I, first, want to thank everyone who has been following this story from day one, and all of you who have been so kind as to write me an email to let me know that you were enjoying the story. Thank you so much for all of your support! Of all the stories I've written, this one has always been one of the hardest, as it brings back memories that I would rather leave in the past where they belong. Through your love and sympathy, I've been able to continue with this story. Even though it's rather random when new chapters are posted. So thank again to you all for every word you've ever sent me! Please let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by my website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org And if any of you want information on how to order the audio CD version of the first five chapters of this story, as it was professionally read on Australian radio by Chris Conklin (God Bless, and rest in peace, my friend. This series is dedicated to your memory. Thank you for believing in me), check out the link posted at the end of this chapter and find out how! All EIGHT cds, now for the reduced price of only $15! Limited supply left, so get them now! Enjoy the story, and I'll seezya soon!

"My Only Escape 8"

My mind seemed to tie itself into an impossibly tight knot that evening. I finished making dinner with about twenty minutes leftover to set the table and all. My mom was in a cheerful mood, and my dad had washed and dried all of the bedroom sheets before she got back. So I guess he got away with spending time with his 'visitor' this afternoon. Still...while I tried my hardest to smile along with my mom and enjoy dinner with him sitting across the table from me...all I could think about was my fight with Adam. I couldn't let it go. My thoughts had constricted themselves around his messed up attitude, and held onto that anger with a strong grip. Keeping me focused on it to the point where I could hardly focus on anything else.

Why did he CARE how I hurt my arm, anyway??? Why is that any of his concern? What's his problem? Adam was ALWAYS asking me questions! All the time! WHY so many fucking QUESTIONS??? Can't he see that they make me uncomfortable? Can't he take the fucking hint that I JUST don't wanna talk about it? He's always pressuring me to say something or give up some information, and he won't just leave it alone. It's like I can feel him desperately prying into my life, prying into my secrets, trying to gain access to pieces of my life that he has NO business worrying about! Why can't he mind his own fucking business and just be a 'friend' for a while without getting so damn personal all the time. Maybe I'm just not the kind of person who tells people every aspect of my damn life every single day! Maybe I have things that I like to just keep to myself. Did he ever think of THAT? Huh? Or is he so selfish that all he cares about is what secrets he can get out of me? That's how he treats me sometimes. Like...just tell me everything about you all at once or I'm gonna get mad and leave. Well, fuck him then! I can't do that. I won't.

I...I have been holding so much inside for so long that it's simply not for display anymore. I'm not going to totally expose myself and make myself vulnerable to being hurt just because he's not satisfied with the amount of info I give him. What I keep private is all I have in this world. It's not SUPPOSED to be his. It's mine. I just wish he'd leave it alone and stop trying to make me feel guilty about not being an open book for everyone who comes looking. That's how people get hurt.

One of many ways that people get hurt.

That night, as I sat at my desk right before bed, I opened up my notebook, and stared at the few stupid lines of story that I had written out about...well...my life. For a moment, I almost thought I could do it. It almost hurt so much inside that the words nearly spilled over onto the page by themselves. But as the pen tapped lightly on the surface, trying to get out those next few defining words that would somehow relieve this agony inside...I felt myself begin to shut down. Literally. My hand trembled slightly. My nose started to run, causing me to sniffle quietly to myself. And tears flooded my eyes as my heart began to bend and twist itself around the very idea of recording this tragedy for someone else to see. With a single blink, I set free a twin set of tears, feeling them slide slowly down my cheeks. But before I could even focus, there were two more to take their place. I shook them free as well, and sniffled again, determined to press the pen harder into the paper and force something to come out of it. An idea, a concept, a sentence...just...just a WORD...anything! But all of that misery seemed to curl itself up in a tight ball and lodge itself in the back of my throat. I nearly gagged on the memory of those beatings. Every curse word, every slap, every kick...it was like I could feel them all over again. Every knotted muscle, every broken dish, every hateful shove and insult. They flooded my senses but wouldn't allow me to write them out. I tried, but every time I even got a thought together to write it down...I would cry again....and the pain would get worse. Until I was practically sobbing too hard to hold on to the pen anymore.

Finally, after about ten minutes of looking at a blank page and trying not to let my tears fall on the paper, I slammed the notebook shut and hid it back under the bed where I kept it safe. I'd like to say that it was a sigh of relief not to have to force myself to write any more that night. I'd LIKE to say that. But the truth is...the pain stayed with me. It didn't go anywhere. It just uncurled itself and reintroduced itself evenly into my bloodstream again. A sickening emotional virus that would continue to eat away at me like a cancer until I was too weak to resist the razor blades I kept in my dresser drawer any longer. No...no, I'm better than that. Yeah...I'm just...gonna go to sleep. I'll write it out another day. When I feel better.

As I laid back in my bed, the cool sheets wrapped up around me, I thought about Brody and everything that he meant to me. It began to ache so much that I had to roll over on my side just to contain it. My entire identity as I knew it was challenged by his very existence, and I just didn't know what to think or feel about that. If....if he could just...'love' me...just a little bit...then that would throw everything out of whack. Everything. My entire world would crumble. I mean...I've been alone for so long, hurting for so long....that I wasn't sure that I'd be able to live any other way. Brody....sighhhh...he knows how to take away the pain. And I don't know who or what I'd be without the pain. I'm so afraid that one day, I'll wake up without it, and not recognize my own reflection anymore. What's worse....I'm afraid that I'll hate myself for living with it for so long when there were so many better things out there for me. Things like...Brody's affection.

I felt some more tears run down my face, and rolled over onto my other side, curling my knees up to my chest. It was almost like a series of hunger pains, trying to figure out what I felt and trying to match that up with what I was planning to do about it. It almost seemed unfair to put this pressure on him, to force him to carry my very survival on his shoulders. Because that's where I was at this moment. Floating...hanging on by the few strands of hope that his shy smiles and sweet conversation had given me. If he let me fall...God, if he decided one day to just...let go...I couldn't take it. I just couldn't. Years of verbal and physical abuse, I could survive...but just one heartbreak...and everything inside me would die simultaneously. Everything. I can't be alone anymore. I can't. Brody allowed me to see what it was like to have a purpose in every day. He let me experience what it was like to actually be something special in someone else's eyes. And if he snatched that away from me now...what could I possibly have left to live for?

It's a frightening thought to go to sleep on. Knowing that someone else's opinion of you matters infinitely more than your own.

Then again, I should take comfort in it. Because my self worth is at absolute zero at all times.

I tossed and turned a few more times, that ache expanding in my stomach as the fear of not being good enough or entertaining enough to make my day with Brody anything more than a total disaster. But...when I finally did relax enough to close my eyes and drift off to sleep...my soul seemed to replenish itself. Becoming whole again. Becoming real again. And when I opened my eyes to the Saturday morning sunlight...I couldn't deny the excitement bouncing around in my chest. Fears and doubts and pains aside...the anxiety of it all woke me up out of a deep sleep and forced me out of bed. The second my feet touched the floor, I smiled to myself. Because whether I got to fly high, or crashed and burned, I was gonna see Brody today. Brody! MY Brody! And that energized me beyond belief, carrying me to a state of mind where the pain couldn't touch me. God...I can't imagine what it would be like to feel like this every day. I got chills just trying to grasp the concept.

I hopped out of bed and went to the bathroom. I would usually try to avoid the mirror so I wouldn't be anchored down by the sight of my own physical flaws and defects...but this morning, I took a peek or two. And you know what? Today...I didn't look so bad. Was I a little prettier today than I was yesterday? I dunno. I doubt it. But, I looked myself in the eye...and I'll be damned. I wasn't totally disgusted with what I saw. I was so surprised by the feeling that I took another minute or two just to study the image in front of me. And when I was done, I saw a very slight smile spread out on my lips, and I blushed from the sight of it. Is that what love looks like? Hehehe! I'm being stupid, aren't I? I don't know. It's just...Brody makes me...better somehow. I could feel it all over, like a mellow vibration right under the surface of my skin. The whole world tickled and nudged at every inch of me when thoughts of his big soft curls and bright eyes teased my thoughts with their brilliance. I was secretly dreading this day and the many things that I could do to screw it up. But I have to admit, despite the terrifying reality of it, I couldn't wait to his smile again.

I hopped into the shower and got all squeaky clean, put on my boxer shorts and a bathrobe, and went back to my room. I always made sure to stay pretty quiet on the weekend mornings. The longer my Dad got to sleep, the better. Otherwise he was cranky and mean and the insults started early. But once I got inside and my bedroom door was closed, I turned on my radio and opened my closet to look for something cute to wear. Oh wow...I'm going over to Brody's house. I can't believe I'm actually doing this. What if he kisses me again? I'm NOT running out of that house today, I don't care WHAT he does to me! I'm gonna force myself to enjoy it, dammit! Hehehe! I can't stop smiling. I was almost giggling outloud to myself at this point. Ok, I've got some slightly faded black jean shorts...and....hmmmm...I can wear my white t-shirt. No wait...red. Red is cuter, right? Or I could wear light blue? Does that match? Everything matches with black, doesn't it? Arrgh! What kinda homosexual am I? I can't even match a simple weekend outfit!

My radio was on the oldies station at the moment. I've always liked the old stuff better. I guess I get it from my mom. She's he one who exposed me to all of that stuff when I was little. Stevie Wonder came on, and while I was standing in my closet, trying to keep this involuntary smile off of my face, I found myself swaying a little bit and tapping my foot to it. I couldn't help it. I just felt so good at the moment. It was like my whole world had suddenly stopped raining on me and let a few beams of bright summer sunshine peek through the clouds for a while. I bounced on the balls of my feet, and scooted one shirt after the other over on the hangers in my closet. I moved over to turn up the radio just a little bit more so I could enjoy it. Not loud enough for my dad o hear it, but enough to absorb it a bit better. I mouthed the words to myself, and every single word just seemed so special at that particular moment in time. As I paid more attention to the lyrics, they became much more real, and I felt so alive, that my smile widened almost to the bursting point, and I started to dance a little while singing to myself. Funny how just the right song at just the right time can have such a magical effect on everything you are.

"For ONCE in my life...I won't let sorrow hurt me! Not like it's hurt me before! For ONCE, I have something I know won't desert me! I'm not alone anymore! For ONCE I can say...this is MINE, you can't TAKE it!!! Long as I know I have LOVE, I can make it! FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE...I have SOMEONE who needs ME!"

I was holding different t-shirts up against my chest with the shorts below them, trying to get an idea of how they looked together, but the cheerful music kept me moving until I almost forgot what I was doing. So I closed my eyes for a bit, and just let the good feelings run through me for a few seconds. Just....just allowing them to fill me up, and letting me glide through a few painless moments of my life. I whispered the words of the song out loud, and danced around a bit more, just holding the shirt against my chest and moving my feet a bit more. God, I'm going to see him today!!! SWEET!!!

Then...just as I opened my eyes and spun around, I saw my MOM dancing behind me! As if to tease me for being so lost in my own world that I couldn't hear her walk in the room. I stopped dancing in mid step, and turned bright red as I dropped my clothes on the floor and closed my robe back. Ouch...can we say EMBARRASSING???

"Hahaha! Don't stop now! This is a good song!" My mom laughed, and kept dancing in front of me while taking hold of my arms to get me to go back to doing what I was doing before. But the humiliation of being caught in the first place weighed my feet to the ground, and blush got worse.

"Mom..." I giggled to myself. "Hehehe...quit it..."

"Aww, but you were so happy." She said with a smile. "Come on. Dance with your mama for a bit." She took a hold of my hands and moved them up and down a bit while she bumped her hips into me, making me giggle even more. I tried to contain some of that excitement, but she was so into it that it was hard to keep from laughing. Another song came on, and she put her hands up to my face to give me a quick kiss on the forehead. Then she looked at my eyes and rejoiced in the sight of my smile as she pinched my cheek. She looked at me with such....pride. You know? All the time. It was like...I could do no wrong. She was the only one in the world who ever made me feel safe. The only one who ever made me feel worth anything at all. She brushed some of my hair back and said, "You used to always have so much fun when you were little. What ever came along and made my little boy get so serious all the time?"

She meant it in such a loving way....but the moment the words left her mouth, I felt those dark stormclouds begin to roll in again. Collapsing in on the bright beams of sunshine, and returning me to a reality that, basically, took every opportunity to remind me how stupid it was to look forward to much of anything. Good things don't happen to people like me. Ever.

My smile faded a bit, but I struggled to keep some of it visible on my face to keep her from worrying. I looked down at the carpet as I gently pulled her hands down from my face, and silently sulked to myself as I felt my spirits slide back into the mud. Just then, my dad walked past my open bedroom door, his hair in a disarray from sleeping, and a grumpy frown on his face. "Do you have to play that radio so loud at this time of morning?" I looked at him for a second, and he stared back at us. Then he just groggily walked away towards the kitchen.

My smile was completely gone at this point, and I backed away from my mother's arms entirely. "I've gotta get dressed. I'm going out to see a friend today, so..." I trailed off, and then turned around to pick my clothes up off of the floor. Stupid. I shouldn't have turned the music up so loud. I knew better. I'm such a fucking idiot!

Just then, my mother hugged me from behind, and gave me another kiss on the cheek. I closed my eyes, and felt this uncontrollable pulse of emotion crawl back up into my throat, and I was almost instantly reduced to tears. Hold it in, Zack. Don't you dare let those tears fall. Not a single one. Not in front of her. Suck it up and get 'normal', asshole! You're gonna ruin everything! She held me for a moment longer, giving me a squeeze, while I stood there in silence. Then she let go. "I'm gonna scramble up a few eggs and breakfast will be ready, ok?" I nodded, afraid to speak. My voice would tremble if I spoke. Just releasing the breath it took to say yes would start me to sniffling and crying like a baby all over again. So I held my breath, and made sure to keep my back to her so she couldn't see my face. And then she left the room. Left me to wander around in that storm for a little bit longer......alone.

I could say that breakfast was about as comfortable as walking a tight rope over a pond full of angry alligators...but that would be an understatement. The whole time, my father looked like he wanted to snatch me up by the hair and ram my head into a sharp corner somewhere. A look that warned me that I was sure to get a rather harsh beating some time later this week. He never forgets anything. And I never knew when that particular thrashing was going to hit me. But for right now, my mother was at the table with us, and tha kept us both tame beyond normal. His mask and mine were both flawless...everything was alright. Everything was ok. Perfect family picture, us sitting at the breakfast table together. And the tension inducing standoff continued until I heard the phone ring in the kitchen. I took one last bite of my toast, and jumped up to grab it.


"Zack, what's up?" Omigod....it was Brody! Awww, he called me! I instinctively turned my back to my parents and nervously wrapped the phone cord around my finger. A blush crep into my cheeks, and I tried to keep from screaming and giggling like some kind of lovestruck boyband fan. "You're still coming over, right?"

"Um...yeah. Deinitely." I grinned sheepishly, leaning against the wall and trying to turn even further away from my parents so they wouldn't hear me. My whole body seemed to turn to jelly, and as I leaned my head against the wall, I tried to find enough words to speak. "So...like...when should I come over?" Oh wow...I so can't believe that I'm doing this!

"Anytime. You can come over now if you want." He said. "I miss you! I wanna have some fun with you today, so don't take too long, k?"

My smile silently swept across my face, almost big enough to split my head open. "Really?" I asked softly.

"Really what?"

"Um...like....you miss me?"

"Of course I miss you! I've been waiting for this day all week! Hehehe! Now hurry up! Are you dressed?"

"Yeah..." I giggled.

"Cool, then come over. I'll order us something to eat, and it should be here by the time you get here. K?"

"Um...k..." I got this sudden rush that shot out from my heart and sent a bolt of electricity through my entire body. I felt myself 'dip' as my knees got weak, an I could hardly stand at all as a severe case of the wiggles squirmed their way through my stomach. "I'll be there soon. Hehehe!" Why can't I stop giggling???

"Ok! See ya soon!" He said, and then he hung up the phone while I tried to keep a strong enough grip on the receiver to keep from dropping it on the floor. My very soul felt as though it was lost in a freefall, my mind dizzy from the pleasureable feelings crashing into it all at once. It was enough to turn anyone into mush.

I sighed to myself, and turned around to see both my Mom and Dad looking at me like I had suddenly grown a tail or something. Does it show? Am I still grinning? I forced my smile to instantly vanish, hoping that the blush in my cheeks wasn't as strong as it felt. "I have to...I'm going out. With some friends. I've gotta....go." I stuttered in front of them, and then rushed out of the kitchen before I gave anything else away. As soon as I got my shoes on, I went out of the front door instead of the back, making sure that I didn't cross their vision again. But I made sure to holler out a quick "BYE!" Before disappearing into the street before they had a chance to slow me down. Ok...Brody's house...I hope I remember the way. I was so infatuated the last time we rode out there together, I hardly paid any attention to anything but the soft sound of his voice. I'm pretty sure I'll find a familiar mailbox or something along the way to guide me.

My thoughts kept going over my last visit, repeating that one shining moment again and again like a scratched cd. The instant his eyes melted into that heartwarmning gaze of his, and he leaned forward to lightly touch his sweet lips to mine. Wow...the surge of joy that rushed through me just thinking about it caused the front wheel of my bike to swerve suddenly, and I swayed to the side as I tried to keep control. Hehehe, I don't think I've ever been so happy to almost fall down in my life. There it is again...that kiss. I blinked, and there it was again. And again. It was like I could still feel it. I wonder if he liked it. He smiled a litle bit when he moved back. I remember seeing him smile. At least..well...did I? The first time, he smiled. The second time I got all stupid and panicky on him. But that first time....mmmmm! He said 'make out with me'! Awwwwww he was so CUTE when he said it! Like, with that little whine in his voice, and his bright eyes staring at me like a set of high beam headlights! Whoah...I swerved again. Hehehe, I'm gonna end up falling in front of a bus if I'm not careful! But the whole way over there, no matter how hard I tried to focus...I just kept experiencing that first amazing kiss until my heart felt as though it was about to burst. My cheeks were sore from trying not to smile by the time I got to his neighborhood.

I remembered what his house looked like from the outside, and I sped up his driveway to lock my bike up next to the front steps. I made sure not to trample all over his grass or anything. Ok, Zack...whatever you do, don't let him know how crazy you are about him right away. Be cool. Be sweet. And just...try not to make an ass out of yourself. Pretend you're somebody else entirel and get Brody to see you something worse putting his mouth on. Omigod...that sounded hot! Hehehe! Geez, stop giggling! Ok..I'm good. I'm alright. Fix your hair, dork. There. Sighhh..I'm ready.

I walked up the few steps to his front door and rang the bell. Brody hurried over to the door, and opened it up with a big charming smile that made me quiver helplessly below the belt, and cut my breath intake into a third of what it was. He was talking on a cordless phone with somebody, but motioned for me to come on in. Here we go. Inside.

EEEK! Ok, ok, ok...I'm NOT ready! I'm NOT ready!

I took a few shaky steps into his house, and kicked my shoes off to put them next to the other shoes near the door. Brody was chit chatting away, and for a moment he turned his back to me, a bit preoccupied with his conversation. "Uh huh, yeah...well, I know it's Saturday...." He said. "I've got some plans today, that's all." I looked at him, and he was wearing this really light baby blue t-shirt, hat almost looked white from a distance, until you took a closer loo to see the blue tint in it. And blue jean shorts, the baggy kind that hung ust an inch or two down on his butt in the back. Hehehe, even with his belt tightened with the extra strap hanging down in front of his goodies, his pants still sagged a bit below the band of his navy lue boxers. When he turned around, all I could do was look at the belt line of his pants hugging the soft supple cheeks of his cute little butt, hanging on tight enough to keep them from falling. Not that I would complain. I'd love for them to fall for no other reason than he'd have to bend over to pick them up again. Mmmmm...that thought caused me to squirm a little, and I tried desperately to keep my mind out of the gutter. "Yeah.....hehehe....I know, he's here right now." Brody said, and I looked up, wondering who he was talking to. "No, I'm serious. Zack just showed up a couple of seconds ago. You wanna talk to him?" Who was that? "No?" He said, then he looked over at me, his smile dimming a little bit. "Ohh...sorry, I didn't know." Now I was beginning to fidget. This was getting uncomfortable. "Um...well...it just sorta happened. It was a last minute thing. So..." Brody stopped again, then he said, "Yeah, well, it was kinda private. So I told him not to tell anybody. That's probably why. So it's my fault, really. Ok?" This conversation sounds slightly like..."Yeah. Ok. Sorry about that dude, k? But it's my bad, seriously. Alright...I'll talk to ya on Monday. Later." Brody finally hung up the phone and said, "That was Adam. He was talking about...playing basketball in the park or something today."

"Oh..." I felt my spirits sinking, my jitters settling, and as my stare drooped down to Brody's feet, I began to worry that I'd emotionally hit rock bottom before I had a chance to swallow it down and hide it from him.

"He said you guys had some sort of fight or something?"

"Sorta....yeah..." My heart was sliding down into my stomach. I had only been in his house for a few seconds, and already I've been embarrassed.

"How come you didn't tell him you were coming over today?"

"I was just being dumb, that's all. I just...I thought today would be just you and me, you know? I kinda liked that." I mumbled. It was the truth, but it made me tremble to admit it. This was a mistake. I should get out of here before...

"Really?" Brody smiled. I looked up at him with a bit of confusion, causing him to giggle. "Omigod..." He blushed! He laughed a little bit, but then he blushed! He sorta playfully fell back over the edge of the sofa and laid with his legs over the side. "God, Zack...you say the coolest things to me, and you don't even realize it!" He smiled and looked up at the ceiling, making me nervously examine his face to see what I was missing here. He looked down at me, and gave me the warmest grin. "It's ok. I told him it was all my idea for you not to tell him. So it won't be your fault.

"You didn't have to lie for me, Brody, I just..."

"I didn't lie." He said, sitting up on his elbows. "I kinda want it to just be you and me too."

I knew Brody's almost psychotic need to make me feel good about whatever blatantly moronic thing I was doing at the moment...and he's sweet for wanting me to be happy and all...but it wasn't fair for me to ruin his Saturday. I shouldn't have come. "You know, honestly...if you wanna go play basketball with the fellas...you can go. I don't mind." I hid my eyes from him as much as I could. But, GOD, was I bluffing! I don't mind??? Was I fucking KIDDING? If he decided to go play basketball instead of staying here while I pretend to have the courage to kiss him again...I'd be broken down into an uncontrollable fit of hysterical sobs before I reached the front door.

"Um...well I don't really feel like going anywhere. Do you?" He asked. I silently shook my head, and his smile brightened. "Me either. So let's just...I dunno...'hang out' or something. K? Just us."

Did you hear that, brain? He said 'just us'. And he was soooo adorable about it. Please process that info, analize it, translate it into something believeable, and get back to me with some kind of appropiate response to give him. Please God...if there is ANY way possible that I could get this beautiful boy to be my boyfriend...PLEASE do it! Just give me a chance! I'll do it good! I PROMISE! I'll be so much better for him. I don't care if it kills me...I'll make it work. I'll make him proud of me. I will. Just...please don't let him hurt me like everybody else. Please?

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get all...strange on you." He said after waiting for me to react. I must have been the one causing that uncomfortable silence between us. Shit! You're fucking up, Zack! Pay attention for goodness sakes!

"No! It's ok. I...I...I like that you said that." I said. It was tricky trying to stumble forward with a bit of flirtatious courage, but I don't think that was too bad.

He smiled again, and laid back down on the couch for a moment. "Dude...you are, like...killing me right now." Killing him? What did he mean? Does he mean in a good way, or in a bad way?

"Uh..I'm sorry..." I instantly apologized by habit alone, assuming that I had done something wrong.

"Hahaha! You SEE???" He said. Great, now he's laughing at me. "Don't look all serious! I love it! It's adorable!" He giggled. Then, he stared at the ceiling again for a second more while a sigh escaped his lips. His eyes focused themselves on me, and with a slightly sensual rasp in his voice, he softly moaned, "Come here." He was laying on his back, his legs over the arm of the sofa, looking down at me with the most amazingly beautiful eyes in existence...and he was asking me to come over there. I almost got hard instantly, making it a bit difficult to walk and hide it at the same time. And then he reached out both of his arms. Does he want me to hug him? To get on top of him, maybe? Oh man...I'd do anything to get on top of him right now! "Help me up." He smiled, and I turned red from being so...so dirty. Hehehe! I took him by his hands and gave a slight yank as he pulled himself back over the arm of the sofa. He stood up right in front of me, and his smile softened a bit as we stood almost nose to nose. Then he fought off the feeling. "I promised I'd be good today, didn't I?"

"Be good?" I asked.

"Nevermind. I just..." He stopped and stared at me for a moment, a pain in his eyes, like he was longing to tell me something. It made me wish that the same words on the tip of my tongue were on the tip of his. And with a single touch, the message could be conveyed through a french kiss. Being this close to him was so intimidating. "...You're so..." He stopped again, the words choking up in his throat, and then he looked away from me. "Nevermind." He repeated.

"No, go ahead. You can say it." I said, anxiously wishing that he could put me out of my misery by just uttering those few earth shattering words. Words that I had only dreamed of being spoken in my direction. Tell me, Brody. Oh man, just tell me.

"Hehehe, it's ok. It's nothing." He backed up a bit and walked around me towards his room. "Come on. We'll play a game or something until we figure out what to do."

I didn't follow at first. I was kinda stuck in my tracks. My heart was beating so hard that it was making my shirt vibrate. He turned back to see where I was, and raised an eyebrow at me with a playful smirk. "Oh! Um...ok." I blurted out, and made sure that I wasn't 'stiff' down there before getting up to join him.

He giggled sweetly to himself, and said, "Dude, you are SO gonna make me wanna make out with you again!"

"Hehehe, you wish!" I said. I don't know where it came from...but I was trying to approach this from an angle that didn't make me look like some kind of dork. That's not easy to do when you're in the presence of the one person on the planet who throws your whole world into chaos with his very presence. The way I swooned from the sound of his teenage voice, you would think that my very equilibrium was affected by his words alone. And it felt damn good to be so out of control...when you believed that the cutest boy on Earth would catch you if you fell. Wow. There's that rush again. Can you feel it?

Brody and I took turns playing Stubbs The Zombie on his game system, and laughing nonstop at the hilarious antics of the game. Brody had just rented it from the video store for the first time, and we were surprised at how funny it was. Of course, any game where you get to play a zombie running around town and eating the brain and gore out of random people's heads while they scream in terror and beg for mercy has GOT to be fun! But w took turns, spending over an hour just being 'playmates'. No plans, no pressue, no lustful advances or dirty daydreams. It was just lke brody sid....itwas 'just us'. You know, for a minute there, while we were cracking up at the level where the zombie has been challenged to a 'dance off' by a midget police officer, I had almost forgotten how powerful Brody's charm was. How sweet his laugh was. How...utterly gorgeous he was to look at. And every now and then, while we were giggling away, I'd notice him looking at me. Our eyes would connect for a moment, and it almost became a second game in itself, trying to hold the eye contact for as long as we could before it got 'weird' for us. Then our attention would go right back to the game, and things became normal again. It kept happening though. It was like he couldn't keep his eyes off of me, and the only reason I knew that was because I couldn't keep my eyes off of him either. I couldn't believe that we were actually having...fun together. I mean, I've had fun before, sure. But I've always been too terrified of Brody to really let myself go and truly be myself in front of him before. This was different. This was nice.

We reached a part of the game where a robot gas pump was filling up a police car...and the pump was right where his crotch was! Hahaha! Brody and I were nearly in tears as the robot stuck this huge, fuel pumping, phallus into the cop's tank, and put his hands behind his head as he filled it up with gas...humping the car slowly while the officers pretended not to notice...and ven though we were both laughing, I noticed Brody's eyes on me again. I was sitting on the floor at the foot of his bed, and he was laying on his stomach on the mattress, his head not far from mine. He laid his head down, his soft brown curls draped lightly over his forearm...and he just smiled at me. Our laughs died down a bit, and then...he just kinda looked at me. I thought, for a moment, that his was just our little staring game again. But this time, it felt different. It was more intense somehow. And when the laughs faded, it was just him and me...staring dreamily at one another in silence. It might have only been a few seconds or so, but it felt like infinity and then some.

Then, Brody reached out a hand and petted my hair once or twice. "I'm glad you came over, Zack."

I saw him wiggle a bit, and my whole body nearly melted into the carpet. "Me too." I said, my voice straining a bit with a little squeak. The video game kinda started up without us, and we just let it run by itself...not paying any attention.

"You know...we should do this more often or something. We can make a ritual of it, you know?" Brody's voice had gotten so soft. It was just slightly above a whisper now.

"Ok...I'd like that." I whispered back, feeling the pressure in the room become so strong that my chest felt as though it was collapsing under the weight of it all. Brody just stared at me for a moment, and then lifted his head a bit to move closer. I have to admit, it scared me a little bit. But I didn't move away.

"Cool." He moaned. For no reason at all, I smiled, feeling my face flush hot with a crimson glow. He smiled too, and moved a little closer. "I just....sighhh...I like having you over here, Zack."

It seemed like he was just trying to find something to say to me, but the whole time, his eyes were focused on my mouth, and his breath was soooo sweet as it breezed across my brow. I wanted to move closer too. I wanted to kiss him right away and feel that excitement again. Absorb all of the magic that I had missed the first time. But instead, I sat paralyzed, with a goofy grin on my face, and a pair of hands that would have been shaking beyond control if I wasn't still holding onto that video game controller. "I was surprised you asked me back. I mean...after last time..." WHAT??? NO!!! NO, you fucking dumbass!!! Don't bring that up NOW!!!

I instantly started to hate myself over the slip of the tongue, but as I battered my own self esteem with both fists, Brody only moved closer. His breathing was different this time too. And he seemed a bit nervous. "Zack?" He asked quietly...waiting for me to answer.

"Yeah?" I said, mustering up just enough breath to create a soft whisper, and nothing more.

"If I tell you something...will you promise me that you won't get mad?"

"Um...I dunno." I said, sheepishly shrugging my shoulders, and trying to look down at the sheets on his bed to avoid his eyes. I took a quick glance up at his face, and giggled a little...the tension in the room growing stronger by the second.

"You have to say yes first, ok? Otherwise...I can't tell you." He said, inching just a little closer, his head on the mattress, leaning sideways, almost close enough for his nose to lean down and put his head on my shoulder.

"O-o-ok...." I felt my breath turn ice cold, and I became dizzy with the intensity of the moment. Would it happen again? Is this it? What do I do? Maybe I don't have to do anything! Maybe he'll do it all for me. I'm so dumb when it comes to this stuff. Oh Brody...please love me. Please, oh please, oh please!

"You know....last weekend? It wasn't a mistake. I mean...it was....but it wasn't. You know what I mean?" He said, and I just sorta nodded slowly while looking into his hypnotic eyes. I would have said anything for another kiss. Anything. "Zack...if I didn't do it...it would have hurt soooo bad, you know?" What was he saying? Come on, don't make me figure it out. I'm no good at figuring this stuff out. What if I'm wrong? Arrrgh! "Zack...I like you, ok? A lot. I can't help it. And..." He scooted closer again. "...Today, I think I like you even more than I already did. You're smile is like...everything to me." He stopped for a moment, waiting for some kind of reaction. All I could do was nod my head again, my blush reddening as he was close enough to whisper in my ear. "You're not mad are you?"

".............no....." I whimpered, so turned on that my eyes almost teared up from the adrenaline burning its way through me. I was quaking from head to toe, and he was so close. My bottom lip quivered, and it made him smile. He pressed his forehead against mine, and closed his eyes for a second as he took a deep breath. Ok...I didn't know if I was ready for this or not. But this wasn't a dream anymore. This was real. And no hateful voice in the back of my mind is going to ruin it this time.

He rubbed his nose up and down my cheek for a second, and I just closed my eyes too, revelling in the sensation until I felt him disconnect from the surface of my skin, and we looked at each other again. He started to lower his head and lean forward...just like last time, but he stopped. This time, he looked me in the eye, and he said, "Zack...can I kiss you?" I was so worked up that I could hardly sit still. I felt like I had an army of snakes in my belly the way it was wiggling and squirming around. But I didn't move. I didn't dare. "Please?" He asked. "I'll stop if you want me to." A stray tear fell from my eye, but in front of him, I didn't feel the least bit embarrassed. Instead, with a sniffle, I nodded my head again, and watched as Brody eagerly scoot the rest of the way over to get better access to me. He was trembling. Just slightly, but I could feel it. And although it was just slightly awkward, he leaned down and lightly connected his kissably pink lips to my own.

It was a feeling like none other. It took every bit of control that I had to just sit still and enjoy it. My body want to jump up, and scream, and run around the room at top speed until I could climb the walls without effort. I wanted to rocket myself to the moon! My heartbeat sped up, and my emotions began to uncurl all at once. I had never, and I mean EVER, felt so unspeakably free before. That one kiss made the world beautiful again. That one kiss cured everything that ailed me in an instant. And I let go. I truly let go, feeling my heart and my very soul being set adrift on a lazy current that led me straight to cloud nine.

Brody's breathing got a bit heavier, and I felt the mattress dip a bit as he scooted even closer, his fingertips resting on my chin, and turning my head slightly so he could apply more pressure between our lips. He's kissing me. He's really kissing me. Oh God....GOD....thank you! I never had a single one of my dreams come true before. I've never known what it was like to be the prize possession in someone else's vision of beauty before. Thank you God...for picking this wish to be the one you granted out of all the others. Thank you.

My hands finally let go of the controller, and I felt the tip of Brody's tongue secretly lick just inside of my bottom lip. My mind went wild with panicked thoughts, hoping and praying that I was doing this right. Wondering if Brody was thinking 'Geez, he's a terrible kisser' right now. So I tried to up the ante in the passion of it all, and allowed my tongue to slide slowly against his. Brody moaned, and shuffled his body forward a bit on the bed, our lips gently chewing and smacking at one another as he got more confident with his kiss. Our tongues started out only touching and rubbing at first, but soon, we were sucking hungrily on each other's tastebuds. Our lips made a smacking noise, and the game on his tv screen had been forgotten about completely. Our heads moved back and forth, sometimes with him being the more aggressive kisser, sometimes with me taking the lead. And it was sooooooo cool! I had never really kissed anybody before. I mean, Brody just kinda kissed me the last time, while I sat there in shock. But...this was like...being a participant in a nearly sexual act! This was like actual making out here, you know? Jesus! I can't believe that I wasn't screaming right now! Plus, I was surprised at how I was able to just...'wing it' like this. My lips just seemed to fit his perfectly, our tongues just seemed to dance together in unison automatically. I didn't really have to think about anything. It just sorta happened, and my natural instincts filled in the rest.

After a few minutes of heated kissing, Brody took his lips from mine, leaving us both panting quietly from the loss of contact. And we opened our eyes to look at each other. And that's when I said, "Aiden..."

Brody's brow wrinkled up in the cutest way, "What?"

"Aiden. My middle name is...it's Aiden." I said. Brody gave me the most confusing look, and then he burst out with a few snickers.

"Hehehe, you pick NOW to tell me that???" He laughed.

I couldn't help but blush and giggle myself. "Sorry. Hehehe, I couldn't think of anything else to say."

He rolled over on his back, and looked up at the ceiling again. Lost in a dream. And he sighed, "Is it too early to say that I feel like I'm totally falling in love with you, Zack?"

Silence. I couldn't have prepared myself for that if I tried. My whole body went numb, and the butterflies in my stomach fluttered about to the point where it almost made me sick. My eyes focused themselves down at the carpet, and I realized that I just...didn't know how to answer. Why was it at times of extremely happiness...the darkness came rolling back in. I felt my emotions tighten up all on their own, and this soul destroying fear took a hold of me. It was like every inner alarm I had was telling me not to answer. Don't do it, Zack! PLEASE don't do it! Don't fall in love! It's only gonna hurt a zillion times worse when it's over! You're gonna regret ever knowing him someday. Just as soon as he learns to regret ever knowing you...which, knowing your track record, won't take long at all.

"I feel like I'm flying. God....you have no idea how badly I wanted to get the chance to be here with you like this. And now? Now I'm just so lost. Wow. Zack, can I kiss you again?" He grinned, and rolled back over to his side to look at me. But he didn't see what he was expecting to see in me. Instead, he saw a scared little boy, sitting on the floor at the foot of his bed, his face soaked with tears. "Zack?" I felt like I couldn't speak. Was it fear that I felt inside? Or was it joy? Or just plain confusion? Maybe it was a combination of all three, fighting for superiority and causing a sensory overload that made me shut down this way. Who knows? "Aww, dude...did I do something wrong? I'm sorry, I just..." I shook my head, still searching for the emotion that could possibly be conveyed in some manner of intelligent speech. All I could do was sniffle and cry. It was joy, wasn't it? Too much happiness all at once...freezing me solid, as I turned my back on all of the pain in my life that came before it...and quite possibly all of the pain to come later.

But for now...I had balance. And I just didn't know how to handle it yet.

"Come up here, man. Come on." Brody said, reaching down to take me by the hand. I stood up without protest, a blank stare on my face. And I watched Brody spin around to prop up a few pillows on his bed and lean back against the headboard. He then guided me to ay down next to him....and he wrapped both of his arms around me in a warm embrace, kissing me softly on the lips again.

Why was I like this? I can't even control myself anymore. I'm soooo stupid. How could I fuck this up today? He must think I'm such a basket case. Feeling the humiliation of it all, I began to sob a little on Brody's shoulder. And then I whimpered, "I'm sorry, Brody. I'm so sorry."

"Shhhhh, no baby, don't be sorry. Ok? Don't be sorry." He kissed me on the forehead. The same loving kiss that only my own mother knew the design of before. And I rolled into him to cry quietly in the nape of his neck while he slowly stroked up and down my back. He made it disappear. All of it. And it felt like my body just couldn't handle it anymore. "We'll go really slow. Ok?" He said. I nodded, and then settled into his compassionate snuggle while he held me still. Occassionally placing angel kisses on my cheek, and letting his hand run up and down my side. We were so close at that moment. And I could tell that he was hard as rock down there. We both were. And yet, we were sharing something that didn't need those particular parts to make us feel good. At least not for now.

If only I had known a love like this in my life before...I might have been ready to open my arms and accept it willingly. Instead, I came crashing through a glass roof, helpless to fight the gravity weighing me down to the ground below. But you know what...it's ok. Because someone was there to catch me.

Thank you for catching me, Brody.

Thank you so much for reading the latest chapter of "My Only Escape". I know that it's been an ice age and then some since the last installment, but this story stays close to my heart. Always. This one was especially for you Chris Conklin. They all are. Thank you for making "M.O.E." available in Australia, and for, what I still believe to be, a perfect reading of the story. I miss you more than you'll ever know. My friend.

Please let me know what you think at Comicality@webtv.net or stop by the website at http://comicality.gayauthors.org. And if you want to order the audio cd version of the first five chapters, as read professionally by Chris Conklin, there's only a limited number of cd sets left. So check out "M.O.E. CDs" on the site and find out how you can get your own personal audio set of the series!