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.



Kayden and Zac


by Ryan Keith


Chapter 4 Countdown





       A loud noise, like someone dropping something, caught my attention before I could react to what Lenne had just told me. I turned towards the sound and saw one of the women from the photo standing before me with shock registered on her face.


       I didn't know why, but my fear suddenly became pure anger.

       "No, Kevin is my dad," I said to her coldly.

       The woman covered her mouth and looked alarmed. "Zac!"

       I released a piteous sigh. "Well, at least you got my name right. I guess you never expected to see me again, did you?"

       I had no control of what I was doing. The words were coming out of my mouth too fast for me to understand their effect. All I knew was that that was truly how I felt.

       "What's going on?" Lenne asked worriedly.

       "Elly, can you leave Zac and me alone for a few moments?" the woman said, turning to Lenne with tears in her eyes.

       "No! Why don't you tell her? Tell her I'm your son. Tell her about how you wanted to abort me!" I shouted.

       As Lenne exhaled a gasp, I felt something tear at my soul.

       "Is that what Kevin told you?" the woman whispered.

       "No, for some reason Dad has always defended you. I can't figure out why."

       "Zac...I am so sorry..."
       "Whatever." I turned to Lenne, feeling awful because she was involved. "Sorry, Lenne, I don't think I can handle this. I'll see you later."

       I took off. I didn't even bother with my school bag. I had to get out of there before I said something that would hurt Lenne.




       "Elly, let's sit down, okay?" Mom said to me.

       I don't know why, but I couldn't stop crying. I didn't even know why I was crying.

       "I'm sorry, I didn't intend..."

       "Lenne, there's nothing to apologize for. You didn't do anything wrong."

       " it true? Are you really Zac's mom?"

       She smiled sadly at me. "I don't think I have that right. I ran away from Zac and his father because I was weak. I'm a weak, pathetic person, Lenne."

       "Don't say that," I said, shaking my head. "There had to be a reason."

       "There was, but it doesn't excuse what I did, Lenne."

       "Just tell me, please!" I begged. "Make me understand. It has something to do with my parents, too, right? The whole time my mom was alive, she told me how much she loved you, and that it was her fault you had to give up your happiness. What did she mean by that?"

       I watched the tears stream down her face. I knew that what she was about to reveal, if she answered my questions, would not be easy for either of us to handle.



We sat in silence, both of us in tears, and both of us in pain. Why had those things happened? How could God let things like that happen? I didn't really care about those questions, what I cared about was the why.

       "But now, with all this, why haven't you tried to find and contact Zac or his dad?"

       "Lenne, it would have been over twelve years. When I finally got to a place where I could feel worthy of being Zac's mother, he was already becoming a teenager. How could I intrude on his life and say, 'Hi, Zac, I'm your mom'? I had missed out on the years when Zac needed me most. I couldn't intrude on them."

       More tears, as a new hole ripped in me.

       "I felt like I couldn't do it, Lenne. For the longest time, I didn't know what I should do. But then, I found you, and suddenly it was like God had told me what I was supposed to do. I knew that I had to shelter you, that Julie and David would have wanted me to, and that they were watching out for both of us. I truly believed that, and I still do."

       "Maybe they wanted this to happen, too," I said as I took her hands into mine. "I'm your niece, but Zac is your son. It's all too much for it to be a coincidence."

       "But he hates me, Lenne. I'm a weak person, and because..."

       "It's because he doesn't know. I'm sure if he knew whatever the reasons were, he could forgive you. Mom, some kids at school found out Zac had no mother, and tried to make jokes out of it. Do you know how upset he was? I'm sure, deep down, he wants to know you."

       "I don't know, Lenne..."

       "This was bound to happen. It's a sign. You can't run away, anymore."

       My mom just nodded her head.

       "I gotta make a few phone calls. We were going to do a project here, but now I don't think we can start today," I said as I got up. I tried smiling. I had to, for her.



       I saw Zac walking and took a deep breath. I had to fix things.

       "Hey, Zac, we need to talk." I had to squeeze through some people to get to him.

       He turned slightly to look at me, but then turned right back around. "About what?"

       "My mom and..."

       "There's nothing to talk about," he said, and tried to pick up the pace.

       I pushed though, got to him, and managed to pull him into an empty corridor of lockers.

       "What the hell are you doing?" he shouted.

       "Quit acting like a snob. She's really sorry. She told me everything. She tried her best to..."

       "I can't believe it! You're taking her side!"

       I was pissed. "You don't even know how things went down, all right? It's more complicated than you think, but you don't give a damn, do you? All that goes through your head is what you assume about a possible abortion, but guess what? She didn't want to have an abortion, which is why you are still alive."

       "Yeah, only because my grandparents paid her off. I wonder how much I was worth to her," he said with a mocking smirk.

       I was at my limit. I threw a punch.

       Zac stumbled back and crashed into the lockers. He touched his mouth with the back of his hand to see if there was any blood from my blow.

       I knew I had punched hard, and my fist was killing me, but I didn't care.

       "You know what? Screw you," my voice trembled. "All you want to do is hate. You don't even know my mom, so don't go judging her until you do. She's not my real mom, but she's pretty damn close," I said as the tears broke though. "I consider her my mom, and I won't let you speak like that about her. Grow up, Zac, this isn't just about you."

       I couldn't face him anymore, so I turned and left.




       "Hey, man, you ready for this?" I asked Jett.

       He looked at me uncomfortably. "I don't think I can do this."

       I rolled my eyes before I dragged him to the side of the school building, where we wouldn't be seen.

       "Are you backing out on me?"

       "Brad! We can't do this!" Jett begged.

       "You won't be doing anything but keeping Zac busy. That's not too hard, is it?" I said, annoyed, as I ran a hand through my hair. I narrowed my eyes and stared into his. "Maybe I should just tell the next person I see that I have the Jett Emerson sucking my dick? Well, mister hockey captain?"

       Jett swallowed and silently lowered his head.

       "Good boy," I smiled. "Don't feel bad. They're not meant to be a couple. I'm just helping things along. You want this, too, remember? Kayden is your obstacle, too."

       He didn't look up at me, but he nodded.

       I'd been carefully watching Kayden's movements. He followed a consistent pattern. Every Friday we had to submit a sheet with answers to questions that one of our teachers had assigned for the week. Every Wednesday morning, Kayden would come in early to work on them in the library. Only once in a while would Zac be with him while he worked on them. It was time for me to strike.

       "Hey, stranger!" I said as I slipped into the seat in front of Kayden.

       "Brad, what's up, man?" He seemed surprised to see me.

       If Kayden felt any resentment towards me, I couldn't sense it. He seems to be a man who doesn't hold grudges. The fact that he hasn't been openly hostile towards me indicates that he doesn't hate me totally.

       "Actually, I need help!" I told him.

       He looked at me warily and released a small sigh.

       "Calm down...not in math, man," I said, easing his thoughts. "I need help setting up the track."

       "The track? What's wrong with it?"

       "Nothing, really. I joined the track and field team, and the first meet is today. The senior bastards are making me set it up. It's sort of an initiation for the new guys. The guy who was supposed to help me isn't here today."

       "And so you want my help?"

       "Well, yeah. I'm still sort of new, and some people are still giving me the cold shoulder. I saw you come in early, and I just thought maybe you would give me a hand."

       "What exactly do you need help with?" he asked, putting down his pencil. "The track is a track. Nothing to set up."

       "Dude, this is the first meet," I told him. "The school is fixing up the cracks on the track. They do that every year. That's why the first few days are on the field. Today is just the one-hundred-meter tryouts. I need to set the lines with chalk for the senior teams today. You know, with that machine that looks like a miniature lawn mower and drops chalk as you push it."

       He stared at me with one eyebrow raised.

       "I need someone to hold the tape while I lay the chalk. The lines need to be straight, you know?"

       "I need to be working on these questions."

       "Come on, man, I'm asking for a favor. Please?" I begged.

       Kayden released a sigh and then closed his book.



       "Is this about it?" Kayden asked.

       "Yeah, just about. Did it measure one hundred meters?" I asked him.

       "You want to check?" he asked, smiling and handing me the tape.

       "No, I trust your math skills," I grinned.

       "It's a good thing I did the measuring, then," he joked.

       "You shit!" We both laughed. "All right, let's just grab the rest of this stuff and- SHIT!" I shouted as the cold blast hit me.

       Kayden turned to me just as he was also hit by water. The entire field sprinkler system had come on, and we were in the center of the field.

       "Grab the stuff!" I yelled.

       Kayden was already running to retrieve the tape as I grabbed the chalk-walker and the extra bag of chalk that I had made sure would be left over.

       We ran towards the school and out of the water.

       "Shit...fuck!" I swore as I let go of the chalker and ran a hand through my hair.

       "Why the hell did the sprinklers go off?" Kayden asked. We were both soaked though.

       "How the hell am I supposed to know!" I shouted as I threw the bag of chalk to the ground.

       As expected, the bag opened when I threw it. Its contents, with the help of some wind, covered me from my waist down.

       I stood with my mouth gaped open as the chalk cloud settled. I turned to Kayden as he was doing his best not to laugh.

       "Go ahead, laugh," I said, throwing my hands up.

       And that he did. He clutched his stomach and pointed at me. His laughter was music to my ears, and it was cute.

       There were others around, and they were watching us with amusement.


       I grabbed the open bag and threw it at Kayden.

       He was quick to block the bag, but upon impact, the chalk exploded around him. When the chalk settled, Kayden was coughing and was covered in the white dust.

       "Now who's laughing?" I said, crossing my arms.

       "I can't believe you did that!" he said with a smile. "How the hell are we going to class like this?"


       We turned in the direction of the track coach.

       "What the hell is going on, boy?" he demanded.

       "Sorry, Coach," I said. "I thought I could do the track thing this morning before class. I have something to do at lunch and I have appointments after school. I had no other time to do it."

       "Weren't you listening the other day? I told you and Van Lewien to do it only during lunch or after school. I told you the sprinklers would be going off this morning!" he shouted.

       I pretended to be speechless. "Oh, shit..."

       Coach just shook his head.

       "Good job, Canning," Kayden said as he tried to wipe the chalk off himself. "What are we going to do now? We definitely can't go to class like this."

       "Hit the showers, boys," the coach said.

       "We have no clean clothes," I told him.

       "We have extra uniforms in the office. Go grab some before you head off," he said as he walked away.

       "Aww, Coach, can you get them for us?" I shouted out to him. "I can't be seen like this!"

       "Tough, Canning," he said, turning around. "Let this be a lesson to you. Next time you listen instead of checking out the boys, all right?"

       "He knows?" Kade asked.

       "Everyone knows, including his gay brother. He's a teacher here, too."

       "Oh, I know who you're talking about. I take it that was Coach Riley," Kade said as we started walking.

       "Yup, and he's a hardass, but he likes to joke and he's a great coach, from what I hear."

       "Not bad looking, too," Kayden smiled.

       "Yeah, for an old guy."     

       The trip to the office and to the locker rooms was hell, but it was necessary.

       "God, I'm never going to live this down," I said to Kayden as we entered the change room.

       "Yeah, well, lucky for me, no one could recognize me," Kayden joked. He was covered, but you could still tell who he was.

       We placed our borrowed uniforms on a bench and proceeded to undress.

       I checked out Kayden's body as he lifted his shirt. Such a tight body, and it doesn't look like there's an ounce of fat on him. It wasn't a bodybuilder's body like Jett's, but it was defined and packaged quite nicely. Unlike me, he didn't have the full abs, but they were forming. Like me, he had the 'small muscles' look. Not like he was weak or anything, but his tone was similar to mine; a slim, muscled tone.

       I proceeded to take off my pants as Kayden carefully folded his shirt. I didn't see the point, but hey, it spoke volumes of what kind of character Kayden has.

       Before he went for his pants, he turned to meet my eyes. I smiled at him and winked. "Must be my lucky day."

       "Shut up," he laughed. He was blushing a bit, and it was so hot.

       He turned around and removed his pants and boxer briefs, or whatever he was wearing, all in one motion. All I got was a nice look at his ass. He wrapped a towel around himself and turned to me. "Do I need to watch myself around you?"

       He seemed pretty serious.

       "Come on, man, we're both guys, and we're both gay. We're going to see each other eventually," I grinned.

       "That doesn't answer my question," he said bluntly.


       "Calm down, man. I shower all the time with Jett. We're on the same hockey team, remember? Has he said anything about me seducing him?"

       Kayden shook his head.

       Of course not. He can't, he's the straight, hunky hockey captain. He can't afford to be gay.

       "Well then, there's no problem, right?" I said as I pulled off my boxers. I stood a bit proudly, and I noticed Kayden taking a quick look at me. As he looked up, I smiled.

       The shy boy just turned around and walked into the shower area.

       Within moments, we were under separate showerheads, rinsing the chalk from our hair, face and arms. I took a healthy glance at Kayden's body, which was beautiful. A perfect specimen of a youth slowly becoming a man. I felt a familiar tingling sensation as I looked him up and down.

       Kayden had his eyes closed as he let the water flow over his head. He continued to lather his body with the liquid soap the school provides in the showers.

       This is it. If I make the move, he'll latch on. He checked me out, but he's afraid to make the first move. He's scared, he's shy, and soon, he'll be at my fingertips, just like Jett.

       I stepped towards him and was startled by a sudden, deafening siren.

       "What the hell is that?" I shouted.

       The sudden shock completely threw me off. I lost my edge.

       Kayden quickly rinsed the suds from his face and body and shut off his shower.

       "Get moving, man," he said, grabbing his towel. "It's the fire alarm."

       It took us two minutes to get dressed, and then we ran out of the building like it really was on fire. The fire alarm had completely thrown me off my game, and I was not even thinking properly.

       Just my luck... Damn, that was going to be perfect...



       "Did anything happen?"

       I didn't need to turn around to know who it was.

       "Almost, but we were interrupted," I told Jett. "Another time."

       "It's not going to happen. Kayden isn't like that."

       "You, my friend, don't know enough about guys," I said, turning to him. There was too much going on around us for anyone to really understand our exchange. "Every guy has his threshold. You just gotta find it."

       Jett just shook his head as if doubting me.

       "Remember, you just follow orders. I don't need your input. You just do as you're told, and your fame remains untarnished," I reminded him.

       He stared hard at me for a moment before walking away.




       "Do you want to tell your dad?"

       Zac just shook his head. My sullen boyfriend had told me what had happened at Lenne's house on Friday. I had tried to call him over the weekend and even visit him, but he was never home. He even refused to tell me where he had been. He found me before lunch and told me he couldn't eat lunch in the cafeteria, so I joined him outside. Once there, he told me everything, including what had happened that morning with Lenne.

       "Why do I feel like the bad guy?" Zac asked me.

       "I'm really sorry, Zac..."

       "Why are you apologizing to me?" he snapped.

       I didn't know why, but it seemed like the right thing to do.


       Zac ran his hands through his hair and stood up. A low, agonized groan escaped from him and he turned to me. "Look, Kade, you have nothing to apologize for, okay? I didn't mean to snap at you like that. I'm sorry."

       I stared Zac in the eyes, refusing to look away or blink. "I love you."

       A smile crept across his face and he breathed a sigh before sitting down beside me. "What would I do without you?" His hand brushed mine and I didn't hesitate to take it.

       "You'd be out here by yourself, probably ripping the hair from your head."

       He laughed. Progress!

       "Oh, how bright you are. Did you think up that one all by yourself?" Zac teased me.

       "Shut up," I said, laughing.

       "Make me!"

       I paused for a second and watched the wind caress Zac's face, as his hair, which was ungelled, blew in the wind.

       "I would if I could. Man, do I wish I could," I said to him.

       "Me too," he whispered.

       I continued to watch his hair blow in the wind. It looked quite funny, actually.

       "You really need a haircut," I told him.

       "Let's go to your house," he said, winking at me.

       I laughed. "Sure, I'll make some pasta tonight."

       Zac released my hand and stood up. "I mean now. Let's skip!"

       "Zac," I said exasperatedly, "again? We're going to be booked!"

       "I don't care," he said, turning away. "I need this. I can't go to my next class right now."

       I got up and walked beside him. "You're going to get me into trouble. That's my job, remember?"
       "Let's go, gangster," he said, heading towards my bike.

       "Let me grab the helmets; be right back," I said, taking off towards the school.

       "Hurry, gangster," Zac said, biting his bottom lip as he winked.

       I thought that was pretty cheesy, but all the same, cute. I couldn't wait to get Zac home.

       "Kayden!" Lenne called out to me as I was walking towards my locker area. She didn't wait for me to greet her.

       "How's Zac doing?" she asked immediately.

       "To tell you the truth, he's a bit confused."

       She let out a big sigh. "So he told you, huh?"

       "I told Mai. She was stumped by Zac's reaction, but she says this is something she can't interfere with," Lenne said.

       "And you understand that I can't help, either. It's not my place to. I can only be there for Zac, like Mai is there for you," I told her.

       "I was hoping you'd say that. I believe it would be best if Zac and I deal with this ourselves, without everyone else worrying. I just hope everyone understands. Everything is so weird right now, and Brad won't sit with us," she said sadly.

       "Hey," I said, putting an arm around her shoulder, "don't worry about it. Brad odd guy, but our friends will understand. You should probably tell them. Let them know the facts, and tell them what you told me. They won't interfere."

       "Thanks, Kayden," she smiled. "Make sure Zac's okay, all right? I really do care about him, and I know he'll eventually cool down. I know I can be stubborn sometimes, too, and who knows, stubbornness might be a common gene that Zac and I got from our mothers."

       Lenne gave me a quick peck on the cheek before taking off.

       It hadn't crossed my mind before, but she had made the point that she and Zac are cousins.




       "So, your aunt, your adoptive mom, is Zac's mom?" Scott asked.

       I nodded. I didn't know why, but I was crying again. I was just so sad at how things were turning out.

       "Oh, Lenne," Maya said, hugging me, "we're not upset with you. You don't need to be sad."

       "I know," I said, "but I just feel horrible. You guys don't know everything there is to know. I can't tell you...not until I tell Zac. I feel like this might tear everyone apart, so I think it's best..."

       "You're not leaving our circle, girl," Jett said, leaning forward. "You're not tearing us apart."

       "He's right," Shin jumped in. "We all know how much Zac is angry with...uh...Diana, but the fact is, he doesn't know her. He's bound to feel confused and angry. Jett, Scott and I know Zac best, and we know he'll come around."

       Mai smiled at her boyfriend before wrapping her arms around him.

       Shin reverted back to the smothered boy in love, in an instant. I could hardly believe he'd just told me that.

       "But, I don't want you guys to have to choose between us, and you guys were Zac's friends first. I don't see how any of us can be happy together until Zac decides to listen."

       "It won't happen," Scott stated.

       "We won't let it," Kayden added.

       We all turned to the new arrivals. Zac was in tow behind Kayden, and he was trying not to look at me. I knew he was probably feeling upset with me.

       "Don't leave, Lenne," Zac whispered. "You shouldn't have to. Let's just not talk about it, okay?"

       "See!" Mai beamed. "Everything will be all right."

       I smiled weakly at Zac, but he never looked my way. He just sat down next to Kayden and stared blankly at the table.

       What can I do? I hit him. How can he forgive me after that? But wait, he said some pretty crappy things about my mom...

       Zac looked up and caught me staring at him. I didn't realize I was staring until I saw his brown eyes. Immediately, I looked away.

       "Anyways, I was at Jett's last game," Scott was saying. I was lost in the moment and didn't realize the gang was just chatting away. "I told Shin they should have a hot dog stand in the arena, and he suddenly stood up and yelled 'Hotdog!' in a heavy Japanese accent. I swear to God, it was totally random. Everyone stared at him as he sat down."

       Everyone laughed, except Zac and me.

       "And then this guy behind me whispers, 'What the fuck was that about?' and his wife says to him, 'Is that child drunk?'. I swear they were going to call security on Shin."

       Shin howled with laughter, causing everyone else to laugh.

       "Where were we?" Mai asked.

       "It was when all you girls went to the washroom in a wolf pack," Scott teased.

       The talk continued and I tried to follow what they were saying. I looked up and noticed Zac was staring at me, but then he looked away.

       "So, Lenne, when should we reschedule a day to work on the project?" Shin asked me.

       It felt like a ton of bricks had hit me. Zac was in the group for that project, so I didn't know how we were going to work on it, considering the problem he and I were having.

       I noticed Jett grabbing his forehead as if he knew it was a slipup on Shin's part. I could see it was a topic he would rather have avoided, but it was going to present itself eventually.

       "Well, I guess we can do some planning after school. Would you guys..."

       "It's all right," Zac said. "I asked Mr. Klobe if I can do an independent project."

       For a few seconds, the only sound was from the rest of the students in the cafeteria.

       "You didn't have to do that, man," Scott said.

       "It wouldn't have worked out, Scott," Zac said. "You know it wouldn't. It would just...I don't know."

       "Zac, it doesn't need to be like this, man," Jett said. "We know there's something up, and none of us will interfere, and we won't take sides. Let's just leave it alone until..."

       He didn't finish the sentence. How could he? Leave it alone until what?

       "Until what?" Zac asked, crossing his arms. "Until it blows up in our faces? Shit, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."

       No one said anything else, and I felt the wetness on my cheeks.

       "Thanks, guys. I know you're all trying," I said, and stood up.

       "Lenne, no!" Mai begged.

       "But it's true. We can't just sit around waiting for this to blow up in our faces. Zac knows as much as I do that the problem isn't going away by ignoring it. The more we try to ignore it, the more it will just tear us apart."

       "Then I should be the one to leave, Lenne," Zac said, getting up, "not you. You stay!"


       "Are you going to argue over this, too, Lenne?" he asked.

       "Zac, you're staying. I know what you're trying to do, and I won't let you. I would feel horrible. So don't feel bad, okay? He's not chasing me away, guys, so don't treat it like he is. I'm...I'm just taking a break, I guess," I tried to say through my tears.

       I couldn't stay any longer; it was too much.

       I love my mom, and I care about Zac. Why couldn't he understand? If he just knew the facts, he would understand, but he didn't want to listen.




       "Maybe we both need breaks," I told them, when no one said anything after Lenne had left.

       "What the fuck, man?" Scott said. "Don't do this to us."

       "It's for the best, Scott. That way, no one is hurt by all this. I think Lenne and I both need time to be alone."

       I grabbed my bag.

       "Well, then at least I'm going with you," Kayden said. "You need some kind of support, and I don't see why I shouldn't be the most suitable candidate."

       I smiled at my boyfriend, and our friends seemed to agree with him.

       "Well, fine... I'm just the best friend, but, hey!" Jett joked.

       We all laughed at that, but I knew that Jett did understand. I thought Jett had been acting a bit out of character lately, but it didn't seem like anything serious.

       "I think Lenne should have me by her side," Mai said, getting up.

       "Does that mean none of us can get involved until all this gets sorted out?" Maya asked.

       "Seems like it," Scott said, shifting over to her.

       "This doesn't mean I'm angry with you, Mai. I know you want to be a shoulder for Lenne, and I'm happy that you do. She does need a friend, and there's no one better for the job than you. We're still friends, okay?" I said.

       Mai smiled. "It's just until this blows over, right?"

       "So, I guess we'll hold down the fort?" Scott smiled.

       "I'll watch over him," Shin said, totally serious.

       How could we not laugh? The bell sounded, and at that moment I knew our group was taking a small break. I didn't feel sad. I knew there was something I was missing in the whole puzzle, but somehow I knew we would all be together again.



       "Zac," someone called out as I walked down the stairs.

       I turned to meet Joe jumping the stairs by twos. He had been in Kayden's and my English class last semester.

       "Hey, man," I smiled. "What's up?"

       He looked serious. "Something important." He looked around and pulled me towards the nearest exit.

       "What's going on?"

       "Don't worry, man, I just wanna make sure we're safe from curious ears," he said.

       "Well, what's up?"

       "You're gay, that's what's up," he said, still looking around.

       I froze. How does he know?

       "What are you..."

       "I know, Zac, and I covered your ass for you. Me and this other guy happened to catch Kayden holding your hand outside the other day. You were sitting on the stone benches. I convinced the guy he was seeing things, but for sure, I saw it, too. I just wanted to warn you to be careful, not scare you."

       A million thoughts ran through my head.

       We weren't careful! It was when I told Kade about Diana.

       "I just thought you should know that if you guys want to be quiet about it, then you gotta play the straight part. Anyone could have easily seen what me and the other guy saw, and they might not take it as well as I did."

       "I- I don't know what to say."

       "I don't care what you say, man, just be careful. I mean, it's none of my business who you date and stuff, but some people would use that against you. But just in case, you can depend on me, all right?"

       "Thanks, Joe...seriously."

       "It's okay, man. I can't say I understand, but hey, like I said, it ain't my business. Anyone else know?"

       "Well, our close circle of friends know," I said to him as I swapped the weight of my bag to the other shoulder.

       "I figured as much," he said, nodding approvingly. "I know you guys are tight. But just so you know, I'll support you if you guys ever do come out. I know about Brad, and I think he needs a close friend. He's a bit arrogant, but maybe having a normal friend like me might bring him down a notch."

       "Well, good luck with that, man," I laughed.

       "I know. I've heard quite a bit about him, but still, he needs friends the same as the rest of us. I'll see ya later, okay, Hunter?"

       "All right, Joe, take it easy."

       Joe is a great guy. Everyone knows him, and everyone is friendly to him. In a way, he's like a leader, with a pack to lead. People listen to him; he has a personality you can't argue with. It might be a good thing for Brad if Joe wants to be his friend. Based on what I've seen in our drama class, Brad is still being treated like he has a disease, but that attitude is slowly going away. I know we can never be friends, not with the way he's after Kayden. And not after what he said to me.




       I took another drag and rested my arm on my bent knee. My head was spinning after the last hit. I leaned back against the couch and looked towards the bathroom door as it opened.

       The larger boy walked out with a towel held snugly around his waist. He walked towards me as he dried his hair with another towel. He paused, sniffed around the room, and then looked towards me, his eyes narrowed and fiery.

       "Are you smoking up?" Jett questioned as he lowered the towel from his head.

       I exhaled the smoke. "What's it to you?"

       "I don't like it," he said immediately.

       "There's a lot about me you don't like, but do you think I care?" I asked him through my smile.

       "It's not healthy," Jett said, stating the obvious.

       "Yeah, well, neither are drugs, but that doesn't stop me," I joked.

       He stared at me like I was out of my mind. "Do you know what all that crap can do to you?"

       "Yeah," I chuckled, "enhance smell, taste...hell, even sex."

       Jett shook his head at me like I was a foolish kid. He turned around and dropped both towels, then grabbed the briefs he'd discarded earlier and hastily put those on.

       "What?" I accused.

       "I don't know why I even try to help you..." he began.

       I leaned forward and laughed. "First off, you're not helping me, nor did I ask for your help. We're just simply fulfilling a contract. You do what I say, and I don't go telling people Jett Emerson is a fag."

       I noticed him twitch.

       Shit, maybe I went too far.

       He quickly turned to me and advanced. I knew that if he threw a punch, even if I tried to block it, he'd land a blow.

       He grabbed the weed from my mouth and immediately extinguished it in the ashtray.

       "What the fuck are you doing, you fuck?" I swore.

       "Just because you don't care about your own health doesn't mean I'll let you fuck with mine," he said fiercely.

       "Asshole, it's just smoke, you won't die from it. You need to fucking chill," I said, grabbing the toke and making sure it was okay.

       "You know what? I'm outta here," he said as he pulled up his pants. He grabbed his socks and shoved them into his pockets before squeezing his feet into his shoes. He grabbed his shirt and left, still topless.

       Well, a nice show for the neighbours, I guess.

       I watched as he slammed the door.

       Jett has a nice ass and such a tight figure. It isn't something I can just take from him. That would be too mean, even for me, and it would basically be rape on my part. I get what I want, but there are limits to these things. That dude in Toronto wanted it all, and I gave it to him. But with Jett...

       I threw the weed at the ashtray.

       Good job, Hercules. I ran a hand through my hair. I didn't feel like getting high anymore.

       There was no use thinking about it. Jett's body was good enough to explore until I could get my hands on Kayden. Jett's amazing, but Kayden will be better.




       No homework, no Kayden, no gang, and no work scheduled at Tim Hortons. My life was looking rather dull. I sat in my room for a couple of hours and tried to read, but nothing was sinking in. I strummed on my guitar for an hour, but that got boring. I even tried playing some games. Shin had left the game I bought him, the last time the gang was over, but it wasn't the same without Shin kicking my ass.

       "This sucks," I said out loud.

       "Well, where're your friends?" the familiar voice asked.

       "They're all busy, Dad," I said, leaning back in my chair. Instead of turning around, I lazily tilted my head back all the way to see my dad leaning on my doorframe. "When did you get home?"
       "Just now. What do you want for dinner, bud?"

       "Nothing too heavy. I had a sandwich just a while ago, and I'm not that hungry."

       "All right," Dad said in his waiter tone. "Will that be all, sir?"

       "I think so, chap," I said, playing along. "Put it on the tab, all right?"

       He chuckled before turning to go. "Right on it."

       "Wait!" I said, jumping up. I turned to face my dad, who again leaned lazily against my doorframe.

       "Is there something else, sir?" He smiled broadly.

       I thought for a minute before I decided to just screw it and push forward.

       "If you knew where Diana was," I began, noticing Dad's features change immediately, "would you want to meet her again?"

       He looked towards the floor and released a breath. He stepped in and sat on my bed. Leaning forward and placing his arms on his knees, he nodded. "All right, you got my attention. What's up?"

       "Nothing!" I replied immediately.

       "What's with the Diana question?" he asked as he raised an eyebrow.

       I shrugged. "Just curious..."

       He drummed his fingers for a second before he suddenly stopped. "I guess I wouldn't."

       "What? Why?" I asked.

       "Well, aren't you the curious one? I guess the reason is, since she hasn't contacted me in all these years, she probably doesn't want to see me. I mean, she could easily find out where I am. I guess the passing of all these years, with no contact, simply means she's moved on, so I should move on, too."

       I raised my head a bit. "You mean you still haven't moved on?" I asked, pushing a bit farther. I knew he hadn't, but I wanted to hear it from him. What I had overheard during his dream didn't count. I was hoping it didn't count.

       "Well, now that you've brought the subject out in the open... No, I guess I haven't, but I really should."

       Nothing more was exchanged between us. Dad got up and headed for the door.

       "Wanna help me get dinner ready?" he asked as he headed out.

       I had nothing better to do, so I answered, "Sure, why not?"



[Street fighter-101]:So you aren't gonna tell him?

       I was chatting with Kayden over the `net. He had a pretty interesting name, but I guess mine wasn't any better.

[Flyboy]:I couldn't.

[Street fighter-101]:Why's that?

[Flyboy]:Cause it's probably better they don't meet. Dad said he wouldn't want to meet her given the chance.

[Street fighter-101]:But what about you? She's your mom.

       For some reason, that struck a nerve.

[Flyboy]:She never actually raised me, so she isn't any more than a stranger to me.

[Street fighter-101]:You know what I mean. If nothing happens, then nothing's going to change between Lenne and you. And the rest of the gang is missing us.

[Flyboy]:Well what do you expect me to do?

       I was getting angry.

[Flyboy]:Forgive her? Say it's water under the bridge?

[Street fighter-101]:Do you really want to just give up on her? I'm sure there is something missing that you want to know. An explanation?

[Flyboy]:How about -- she freaked out!

[Street fighter-101]:All I'm saying is that you should give her a chance. Not many people get to make up with their mothers. At least you have one now.

       That was the first time Kayden had even mentioned anything that seemed to be about his family.

[Street fighter-101]:You might just be misunderstanding. And if you are, then you're wasting time not doing anything about it.

[Flyboy]:I don't want to talk about it, okay? Just let me worry about it.

[Street fighter-101]:I thought I was supposed to be helping you with this.

[Flyboy]:Yeah, as support, Kade.

       I was really starting to fume. I knew I wasn't angry with my boyfriend, though.

[Flyboy]:Not telling me what to do.

[Street fighter-101]: I'm not telling you what to do. I'm just laying out different options.

[Flyboy]:Well stop giving me options then. It's just pissing me off.

       For a few minutes, Kayden didn't reply. I was starting to wonder whether I was being a bit mean.

[Street fighter-101]:OK. It's late...I gotta get some sleep.

       I felt like shit.

[Flyboy]:Wait, Kade.

<Street fighter-101> has logged off. Your message could not be sent to him/her.

       "Shit!" I said aloud.

       I grabbed the phone and dialed his number. After ten rings, I knew he was mad. I hung up and felt like throwing the phone out the window.

       Good job, asswipe. Way to chase away the only one who knows what you're going through.

       There was no use trying to stay up to think about it. I tried to sleep, but there was no point in that, either. Life is just full of fucking surprises.



       "What's wrong, Hunter?" Brad said, sneaking up on me. "Trouble in paradise?"

       We were in drama class, and the teacher was talking to two other students about an act they were putting together.

       "Fuck off, Brad. I'm not in the mood," I said coldly to him.

       He laughed. "I guess I'm right on target. What's wrong, someone won't return your calls?"

       How did he guess that?

       "I don't get these stupid quadratic functions. You have the same teacher, right?" he said, producing his textbook out of nowhere. "Help me out with this?"

       "Help yourself. I'm not in the mood," I said, again coldly. That was odd. I was being a lot more moody than I had ever been.

       "Alrighty, then," he said, closing the book, "guess I can ask Kayden later on."

       I felt like he'd just kicked me in the nuts.

       "Go ahead, I don't own him," I said bitterly.

       "Oh, so you approve, then?" he said with a smile.

       I glared at him before moving away to the other side of the room. If I hadn't moved away when I did, I would have nailed him with my fist.



       I waited impatiently for Kayden, outside the cafeteria. People from my other classes passed me with a few words of greeting and pleasantries. I was glad to see recent problems didn't affect how I acted towards other people. My lashing out seemed to be limited to people who actually care about me.

       My gut was tumbling. I felt horrible for basically slapping Kayden in the face when he tried to help me.

       "Hey, Zac," Mai said, stepping out through the doors. "Lenne and I noticed you just standing here. Wanna join us? Just for lunch?"

       I turned to my friend and smiled, just for her. "Thanks, Mai, but I don't think I can." I looked towards Lenne, who watched us from inside the cafeteria. "It's still sort of awkward, you know? I still need to figure stuff out."
       Mai nodded her head. "Sure thing, baby." A hint of sadness showed behind her smile. "Give me a hug, okay?"

       I gave her a gentle hug and she wrapped her arms around me like I was going away.

"We all miss you, Zac. The gang's not the same with you and Lenne taking a break, and Kade and me backing out to be with you two. We know you need some time alone, so take all the time you need, okay? Everyone will be waiting."

       Mai smiled as she stepped back and headed inside.

       I truly felt gratitude towards my friends. I knew for sure they wanted Lenne and me to work everything out, but they cared about me enough to let me get my thoughts organized. It was actually taking more time than I thought. The events involving Lenne and her mom had happened more than a few days before that, but none of them seemed to be pushing me to just make up with Lenne. No one but Kayden, anyways. I suppose he doesn't know me as well as Scott, Jett, and Shin do. I rarely get upset, but I can be a real pain in the neck to deal with when I do get all upset.

       I looked at my watch and then decided to head towards the library. There are only three places a student can be during the lunch periods: class, the cafeteria, and the library.

       "Boy, you move fast, don't you?" I said to Brad as I stepped up to the table.

       Brad sat next to Kayden as they both were looking at a math textbook.

       "Zac," Kayden whispered, "what's wrong?"

       "You said I could ask Kayden for help, Zac," Brad said, smiling curtly as he took a bite of a piece of bread. "Remember?"

       "Brad said you wanted me to help him with his homework. You did tell him that, didn't you?" Kayden asked.

       Technically, I had, but I could see how Brad took advantage of my mood swing that morning to set this up. I took a deep breath and then exhaled.

       "You know what, don't worry about it," I told them both. "I sort of did, actually. I'll see you guys later."

       I heard Kayden call out my name, but I just turned around and walked out.

       I wasn't mad at Kayden, and I knew I was being an ass. When I'm pressured with a lot of things at once, I lose my cool. Doesn't happen often, but when it does, I never know how to deal with it. I just hoped Kayden didn't feel like I was mad at him. I knew Brad was trying to steal him away, but I also knew Kayden wouldn't fall for any tricks. I decided I wasn't going to let something like that beat me.

       Before I realized it, I was outside. I looked around and then took a seat at the stone benches. I didn't even sense Kayden sneaking up on me.

       "I'll assume you didn't hear me calling," he said, taking a seat.

       I just about jumped out of my skin when he did that, but I didn't let it show. It was one of those times when something surprises you, but you don't want to show it.

       "Are you angry with me?" I asked him.

       "Not particularly," he replied, "but I'm not too fond of being attacked when I'm trying to help."

       That hurt.

       "You know I didn't mean it," I began.

       "And I know you're just confused right now," he cut in as he turned to me, "which is why I'm not particularly upset with you."

       "What Brad did was just surprising at the moment," I told him. "I guess he sensed I was in a bad mood this morning and he took advantage of that."

       "Well, poster boy will have to figure out his math by himself for today. I really wanted to find you during lunch, but he told me you said..."

       "It doesn't really matter," I said, smiling to him. "You're here now."

       For a minute of our lunch break, Kayden and I just stared into each other's eyes. I could feel the care radiating from him.

       "So, let's carry on from last night," Kayden said, brushing my hand softly. "How long do you plan to wait on this?"

       I didn't reply.

       "I mean, Lenne is for sure in the same boat as you, but I think she's waiting for you to let all this finally sink in. You can't expect her to wait forever. And don't forget about her mom. If Lenne's any indication of what her mom feels right now, I'd say her mom is clearly a mess."

       I remained silent.

       "What are you thinking about?" he asked.

       "Nothing..." I lied.

       My boyfriend took my hand. "How long will it take for us to finally trust each other? I promised to be a better boyfriend, Zac, and I want to be honest with you. Tell me what's on your mind."

       I released a great sigh. "I'm thinking there's no easy way out of this. My only options are speaking to Diana first, or telling my dad and then speaking to Diana. I don't see any good in either option. If I see Diana first, I know I'll say something I'll regret. I'm afraid I might hurt my dad if I tell him I found her. He thinks she's forgotten about him, Kade, but clearly she hasn't. And that's what confuses me; she almost seemed torn apart before I left. It was like she...she cared about me."

       I stood up. I was too wired. I didn't know what to do, and that fact was making problems on its own.

       "I know our friends are worried about us, and I don't want that to happen. Plus, with work on the weekends and my proposal for communications class and not being able to focus on any of my homework... Then, on top of all of that, Brad finds space to tick me off. It's all just getting too much for me. I want everything to just calm the fuck down!" I yelled.

       "Zac..." Kayden said, stepping up to me. I knew he was aiming to wrap me in his arms.

       "Don't touch me, Kade!" I said a bit too forcefully.

       Shock registered clearly on his face.

       "I didn't mean it that way," I said immediately. "Joe, from our English class last semester, saw us the other time. He knows about us, now. He said he'll keep quiet, and he's pretty cool, but we need to be careful."

       A breathtaking smile crept up on Kayden's face, and I felt a wave of relief wash over me.

       "Well, I'm glad you stopped me, `cause I would definitely have gone for a kiss after I hugged you."
       I beamed.

       "And no, we're not going to skip, today, so don't even try to suggest it," Kayden said firmly.     

       I laughed at his serious facial expression, and that got a chuckle out of him.

       "We can go to your house after school, though," he added. 

       "I have swim team practice after school. Dad's dropping me off."

       "Oh, crap, and I'm teaching today at the dojo. I just now remembered," my forgetful angel declared.     

       Kayden had started teaching the beginner karate classes soon after he'd gotten his motorcycle license.

       "I can't wait to get my learner's permit," I said, looking up into the sky. "But even then I won't be allowed to drive alone for another year, until I take the G2 test. It'll be a while until I can finally drive both of us places."

       "Well, for now, my bike is enough," Kayden smiled. "By the way, Scott and Maya passed their G1 tests."

       I missed having normal chats with my friends. I wished all my problems could just go away.




       "You should eat more than just that, man," Jett said as he watched me push my plate away.

       He had insisted on cooking dinner, which I let him do. He went all out, with a pasta meal, salad and garlic bread.

       "I've had enough, thanks," I replied sarcastically. How the hell did he expect me to eat all of that? His plate was loaded like a mountain, plus he had almost a whole plate of salad. "Are you trying to make me fat?"

       He finished chewing before opening his mouth. "Man, I've seen what you eat. You barely get enough nutrients."

       I rolled my eyes. "Dude, it's not like I purge my food. I just don't want to be fat, again, so I avoid eating carbs after six."

       "You weren't a fat kid. You were just a bit chubby, like most of us, including me."

       "Whatever," I said, as I got up from the table. I hate talking about my past. It reminds me how weak and pathetic I was. I make sure I never forget, but I don't like other people remembering. I want them to see me as I am now, with the looks, the money, and the body.

       "You know, if you would eat more, you wouldn't lose half those fights you get into on the ice," Jett pointed out.

       That was a low blow. "It's because of the gloves and the gear, man. If it was on solid ground and where I could move freely, I could kick all their asses."
       Jett smiled.

       "Bastard! You doubt me, don't you?" I accused him. He was starting to piss me off. "You wanna go, Jett? I bet I can take you on."

       Jett just shook his head and released a laugh. "Oh, no, I'd be too afraid to take on Brad Canning," he said mockingly.

       "Why are you even here? I didn't invite you," I said to him as I put my plates in the sink.

       "I had nothing better to do. Zac and Lenne are both busy with stuff, Scott and Maya are probably on a date, Shin and Mai are nowhere to be found, and Kayden is teaching at some karate dojo."

       "Kayden does karate?" I asked with surprise, turning to Jett.

       Of course he does. He didn't catch my fist out of pure luck. That guy is skilled.

       "Yeah," Jett said hesitantly. "It's the one on Consumer Road. It's not big; it's a private one, I think.

       "I think I just found my next plot," I announced.

       "Just don't hurt any of them," he said immediately.

       "Of course not!" I said. "No one gets hurt. Not physically, anyways. I need you in my plans. The only way this will work is with you being ready for the rebound. Why you even like Zac is beyond me."
       "Some people are attracted to the weirdest things," Jett said as he shrugged his shoulders. "I honestly don't see what's so great about Kayden. Just remember, though, before you do anything, you gotta tell me. `Cause the moment I sense either of them is in trouble because of your game, I'm outing your schemes."

       "Will you calm the fuck down?" I replied, trying to regain the upper hand. "No one's going to get hurt. You're so fucking protective. Ease up. Remember, I make the calls. I'm the one who can out you to the school. Keep that in mind."

       Jett didn't say anything else as I went towards my room to slip on something more comfortable.




       "Zac, get the door, man," Dad called out. "I've got my hands full."

       "I'm on it," I said, scaling down the stairs.

       I felt an icy hand grip my spine when I saw who it was.

       "What are you doing here?" I demanded. 

       "Zac, I'm sorry. I know you don't want to see me, but Elly insisted..." Diana began.

       "MOM!" Lenne retorted.

       The older woman looked absently around before meeting up to my eyes. I stared her down and she glanced away.

       "Do you think we can talk for a bit, Zac? There is something you need to know."

       "We're not leaving until you understand, Zac," Lenne said, stepping up beside her mom. "You think my mom's a monster, but you're wrong, and I'm not leaving until I prove it."

       "Can you be any louder? Lower your voice, the neighbours will hear!" The neighbours were the least of my concerns.

       "Zac, who's at the door, buddy?" Dad asked, stepping out into the hallway. He began to approach.

       "No one," I shouted back, already closing the door.

       "Zac! Wait!" Lenne shouted

       "Isn't that one of your friends?" Dad approached with a questioning look on his face.

       "It was no one," I told him.

       Lenne pushed the doorbell fiercely.

       "It's somebody, son," Dad said, stepping forward, "and it sounds like Lenne."

       "It's just a stupid saleslady," I insisted. "Your cooking is burning!"

       "Dinner is ready, Zac, and the food is on the table. Go wash up and I'll deal with the saleslady." Dad gave me his confident smile.

       "Open the door, Zac!" Lenne shouted behind the door.

       "No!" I yelled back.

       I watched as my father's face became somber. "Who's at the door, Zac?"

       "No one!" My voice trembled.

       "How does this saleslady know your name?"

       Lenne kept ringing the doorbell relentlessly.

       "Go away!" I yelled. My voice boomed over the bell and the ringing stopped. I was breathing hard, my heart pounding in my chest. Just go away!

       "Zac, move away from the door," Dad firmly demanded.

       "No..." I whispered.

       "Zachary!" Dad shouted sharply.

       I felt my whole body tense up. He had used that tone with me on only a few occasions. Those usually were when Scott got the guys and me involved in his trouble.

       As if calling my full name automatically controlled me, I stepped forward and away from the door. Dad stepped around me and reached for the door handle. It suddenly dawned on me that I was crying.

       The seconds that it took for Dad to open the door felt like an eternity. I sealed my eyes shut against the situation that was inevitably approaching.

       "Di...ana..." Dad whispered.

       At that moment, I knew nothing in my life would ever be the same.





Copyright August 2005 by Ryan Keith



Hey guys, another cliffhanger unfortunately. But If I made this chapter any longer, I'd have to split it into two, and you wouldn't want that now would you? Now for the question, who is the victim here? Lenne or Zac. You decide! Brads up to his old tactics, unfortunately for him, plan fails again. Actually nothing more to comment on in this chapter. Maybe I'm just tired, lol.

Let's see. What's new with me...
Oh I hate work...I want to go back to school. Can't wait for September! But not looking forward to it really either. In a few weeks, I won't be 19 anymore, and I feel like I'm crossing over. Sorry, didn't mean to make it sound so dramatic, I know there are older age groups reading my stuff, but I've just come to love being 19 for so long, I don't want to turn 20! I used to tease friends on their 20th b-day. When they were all giddy and happy, I'd crush them by just saying, "Congrats...But don't you feel old?" Yeah I'm cruel! I'm going to lock myself at home on my birthday, because friends don't forget these sort of things. And I'm not looking forward to whatever they have planned for me...
So yeah, wish me luck for the transition into adulthood, and for those who haven't reached it yet, I'll see you when you get here :P


Thanks to my editor Aaron and thanks to that gang of his at The Mail Crew for hosting my stories. They do great work, so be sure to check out their site.