in response, but instead she just winked at me before she turned and said, "Come on Jim, let's leave these boys alone."

Jesse's dad nodded, his hand coming down to rest on Jesse's shoulder as he passed between us. "We'll talk later Jesse," he said, his voice lacking any malice before he looked over at me. "Come back anytime Son," he said, genuinely before we heard... "JIM!" come from the other room. "I'm coming Kathy," he said as he rolled his eyes at us. "We'll just be in our room then," he said and left us standing there looking at each other awkwardly.

We stared at each other, both trying to come up with some explanation of what had just occurred, when he finally asked, "You okay?"

I nodded, "Yeah, I gotta go though," I said as I headed towards the front door.

He grabbed my hand as I was walking away from him in an attempt to stop me saying, "Stephen, wait. I'm sorry."

I turned and my eyes met his momentarily before I looked away. "I know," I said. I just needed some space, some time to clear my head. "I'll... see you tomorrow, okay."

I walked out the door, leaving him standing in the doorway watching me drive away. I hated doing that. I know I wasn't even considering his feelings at that moment when he saw my truck disappear down his street and around the corner, but I was dealing with some very old emotions all of a sudden. Not including the affects from all the other events that had occurred tonight.

I was halfway up the stairs before I said, "Night Dad," not even waiting for a response.

I really just needed to be alone for a while.

It's been ten years now. Ten years without her. Ten years of missed games and report cards, of skinned knees and splinters, ten years of growing taller and losing teeth. Learning to drive, to cook, how to do laundry; she missed it all... while I... missed her.

Normally I was fine, I wasn't emotional about her absence or depressed or moody. Normally, I was actually happy and fulfilled, but every once in a while, something happens. A scent or a song, a patch of sunlight on the sidewalk as I walked along like I used to with her, an oatmeal raisin cookie, whatever... something small that reminds me of her and I feel that twinge of sadness, but I usually recover quickly and go on with my life.

That hug. It was definitely affecting me more than just a small twinge. Maybe I'm weak, maybe I'm in denial, maybe... I just really miss her. I've had a lot of things happening, changing for me recently, and I wished she was here to see them all. I wondered if she would be okay with the fact that I was gay. Would she accept it as easily and openly as my dad had? Would she like Jesse?

Jesse... Oh my God! I'm such a jerk! Did I really just drive away and leave him standing there, worried and feeling guilty, looking for some sort of sign from me that I was okay, that I wasn't mad at him for how things had gone at his house with his parents?

I grabbed the phone and dialed, waiting for him to answer. Ring... ring... ring... I knew he knew it was me, my number would show up on his phone. Ring... ring... how many rings is too many before you're just weird? Ring...

"Hello." I barely heard it.

"Hello?" I responded, almost as if I was checking to see if I was hearing things.

Silence. "Jess?"

Sniffle. "Hey, are you okay?" I asked, very concerned now. Still nothing. "Come on Jess, please? I'm worried, tell me what's up."

Shit. I wondered if something happened with his dad after I left. Did I cause this? "Jess, I'm sorry," I offered. I know he deserved that from me at the very least, if not much more than that. He definitely deserved the whole story, full disclosure, since I was expecting him to deal with me and my emotions.

I left him... as he was standing there, worried and guilt ridden, without so much as a word. He still wasn't saying anything, but I could hear him breathing in shallow sighs.

"Look, I really am sorry," I began. "I'm sorry I didn't stay with you longer and talk to your parents, I'm sorry my shit overshadowed our news, and most of all...," I paused, "I'm sorry I left you standing there when you were worried about me. I shouldn't have done that to you."

I guess that was a start on the long list of things I needed to apologize for, and as I sat there listening to the silence through the phone I was getting restless, waiting for him to respond. He offered me nothing. No explanation, no yelling, no understanding, no sympathy, no angry words... nothing.

I was considering begging at this point, I just wanted him to say something, even if he was angry and yelling at me, but I needed something, some type of reaction other than this silence. Just as I was about to start apologizing all over again, he spoke softly, "Are you okay?"

I stopped to consider the question briefly before I answered, "Well... yeah."

I heard him let out an exasperated sigh and I knew he was expecting more than that as an explanation. He deserved more too.

"I mean, it's hard sometimes, and I don't usually react like that, but yeah, I'm okay," I offered, hoping that would be enough for now.

There was so much I needed to tell him, things I wanted him to know; about me, about my mom. Things like how she would walk next to me as I rode my bike with the training wheels on it to the park on Saturday afternoons and then she would push me on the swings until I would jump off and run to the slide. She would always say the same thing too, I remember it, she would say `be careful buddy'. I was her buddy, she was my mom. When I would get home from school everyday and walk in the house she would say `there's my big guy'.

Now wasn't the time for all that though, right now I needed to make sure Jesse was okay too.

"Jess, will you please just say something?" I begged. I hate not knowing what I'm dealing with, not being able to tell what was going on in his head. Had we been face to face right now, I would be able to look in his eyes and know exactly what he was feeling or thinking.

I told him as much when I softly admitted, "I wish I could see you right now."

After a long silence he said, "I'm coming over."

"Now?" I asked, surprised at his suggestion. I wanted to see him, and badly, but it was already past ten and there was school tomorrow.

"Yeah, I'll see you soon," was all he said before he hung up, leaving no room for any argument on my part.

I really did want him here with me, in my arms, but I didn't want him to get in any trouble at home. I still didn't know what happened with his dad after I walked out on him earlier. I still can't believe I did that to him.

I was waiting, impatiently pacing around. I didn't even know if my dad was awake or asleep since I hadn't even stopped to talk to him when I got home from dropping Jesse off so I decided that I better go wait downstairs for Jesse so I could let him in. I guess my dad would understand why Jesse was coming back over if I ended up having to explain it to him.

It turns out, that I didn't have to, since it appeared that he had already gone to bed when I got downstairs and he was nowhere to be seen. Just a few minutes later I heard a soft knock at the door. I raced over, eager to see his face, look into his crystal blue eyes and know that everything would be alright.

I held the door open for him and he walked past me into the house. "Hi."

Sean and Jules had just arrived at her house from their date, lingering on the porch, close to each other. While they hadn't really announced it to anyone yet, they were indeed a couple now. They knew that Stephen had pretty much figured it out, but he seemed genuinely happy for them. That wouldn't make it any easier for them though, when the time came to tell everyone that they were together, since the whole school believed that at some time or another Jules and Stephen had been together or should be.

That wasn't the case though, as much as Jules had wanted it to be for quite a long time, Stephen had never seemed interested at all. She had been seemingly obvious, even blunt at times, and still, he had never once taken the hints she was dropping.

At some point she realized that she was happy having Stephen as her best friend, even if nothing more would ever become of it. That was about the time that her opinion of Sean and his constant attention and compliments changed. She was happy that someone had noticed when she got her hair cut, even if it was just an inch or two, or when she wore a new outfit she had bought.

Sean really was a great guy. Stephen had always told her that he was, and she decided that she would try and be more open-minded and the next time he had offered her a ride home she accepted. They talked like always, but that time, she listened. She laughed, joked, teased, even flirted, and before she knew it she had agreed to see a movie with him that weekend.

Tonight as they sat there on her porch talking, huddled together in the chilly night air, they saw a car drive up and park outside Stephens' house. It wasn't a car they recognized as belonging to that house, and as they watched out of curiosity, they saw Jesse Green get out and walk right up to the door and knock.

"Have you noticed anything different about Stephen lately?" Sean questioned his new girlfriend.

"Well, no, but that would be kind of hard to do since I haven't really spent much time with him lately," she answered honestly. She wasn't mad really, but she did miss him. It was true that much of her free time lately had been spent with Sean but that happens a lot when you are in a new relationship.

"Yeah, but he seems to be spending an awful lot of time with Jesse lately," Sean said, thinking out loud.

"Well, now that you mention it, last week I walked down there to see if he wanted to hang out for a while, and he was leaving to take Jesse home when I walked up," Jules added.

"Did he say why Jesse was there?" Sean questioned his girlfriend, becoming more curious about his friends sudden interest with each other.

"Well, yeah. He said they had been studying or something," she told him.

"Oh," Sean replied. He knew he recognized that look on Stephens face earlier that day at lunch, and the way Stephen had been staring at Jesse and not paying attention to him was more than obvious.

"What's the big deal?" Jules asked her boyfriend. "You're the one who went and brought Jesse over to our table at lunch today anyway."

"Do you think...," he started to ask her and then stopped himself. He didn't want to make her angry or hurt her feelings. Sean wasn't stupid. He knew that she had liked Stephen and wanted him to be her boyfriend for the past few years.

"Think what?" she pushed, wondering what he was talking about.

"Well, I'm just trying to figure it out," he began. "I mean all of a sudden Stephen is always with Jesse and if he's not, he wants to be."

"So what are you saying?" she asked him.

"Nothing really, I mean, don't you think it's weird that Stephen, Mr. Popular himself, never has a girlfriend or even ever goes on a date?" he asked her, knowing that he was entering dangerous territory now.

He didn't really care one way or the other if his friend was gay. In fact, admittedly, he probably wouldn't even be having these thoughts now if it weren't common knowledge that Jesse was gay. All he knew was that at lunch today, Stephen was happy... with Jesse.

"Yeah, well, I may have sorta scared off a lot of girls," Jules admitted blushing. She was being honest with her new boyfriend when she said that, it was true. It was pretty much understood that Stephen was hers and most girls were either too afraid or too impatient to deal with Jules.

Sean looked over at his beautiful girlfriend sitting there next to him and was so happy that she was his finally. It seemed to him that for as long as she had been wanting Stephen to be her boyfriend, he had been wanting her to be his girlfriend, and now it was finally happening.

"Maybe, but still, I wonder," he said.

"Wonder what honey?" she asked. Once she stopped to think about it she realized Sean did have a point, but she wasn't going to be the one to say it out loud.

"Well... I mean... you don't think those two are...," he said, his thoughts stumbling out of his mouth.

"Are what?" she pushed.

"Together," he sighed, finally saying out loud what they both had been thinking.

"Wow," she said. "I don't know."

"Yeah, wow is right," he agreed.

Jules decided that she would watch her best friend and see if she noticed him acting differently. She didn't care if he was gay, she knew that they would never be together, and if he was gay that would explain why he never went for her. If she noticed anything she decided that she would just ask Stephen about it.

"Are you sure you aren't gonna get in trouble?" I asked Jesse as I sat down next to him on my bed.

"Yeah, I told my mom what was going on," he admitted. "She practically drove me over here herself," he assured me.

We sat there in silence until we both finally started to speak at the same time. "Go ahead," I offered.

"No, you go," he said.

"Okay," I started. Deep breath. "Jess, I really am sorry I left you standing there tonight. I never should have done that. I acted like a jerk and I was selfish and I'm sorry," I said sincerely.

"Yeah you did," he agreed, "but I understand why you did what you did." I nodded. He continued, "That doesn't mean that it still doesn't hurt though."

"Jess, I didn't mean to hurt you, I swear. I just needed some time to work some stuff out in my head," I tried to explain.

"I figured," he said, his eyes still telling me he was upset.

I decided I would tell him what was going on in my head and hopefully he would really understand why I needed some time to myself. "I was thinking... before, and I was wondering what my mom would've said if she had been sitting there with my dad tonight when I told him I was gay. I think she would have liked you."

"Really?" he asked, curious now. "What do you think she would have said?"

"I don't know, I was wondering that too," I admitted. "There are times when I really wish she was still here. I mean I always miss her, but there are times I just want to see her face again, to tell her all the important things that are going on. Sometimes... I just want her to hug me again like she used to."

The look of sadness that flashed across his face before the determination arrived was clearly evident as he said, "How about a hug from your equally sorry that he was so selfish boyfriend?"

"I always want your hugs," I said before I dutifully let myself be wrapped in his arms, "and you weren't being selfish."

"Listen baby," he began, "I can't pretend to understand what you're feeling, but that doesn't mean I don't want, more than anything, to make you feel better when you're sad or hurting."

"I know," I nodded into his shoulder. I did know. I knew that if he was the one hurting, I would be right there demanding that he let me comfort and support him.


"Hmm?" he mumbled against my neck where his mouth was currently resting against the soft skin behind my ear.

"I think I'm gonna go see my mom tomorrow," I said. "I want to tell her... about me... and you."

"Oh, okay," he said. He seemed unsure of what his role should be, of how he should respond since he had never dealt with this before. I could tell he was hesitant, not knowing what to say. I didn't really expect him to say anything. I was really just telling him how I was feeling, and trying to ask him if he would go with me.

"Go with me?" I asked him as his fingers found the spot where my hair met my neck and he investigated it intently, fingering the brown wisps.

"Umm...," he replied vaguely, obviously not sure how he should answer.

"Will you... tomorrow? I'm gonna go at lunch time," I told him.

"Don't you have practice?" he reminded me.

"I do," I admitted, "but Coach will let me miss for this. Besides, I never miss anyway so...," I trailed off.

"Oh," was all he said.

It was becoming clear that he wasn't exactly comfortable with the idea of going with me to visit my moms' grave, I just wasn't sure why. Maybe he felt like he was intruding, maybe he felt like he didn't belong, I really wasn't sure, but I was sure that I wanted him there with me and I was going to tell him that. I wanted to tell him how much it meant to me to have him holding me like this right now, how much he meant to me.

"Jess look," I started, "you've been there for me when I needed someone." I was gonna do this, I needed to tell him how I felt. "You've held my hand, you've helped me, you've... changed my life really, and I want you there with me."

I had pulled away from him by this time, not because I was angry or hurt, but because I wanted him to see that I meant every word. We had held each other, watched the other cry, smile, sleep. We knew each other's fears, dreams, doubts, and even though we hadn't yet admitted it out loud, we knew we needed each other, loved each other.

"I don't want to intrude," he admitted softly. "That's your time with your mom... to tell her all about you."

"And us," I corrected him.

"Yeah, and us," he agreed smiling at the sound of that.

"Well, I'm asking you to come, so it's not intruding," I pointed out.

He nodded. "Alright then," he said, "as long as you're sure."

I was. I smiled at him. He smiled back, almost shyly this time. I didn't want him to go yet. We sat there facing each other, one leg on the bed the other foot on the floor. I was studying the features of his face, his blue eyes meeting my hazel ones, as I noticed his cheeks color slightly with the realization that I was admiring him.

As much as we had been through in the past week and a half, it was obvious that we were still intent on exploring, learning, seeing as much about the other as possible. I watched as he grew more flustered, knowing I was looking at him not just as another guy or a classmate, but as my boyfriend and all that came with that title.

My eyes left his only when they dropped slightly, to where I noticed that his tongue sneak out to lick his bottom lip again. I reached out tentatively, before my palm gently landed on his cheek, and he tilted his head toward the warmth that I offered as my thumb came down tracing softly across his bottom lip.

"Stay with me tonight?" I asked quietly.

He nodded. I kissed him through my smile, but only for a second because then his hand was on the back of my neck pulling me closer to him as he deepened our kiss. It was only another minute before he was leaning back pulling me over with him, his hand on the small of my back pulling me into him.

It only occurred to me in my subconscious thoughts that maybe he was as worried as I was about what had happened tonight and that he needed to feel me close to him too before I wrapped him in my arms and just held him. I wasn't going to waste any of the time we had together, where we could just be ourselves and be together. I wanted him to know I felt it too, the comfort he provided me, the connection that I felt whenever he was near me.

"Let's get ready for bed," I suggested.

"Yeah," he agreed. "It's been a long day."

Our arms were wrapped around each other, his head nestled comfortably against my chest, as we drifted off to sleep clinging to each other and the idea of a new day. When we woke the next morning, our positions unchanged through the night it was still pretty early, but he had to go home to get ready for school and bring his moms' car back to her.

We just laid there appreciating the few moments of peace we had together before he reluctantly sat up. "I gotta get going," he reminded me as he stood up to get dressed.

"Yeah, I know," I sighed, missing him already. "You're still coming with me this afternoon right?"

He leaned over to kiss me and mumbled, "Mmm hmm," against my lips. He pulled me to my feet and I put on some pajama pants so I could walk him out.

I was really glad that he had stayed with me last night, more than that, that he came over when I needed him and we worked through it all. "Thanks Jess," I told him, "for staying."

"Anytime," he said before I opened my bedroom door. He started to walk through the door and stopped right before I abruptly ran into the back of him.

"Jess, what are you doing?" I asked, wondering why he had suddenly stopped walking.

"Jesse?" I heard my dad say as my eyes snapped up to meet my dads'. "Son?"

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