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 4 - The Visitors


     A week or so had gone by with little or no problems at work. It was like an unspoken rule; none of us bothered Tim; Tim didn't bother anyone. That applied to Nikki, Jeff and me. Tim still annoyed Nikki, but she just chose to ignore him. That seemed to have a stronger effect on him. He was moody no matter where he was.

     Jeff and I got closer with each other. I discovered more about his relationship with Aaron. I actually met Aaron a few times when he came by to visit Jeff. It was surprising when I first saw him. In my head I had pictured a guy smaller than Jeff, but I was wrong. The guy looked like he played football. He was massive, with all the right muscles. I could see why Jeff liked him, and I could see why Aaron liked Jeff. Just like Shin and Mai, or Scott and Maya, Jeff seemed to transform into a whole new person when his mate was with him. He was more talkative, happy, and touchy when Aaron was around. He wasn't afraid to show his affection to his boyfriend, and I know I blushed once or twice when I saw Aaron tug at Jeff's waist.

     Things with Nikki progressed. The favor she so desperately needed from me was hooking her up with a teammate of mine on the swim team. I was gladly willing to help her out. The problem was, there was no possible way for me to get them together without adding myself to the picture. The guy she likes is a diver who's my age, named Kurt. He's too skinny, I think, but apparently Nikki finds him really attractive.

     All in all, things were normal, except...

     "Hey, Zac, when are we gonna see the mystery woman?" Jeff teased as he hung up his coat.         

     "When she comes around," I sighed. "I mean, why do you care? You're gay. Plus, if Tim sees her, Nikki won't have anyone chasing after her anymore."

     "Shut up," Nikki exasperated, as she grabbed the bagel rack.

     "Come on, dude, we want to see her. We gotta see if she meets our standards," Jeff said, leaning back on the counter.

     "Yeah, Nikki and I painted this picture of her. We want to see how she compares to it

. We want to see her, but only your friends come by to see you. All wanting free stuff, too, I might add." Jeff smiled.

     "You know I wouldn't give free stuff," I told them.

     "I know. I was teasing, man."

     "But seriously, I thought your friend Maya was this girl...what's her name again?" Nikki asked.

     "Sharon..." I blushed. I couldn't believe what I was doing. I was making up some fake person. I never used to lie like that. It's all Kayden's fault.

     It really was Kayden's fault. I found out that Kayden had come in and told Tim I was seeing some girl. I guess Tim was sort of to blame, too. He had told Nikki, thinking she'd stop being friends with me. Little did he know I was trying to hook her up with my teammate. But with the damage already done, Nikki had told Jeff, and then suddenly everyone wanted to meet 'Sharon'.

     "Yeah, that's her," Nikki giggled. "I thought Maya was this Sharon girl. She looks like she'd be a match for you. I mean, God! All your friends are good looking. Especially that boy who comes in most of the time."

     "Oh, you mean Kayden," I said, brightening up.

     "Yeah, him. Unusual name, though," Nikki smiled.

     "Yeah, he's mega hot, too!" Jeff said, biting his bottom lip.

     "I'll tell him you said that," I teased.


     "Well?" Nikki asked.

     "Well, what?" I answered, playing dumb.

     I was fixing bagels for customers and Nikki was on her break. It was nice of her to visit me during her break.

     "Don't be like that, Zac," she said, frowning. "How's Project Kurt going?"

     "Oh, is that what we're calling it?" I grinned.

     Blushing, Nikki held her face. "So, give me the details?"

     "He's single if that's what you're asking."

     "YES!" She clenched her fists. "Is he looking?"

     "That's what he told me. Hasn't seen anyone lately. Perfect chance for you," I told her.

     She smiled and leaned on the counter. "So, does that mean I could come to your swim meets to meet him?"

     "That'd be kinda obvious, don't you think?"

     "Then how the hell are you going to get us together?" she said angrily. I didn't know she was so passionate about it.

     "Whoa, girl. Simmer down a bit. I'll think of something..."

     Her features softened and she looked worried. "Zac, you need to help me!"

     "And I will. It's just that I really hate playing matchmaker. It'd be better if you met him at a party or something," I said, as I gave a waiting customer her order. The lady gave us a small smile, knowing well what was being exchanged.

     "Oh, perfect! Host a party and invite both of us. You do that and I can take care of the rest!" She beamed.

     "Now why would I just suddenly host a party?" I said to her sarcastically.

     "Zac! I need your help," a voice said.

     I turned quickly to the Asian girl in front of me.

     "Mai! What are you..."

     "I want to throw Shin a birthday party, but my parents said not at my house and Shin's parents are renovating their basement and so I wonder if we can have it at your house because your dad is pretty cool, so I called your house and he said you were at work but I ended up asking him anyways and he said it would be fine with him if you are willing to go through with it and so I asked my mom to drive me here so I could ask you because I want to organize it right now and I swear if you do this you won't do any work and I'll do it all. I promise!" The ecstatic girl bellowed. 

     I just stared at her in disbelief. I only heard maybe a few words because she was talking so fast.

     "W- what?!"

     "That's perfect, Zac!" Nikki said excitedly behind me. "Mai, right?" she said, turning to my female friend. "Can I come to this party? Because Zac is trying to hook me up with this guy on his swim team and he doesn't want to play matchmaker and he said the best way for me to meet him would be at a party and now since Zac will be having a party it'd be a perfect opportunity for me to meet up with him," she said, talking just as fast as Mai had.

     Wait, Mai wants me to host Shin's birthday party at my house, but she wants to do all the work?

     "Zac, I made a mistake, man. Can you change the two honey oat bagel orders I placed to two cinnamon raisin with butter, toasted, please?" Jeff asked from his counter.

     I looked at my screen and almost shouted. I was holding three orders behind.

     Aww, fuck!

     "I don't mind at all...the more the merrier. But wouldn't it be weird for Zac to invite a guy from his swim team to his friend's birthday? It might seem suspicious," Mai said to Nikki.

     One plain toasted with peanut butter; two cinnamon raisin toasted with butter; one blueberry not toasted with butter...

     I walked over to the bagel rack and took out the bagels that were on the screen plus the two that Jeff had called out for.      As I walked back, Nikki and Mai were chatting like they had been friends forever.

     "Oh, my God! So your boyfriend does know Kurt Matthews? That's so cool!" Nikki screeched.

     "It's perfect. I remember that guy, too. Shin used to play baseball with him all the time. He actually lives close to Shin's house, so I know they hung out once or twice. It's perfect! I wouldn't mind helping you. Tell me if you want me to play matchmaker. You can't ask someone like Zac to do something this important. He's a guy, even if he is..."

     "Mai!" I chastened her, loud enough to grab her attention and also the attention of half the patrons who were waiting in line.

     Mai covered her mouth like she had almost slipped up and was apologizing.

     She was about to tell Nikki I'm gay!

     From the corner of my eye I noticed Sally step out of the back room to see what was going on.

     I quickly got back to work as Mai and Nikki continued to talk.

     "...I mean, even if he is a GOOD guy, you can't expect him to understand a girl's heart," Mai said, making up for her near slipup.

     "You're right, what was I thinking?" Nikki giggled.

     "Girls, can you go talk over there? I'm trying to work here," I said, as I buttered the bagels.

     "Well, tell me if you will host it or not, because my mom is outside waiting," Mai said desperately.

     "Zac, you have to do it," Nikki begged.

     "Aww, man, Zac," Jeff called out. "You know the two cinnamon raisin bagels I told you about? Well it's only one, the other one is blueberry."

     "Young man, is my bagel ready yet?" a large lady asked, walking up to me.

     A beeping caught my attention as I turned to my screen. Five orders were being backed up. I felt Sally's eyes watching me closely. Chaos was all around, and I was in the center of it.

     " Zac, the next time a friend visits you, tell them you'll talk to them later during your break, or tell them to call you. When you're working here, that's what you need to be doing, not talking and making party plans," Sally said to me in the gentlest way.

     "I'm sorry, ma'am. It won't happen again. I promise," I told her.

     "I know, Zac. You're a good person. I don't mind if you talk to your friends when business is slow, but if it's busy, we get backed up big time and customers get antsy. I guess Nikki is to blame as well. She was bothering you during her break."

     "It wasn't Nikki's fault. I mean, I was the one..."
     "No need to cover for her, Zac. I already talked to her and she admitted to her faults just as you did."

     "Oh," I said.

     "Just be careful next time, young man. Now get your butt outta here and go home," she said, smiling.

     I'll see you tomorrow, Sally." I nodded to her.

     "Until tomorrow, Zac."

     "Thanks a lot!" I said to Mai when she picked up. I had finally gotten home and had immediately dialed Mai's number.

     "What?" she said innocently. I could almost hear her smiling at the other end.

     "I got in trouble because of you," I said to her.

     "Okay, I'm sorry," she said sarcastically,

     I decided to play with her because she didn't seem too concerned with my problems.

     "And now Dad found out and he said I can't host the party..."

     "You fucking liar! You're lying, Zac. Fuck you. You're lying," she swore.

     Holy shit...

     "If you're playing with me I'm going to kick your ass, and..."

     "Alright, already. Shit, what crawled up you ass and died?" I said to her.

     She was silent for a moment, but it was like I could hear her grin. "I could tell you, but I don't think you'd want to know."

     I dropped the phone.

     No way. No fucking way! Shin? Mister 'I can't be serious for one second' actually went all the way?

     I could hear noise coming from the receiver as I picked it up. All I heard was Mai laughing.

     "You're not serious, are you?" I asked.

     "I ain't telling you, you perv," she laughed. "And I know what you're thinking, and it's true. Shin can be serious when he wants to be, and when he is, he's like a god."

     For someone as bold and controlling as Mai to say something like that about Shin, it had to be true. Suddenly I saw Shin as a completely different person.

     Good job, Shinnie-boy! Holy crap...never thought you could do it.

     "So, we're going to have the party on Saturday the first of December. His birthday is actually on the weekend. This is a dream for some teens."

     "Wait...who said I was going through with this?" I teased.

     "Unless you want both Nikki and me to become major enemies of yours, you better get serious, white boy," she said threateningly.

     Trying to sound angry, I raised my voice. "Hey, that's a racial slur."

     "Oh, please," she said, brushing off my faked anger. "We are so past that, Zac, and you know it."

     Chuckling, I knew she was right. "Yeah, just like you're the group's crazy little Asian girl, slash, perfectionist."

     "Which is why I will be the master behind the party. I'll organize everything, and you'll just lend us the place."


     "Yeah, we're using you for your cool stuff, you little rich brat," she teased. "Wanna see if you can get me a job at Tim's? I attract people, I must admit. I actually need the money."

     Taking a moment to think of a clever remark, one suddenly dawned to me: "I don't know if you have the right stuff for it," I told her with fake sincerity. "I mean, the customers usually want their coffee in a cup, not in their face. I think you'd actually chase people off instead of attract them."

     For a moment nothing was exchanged.

     "Am I that bad?" she asked seriously.

     Aww, shit, I've really fucked up now. Think fast, Zac, think really, really fast!

     "Put it this way. If you weren't that bad, I don't think you'd be woman enough to handle Shin. You have him, Mai. And you have me as a friend. So don't try to sell yourself short... I was just teasing."

     For a moment I didn't hear anything. I was hoping I had not hurt her feelings with my comments.

     Note to self: Know where to draw the line!

     I never knew hearing her laugh could be so musical. "God, Zac, that was great. Wow, I really had you going."

     "Shit..." I said, blushing. "Okay, you did get me."

     "Anyways, back to the true topic. It doesn't matter if your dad is there or not. I don't think there will be alcohol."

     "Wait a alcohol? It ain't a party then!" I said to her. Actually, I couldn't care less if there was alcohol or not, but I guess it was the newbie partier in me that was shouting out.

     "Think about this... Parents are most likely to be picking us up since no one our age can drive. And since it's just our friends and some other people, no older kids will be interested. I doubt you want a bunch of seniors crashing your party. If something happens, it's your dad who will get in trouble," she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

     "What about Ashley, Jett's sister? What if she wants to come?"

     "Would she?"

     "Nah, probably not. I guess you're right. No drinking. When we're older I'm gonna have another party with drinking, though."          

     "That'll be okay with me, as long as I can drink too," she giggled.

     "Shin will watch out for you."

     "Oh, and about Shin... I was going to have the party as a surprise, but he sort of dragged it out of me..."

     Really...I wonder how?

     "So it's just going to be a party, and not really a birthday celebration."


     "Meaning, we're too old for the birthday cake and presents, Zac. We can do that ourselves when it's just the gang together."

     "Wait, how many people do you plan to invite?" I asked her.

     "Actually, I kinda changed the numbers when I talked with Nikki after you chased us out," she said slowly. "If we're going to invite Kurt, then we gotta extend the guest list to people we know. So far, it's the usual people, a few friends of mine, Lenne, the girl you already know, a few more friends that Shin and you know, Nikki, Kurt, Jeff and someone Nikki said he wants to bring."

     "Wait, Jeff is coming? How does he know?" I asked her.

     "Nikki asked if we could invite him so it would seem like there's a wider range of guys. It's so that it doesn't look like a setup to get her and Kurt together."

     "This is getting too complicated. It's starting to be as much focused around getting Nikki together with Kurt as it is around celebrating Shin's birthday."

     "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it," Mai said, unconcerned.

     Well, I hope so.

     "Anyways, I need to go do some homework," I told her.

     "No prob, hon..." she replied. "And, Zac?"


     "Thanks a lot for what you said. It really means a lot to me. I'm glad you think I'm good enough for Shin... Thanks for being a friend."

     I was silent, and was thinking of some kind of response, but she hung up before I could ever begin.

     No prob, Mai. You did well with Shin. He's real happy. I'll always be a good friend.

     "Looks like you know about Shin's birthday party," I said to Dad as we were eating dinner.

     "Yup! I even suggested it to Mai before she asked. She was really happy. Do you want me to take a trip that weekend?"

     "Why do that? It's your house. You'd better stay!" I told him.

     "Alrighty then," Dad said, surprised. "I figured you wouldn't want any old folks around if you guys plan on drinking."
     "We decided not to. We don't want to get you in trouble if something bad happens," I said to him.

     "Well, this is a surprise. When I was your age, people were already drinking at parties and stuff, and..."

     "Dad, people still do. But stuff happens at those parties. We just want to keep it clean. But if people do bring their own stuff, I'll watch out for them."

     I hadn't even thought about people bringing their own stuff. Teens don't usually buy the alcohol for everyone when they have a party.

     "I'm glad you're responsible, then. And by the way, before I forget. Grandma and Grandpa are coming down for Thanksgiving."

     "Thanksgiving? That was last month, in October," I said, obviously confused.

     "Yeah, I know, but Grandpa has been working on a deal since June in the U.S., and over there, Thanksgiving is on the last Thursday in November. So, they want to come down." Dad chewed a piece of meat and swallowed. "Which is a good thing. We really didn't have a Thanksgiving this year because it was on a Monday. I had to work late that day."

     "That's great, then! Can Kayden come?" I asked, already knowing the answer.

     "Of course. But you need to know something, Zac," Dad said, suddenly turning serious. "Your grandma is a bit old fashioned. I don't know how she'll take the news about you and Kayden being gay."

     "You mean they don't know?"

     "No, I didn't think it was my place to tell them. I don't know if you want to come out to them right now, but if you do, I'll support you. This is something you need to tell them, not me. I know my dad won't be too upset. He loves you too much."

     "Grandma does too. I doubt she'd hate me for being gay... She won't, will she?"

     Dad pondered on the thought for a second. "I don't think so, but that's not what I'm worried about. Let's just pray it doesn't come down to what I think she might do."

     That worried me. " What's that? What might she do?"

     Taking a bite of his salad, Dad smiled. "Don't worry about it."


     Free your mind. It is an empty void. Focus on what's in front of your fists and be aware of everything around you. Don't lose sight of your target, but be aware of the presence of everything else around you.

     "I want you to meet my grandparents!" Zac's voice echoed in my head.

     In a second it was over. I was on the ground with my breath gone.

     "Kayden, where was your focus? It was gone," my sensei said, as he stood over me.

     He had said it low enough so that only I could hear. I was still trying to get my breath back.

     Gasps and applause echoed around me until I remembered where I was. I was sparring with my sensei. I guess I'm a good student, because he usually calls on me to help demonstrate moves. I'm already a black belt, but I still go to the dojo I found here in Whitby. It gives me a chance to work on my technique and helps me keep my mind clear. My master and I were just demonstrating throws on the mats, with the other members around us. There were about twenty in the afternoon class. I had been practicing on the punching bag when my sensei asked me to join him.

     "Sorry, Sensei," I said earnestly to him as I got up. "I remembered something and lost my concentration."

     He nodded and turned to his students. "Okay, okay," he said with his slight Japanese accent. "Now, each of you grab a partner, and slowly practice what you saw. I'm watching you all, so no fooling around. One hundred pushups to the person who disobeys me."

     The students quickly got up to follow his command. They were a rowdy bunch, but all were going to be disciplined. That's what I like about this guy; he never gives up on the students. He's hard on them, like a coach, but he is as supportive as one should be, too.

     "Let's drink something, Kayden," he said to me.  


     We walked off the mats towards the viewers' area. Parents of the little kids sat and watched, often commenting on their kids. The ages ranged from 6 to 19. All were promising, but a few needed to be kicked once in a while to get moving. Overall, very spirited, as my sensei would say.

     "Kayden, you're the most talented kid I have seen. When I came to Canada from my Japan, I wanted to teach discipline and focus to anyone who wished to learn. I may be old, but I still am young in my soul," he said to me as he passed me a bottle of water. I gladly accepted it, and listened to what he had to say.

     "You came looking for a place to train and you found it. But when I see you, you have everything a warrior needs. You have a strong mind, speed, stamina from all the running you do, skill, and technique. I have nothing to teach you. I don't know how you can develop here. I know many people and many dojo out there better than what we have here, and..."

     "Sensei, I'm not looking for a place to get better," I said, interrupting him. "I just want a dojo close to home where I can come to relax and focus. I like teaching, too, and have fun doing it. I'm just looking for piece of mind, like you. I don't want to develop myself anymore."

     "But you have potential!"

     Hearing him tell me that felt mighty good. For a moment I let those words fill me.

     "Maybe. But I also have things that are important to me; people, important person. I want to focus on them. They are what I live for. I used to think I lived for myself, but that was the old me. It feels like there's a monster inside me sometimes. I just want to come here when I can, to...cleanse myself."

     He nodded his head and released a gruff affirmation.

     "I understand. You are free to come here when you please. Even when it's late and I go home, if you want a place to focus, my dojo is open to you, always. I want to give you a key to the dojo," he said, dangling keys in front of me.

     "Really? Are you sure? I mean, you hardly know me..."

     "I know what I see. I see a very whole person in you. Sometimes it appears to be very dark, but pure, like a child who doesn't know what to do with a sword. You are strong, but something is lacking...missing. Perhaps training you not need, but perhaps answer is in the friends you have. Seek out the unknown and complete yourself... Find the truth, and use my dojo to cleanse yourself. This place will be your sanctuary."

     I'm missing something?

     Without another word, he drew up my hand and dropped a key into it.

     "Thank you, Sensei," I said, bowing my head.

     "No more sensei. I am not your sensei anymore. I am Mr. Kaede.

     "Thank you, Mr. Kaede."


     The two weeks had been uneventful. As Mai finalized the party plans for Shin's birthday, we heard non-stop about it. And it seemed as if Mai's guest list was growing because of the people who knew about it. I trusted her, so I didn't care. If there was any distrust between Kayden and Jett, I sure didn't see it. Jett didn't say another word about our telephone conversation, and I didn't mention it to Kayden. It was as if nothing had happened, but Jett was a bit more quiet around Kayden. Kayden was happy to be invited to the Thanksgiving dinner at my place, but at first he seemed a bit worried. I think he got over that pretty fast.

     Everyone seemed to be busy with tests, so time for hanging out was pretty limited. Kayden still stayed over on weekends, and Dad started asking more questions. My biggest concern was that Dad would ask to speak with Kayden's parents. Interestingly enough, Kayden made his parents seem real, like their life was so busy that they had no time for him. It got to the point that he seemed depressed about it. I couldn't tell if he was making things up or if he was talking about the parents he ran away from. The way he described them, it sounded like they were decent people, but just needed to give Kayden more attention.

     Thanksgiving with my grandparents was on Thursday, and Dad told me we were going to pick them up at the airport on Wednesday afternoon. So, I was pretty surprised to see them at our door on Monday afternoon.

     "Grandma! Grandpa! What are you guys doing here?" I was obviously shocked as they walked in.

     "Well! Is that the way you greet your guests, Zac?" Grandma said, as she took off her coat.

     "We came to surprise you and your dad," Grandpa said, bringing in two suitcases.

     I immediately went to his aid. "Here, let me help you with those, Grandpa."

     "No," Pops said firmly. "I'm not so old that I need the help of my grandson. I'm still young!"

     Slowly I stepped back and smiled at his determination. My grandparents are in their mid fifties, but they're as healthy as if they were still in their forties. I guess it's a parent-child trait. Both Dad and Grandpa always insist they are younger than they really are.

     "So, were you surprised, young man?" my granny asked me as she passed me her coat. Her smile was contagious, and I found myself smiling cheek to cheek.

     "Very! It's good to see you again, Grandma," I said, giving her a quick peck on the cheek.

     "Boy, Zac, you sure have grown! Look at you!" Gramps said, lowering the suitcases. "You're a spittin' image of your father when he was your age."

     Grinning, I savored the praise as Grandpa gripped my shoulder.

     "Oh, buzz off, you old goat, and let me look at my dear grandson!" Grams joked playfully, pushing Grandpa away.

     "We were supposed to pick you up Wednesday. What happened?"    

     "I took some extra days off," Grandpa said, stepping back to give Grams a better look at me.

     "Oh, he is much more handsome than Kevin ever was. I guess we can thank that stuff in his hair." Grandma smiled, brushing my cheek. I felt them heat up.

     "Your dad still at work?" asked Gramps.

     "Yeah, he should be home around six or seven tonight."

     "Oh, that Kevin," Grams said, shaking her head. "He works way too hard."

     Smiling, I lead them to the hallway. "Anyways, make yourselves comfortable. I'll be back in just a moment. I have a friend upstairs and we were just studying. I'll go get him."

     "You go do that, son, and hurry back. We came mighty early to spend time with the most wonderful grandson in the world, and I won't waste one moment of it," Grandpa said, a twinkle in his eye.

     As I walked in, I saw Kayden buttoning up his shirt, his pants still undone.

     "I guess you heard," I said, smiling a bit nervously.

     "It's cool, Zac. I don't blame them for wanting to see their grandson, especially when he's such a wonderful person," Kayden teased.

     "Leave it, Kade." I smiled.

     "So, I guess this is the part where we gotta be careful," Kayden said as he buckled his belt.

     Swallowing at the sight in front of me, I replied, "Yeah. Sorry about this, man."

     "Hey, it's not a problem. It's not like it's forever," my blue-eyed angel said.

     "Nope...only until Sunday."

     I saw his eyes open wide. "Sunday? I thought they were only staying for Thanksgiving!"

     "Well, they're here already, so they might as well extend their stay to the weekend."

     "Gees, I don't know if I can cap it for that long," he grinned wildly.

     "You will, or we'll have huge problems. Dad said he doesn't know how Grandma will take it, and I really don't want to ruin anything."

     Kayden walked up to me and took my hands. "Hey, I'll do whatever you want to do. But you know you'll have to tell them, eventually."

     I nodded. "Yeah, I know...I was hoping it wouldn't be during this visit, though. It might ruin Thanksgiving if I tell them."

     "But if they took it well, they'd have something else to be thankful for," Kayden smiled.

     "Oh yeah? What's that?"

     "Me, obviously," he winked. "You I always seem to watch your ass."

     I blushed deeply.

     Immediately, Kayden caught the double message in his words, "I- I mean I keep you out of trouble," he said worriedly. "I didn't mean I'm always looking at your ass...well, I am, but..." His face seemed to sag into defeat. "Oh, man..."

     Watching him squirm and mess up quickly got me over the embarrassing statement.

     "Zac, I didn't mean it like that..."

     Smiling, I shook my head and went in for the kiss. It was brief and playful, but I think he got the message.

     "I'm always watching your ass too, but I'm...I don't know... How do I say this without sounding like a Catholic girl wearing a chastity belt?"

     Kayden laughed magically, killing the awkwardness around us. Before I could say anything else, he engulfed me in an intimate embrace, burying his head on my shoulder.

     "Don't worry, Zac. I know what you mean. If you want, though, I'm ready to give myself to you like that. What I mean to say is that, if you want, I could be on the receiving end..."

     I couldn't sense any discomfort or worry in his voice.

     He really isn't afraid of it. Even though it might be painful, he still wants to give me himself.

     The obvious images of sexual acts fluttered into my mind, but I pushed them away.

     "That wouldn't be fair now, would it? Give me some time... One day we will."

     "I really do love you, Zac."

     "I do too."

     "Grams, Gramps, this is Kayden," I announced proudly as we walked into the living room.

     The elderly couple turned towards us with smiles.

     "Good afternoon, ma'am, sir," Kayden said with ease and gentleness. He flashed his smile. God, what a smile! It was a smile that could win over any heart. I was sure my grandparents were going to love him.

     "Nice to meet you, Kayden," Gramps said, extending his hand. "It's always a pleasure to meet a friend of Zac's."

     "Zac told me only a bit about you guys, but from what I heard, you two are the world to him."

     "He said that?" Gramps smiled, turning to me. "Well, he's a great person. And he has great friends."

     Kayden turned to Grandma, smiled, and nodded his head. "Ma'am."

     Oddly enough, Grams just smiled back, then turned to me. "I had thought you meant your other friends were here. What are their names, again?"    

     "Ah, Scott, Shin and Jett are probably busy. I know Jett has hockey practice, but Shin and Scott are probably occupied."

     "Nice way to put it, Zac," Kayden said, grinning at me.

     "Well, whatever," I said, grinning back. Turning to my grandparents I beamed, "Scott and Shin are each seeing someone right now. I'm also friends with them; they're great gals."

     "On their better days," Kayden quipped.

     Grandpa, Kade, and I broke out into a fit of laughter as Grams just smiled.

     The groaning of my stomach told me I was hungry.

     "Do you hear that?" Grams said to Grandpa. "I bet Kevin starves the poor boy."

     "Oh, come off it. Boys are naturally always hungry, right?" he said, turning to us.

     Kayden and I just grinned.

     "Nevertheless, while I'm here, I'm going to fill Zac's stomach until he can't eat any more. What would you like to eat, Zac? Did your dad prepare something already?" Grams asked.

     Damn, Dad's going to get an earful when he gets home... Grams is gonna murder him.

     Turning to Kade, I chose my words slowly. "Well, Dad was really in a hurry this morning, and he said he'd be home fairly late, so he just told me to order pizza..."

     The frozen features of Gram's face told me that Dad surely was going to be in the shits.

     "Well! It seems like I didn't do my job properly," she said, shaking her head. "When your father gets home..."

     "Oh, now, don't be so quick to judge, Ma," Gramps said. "You know how great a cook Kevin is. I'm sure this is just a once-in-a-while thing."

     "But Kevin is always busy because he's working. How can he possibly..." Grams looked troubled. "Maybe I should stay here for a bit to make sure Zac eats well. I worry about him sometimes."

     I turned to Kayden in horror.

     Oh shit! If she stays here, it's over for Kayden and me.

     "Toss that idea out," Gramps said, shaking his head. "Kevin won't allow it. You always try to smother the boys too much. They need their space to mature and grow."

     I turned to gramps with stars in my eyes.

     Fuck yeah, Grandpa! You tell her!

     "Now, why don't we just make a meal for the boys? They're hungry."

     "Alright," Grams said dejectedly. "But I'm making it! You stay here with them. I hate it when you're in the kitchen, making everything go wrong!"

     The three of us just laughed as Grams went into the kitchen.

     Gramps, Kayden and I spent the next half hour talking about what's been going on in our lives. I told him about my birthday weekend, how it went wrong -- leaving out Kayden's ass kicking part -- my teachers and courses, and the Halloween dance.

     Gramps gave me a worried look. "You are okay, right? You weren't injured badly were you?"

     I was starting to regret mentioning how the Toronto tour had turned sour, but he was going to find out from Dad one day.

     Kade saved me this time. "Nah, they were just looking for some trouble. They ran off after we all jumped in."

     Gramps turned to Kayden with a tear in his eye. I had a gut-wrenching feeling in my stomach. I hate to disappoint my grandparents, especially Grandpa. He was like my second dad when I was growing up.

     "I was alright, Grandpa, and we're all healthy and alive."

     He smiled sadly at me and turned to Kayden. "Thank you so much for watching out for Zac. He means so much to my wife and me. If anything were to happen to him, I don't know how we could survive. Zac is as important to us as his father is. Thank you, Kayden, and bless you and your friends' hearts."

     "It's nothing, really."

     "Oh, but it is something! So thank you, from the bottom of my heart."

     I felt my heart drop. I didn't realize how much telling Gramps about Toronto was going to upset him.

     "I'm real sorry, Grandpa. I didn't mean for this to upset you. I swear..."

     Gramps wiped his tears away. "Oh, stop it, now. You're a boy. Boys seek mischief and adventure. If these things didn't happen to people, they would grow up to be pretty boring. It builds character."

     Ah ha! That's where Dad got that 'builds character' phrase.

     "You'll understand when you have kids of your own. You always want to protect them, but you know if you always do, they'll one day see the world for what it is, and be unprepared."

     The statement made much sense. But I couldn't get over his first sentence.

     Not knowing what to say, I looked towards the carpet. Slowly I brought myself to look at Kayden. I must have looked really pale, bringing much compassion and care was to his features. It was like he was telling me "it's okay".

     "Zac? Can you and your grandpa go to the grocery store? There are a few items I need you to get," Grams called from the kitchen. "I could use some help in the kitchen, and Grandpa doesn't know where your grocery store is. Kayden can stay and help me."

     The three of us exchanged looks and nodded. We were hungry, and the faster we split up the work, the sooner we would eat.

     Gramps had rented a car, because he wanted to see the city during the week while Dad was at work and I was at school. Having an extra set of wheels was mighty convenient.

     "You going to be okay here with Grandma?" I asked Kayden as we climbed the stairs to get my coat.

     "Yeah, she seems nice enough. We'll be okay."

     "Okay, we'll be back soon," I said to him. Looking around, I sneaked a quick peck on his cute lips. Stepping back, I found him grinning boyishly at me.


     My mission, then, was to win the heart of Zac's grandma. It didn't seem like she was too happy to see me when I first met her. I guess she wanted to get to know me a little bit more. It was awfully nice of her to give us a chance like this. I walked into the kitchen and smelt something heavenly.

     "Smells great, ma'am. How can I help?"

     Without turning to me, she replied in a monotone voice, "Just chop those vegetables that are on the table."

     I turned to the table and looked at the veggies. There were celery, red and green peppers, mushrooms, carrots and asparagus. I went to work. I knew how to cut well enough. Rick and I used to make giant feasts every so often. From what she wanted me to cut, I guessed she was preparing a stir-fry dish.

     As I was cutting, Zac's grandma took a seat in front of me and began asking basic questions.

     "I guess you go to Zac's high school. Do you know Jett, Scott and Shin? They're Zac's best friends."

     "Yeah, I know all of them. We're all really good friends. They're great people."

     "Of course. Zac does well to choose his friends wisely," she said, turning to me with a tight-lipped smile.

     I smiled back.

     "Have you and Mr. Hunter lived in the U.S. for a long time?" I asked.

     "We only go once in a while, but we mostly live in Vancouver. What are your grades like, Kayden?"

     Surprised by her sudden question, I faltered in answering. "Well, I'm not sure this year, but last year was not too good. I'm hoping to, uh, improve."

     " I hope you do. Zac is a really bright boy, and it does him no good to be around people who are lazy and uneducated."

     My grades aren't that bad are they? I mean, does she really know Scott? Apparently he almost failed English in grade nine.

     "Do you know what you want to do in the future, Kayden?"

     "Um, I haven't given it much thought. I guess something that I'm good in," I told her.

     "That's not good!" she said with displeasure, turning away from me. "You don't know what to do with your life. That's quite sad, don't you think? Maybe you should give it some more thought."


     "You see, all of Zac's other friends seem to know what they want. That Shin boy is really good at computers, Zac tells me, so he should be great in business or as a technician. Scott is really bright in math and science, so he'd be best as a professor. And that young Jett. That man will go far as a doctor."

     Wow, does she even know them? Scott, a professor? And Jett wants to be a sports doctor...big difference there. 

     "I guess it's important to know what you want," I told her.

     "It is!" she said strongly. "What about sports, do you do those?"

     "Well, I take kickboxing and karate, and I also do track," I said proudly.

     There, that should impress her.

     "Kickboxing and karate? How barbaric! Certainly you can do better! For example, Shin plays baseball and Zac does competitive swimming. And track is hardly a sport. I jog once every so often myself, but that doesn't make me an athlete."

     Does she know Jett plays hockey?

     "Oh..." I replied.

     "Do you have a girlfriend, Kayden?" she asked suddenly.

     Confused as to how to answer the question, I just said, " Not at the moment."

     "I didn't think so." She smiled thinly. "You might have the looks, but the women of this day and age need men of substance, like Zac and his friends. I wasn't surprised when Zac told me about Shin and Scott. Jett is always experimenting, but he'll find a girl, soon."

     She looked upwards and clapped her hands gently. "And Zac! He's so shy and modest. And very picky. It may be a while until he meets the right person. I certainly haven't seen anyone up his standards yet."

     "Hate to burst your bubble, lady, but I'm dating your grandson," I want to tell her. But I guess now that she spelt it out for me, I'm not really impressive. I need to really improve myself if I want to live up to Zac's family's expectations. I wonder if his dad has only been tolerating me. Maybe he doesn't like me dating Zac. Who would? After what happened in Toronto, maybe he thinks I'm a bad influence on Zac.

     Zac's grandma and I continued to talk on and on. She sipped her tea as I cut the vegetables. The more we talked, the more I found how truly different Zac and I really are.



     "We're back!" I announced as I shut the door.

     "We had to drive around to find some great bread. But do we even need it?" Gramps asked, as we stepped into the kitchen.

     "Of course! We will have it with our breakfast tomorrow. I was just planning ahead," Grams replied.

     "Well, can we eat yet? I think we're all pretty hungry," I said, turning to Kayden.

     Something surged through me. Kayden didn't look well. In fact, he looked upset, but he was smiling. Like it was forced.

     Grandpa excused himself to hang his jacket as Grams gasped.

     "Oh, dear! This is all wrong!" she said, sad and upset. "I'm sorry, Zac, but I wasn't watching your friend, and the vegetables weren't cut properly. It's such a shame; I guess I shouldn't have assumed your friend is capable of simple tasks. I was just so busy. Oh, please don't blame your friend. I'm sure he didn't mean it. I'm just so incompetent," she cried.

     I felt horrible. I had never seen Grams get so upset.

     "It's okay, Grams, it's not your fault. Kayden isn't really a gourmet chef yet, but hey, practice makes perfect, right? Plus, Kayden doesn't have much experience with knives," I joked at him with the double meaning. "It's okay, we can wait a bit longer."

     "Oh, Zac, you are an angel. I'll have the food ready shortly," she smiled peacefully. "You and your friend go wait with Grandpa."

     As we walked out of the kitchen, I nudged Kade. "Good job, buddy, now we gotta starve a bit longer."

     Kayden just oddly nodded his head once and walked in silence.

     As we took our seats to eat, I was a bit worried. Kayden had said almost nothing since Gramps and I had come home. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he didn't feel well. He almost went home without eating, but Gramps insisted he join us.

     As Grams said grace, she went through a very basic process of thanking everything around us. That was odd, since Gramps had not joined us yet. He had to take his medicine before he ate with us. I didn't really pay attention; I was too hungry.

     "So, Zac," Grams said as we passed the food around, "your dad tells me you have a job now."

     "Yeah, I work at Tim Hortons," I said proudly.

     "That's great, Zac! You don't have a job, do you, Kayden?"

     "No," my angel answered nervously.

     "Well, that's not good. I guess some people just let their parents provide for them. It's great to see someone like you, Zac, who works for his own money, instead of having it just given to him," Grams said to me.

     Beaming, I answered, "Nah, Kayden's just lazy, aren't ya buddy?" I nudged him.

     When he didn't reply, I felt bad. He must have felt really sick, since he wasn't responding to the friendly banter. Maybe I should ask Gramps to take him home later.

     Gramps came to the table and soon everyone was eating. The conversation slowly turned into little questions with little answers. It was enjoyable for the most part.

     Dad came home as we -- Gramps, Kayden and I -- were putting our coats on.

     "You're here a bit early," Dad joked as he gave his father a hug.

     "Yeah, well, you try telling your mom. She wanted to see you and Zac so badly I couldn't say no."

     Laughing with Dad and Gramps, I turned to Kayden once more. He looked really bad.

     "Hey, you okay?"

     "I just need to go home, Zac."

     "I'll go get your mother," Gramps said to Dad.

     "Yeah, you don't look too well," I said worriedly to Kayden.

     "Kayden! You're here, too!" Dad said, really surprised.

     "Well, of course!" I said to him, "When isn't he here?"
     Dad was silent for a moment. He was staring at Kayden intently. I switched my gaze between them.

     "Is Kayden okay?" Dad asked.

     "Yeah, he just doesn't feel well right now. Gramps and I were just cleaning up before we drop him home."

     He studied Kayden for a few moments before speaking again. "Was he feeling sick before Gramps and Grams came?" he asked suspiciously.

     Thinking back, I said, "Uh, no, he wasn't. It was just after Gramps and I came back from the grocery store that he started to feel sick," I said turning to Kayden.

     "I'm really okay, guy. I'm just tired," Kayden said. I could have sworn he was nervous.

     Dad crossed his arms and looked a bit angry. "Did you leave him here alone with your grandma?"

     "What? Yeah, we did. Why?" I asked.

     Stepping back, Dad did what I've never seem him do before.

     "MOM! Get in here now!" he shouted angrily.

     Quite shaken and scared, I stood motionless.

     My grandparents both came in a second later, Grams looking scared.

     "Kevin, what are you so upset about?" Gramps asked. Dad's anger seemed to cause a rise in Gramps' voice.

     "Dad, how could you leave Kayden by himself with Mom?" Dad asked, with a fuming look on his face.

     "I hardly see why that's something to be upset about!" Gramps said, raising his voice louder.

     "Kayden is Zac's boyfriend!"

     Whoa! Freeze frame. What the fuck! Dad just outted me!

     No one said anything. The silence was deafening, annoying, and pretty heavy. What I would have given to hear Shin's hysterical laughter right at that moment!

     I turned to Kayden to see the same shocked expression I probably had on my face.

     Before I could respond in any way, Gramps' booming voice burst forth.

     "VICTORIA!!" he shouted.

     "Why are you all shouting? I didn't do anything!" Grams said, turning her glare between Dad and Gramps.

     "I can't believe you, Mom," Dad said, shaking his head. "I'll talk with you later. Dad, please do something with Mom."

     Dad turned towards Kayden and me with a compassionate smile.

     "Guys, I want to really apologize for whatever happened. It was wrong of my mom... and Kayden, I am so sorry you had to deal with her. No matter what she said, I want you to forget all of it, alright?"

     "Okay, someone better tell me what the fuck is going on or I'm going to get seriously pissed!" I shouted.

     That shut everyone up. Everyone was staring at me with astonishment. Never had I sworn like that in front of Dad and my grandparents. But seriously, what the hell was going on?

     Gramps was the one to talk first, but he seemed hesitant, like he was afraid to tell me. "Your grandmother may have said some things to Kayden that made him feel, I don't know...insecure about himself..."

     "I said NO such thing!" Grandma bellowed. At the moment I wasn't caring what was coming out of her mouth.

     "Zac, I think it's best if you take Kayden upstairs for a bit," Dad said, back to his organized and controlled voice. "When my dad and I figure this out, we'll tell you. But for now, Kayden, you're not going home until we clear this up."

     I didn't move. I just stared challengingly at all of them. I didn't care what happened to me, but if any of them did anything to Kayden....

     "Grandma, Grandpa, I'm gay," I told them, unafraid. "Kayden is my boyfriend. I really like the both of you, but Grams, if you said or did anything to hurt Kayden, I will never forgive you!"

     I didn't even look to see what damage I had caused. I turned to Kayden and smiled at him. "You are not going home tonight."  We went to my room.



     I couldn't get over my anger. I couldn't believe what my mother had done. She had completely played with Kayden's mind and turned his insecurities around to attack him. If she had succeeded, Kayden probably felt he didn't live up to being Zac's boyfriend. Mom can do things like that. Her calm serenity often makes her capable of manipulating others. Too bad for her, Dad and I know her too well, and it no longer works around us.

     "Mom, why did you do that?" I asked her, a bit more composed after my initial anger. 

     Mom was crying. I felt pleased at seeing her cry, even if my heart did feel sorry for her.

     "He hates me now. What have I done? I've pushed my only grandson away. I'm a horrible person!"

     Sighing, I evaded her attempts to invoke sympathy. "Yes, Mom, you are. That's a real shitty thing you did." She cried harder, but her ploy had failed. "But, if you will come clean, you might be able to redeem yourself. That's only up to you."

     "Kevin, is it true? Is Zac really gay? He doesn't seem gay," my father asked.

     "He is, Dad," I informed him. "For a while, too. He wanted to come out to you guys, but I was worried what Mom might do if she found out Kayden is his boyfriend."

     "This still surprises me. Kayden is a great lad. How did she know already? She couldn't have sensed it, right? She doesn't have one of those things...what are they called?"

     Chuckling, I told Dad the fabled name for that seems to allow people to sense if other people are gay. "It's called gaydar, Dad."

     "Yeah, that's it. Does your mother have that?" he joked.

     "I do not!" she bellowed.

     "Well then, how did you know?" I asked her. I finally was able to seat myself. My anger was already fading.

     "I saw it!" she said angrily. "The way he looked at our Zac. It was the same way that...that woman...was always looking at you!"

     Her words shocked me. Diana... I hadn't thought about her for a while.

     "I'm just upset that I didn't notice it," Dad said, turning to me. "I never thought that Zac might be gay, so when your mother was acting all weird I didn't say anything. I'm sorry, son. I could have prevented all this."

     Gripping my father's shoulder, I made sure he knew it didn't matter. "Don't worry about it; you couldn't have known."

     "Hello!" my mom said with a raised voice. "Don't you get it? That boy is wrong for him. Just like Diana was wrong for you, Kevin. And I was right about her. It's a mother's intuition."

     I remembered the time when I had brought home Diana to meet my parents. After a few encounters, Diana almost broke up with me because she thought she couldn't live up to being my girlfriend.

     "What makes you think you were right?" Dad asked her.

     "That woman wanted to abort Zac, didn't she?" she said in anger. "I was right about that whore, but neither of you listened to me. And now I'm trying to stop the same thing happening to Zac. Why are you both interfering? That boy is all wrong for him."

     "Mom, you say anything bad against Diana again and I won't forgive you!" I said angrily, borrowing Zac's line.

     That shut her up.

     "Kevin, calm down. Victoria, he's right. Stop being so immature."

     Mom scoffed and threw her head back.

     "But I was right. That woman took off after Zac was born. Just took the money and ran. And you still stick up for her."

     "She had reason to. You won't ever understand, so stop it, now. I don't want you spreading lies about Diana to Zac. He already hates her because of what you told him."

     Mom sat silently, not responding. I could tell she was just ignoring us.

     "You said you sensed something in the way Kayden looked at Zac..." Dad said to Mom.

     "I did. And I am probably right about it!"

     "Well, did you ever stop to think that what you sensed wasn't danger in the relationship?" he questioned.

     "Oh? And what else could it have been?" she mocked.

     "I don't know... Maybe love?" he replied.

     Mom didn't say anything. She pulled her head back and looked as if someone had thrown a brick at her.

     "Victoria, it is not up to you to decide who Zac and Kevin choose to love. I've wanted to say this for a long time, and now seems to be the best time. Stop interfering with their lives."

     Dad smiled. He's the man I truly bond with. He's always thinking things through. He hardly lets his anger get the best of him. He had been my role model when I was a child.

     "Mom, Zac is still growing up, and he needs to experience things on his own. You can't make him into your perfect grandson any more than you could make me the perfect son. The only thing you'll end up doing is pushing him away. We've done that already with each other. We said a lot of hurtful things in those years. Now, do you really want to go through it all again with Zac? Because let me tell you, he has his head screwed on much better than I ever did at his age. And if you're not careful, he might never want to speak to you again."

     No one said anything for a long time.

     "Zac really does have a good head on his shoulders," Mom said.

     "He does," I told her, "and he really likes Kayden."

     "I couldn't believe he blew up like that. You never swore at me like that when you were his age. It must be the music children listen to now."

     I couldn't believe it, either. I'd never seen Zac suddenly just snap. He got really angry and shouted about Diana, but the way he threatened Mom like that...that was gold. He had single-handedly turned her game back at her.

     "He did that because he cares so much about Kayden. He cares about his friends, too. Zac might not know this, but his friends are the pillars that keep him up. Without them, he would lose his shine. He is as great as he is only because of his friends. If I was as determined as he is at that age, I might have been able to make Diana stay. But instead, I let her get away, and now I'll regret it for the rest of my life," I said to them in a low whisper.

     "Son, life is like that sometimes," Dad offered. "I really liked that girl. She was really bright and kind."

     "She was pretty smart," Mom finally admitted.

     "She left you the greatest gift of all. Zac is the proof that you two truly did love each other. What Diana did, and for whatever reasons, was totally up to her. I hope that someday you can tell your mother and me so we can understand, because right now, what she did and who she seemed to be don't really match up."

     Sighing, I told them, "To tell you the truth, I don't really know, either. It's really complicated, and she didn't tell me much. She said she didn't want to burden me with her problems. I wish she had told me."

     "I'm really sorry, honey," Mom said, as I turned to her. "I know you really loved her, that's what sometimes makes me hate her so much. I was just worried Kayden might do something to hurt Zac. The boy really doesn't look like he's capable of hurting Zac. He looks really kind. I guess I just reacted wrongly."

     "Well, as long as you're willing to admit it, I think Zac will forgive you. Just keep the stuff about Diana private, okay? He doesn't have any good feelings about her, and I don't want to worsen his mood."
     "And put it this way if you have to," Dad offered, "at least Zac can't get Kayden pregnant."

     The three of us laughing together told me that things were in the clear. Pretty hectic for the first day, though.


     "Zac, listen... It's really okay. I was just being stupid. Your dad spelt it out perfectly for me. It's okay."

     "I swear I won't ever forgive her! Why the hell did she say bad stuff to you?" Zac said, really upset.

     Zac was pacing around the room, fuming. I had told him what his grandma had said to me. I didn't want to, but when Zac is like he was right then, it's hard to say no to him. He has this powerful presence. I'm just glad he's not angry with me.

     "Hey, it's no big deal," I said, getting up.

     He turned away and stared out his window.

     "Kade?" He stood and moved over to me, turning me to face him. His lips pressed tightly onto mine. I could feel him tremble as I circled my arms around him.

     He buried his head onto my shoulder, and I held him as tears of frustration spilt from his eyes. In truth, I was angry with Zac's grandma. What she had done was really shitty. But what was I going to do, kick her ass? Even Zac wouldn't forgive me for that.

     "I love you, really," he whispered.

     "I love you too, Zac," I whispered back.

     "Don't ever leave me..."      

     He pulled back to look at me. Together we shared a kiss as tender and passionate as any other kiss we'd ever had. It quickly surpassed the day we truly discovered each other in his kitchen. It was official: I loved Zac, and he loved me.

     Breaking the kiss, he whispered into my ear, "What did she say that pissed you off the most?"

     Chuckling, I told him, "She said track isn't a sport."


AHHH!!!! Free at last! Sorry for this late chapter. I've been real busy, and so have everyone at The Mail Crew, so don't hate us please^^. Sooo, finally got the midterms out of the way. Passed them all btw, barely Physics, my prof is crazy. Let me take a moment to steam. I COULD have done really well on that exam, why didn't I? Because we were given 50 f***ing minutes to write an exam which usually took 2 hours! ARGH!!!

*breath* So I hope your life isn't as stressful as mine. Pretty interesting chapter here^. Oh, but I have a surprise for you all^. I've actually spent some time on my writing in between my midterms (As a way to relax) and organized the next few chapters real well. Be prepared, that's all I'm going to say^

Anyways, feedback is always appreciated. Remember it's Special thanks to Aaron of The Mail Crew, as always, for his editing. The 'golden boy' recently got his driver's license. The little dude has wheels now^^.

Cheerz budz, see ya in the next chap.