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I had received several comments on my cheeriness, and I had been told a couple times in each class, that I sounded happy during the morning announcements. I was beginning to wonder just how much of an asshole I usually was if me having a smile on my face and sounding a little bit happy caused such a reaction. I guess being well known came with a price, no chance at privacy or retreat from the public eye.
It was in my fourth period class, student government, that I realized that next period was lunch. I had seen Jesse from afar this morning and I wondered how things would be today at lunch between us. I had already resolved the inner conflict I was having, deciding that I shouldn’t invite trouble. I decided not to do anything that varied from my customary behavior, although every part of me was screaming otherwise.
What I wanted was to be with him, near him. To be able to hold him, kiss him, touch him. Us being separated by my choice to remain hidden from the reality of who I was, I realized that I had greatly impacted my ability to do any of those things. In addition to that fact, it also impeded my ability to receive any of those things either.
As much comfort as I felt just from seeing his perfect face and his smile, the one that could chase away all my fears, I just didn’t know if that would be enough to get me through the day. After being so close yesterday, I felt actual discomfort in his absence. My body needing to be close to his, to feel his wanting hands, and breathing in his scent was a void I felt much too strongly.
The sun was shining down on me, warming my body, as I walked to the cafeteria to get some lunch. There was a soft breeze blowing today as I enjoyed the fresh air outside. I walked into the cafeteria, seeing the line forming of students waiting to be fed, I sighed and reluctantly joined the masses.
After waiting a few minutes for the line to dwindle down, I was becoming anxious. Not because I was hungry so much as because I wanted to get out of the cafeteria and see him. I felt someone bump into me from behind and then I heard them say, “Oh, sorry man, I didn’t see you there.” I turned around, already feeling more than a little restless that this was taking so long, to see that the guy who bumped into me was Jesse.
His smile immediately dissolved any bothersome feelings I was having leaving only the pure pleasure of being next to him. Had I been thinking clearly at the time, my normal reaction to this sort of thing would have been to say some stupid shit to whoever it was that thought it was okay to bump into me, but just seeing him standing there in front of me caused me to react in an entirely different way.
My smile appeared, again with vitality behind it, and I was lost in his eyes, powerless to control myself and my responses. All I could do was reply, “That’s okay, shit happens,” I said shrugging trying to remain calm and act as normal as possible. I suddenly felt so guilty. More than that, I disgusted myself. What kind of person was I, expecting him to be okay with me treating him like that? As if he was just any other guy, and I was some popular jerk, like he was beneath me.
I felt sick. How I ever thought this was going to work was beyond me. I needed to get out of here, now. His face showed concern as he watched me, the wheels turning inside my head, and I saw guilt behind his eyes. He actually felt bad for trying to talk to me, to be near me, even just for a second, in a completely harmless way. No one would have suspected anything just from the totally innocent exchange that had taken place and yet I wanted so badly to just be able to grab him and hug him, to tell him how sorry I was, but I couldn’t and that just hurt so much more.
Trying to apologize to him with my eyes, I turned and rushed out of the cafeteria heading for the nearest bathroom. I had to get away from him. I didn’t even think I could handle looking myself in the eye, let alone him, it just hurt. I was a mess, a disappointing, ridiculous, selfish mess. Thank goodness the bathroom was empty because otherwise I would have had a hell of a time trying to explain to some guy why I was in there crying, let alone that it was the second time this week.
I seemed to have realized that as much as I wanted to let him protect me, that he would allow me to mistreat him just so I could have the safety and time I needed, it hurt worse to let him feel any pain because of something I had said or done. I just couldn’t live with that, the thought that I caused him any pain was beyond unforgivable in my eyes.
I didn’t know how I would fix this, but I definitely had to. He was way too important to me to let him be hurt by my selfishness. I was trying to get myself together when I heard the door open. I had gone into the big stall way at the far end of the bathroom when I came in, so I figured whoever it was wouldn’t even notice me if I was quiet. They would probably just do their thing and then go, leaving me in the solitude I craved.
The knocking on the stall door I was behind was a clear indication that I wasn’t as alone as I wanted to be. I tried to ignore it, maybe whoever it was would just go away. I was leaning against the wall, wallowing I guess. Maybe it was worse than that, maybe I was berating myself. Anyway, I heard another knock and then silence followed by a loud sigh and then finally he spoke saying, “Stephen open the door. I know it’s you in there. Will you just talk to me please?”
“No,” I said as I was unlocking the door to let him in anyway. He kind of laughed at that, just for a second, until he noticed my tear streaked face. His expression changed very quickly from one of subtle amusement to one of sympathy and understanding. I didn’t want his sympathy though, I didn’t deserve it. What I did deserve however, was for him to be angry at me, hurt by my selfish and naïve behavior.
He immediately grabbed me, pulling me into his body, hugging me. I reacted by putting my arms around him and melting into the comfort and safety that he offered me while I said, “Don’t.” Again, my body and my mind feuding. Trying to protect him, to allow him to feel the hurt and anger I was sure I had caused, but also needing to be held and understood at the same time.
He held me tightly, standing there in the silence that surrounded us, until he finally said, “I’m sorry, okay? I shouldn’t have done that.” My body went rigid; I tensed up as I heard those words come from him, trying to apologize and I backed away from him leaving him standing there frowning at me. “Don’t do that,” I said, “Just don’t go feeling sorry for me when I am the one who was just a huge asshole to you.”
“How can you stand there and apologize to me when I am the one who is so screwed up?” I asked him. Not really intending on getting an answer I continued, “I acted so shitty back there and I know that I hurt you, that it hurt to have me act like that to you, and I don’t get how you can think that you are the one who needs to apologize…,” I rambled on, as all the random thoughts that entered my head came right out of my mouth without a second thought as to if it was something that should be said or not.
He was silently watching the small tantrum I was having, feeling sympathy for me, deeper than that, empathy. He genuinely knew how I was feeling and that was the only tiny ray of light at the end of this very long dark tunnel I found myself in. That by no means made me feel any better about how I had treated him though. The inner conversation that was taking place in my conscience was loud enough to distract me from noticing what was happening.
It wasn’t until I felt him nibble at my bottom lip that I came back to reality. It didn’t take anytime at all for me to get lost in his kiss. He had me pressed up against the cold tiles that lined the bathroom wall. It was a strange sensation that I was feeling there, pressed up against the wall as his mouth devoured mine, the heat of his body against mine on one side and the chill down my back from the wall.
My thoughts had returned to the previous night and the powerful orgasm that I had, which must be what caused me to reach out and grab him by his hips, pulling his body firmly up against mine. His hardness pressing against mine. I moaned into his mouth as he instinctively ground into me and my hands went around him further to grab his firm ass pulling him even closer to me if that was possible.
He reached behind him, grabbing my hands, and brought my arms up pinning them above my head against the wall. Not that I had ever been in control of the situation, but any control I did have was gone now, and surprisingly, that was okay with me. I trusted him. I knew that he understood me and I was willing to let him take the lead, in fact I almost preferred it that way. I think that instinctively he knew that, as his mouth moved off mine and down my neck to that spot where the sensations he was giving me were driving me crazy with desire.
Lost in the passion I was feeling, I heard him whisper in my ear, “You’re forgiven.” My eyes were closed and my head tilted upward against the wall, when he released my hands and started to back away from me. I didn’t like that. I needed him to be close to me now, and I missed the contact that our bodies shared. I wanted that feeling back and I grabbed for him but he was out of reach.
His smile and his gentle laugh motivated me enough to move toward him. Catching him off guard, I gave him a soft shove and he landed against the wall of the stall we were still in. His face showed his surprise at first, but then he figured out that now that I had control, I had no idea what to do with it. I held him pressed up against the wall, my hands on each side of his head against the wall, and he was waiting for me to make my move when he tauntingly said, “So, what are you gonna do now?”
It occurred to me that I may have gotten myself into a situation that I didn’t know how to handle really. I think that he saw that in my eyes as he waited expectantly for me to do something, before he pulled me to him, hugging me and laying his head on my chest. My arms fell around him and everything felt so right with him in my embrace. I was glad that he knew how I was feeling, so I softly said, “Thanks Jess,” as I held him close to me.
It was a few minutes until either of us moved or spoke again. “So, I guess we should get back out there, lunch must be almost over by now,” he said as he released me from his arms. I nodded in agreement, although I would have much preferred to stay right there with him, and said, “Yeah, you’re right, we should go.”
“So, how do I look?” I asked, hoping that I wouldn’t be spending the remainder of the lunch period explaining to people why I looked like shit after my morning of being all cheery and smiley. He just laughed again saying, “You’re kidding right? You always look great, it’s unfair really. You know that don’t you?” shaking his head in disbelief.
That made me blush, to think that he had noticed me before we met, and then I was curious. I guess I had never thought about boys looking at me since I was always trying to seem straight, so I really only noticed when girls looked, and that was only because it was uncomfortable. I asked, “Really, like when do I look great?” hoping he would tell me more. He blushed this time and looked away for a moment as if he was remembering something.
Finally he said, “Well, besides all the times since the dance, let’s just say that I really love how you look in your baseball uniform, that’s hot Stephen.” It was my turn to blush and my smile had returned, permanently I think, when I replied, “Yeah well, I never knew you were looking, but I definitely noticed you before too.” I picked up my backpack and headed out of the stall with Jesse following right behind me.
Before we left the safe haven that the bathroom had become, I turned to him and said, “Will you be coming to the library after school?” He just laughed saying, “If that’s where you’ll be then yes, I’ll be there.” We walked out together and at the end of the hall we parted ways, him returning to his normal place and his friends and me to mine, just a longing look and smile as our goodbye to each other.
I headed over to our usual table, still hungry since I hadn’t actually gotten to eat anything due to the breakdown I had, and sat down saying, “Hey guys, what’s up?” They all looked at me as though I was unfamiliar, possibly because I had been otherwise occupied dealing other things recently, and I looked from one face to the next feeling my smile playing across my lips.
I was beginning to feel like I was under examining eyes, and it was a peculiar feeling, surreal actually. I finally asked Sean after the long silence that had taken over, “So dude, what happened to you yesterday?” He rolled his eyes, as if not wanting to relive some exhausting ordeal, but simply said, “Work,” as he seemed to shrug off the memory of whatever had happened.
“Green showed up, right?” he asked me, suddenly looking concerned. I nodded saying, “Yeah man, it was cool, he did a good job.” The bell rang, signaling the end of our lunch period, as people stood and meandered toward their respective destinations with not much enthusiasm. I stood up swinging my backpack over my shoulder, and after hugging Jules, made my way to my art class with Bobby.
Time seemed to fly by me unnoticed when I was drawing, especially when the subject of my drawing was Jesse. I had been fully committed to the sketch I was working on, and it wasn’t until Bobby said, “Coop, hey man, class is over,” as he laughed at the amount of concentration I had and me being totally oblivious to anything else. I looked up from my sketch pad to see that we were the only two students left in the class.
I kinda blushed as I realized just how involved I must have been, when he said, “So can I see it?”, referring to my drawing. I shook my head as I replied, “No man, it’s not done yet. You know how I am.” He nodded, laughing and said, “Yeah, unfortunately, I do. Now get your shit together so we can get out of here.” I packed up quickly and as we parted ways, bumping fists, we planned to see each other at that afternoons’ practice, like always.
When Jesse joined me that afternoon in the back corner of the library, secluded from almost everything, the only studying that took place was each of us studying the other. Each of us fully taking in the picture of perfection before us, the subtle touches between us, slowly learning the little things about the other.
“I have a long practice tonight,” I sighed, noticing the time on my watch. “Why?” he asked curiously. “Well we have a game on Friday and I have to pitch, so I can’t pitch at practice tomorrow,” I explained to him. The reasoning behind it all escaping him, he again asked, “Why?” I laughed a little, not wanting to make him feel bad that he didn’t know much about my role as pitcher, before replying, “I need to have a fresh arm on Friday for the game, so no pitching tomorrow,” I explained.
He nodded, finally understanding, and then started to say something, but cut himself off, probably hoping that I hadn’t noticed. “Jess, what is it?” I asked him as he looked away from me, fear and sadness showing on his face. He hadn’t responded yet as I gently traced small patterns on his hand as it lay on the table in front of me.
He smiled and looked down to see my fingers working on his hand and sighed. Gradually getting the courage to get out whatever it was that was bothering him, I sat quietly, waiting for him to tell me what was going on in his head. Finally after studying the small circles I was drawing on his palm for a moment he said, “Would it be okay with you if I came to watch your game? I just don’t want to be distracting to you and I definitely don’t want to cause you any trouble with the guys,” finally came tumbling out of him all in one breath as though if he hadn’t gotten it all out just then it would have never been said at all.
Immediately I stopped what I was doing and grabbed his hand. Looking into his eyes to ensure that my response would be clear to him, I asked him, “Do you want to come?” He nodded and I continued, “Then I want you there, more than anything,” squeezing his hand to let him know how serious I was about that. His smile said it all as he squeezed my hand back.
“Look, I have to go now. I have practice, but I will try and see you tomorrow sometime okay,” I said to him, not wanting to leave. He nodded, and stood up and I followed him outside and we walked to the parking lot together. I could see it in his eyes, and I’m sure he could see it in mine, the need to be close. I wanted to kiss him, to have his arms around me, and I felt out of place when he wasn’t next to me.
He finally sighed, asking me, “What time do you think you’ll be home then?” I thought for a minute and then said, “I don’t know for sure, but probably around eight o’clock.” He nodded again, not saying anything. “I really have to go. I wish I could stay, but Coach will kill me if I don’t show up, and I won’t get to play on Friday,” I told him, hoping he could hear the sincerity of my words. “I know,” he said in almost a whisper. As he turned to leave he said, “Bye then. I guess I’ll see you later.”
I stood there a moment watching him walk away from me and I had to say something. If he felt at all like I did, I knew he felt alone, so I said, “Jess, I’ll see you soon okay,” and gave him a comforting smile, letting him know that I understood. I did understand, because it was only around him, that I could be myself.
Practice was long. There was no other way to describe it, long and tiring. My arm and shoulder ached, my back was sore, and I was hungry. I had missed lunch and now it was already almost eight o’clock and I still hadn’t eaten. When I got home I sat down at the kitchen counter to eat the dinner my Dad had made while we talked about the upcoming game on Friday.
When I finished eating, I excused myself and headed straight for the shower. I turned on the water as hot as I could stand it and then climbed in. The heat was relaxing and soothing to my achy muscles, and I just leaned against the wall, allowing the warm water to wash away any discomfort I felt.
I had just climbed into bed, glad to be able to lie down and relax, when my cell phone rang. I groaned as I made myself crawl across the bed to reach it from where I had left it on my desk. I flopped back on the bed and answered it. “Hello,” I said. “Hi,” the caller replied, and I smiled hearing Jesse’s voice.
“Are you busy?”, he asked me and I said, “No, actually I just laid down.”
“Oh, really?” he asked. “Yeah, practice was really tough tonight,” I told him as I tried to turn over and in the process ended up groaning again.
“What’s wrong?”, he asked, “Are you hurt or something?”, concern heard in his voice.
“No. Not really, just sore. That’s why I don’t pitch tomorrow, so I can recover and be ready for Friday,” I explained.
“Oh, that sucks,” he said. “So I’m really excited about Friday, getting to come watch my boyfriend play, in his hot baseball uniform,” he continued. I smiled as I heard him say that, wondering silently if I would be able to concentrate with him there watching me.
“Are you gonna go with friends, or what?”, I asked him.
“I don’t really know yet,” he replied, “I haven’t really talked to them yet. Why?”
“Just wondered, I wouldn’t want you to be alone is all,” I stated.
“Well, I don’t know yet, but don’t worry about it, I’ll be fine either way,” he said confidently.
“So, what are you doing tomorrow after school?”, I asked him, since I didn’t have practice.
“I don’t know, probably the same as every other day,” he laughed. “I’ll probably just sit at home and play my guitar or whatever.”
“Well, I don’t have to go to practice, so I was thinking that maybe we could hang out,” I said, throwing out the idea.
“Hang out?” he asked me. “Like where, I mean what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know,” I laughed. “I guess I didn’t really think about it too much, I just know I want to see you,” I told him.
“Do you really want to go somewhere? I mean do you think that is a good idea?” he asked me.
“Well, maybe you could come over here, or I could come to your house, whichever, it doesn’t really matter to me,” I suggested.
He seemed to think for a minute and then said, “I guess I would like to come over, if you are inviting me,” he said hesitantly.
“Yes I am inviting you, I just said that,” I said, realizing that he had concerns and I wasn’t sure what they were. “Is that cool?” I asked him.
“Will your Dad be there?” he asked me, sounding worried, and I quickly figured out where this was leading.
“Probably,” I replied, “He usually is. Why?” I asked straight out, hoping that he would get out whatever was on his mind.
“Well, he doesn’t know about us, or you even, so I am just worried is all,” he said, making perfect sense.
“No, you’re right he doesn’t know either of those things,” I said, “but he is a pretty cool guy and I want you to meet him.”
“Well, I guess, if that’s what you want,” he said still sounding unsure.
“It is,” I stated, “and it will be fine, I promise Jess.”
“Well, I better let you get your rest,” he joked. “Can’t have the star pitcher all tired for the big game.”
“Yeah, I really am tired,” I said yawning.
“I guess so,” he laughed.
“Well, goodnight Jess,” I said. “I’ll see you tomorrow okay?”
“Okay, night Stephen,” he said smiling, and he hung up.
I tossed my phone on the nightstand next to my alarm clock before I promptly fell asleep for the rest of the night. I didn’t see Jesse again until lunch the next day. I had been sitting at my usual table when I saw him with his friends across the courtyard.
His eyes caught mine as I looked over in his direction and he smiled at me. I smiled back brightly and he started toward me. I watched him as he moved in my direction and when he walked past me, he silently asked me to follow him, so I stood up grabbing my backpack and said goodbye to everyone. I had absolutely no idea where we were headed.
I followed him from a safe distance with him looking over his shoulder once to be sure I was there. He grinned when he saw me behind him and I sort of shrugged him wondering where we were going and he just winked at me. I shook my head and laughed but continued to follow him all the time taking this opportunity to look at him. He was definitely nice to look at from behind.
We had been walking for a minute when he disappeared around some corner. As I turned the same corner he was nowhere to be seen. There were several doors in the hallway as I stood there wondering where he went, but I didn’t know which one he had gone into. After just a minute a door on the left opened and I saw him appear again motioning for me to join him.
I looked around before I quickly walked over to where he was and then through the door he held open. He followed me inside and shut the door behind him. I took a look around and realized that I was in a room that I had never been in before. After looking around for a minute, surprised there was actually a part of this school I hadn’t seen, I turned and asked him, “Where are we Jess?”
“You’ve never seen this before?” he asked me, walking towards me. I shook my head no as I started to say, “No, I thought I had seen the whole school but…,” my words forgotten as I felt his arms wrap around me. My body melting into his embrace, I buried my face in his neck, content to be in his arms.
“You alright?” he asked after I hadn’t said anything. I nodded and said, “Yeah, I’m really great now.” He laughed and said, “That’s good to hear.” I pulled back from the only place I felt truly happy, worried about where we were or who might see us so I asked him again, “So where are we exactly?”
“This is the archive room for the school paper,” he explained. “We have a copy of each edition ever published in here.” That made sense since there were shelves lining every bit of available wall space that contained nothing but paper and they were categorized by date. “Wow,” was all I could say as I looked around the room in awe.
“So how are you?” he asked. I turned my attention back to him saying, “Is it safe for us to be in here?” the concern in my voice evident. He sighed almost sadly and said, “Stephen, I wouldn’t do anything that would give anyone a chance to find out. That is your business to tell when you’re ready to tell it.”
I felt bad for doubting him, I knew he cared about me and respected my decision to wait to come out. I didn’t know why I thought that he hadn’t thought this through all the way. “Look Jess, I’m sorry. I know that you wouldn’t ever do anything like that, I just get scared sometimes,” I said, almost ashamed that I was more worried about keeping the fact that I was gay a secret than being happy that he found a way for us to be together, even just for a little while.
“Are you still coming over tonight?” I asked him, thinking that now he might not want to. “Am I still invited?” he asked me sounding somewhat hurt by the whole thing. I nodded and made my way back over to where he was standing. Taking his hands in mine, I looked into his eyes so he would understand that I was serious about what I was saying and that I trusted him, I said, “Jess, I want nothing more than to spend my night with you. Will you please come over?” I asked him, hoping he wasn’t mad at me for ruining our time together, for doubting him.
“I’ll come,” he said smiling once again. “What time should I come over?” he asked. I thought a moment and then asked him, “Well are you coming to the library after school today?” He nodded and so I continued, “Why don’t you just come home with me then, since I don’t have practice today?”
He seemed excited by that idea since his smile had reappeared, causing mine to do the same. “Are you sure?” he asked me, maybe trying to give me a way out. “I mean, you don’t have to do that, I could just come over later on my own,” he suggested. I frowned a little at that idea, but realized that he was trying to protect me. “Yes, I’m sure. I wouldn’t have offered otherwise,” I said, and I meant it.
“Okay, if you’re sure,” he laughed. “I am,” I responded, genuinely excited to spend some time together finally, if we could just make it through the rest of the school day. “We better get going, lunch is almost over,” he said causing me to look at my watch. I nodded in agreement and then asked, “So we’re really safe in here?” with a devious look on my face. He nodded asking, “Why, what are you getting at?”
“This….,” was all I said before I leaned over and kissed him. Not a heated, passionate kiss really, just a show of affection, and he smiled against my lips. “Come on, let’s go,” he said pulling me toward the door. I said, “Thanks Jess, this was really sweet of you,” squeezing his hand gently. He shrugged saying, “I know,” teasingly.
“See you after school then,” he said before shoving me out the door, alone. I was a little confused at first, but then I figured he was just trying to protect me so I smiled and walked to my art class, deciding that I would ask him later what that was all about.
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