DISCLAIMER: All characters and places mentioned in the following pages, as well as all events are fictitious. Any similarity to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental and should not be taken for truth. This story contains homosexual themes between underage characters. The author retains all rights to this story and asks that you do not remove from Nifty Archives without first obtaining permission.
You may contact me atFireangel197502@Yahoo.com for any questions or comments. All other inquiries about this story are welcome and will be answered swiftly.
Love Of Strange Medicine
A Short Story
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"Maybe I don't care anymore." Josh Weldon spat, not feeling the courage he projected.
"Don't say that." His boyfriend, Mark Williams, said patiently from his position on the unmade bed. "You're just as scared as I am to come out, probably more. Your parents are even worse then mine."
Josh banged his hand against his bedroom wall angrily. Immediately cursing his stupidity as he held his hand close to his chest in pain. Flopping on the bed next to his boyfriend, he hung his head in his hands saying, "I'm so sick of this hiding."
"I know. Me too." Mark said tenderly, placing his arm around the slender boy and giving him a squeeze. "But what else can we do?"
"I don't know." Josh exploded, falling back on the bed and covering his eyes. "I don't know anything anymore."
Mark smiled grimly. He had heard this all before, countless times. Especially after a rough day at school being surrounded by bigots and close-minded teachers. He was just as frustrated if not more than his boyfriend. Too many nights he had lain in bed, his mind searching for an answer, an avenue they could take. Anything to give them another answer to hiding. But he couldn't think of any alternatives to their situation. Coming out was definitely not an option. Neither boy's parents would understand or accept them. There had to be more gays in town, but as of 2003, no one dared the town gossip that permeated Glenwood. As far as he knew, there wasn't another gay kid for miles in any direction. It was blind luck that led him to Josh in the first place and luck like that just didn't happen twice. Not even in the movies.
As he looked down at his boyfriend of six months, he tried to imagine his life without the fiery brunet in it. Before Josh, his life was one long secret, full of fear. Fear of someone finding out, fear of slipping up at school, fear of everyone knowing the awful truth about him. At least now, he could be his true self in front of someone, even if they had to hide behind closed doors with the blinds drawn.
Rubbing Josh's stomach gently, he whispered, "It's going to be all right. We have each other."
Josh didn't reply, only grunted loudly. Mark saw the tearstains lining the boy's face, testament to his pain. Lying down, he rested his head on his elbow, his free hand wiping away the wetness that ran down Josh's cheeks, disappearing into the covers of the bed. He said softly, "You know you still have me, right?"
"I don't know if that's going to be enough." Josh whispered honestly, confusion breaking across his youthful face.
Mark sat up, sighing loudly. "Why can't you be happy? Why do you always want more? More than I can give."
Josh answered slowly, taking the time to form his thoughts carefully. "I'm happy when I'm with you, here. But outside these walls, I have to pretend to be like everyone else." Sitting up, he faced his boyfriend, tucking his long legs underneath him Indian style. "Don't you ever wish we could walk down the street holding hands? Or go out on a proper date to a romantic restaurant and feed each other spaghetti? Fuck, I would love to kiss you whenever I want too just like all the other straight kids do in school."
"This is Glenwood. There aren't any romantic restaurants." Mark stated dryly, trying to lighten the mood.
Ignoring his boyfriend, Josh continued, "What about the school dance?"
"What about it?" Mark asked, rubbing his eyes trying to lessen the pain behind them.
"Don't you wish you could take me? Why do we have to take girls we don't like?" Josh fired at him, his anger forcing away the tears.
"Of course I do." Mark stated. "But we can't."
"We could if we came out." Josh stated triumphantly, his blue eyes shining brightly.
"We can't do that." Mark argued, standing up. "Both our parents would disown us. Then where would we be?"
"Together." Josh said pointedly.
"We're together now." Mark said with a sigh. He started pacing the small room, trying to puzzle out a way to make the boy understand. This wasn't California, people just didn't come out in Glenwood, and it was too small-minded, too dangerous.
"No we're not." Josh spat. "All we have is an illusion. Hiding our love is not being together. Being ashamed of who we are is not being together. Sometimes I think we don't even love each other."
"Maybe we're only together because there isn't anyone else." Josh said sadly, walking over to the window. Pulling aside the blinds, he stared out into the darkness, lost in dark thoughts.
"How dare you say that?" Mark asked, anger evident in his voice. "Being pissed that we can't tell anyone is one thing. But how dare you question what I feel for you."
"If you loved me, you'd tell everyone." Josh said, whirling around to face his boyfriend. "Sometimes I want to shout it out from the rooftops, sometimes I love you so much it hurts, right here." He stated as he thumped his chest roughly.
"Don't you think I feel that way?" Mark shouted, losing all control in his anger. "When I go to bed alone at night sometimes I cry, just because you're not there holding me. When I'm not around you I feel empty, like something is missing. A part of me that I misplaced somewhere and when I see you're face in the morning, that piece is magically found. I'd die if I couldn't see you, touch you, fuck. You're everything to me."
"Then fucking show it." Josh yelled back, tears falling down his cheeks again.
"I can't. Not like you want me too." Mark whispered, his shoulders slumping in defeat.
Josh turned his back and wiped the tears away with his shirtsleeve. Hugging himself tightly, he pushed away all rational thought. Like in a horrible nightmare, he heard himself say, "Get out. I don't ever want to see you again."
Mark held out his hand, crying uncontrollably, "You can't mean that."
"Get out." Josh screamed.
Not trusting himself, Mark stormed from the room, slamming the door behind him. Walking down the hall, he ran into Josh's little brother, Adam. Muttering sorry, he stomped down the stairs. Completely ignoring the greetings from Josh's parents, he slammed the door shut behind him and disappeared into the night.
As the door shut, Adam stood at the top of the stairs, bewilderment on his face. He had never seen the blonde so upset before. Mark had become like a second brother to him since Josh started bringing him around. Instantly, he knew something was wrong.
Shaking his head, he walked down the hall and knocked on his brother's door softly, "Josh, are you okay?"
"Go away Adam." His brother's haggard voice filtered through the door.
"I don't think so." Adam called out, opening the door.
Though he was two years younger than Josh, they had always had a close relationship. They hung out together frequently, playing video games or watching movies together all night. He probably knew his brother better than anyone else, including Mark. And he knew from experience that the last thing his brother needed was to be alone. So he shut the door behind him and walked over to where his brother lay on the bed, sobbing into his hands. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he rubbed his brother's back lovingly, saying, "It's okay. It's going to be alright."
Josh moved and gripped his brother's waist, holding on like the fifteen-year-old was his only lifeline. Letting all his tears and frustration out, he cried, clutching his brother tightly.
Adam did the only thing he could think of, he let his brother cry. Reassuring him in a gentle tone that everything was going to be all right. He didn't know how long they stayed like that. Long after his right leg fell asleep, he sat there patiently, letting his brother cry it all out. Silently willing his love to help his brother.
Finally, Josh sniffled and looked up at his brother. The irony of it all made him laugh. Here he was, almost eighteen and lying in his little brother's lap, bawling like a baby. He was supposed to be the older brother, the strong one. It was his job to comfort Adam, not the other way around.
Brushing the hair from his brother's eyes, Adam said, "Now do you want to tell me why Mark left with tears in his eyes and why you're up here in your room crying?"
The tears started to fall again but this time they didn't consume completely. Josh whispered quietly, "I fucked up."
"You do that all the time." Adam said with a smile, absently stroking his brother's head like you would a hurt puppy. "Why should this time be any different?"
"You wouldn't understand." Josh answered after staring into his brother's eyes for a few moments, still making no effort to move from his brother's lap.
"I don't know. Why don't you try me?" Adam stated, peering at his brother intently. Smiling wistfully, he had a vague idea at what might be going on. You don't live with someone for fifteen years and not have a clue about that person. Unless you were parents of course. They never seemed to have a clue about what their children faced on a daily basis.
"I can't." Josh stated, burying his face again. "I can't tell anyone."
Thinking quickly, Adam said, "Okay. You can't tell me. Let's see if I can guess."
Josh didn't answer so he took that as permission to continue. "Mark left crying and all pissed off. I find you crying in your bed with a secret that you can't tell anyone."
Josh nodded his head and Adam offered, "By the look on Mark's face, he won't be telling anyone either."
Again Josh nodded. "Okay, that means you two had a fight." Adam stated logically.
By the look in his brother's eyes, he knew he had figured right. All the pieces fell into place. The puzzle that was his brother suddenly fell into place. Everything he had tried to hide came together and fit perfectly. Giving his brother a shy smile, he asked, "Did you guys breakup?"
His brother tensed, denial flowing from his mouth instinctively, "Don't be stupid."
"Come on Josh." Adam urged. "I do watch MTV you know."
Josh sat up and moved away from his brother, keeping his face turned away. Inside, his heart was pounding, his mouth suddenly dry as any desert. After everything he did to keep his secret, the wall he had so carefully constructed came tumbling down around him. If his stupid brother knew, then everyone with half a brain knew. And they had been so careful too.
Swallowing nervously, he asked, "Does it show that much?"
"Now that I look back at it all." Adam replied with a shrug. "Yes."
Josh asked, "What are you going to do now?"
"Well." Adam said slowly, standing up and stretching. "I'm going to let the blood flow back into my sleeping leg and then I'm going to take a piss."
Josh watched his brother walk from the room, his heart still pounding against his chest. After all his bravado about wanting to coming out, he realized how stupid he had been. All his anger at Mark's adamant refusal slipped away. For the first time, he saw Mark's side. Once again the tears began to fall.
"What the fuck did I do?" He muttered softly to himself as he fell back down on the bed.
Adam walked back into the room, stepping gingerly on his tingling leg. Sitting down next to his brother, he pushed into him softly. Josh smiled and pushed back, enjoying the closeness he felt for his younger brother. Seeing the fifteen-year-old in a whole new light, he knew he would never think of him as some annoying person he lived with. Gone was the gangly teenager and in its place was a beautiful young man with a caring heart. Before he could stop it, the whole story rushed from his mouth. Adam listened intently to the whole story, from the beginning to the end. About Josh trying to force Mark to come out, about the doubts Josh had about Mark's love, about the harsh `get out' he spat at the end. Everything came out in a jumble mess.
When he finished his tale, Adam shook his head. He immediately saw the course of action his brother should take but was having trouble figuring out a way to tell him. Not finding an easy way, he just spit it out, "If you love him that much. Go to him and apologize. If he loves you he'll forgive you for being such an asshole."
"Do you think?" Josh asked excitedly.
"Of course you idiot." Adam said sarcastically. "I've seen the way he stares at you. He has it just as bad as you do. I really can't believe I didn't see this sooner. It all makes perfect sense now."
Josh jumped up and grabbed his shoes. After Adam kindly pointed out they were on the wrong foot; he quickly laced them up. Grabbing his jacket, he opened the window and climbed out into the tree that grew beside the house. Looking back inside before climbing down, he said, "Thank you Adam."
"I mean it. Thanks for understanding and not freaking out about...you know." Josh said with half a smile.
"I'll freak out later, I promise." Adam replied with a grin. "But you need to go and fix this. Get out of here he's waiting for you."
Josh flashed him a grin and climbed down the tree. Making sure not to make any noise, he grabbed his bike and headed down the road towards Mark's house. He knew his brother would cover for him with his parents. After all it was a school night and it was well past midnight.
The two miles to Mark's house seemed to take forever. And when the white house suddenly appeared before him, he was breathing heavily and a slick sheen of swear covered his body. Wiping the sweat from his eyes, he leaned his bike against the fence and crept silently along the side of the house till he reached Mark's window. Thanking god Mark lived in a ranch style house, he tapped the glass softly. Even though the lights were off, he couldn't wait till morning. Tapping again impatiently, he smiled when a light flicked on. Once again his heart started pounding but he ignored the butterflies in his stomach and waited for Mark to open the window.
The window opened a crack and he heard Mark's terse whisper, "Who's there?"
"It's me. I need to talk to you." Josh said excitedly, a bit louder than he intended because Mark stated, "Shush. My folks are still up for Christ sakes."
"I really need to talk to you." Josh stated again, this time softer.
Mark retorted, "I thought you never wanted to talk to me again."
"Damnit Mark. Don't be an ass. I'm sorry okay. Now you get out here or let me in. But I'm not going anywhere until I talk to you." He shot back defiantly.
"Okay. Keep your pants on." Mark mumbled as he disappeared from the window.
Josh waited for an eternity before he saw the familiar form of Mark climbing out the window. When the blonde reached the ground, Josh hugged him tightly and kissed his cheek tenderly, whispering, "I'm so sorry."
In the darkness, Josh couldn't see the dopey grin on Mark's face. All he heard was Mark say, "Not here. They might hear. Let's go to the park."
"As long as I'm with you it doesn't matter where we go." Josh whispered back, a grinning splitting his face.
Mark grabbed his bike and after picking up Josh's, they headed down the street. The park was a few miles away and they rode the distance in silence, neither wanting to break the spell they felt. The few cars on the road gave them a wide berth even though they stared at them. It wasn't normal to see two kids cruising around the streets this late, especially on a school night. Luckily they avoided the police cruisers, that would have been difficult to explain.
After reaching Glenwood Park, they leaned the bikes against one of the picnic tables and headed for the swings. The small park consisted of a few swings, an outdated merry-go-round; a plastic structure children could climb on, a few slides and a covered picnic area. Sitting down on the swings, they started absently swinging back and forth.
"Okay." Mark said, staring at the brunet pointedly. "What did you want to talk to me about?"
Josh blurted out, "Adam knows—about us."
Mark's face turned white in the moonlight. He stammered, "When...how?"
"He figured it out all by himself." Josh explained, then adding, "He's pretty smart you know."
Mark stopped swinging and asked, "What did he do?"
For a moment, he toyed with the idea of teasing his boyfriend but decided it wasn't the right time and would not be appreciated. "Nothing. He asked what we had fought about and I told him."
"Oh god." Groaned Mark, dropping his head. "Why did you tell him?"
"That doesn't matter." Josh said excitedly. "That's not what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Then what?" Mark asked, confused by the sudden turn of events. Too much had happened in the past five hours for him to think coherently. He went from thinking he had lost his boyfriend to sitting in a park in the small hours of the morning. He wasn't sure how much more he could take.
"When Adam first came in, all I could do was cry." Josh said slowly, pushing away the tears that threatened to fall. He had cried so much today he wasn't sure if he could cry anymore. Continuing, he said, "After a while, he asked why we were fighting. Then when he asked if we had broken up I got so scared."
"I would've shit myself." Mark admitted, a small smile on his face.
"Trust me I did." Josh said with a laugh. "But then I finally understood what I was asking you to do."
Standing up, he knelt in front of his boyfriend. Looking into eyes filled with love, he continued, "If I couldn't even tell my brother without shitting myself, how could I tell anyone much less everyone about it?"
Mark's eyes were full of tears as he grabbed Josh's hands and brought them to his lips where he kissed them gently. Josh whispered, `I'm so sorry. I don't ever want to be without you."
"Me neither." Mark answered, dropping to his knees. "I don't ever want to feel like I did tonight, ever again."
"I understand why we have to keep it a secret for now." Josh sobbed. "I don't care anymore about that. All I know is I love you so much and I don't care if we can't tell anyone. Just being together is enough."
Mark didn't say anything, he let his lips do the talking for him. His heart was so full of love he felt like he could burst and die a happy man. And if he did he would die with the only person he ever loved. There in the moonlight, they cemented their love. And for a moment, the moon seemed to glow brighter, as if it was celebrating their love. As they renewed their bond, they were lost in the moment. Nothing around them mattered and they somehow knew that no matter what happened in the future, they would overcome it together. All for the long of strange medicine.
Author's Notes: On January 15th 2004, my writing partner and friend Josh (RogueWolf) died due to complications from his appendicitis. This story was planned to re-unite us as a creative team and we had plans for a continuing story set around these characters. Sadly, it will never be finished as we envisioned it but I felt the story had so much to say about Josh's attitude and outlook on life, I altered it slightly and post this as a tribute to his love of writing. As in the story, Josh was ever positive about true love and the search for that strange medicine that could change him into something beyond himself. He will be missed but I hope through his writings he will not be forgotten.