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.
by Ryan Keith
"Maya! How are ya?" I smiled as I turned to my beautiful friend.
Her eyes narrowed a bit and her smile seemed forced.
"Okay, I guess, what about you?"
She stepped up alongside me and we began to walk to our first class.
"I'm doing great. I just got a jump start on the religion project. The stuff we're studying isn't really that bad once you get to know it," I said to her idly.
"Are you alright? With everything?" she asked carefully. She rubbed her fingers nervously, afraid to look at me.
I tried to divert her worries. "Of course I am. It's just a bit of snow today. Nothing really to dampen my mood..."
We walked quietly for a moment, neither of us saying a word.
Maya stepped in front of me, stopping me from advancing any further.
aren't okay, and it's not good for you to brush it off like this. I know you're
"So what are you suggesting?" I asked her sharply. "That I cry about it? Trust me, I've already done enough of that, Maya. Nothing's going to change and there's nothing I can do about it. So tell me, what am I supposed to do?"
I stared at her challengingly, anticipating any response she might have. I was ready for anything. Everything... everything but silence.
Her features made me cry inside. She seemed as lost as my reflection had looked in the mirror that morning. Her bottom lip quivered as if she was fighting the urge to cry.
It was then that it hit me why I had decided to pretend like nothing had happened -- the reason I had chosen to act all hippy and foolish. I didn't want my friends to worry about me. That was my goal, and I was selfishly disregarding their concern for me.
"I'm sorry, Maya. That was wrong of me to blow up on you like that," I said to her, with my face turned away. I turned and started to walk away.
"You can't deal with this by yourself, Zac. You have friends you can depend on. Why can't you see that?"
I stopped and closed my eyes.
"It's because I love Kayden, more now than I ever realized. But, I was nothing more than an annoyance to him. Because of that, I really feel alone."
That thought made me even sadder. My friends were just that: friends. They couldn't be substitutes for Kayden.
I decided to skip religion. I felt like writing in my journal.
** Monday, December 18th, 2001
It's only been a week or so since Kayden broke up with me. I saw him again today...sort of. Sometimes I can't distinguish real life from my dreams. I dreamt that Kayden came into Tim Hortons. It wasn't like the other dreams I've had. Kayden bought a coffee, but he was acting like he didn't know who I was. Like I was just some complete stranger. I guess that's what I really am now. He doesn't look at me in class; he won't talk to me... I don't exist to him. Even still, I feel so much pain when he's around and so much more when he isn't. I don't know what to think anymore.
I've been trying to see things from Kayden's point of view. He said he thought we were moving too fast. I didn't think so. If that's how he felt, we could have gone slower, but I don't think we could have gone any slower. I know how he felt about me, but we didn't really go all the way. Is that why he broke up with me? Cause I didn't want to...have ... **
"This is stupid," I said aloud, looking at what I had just written. I took out my eraser and erased the last two sentences.
** I wonder how long he's been thinking about this. Maybe this is how he felt all along. Or maybe I've been holding him back. Did I need him too much? I don't think I'll ever know. I've tried going to see him again. Each time I couldn't bring myself to ring that doorbell. I don't know if he really meant what he said that one day I went to see him. I was surprised to see Jett there, but after hearing what Kayden said, I don't think anything could surprise me anymore... It's pretty obvious, Kayden got sick of me. I didn't think I was one of those people who are just... annoying.
After all the hell he caused with Nikki and Kurt, he turns around and says "screw it"? Maybe he planned that. Maybe he wanted to break up with me all along and he fixed this whole thing so I'd dump him. His plan went to shit when I showed up at the park ready to forgive him. He must have realized there was no easy way to tell me it was over. If that's what his plan was, then he must be the nicest guy ever, but also the biggest bastard ever. Is there anything I can do? **
I closed the small book. In the midst of my boredom, one evening I had decided to reorganize my room and had found a small journal Grandma had given to me for my confirmation in grade eight. Writing in it was something to do, but no matter what I did, I still managed to think of Kayden. I wondered if the lonely pain was ever going to end. I had skipped religion and English three times that week. I'd skipped religion a bit the week before, too. It was hard to be in the same room as Kayden. I always went to gym, and it was a good thing Kayden was skipping that class.
Everything was broken. There were no more morning meetings in the cafeteria before classes. Things were just weird at school. Maya and Mai both found it hard to approach me. Shin and Scott said it was because they didn't know how to approach me. They were afraid they might say something wrong. After what happened at Kayden's house, I asked the guys not to worry about it, because that event had changed things forever; there was no going back.
I realized what was happening to my friends because of me, so I did what I had to do. I pretended that I was happy. I guess they bought my act, because they began to act less weird when I was around them. I saw Kayden in English and religion when I did go, but he either ignored me or looked away. He was always the first one to leave class, and the last one to get there. He stopped eating with Mai during lunch. She told me he always disappeared after their art class and she could never find him.
I still don't know why all of that happened. I know Maya was angry with Kade, but I had asked her not to be. He had his reasons for what he did, and there was nothing I could do. Actually, there were some possibilities; I just didn't think I could do them. Kayden was a huge mystery all over again. Sometimes I'd find him staring at me or looking my way.
The bell rang, and I heard my stomach growl. It was lunchtime.
"Yo, Zac," Scott called from behind me.
I turned around to face my friend. I was afraid I was going to have to deal with another confrontation like I'd had with Maya.
Deep breaths. Think before you speak, Zac...
Scott caught up to me and we walked together into the cafeteria.
"You think the beef patties will be any good today?" he asked.
"What?" I replied, completely surprised by his question.
He turned and looked at me. "The beef patties, dude. I'm sick of that damn poutine. I feel like trying something different."
"I guess they'll be alright. Joe always seems to think they're pretty amazing." Joe is a guy from our history class. For some reason, Joe never eats during his lunch period. He always takes a patty with him to history and eats it before the teacher comes in.
"Alright. I'm going to try `em out. What about you? Don't tell me you're getting just a sandwich and an apple again. I swear, if you're going to just eat healthy, why not bring your own lunch and cut out the middleman? The cafeteria prices on those things are way too high," he explained.
"Well, I wake up too late to fix a lunch. And, unless I want to walk to school, I need to be ready by the time Dad leaves for work."
"You're just lazy," Scott said, rolling his eyes. "You don't even live far. We're trying to build a sustainable environment, you idiot."
"Okay, you try walking to school from my house at this time of the year. The wind is always blowing against you."
"Whatever," he grinned. "I still think you're full of shit."
I playfully pushed him, causing him to bump into a few people in front of him in the servery line. I guess I was a little too forceful. Scott apologized before stepping back to join me.
"Fuck you, man, that was cheap!" Scott smiled, shoving me with his shoulder.
"Watch it, you fucks. Who do you think you are?" a voice said.
Scott and I gazed forward and noticed a little kid walking towards us. A grade niner.
"Gees, sorry, little dude. I didn't see you there. You might want to grow a foot or two. Wouldn't want to accidentally step on you or something," Scott teased.
I knew Scott was up to no good again, so I tried the more diplomatic route.
"Cool it, Scott," I warned. He just winked at me.
"Listen, dude, it was my fault. I pushed him. Let's not make a big deal out of it, okay? Don't let the height thing get to you. You'll be towering over people in no time; got it, bud?"
I stepped forward and nicked his cap with my finger. I wasn't sure if it was something I did or said, but the kid all of a sudden froze up.
"Aww, isn't that cute; he's blushing. Zac, check it out man, you made the squirt fucking blush."
An elbow in his gut and the little dude's foot on Scott's feet quickly silenced Scott's remarks. The expression on Scott's face was priceless as he doubled over. A few other students watched with amusement. They all knew it was just friendly play. Even the servery lady smiled and rolled her eyes over the incident.
"Shut up, you bastard," the little dude cursed, before turning away and running off.
"Aww, great, man, you made the squirt run off."
"That little shit. That fucking hurt!" Scott complained, putting pressure on his feet.
"Quit playing, you fool. Hurry up, it's almost our turn."
I sat down in my seat and flipped through the first few pages of the report in front of me. Sighing, I took hold of my coffee mug and found it empty.
I want to go home, I thought.
I knew I was behind in my work, but sometimes people just get sick of working. I was slowly getting to that point.
Instead of tossing the workload into the air, I turned to the front page and started on the paperwork that HAD to be done.
I skipped the first few paragraphs, which was data I already knew. The problem with those interim reports was that a lot of the information was repetitive. I skipped a few more paragraphs to get down to the juicy bits.
The primary and secondary objectives are the system requirements that must be met. Since the primary objectives can be achieved by many different architectures, it is possible to work around constraints and still meet system requirements. However, constraints still define the requirements, and must be adhered to in such a way that both are satisfied. All constraints were met prior to launching RADARSAT-1. However, for the launch of RADARSAT-2 in 2004, certain...
I closed my eyes and threw my head back, cursing the concept of progress reports.
Fuck! You'd think I'd know this crap by now. Why the hell do they have to repeat every...
I lurched forward and picked up the phone, eager to make some human contact to take me away from my work.
"Yes, what is it?"
"Mr. Hunter, your son's school is on the line. It's one of the teachers there."
Nodding at no one in particular, I said, "Thanks Mary. Will you patch them through, please?"
"Sure thing, boss. I hope Zac hasn't been causing trouble," she answered worriedly, before directing the call.
"This is Mr. Hunter, I presume?" the voice somewhat demanded.
I could already tell who it was by the voice and from what Zac had told me about his teachers. It was Mr. Sergeant.
"You presume correctly, Mr. Sergeant. What can I do you for?"
There was a moment of silence as I grinned inwardly, well knowing he was surprised I knew who he was.
If there was any evidence of surprise in his voice, it didn't show. "I'll get right to the point, Mr. Hunter, as we are both very busy people," he said arrogantly.
Man, you don't know what busy is... How busy can a religion teacher honestly get?
"I'd appreciate it," I said to him.
I couldn't help but chuckle inside at the little aggression I seemed to be showing over the phone call.
"Yes, well, your son has been skipping my class recently, and all I can say is that it may affect his final grade. We are in the process of discussing topics for their final project. I offer marks to people who show progress in this project in class, and so far I haven't seen anything from Zac."
I was beginning to believe that the man was very much the "major asshole" Zac always made him out to be.
Realizing I still had the interim report in my hand, I smiled at my sudden idea. "I can see that might be a problem, but I... "
"It is a big problem, Mr. Hunter. As of now, your son is sitting at a 70% in my course, and the guidance counselor told me that Zac's lowest grade is in my course. >From my perspective, Zac doesn't show keen interest in the subject, but if he wishes to maintain or improve his current grade, he must attend class!"
All through that tirade, I stared idly at the papers in front of me. After a moment of silence, I began again, "If you are done, Mr. Sergeant, I was about to propose that you allow Zac to submit a progress report to you tomorrow on the information he has researched thus far."
"That hardly explains..."
I didn't give him time to continue. "As I see it, my son may be approaching this project from a different angle than your other students. You're the only teacher who has called me in the middle of my work to tell me that my son is skipping, which means he is skipping only your class. Now, let's look at this logically, shall we? In a class of, let's say, 30, what are the chances of you supervising all of those the students while you discuss one-on-one with each student his or her plan for approaching the project? Many of Zac's friends are in that class, and I suspect he doesn't want to be distracted by them. A time slot of an hour and thirty minutes is hardly enough for a student without transportation to leave the school premises, a fact which brings me to the conclusion that he must be remaining on the school's premises during your class period."
I gave the teacher a moment to soak up what I had said and attempt to get a word in.
"I suppose, but... "
"Zac knows as well as any student the penalties for being caught in the halls during class hours, which would call for the reasonable assumption that Zac is... where?"
After a moment, Mr. Sergeant answered, "The library?"
"Ah, very good, Mr. Sergeant." I smiled to myself. "I'm sure my son is using his time productively, as opposed to just skipping your class. If that is the case, I hardly see why Zac's skipping is such an issue. Is it still an issue, Mr. Sergeant?"
"No, I suppose a progress report would be... "
"Alright, I'm making a note of that now. Would 500 words suffice?" I asked.
"Five hundred words is a page, single-spaced, Mr. Sergeant. Is that good enough?"
"I think 100 to 200 should be enough to explain his plan," he answered.
"Alright, I've written that down. Is there anything else, Mr. Sergeant?"
"No, no, that's it," he replied meekly.
"Well then, thank you for your time. I'll make sure Zac gets this tonight. Now, if you will excuse me, Mr. Sergeant, I have reports to read."
"Of course, Mr. Hunter. Have a good day."
I hung up and leaned back in my chair.
I knew the knocker at my door was Mary. Without waiting for my response, she entered. She knows very well not to enter my office without approval, but the smile on her face told me she had overheard my conversation.
"You were eavesdropping," I accused her, smiling.
"Oh, please. You couldn't have been any louder. Some people were walking by your office wondering who you were firing," she said with a smile. "Do I sense a father is strongly protecting his only son?"
"Was I that loud?"
"I wouldn't worry about it. I'm curious as to what the teacher's expression was. I'm sure you won't be receiving any more calls from him, Kevin."
I couldn't help laughing. I suppose my business sense had jumped in midway through my interaction with Zac's teacher.
"Is Zac having problems?" Mary asked, taking a seat after replacing my empty mug with a steaming new one.
Leaning forward greedily to grab the mug, I explained the situation. "Zac's boyfriend broke up with him. He's in the same class."
Mary nodded. "I see."
Mary was the only I'd person I outted Zac to, other than my parents. Mary seemed to always know every family problem out there. Raising nine kids made her a pro at parenting. When Zac came out to me, she immediately noticed some symptoms I was experiencing. I couldn't really understand how she knew Zac was gay, but the next day, I found a folder of parenting pamphlets, papers and articles for parents dealing with homosexuality. Later, she told me that one of her children is gay.
"A broken heart is always hard to mend. This is something you can't interfere with," she cautioned me.
"I know that. The best I can do is keep Zac's teachers at bay. Zac's changed in the past two weeks. I've never seen him so hurt. His friends are trying their best, but I know it's not enough. My son's breakup is almost too similar to my own situation at his age."
"Yes, perhaps. But at least one of them isn't pregnant, so you know it isn't similar in that way," she smiled.
"There's always something a person is willing to hold back from the one they love. They think it might be for their own good, but sometimes not knowing is just as bad or even worse than knowing."
"You poor boy. You still haven't given up on that one girl," she said sadly.
"I know Diana and I loved each other. There was no doubt about it. The breakup was so fast, I didn't see it coming. It didn't make sense, unless there really was something else. I just wish she had told me."
The empty room was deafening after Mary left to finish some real work and to leave me with mine. I suddenly wished I could speak to Diana.
Alone with my thoughts, I took a sip of coffee as I remembered the girl who often haunts my dreams.
Sixteen years earlier...
"Kevin?" Diana whispered softly, as her hand brushed my cheek.
Moaning softly against her soft skin, I indicated to the girl I loved that I was still awake.
We were sitting in front of the fireplace. My parents had gone away for the winter break. Exams had just finished and we were enjoying the free day we had.
I felt her begin to shake, and knew something was wrong.
"Hey, are you alright?" I asked her, suddenly worried.
"I think I'm pregnant..."
The words forever engraved themselves in my mind.
She's pregnant? I'm going to be a father? I'm still a kid, but I'm going to have a kid of my own? Will I be a good father?
Again I felt her shudder and I knew very well she was crying. I mentally kicked myself. I don't know how long I was quiet, but I knew silence was never a reassuring gesture. I sort of knew what she must have been thinking during my silence.
I put one arm around her neck, onto her shoulder, and placed my other hand on her stomach.
"There's...a little me inside of you?" I squeaked, completely ignorant as to what I should say.
Her laugh was music to my ears. I knew she always liked my simple thinking. She nodded her head and I felt her tears fall on my arm. I wrapped my arms around her and brought her closer to me.
"I love you. You know that, right?" I asked her.
"I know that now... I won't ever doubt you again."
"I would never leave you for making me the happiest guy in the world."
"I was just really worried what you might say," she whispered.
"I just can't wait to see the look on my mom's face," I grinned.
"Oh, please don't tell me I'm just a tool for you to use against your mother," Diana whined. "I swear it's almost like you enjoy fighting with her."
I smiled but still felt like I had to defend myself. "Well, if she wasn't so damn manipulating, maybe we could actually have a regular relationship."
"You know, some people don't get to see their mothers anymore," she said, depressed. "You should make peace with her. At least you can speak with her. Gravestones don't say much."
I had failed to watch what I said. I knew Diana's mother wasn't alive, and I knew she had loved her deeply. She always told me of her dreams of her mother.
"This baby... will he or she know both of the parents?" she asked.
I kissed her gently on her neck and felt her relax. "Our baby will know both of us. Neither of us is going anywhere. This child will know our love."
I was fifteen, and talking like I was ready to support a family. I didn't know how to raise the child with no job and without a full education. The construction sector was always looking for healthy young men to hire. I didn't care about my future. If Diana was with me, I could do anything. We'd bring our child into a world of love and support. I knew my parents would support my decisions. Dad would make Mom do so if he had to. Everyone was always afraid of the future. I could honestly say I never was.
"What should we name him...or her?" Diana asked, turning her head to look at me.
"Remember when we first met?" I asked her.
"Oh, my God," she laughed, "I can't believe you still won't let that go. It was a mistake, all right? Drop it, already."
"But, for two weeks you thought my name was Zac!"
"Well, you look like a Zac!"
"Then how about naming our son that...if it's a boy?"
Kissing me gently on the lips, she told me she liked the idea very well.
"Then I choose the name if it's a girl," she stated.
"Iris is a beautiful name."
Her eyes showed sadness, but I knew she was really happy.
"You know me all too well, Kevin."
"It's because I love you. And I'm sure your mother would be happy if you named her Iris."
She stared at me for a moment, her eyes seeming to glow. The flickering flames from the fireplace were nothing compared to the glitter in her eyes.
"What does the future hold for us?" she asked puzzlingly.
"Who knows? I don't care, because I know I'll be with you."
"Kevin, you mean so much to me. You've made me the happiest I've ever been in my entire life. Our child will be the proof of our love."
"Shh," I hushed her, "it's late, go to sleep."
I felt her sag in my arms and knew right away she was moments from slipping into the world of dreams. I wasn't far off, myself. I didn't know what the future would hold, but I knew it would be all right...
My combination lock finally opened on the third attempt. While I was unbuttoning my shirt, the locker room door opened and a group of guys walked in.
"Hey, Zac, what's happening, man?" Mike asked as he stepped up beside me.
I turned to him and smiled. "Not much, buddy, you?"
"The guys were just talking about you. Your party was pretty sick a few weeks ago. Any chance of pulling another one?"
"Yeah, dude. The girls there were hot! The girl I danced with was so feeling me up," Drew grinned as he tossed his shirt to the bench.
Andrew stepped up and pinched Drew's nipple. "Fucking horny bitch. Look at you, man, thinking you're a player or something."
The guys all laughed as they continued to disrobe. I smiled as I pulled my shorts on. Even though we all had different circles of friends, the guys change room was a place for guys to act like guys.
"Come on, Zac, you gotta have another party," another guy begged. "We don't know anyone else who has parents that let their kids have parties like the one you had."
"Yo, I heard some guy was starting shit at your... "
"Zac, you swimming tomorrow?" Jett boomed from behind me.
Jett's sudden and powerful voice halted the discussion of my party.
"Uh, yeah," I said to my blond friend. I gave him an odd look before asking him the obvious question. "Do you have practice again tomorrow?"
"Nah, we have a game on Friday, so practice is tonight. I'll be there."
"Alright, boys," our phys-ed teacher hollered as he walked in with his clipboard, "I need a few men to help with the equipment. We're playing floor hockey today."
A couple of people cheered as others groaned. Hockey is Canada's sport, but some people just can't play. Like me. Jett's reassuring slap to my back made it clear that he'd be up for some competition if we were on separate teams.
My body was sore by the time I got home. It wasn't too bad, but Jett had pushed us to play hard. Even though there was no contact, Jett played too strong. Everyone had gotten sore from being pushed so hard. You could see the insanity in Jett's eyes as he commanded his team. We won, but it felt more like a loss.
I was surprised to see Shin waiting in front of my door when I got home, with a smile plastered on his face.
"Hey, Shin, what's up? What're you doing here?"
My Asian friend just smiled at me and pulled a game out of his bag. It was the PlayStation2 game I had given him for his birthday.
Looking at it, I smiled. "Dude, you haven't even taken it out of the package."
"I thought it'd be fair if I opened it with you, since you bought it for me. I want your ass to be the first one I kick at this game!" he joked.
Opening the door to let him in, I joked back, " You're just worried your parents will find you spending too much time playing games and lecture you again."
"You know me too well, man," Shin said, as he kicked off his shoes.
Shin's parents are always on his case for playing too many games. Shin loves games but still makes good enough grades to keep his folks happy. His mom wants him to be a doctor, but I know Shin's more interested in graphic design. I saw some of his designs from his communications class last year. They were pretty cool.
We took off for my room as Shin explained that Scott would be coming over later as well.
Popping in the game, I smiled as Shin started to freak out. His anticipation for the game made me realize I had been right about him and that game. He had mentioned it once or twice over the summer break. It was pretty simple finding the game for him. I remembered there were hot girls in it that Shin was really excited over. I had honestly thought he was more interested in the graphics and detail of the characters than the girls themselves, but I was wrong.
This game wasn't too expensive... I thought. Smiling sadly, I remembered, It was the first date I had with...
"Holy shit, man! Check it out!" Shin jumped up to his knees as we crawled closer to my television.
I took hold of the controller and skipped the introduction.
"Dude, I was watching that!" Shin complained as he turned to me with his stupid grin.
"I thought you were eager to get your ass kicked by me," I mocked.
"Fine. I'm going to rape you in this game!"
Scott showed up an hour or so later. He burst into my room and surprised Shin and me by tackling Shin. Realizing it was my only chance to beat Shin, I took advantage of his friendly jostle with Scott.
"You fucking cheater!" Shin swore as he gently pushed me over with a light kick.
"Hey, it was a fair fight!" I laughed.
"Shit! Shin lost? Damn, you're getting soft, kid," Scott teased.
After glaring at Scott, Shin suddenly turned to me. "Pass the controller to him, Zac!"
I shook my head as I passed the controller. I could sense the intensity in Shin's eyes. He was going to make Scott eat his words like he had made me do for the past hour or so.
After what seemed to be another hour, Scott finally threw the towel in. Shin boasted proudly as he played single-player.
"By the way," Scott said to me, "I just realized you're not taking karate this year. What's up?"
I shrugged and lay back on my bed. "I don't think I really want to continue it. I told Dad I would be busy with school and swimming. And now that I have a job it's hard for me to find time for karate. I used to go only on the weekends, remember? I learned a lot from those classes, but I don't think going all the way to black belt would really help me much."
Scott just nodded his head.
"What about you, Shin? What about kendo?" I asked.
"What about it?" he answered, his full attention to the game.
Scott rolled his eyes.
"You're still taking it, right?"
"Yeah..." Shin answered, still completely focused on the game.
I heard the front door open and knew my dad was home.
"I'll be back, guys," I told them
Only Scott acknowledged me. Shin was still too engrossed in his game.
"Hey, Dad," I greeted him as he removed his jacket and scarf.
Dad turned to me with a smile spreading across his face. "Hey, buddy, here's an assignment," he said, passing me a paper.
"What's this?" I asked, as I began to read it.
"An assignment from your religion teacher," he said as he walked to the kitchen.
I followed him as I read the sheet.
"Two hundred words? What the... where did you get this?" I asked him as he opened the fridge.
"Your religion teacher called me at work," he dispassionately noted.
Fearing what he would say next, I confessed. "Sorry, Dad. I have been skipping."
"Well, I would, too, if all I was doing was working on a project. I told the teacher you've been spending class time in the library."
"But, Dad... I was skipping because..."
"Hey," he said, sticking his head around the refrigerator door, "there are reasons for men to do what they have to do. As long as you're willing to face the consequences, I have no problem with that." Without another word, he went back to hunting for something in the fridge.
Reading over the assignment, I realized that it would be pretty simple. I had done a lot of research already on my topic. I really had used my skipping time productively. Sometimes just writing in my journal, but also doing more work than I normally would have done.
"Thanks, Dad. I think I can do this," I told him.
"I hope so. Oh, and tell Shin and Scott they're staying for dinner. You might want to head back up there. Shin might die if you leave them any longer."
My wondering how Dad knew they were there was soon interrupted by Shin's chaotic laugh, followed by Scott's cursing.
I grinned and took off to see what the two had done to my bedroom.
I knocked on the faculty room door and waited to be admitted.
I heard a teacher telling me to enter.
I opened the door and found my history teacher reading a newspaper and drinking coffee.
"Is Mr. Sergeant around?" I asked.
Just as soon as I had mentioned his name, he showed up.
He stared at me and looked me over.
"Tuck in your shirt, Zac," he commanded.
Realizing who I was in front of, I cursed myself for not having done that before entering the faculty room.
A minute after I had tucked in my shirt and given him my paper, Mr. Sergeant nodded and kept looking up at me as he read.
He finally put the paper down. I felt like I was in court awaiting my sentence.
"Seems like you're on the right track. I'm glad to see you're taking this seriously. Shintoism hasn't been covered in class. If you're doing outside research, I expect all of it to be properly cited. You know what happens if you're caught plagiarizing."
I didn't know if that was a compliment or an insult. It was probably both. At first, I had thought that he didn't seem as hostile as he does in class, but then, his last sentence questioned that thought.
"Uh... sure, sir," I replied.
"Alright. Until this project is due, I'll permit you to do research in the library. I'm expecting a lot from you now, Zac. If you're being serious about this, I can guarantee you'll do fine. If you're caught in the halls during class time, I'll make sure you are suspended. You hear me?"
I left the faculty room bewildered.
What the fuck was that all about?
The rest of the day was pretty much the same as the day before. Scott tried something new at the café again, and again Jett worked us hard at hockey. If we were going to play floor hockey again the next day, I would make sure I wasn't on the same team as Jett.
Jett joined me for the trip to the rec center for my swim meet. We still had an hour or so before the meet, so we hit the gym.
As I took off my shirt, Jett whistled. "Looking good, man. Working those abs recently?"
I blushed and tried not to look too embarrassed.
"Still nothing compared to you," I said, smiling shyly at him. As always, I was afraid of how he would react if I looked at his body. I guess what scares many straight guys about gay people is the suspicion that gay people might look at them sexually. I didn't want Jett to think I was some sort of pervert or something.
"Shit, man, quit being so distant. What's wrong, afraid to look at my body?" Jett joked, as he flexed.
I blushed again as I quickly pulled up my sweat pants. "Whatever."
Jett just grinned.
"Are we going or not?" I scolded him.
"Hold on, let me change," he smiled as he began to unbuckle his belt.
I crossed my arms like I was waiting impatiently, but Jett knew I was just kidding.
As he put his stuff in his locker, I noticed his muscular back. Jett really had been spending a lot of time at the gym; he was going to make some girl really happy.
"Hey, Zac?" he called out to me as he stared at his open locker.
"You know... if you want, we could go to the movies and stuff. I know I can't replace Kayden, but I think it might..."
"You don't have to do this, you know," I whispered to him.
Jett's back continued to stare at me. For a moment we were both silent.
"You guys have been amazing these past weeks... I can't ask for any better friends. I know I've been distant, and you guys gave me my space, and I really appreciate it. Thanks, Jett, but you don't need to try to replace Kayden. You've done enough. You're the best friend any guy could ask for... Thanks, anyway, but I don't need a rebound. I just need my friends."
Turning to me, Jett grinned. "Wow, for the first time, I've been shot down."
Shaking my head, I couldn't help but slap his chest. "It's `cause you're such a man whore!"
Laughing together, we left the change room to go to the weight area.
I've always been intimidated by workout rooms. Everyone is much older and much more built. I'm not scrawny or anything, but compared to some people I probably look insignificant. Some guys just look scary, from spending too much time in the gym. Those walking muscles freak me out.
It's a different story when I'm alongside Jett. He can easily lift as much weight as most of the older guys, but he's always careful not to lift too much. His hockey coach said that might screw up his growth. Jett is muscular, and indeed attractive. When I think that, it kinda feels like I'm thinking about a brother or a cousin, which is weird, because I don't have either.
Thinking like that usually reminds me that I'm the only Hunter of my generation. Sure, my grandparents have cousins and siblings, but I don't know them. In fact, I've only met one or two very distant cousins who're my age, but actually they're my dad's cousins, so they're sort of my aunts and uncles. It sort of makes me sad thinking I'm letting my family down. I'm the only Hunter left, and since I'm gay, the bloodline ends with me. It kinda sucks. I'm hoping Dad'll meet another woman and get married.
A good six-minute warm up run around the track was enough for Jett and me. I didn't even realize it until Jett pulled me to a stop. Neither of us was breathing hard, but we were well warmed up. After a few minutes of stretching, we headed for the weight room.
Jett spotted me for three sets of bench presses, and I helped him with dumbbell bench presses. Dumbbells are harder to do than barbells, since each weight is concentrated on one arm.
Jett wasn't pumping 80-pound dumbbells like some of the older guys, but he was damn close to it. After a few sets of 65s, he moved up to 70s. Some guys looked over to watch him, and I spotted him to make sure the weights wouldn't crash down on him if his arms failed him.
Near the end of his eighth rep with the 70s, I urged him on. "Come on, Jett. One more... push, man!"
After a low grunt, Jett finished his eighth rep and slowly lowered the weights to his sides. He usually went for 10 or 12 reps, but I think the 70s had been almost too much for him. He was getting some stares from a few girls who had wandered into the area. From the looks of their bodies, they came regularly, but it didn't stop a few of them from sneaking looks at Jett.
"They're looking at you, too, dude," Jett whispered to me and took a sip of his drink.
"Whatever," I said, looking away.
"Come on, lets do some chinups," Jett urged me.
I felt my insides groaning, but I didn't want to break away from Jett's routine.
As he did his wide-grip pullup, I marveled at his muscled back, which was showing well through his damp shirt. Sneaking looks around, I noticed a girl staring at him insanely until her annoyed friend pulled her along.
"I'm not going to waste..." her friend began lecturing as she dragged the staring girl out of the weight room. I couldn't help but chuckle.
"Okay, man, your turn," Jett said as he landed.
I stepped up to the bar and hoisted myself up. I was doing close grip, much easier than wide. People like me who rarely use the gym should probably only do that much.
As I pulled for my eighth rep, Jet stood beside me and smirked. "Your boxers are showing. Guys and girls are staring."
Immediately feeling self-conscious, I released the bar and turned around, lowering my shirt. Sure enough, a few people were looking, but probably either they were just resting and causally looking around, or just happened to walk in and look around.
I blushed hard as Jett's hand landed on my shoulder. "You're such a girl, you know that?" he laughed.
"Yeah, well, you're such a bitch, you know that?" I mocked.
"Zac, you're up, son," coach called out to me.
Leaving my zone of empty thoughts, I stood up and made my way to the lineup. Before all my swims, it's a goal to clear my head. When things bother me, I don't swim well.
Just like that time Grandma and Kay- The sudden thought shocked me.
I looked up towards the observation area and saw Jett. For just a fraction of a second, I thought I saw Kayden in the same area I'd always seen him, but he wasn't there.
"Zac! Kick ass, bro!" someone hollered.
I didn't react.
Kayden was serious... He really doesn't want to see me...
The dive-in at the start of the race didn't make the thoughts of Kayden disappear.
Could I have done something to prevent this from happening? What was all that stuff he said to me these past months? Were those empty words?
I felt anger rush over me, stronger than any anger I'd ever felt.
What the hell did I do to deserve this? How can he do this to me? I thought he loved me...
I clamped my eyes shut as I felt water in my goggles that was different from the chlorine water in the pool. Tears.
I used all my strength to push my thoughts away and just swim. The moment my hand hit the next relay swimmer's hand I stopped and floated, hoping the pain would wash away before I got out of the pool.
Feeling I was finally ready, I removed my goggles and wiped my eyes. I felt a shadow looming over me and looked up to find my coach staring weirdly at me.
"Zac, are you all right?" he whispered, after he had crouched down in front of me.
"Of course I am; why wouldn't I be?" I tried to smile, as I wiped any evidence of tears from my face.
"Come on, kid, outta the pool," he whispered as he got up.
After I got out of the pool, I turned to the scoreboard showing the racers' times. I knew I wasn't in first place, so I scanned the times for each lane, shocked at what I saw. My name wasn't anywhere near the top.
"Last..." I whispered.
I was shaking. I never came last. I was always near the top in my division. I knew I wasn't the best but I knew I was one of the better swimmers. The worst shock wasn't coming last; it was my time. I was four seconds behind the second-last swimmer on the board.
I turned silently to my teammates and saw confused looks on their faces. Never in my life had I scored so badly. Instead of taking a seat with the rest of my team, I headed for the change room.
As I entered the change room, I felt completely worn out. My body was visibly shaking, and I was still confused about my time.
"Zac, take a seat," coach said from behind me.
I turned around and noticed he'd followed me.
"Coach, I'm really..."
"I don't want to hear it, Zac. Just sit down," he commanded.
I sat down and stared at the floor.
"I don't know what's going on in your life, but before you come here you need to get it out of your system. That was one of the worst swims I've ever seen."
I could hear disappointment in his voice, but no anger. I could deal with anger, but not disappointment. I wanted him to yell at me for my performance, but there was more pity in his tone.
Don't look at me! I wanted to cry.
My eyes burned with shame and embarrassment, but I had to face the coach. He was doing this for my sake.
"Your form is usually fluent. The last swim meet was clumsy, but not like this. Your swim out there today was violent. I couldn't tell if you were just thrashing, or trying to kill the water."
Silence hung around the room.
"Are you sure you're okay? Nothing is bothering you? If you need someone to talk to, Zac, I'm here. What's said between you guys and me is secret. You know that. Swear or say whatever, anything to clear your mind." He gave me a moment to absorb his words.
"Now, I'll ask once more. Is there something bothering you?" he asked as he crouched in front of me.
I was forced to look at him, and saw that his features were full of concern and worry.
"I'm fine," I managed to mumble, with my chin shaking. I felt the pain in my eyes from trying to hold in all of my emotions.
Swallowing, and hoping he'd drop it, I tried to continue. "Just a bad swim, coach. It's n-nothing, I just..." I broke. My body shook violently as I brought my hand to cover my face. I didn't want my coach see me cry. Tears forced their way out as I trembled. Deep breaths and gasps of air were all that were coming out of my mouth.
"Zac..." I heard Jett's voice whisper.
I looked up, unprepared to see Jett looking at me with the same concern and pity the coach had.
Stop looking at me like that!
"I'll leave it to you, son," the coach said, gripping Jett's shoulder. "Don't worry about the 200-meter, Zac. Just go home and rest. I'm working you hard next practice, whether you're ready or not. Be prepared," he said to me, and then left to make his way back to the pool.
I just continued to let the tears run as I put my hands back to my face. Jett gave me a moment or two of silence and then took a seat beside me.
"I'm really sorry, Zac. I didn't realize how much this was hurting you. I was..."
I couldn't help it anymore; I needed support. Turning to my best friend, I lowered my head to the crevice between his neck and shoulder. I felt his strong arms circle around me.
"Why did this happen? Fuck, Jett...I love him...I still do...but...why?" I cried.
As dramatic as I was being, I couldn't get over the fact that Kayden had ended our relationship abruptly without any apparent reason.
"I've got you, bro. Things will be all right. We'll get through this," he whispered.
No...they won't be...
"What do you want for yourself?" the voice asked.
Ever since I had visited Sean's grave, I'd had dreams about him. Either that, or nightmares about Zac. The two were equally painful. Sometimes I wondered if my sub-conscious was trying to talk to me.
In the dreams of Sean I would see a boy who had not aged since the last day I had seen him alive. He always stood before me with an empty look on his face. I would try to speak but nothing would come out.
"Why can't you be honest with yourself?"
Again I try to speak but no words come out of me.
"Remember what happened when you said we couldn't be friends anymore? That really hurt me.... Imagine how Zac feels."
Frustration built up inside of me. I didn't know what I wanted to say. Tears welled up in the eyes of the figure.
"What do you want for yourself?"
"I told you it wasn't a good idea!" Maya exclaimed, pushing annoyingly at the cafeteria table as she brought a hand to her face.
"It's bad both mentally and physically for Zac, guys," Mai noted. "I doubt he's getting any sleep."
"Well, we really can't confront him about it," Scott argued with them. "You already tried that, Maya. Remember what happened?"
"So what? We just leave him to deal with it by himself? I thought we were his friends!" Maya said angrily.
"Okay, fine! You want us to kidnap him and lock him in a room until he spills his guts out to us?" Scott asked sarcastically. "I don't know if you've noticed yet, but guys can't really express their feelings too well."
Maya stared daggers at him. "Oh, don't worry, I'm well aware of that about you, but you're not Zac."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Scott fumed.
"Guys!" I cut in.
All four of them turned to me. Shin was with us, but he was being surprisingly quiet.
"Come on, this isn't helping. Attacking each other isn't going to make Zac feel better."
"We need to stick together on this," Mai said. "We're all worried about Zac. We can't pretend that nothing has happened. We can't really force him to tell us anything, though."
After all of us fell silent, the only noise came from the other tables, where kids played cards or talked about their plans for the weekend.
Parties to go to, work to do... everyone in this room has their own story to tell. I wonder if any of them are like our own?
"I'm sorry, Maya... You tried your best and I shouldn't blame you," Scott said. I could tell he meant what he said. He had just flown off the handle a few moments before, but he knew he was being hotheaded.
"No... I was wrong. Making him tell us everything is asking too much. I didn't mean what I said. You're really not that bad. I mean... "
I watch both of them as they blushed and turned away from each other. Mai looked at me and smiled, also catching the comedy of the moment.
"Oh, fucking kiss and make up, already," Shin ordered.
It was the first thing he'd said, and it just caused them to shy away even more. Laughing at Shin, Mai shook her head and silenced him with a pat on the knee.
"So, what do we need to do, Jett?" Mai asked.
They all turned to me like I had the answer.
"Just let him know we're here for him. As long as he knows that, when he feels the pressure maybe he'll come to us and share it. If he does, we need to do our part and listen. Seriously, Shin," I said, turning to him. Shin just smiled at me. "We can't ignore the fact that Kayden just disappeared from Zac's life, so no more trying to control the way Zac thinks. If he wants to think about Kayden, let him. Maybe we're causing too much damage trying to keep his mind off of Kade."
"Have you guys seen Kayden?" Maya asked. "He looks like shit. I doubt even he's getting any sleep."
"Actually, knowing that Zac still likes Kayden is the only thing keeping me from kicking his ass," Scott swore.
"Scott..." Maya said sadly.
"I feel the same way, Maya. I told Kayden I would never forgive him if he hurt Zac... But if I did do anything, I know Zac would be more upset," I said.
And what makes me think I could take him on in the first place?
Maya tapped her fingers on the table. "So there really isn't any way for... "
"Hey, guys!" Lenne smiled happily as she took a seat beside Mai. "What's up?"
Given the circumstances, it didn't surprise me when no one said anything. Everyone sort of just looked away.
Lenne looked around questioningly, and then after a moment she stood up. "I suppose I can take a hint. I guess I was hoping for too much after Zac said I was fitting in with you and your friends, Mai. I guess not... "
I was about to object but her sad look stopped me.
"This is really quite embarrassing, actually. Coming over and making an ass of myself. Thanks a lot, people; you managed to make me took like a fool." With that, she left.
"Lenne, wait...it's not like that! Lenne! Wait!!" Mai said, getting up to talk to her. She took off after Lenne as we all remained seated.
"I feel bad now. I really like Lenne, but we really don't know what she might do if she found out about Zac. We really can't out him," Maya said.
"I think it might be alright," Shin said, smiling. "She saw one of Zac's friends from work with his boyfriend and she said they were cute."
"Oh, then she fits in just perfectly. All we need is Zac's permission to out him to her and everything'll be fine and dandy, right?" Scott asked sarcastically.
We all nodded in silence. We knew things were not going to be fine. Not until the whole thing with Kayden blew over.
I finally managed to press the doorbell button. Hoping he was home, I stepped back, waiting and listening. Just as I was about to ring again, I heard footsteps.
You can still run, Zac. He hasn't seen you yet.
I forced myself to stay, but the moment I saw Kayden I wished I had run. He looked at me and then looked away. My emotions took over.
"Alright," I said, throwing up my hands, "you win! Are you happy?"
Kayden stared at me before shaking his head. "What?"
"I don't care anymore about what happened with Nikki and Alicia... I'm over it. Can we just forget about it?" I asked him, determined not to fall over and beg for him to take me back. But that was really what I was doing. I was begging.
Kayden gave with the one response I could not bear anymore. Silence.
"Please... I can't keep going on like this..." I whispered to him.
He looked up at me and met my pleading eyes with eyes colder than I'd ever seen. "You think that's what this is all about?"
"I thought maybe," I blundered, "you were trying to tell me something. I don't know what I'm supposed to think. If there's something I did, then I'm sorry. I don't care anymore...just...let's just start over..."
He looked at me but then closed his eyes and turned away. "We can't..."
Anger took over as I stepped closer "Why!! What the hell did I do so wrong?"
He refused to look at me, but he said, "It's not you..."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Oh, please, save me the fucking drama. Let me guess, 'It's not you...it's me, Zac'," I mocked him. "I don't buy it, Kayden. Did you get sick of me? Is that what happened? What do you want from me? I'll do anything you want," I said, almost shouting.
"Zac... I want you to leave."
Stepping back, I couldn't believe what was happening. It truly was over.
"I can't believe this... I came here hoping to say what you wanted to hear. I came here with so much faith in you... and since it's almost Christmas, I was hoping some miracle would happen."
I turned my back to him so he wouldn't see me cry, but I was determined to finish what I'd started. "But this isn't some fairytale, is it? This is my life, and you made me look like a fucking idiot, Kade..."
Getting no response, I continued, "I'm so tired of this...but if this is what you want... After I leave, I'm not coming back, Kayden. This is your last chance!"
Again I waited. The falling of snow was the only movement in the December weather.
"Say something, dammit!" I shouted, tears falling from my face.
The sound of the door clicking shut sealed everything. It was over.
I fell against the door and felt like I was about to break. I felt like puking all the food I had ever eaten.
"Why is this so fucking hard!" I shouted at no one in particular. Alone with myself, I felt useless and tired.
"I'm so sorry, Zac..."
You're not the fool, Zac. I'm the fool...
The periodic punches to the bag had me hypnotized. The combination of anger, sadness and frustration that had built up all week was being released. I hadn't expected Zac would ring my doorbell. I had been skipping phys-ed, the only class where I might actually have physical contact with Zac.
A hand grabbed my shoulder and I quickly reacted, smacking it away.
Realizing what I had done, I gravely apologized.
"I'm really sorry, Mr. Kaede."
"Kayden, why are you here?" he asked me.
Confused by the question, I tried my best to answer. "I thought you said I could come here to train whenever I wanted to?"
"To cleanse your mind and soul! Not to poison my dojo!" he boomed angrily.
"Your fists are full of anger. This place is not for you. I sense your mind is unwell," he stated sharply.
"How the hell would you know?" I shouted at him, almost regretting it.
"I sensed it."
Smirking, I stared sharply at him. "Bullshit. Don't give me that crap!"
He stretched out his hand. "Konno Baka deshiga! Give me back the key. Until you cure yourself of your poison, I don't want to see you!"
Staring at him, I turned around to my bag and fetched his key.
"Take it!" I spat. I took my stuff and was about to take off.
A sense of peace seemed to fall on him, and he put his hands behind his back. "Karate is a form of fighting; a weapon. People will argue the martial arts are killing techniques. It honestly cannot be described any other way. Long ago, people used it to kill. Kill to protect, so others could live. You are only strong because you fight to protect those important to you. You lose that, and you are left with nothing. You are more foolish than I once thought. I pray you will be back, and by then, you will recall what is important to you. Goodbye, Kayden."
Without another word, I left.
END OF CHAPTER 6
Copyright 2005 Ryan Keith
Sup yo! Lol, jokes peeps.
Yeah, sorry for the long wait. I kinda wanted you sweating in your boots a bit, heh, call me evil. Anyways, I hope this chapter wasn't too intense for you. I guess a lot of character development huh. Don't you feel like kicking Kayden's ass? Guess what? Kayden II is finished!
Okay, initial shock has worn off. No, don't worry Chapter 7 is not the last chapter. What I meant to say is, I've finished the chapters that would conclude Kayden II. I need to focus on my studies a bit more, so I hope the chaps last long enough until summer, if not, then well, hehe, I apologize in advance. Don't worry, there is plenty to write about Zac and Kayden. Don't be too happy, who said anything about the Zac/Kayden situation wrapping up within this series.
So anyways, a few responses for the pics of Kayden and crew. Over the years of planning Kayden, I've always had these people in mind. One or two are pics of real peeps I know, I wont tell you who. The rest are models, and no I don't know their sexual orientations, nor does it matter. I also added my photos of the "One Life" crew. Now a warning, I've known from personal experience that pictures of the characters from the authors perspective have ruined the mental picture of the characters I've had in my imagination. So unless you are really curious, I suggest not looking at the pics until the end of the entire series...Which will be a long time, lol.
So without further ado, here's the link:
Anyways, I hope you guys liked this chap. Stay tune for the next one, a little spoiler: The next chap doesn't really conclude anything either, oh I'm so evil today!
I would like to thank Aaron for his editing and the rest of The Mail Crew for all the work they have done. They are a proud group of boys/young adults who are trying to help gay teens all over.