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Loner: Birthday-Part II

"Oh you know you can just be so dumb sometimes, Tasha," Salene said to her friend, getting out of the car.

Tasha laughed, defiantly lifting her chin. "You want me to come in, wish Hunter a happy birthday?" she offered.

"You don't have to," Salene explained, "Your giving me a ride here was more than enough."

"Alright," Tasha brushed her hair behind her ear, "Wish him a happy birthday for me then, huh?"

"Sure," Salene smiled, closing the door. She gave Tasha a wave, and Tasha lightly beeped the horn.

Salene turned back towards her house when she heard behind her, "Hey, Salene." She whipped back around and saw Nokomis's cute cousin, Ahmik wave to her from Nokomis's yard. She practically melted upon seeing the dark-eyed Chippewa teen run to her. He immediately caught her up in a hug which she fully expected. He laid a kiss on her head.

"So our move is official now," he told her. "We moved in about 3 blocks from here. So I can come see you everyday?" he ended his statement with a question, looking down at her.

Salene smiled, "Of course!" She lifted her chin, and the two met for a short kiss. "Let's go inside! It's Hunter's birthday. Seems like he won't be the only one with a gift!" She started towards the side door, but Ahmik pulled her back.

"So you mean, you'll go out with me?" he smiled widely.

Salene nodded, "As if you didn't know. Come on in. We got cake and such for Hunter, and we'll be ordering Chinese. It's his favorite."

"Okay," Ahmik smiled, taking Salene's hands in his. The two slowly walked to the side door. Salene opened the door, and the two entered the kitchen to find Jas, Nokomis, Dal, Helena and Sal all sitting around the table eating in a nasty silence. They all turned their heads towards the door expectantly; however, they all quickly lost interest realizing it wasn't Hunter.

"What's wrong with everyone?" Salene broke the silence. Ahmik quietly closed the door behind them.

Helena looked up at Salene with a weary expression, "Guess who showed up today?"

Salene saw her mother's expression, her dad's deep frown, and heard the biting sarcasm that filled Helen's question. She closed her eyes for a few moments, calming herself before she lightly answered, "Gary."

Sal nodded, "He went off somewhere with Gary -- that was almost two hours ago." He turned towards Dal and reached out a long arm. He scooped up some duck sauce and put it on his lo mein.

"Wait," Salene began, "Why would Hunter ever agree to go off somewhere alone with Gary. I thought he didn't trust him."

"Apparently, he went with Lalo because Lalo said that he would tell Hunter the truth," Jas filled in.

"Then he'll know?!" Salene exclaimed.

"Know what?" Ahmik asked, confused by all the conversation that had as yet been going on. His simple question seemed to bring a lighter mood to the whole room.

Salene shook her head at him, "Me and Nokomis will explain everything to you later, `k?" Ahmik nodded and gently pulled Salene into himself, rubbing her shoulders.

"Ahem," Helena cleared her throat casting her weary glance on Ahmik, "Who might you be, young man, since you obviously know my daughter quite well?" As usual, she played the part of perfect hostess.

"I'm Nokomis's cousin, Brian but I go by my middle name, Ahmik," Ahmik answered her. He walked himself and Salene over to the peninsula so that they could sit down. Sal gave Ahmik the once-over and stuck out a paw, "I'm Sal."

"Nice to meet you," Ahmik responded politely and hid his pain as Sal's grip tightened.

"I do wish that we could've beet during better circumstances," Helena frowned. She pointed at the bags of Chinese food on the counter, "You two want anything?"

"Sorry mom, but I'm not really in the mood to eat," Salene rolled her eyes as even in that moment Helena still played perfect hostess.

"Well maybe you are, Ahmik?" Helena asked. Ahmik shook his head and politely declined.

Silence took over the kitchen again, and everyone started to eat again except for Salene and Ahmik. Jas looked at his plate of food and suddenly threw down his fork. He shot out of his seat, "HOW CAN YOU ALL JUST SIT HERE?!!!"

No one answered him. They all just stared at him in shock and surprise. "What's going on with Hunter?!" he explained again and then began quickly babbling to himself, "Why haven't we tried calling him he may not use it but he has a cell phone and we could easily call him and see what's up I mean we shouldn't just sit here on our duffs just waiting for--"

"Jas!" Dal said softly to his brother. "Sit down. Just calm down."

"I don't--" Jas began.

"Want to calm down, but just do it," Dal finished. Jas threw him a defeated look and sat heavily in his chair.

The kitchen door opened, and everyone turned towards it. Hunter came into the kitchen and was surprised to see everyone sitting there with varying expressions written across their faces. Nokomis, Dal, and Jas's were hopeful; whereas, Helena, Sal, and Salene's were all doubtful -- scared, even. He noticed Ahmik sitting at the peninsula next to Salene also holding her hand. Ahmik and Nokomis were the only two to offer him a smile. He closed the door behind him, went over to the table and got what food he wanted. He sat at the peninsula and began eating his food, not looking at anyone.

After a couple of stifling silent moments, it was Helena who decided to break the silence. "So, I take it Lalo told you--"

"Don't speak to me," Hunter interrupted his mother quietly. He looked at her in the eye, "Ever again." He continued to eat while Helena flinched as if he actually struck out at her. She turned away from him and reached out a hand to Sal's, letting out a loud sigh.

"Hunter, don't speak to your mother like that," Sal softly chastised.

Hunter put down his chopsticks, "I wasn't rude, Dad. I didn't take on a tone. And none of you have any right to tell me the best way to behave." Hunter was surprised at how calm he was. He just wanted to finish his food and leave, but before he could do that he wanted to know why his whole family had lied to him.

He looked at Salene, "What made you go along with it? Why did everyone think that feeding me lies would be good at all for me?" Salene looked down at her plate, not answering her brother. Hunter grabbed her hand -- the one that wasn't gripping Ahmik's. "Why did you go along with them?"

Salene was silent for a few moments before she whispered, "Because you were steadily getting worse."

"Worse?" Hunter asked, not knowing what she was talking about.

"Yes, Hunter, worse. You started to tell me these stories about these cruel things Gary did to you. About how he outed you to your friends and basically the whole school. How he lied about being with you. That he secretly bullied you. That he once hit you, and you had the bruise to prove it," she paused and continued, "Then you stopped taking your medication once he broke up with you, and you got worse still. After all you told me about what he had done to you, I hated him just as much as you did. But one day Mom and Dad came to me and told me the truth. That they weren't really sure if he outed you or not. That because of what happened to Kevin, they and Gary's parents didn't want you and him to be together anymore. That they talked with Gary and convinced him to break it off. And he did."

"But then rumors started going around school about you not him. About how you liked him and countless other guys, and that you liked that senior, Adam Jeffries. So you know Adam -- `the self proclaimed faggot hater' -- went ballistic -- talking about having to teach you a lesson. He started the fight with you, Hunter. Gary tried to stop it, but then you went for him, and he only fought back in defense. You started really pounding on him when the two officers tried stopping you, but you overpowered them, too, until one of them Tasered you."

Hunter squeezed his eyes shut trying his best to remember things like Salene was saying, but he couldn't. However, he knew what she was saying had to be true because all she had said was about the same thing Gary had told him, though Gary hadn't known about the cop shooting him with the Taser gun. He was unconscious by then.

"That," Hunter began, "does not justify lying about everything for more than a year. You've taken away a year of my life from me. This is the second time I've heard about Adam started the fight, but the first from any of you." He looked at Salene, Helena and Sal. He got up and made his way towards the door to the basement.

"Hunter, we're sorry," Helena whispered.

"So?" Hunter shrugged his simple reply.

He went down to the basement, and everyone in the kitchen sat much as they had earlier in silence. Nokomis got up, quickly followed by Jas. The two of them rushed downstairs, hearing things being thrown around in Hunter's room.

"Hunter?" Nokomis called out. She and Jas went into the room to find Hunter quickly throwing clothes into a large duffel bag.

"What are you doing?" Jas asked.

Hunter stopped what he was doing and looked at him. "Packing," was all he said and went back to throwing more clothes in the bag.

Jas went over to him and grabbed him by the arm. "Packing?" he asked incredulously.

"Yes!" Hunter exclaimed, trying to wrench his arm out of Jas's grip, but not succeeding. "Let go of me!" Jas pulled Hunter up and into his arms. He leaned down kissed Hunter and smiled to himself as he felt Hunter relax and give into the kiss, but then he ended it, letting Hunter go. "I've wanted to do that for so long now," he smiled.

Hunter blushed, was speechless for a moment and then went back to packing. This time it was Nokomis who grabbed him. "Where are you going?"

"Away," Hunter answered and gestured around, "From here. From them."

"Okay, I get why you want to leave, but where are you leaving to?" she asked further.

Hunter threw in a pair of boxers and zipped up the duffel bag. He put the strap over his shoulder and left his room, heading for the bathroom.

"Hunter?!" Nokomis demanded.

Hunter opened the medicine cabinet and started tossing all the bottles of pills into an pocket in the duffel bag. Jas gasped, shocked to see all the medicines. Hunter answered Nokomis after packing up all his medication, "I don't know. I don't know, Nokomis. But I can't stay here." He pulled out his phone and quickly dialed a number.

"Hey," he said to the person on the phone. He paused.

"That's Lalo, isn't it?!" Jas asked. "You're running away? What are you thinking?"

"Yeah, Hunter, you can come stay with one of us. You don't have to leave," Nokomis urged.

"--yeah I'm ready. Are you outside?" Hunter asked Lalo. He turned to Nokomis and Jas. "I can't stay here. It's as simple as that. I can't be here anymore.

"You're outside?" he asked Lalo. "Good. I'm coming." He hung up the phone, went to Nokomis and hugged her tight. "Thanks for never lying to me."

He looked at Jas, "Bye Jas." With that he ran out of the basement through doors that led outside with Jas and Nokomis right behind him.

"Hunter, you can't do this! This is crazy," Jas pleaded.

"I'm crazy, too," Hunter smiled wryly opening the back door of Lalo's car. He through the bag in, closed the door, and opened the passenger seat door.

"What should I tell them?" Nokomis asked calmly, walking up to the car.

Hunter grew very serious. He considered his answer for a moment, looking away from her. He looked back at her, "Nothing. They don't deserve to know anything. They don't deserve anything from me." He got in the car, but before he closed the door he told Nokomis, "I'll call you when I can, ok?" He closed the door.

Nokomis just nodded and watched the car drive away. Jas just looked on in disbelief.

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