Disclaimer: You shouldn't be reading this illegally. . . right? Your feedback has been quite encouraging over this time. Don't stop now. Feedback is love: firstname.lastname@example.org :-D
There's been quite some break between this chapter and the last I wrote, and please, again don't think that this story is over. There's more in store (gotta love the hokey rhyme there) for Hunter, Jas, Nokomis, Lalo and the bunch.
-K (feedback is love:-D)
"Yes, he's here, Helena," Harmony assured her sister.
"Does he know that you've called me?" Helena asked hesitantly.
"No, he doesn't. At least not yet. I am going to tell him that I called you," Harmony assured her, pacing around her room. She threw glances at the door and craned her neck, making sure she didn't hear any sounds coming from the hallway.
"Don't tell him," Helena sighed.
"Don't?" Harmon asked.
Helena shook her head, her hand clutching the phone. "Don't. He doesn't want to see us."
"Okay, you gotta be straight with me Helena. Lalo told me that Hunter was having more `problems' in Phoenix, like he was having in Swift, and that you and Sal wanted him to bring Hunter here to stay with me for a while. Now at first I didn't buy his story, but then you backed it up, but it just seems to be more to it than that. So, really . . . what's the deal?"
Helena nervously tapped her hand on the table. She looked at her jittering leg and commanded it to stop before she answered her sister. "Lalo came back here, Helena. He told Hunter the truth after I sent him away--"
"When did you send him away?"
"Well, he had come by a few days before Hunter's birthday, wanting to see him. I told him no."
"Well, I understand that, but when did he tell Hunter--"
"On his birthday. He told Hunter the truth about everything. I never thought that he'd see through his delusions. I mean I know it wasn't the wisest choice to make, but it seemed as if things were starting to pick up again," Helena went on, speaking more reflectively than to her twin, "He made friends, Helena. He made friends. Nokomis was the only friend he'd had for almost a year – and still she wasn't fully a friend. I'm afraid their friendship was very one-sided at first, but it started getting better.
"Then one day, in walks some boy. Now you know my first thoughts. . ."
"He'd gotten involved with another guy again?" Harmony offered.
"Exactly, but that didn't matter to me. What mattered was that here was maybe another friend. I mean you should've seen the interaction between him and Nokomis. It had completely changed. Before it was like she was trying to make a best friend out of a wall. But that changed. He was responding to her. They got into these cute little arguments. They'd banter back and forth."
"So that happened after this boy came along?" Harmony had finally sat down on her bed. She leaned back onto her pillows and switched ears with the phone.
"Yeah, his name's Jas. I of course warned Hunter about getting involved again and--"
"You didn't, Helena?!" Harmony reprimanded.
"I had to. After the travesty with Lalo, I couldn't let him get invol--" Helena defended herself.
Harmony interrupted again, "That's not your choice, Helena. Nor was lying to Hunter about what had really happened in Swift. You all shouldn't have done that. I, myself, shouldn't have gone along with it. I mean to think of all that Hunter's gone through, just cos you thought you couldn't let him get involved with Lalo." She sighed. "Helena, you were doing it again."
"I know," Helena frowned. "I know."
"So what now? You know he can stay with me as long as he wants," Harmony assured her.
"Let him stay as long as he needs. I've done a lot of thinking, and if he needs to be away from me, then so be it, but not for too long. I simply won't have that," Helena declared.
"There you go again, Helena. You're deciding for him. First it's as long as he needs. Then it's 'not too long'. Why don't you let Hunter decide what he wants himself for once," Harmony admonished.
"But what kind of parent would that make me? What kind of mother would let her child--"
"A good one, Helena. It'd make you a good parent," Harmony answered sadly.
"So . . . Hunter finally told you where he went to, right?" Sean asked. He couldn't help but know, not with all the beaming Jas had been doing lately.
"Yeah," Jas smiled. He was happy for Hunter. He was elated to find out that Hunter was okay, that he was staying with his aunt for the time being. He was simply ebullient about Hunter's new behavior – calling Jas almost daily, just to talk. He sounded different. There was this joy in his voice that Jas hadn't heard before. It was like Hunter had truly changed. He wasn't that messed up kid anymore. He didn't let his disorder run his life anymore. He had truly changed, and Jas couldn't be any happier for him. Except for one thing, Hunter was back with Lalo. He had said that he and Lalo were taking things slow; that they weren't rushing into their relationship; that he hadn't felt as good as he had in a long time.
Jas crumbled at that, but he began picking up the pieces. Dal didn't like how Jas had gone from bothered to completely okay, but he kept silent on the matter. Jas wasn't depressed anymore, and that's all that mattered.
"So where'd he go?" Sean asked, placing his tray on the table before he sat down.
"San Francisco. He's staying with his aunt for a while," Jas explained.
"Cool," Sean replied. Jas hadn't been very forthcoming with details, but Sean knew Hunter was "bothered" in some way. He genuinely hoped the guy-dubbed-Crusher was getting better.
"So where's Amy?" Jas asked, changing the subject. He gazed around the food court.
"I don't know. She was still with Nokomis and Dal in that store. . ." he paused, not remembering its name. "I don't remember the name of that store," he laughed.
"Neither do I," Jas joined in his laughter.
"Well, it is four o'clock. Amy said we should meet them here at four, and I'm sorry again about how she's been acting," Sean apologized.
Jas shook his head while taking a large bite of pizza. "'S fine," he replied, mouth full of food.
"No, it's not," Sean went on further. "She doesn't have to be that way towards you."
"No," Jas began, pausing to take a large swallow, "she doesn't, but she is, and she's your girlfriend. I'm not gonna exactly bash her in front of you."
"In front of me?" Sean raised a brow.
"Sorry! That came out the wrong way!" Jas quickly apologized.
"Calm down, Jas. I was kidding. I know how Amy can be, so no worries, huh." He took an equally large bite of his pizza and let his eye graze around the area.
Jas saw his action and smiled. "Making sure she wasn't around to hear you say that, huh?"
Sean blushed, grinning. "How'd you know?"
"Okay, maybe I said I wouldn't bash her, but why are you still with her?"
Sean shrugged, "I dunno--"
"Bad way to start for an answer," Jas interrupted his friend.
"Well, it may not sound great but it's the truth. We've been together for a year now. I'm just comfortable with her, y'know?" he offered. Jas nodded. Sean continued with a large smile, "She gives head like no other."
Jas choked on the soda he'd been sipping. "I so--" cough! "--did not need to hear that. Like at all. Plus, you've never gotten head from a guy, so you wouldn't know a good blow if it slapped you across the forehead."
"You've never been blown by Amy so you couldn't be an authority on good blowjobs," Sean countered.
"I'm gay, Sean. We gays are the authorities on good blowjobs. In fact, we're the authorities on great blowjobs," Jas stated matter-of-factly.
"How did we get into this debate?" Sean laughed.
"You started it," Jas rightfully accused.
"I know," Sean admitted softly. He looked down at his unfinished pizza for a moment. He stole a few glances a Jas who was searching around the food court again after having looked at his watch. "Jas?" Sean began.
"Wha?" Jas turned his attention back to Sean.
"We never really talked about why Amy accused you of making a move on me," Sean said carefully.
Jas gave a quick shrug of his shoulders. "Old news, mate."
Sean laughed. "It's cool when you use odd words like that."
"Odd words?" Jas asked.
"Mate. Like instead of dude or guy or man," Sean explained.
"Well I'll try my best to use those in the future, dude," Jas smiled.
"I called out your name!" Sean said quickly.
"Huh?" Jas asked. He watched Sean's eyes bore into the tray of food in front of him.
Redness flared starting from Sean's cheeks, going all the way down to his neck and around his face. "I called out your name when we were . . . you know," Sean whispered.
"What are you whispering about, Sean?" Jas asked, perplexed.
"I called out your name when I was fucking my girlfriend!" Sean exclaimed all too loudly. The people around their table stopped what they were doing and stared at the two boys, sharing their lunch at the mall. Jas didn't know what to do or say. Sean lowered his head down towards his food and mentioned something about feeling sick. Jas just sat there stunned, and after what felt like an endless silence, the people around them went back to their own conversations and meals.
"Hey, Sean!" came Amy's bubbly voice. "Jas," she oozed out with disdain. Jas looked at her and gave her an awkward wave. He felt himself relax slightly upon seeing Nokomis and Dal coming towards him and Sean not far behind Amy.
"Are you okay, sweetie?" Amy asked Sean who literally seemed to be turning green. Dal and Nokomis sat down next to Jas. Nokomis looked at Sean. "Is he okay?"
"I don't know," Amy frowned. She rubbed Sean's back. "Should we go home, Sean?"
Dal eyed Jas closely. "Ok. I can clearly see that Sean's sick. What's wrong with you, Jas?" he asked. Amy threw an accusatory look Jas's way. Jas turned towards his brother and simply shook his head.
"How long has he been like this, Jas," Amy asked. "Why didn't you call us to tell us that he was feeling sick?" She rubbed Sean's back a bit more. She put a finger under his chin and softly guided Sean's head up away from the table. "Are you okay, sweetie?" she asked again.
Sean looked at his girlfriend, ready to nod yes, but then his eyes swung towards Jas, whom he locked eyes with for a brief moment. He opened his mouth to answer her, but what came out was the pizza and soda he had just eaten. All over Amy. Jas did his best to hold in the laughter that was trying to force its way out while Nokomis tended to the hollering, teary-eyed Amy.
Hunter was bored. Bored with nothing to do. He sat down in the guest room. His room, Harmony did not forget to mention to his over and over again. As long as he needed it. She said a woman named Sara was coming over, and that she wanted him to meet her. He figured Sara was his aunt's newest conquest. She had always seemed to be going through a nice number of relationships. He remembered his mother complaining about how Aunt Harmony couldn't seem to find the right woman.
He looked over at the clock on the bedside table, a thick piece of glass that sat on an L-shaped pole. He used to love twirling it around when he was younger. He looked at the full-length mirrors on the closet doors at his reflection. Lalo and Harmony were right. He was looking good. He hadn't remembered seeing himself look so . . . healthy in a long time. He smiled at his reflection and then frowned when it decided to stand up with its hands on its hips.
"Why are you just sitting there? Get up and do something if you're so bored," his reflection suggested.
"Harold," he addressed it. He first talked to Harold when he was much younger. Harold always looked exactly like him, and it was he who had taught Hunter that drawing what he did on walls kept the rest of the voices out of his head.
Harold folded his arms. "Stop being so boring. There's no reason for that. You're free now. We know how things really happened in Swift. We were wrong. I mean I know I started to see inconsistencies in what we remembered before you did, but we saw them, and Lalo told us the truth. So why are you still sitting there brooding about the state of things?"
"I'm not supposed to see you, Harold," Hunter gazed at his reflection neutrally.
"Yeah well, a bit late for that isn't it?" Harold grinned.
"I bored. Don't you get it? There's nothing here. Nothing but me and Aunt Harmony. There's no problem being by myself. Usually I have you to keep me company, but ever since Jas and Nokomis – Jas especially – showed up, I didn't see you as often," Hunter explained. "Doesn't it sound like I could be reverting?"
"Of course it does," Harold walked over to the edge of the mirror and leaned on the doorframe. "But that doesn't matter. What matters is that we know the truth, and you're away Helena, Sal, and Salene. Those fucking liars. Do you miss them?"
"No! You know that. I just don't know what to do with myself here," Hunter said softly, looking at his hands.
"Hunter, we're in San Francisco – Gaycity, USA! I'm sure there's something you can find to do here. We're gay and young. There's entertainment out there. You just gotta find it," Harold drew up his solution. He began pacing. "You could go see Lalo at school."
"I don't even know where his school is," Hunter frowned.
"That's what the Internet is for. Just google it. I'm sure you'll find its address. Or you could just call Lalo," Harold suggested.
"I could, yeah," Hunter agreed.
"Could what?" Harmony asked, coming into the room.
Hunter jumped at hearing her voice. He knew that she didn't sound Exactly-exactly the same as his mother, but their voices were beyond damned close. To most they would sound the same, but to him, Salene, and his mom's brothers, they sounded different.
"Answer her, Hunter," Harold rolled his eyes.
"I was thinking I could maybe call Lalo or find something to do. Someplace to go," Hunter explained.
"Oh! I'm sorry. I should have thought you'd get bored around here pretty soon. We'll have to find you something to pass the time while you stay," Harmony genuinely apologized. She hadn't considered that Hunter could be bored now. What else could he do with no school or friends around?, she asked herself.
"You should call Lalo. I could take you to his school if you'd like," Harmony offered.
"You see," Harold began, "All you had to do was just ask her."
"Would you shut up," Hunter scowled.
"Pardon?" Harmony asked Hunter. She saw that her nephew was looking at the mirror when he'd just spoken. She quickly overlooked the action.
"You look like you're crazy right now, Hunter. You just told the mirror to shut up," Harold gave an exasperated sigh, throwing up his hands.
"You don't have to take me, Aunt Harmony," Hunter declined her offer, "I can take the bus or walk. It's not that far, right?"
"No, no. But it is quite a walk," Harmony warned.
"That's fine. The weather's not too bad," Hunter shrugged.
The doorbell rang. A squeak escaped Harmony's throat. "That must be Sara. I can't wait for you to meet her. I've told her a lot about you." Harmony gathered Hunter's hand in hers. She pulled him onto his feet. "You've got large hands. You'll probably soon be a giant like your father." She looked herself over quickly in the mirror. "I look good, right?" she asked.
"Great," Hunter answered and so did Harold whom he glared at.
"C'mon. You'll be my support," Harmony sighed.
"Have fun with Lalo," Harold called as Hunter and Harmony left the room and headed downstairs.
Before Harmony opened the door, Hunter spoke up. "I wasn't telling you to shut up. It was Harold," he explained quickly.
Harmony blinked at Hunter in confusion for a moment, and then it dawned on her. "Well . . . um . . . that's fine, Hunter. Really. I thought nothing of it." She opened the door. "Sara!" A tall, black-haired woman came into the house and wrapped Harmony up in a big kiss. After she and Harmony separated, she looked Hunter over.
"He favors you--well your sister," Sara observed, smiling at Harmony. She held a hand out to Hunter. "Sara, nice to finally meet you."
Hunter feigned a smile. "Likewise," he responded, shaking her hand.