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"My Only Escape 4"

It was usually such a short and uneventful walk. The brief trip from the store back to Adam's house. But this was different. With Brody beside me, slowly walking his bike next to me, his animated little gestures and sweet voice pouring into me with every word he spoke...he made everything so much cooler. And the strange thing was, that I felt myself blushing around him the entire time. It just sort of 'happened' all by itself, and I couldn't stop it. I couldn't stop watching him, or smiling at him, or wanting to just reach out and touch him in some way. He had such an adorable face, the kind you love to look at, the kind you get addicted to. He made me so...'happy'. Hehehe, and it didn't take any effort at all. I wonder if he knows just what his presence in my life does to me.

"You're awfully quiet today. What's up?" He said, those bright eyes bringing a strangely 'sunken in' feeling to the pit of my stomach.

My blush darkened instantly, and I swiftly looked back down to the ground to hide my infatuated stare from him. "Nothing. I was just...listening to what you were saying, that's all."

"Yeah, well I talk too much." He grinned, and then asked, "So what'd you do last night? When you were supposed to be calling me."

"Oh..." I answered. I wasn't quite sure what to tell him. I couldn't come up with an excuse fast enough. Even though I knew he was just joking, I did want to explain what happened, not to him. Not to anybody. "Well..." I trailed off, shrugging my shoulders and hoping that he wouldn't persue it any further. But he let the silence last a bit longer than I thought he would. I looked back over at him, and he was still gleefully waiting for my answer. I smiled nervously at him in response, "WHAT?"

"I'm still waiting. Hehehe! What'd you do?" He giggled, but as I searched my thoughts for something to say, my mind going completely blank as my little mental roledex of lies and excuses spun endlessly in vain, I saw his grin begin to dim a little bit. There was a pause before it had almost faded completely, and then he said, "Is this one of those things that we're not supposed to talk about?"

"No. No. It's ok." I assured him. "I was just..." C'mon Zack, think. What was I doing? THINK you idiot! Anything that doesn't involve getting beaten up, yelled at, and sent to your room. "...I had a lot of homework, I was kinda I turned in early. That's all." I replied, and took a mental sigh of relief. Hopefully that will keep him at bay long enough to not ask any more questions.

"Oh.......ok." He said, and he left it alone. But I could tell he wasn't buying it. Not at all. He walked along in silence next to me for a few minutes, until we were almost back at Adam's house. It was over. Our private little walk together. Our friendly chit chat. Everything. And I WASTED it! I fucking wasted it by being too stupid to know what to say to him. How can I continuously screw this up so badly? What's WRONG with me! As I got more and more nervous, my inner voice began to sound more like my father's than my own. It cut deep into me with every step that we took in silence, and I was SURE he hated me this time. I mean REALLY hated me! He's better off not even having to put up with a loser like me. I ruin everything that I touch. I'm not perfect, I'm nowhere close to it. That's why everyone hates me. That's why I should just be alone. I'm destined to be alone. Fucking pretty boy waste of shit, that's what I am.

It never took me long to talk myself into looking for a way to withdraw from everybody and be alone in case those silver tears of mine become more than I can handle. I don't want everyone thinking I'm a basketcase too. So I was just about ready to tell Brody that I had forgotten something at home, and just...not come back. He'd have a lot more fun without me being a freak around him all the time. But, as if fate had tapped him on the shoulder and warned him of what I was about to do, he suddenly reminded me about the movies for that night. "So, you're still coming with us tonight, right? You SAID you were coming, so you better not be lying to me." A rainbow of a smile brightened its way across his kissable lips, and it was as though things magically returned to normal. But even though he was making some weird effort to be 'buddy-like' again, I think, deep down, me holding back from him had hurt a little bit. I didn't mean to hurt him. I SWEAR I didn't! I wish I knew how to do this, but I DON'T! I've never had anyone...challenge me in this way before. I've never needed more from someone than a certain level of 'tolerance' for my idiotic ramblings and stupid jokes. Brody was different, and I never had anybody make me feel this way before. You know....better? I'm TRYING to open up a little Brody, I'm trying really hard. Please believe me. I just...I don't know HOW. You're the first person that's ever made me want to learn HOW. My life has been such a painfully guarded secret for so long, that anything else feels reckless.

"I'm coming. I swear." I said, thinking that the words might somehow be a move in the right direction towards normality, letting him know that I DID want to be around him. I mean...I think I do. Don't I? He made me feel good and bad at the same time. And that's such a weird situation to figure out for the first time. Oh please don't let this be some kind of trap where I come out feeling even more worthless than I already am. PLEASE!

"I know you're coming! Because I'm gonna drag your ass there myself. So don't make me come looking for ya."

"You're not strong enough to drag me anywhere." I grinned.

"We'll just see about that after school, tough guy." And as we walked up to Adam's house, Brody set his bike up against his front step and rang the bell. Adam came to the door without a shirt on and a pair of jeans. Dammit, is he TRYING to make me sinfully horny these days, or what?

"You guys are pretty damn early today." He said, his hair still in a disarray. "Come on in. I'm still eating breakfast."

We went up to his bedroom and immediately started a few games off while we waited for the rest of the gang to join up with us. Adam went back to his closet to grab a shirt, and was on his way to the bathroom to finish fixing up for the day. Leaving me and Brody sitting on his bed alone. I was playing a turn of the game by myself, and yet I could feel Brody looking at me. I pretended not to pay attention, but he was sitting right there next to me, it was hard not to notice. It made me tremble inside, my stomach quivering with the confusion of what this may or may not mean. To either one of us. "You know..." He started, "...if you get any free time on Sunday, maybe we could all hang out on the lake again. It was fun last time."

"Um...yeah. That would be cool. Sam might not be able to make it, but everybody else should be able to hang out though." I kept my eyes glued to the tv screen, worried that the slightest look into Brody's lovely hazel eyes would crush me inside and I'd give away these growing feelings in my heart. That my biggest secret would no longer be contained, and I'd be exposed for the sick bastard that I was.

"Well...I mean...if everybody can't make it..." Brody let his voice drop a bit, almost to a whisper, "...maybe just you and me, You know?" I didn't say anything at first. I let my fear of the risk get in the way of all rational thought, and I was left speechless. My real life was trying hard to stand its ground as my wildest dreams attempted to push through and merge with what I knew to be concrete, predictable, possible. I think my quiet caused Brody to question his approach. "IF you want to. But, you know, that's only if everybody else is busy or know..."

"That would be cool." WHAT the hell did I just say??? Where did that come from? I felt my breath turn cold, and my chest began to flutter wildly with a tension that took me by surprise.

"What would be cool?" He asked, not sure which choice I was taking.

"Ahem...if and me..." I started, and that's when Adam walked back into the room.

"So who's winning?" He asked. The sudden jolt made me lose all concentration, and I lost my last man on the video game. The game over sign flashed across the screen, and I gave up the controller.

"It''s your turn." I said, giving Adam the controls and scooted over a bit so that he could play. I fixed my gaze back on the tv screen again, but out of the corner of my eye, I could feel Brody catching a glance or two at me. I fought to get the courage to look back at him, and when I did, his eyes met mine. A slow but steady smile spreading out on his face, and for the first time...he looked away before I did. Those two or three seconds of eye contact were so powerful. Electric moments in time that I felt all the way down to the bone, and it terrified me to death. And yet...terror never felt so good.

The rest of the gang met up with us and we left as close to the last minute as possible. Sam didn't run up to catch us as we were walking to school that morning, which meant his parents probably decided to give him a ride instead. He wouldn't be able to talk his way out of it. Sam LOVED walking to and from school with us, but his parents didn't really like the idea of us influencing their sweet little blond angel. I think they saw us as potential breeders of trouble. Whatever. Sam was probably the craftiest bastard out of ALL of us! Just goes to show, the urges you try to supress, they're the ones that shoot to the surface with the most potent effects. To be honest, I missed him that morning. I REALLY missed him. Sam loved me to death, and he loved Brody just as much. His antics and jokes and maniacal laughter kinda kept some distance between me and Brody. It allowed us to be a group, you know? But now? It was everybody else, and me and Brody walking behind them. An uncomfortable number of blocks had passed before we got the nerve to attempt any kind of small talk. And even THEN it didn't last long. I couldn't stop shaking. I could hardly focus. And everything seemed to go wrong with me at once. My walk felt awkward, my voice didn't work right, my arms felt as though they were ten times their normal size...too big and bulky to feel rght no matter HOW they would hang from my shoulders. How am I supposed to impress Brody, or even appear somewhat 'decent' in front of him, when my body is breaking down into a jittery fit of nonsensical motions and unbalanced gestures. God...I felt so out of it.

"You know...I think we got interrupted a bit earlier." Brody said out of nowhere. " and me hanging out sometime. I thought..."

"Yeah, it might be cool. I mean...we can figure something out." I said, sounding interested, but still to scared to really get my hopes up.

"Well, my mom works on Saturdays." He was gently pushing for a one on one type of thing. I could feel it. The thing is...I had NO idea what to do with a feeling like this. "Since I don't live far from there, I figured you could just...come over and we could grab some lunch or something. Then we'll kick it for the whole day."

"That sounds like fun." It was the best I could come up with. Especially with my blood racing through my veins faster than the speed of light.

"Soooo..." It was the first time I had ever heard a slight tremble in Brody's voice. Awww, it was so cute! "...what about this weekend? I mean, we see the movie one day, and then hang out the next? If you don't get tired of me, you might actually have some fun. What do you say?"

Out of all of the responses that I gave him, I was trying to display a definite interest. But he was going a bit further. He wanted a date, a plan, a course of action...and it felt like it was moving a bit faster than I knew how to handle. But...for Brody, I was willing to pick up the pace. So, with the most girlish, quakey, lovestruck voice that I could muster through the chokehold that my fear was putting on me, I said, "O-o-ok.....Saturday..." I almost felt ill. My brain was screaming at me, shouting 'What the HELL are you DOING????' But I couldn't help myself. He was standing right there, and he was being all cute and sweet, and I had botched up so many things at this point that I figured that I at least owed him a little extra. I might have shaken myself to pieces if I hadn't looked over and seen the joy on Brody's face when I said yes.

"Sweet! Saturday then!" And he leaned over while we were walking and tenderly butted my shoulder with his. "It'll be a good time. Promise."

He looked over at me a few times without saying anything, and it only increased the tension inside. Even though he was smiling, I could feel this immense swelling in my heart that threatened to tear me open if I didn't do anything to stop it soon. Strangely enough, my body must have known what to do before I did, because I began to giggle a bit to myself. Not for any real REASON, mind you...just a spontaneous giggle out of the blue. He asked me what I was thinking about, and I just said, "Hehehe...nothing." The thing is, those few chuckles were the only thing helping me to relieve some of that intense pressure in my chest. Much like slowly letting the air out of a balloon. That fit of childish laughter is the only thing that seemed sane at that particular moment, and I think it was contagious...because Brody started laughing too. I wonder if this is one of those first signs of madness that I should be looking out for.

By the time we had made it to school, everything that I had supposedly fucked up with the apple of my eye, had miraculously vanished into thin air. It wasn't like it was with my dad, where he was always pushing to keep this constant hatred of me going at all times. Even when I tried to avoid it, he'd find a way to redirect his anger somehow and catch me in just the right place to deliver me the beating of a lifetime. This was different. Brody was a clean slate, everytime he smiled, he started me back at square one. The way he would just...look at me. As though I was, you know...special, or something. He looked at me as though I mattered. As though my being there actually had a meaning and a purpose. Hehehe, boy did I have HIM fooled! But it was still a nice feeling. I think it actually elevated my chin a few degrees furthe to the sky, after having it glued to my chest for so long.

We were getting ready to go to our separate classes before the first bell, and Brody told me, "I've gotta run. But don't you dare run out of here at the end of the day. Got it? We're going out, and that's that. You try breezing past me like you did yesterday, and I'm either hockey checking you up against the lockers, or tackling you to the ground! Deal?" He giggled.

"It's a deal." I blushed. DAMN, I wish I could stop doing that! "I'll be here."

"Good." He began to back away from me, "I'll see you later, ok?" I watched as he sort of bumped into a locker, and quickly straightened up to keep me from seeing it. Then he turned to look where he was going as he turned the corner to make his way to class. Something about that moment, that smile, that slight stumble as he bounced off of the locker...made me fall for him. The steady build was a strange and frightening feeling...but the subtle beauty of THAT particular few seconds in time...collapsed whatever walls I had built around my heart and just....overwhelmed me. I got swept away in a powerful undertow of emotion that refused to let me stand firm in reality any longer. Maybe it was too fast, maybe it was impossible, maybe I wasn't worth the dirt he scrapes off of the bottom of his shoes...but love was swiftly pushing me forward at a speed that regular life can never reach. The only question I heading towards a peaceful lake...or is this current taking me through the whirlpools and waterfalls that I've come to know so well in my life? It's hard to enjoy the ride when that's all you think about. All you worry about.

The school day was amazingly short that day. Which NORMALLY would be a good thing, but not today. I felt like I didn't even have time to think, time to make excuses, time to find an escape route that would prevent me from embarassing myself for at least ONE more day. But the day seemed to zoom by me without stopping or slowing down, and before I knew what happened, I was ten minutes from hearing that last bell ring for the day. It was about that time that I felt my arms tighten up, my breathing get ragged and irregular, my foot nervously tapping on the floor. Was I anxious, or just plain scared. I'm thinking the latter. What does all this MEAN? Is this a date? Is Saturday a date? Does me? No, ok, he doesn't like me. That's for sure. But...maybe...he kinda...does? That doesn't make sense though. Why did I wear ths today? I look like a dork. I should have worn my RED shirt! That looks sexier on me....I think. Not that I need to look sexy. Because he doesn't like me. Unless of course...he does. Oh man, that would be so awesome! Imagine that...imagine that.

And then I did. My mind suddenly painted a vivid and colorful picture of me and Brody walking out of the movie hand in hand, and sharing a single sweet kiss right out in front of the theater. The thought alone sent me soaring for a second or two, and I was too lost in my vision to feel the balance of my textbook shifting on my desk. By the time I felt it, it was too late, and the heavy book fell to the floor with a loud thud, taking some of my papers with it. Everybody turned around, and I had to consciously check to make sure that I wasn't sitting there with a goofy smile on my face. I probably looked like such a jerk. The whole ROOM was looking at me! I'm such a screw up! Arrrrgh! I picked my stuff up off the floor, humiliated and feeling more defeated than a silly accident would make a normal person feel. But you know me. To's the little things that make me so unbelievably worthless. The tiny little things that everyone else shrugs their shoulders and don't really dwell on. Well I do. And it HURTS! You know that? It hurts. Because right now, while everyone is wiping the insignificant memory from their minds and forgetting all about it...I'm hearing my father's voice saying, 'Way to go, dumb ass! God you're an idiot!' He's ripping into me right now, and telling me just what he thinks about this stupid little pathetic piece of shit that can't even manage to keep his books on his fucking desk. Right now, I'm thinking about him taking off his belt, or pushing me against the wall, or how he always positions himself so carefull before kicking me while I lay on the floor. God forbid that a visible bruise would show up in the wrong place. Those microscopic imperfections...they'll be the death of me. Because pointing them out is more gut wrenching for me than 'normal' people can ever imagine. I can feel him laughing at me, his smacks on the back of my head, his muscular arms slamming my head into the wall. It was almost enough to destroy that wonderful feeling that I had maintained throughout the whole day. Now, with the whole world staring at me, I'm forced to stretch the whole fiasco out even further while I try to pick everything up. It's times like this that I wish I could just disappear, you know?

Maybe that's it. Maybe this is my excuse to back out of this thing before I truly make an ass out of myself in front of someone who really matters to me. When I felt the embarassment fade, and the depression set in, I sank lower and lower until I began looking for ways to just....just go home. I know what's waiting for me there, and I know it's going to hurt. But at least it's normal. At least it's a predictable piece of my life that I can somewhat control. This thing with Brody...this is too weird. Sigh....I should just go home and face whatever I deserve. To hell with this 'boy in love' bullshit. I'd rather survive a beating than die from heartbreak at this point anyway.

Stupid....stupid, STUPID, *STUPID*!!! That's the only word that ran through my mind as the last few minutes of class shot by me, and I heard the last bell ring. I didn't even look my other classmates in the eye. They'd probably just laugh at me anyway. I gathered my stuff and began shoving it haphazardly into my backpack as I thought about other ways to get out of the building without being seen. I had made up my mind, I'm not going through with this. I mean, come ON...I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Why would Brody like me? Even *I* don't like me! What's the point? I'm outta here.

Then, as I walked out of the classroom, as though the angels had reached down and stuck their meddling noses in my business once again, I saw Brody standing across the hall waiting on me. Arms crossed, smirk on his face, making sure that I didn't pull another Houdini and disappear on him. Bastard! God I love him! "You didn't trust me to show up, did you?" I asked, knowing that I was caught, but trying to play it off anyway.

"Nope. Not at all." He answered. "So I take this to mean you're ready to join us?" He said, looking at my backpack.

"As soon as I grab my jacket."

"Well allow me to escort you to your locker, sir." He said in his best English accent. Which was actually pretty bad, but coming from Brody, it was gold.

"You really DON'T trust me, do you?" I grinned.

"I TOLD you, you're not sneaking out on us today. Adam may let you get away with that shit from time to time, but as a rookie in your little circle, it's my job to keep track of you."

"Hehehe, NOW you're getting creepy." I smiled, and he follwed me to my locker. Was I still scared? Of COURSE I was! My heart was frozen completely and it hurt to pump at all. But Brody guided me forward, and my growing obsession with him seemed to cancel out any chances of me backing down. I couldn't. If nothing else, I was curious about the fact that he wanted me around at all. Even if he had done it out of pity, he made sure to not make it look that way. That bit of effort was what kept me smiling. It made my freaky little fantasy just a touch more real than if he had been visibly annoyed by me.

Adam and Sam were waiting by the door, and we got ourselves together. The plan was to take the first bus out to the cineplex theater by the mall, and catch the 7:30 show. That would not only get us home in time to keep our parents from bitching at us...well THEM anyway...but we could kill the extra lag time before the movie at the mall. Not to mention that the food court would provide us with a healthy dose of snack food to smuggle into the theater. Perfect. Except for just one little father was probably going to put me through a fucking WALL when I got home! I guess...I guess I kinda knew that. And it kept me rattled inside as the four of us waited for the bus. Rattled to the point where I was almost sick to my stomach, nauseous with the mere thought of what he was going to do to me for missing the strict daytime curfew he had set for me afterschool. This wouldn't be a normal beating, not by ANY means. This would be bad. Really really bad. Adam, Brody, and Sam were smiling, laughing, having a great time...but me? I was constantly looking at my watch. Waiting for those last few minutes to click over, informing me that I was officially late, and that he was already gritting his teeth and balling up his fists in anticipation for the moment when I'd get home and he'd make a human pinata out of me. The others involved me in the conversation JUST enough to keep my doomed thoughts from becoming too concrete in my mind, pulling me away from them every few seconds or so. But when I had an extra second or two to think about it, the tremors in my stomach got worse, and I would begin to almost tear up as the paralyzing fear bubbled p inside me and shouted at me to run home while I still had a chance. Run home, Zack. RUN HOME!

"Are you ok, dude? You seem kinda lost all of the sudden." Sam asked, snapping me out of my nightmare for a moment.

"Yeah...I'm ok. I'm just....." I shouldn't be here. I REALLY shouldn't have let them talk me into this. "...just thinking. That's all." I gave the most convincing smile that I could, and tried to 'normal-up' for the rest of them. C'mon Zack, it's times like this that I've been practicing this fake smile for. Just...push it down, swallow it whole, and deal with it later. Right now, we're on stage. Let's act like it. "So where are we going first?"

"Music! I've gotta get some music!" Sam said excitedly.

"Sounds like a plan." Adam was just as much of a sucker for music as Sam was. But it was then we found out what the added 'bonus' was.

"Besides, I think Holly is working today. Isn't that right, love muffin?" Sam giggled.

"Shut up, twerp! You don't know what you're talking about."

I had to ask, "Who's Holly?"

"Nobody!" Adam snapped back with, and Brody and I looked at each other with a grin. "Ok...somebody. But nobody special."

He was being vague, to say the least. But am had no problems whatsoever filling in the secretive little gaps. "Holly is this older NINETEEN year old babe that works behind the counter. Adam's had the hots for her ever since she started there a few months ago." Sam teased. "But our buddy here is too scared to talk to her."


"YOU shut up, chicken shit!" Sam laughed as Adam grabbed him by the arm, but it stopped as a 'harder than friendly' punch went smashing into his shoulder. "OW!"

"One more word and you get another one, got it?" Adam made Sam flinch by raising his hand, "GOT IT?"

"Alright, alright already! Geez! Aren't WE touchy today?" Normally Sam would have pushed him a bit further. He was like our little brother, and he lived to torment us in the most adorable ways. But I think he crossed a line with this one, so he left it alone. Adam was normal, as far as normal goes, but he wasn't a really big person on showing emotions all that much. Especially if he was infatuated with someone. I guess he saw it as a weakness, or something.

"I'm NOT going to see Holly, alright. I'm just...I'm going to buy music. Besides, it was YOUR fucking idea anyways." Adam was blushing, ever so slightly. I think that clinches it. He's drooling over SOMEBODY in that place. "The bus is coming. Let's go."

We climbed on and began our quest to the mall. The whole trip, Brody was practically bouncing on the seat next to me. He was hilarious. I don't think I've ever seen him so happy before. And the weird thing is, he made me feel like it was MY doing. That was awesome. But...just as I was getting a taste of being human again...I noticed the time. I saw it on some digital display outside of a bank as the bus stopped for a red light, and I knew...I KNEW...that I was late. Ten minutes late. My father was probably punching the wall right now. Even if I jumped off of the moving bus and high tailed it home at top speed...I'd be too late coming home to keep him from whipping the skin off of me. The game was over, I had lost. The best I could do now was to enjoy these last free moments before my punishment was dealt out to me without mercy. Sighhhh....I hope all this was worth it.

I could see the grin on Brody's face, and it comforted me somehow. It was so...'real'. Like, actually happy. Not pretending to be happy, but actually happy. It must be so cool to feel that way around people. I wish I could do that. Just let down my guard and be free to smile unrestricted, talk unrestricted, feel emotions unrestricted. I'm starting to doubt that I've ever been able to do that completely, and that I never will. The damage has gone way beyond my ability to ever repair it. Ever. Just looking at the rest of my friends, I knew that they were part of a world that I would never understand. That they would someday be able to look back at their childhood and smile, while I would be trying to block out as much of it as I possibly could. They don't have the pain that I do. They have no idea what it's like to be so scared, so hopelessly helplessly terrified, that you can't even breathe. They don't know what it's like to have your own inner voice cut you so deep that you bleed from the very soul, and tears don't do any good when it comes to showing how utterly destroyed you are inside. They have never had a parent look them in the eye with that unbelievable fury, that hatred, that disgust that made me feel more worthless, more ugly, and more wretchedly unwanted than the lowest organism on the planet. The scum you only acknowledge long enough to let it know how much it makes you sick. They don't know what it's like to have your body weak and strained from the abuse it receives almost daily, barely having enough time to heal before it gets attacked all over again. I do. I know how it feels. And I'm jealous. I don't mean deep down either, I mean shamelessly, unapologetically, jealous. I envy them soooo much. If I could be more like them, if I could be perfect and beautiful like life wouldn't be such a damn disappointment. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can feel how much it hurts all at once. And I think about what it would be like to close my eyes never be hurt by that pain again. To just fade away, and leave this fucked up world to the demons that made it that way. I swear...

"DUDE! What's with you? You look like you don't wanna be here with us or something." Adam said, jokingly, and my thoughts stopped immediately. Instead, focusing on the ever present smile that kept me balancing perfectly on that pit of eggshells that I call a life.

"Sorry..." I mumbled.

Maybe it was the look in my eye, maybe it was a pinch of the pain slipping out in the tone of my voice, but they knew something was wrong. "Are you ok, Zack?" Adam's face softened a bit, and I could tell that he was concerned.

"I'm fine, why?" I lied.

"Come on, you can talk to us you know?" Sam began to encourage me too, but I wouldn't let him. I wouldn't let ANY of them. Their life is good, it should stay that way. I'll bear my own pain alone. There's no need to drag them into it and start screwing up their lives too.

"I'm fine, really. Hehehe!" I let out a convincing chuckle to put them at ease. "I told ya I was just thinking about shit. That's all."

"Well, snap out of it, you're beginning to worry us over here."

"Ok, ok, geez. You're acting like I pinched your nipples or something." I said, then adding, "Save that kinky shit for your girlfriend at the music store."

If Sam hadn't been sitting between us, he would have jumped me for sure. Hehehe, but Sam, ever the instigating little brat, decided that it was the perfect moment to point and laugh at him. Naturally, displacement occurs, and Sam ends up taking a shot in the arm for me. "OWWW!!! What the hell, dude? It was HIM!"

"BOTH of you did it! You guys suck!" Adam pouted a second while Sam and I continued giggling to ourselves. However...when I looked back at Brody, he had a different look on his face. Something a bit more serious. And I knew that my sudden change from silence to sudden shits and giggles, hadn't fooled him at all. He was looking deeper, searching for what was bothering me. The worst part was, that despite my desperate attempts to keep the beast within locked down as tightly as I could, it seemed to be in a frenzy...wanting to rush up and meet him. All that misery suddenly began to stir as though it had found its cure in Brody's caring eyes. I guess my determination was stronger though, because, with a little effort, I buried it even deeper...and got right back to laughing with Sam and Adam. Problem solved. For now anyway.

We got to the mall and ran around for a bit, eventually making our way to the music store. And Sam was right, Holly WAS pretty damn hot! I know that I'm supposedly immune to women due to my 'label' as a gay teen, but I know beauty when I see it. Hehehe, and from the looks of it, Adam did too. He was hypnotized. It was actually kinda cool to just watch him stare. The thing is, Adam as cute, he was actually really cute, but not cute enough to woo a 19 year old college freshman with breasts that looked like they came out of the latest issue of Hustler magazine. The impossible nature of the whole situation made it even more fun to watch. I wonder if this is what he sees when I look at Brody. A boy, practically an emotional toddler in comparison, staring at something he can't ever hope to have. Weird.

"You think too much." Brody said, tapping me on the shoulder. "Come here for a sec." He took a hold of my wrist and started pulling me towards one of the listening stations in the store. How his grip on my could be so firm and so gentle at the same time, was beyond me. But it felt good. Soooo good.

"What's this?" I asked, once he stopped dragging me.

"Duh! It's music. Here, you've gotta listen to this. It's awesome!" He held one side of the earphones up to my head, and then he tenderly leaned over my shoulder to listen to the other side. Brody's face was so close to mine, almost cheek to cheek, and it made me nervous. I don't think...I don't think I had ever been this close to him before. Please, PLEASE don't let my dick betray me now! Don't you DARE get hard in a public music store in front of your best friends and the boy you love more than anything! I swear, I'll cut it off and throw it in a FIELD if it embarasses me right now! "What do you think?" Brody asked, his cheek coming into contact with mine briefly and causing my breath to feel as though it weighed 100 pounds in my chest.

"It''s good....very cool." Was I even listening to the music? WAS there any music? Was there anything outside of that quick moment when his naked flesh touched mine? Oh God....ohhhhh's betraying me! It's betraying me right at this very moment! Stay SOFT damn you! What's the matter with you? False alarm! FALSE ALARM! NO action happening here! Stupid penis!

"Yeah, I'm impressed! Ya wanna know something?" Brody said, stepping away from me as he hung the earphones back up. "My mom actually dated the lead singer's stepdad. I never met him or anything, but that could have been my big know, if his stepdad wasn't such a schmuck." He grinned, but I was too scared to turn around. My organ was very slow in getting the strict orders I had given it, and I didn't want Brody to see it. Everything became uncomfortable at that moment. When you have an erection in public, it feels like it's 42 inches long and you're wearing a grass skirt! There's no hiding it, no forcing it down, and no 'right way to walk' to keep it from sticking out. Sighhhh....sometimes, I think I'd take a girl's monthly pains over a hourly humiliation ANY day!

"That's cool...really. Wow.." Go down, go down....

"So you guys ready to go? We've only got twenty minutes until the movie starts. We wanna get good seats." Adam said. Great...just great. NOW he wants to go!

It was a little bit softer than before, but if anyone was looking, I'm sure they could notice it. So, I started to take off my jacket and kinda draped it over my arm. Then, with my arm well positioned at a comfortably low altitude, I was able to turn around. Good...VERY good! If I can just get into the theater, I can sit down with my jacket in my lap and not have to worry about it anymore. "Ok...let's roll." I smiled, making sure they left first. As long as they're walking in front of me, I'm fine.

We bought our tickets and sat in the middle row of the theater, a single bucket of popcorn in the middle of our little goon squad. I noticed that Brody made it a point to sit next to me. Even though Sam and Adam were between us while walking into the row of seats, Brody walked over all three of us to make sure that he was right there at my side. And that made me feel...I dunno...special. We talked a bit before the previews, and Brody, joking around, pretended to yawn and put his arm around me as soon as the theater lights went out. Sam and Adam giggled playfully, coughing and whispering 'fags' under their breath...but Brody left his hand there for a minute or two unphased. I suppose that it looked kind of weird after a while, because he gave me a gentle squeeze and pulled his arm back. But for those few minutes, I truly felt like a king. You understand? An actual KING! Yeah...this was definitely worth it.

The movie was awesome! Explosions, fist fights, people getting their asses kicked left and right the whole time...amazing! The plot? Well...let's just say that it was a typical action movie. You know, the whole, 'You ate the last doughnut in the box, and now I swear revenge!' type of thing, where they get a hold of a bunch of illegal weapons and kill a bunch of people without going to jail or doing a lick of paperwork? Yeah, that kind. But during those slow parts where they tried to build a story around the kung-fu and the bullet symphonies...all I could think about was the hazel eyed cutie sitting next to me. He had the sweetest way of making these little hilarious whispered comments during the movie when something stupid happened. Or catching me by surprise by nudging my arm completely off of the armrest, and giggling to himself as I struggled to reclaim my space. Overall, I enjoyed being there. But more importantly,I enjoyed being there with HIM. Oh man...I was falling for him so hard that I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to stop myself. I can honestly say that I never once thought about my father the whole time that I was by his side in that darkened theater. It was freedom, it was peace, it was a joyful outburst that I had never known before. For that short amount of time, Brody had dettached me from this impossibly heavy ball and chain, and allowed me to walk around free for a little while. To BREATHE for a little while. And when those lights came back on at the end of the movie, I was in love. No more infatuation or saying that he's cute and leaving it at that. I was in LOVE. No way around it. Omigod....what the hell was I going to do with myself NOW???

When we left the theater and got on the bus to go back home, Brody and I seemed even closer than before. Maybe it was spending time out with each other after dark that sealed things. I mean, in school was one thing, and afterschool was another. But once the sun sets, every minute you spend with someone becomes ten times more potent than any of the others. This meant we were really friends. He was now officially one of the gang.

I kept stealing a few glances at him while riding home on the bus, and he was so....soooo damn cute. He was this delicate natured beauty that dazzled the eyes of anyone brave enough to look in his direction. He INSPIRED feelings of love with every breath that he took. He sucked your attention into him like some kind of intergalactic black hole and I couldn't stop thinking about him. If we had been alone on that bus, just me and him...I doubt I could have kept from trying to kiss him. Just once. Just once.

Then...we passed the convenience store, and my reality poured over me like a sudden downpour of ice cold water. I was almost home. I'd be getting off of this bus in a minute or two, and I'd have to go home. Home...where HE'D be waiting for me. Just a few minutes away. I took a deep breath or two....or TEN...trying to calm down enough to keep from shaking myself sick in front of my friends. But as the bus slowed down to my stop to let me off, I could feel the fear inside shoot tears up to my eyes, and I was almost unable to hold them back. I may have to call into school sick tomorrow. He wouldn't hold back any punches tonight. Not tonight. This wasn't a mistake. This wasn't some screw up that I could have avoided if I had only been smarter, better looking, more....whatever. No...this was outright defiance. And the penalty for that would be more painful that anything that I could possibly imagine. It was going to hurt...a LOT! There's no tip toeing around this one. No matter how 'used to it' you get, it never ceases to scare the living shit out of you.

My hands were trembling violently as I reached up to pull the signal to stop the bus, and I rose to my feet to get off at my stop. Brody looked at me with the warmest smile, this friendly, loving, unhindered smile...and he said, "So....Saturday, right?" He had no idea. None at all.

"Yeah...I'll...I'll be there." I said, and climbed down off of the bus as I said goodbye to the rest. It was like going off to war or something, the sickness I felt inside. I watched the bus slide away until I couldn't see it any longer, and the night seemed to almost collapse on top of me. Getting darker, colder, more quiet, all at once. I walked towards my house on legs that were about as stable as warm sticks of butter, and I could feel my forehead wrinkling up as tears began to well up in my eyes. This is it. Sighhhh....this is it. C'mon Zack, it can't be that bad. It's not like he can just kill me.

Then...I was nearly scared to DEATH by the honking of a car horn behind me in the alley!!! I nearly jumped a foot in the air from being startled like that! I turned around...and that's when I saw what must have been the greatest vision of my entire life! It was my MOM! Coming home early from work, with a pizza in the back seat! She's HERE! SHE'S HERE! My only protection is here! I almost burst into tears of joy just from seeing her smiling face through the windshield! "You need a ride short stuff?" She grinned, knowing I was only about two houses away.

"YEAH!" I shouted, and jumped into the car beside her as she rolled about twenty feet further and turned into our driveway. I was saved! For tonight...I was saved.

"You're out awfully late. You had a good time I hope?"

I leaned back and just felt all of that terror that had built itself up so boldly, just melt away and slide right out of me through an uncontrolable smile of relief. Finally, I got a golden opportunity to relieve and embrace my time out tonight. With friends, with Brody...just free. I got to feel a little bit of what it must be like to not have to live with...these problems. GOD, it felt good! It felt AWESOME! WOO HOOOOO!!!! But I had to try to contain some of that energy from my mom so as not to look TOO weird! So I just held it in a bit, toned it down, and as we pulled into her parking space I said, "You bet, Mom. The best. The best night ever." I hope that's not overdoing it.

NO! That's not the end! But, that's it for right now! Hehehe! Thanks so much for reading and for the feedback you've given me on this story! I'm really glad that you enjoyed it! Feel free to let me know what you think of this chapter at or stop by my website at (Don't forget to sign the guestbook!)