This is gay-oriented fiction. I don't like writing `bout sex, so you won't find it here. I might suggest some of it, but no hardcore. This story is not about my life, although certain people portrayed in the story may be real. There is no sex... blah, blah, blah. You know the rest. If you've come this far, I can't stop you anymore.

Kayden II

by Ryan Keith

Chapter 3- The Closet...One Step at a Time


       "Hey, hon, how was the dance?" I heard from the dimly lit living room as I entered the house.

       "You're still up? I told you I'd be home late. You have to work tomorrow," I called out, making my way towards the room. "Mom, I..."

       She was sitting on the sofa with four books around her and she was trembling.

       "What's wrong? Mom?" I cried out as I ran to her side.

       "I'm sorry, Elly."  That's the kid name my mom used to call me. "I was just so worried I couldn't sleep. I tried to read my new books, but I couldn't get past the first two pages. I was just worried that maybe something...oh, dear..."

       My mom broke down in tears and I felt like shit.

       "Mom, I told you I didn't need to go to the dance. Why didn't you say something? I would have stayed here with you," I told her.

       "No!" she said strongly through her tears. "You need to be around people your age. This is a time for you to have fun and learn. Being with your friends is a valuable experience. I know this more than anyone, but...I can't bear're the only blood relation I have. After your mom passed away, I couldn't... " She broke into tears again.

       Her sadness was starting to affect me. I could feel the emotions turning inside my stomach. I didn't know how to comfort her.

       "It'll be okay, Mom. I won't leave you," I said, hugging her.

       "Oh, stop it. You're spoiling me," she said, smiling a bit. "You should be more rebellious and distant like your mom and I were as teens. You can do whatever you want, as long as you're happy and are sure you can bear the consequences of your actions. You're a growing girl, and I don't want to hold you back."

       "You're not holding me back, Mom," I assured her. "You just showed me how much I mean to you. I want to do the same, but I don't know how..."

       She pulled back from my hug and looked at me. "You do it every time you call me Mom. That makes me so happy, and makes me wish that Julie could see the lady you're becoming."

       I laughed. "Come on, I'm hardly a woman. You know how I sleep, and the teachers in my last school pretty much made it clear that I'm a teacher's worst nightmare."

       "You're not a nightmare, you're just really smart. The way you spelt it out for them just pissed them off."

       "I'm hardly at fault. All I said was that William Shakespeare was gay and I had solid facts to prove it," I argued. Hearing my mom laugh brought a smile to my face.

"Oh, Elly, you're too smart for your own good. But really, don't you think that telling someone that the person they love and adore is gay is a little too harsh? I have nothing against them, it's just that your English teacher loved the man for the way he described loving a woman."

       "Which proves my point. How can a guy write something that romantic unless he is gay?" I said randomly.

       I cringed as Mom gave me the leveled look with the rising eyebrow.

       "I was kidding, Mom," I said, forcing a laugh.

       She shook her head and smiled. "Anyways, enough of the past... how was the dance?"

       "Better than I expected," I said, making myself more comfortable on the sofa. "Mai had me sit with her and her friends."

       "She's that tall Chinese girl who lent you that dress, isn't she? She sounds like a great person. Don't be afraid to invite her over sometime. That dress is gorgeous, by the way," Mom said, touching the dress fabric.

       "I love it! I can't believe some of the designs she has. She has so many, and her mom designed them all! Mai even made a few of her own, including the beautiful dress she wore tonight. But she doesn't want to do it as a profession like her mom. It's a hobby, which is really cool. Oh, and I finally met that guy I told you about. I can't remember his name, but he really is cute. Something about him is just so familiar, like I know him, somehow. He's definitely not my boyfriend type; it's just that I felt a strong connection with him but I don't know why. We danced, and I could tell he's a great dancer. I think I should get to know him a bit better. Maybe it might come to me why he seems so familiar."

       Mom just smiled at my little blurb about my night.

       "Well, the first thing to do is to remember his name. That usually helps," she hinted.

       "Oh, I don't think the name matters. I met a lot of people tonight, all Mai's friends, so I kind of got the names mixed up. I know I danced with Jett, Zack, and Kyle...I think...oh well, the name doesn't matter, `cause it didn't ring a bell when I heard it."

       "You'll figure it out," Mom said, giving me a peck on the cheek before getting up. "It's late, and I need to work tomorrow. Sleep well, Elly."

       "I will. Good night, Mom."

       With a smile, Mom turned around and went upstairs.


       What the fuck is wrong with me? Why did I have to do that? To Jett! What kind of guy threatens a friend? He was just trying to protect Zac. Why did I act like that? It's like I just lost control and something took over. Like I changed into another person, but I could see it happening in front of me. It was like I could have stopped it, but I didn't.

       Tears streamed down my face as I thought about what I had done to Ted and his friends. Pain struck me when I remembered what I had said to Jett. He was scared of me. I saw it. I didn't want him to fear me, but a part of me had enjoyed it.

       The sound of shattering glass had me ready to jump at anyone. It suddenly hit me that I was sitting in front of a dark fireplace in Rick's old chair. I looked over and clicked my tongue. I had dropped my drink.

       As I got up to clean up the mess, my head suddenly felt like exploding. I quickly fell back to my seat and swore to myself for drinking so much.

       You stocked up too much of this shit whiskey, Rick, I thought absently. Why the hell did you buy so much when you knew your time was coming up?

       I closed my eyes and allowed the tears to streak down my face. I enjoyed the crying. It was like I was shedding my pain and was slowly recovering. Rick once told me that crying is the way the heart heals itself. I certainly felt better as I sat crying, with my eyes closed.


       The dance was a success. I thought so, anyways. We all had fun, and we met a new friend. Her name is Lenne, I believe, but she likes to be called Elly. It's a cute name. The guys had decided before the dance that we were going to crash at my place. Everything went according to plan, except for the sleepover. Kayden said he felt ill so he went home. He looked fine before the last dance with Lenne, so I didn't know what could creep up on him so fast. Perhaps he had been sick the whole day, and he was finally feeling the effects of it. That happens to me sometimes when I feel sick but I still want to go to school. I always end up with a fever the next day. I silently prayed Kade was all right.

       Shin's laughing suddenly brought me back to the moment. We were all in my room sitting around and listening to a couple of CDs.

       We were all slightly intoxicated, thanks to Jett's sister. When she dropped us off at my house, she gave Jett two large bottles of 7UP, and this huge bottle of stuff called Southern Comfort. She told us how to mix it and said to load up cups of ice. The guys and I ran up to my room, concealing the liquor like we were smuggling things across the border. Dad of course stopped us and asked the basic "how goes your night?" questions. I knew he knew something was up. First of all since Jett was dead quiet, Shin was grinning like an idiot, and Scott was all giddy like he was excited about something. I was the only one acting normal. He gave me a raised-eyebrow look, then told us to be on our way.

As we made it up the stairs, Dad yelled up at us, "If you're going to get drunk, guys, don't leave the house. I really don't want to explain to the police why a group of fifteen-year-olds are drunk under my care."

       The four of us shared a shocked look, wondering how Dad saw through it so fast. We were all grins as we walked into my room. I ran down to grab cups and a huge bucket of ice. I knew Dad had gotten the ice dispenser option for our fridge for a reason.

       We were all in my room, drinking, when my thoughts of Kayden were interrupted.

       "So, you and Maya were pretty darn close tonight," Jett commented, his cup close to his mouth. "What's up with that? You like her or something?"

       I froze up and looked over at Shin. He had a straight face and looked at Scott. It was the moment of truth. Scott was going to say he liked Maya, and Jett would realize his friend was in love with the girl he liked. Then all hell would break loose.

       "You guys look good together," Jett smiled. "Why don't you ask her out?"

       I did a double take at Jett, staring at him, confused. Shin was the same. We looked at each other and gave each other the "what the fuck?" look. It was obvious to Shin and me that Jett had liked Maya for a while, but here he was giving it up for his friend to give it a shot.

       Scott answered fast, "I already did, but... How do you feel about it, man? I know you like her, too."

       Jett was silent for a moment. Shin started to get uncomfortable. I could see it in his posture. Scott stared intently at Jett, as my best friend continued to stare at his cup.

       "I thought I liked her because she was so sweet and innocent. Like a flower or somethin'," Jett said, his speech a bit slurred. The dude was already buzzed. "But when she's around you, she turns all crazy and stuff. She's not the girl I thought she was. I can't handle someone like that." He looked up and grinned. "But I know that your ass can. I also know she could probably keep you in line most of the time. It's like she likes to worry about you. You sure are lucky, guy."

       "So you're okay with it?" Scott asked.

       "More than okay," Jett said. "I'm damn proud. You finally have a girlfriend. But if you hurt her, I won't forgive you. She's a nice girl, so respect her."

       Scott laughed. "I don't need any threats. I'm dead if I ever do hurt her. Her brother is in Royal Military College. He and his military buddies would skin me alive. I know that much."

       "With what? Pitchforks? Swiss Army knives?" Shin mocked. "You know our army's a joke. Their biggest job in the past decade was shoveling snow in Montreal."

       We all laughed. As bad as it sounded, it was pretty true. Our military is shit compared to the U.S. and some other countries. But hell, we don't need a damn military; we're peacekeepers. Attacking Canada would be like attacking someone's grandpa -- they'd get the shit kicked out of them by the relatives. We show the world who's boss when we play hockey.

       "The army might be shit, but the dude probably could still cream me. I saw a picture of him. He's about two hundred and twenty pounds of muscle. He'd break me like a twig," Scott brooded quietly.

       "Well then, a toast, so that you keep that mouth of yours in check. We really don't want to scrape you off the wall after Maya and her brother are done with you," Jett smiled.

       "I'll raise my glass to that," I said, adding my contribution to the moment. 

       Shin was right behind me but raised his glass too fast, splashing a bit on my carpet and Scott.

       "Shin! You fucker," Scott swore as he shifted away from the spill.

       Ol' Shin just looked at what he had done and laughed like it was the funniest thing in the world, causing more of his drink to spill. Jett immediately grabbed the cup from Shin as he went into his convulsive laughter. The three of us watched our Japanese lightweight roll on the floor, over his spill, as he held his stomach with his arms.

       I looked over at Scott and Jett. Both wore grins, seeing the comedy of the moment. In no time the three of us were bursting out in laughter with Shin. None of us were drunk, but we were enjoying the sensation of the buzz.

       "I want to see how Shinnie holds up when he's laughing like that with a fucking hangover," Jett said, with a huge grin.

       We drank the night away, determined to get drunk. We decided we had to get drunk at least once in our lives to know what it feels like. We did good. Watching Shin laugh until he simply passed out was hilarious.

       Jett and I were the only ones up. Scott was passed out on a blanket we had thrown on the floor from my bed. Jett made sure both friends had their heads turned, in case they puked in their sleep. Shin was over three beanbags I have in my room and looked mighty comfortable. Jett and I sat on my bed for a while, just staring at the guys.

       "Which side do you want?" Jett asked.

       He was referring to the side of the bed I wanted. We've always shared beds since we were kids. Just something we do naturally.

       "Doesn't matter. The last one of us to pass out is left with whatever," I told him.

       I laid back, placed a pillow under my head, and stared at the ceiling. As I was slowly giving in to sleep, I saw Jett's face over mine.

       "What?" I asked.

       "You look kinda cute drunk." He chuckled.

       "Oh, no, I'm turning you gay."

       "Yeah, right," he replied.

       "You know you liked the last kiss," I teased him.

       "I told you it was good. I know a few girls who need lessons from you."

       "So what now?" I asked, not knowing where things were going. I love Jett like a brother. I know I can trust him with everything, so I wasn't one bit concerned with him over me. I knew I loved Kayden.

       "Now I kiss you, and you go off to sleep," he whispered.

       I felt his mouth touch mine. I smiled when he did that.

       He pulled back. I felt really, really tired.

       "Good night, little buddy," I heard him whisper.


       "FUCK!" Nikki swore as she made her way towards me with two small bags.

       Turning to her, I offered her a sympathetic smile and said, "We're almost done, girl. It'll be okay."
       "I hate this fucking job sometimes," she said, passing me the bags.

       Opening the drive-through window, I passed the bags to the driver. "Here's your order, sir. Have a good day."

       He nodded to me and drove away.

       Here I was at work on one of the busiest mornings of the week, Sunday. It seems to be the fad of the century to go to Tim's for breakfast. The drive through finally seemed to clear up, and so did the line at the front counter. I have more fun when it's busy. I like the chaos.  Working around it gives me a rush I've never felt before.

       "How can you be all smiley this morning?" Nikki asked, showing a pouting face.

       "Why shouldn't I be? I'm young, healthy, and having the time of my life," I told her.

       "Yeah, well, you're glowing," she smirked. "It's like you got laid or something. Tell me, is it Sally?"

       Thinking about our tiny manager had me laughing so hard that my gut hurt.

       "God, no! Geez, have you no shame?"

       "Well, there's Allison, but she's kinda pushing sixty. But maybe you go for her type."

       I was clutching my stomach. We were a bit free at the moment.

       "You're evil, you know that?" I said.

       "Well, who is it?" she asked, excited.

       "No one!" I lied. I knew my thoughts were often filled with Kayden. Just thinking about him shirtless had me adjusting myself constantly. If Kayden had slept over like planned on Friday, the guys would have been home by noon Saturday. That would have given us almost half a day to do whatever we wanted. Even more, if he had decided to spend the night again. Instead, he didn't even call, and he was out when I called him this morning.

       Suddenly Nikki's eyes popped wide open. "I know where you're from now!"

       Finding the humor in her sudden realization, I made a joke with it. "Yeah, I was here a few weeks ago. You got me this job, remember?"

       Slapping my shoulder lightly, she looked at me with a smile. "No, I mean I know I saw you before that weekend you were here with your friends. You're on a swim team, right?"

       I guess she had seen me swim. " swim too?"

       "No, but my friend is dating a swimmer on your team. I think I saw you one time at the rec center."

       "Yeah, I swim there. Quite often, actually, so it probably was me you saw."

       Looking at me nervously, she seemed hesitant as she said, "Can I ask you a big, big favor?"

       My ears perked up.

       Why does she need my help?

       Before I could answer, a cranky voice interrupted us.

       "I didn't know you were on your break, Nikki."

       We turned and saw Tim looking rather angry.

       "Okay, chill, Tim. Don't get so anal. Geez," Nikki said, angrily, as she stormed to the front. By now I understood Tim's infatuation with Nikki. Everyone did, but for some reason Tim is always mean to her. Maybe it's like Scott and Maya's odd, teasing relationship, except the girl actually hates the guy. She shows it, too.

       Before she walked away she turned to me and smiled. I could almost see the gears working in her head.

       Please don't make this harder than it already is...

       "Zac, we'll talk some more on our break. Take me out for ice cream later, okay? That way we can talk without being interrupted." With that she smiled at me and glared at Tim.

       I knew what she was doing, and she knew what she was doing. It was confirmed when Tim stared at me with vengeance. There was real menace in his eyes.

       By then, the next drive-through customer had pulled in and I was back to work.
       "Hi, how can I help you?"

       As I punched in the order I felt Tim's eyes on my back. I wanted so much to just tell him to fuck off, or something, to get him out of my area, but decided against it. There was so much I could have done to make him feel worse than he already did, but fortunately for me, and him, Dad taught me to be more than that.

       Instead, I turned to him and smiled. "Hey, buddy, can you get me a medium coffee -- triple, triple?"

       He just glared at me and walked off, saying, "Get it yourself."

       Jeff walked towards me with the bagels I had punched in, and brushed up against Tim. "Whoa, man, watch where you're walking," Jeff cautioned him.

       Tim just glared at him.

       "Isn't your break done?" Jeff asked Tim, passing the bagels to me as I took the customer's money. Allison passed me the coffee that Tim had refused to get. I like how everyone helps each other, but Tim doesn't do his part sometimes.

       "You're on Ice Cap clean-up duty, aren't you?" he asked Tim. We clean the Ice Cappuccino machines regularly, which makes me much more trusting in Tim's than I ever was before.

       "Fuck off, Jeff. I don't need to be told what to do by some homo."

       I stood stunned as the words hit Jeff as hard as they hit me. Tim walked off, and I sensed I had to do something. In an instant I grabbed Jeff by the arm, as he was about to step up behind Tim.

       "Dude, let it go. You touch him and your job is gone. Calm down and think about it," I said to him carefully. My grip was tight on his arm and I wasn't going to let go.

       He finally shrugged off my grip, but he didn't go anywhere. I felt a few eyes on us. A few curious customers were peering in my corner, and a few other employees were looking our way.

       "You're right, man," Jeff said, not looking back at me. "He ain't fuckin' worth it..."

       At that moment, Sally popped out of nowhere and called Tim to the back. She disappeared for a second, then reappeared.

       "Zac, you and Jeff are on break right now. Take thirty, boys," she said, smiling. Her smile seemed sympathetic, as if she were apologizing.   

       Allison took my post as I took off my hat and followed Jeff outside, through our side door. Both Allison and Nikki had been there at the moment. They heard, everyone heard. Tim had said it loud enough for some customers to hear. My break wasn't supposed to be for another hour. What does Sally expect me to do, talk to Jeff?     

       I found Jeff in the back trying to light a cigarette. It didn't seem like his fingers were working and he wasn't getting a spark. I quickly took the lighter from his hand and lit it for him. He took a big drag before crashing on the benches.

       We said nothing for a few minutes, as he smoked.

       "So, you smoke?" I asked. Shit! He's sittin' there in a cloud of smoke. Of course he smokes! I even helped him light the thing.

       "Yeah. Been doing it longer than I can remember. Don't ever start, Zac. It'll put a dent in your wallet."

       "No worries here."

       For another few moments we just quietly glanced around.

       "Why do people hate, Zac?"

       I turned to him. He was struggling with emotions. No doubt what Tim said to him had caused more damage than I had thought it would.

       "I don't know, man," I told him honestly. "My dad told me that it's because people are ignorant. They don't understand something, so they think it's a threat. I think that's all hate is."

       "It hurts, you know?" he said, looking at me as his eyes moistened. "I might look like a strong guy, but I hurt as easily as anyone. I'm still human. Does being gay really make me that bad?"

       "Get those thoughts out of your head, man. You know it doesn't. I happen to know some really cool gay guys. Both of them seem to be able to take care of themselves. Good people, too. Real nice and friendly, and both deserving as much respect as anyone."

       "Yeah, well, tell that to all the fucking homophobes out there!" Jeff yelled, getting up. He was crying. He started pacing, his fingers trembling as he took deep drags of his cigarette.

       I don't know why, but I was determined to get through to Jeff. I walked to him and grabbed the cigarette from his hand and threw it away.

       "Don't let Tim win, man. You getting angry like this is what he wants. Don't let him have the satisfaction of knowing he got to you."
       He stared at me blankly, like he was lost and he didn't know what to do.

       Shaking his head, he apologized, "I'm real sorry, Zac. It's real shitty of me to be dumping all this on a high school kid like you. You have your own problems, don't you?"

       "We all deal with problems. But discrimination is not something that everyone deals with everyday. You're not alone. Being gay doesn't mean anything; you're still your own person."

       He looked at me thoughtfully. "Mighty wise thing to say. You a psychiatrist under that skin?"

       "Nah, I'm just a normal guy worried about his friend." I smiled, tapping his shoulder.

       For a second I thought he was going to cry some more. His face became distorted as he reached and pulled me into a hug. It was so sudden, I didn't know what happened until I realized he was trembling and crying. Jeff, a twenty-year-old guy, crying on the shoulder of a fifteen-year-old. I just brought my arms up and patted him on the back.

       "Don't worry, man. You're okay. You're healthy and young. You have so much going for you," I told him.

       "Thanks, Zac..." he whispered. "It means so much that you think of me as a friend. You hardly know me, and you don't care that I'm gay. I lost a lot of friends when I came out."

       I was suddenly hit with a ton of bricks. I hadn't realized how hard it must be for guys like Jeff. In my case, I'm really fortunate to have a loving father and tight friends.        

       "Your friends walked away from you?" I asked with concern.

       "If you could even call them that..."      

       A new grief awoke in me as I realized how broken I would have been if Shin, Jett or Scott had ended our friendship just because they found out I'm gay.

       Holding in the sadness, I continued to stroke Jeff's back, quietly telling him everything would be okay.

       "You said you know two really bright and kind gay people. One of them wouldn't happen to be me, would it?" Jeff asked. I could almost feel him smile.

       "Yup, you and one other"

       Kayden... I thought to myself.

       "Well, maybe you could hook us up," Jeff joked.

       "Nah, too much of an age gap," I told him.

       Fucker, you even think about it and I'll have your balls!

       Only two things stopped me from saying that. One; it would out me, and two; I knew Kayden would choose me over Jeff.

       We spent the better half of our break talking about Jeff and his family. Jeff's parents were shocked, as most parents would be, at discovering their son is gay. They were accepting, as were the rest of Jeff's relatives. Unfortunately, his friends weren't that open to the news. He lost a lot of them. Even the ones who didn't care seemed to become distant. In his old high school it wasn't that cool to hang with a gay guy. It had been even worse for Jeff's boyfriend. Jeff convinced his boyfriend to come out to his family, the boy did, and was thrown out. It was completely a shock to both Jeff and his boyfriend. They have been through so much, but they've stayed together. For now, Jeff is waiting for Aaron, his boyfriend, to finish his final year at high school so they can both go together to the University of Ottawa. I was amazed to find out that Aaron is living with his aunt, who is a lawyer and was able to get some money out of his family. Aaron is set for university, with his aunt agreeing to pay a generous amount out of her pocket.

       During that break, I got to know more about my new friend. I was also able to tell Jeff about my best buddies and my dad. I didn't mention about the fact I'm gay. I was worried that maybe he would let it slip if I told him. I really don't want problems in high school. As much as I hate to admit it, I want to protect my image in school.

       "So, what are you going to do about Tim?" I asked him.

       "Nothing. He ain't worth my time."

       Satisfied that there wasn't going to be a blood fest, I relaxed a bit.

       "Sally called Tim into her office before she let us loose for our break. He won't say anything else. That is, if he wants to keep his job. Don't worry about him, okay?" I said.

       "Not a problem, man," he smiled. "Thanks a lot for doing this. I usually tell only Aaron about these things, but I felt like I could tell you. You're a good friend, Zac."

       I felt my face heat up, and I knew that's what he wanted, as his next remark proved.

       "Shit, you're damn cute when you're embarrassed."

       "Fuck off," I grinned, my face more heated from the compliment. "Our break's over," I told him, as I headed for the door.

       "Yes, boss." He smiled and followed me in.

       I was exhausted as I rode the bus back home. Work had been interesting. I got to know a lot more about Jeff. He's a really good guy. Proving that looks are deceiving, he turned out to be a pretty sensitive guy. Just looking at him, people would expect to find the same charm and attitude they'd find in someone like Scott. Instead, he turned out to be a guy who is struggling with issues that most gay teens struggle with. It didn't make it any better that his boyfriend was kicked out of his own house and that Jeff lost a lot of friends when he came out.

       Over and over again I thanked God for the father and friends I have.

       Although I had eaten some ice cream before I left for home, I was pretty hungry. Nikki had called me out and we found a little ice cream shop where she set me up with a tiny mission. The way she suggested it was pretty cute, though. Any guy with any sense would understand she's cute. I sure got a kick out of seeing Tim grind his teeth when Nikki and I left work together. He still had something against me, but whatever Sally said to him had worked; I hadn't heard one complaint or insult from him for the rest of the day.

       As I made my way down my street, I noticed Dad was home. I figured he'd be at work since he mentioned being behind schedule in his department. But hey, I didn't complain.


       "Yo, Dad, I'm home," I called out as I closed the door.

       "In the kitchen, bud," he answered.

       I dropped my shoulder bag that had my work clothes inside and joined him in the kitchen. Dad was making some BLT sandwiches that looked mighty good.

       "Smells and looks good," I said, as I leaned on the counter and watched him prepare the food.

       I looked around the kitchen and grimaced. "Couldn't you be a bit more tidy? I swear you make such a big mess over something as small as sandwiches. I mean, look at this!" I playfully bitched, picking up three different knives from the counter. "Do you really need three knives to make a couple of sandwiches? And you even have the peanut butter out. What gives, Pop?"

       He knew I was joking with him. Using the old-fashioned 'Pop' name made that clear.

       "Well, aren't you the bitch of the century. The best chefs are also the messiest in the kitchen, and I'm a master chef in the making. And if you must know, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after I got home. I was hungry."

       Dad is a pretty cool chef. He makes all sorts of dishes some nights. He even made sushi one time, and that was great. The only bad kitchen habit he has is leaving a mess for me to clean up. Sometimes I wonder if he dirties things at random because he knows I'll clean up after him. If Dad decides to get married, the woman will be the happiest bride ever. Not only will her husband know how to cook and bring in the money, but also he's quite fit and can pass for a twenty-six-year-old.

       "You gotta cut down on the food, Pop." I nudged his side. "You're getting big around the hips."

       He glared at me with a twinkle in his eye. "Watch it, ya shrimp," he said, with a bit of edge. "I could still swim laps around you any given day. And I hit the gym every day during lunch. I'm really pretty set in the physical department. You're the one who should step it up a notch. You're not at your prime yet, but you're not even half the man I am."

       "Oh? Tell me then, why do I have a boyfriend, and you're still dating your laptop?" I asked teasingly.

       He stopped cutting and turned to me as he waved the knife. "You wanna play that way, Zachary? We can play your game, but don't cry if you lose," he said with mock anger.

       I just grinned at him. He went back to cutting the food, but his smile left him.

       "So when are you going to start dating again? You haven't gone out for a few months now."

       Dad was a bit quiet. I wondered if I had crossed the line. Before I could apologize, he spoke up.

       "It just doesn't feel right, Zac," he answered quietly. "I fell in love once, and I think you can only fall truly in love once in your lifetime. I think my time has passed."

       Knowing he was talking about the woman who gave birth to me, I tried to block off my anger toward her. I searched for something to say.

       "But you were so young. How do you know you were really in love?" I asked. Dad may have really liked that Diana girl, but I had to try something.

       "I wasn't any older than you are now, Zac. It's like me telling you that you can't love Kade because you don't know what love is. I'm thirty-one, Zac, and it's how I've felt for sixteen years. It can't be anything else."

       A new understanding of Dad came to me. With a new understanding came a new hate. He really loved this Diana girl. How could that bitch do this to him? Seeing my father sad made me sad.

       "Have you ever thought about looking her up? Finding her?" I asked.

       He smiled at me. "Aren't you the nosy brat." Dad shook his head and said, "No, I never bothered. She hasn't contacted me or tried to find me. So, either she doesn't want to see me or she has forgotten about me. Doesn't sound like I have a chance. Either way it's bad news. I'm rather content with not knowing."

       Thinking for a moment, but realizing I had nothing to say, I just leaned on the table without words to offer my father.

       Dad smiled at me as he lifted the platter of sandwiches. "Let's eat, bud. We'll catch a movie later if you want."

       "Nah, it's okay," I told him. "I still have some homework to do for tomorrow."

       "I'm glad you're able to balance everything. You seem to have your swimming, school, and work organized, but if you start to feel the pressure, tell me, okay? I don't want you failing. That job is supposed to help you, not push you over the top. We have money, so that's not really a problem for us."

       "I think I'm alright. I kinda like work. It's sorta like I'm using all my extra time," I said, grabbing two cups and the juice.

       "You're going to Jett's game tomorrow, right? I might have to work late. Do you think you can get a ride with Ashley or Joanna?"

       I had totally forgotten about Jett's game and reminded myself to call him. Ashley is Jett's older sister who goes to our high school. We haven't really talked for a while, but she waves at me in the halls. Joanna is Jett's mama.

       "I think Jett and I can get a ride with Ashley, or Mrs. Emerson probably can drop us at the game.

       "Great, call them after dinner. And tell Jett's mom that I'll take you guys and whoever shows up out to dinner."


       We spent dinner talking about my job. That of course triggered a talk about Dad's experience working during his high school years. His father had actually suggested it to him when he was my age.

       After dinner I jumped into my homework. Usually when I know I have homework I delay as much as I can, by doing other things. But after working, it felt right to do the schoolwork. I had to get started on an English essay and a paper for history.

       After I made a detailed outline of my essay on The Merchant of Venice, I looked over the instructions we were given and I was comfortable with the amount of effort I had put into it. With my outline, writing the essay would be simple. I stretched and checked the time on my digital clock. Noticing it was close to eight o'clock, I decided to call Jett to make plans before his mom went to sleep.

       "Hey, buddy."

       "What's going on, man?" Jett replied.

       "Not much. I was just talking with Dad about your game tomorrow."

       "Yeah? Is he coming this time?" he asked.

       "No can do, bud, `cause he's working late tomorrow. He was wondering if your sister can drive us tomorrow. That way I can go to your game," I said.

       "Yeah, that's cool. Ashley shouldn't have a problem with that. But your dad really isn't coming? He hasn't even been to one of my games this season," Jett said, a bit dejected.

       "I know, bro, but he has a lot of work right now. But he did say he'll take us out for dinner afterwards. You, me, and anyone else who shows up."

       "For real?"


       "Man! That makes up for it. I'm game," Jett said enthusiastically.

       "The only condition is you gotta win tomorrow," I lied.

       "Are you serious? Those guys are number one in our division. I don't know if we stand a chance. Shit... I don't know if we can do it, but I'll give it my best," Jett answered. There seemed to be growing confidence in his voice.

       I was just kidding, but hey, if it motivates him, then where's the harm in that?

       "Cool. We'll make plans tomorrow before first period. I gotta jet, Jett. I wanna get started on my history paper." 

       "Alright...but, Zac?"

       "Yeah, bro?"

       "Ah...well..." he dragged for a moment. "Hmm. Never mind."     For a moment we were both silent.

       "Okay, man, you have my attention. What's on your mind?" It's obvious to anyone who has friends that if a friend is troubled by something but then tells you to forget about it, there's gotta really be a problem.

       "It's nothing, really..." Jet whispered.

       I was starting to get irritated.

       "Bro, just come out and say it," I said with some force.

       For another moment Jett was silent. When I was about to tell him to forget it, and hang up, he pulled through.

       "It's Kayden..." he mumbled.

       That got my attention. "What about him? Is he hurt?"

       "Uh, I don't think so... It's just that...I don't know. Things happen around him, and I don't want to see you hurt," he said with concern.

       Confused about where that came from, I wondered why Jett would say something like that to me. It suddenly hit me.

       "You know about what went down in Toronto, don't you?"

       "Mostly...Kayden told me about it a bit. I don't know what might..."

       "Nothing is going to happen," I told him flat out. "It was one incident. Plus, Kayden could handle a few tough guys. I'm not exactly weak, either, so I could take on one or two."

       "Promise me you won't, Zac," he said, with a tone that screamed "I'm serious".

       "Well, I won't start anything, if that's what you mean. But if someone jumps us, I ain't gonna just stand around and do nothing," I said, with increasing impatience. There was no need for this discussion; there was no point.

       Why is Jett worried about Kayden? If he knows about Toronto, then he knows Kade can take care of himself.

       "Then just promise me that if you do get in any trouble you call me immediately. I don't care where you are or what time it is. If you're in trouble you call me, you got it?" he said fiercely.

       "Yeah, sure, but what's gotten into you suddenly? It's like you don't trust Kayden, or something."

       He was silent for a second. The silence scared me.


       "I want to trust him, Zac. But right now...I can't. It has nothing to do with you. I'm just dealing with some things right now," my friend answered.

       "Well, can't you tell me about it? I'm your best friend, right?"

       Good job, dipshit. Go ahead, play the best friend card.

       "Not now, Zac. Remember, you have things that you keep from me, right? I have a few things too. I hope it's just my own insecurity right now. I feel like if I say something and it ruins your relationship with Kayden, then I'm at fault. I'll especially feel like shit if I'm totally wrong about this, too, so for now...just let it go, okay?"

       That was a lot to take in all at once. It made me wonder if something had happened between Jett and Kade during the Halloween dance. Neither one of them seemed out of character that night, except when Kayden said he didn't feel well. It also had never occurred to me that Jett might keep things from me. I was a bit hurt, but I keep things from him, so I shouldn't complain.

       "Alright, man. I'll forget about it for now. But I hope you're not angry at Kade."

       "I'm not angry at him, Zac." The way he said my name told me he was really thinking about it. "It's just that it feels like he's keeping things from us. Secrets."

       Yeah, I could have told you that much. Even I don't know everything about Kayden. He has reasons for that, though. If too many people know about him and Rick he might get in trouble. What's worse, he might have to go away.

       "We've only known him for a short while, Jett. He's bound to be keeping some things from us. He'll come around," I assured him.

       "I hope so. You probably know him best. I just hope he's being honest with you, that's all. You're dating him."

       "Aww, aren't you the good friend! Well, buddy, you should worry more about fixing yourself up with a girl. You're losing your edge. When's the last time you dated a girl? You have a reputation to hold up."

       I heard him laugh for the first time during the conversation. "Don't worry, man. I ain't looking right now. Life is complicated at the moment for me. I don't want to make it any worse by throwing girls into it."

       "Well, you know I'm here for you," I said, meaningfully.

       "I know, we're buds. I know who to go to when I need help. Thanks, Zac."

       "No prob. I gotta go. See ya tomorrow?"

       "For sure. Later, man."


       I threw myself on my bed and wondered what could have bothered Jett so much about Kayden. My thoughts were interrupted by a knock on my door.


       I recognized the voice and my thoughts of Jett vanished.

       "Hey, Kade. Come in."

       My angel walked in and I suddenly felt something hit my stomach. Kayden looked bad, but not as in hurt-or-beaten bad. I just felt like he wasn't himself.

       "You alright, babe?" I asked, as I quickly got up.

       "I'm alright. Your dad let me in. Is that okay?"

       "Fuck yeah. I tried to call you all day yesterday. Where've you been? You don't look so good." I was worried. I quickly put my right hand on his forehead to make sure he wasn't getting a fever or something.

       "I'm not sick, Zac," he said, smiling. It was that same smile he gives me everyday, but this time it seemed a little empty.

       "Where've you been?"

       "I had to meet with Rick's lawyer yesterday. There were a bunch of papers I had to sign and stuff. Just some finishing touches on the selling of the house in Toronto. I had practice, too, and was just biking around today. I knew you were working so I thought I'd pass by at Tim's. The guy told me you had already left, though."

       "So you biked all the way here?" I smiled. It was a cute gesture. Kade had ridden all the way to my work to see me, and then to my house to make sure I got home okay. That was well out of his way. Why didn't he just call?

       "Well, I haven't seen you for a couple of days. I thought I'd come by and..."

       "And what?" I grinned at him.

       Before he could answer, I ground my thigh between his legs. I slowly felt the front of his jeans.

       "So, you came all the way here led by this, huh?" I kissed his ear as I patted his crotch.

       "I just wanted to see you... Damn, I knew I came here for something..." The Kayden I knew was back. His smile was full, his eyes were deep.

       I playfully knuckled his nuts before pushing him towards my bed. He groaned and I heard myself say, "Serves you right." The words shocked me as much as they shocked him, but I noticed a newfound lust in his eyes.

       "You can't stay long..." I whispered as I kissed him deeply.

       "I'll be gone in fifteen minutes." He licked his lips as he reached for my belt.

       Kayden ended up extending his stay for another thirty minutes. The thoughts of Jett stayed gone from my mind.


       I left Zac's house feeling rejuvenated. I had told him I was in Toronto on Saturday because I had some work to do with Rick's lawyer. That was a lie. After getting pissed drunk, alone, on Friday, I woke up at almost two in the afternoon on Saturday. Knowing I had to get out of the house, I took the bus to the GO Station. I took the train to Toronto and headed for the cemetery. Whenever I feel down, talking with Rick seems to work. I was hoping just talking to his grave would help me some. It did, but it also made me a bit more depressed. Rick always had answers for everything. But when I talked with him on Saturday, he didn't answer me. I spent the better half of that day just talking to a cold gravestone. Most of the day Sunday I was in practice, like I told Zac, and I did go to his work to see if he was around. I actually had an interesting encounter with one of Zac's co-workers.


       "Hey, is Zac around?" I asked after getting the change for my bottled water.

       The guy gave me a look like I had run over his cat.

       "He already left," he said, closing the cash drawer.

       "Oh," I replied, obviously upset.

       As I turned to leave, the guy called out to me, "You Zac's friend?"

       Turning around, I smiled. "Yeah. I'm Kayden, by the way." I extended my hand.

       He just stared at if for a second before looking me in the eye. Feeling a bit down since the guy left me hanging, I was about to just leave when he started talking again.

       "Tell him to stay away from my girl Nikki," he said, threateningly.


       "Your friend is hitting on my girl. Tell him to back off," he said, looking around nervously.

       "Whoa, wait a minute. Zac is already seeing someone," I informed him. In fact, I'm seeing him.

       "Yeah...w-well, it didn't seem like it when he took Nikki out for ice cream after work. Tell him to fuck off. S-she's mine." He was stuttering a bit, like he was scared.

       "Well, it's not really my business who he takes out. If she's your girl, don't you think you should tell him yourself?"

       I found it really hard to believe that anyone would date the guy. His looks weren't the best and his voice was just annoying. And so far, his personality was shit.

       "Whatever, man," I said, since he didn't reply. In an instant I was out of there.


       I had ridden over to Zac's house a bit jealous over the girl, but the moment I saw him, that all melted away. I knew he had just been being the good guy he always is. If this Nikki girl was playing fetch with my boy, I'd make sure she knew what she was up against. I'd just gotten rid of Alicia, but I hadn't thought there'd be another one so soon.

       Well, who wouldn't be attracted to Zac?

       I was determined to protect Zac's virtue from the clutches of the girls who wanted to get their hands on him.


       Monday was like every Monday; slow and boring. I ran late in the morning so I didn't get to see the guys, but I did meet up with Maya and Kayden. Before our Satan-like religion teacher made his entrance, Kayden and I were able to probe Maya for details about her and Scott. According to her, she couldn't wait anymore for Scott to make a move, so she took the lead Friday night and asked him to dance. She giggled at how he had jumped to the chance to dance with her and sighed at remembering him stepping on her toes. She seemed like a brand new Maya.

       "He danced better than I had expected." Maya tapped her fingers on her desk while she stared at her books. "He was more leading. You know how he is...that look he gets when he totally focuses his attention on one thing. I felt like he was putting all his attention into me. That made me feel...special. Like we were the only ones on the dance floor."

       "How lame," I joked.

       She looked up at me and cocked an eyebrow. "You say something?" There was a threat in her voice.

       "Just a yawn," I laughed nervously.

       "Well, it was magical. There's a side of Scott I discovered that no one could ever know. And he's so cute. It's like I have to be there to take care of him, you know? I almost feel like I'm leaving a child to his mischief if I leave him alone. It makes him so cute and interesting all at once."

       "So, what you're telling us is that Scott is whipped now?" Kade asked. He turned to me and shook his head. "Looks like we lost another one... It's just you, me and Jett."

       "And another one bites the dust..." I shook my head too, following Kayden's lead.

       "Okay, you guys say one more word and I'll tell Mai. Let's see you deal with both of us," Maya threatened, with a smile.

       We just grinned at her while she tried to look pissed off.

       "Friendships always end because of girls. I'm starting to believe it more everyday," I teased.

       "We'll, it's a good thing you're gay, now isn't it?" Maya mocked.

       I shot her daggers. She said it low enough so no one heard, but Kayden's smile quickly melted away.

       "You ain't the only one with ammunition, Zac. Wanna keep going?" The damn girl smiled her too-cute smile.

       Kayden and I said nothing as she smiled smugly. It was all we were able to get in before Satan made his entrance. Today's poison? News of an upcoming test.


       English was the greatest. Both Kayden and I were given roles again to read from our current Shakespearean play, The Merchant of Venice. Although there were no major interactions between our characters, Kayden and I looked towards each other after every line.

       Knowing that I had done fairly well in the test last week and have never been any source of disturbance, I was really surprised when Mr. Riley kept Kayden and me after class.

       "You guys must be fairly mystified by my asking you to stay behind for a moment," he said, taking a seat in the teacher's chair.

       Both Kayden and I nodded in silence. It didn't make sense. Why was Kayden also asked to stay?

       Oh God! Maybe he knows about us!

       As that sudden realization ran through my head I tried to make up different diversions. I stopped, realizing I have nothing to hide. Or do I? Do I not want to be out, even to someone who understands?

       "Let me say that neither of you is in trouble...yet." He smiled.

       I turned to Kayden and saw fear in his eyes. It was as if he was sending me the thought, "He knows, Zac!"

       I think I swallowed loud enough for both of them to hear me. If they did, they didn't show any signs of it.

       "There is just something I want to...ask you...both," Mr. Riley said, as if he were unsure.

       "Sir?" Kayden said.

       "Well, is there something...going on...between you two?" he asked slowly.

       Shit! We weren't careful enough. He saw the looks we gave each other during our lines. He knows!

       "Well, we're friends..." Kayden said dryly.

       "Yes, of course you are. What I'm trying to say is...umm..."

       This is retarded. Just come out and ask us. We have nothing to hide. If Kayden denies it then I'll just play stupid. We've never discussed what will happen if our relationship comes out at school.

       "Maybe it'll be easier if I say this first," our teacher said, looking up at us. "I've been really close with this one friend all my life. When we were about your age, we did things that were...well, stupid. We weren't thinking straight. I don't want to make assumptions, but..."

       "We're gay! Alright?" I said with anger. "Are you happy now?"

       I stared at my teacher with a new hatred. I had thought from the first day that he was a cool guy. He looked pretty cool, pretty young, like someone who understood teens really well. I knew exactly what he was thinking.

       I read enough stuff like this on the Internet. He thinks we're going through a phase. Well, it ain't a phase... I'm gay! I know what I want! I want Kayden!

       "I don't think you have any right to approach us like this, sir," Kayden said, with a touch of edge. "It has nothing to do with our education. Forgive me for saying this, but it isn't any of your fucking business."

       I turned to my boyfriend, amazed at the force, determination, and power in his voice. I saw him in a completely different light. He was showing a calm but intimidating presence; his eyes in conflict whether to be blue or grey.

       God, Kayden, have I ever told you how hot you are when you're angry?

       I turned to the teacher and tried to imitate the look Kayden was giving him. I must have looked like I was constipated because our teacher smiled and sat back on his chair, leaning slightly on an incline.

       "Wow, what a response," he said, clasping his hands together. "I don't care if you boys are gay or straight. What I was trying to find out was if you guys cheated together on the last test."

       Silence hung in the room. The only sounds were students walking in the hallways to their next classes.

       "What? Excuse me?" Kayden and I both said at the same time.

       "I was talking about the last test you guys wrote," Mr. Riley said, taking out two booklets from his desk. "You both wrote about the same scene for the short essay section on the play. Not only that, but in the fill-in-the-blank, you both said that Shylock requested two pounds of flesh. The answer is one pound -- not two.  I had assumed that one of you had cheated off the other, but perhaps I was mistaken."

       Kayden and I just stared at the man. We were speechless. We had just completely outted ourselves to our English teacher.

       "I guess I was wrong. It's fair to say that you could have studied together, which explains how you guys wrote almost the same points, considering I told everyone ahead of time what the short essay was going to be about. But can you guys explain how you both got the fill-in-the-blank answer wrong? I thought I was handing out easy points with questions like that. You two were the only ones in the class who got that one wrong."

       I looked at Kayden awkwardly, already forgetting about our little outburst. "We always use Kade's notes when we study. His writing is a lot better than mine. I could have sworn it said two pounds..."

       "It's one, Zac. I've taught this course for two years now," our teacher said with a slight smile. "I assume that neither of you bothered to check with the actual play."

       "I thought your notes were reliable," I whispered.

       "Sorry. I must have been dazed when I wrote that," Kayden said, turning to me.

       I smiled at him, making his frown melt away.

       "Well, now that I know this was a misunderstanding," the teacher said, putting the papers away, "I should apologize to the both of you. Thinking back now, it's sort of funny how you guys assumed I was talking about your sexuality. I can see why you guys reacted the way you did. You are right, Kayden, it isn't my business, but you guys need to know there's also nothing wrong with a relationship like yours. You guys are together, I assume..."

       I felt my cheeks sizzling with embarrassment. How the hell could I ever look at our teacher the same?

       "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked that. Truth is, my partner and I have been together for many years. He was the one who suggested we cheat on one of our tests when we were in high school. Anyways, that's a completely different story. I just want you both to know that your relationship is normal, and if you two need someone to talk to, my door is always open. I'm still your teacher, so next time, Kayden, watch your language."

       For the second time that day we stared at our teacher with disbelief.

       "I can't believe we just did that," I whispered to Kayden as we left the room.

       "I know..." Kayden said, looking a bit pale. "Who knew he was the same?"
       "We need to watch out, too," I said, turning to him. "We've never talked about how we're going to deal with things if we do get found out."

       "Well, I'll be by your side no matter what. I'll always protect you."

       I smiled, knowing he meant every word. "I don't mean that, you idiot," I said, laughing. "I mean, do we deny it, or say the truth?"

       "I don't care. We could do either. What do you want to do?" he asked, as we walked down the stairwell.

       "I guess it depends who asks us, right? If they seem threatening, we could maybe play around with some words. But if it's someone like our friends, or someone we think we can trust, I think we should tell them the truth. What do you think?"

       "I'm okay with it, but you know..."


       Everything happened so fast. In an instant I was pulled into the side of the stairwell. Kayden was close to me, his piercing eyes staring intently at me. My back was against the wall, with Kayden's hands firmly on the wall, my head between them.

       "I meant what I said. I'll always be on your matter what. I'll always protect you. I love you."

       I stood speechless as his lips approached mine. The kiss was tender and soft, but full of feeling. As he pulled away he had a smug smile on his face.

       I pushed him away gently. "What the hell, man. You can't do that here. Someone might see!"

       "No one will see. Everyone is in class or lunch, and no one can see us behind here. We're safe..."

       "You're so evil sometimes, you know?" I said, smiling at him.

       He hummed his response as he went for another kiss.

       "You know I have lunch right now, but don't you have a class?" I asked him.

       "I'm already late...might as well be for a reason..."

       As our lips met again, the same feelings were conveyed. 

       Lunch with Scott and Maya was normal. I told them what had happened with Mr. Riley and they laughed a whole bunch. In fact, Maya already knew about Mr. Riley. He and his partner go to the local parish that Maya goes to. The priest there is really supportive of their relationship.

       I also told them what Kayden and I had decided.

       "I think I should probably tell you then, man...umm, my parents know," Scott said quietly.

       "What?" I almost shouted. "How?"

       "Ahh, I told them?"


       "It was after you told me," Scott said worriedly. He turned to Maya, who just smiled at him. "They were wondering why I was so moody, and it all just came out. But then they said they knew. Jett's mama had called them and told them. They both called your dad and he told them the same thing. They weren't angry, Zac. They really don't care."

       "Jett's mom knows, too?" I said, getting angrier by the second.

       "Actually, Shin's parents know, as well." A quick smile appeared on Scott's face. "You should ask Shin about it. It's kinda funny."

       I gave him a look that wiped his smile away.

       "Zac, don't be like this, man... They were going to find out anyways. None of them care!" Scott said.

       "He's right, Zac," Maya finally said. "It's no big deal. Now you have more support."

       I looked at them and lowered my head. "How do you know they don't care...they might not want you guys to hang around me anymore. They might think I'll turn you gay or something."

       "Get rid of that shit," Scott said fiercely. I looked up and met his eyes. "They still love you. You're still the perfect Zac, in their eyes. Now they understand you're human, too. They don't care, man. They told me so. My parents wouldn't lie about that."

       He took a huge gulp of his pop. "And Jett's mom don't care either. She said so to my parents and they told me. It kinda makes sense. She said that out of the four of us, one of us was bound to be gay. They don't care, Zac."

        I looked up from my sandwich. "She said that?"

       "Fuck yeah! It's been a while now, so you must know they all treat you the same as always when you see them."

       *Tsk* Maya clicked her tongue. "Will you watch your language? You don't need to be swearing like that. It's uncalled for."

       Geez, here we go again...

       "Oh, sorry..." Scott said meekly. "It's something I do, you know? I can't help it sometimes..."
       "I know," Maya smiled. "It's just you can't go off like that if you're talking with my parents. I want them to like you."
       "Whoa, meet your parents? Already?" Scott said, sounding a bit worried. "Don't you think it's a bit too early? I mean...ah, we haven't even been on a date yet... Plus..."

       "I considered the dance last week as a date. And don't worry. If I like you, my dad will, too."

       "Okay...I guess. If you think so."

       "I do," Maya smiled.

       "Okay, what the fuck is going on?" I said, confused.

       "What?" Maya asked.

       I looked at both of them, switching my gaze from one to the other.

       " really are whipped, man. So whipped you don't even know it."

       Scott just grinned his boyish grin as I dodged to the side when Maya threw a fry at me.     

       "Wait, what about Kade's parents?" Scott asked.

       "What about them?" I replied, already considering the question.

       "Yeah, have you met them yet?" Maya asked, chewing on a bite from Scott's poutine. "What are they like?"

       "Really nice people. I only met them once. They both work and travel a lot, so Kade is usually by himself at home. I think he spends as much time at my house as his own, though," I explained to them. I had to make up something. As much as I didn't want to, I had to lie to protect Kayden.

       "Poor guy. Moves to a new town, gets picked on by Ted, and his parents are hardly around," Scott said. "It seems like you're the only good thing that's happened to him, Zac."

       If you put it that way...yeah I am. Compared to what he dealt with in Toronto last year, Whitby has been the best thing to happen to him ever!

       "I know. But thinking about it, everything has been pretty amazing so far in my life. It's like I get the better part of everything, compared to what others deal with. I kinda feel a little guilty about it."

       It's the truth. Compared to Kayden's life, or Jeff and Aaron's, my life is gold. So far, everything has been given to me on a silver platter.

       "Hey, don't worry about it, man," Scott said. "A lot of people out there have hard lives, but there are some who have it even better than you. At least you don't flaunt it. You're a good person, dude. You have nothing to be guilty about."

       "He's right, Zac. You always think about other people. There aren't many people out there like that. I know you'll do something great for others in the future. You have a real gift, Zachary. Be proud."

       Groaning, I threw my head back. "Please don't call me that. I hate that name!"

       "Aww, but it's so cute," Scott teased.

       "I'm nice, Scott, but I could still kick your ass," I joked.

       "Maybe last year, Hunter," he grinned. "I think I have the better hand this year. We should go for another all-out wrestling match. I think you'll find that I'm no longer a pushover."

       "Name the place and time, buddy," I smiled. "I'll see you to it."

       "Boys...why don't we use our inside voices?" Maya sighed, rolling her eyes.

       I think we had about half the cafeteria turning towards us from the noise we were making. We busted out laughing; we didn't care.

       By the time I got to phys ed I was all tired out. Too bad for me we were having a weightlifting day. I could feel every fiber in my body complaining as I forced the final reps. I did get enough eye candy watching Kayden, though. He and Jett turned to me and flexed once in a while just to get me going. I could watch Kayden work out all day and not get bored. If we had been alone, I'd have walked up to Kade and ripped off his shirt. 

       The guys and I walked out of the school together. Maya had been picked up by her mom, and Mai had to stay to work on an art piece she was going to display at a youth convention.

       "So, I heard you guys' parents know about Kayden and me," I said with a straight face as we walked towards the sidewalk.

       Kayden looked like his eyes were going to pop out of his head. "What? How?"

       Jett just smiled. "It's the parents' network, man. I tell my mom everything, and when it's something like that, she makes sure that only the people that matter know." Jett chuckled at Kayden's sudden insecurity. "Don't worry. She has a few gay friends and she always said one of us was bound to be gay. My ma is cool like that."

       "She is. My parents were a bit shocked, but after talking to your mom," Scott said, "it was like it didn't matter. They really don't care, guys. I mean, my parents really love all of you guys. They don't know you much, Kade, `cause you're new, but give `em a few years. I mean, if one of us went postal, my parents would defend us and say we couldn't hurt flies."

       Shin looked a bit grumpy, so I nudged at him.

       "What about your parents? Were they okay with it?"

       "Hell no. I even got grounded for it..." Shin said, obviously angry.

       "What?" Jett and Kayden said simultaneously.

       "Tell them what you told them, Shinnie," Scott said, knuckling his fists.

       "Well, after they talked to Jett's mom, they asked me about it. And I told them it was true that you both were into butt fucking..."

       "You said what?" I almost yelled.

       "You didn't!" Kayden said.

       "I did, and they said I was being stupid. They lectured me that love is still love, and that I shouldn't talk about my friends like that. Then they fucking grounded me."

       Jett was laughing hysterically, while Scott's legs wobbled trying to keep him up.

       "It's not that fucking funny," Kayden said, blushing deeply.

       I'm sure I was just as embarrassed, but I was really happy. The people I've come to call my second parents all said they didn't care; that I was still Zac. To them I am the Zac they always knew.

       Scott and Shin split off in different directions, leaving Kayden, Jett and me. We saw Ashley, Jett's sister, pull up, her eyes shining. I hadn't had a chance to talk to her in a good while.

       "Zac! Oh my God, it's so good to see you. Get in, get in. Oh, he must be Kayden! Wow! I have so many questions for you guys!" she said excitingly.

       I turned to Jett. "You didn't..."

       Jett just smiled and laughed.


Copyright 2004   Ryan Keith

A pretty regular chapter. I figured I gave you guys enough cliffhangers for now. I want to leave it on a normal note since I might be busy with Uni work right now. A little reflection on Zac's part. Sometimes people get that feeling, that they have it so good, that they feel guilty. Sometimes I look at my life and get a bit depressed because so many people out there struggle everyday. Many people out there watch out for only themselves, never thinking about humanity as a whole. Young Zac ain't like that^. Sort of cute, don't ya think? Any clue with who this Lenne person is yet? You don't? Shit...well, I don't either, guess like I gotta keep on writing^^ Cheerz budz, stay tune for the next chap.

You guys have a good one. Remember, its

And thank Aaron too, he makes these chapters make sense. Check him and the crew out at