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"Never Again 2:"

"I'm gonna lock my heart and throw away the key. I'm wise to all those 'tricks' you played on me. I'm gonna turn my back on love, gonna snub the moon above. Seal all my windows up with the love bug can't get in. I'm gonna park my romance right along the curb. Hang a sign up on my heart, 'please don't disturb'. And if I NEVER fall in love again, that's soon enough for me. I'm gonna lock my heart and throw away the key." -Billie Holiday

You know...those 'bad times', when you're thinking about the pain and nothing else, they come in clumps. Two or three days here, three or four days there....occassionally it lasts for a week straight. Depending on whatever else is going on for me at that particular time. But it phases out a bit eventually. And just exists as a dull little ache in the echoes of your empty soul. Waiting to come back and haunt you again in another week or so. Luckily for me, that pain was temporarily in remission when I went back to school over the next couple of days. And that gave me a few quiet moments to notice this 'other' boy, who suddenly seemed to have found an open invitation into my life now that I had consciously recognized him as someone familiar. His beauty was evident in everything that he did, and even though I was always watching from afar, I felt like he had noticed me too. Figure that...a boy who is 'accessible' and 'untouchable' at the same time. I swear, I must be a glutton for punishment. I don't care how cute he is...I'm not getting caught up in this again. Fuck that. For ONCE, I'm gonna learn my lesson.

And that's exactly what I told myself for the rest of the day, and the night...and the next day. And pretty much 24 hours a day for the next week straight! Everyday I would see him somewhere. In the halls, in the parking lot, on the lawn, the cafeteria, coming down the stairs, and once, he stood behind me at the vending machine. But I hardly said much of anything to him. Nothing more than 'Hey' or 'Hi' or 'Hello' or any other greetings that could possibly be conveyed in one word or less. And he responded every single time. The last few times, he even smiled. It was very cool to see, but whenever I felt the excitement building inside of me, I choked it back to the point where I almost gagged on it, and then sped away from him as fast as I could without appearing 'insane' in any way. Trust me, it's not an easy balance. Having even the smallest interest in this boy was both alluring and dangerous for me. It's the equivalent of that weird impulse that a kid has to stick his fingers into the rapidly spinning blades of a fan. Sure, he has some awareness that it will most likely cut him up and shred him to pieces...but the idea of it all is too mysterious, too 'fantastic', to pass up sometimes. I don't know. It was confusing to me. I'm an idiot to even consider doing this again.

"Hey..." Came a voice over my shoulder.

I looked up, and had to catch my breath as I saw the kid I'd been obsessing over looking down at me at the lunch table. I had to put down my sandwich and just look at him for a second before I could answer. "Hi..." I said nervously.

There was a silence, and as he waited for more pearls of wisdom to come out of my mouth, I began to really long for those days when conversations between us ended there. But this time, he fought the urge to walk away, and I felt physically trapped by my own common courtesy to stay where I was. I had nowhere to go, no way to escape. And my breaths just got shorter and shorter with each uncomfortable second of him standing there. That's when he smiled and said, "You know...I see you, like, ALL the time, and I have no idea what your name is."

"Hehehe....weird..." I answered. And then I looked down at my feet as another pause hit us. I noticed the quiet, and then looked up and saw him staring back at me with a confused look. What? What was I doing wrong NOW? OMIGOD! Oh shit! "OH!!! Oh...dude, I'm sorry! It's Daniel...I name is Danny..." I stuck out my hand, blushing hard and wishing that I could take back my stupid mistake. Great going nerd boy, you're doing 'great' for your first 30 seconds of actual contact.

"Danny? I'm Brice. Nice to finally meet you." He put his hand on my shoulder and lightly patted me there. Having him touch me anywhere was awesome, and it made me giggle a bit to feel the butterflies in my stomach fluttering so wildly. It felt kinda cool. I was talking to him. Actually 'talking' to him. As in a conversation that went beyond 'hi' and who said it first.

"I'm sorry. Pay me no mind...I'm just really out of it today..."

"It's ok. Really. I know the feeling." His smile was an absolute treasure. Anything that I did or said that brought it out of him felt like a true accomplishment. "Sometimes this place has that effect on you." His voice was so pleasant. It kinda rang in your ears like the resonating chimes of a little silver bell on Christmas.

"Yeah......sometimes..." I said back, my fingers kind playing with my milk carton, spinning it in small circles on my tray. I wanted to invite him to sit down, but my voice completely went out on me. I felt that excitement building again, the butterflies now turning into a disrupted cave of BATS as I fought to keep from shaking. Just a simple look from him had enough power to begin a chemical reaction in me that I couldn't control. Like a magnet, it sucked all of my insecurities to the surface, and soon I felt too awkward to move. "Do you..." Come on...just say the damn words, Danny! "Do you want to sit...down...or something...?" I was so short of breath, almost gasping for air at the moment. As his eyes looked into mine, I began to visibly tremble in his presence.

"Do you mind?" He asked.

"No. No. Go ahead. Please." I choked and I choked and I choked....trying HARD to get myself to talk to him. But being this close to 'Brice' was becoming a battle that I wasn't going to be able to win.

We hardly said anything the whole time he was there. He tried to gently inspire some kind of speech out of me, but I was too restricted to comply. Our lunch period only lasted about 45 minutes, but it felt like an eternity times TEN. I mean that in the best way possible, of course. I was afraid to look at him, afraid to talk to him, and most importantly...I was afraid to listen to that lost bubbly energy inside of me, SCREAMING for attention for the first time since Adam...left me. It kicked at me from the inside, telling me it would be alright, telling me to talk and to laugh and to just give in to that feeling all over again. But I didn't. I couldn't. As cute and as friendly as he was...the problem here involved more than just me being 'shy'. It was bigger than that, and I needed this to slow down. It's taken me an entire year of pain to even get this far in my recovery from the last vicious heartbreak. I just...I don't want love to be a part of my life right now. Maybe not ever. I want to be happy, you know? I know that sounds like a very strange statement, but it's the truth. Once you're in a plane crash emergency, and you're lucky enough to survive just...don't want to be near airplanes for a while. This is no different. Every feeling and emotion that began to rise up inside of me, was laced with a memory of how much it hurt to lose the ONE thing that made me feel good about myself. I didn't WANT anybody's help, or any encouragement, or any swift kicks in the head to make me see the 'error' in my judgement. I just wanted my heart to be safe. Safe, and cautious, and for the time being...alone. This 'Brice' character, with his sweet smile and bright eyes, was a serious threat to that safety. And I don't want to be anybody's sucker anymore.

"I'm...I'm really sorry, but I forgot that I had some homework to do for next class. I've gotta go, ok?" I said, guzzling down the rest of my milk. Hoping to get away.

"Um, yeah. Sure. Well, it was nice meeting you, Danny. Finally, hehehe!"

I smiled at him, trying to hold back the thrill it gave me, "Nice meeting you too."

As I walked away, I heard him say, "Maybe we'll meet up again sometime? In the hallway or something?"

"Yeah. Maybe." I hope that wasn't too rude. He was just being cool, I'm sure. It's not like I meant to be a jerk. I just don't think I'm willing to put myself through the humiliation right now. What did I know about him? What did he know about me? Nothing. He was an infatuation who would never get any further than some lotion soaked fingers and a sigh of relief at the end of another fabulous jerk off session. So I don't even know why my body was responding to him the way it was. It's just ridiculous. And it was exactly that thought that stayed in my head for the next dayor two, as I attempted to keep my distance from things. Occasionally avoiding Brice at all costs, occasionally running into him by accident and being scared out of my wits. But every once in a while...just ever so often...I was honestly able to convince myself that I wasn't scared of him. That he might be a good friend as long as I kept him at arm's length. We bumped into each other more and more often over the next week. We talked, we smiled, we even laughed a few times over lunch. It was kinda cool, and as I got to know him better, I found him to be a really sweet and genuine person. I began to look forward to seeing him at lunch every day. He made me smile again with less and less effort on his part, and it felt good to have a close buddy to hang out with. Without all of the weirdness, hurt feelings, and tension. Believe it or not, it was almost like having a little piece of Adam in my life again.

Brice was extremely funny when he wanted to be, and outgoing with just a touch of shyness that made for a very cute combination. He was smart, but hardly cocky about it. And he had this ability to really analyze your emotions without really trying to. Not in an INVASIVE way...he just had this good sense of perception, I guess, and he could tell when I was feeling down. Even when I faked a smile. He was beautiful on the inside as well as onthe surface, and I must admit that I sometimes admired that in him. Brice was one of a kind, and I was honored that he shared a glimpse of his wonderful aura with me. It was intoxicating. And it helped to take the pain away, if only for a few minutes at a time.

But it wasn't meant to last. Because that's when 'it' day out of the blue.

"Dude...did you see the trailer for that new James Bond flick? Does that NOT look kick ass?" Brice smiled, taking a bite out of his octagon shaped pizza disc 'thing'.

"Actually, yeah. That DOES look pretty sweet. I'd love to check it out too."

"You're a James Bond fan?" He smiled.

"Of course, are you kidding me? I have been since Connery." I answered.

"Ahhh...good man." Brice took another bite of his pizza, and gave me a rather bashful look during our slight pause in the conversation. Brice wasn't usually one to clam up during one of our interactions, and I wondered what was on his mind as he looked down at the table for a second or two. " you...wanna go? Or something?" He mumbled, working up a fake smile that showed the jitters he was having from just asking me.

"Go where?"

"To um.....the movies? On Friday night. We both like Bond, so...we can both check it out together, right?" His nervousness seemed to melt away once the words had left his mouth, and he became...somewhat 'normal' again. "It'll be fun."

Now it was MY turn to tremble inside. "Just you and me...?"

"Sure, why not?" He smiled, and the vision of it made my stomach sink into a frenzy of quakes that terrified me without mercy.

It could have been my imagination, but I could have sworn that time itself came to a screeching halt when he said those if silently waiting for me to answer before starting up again. I swallowed hard, and suddenly all of that vigorous energy, all of those frenzied butterflies that I was convinced were going away as we got to be better acquainted with each other, they came rushing back to me with a vengence. The fear that I felt was 100 times worse than it was the first day he spoke to me. What was going on here???

" go? On Friday?"

"Yeah. I figured we could catch an evening showing or something afterschool. You game?" His blue eyes seemed to crystallize along with his smile as they looked straight through me, almost pleasantly daring me to say no.

Do I accept? Do I refuse? Why does he suddenly want to hang out outside of school? What IS this anyway? I liked him as a FRIEND, what's he doing? Things were going GREAT between us! We were getting along, we were bonding, we were laughing, we were even spending lunch hour together. Why does he suddenly want to break the 'rules' and invade my little 'safety circle' by getting all...personal about it? The only reason I was able to control myself around this cute guy over the last few weeks was the fact that I could effectively keep Brice at a good distance and not have to worry about feelings or emotions or heartbreak or ANY of that stuff! I don't WANT them! I don't NEED them! I was fine. But he wants to break through the barricades of what's comfortable. He wants to HURT me...just like everybody else in my life! He wants to get closer...and that the knife in his pocket will be able to reach my heart. So that he'll have the opportunity to cut me as deeply as Adam once did, if not DEEPER. To stab and twist it around my very spirit until I don't have enough left to survive the next day. WHY? Why can't he just leave it alone?

I felt myself physically push away from the table a few inches, and looked down at my hands. He wants more. He wants to be close to me. Well...I'm sorry....but to hell with THAT! I'm NOT going through that again, not for anybody. It took every last bit of strength that I had to keep from putting a razor blade to my fucking wrist the LAST time I was left behind, I won't have the strength to survive this again. Not now. Maybe not ever again. If Brice turns out to be another version of the pain Adam put me through, if he leaves me the way the last boy of my dreams did, then I'll gladly toss myself off of the school roof without a second's hesitation. I'll set the final date, I'll leave a note, I'll let every single person who ever knew me know that they had broken me down to nothing for the last time. I'd be better off dead, then have to live with another year's worth of tears because someone I loved decided that they couldn't stand me anymore. All it takes is a moment's courage, and a piece of paper to say goodbye to the people I love. I'd do it, and I'd be proud. Better to die a lion than live as a sheep.

I hesitated a bit, hoping that he'd take the offer back on his own. But when he didn't, I decided to make things clear. So I glanced up into those piercing bue pools of his, cleared my throat, and told him, " know what? I am probably going to be extremely busy this weekend with...'stuff'. So....."

"Oh..." He replied.

"Um....yeah.'s probably not such a good idea. You know? You should probably go with someone else." He didn't really appear to be hurt by my words, but he wasn't really as happy as he was a second ago. In fact, it was the first time he didn't look me directly in the eye. He nodded, and took another bite out of his pizza, chewing in silence. I watched him for a few moments...wondering if maybe he took the rejection harder than he was letting on, but I couldn't really tell. And the longer he went without speaking, second by second, the more nervous I got. I couldn't take this...this is weird. I'm outta here. "You know what? I've gotta run. I'm turning in some late homework, so I gotta leave a few minutes early today. Ok?" He didn't look up, just nodded while chewing. He was pretty straight faced, and I already missed the charm of his smile. "Sorry." I said.

"Of course you are." He mumbled under his breath. It's not like I rejected his friendship or anything. I just wanted to slow down a little bit. That's all. I's JUST a movie. He can go with anybody.

"I really am sorry, k? Honest. I'm not just saying that."

Brice sighed a bit to himself. "Yeah, I know. Go." I wanted to say something comforting to let him know that we were still friends. GOOD friends. But he didn't give me the chance. He grabbed his backpack and said a quick, "Maybe some other time, huh?" before flashing me a quick grin and taking off.

Grrr...why did I feel like garbage after that? I thought things were cool with us being friends at school. HE'S the one upsetting the balance. HE'S the one trying to disrupt what we had. I'm just trying not to ruin everything. I was....I'm just afraid to let him in so quickly, ok? So sue me! You don't know how SCARY it is to open up to somebody when you've been scarred like this. Still...I felt bad, even though my actions had insured that I could remain at a safe distance for a little while longer. Goal achieved, but at what price? I kept thinking in circles, going around and around, stuck between what I wanted, and what I'd have to bear if it turned out that I was wrong again. After all the talking and hanging out that we had done, I didn't have the idea that Brice was 'just another pretty face' to use as an excuse anymore. The truth is, he was a PERSON now. A beautiful, cheerful, wonderfully enchanting person. There were a lot of really special qualities that I saw in Brice. Qualities I found attractive. Little things, things that I'm sure no one else ever gets to see because they're not looking hard enough. He was emotionally magnetic, physically adorable, and mentally stimulating in so many ways that it was hard to avoid a crush on him. He was caring, humorous, and he had the cutest little habits, like biting the end of his thumb when he was nervous, or tapping his fingers lightly on the table when it was quiet and he was thinking of something to say. There was a lot to love about him. But that aside, I'm not going to deal with the consequences of giving a piece of myself to someone else. That's all. End of story. He'll just have to understand that until I'm ready. If I'm ever ready.

I went home that night, thinking about this blasted situation from every angle possible. I was dizzy with the idea of it all. And by the time I had gone to bed, my head ached from focusing on it so intensely for so long without an answer. Maybe I was being stupid. I was treating Brice like he was gay, or interested, or he was trying to purposely do something bad to me. And that's not fair. I's a movie. It's popcorn, and fun, and gunshots, and explosions. Just two boys having fun on a Friday, right? Maybe I should go. If for no other reason than to let him know that I didn't mean to be such a jerk. Yeah.....yeah, I think I'll go. Besides...what else do I have to do this weekend?

As I drifted off to sleep that night, my subconscious began to spin and conjure up all of the images that I had been trying to rid myself of for weeks. But this time, as sleep took over, my conscious mind wasn't there to reason and analyze everything to the point where I thought about things rationally. This time, my mind went into pleasure overload, with no boundaries or limits of any kind. No consequences, no fears, no safety pads or silly precautions. Just my hormones and the expression of what I wanted most...Brice.

The dream didn't have a beginning or an end that I can remember, I just suddenly found myself laughing with him, hugging him close, and then leaning forward for a kiss. A sensual joining of his soft lips to mine. I never knew how cool it would feel to kiss those thin, rose colored, 'oh-so-sensual' lips. I never thought about the actual act of us making out for more than a second, and even then it was only by accident. He was always doing something cute that would summon this sexual attraction for him that I'd have to suppress quick while staring him right in the eye. I was always terrified to dwell on it for long for fear that I would get wrapped up in the fantasy. Or worse, that he'd see the thoughts playing in my mind. But in this dream, I really enjoyed it. And my God...I had no idea that a dream kiss could taste this good. I raised my hand up to pet the soft brown locks of his hair as I slowly tilted my head to the side, willingly letting the emotions in my heart take me hostage. Things progressed to him laying on top of me fully clothed, and then me on top of him, then the both of us lying on our sides. My mind directed and edited the little 'movie' flawlessly, and I found myself breathless at the feel of his arms around me. Brice moved his angelic kisses down to my neck, to my chest, and then to the front of my pants. He rubbed his face back and forth across it, licking it hard through the fabric, and my legs turned to marshmellows. It seemed so surreal when I felt him open the zipper, pull my hardness from its confines, and slowly take it into his warm wet mouth. Sucking at it hard, bobbing up and down at a sexy tempo that nearly made me collapse. Nothing had ever felt better, nothing.

The scenes began to change and switch more rapidly the closer I came to exploding. Visions of us kissing hard, 69 positions, oral sex, anal sex, more kissing, more sucking, more was insane. It was as though all of my holding back and restraint had been put into these particular reserves for later use. And now my imagination was going to binge on them. I got closer, and closer, and closer. Hearing him moan, whispering my name between the tender kisses that he placed on my abdomen just above my silken pubic hairs. I felt the warmth and wetness around my 5 and a half inch member, and soon it was too much for me to fight off my impending climax. I tensed, I strained, I squirmed, and then I woke up...just as my orgasm began to take hold of me!

No no NO! But it was too late, my body was already shivering from its release, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It's almost a sickening feeling the first few wet dreams you have. It's never as pleasant as people make it out to be. Damn MESSY is what it is!

The next morning I woke up tired and groggy from having to change the sheets at 3 AM. Not only that, but I had to find the courage to go back to sleep. My emotions were beginning to betray me, throwing caution into the wind and setting me up for the same cycle of pain that I had grown so afraid of. And yet, as much as I wanted to wish it away and put the feeling off for just a FEW more weeks until I was sure I was going to be ok...the sensations wouldn't stop. They refused. As soon as I hit my alarm to shut it off that morning, that dream of Brice was the first thing that came to mind. I remembered it in vivid detail. I could still feel his strong arms softly wrapped around me. I could still smell the sweetened scent of his heated body, still feel the imprint that his lips made on mine. I felt a little bit more alive than I had the day before. A bit more alive than I ever felt before. This was quickly slipping out of my control, and that was beginning to hurt already.

My mom only put some toast and eggs together for breakfast, and when I came downstairs, she was finishing up one of her many cell phone rendezvous. Which didn't bother me so much today. It was better that I had some quiet time to think. The visions I was having, creating a false prophecy of Brice and I being together, were slowly overpowering my reality. Even while eating, it caused me to lose focus and daydream about him kissing me again. It was as though it really happened, and it made me feel good. Bottom line...that morning, I woke up infatuated beyond my better judgement. God help me. I'm doing it again. And all because of this STUPID movie!

"Are you feeling alright, honey? You have been acting really strange lately." My mom said.

"Well, how would you like me to act?"

I didn't want that to sound snotty, but I think it might have come out that way, considering the way she sighed when she sat down across the table from me. "Fine. If you don't want me to ask, I won't ask. I just....Danny...I'm here. Ok? I'"

"I know." I said, and took another bite of my toast. "I'm sorry." I mumbled softly. Then looked up to see her still giving me that concerned look. She seemed so lost when it came to me these days. So confused. Like...things used to be so much easier for her to fix. Well...they used to be easier for ME to fix too. So I guess we're BOTH gonna have a hard time figuring me out. "Thanks, Mom." I said, with my most sincere face on. It seemed to give her some peace, and she got up from the table to finish getting ready for work while I ate the rest of my breakfast. Something tells me I'm gonna need the energy. This was going to be a very interesting day indeed.

I thought about Brice the entire drive to school. Wondering how I was going to approach him, how I was going to accept a generous offer that I had already turned down. I even managed to work up some fake courage-like substitute to keep myself from punking out at the last minute. I just hoped it would last long enough to say what I needed to say.....whatever THAT was gonna be. Here's the school. Ok. Glass clown mask back's showtime.

I went to my first period class with a strange feeling of paranoia following me. I wondered if anyone else could see it in my eyes. If they could read my mind and know about the erotic dreams that I had about another boy. If they could see my scheme to take another shot at getting close to somebody again. I couldn't concentrate at all, not with all those imaginary eyes staring me down with every step. Later on that day, that paranoia turned into blinding fear. It increased the closer I got to lunch period, and I was literally quaking at my desk as the seconds ticked by faster than usual. I couldn't talk to him...not today. I just...I can't do it. I'd be an emotional basket case! My heart kept pumping out all of these weird rushes of adrenaline, and it kept running through my body every time I thought about him. AND I COULDN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT HIM!!! I was losing my mind over this whole situation, and I was wound tight enough to snap a pencil in half through tension alone. He triggered this whole damn thing by asking to 'spend time' together! It's HIS fault. Keep your balance Danny, come remember what happened last time. You DO remember, don't you? I thought so. He doesn't like you, he'll never kiss you, he's not gay, and even if he was gay, he wouldn't want you. I'm not attractive enough or cool enough to get ANYBODY'S attention, much less someone as sweet and awesome as Brice. Right? Right. there...stop it. Straighten up and quit making everthing more difficult than it has to be. I can do this. We're friends, and that's more than enough. I'll be fine. I had to mentally smack myself again and again to believe it...but I knw I could handle this if I cold just keep those 'other' emotions at bay. Caught between self preseverance and self satisfaction, walking the line between the fear of regret and a truly 'deadly' mistake. I didn't know which way to turn. I didn't know which way would hurt the least. Even with thoughts of Brice's kiss...even with memories of his smile, or hints towards him liking me, I didn't want to believe. Well...I WANTED to believe...but...I didn't. FUCK! When did this get to be so hard!

"Dude, I need to borrow your textbook again. I left mine at the zoo yesterday." I looked up to see Eddie leaning over my desk with a dopey grin on his face.


"You're book, man. Let me snatch it for tonight. I'll give it back, promise. I can't miss anymore assignments or the teach will totally bust me on it." Eddie said.

I reached in my bag and lent him the book. "What the hell were you doing at the zoo, after school, on a Wednesday?"

"Snakes, man. I loooove snakes." He said, and went back to his seat. As though THAT was supposed to be some kind of psychedelic answer to my question.

"Okaaaaaaay, sure thing." I said. If nothing else, he made for a pleasant interruption in my fucked up thinking patterns.

I'd like to think that I could be friends with Brice outside of school, and still maintain a certain level of restraint that would allow things to remain somewhat comfortable. But deep down I knew that it was no use. Whatever line my body and soul had drawn in the sand between being friends and having a crush, my heart had already crossed it last night. Dragging my subconscious mind with it. There was simply no going back to seeing him as that everyday 'cute kid' until I either got hurt or got laid. Considering only one of those options seems possible at this point...I was in for a rough ride.

When Brice sat down that day at lunch, I blushed instantly. The moment was upon me, and I was going to have to face the unfaceable. My fingers fumbled with everything, my hands were shaking so bad. It was sloppy joe day too, so trying to actually keep the meat inside the sandwich while my hands were trembling was a circus show in itself. I felt my clown mask crack wide open, and nearly slide off of my face, giving me NO protection from the actions I was about to get into. There were two or three times when I tried to bring up the subject of the movie...and they all failed. I'd open my mouth to say something, hoping that I could make it somehow sound 'casual'. But it got caught in my throat. Zapped...burned and evaporated into nothing at all before getting the chance to escape, like insects drawn into a buglight. He was trying to engage me in some friendly small talk, but all I could do was concentrate on how I was going to guide the conversation into some easily accessible offramp that would let me get back to the suject of going to that movie on Friday. I think he could see me struggling, because he smiled. His candied grin activated an erection in me that refused to go unnoticed, and I felt awkward and silly just SITTING there, covering my lap as best as I could by slightly crossing and holding my legs together. It was like Brice had suddenly transformed right in front of my very eyes. He was a completely different person today. One of intimidating beauty and grace that went way beyond what I had noticed about him before. I saw parts of his personality that I had been trying to blind myself to for weeks now, not to mention that his physical appearance seemed to glow with a radiance that defied reason. His eyes were so frighteningly blue, sucking you in between blinks. They were amazing. His brown hair, set off with the most perfect blond streaks, that seemed to sweep gently across his forehead as he spoke. Sinfully smooth skin that looked like it would tear if you were to touch it too hard. Like the untouched dunes of windswept snow. His fingers were so long, and thin, and perfect. I just wanted to sit next to him and softly push my face against the nape of his neck, inhaling deeply as I kissed the tender flesh that padded that gentle curve. God...I absorbed every detail with my 'protective emotional goggles' removed...and he was just phenomenally gorgeous. I haven't looked at anyone like this since Adam. I haven't even tried. And my jittery nerves were ramming into me full force.

I loved his voice, his gestures when he spoke, the short pauses he took to find just the right words to get his point across, the cute way he ate his potato chips one at a time. I just stared at him cluelessly, occasionally missing my cue for when it was my turn to talk and continue the conversation. I was losing myself in his presence, and even the slightest joke would have me giggling nervously like a ticklish eight year old. That only made him smile even wider, which in response, made me laugh out hysterically. I am seriously losing my mind.

"Well 'you' seem to be in a good mood today." He said. I hung on his every word, feeling the vibrations of his gorgeous teenage voice as they traveled from his smooth pink lips to my ear. His mouth looked so cool when it moved. I wanted to lick the slick surface of his lips and hold Brice in my arms as we joined in a kiss that threatened to suffocate us both if we didn't come up for air.

"Yeah...I guess so. Hehehehe." I smiled. I was trying not to be some kind of weirdo about the whole thing, but I was beginning to discover all of the wonderful things that I liked about him, on a whole new level. I had a new appreciation of who he was, and it was a work of art in motion. All this in just one day. As if a damn had burst open and sent a fever rushing through me.

Then....the bell rang, and it was time to go. 45 minutes...gone. Gone in what seemed liked a few seconds. I had spent the entire lunch hour gawking at him and giggling timidly instead of doing what I WANTED to do the whole time. I didn't want to miss my chance. Tomorrow might be too late to ask him. And despite the doubt in my heart..I had to know if he'd say yes. I just..I had to know.

"Hey, look at this! You actually made it a whole lunch period without running off somewhere. Congratulations." He said.

"Yeah....wild." I stuttered. I nearly began to panic when he stood up from the table to throw the wrappers from his lunch tray away. I was blowing it! I'm never gonna get the courage to try this again. I'm never gonna have another opportunity for us to hang out present itself so easily again. Never.

"Well...I'll see ya later, Danny." He slung his backpack over one shoulder, and started towards the door of the cafeteria.

I don't know what gave me the quick burst of confidence, or what caused it to 'shrink' the second the words left my mouth. I'm not really sure what was going through my mind at all. All I knew, was that I couldn't let him leave. Not just yet. "Hey Brice!"

He turned around, his soft eyes greeting mine as I trotted up beside him. "Yeah, what's up?"

"I might as 'tied up' this weekend as I thought. So...I was thinking...if....I mean still wanna...catch that movie or know..." I couldn't believe how weak in the knees it made me to even be saying this to him. It was like someone else was speaking through me while I looked on, helpless to shut myself up. "...I mean...if you're not going with anybody else already..."

"NO!" He said, looking a bit more excited than I expected him to be. "I'm not going with anybody. I'm definitely down for it, if you wanna go!" He was smiling. I was such a sucker for that boy's smile! "Are you sure you're not busy or anything?"

"Screw 'busy'. I want to see you." That came out TOTALLY wrong! Or did it? I don't know...but it gave me a huge thrill to know that I actually said it. Hearing him actually accept my offer with a certain level of enthusiasm made it a LOT easier to grow a backbone in this situation.

His face lit up, and he had another one of those cute little pauses while he tried to find the right words to say what was on his mind. "Um...hehehe...great. Cool. Awesome." He gently bit his bottom lip and looked around bashfully for a minute. I knew it was just a movie, but it almost felt like a 'date' the way my body's hormones were racing. "Uh....well...let me get your phone number...and I'll give you a call tomorrow after I get home."

"Sure. Ok." I answered. He reached into his backpack for a pen and a corner of notebook paper, and began writing down my digits. He had such cute handwriting too. So small and neat. Hehehehe, omigod, what was I getting myself into here. I couldn't help but smile as my stomach fluttered and tightened from the excitement inside of me. But this time, it wasn't the negative kind of fear that made me want to run away from him. This was more like the jittery anticipation you get when preparing to open the biggest gift under Christmas tree. It came from the angels themselves, letting me know that fate was finally working in my favor. I could hear my voice shaking as I told him each individual number to write down. I'm surprised I even remembered the right order of digits. And for the first time in, like, FOREVER...I felt great about being emotionally 'open' to somebody else!

I took the opportunity to look at the top of his head as he was writing, soaking in more of his beauty, and getting more excited by the second. He was so cute. Shit...I'm actually letting myself acknowledge it now. He was CUTE! REALLY CUTE! "Ok, kewl. I got it." He said, looking up. And I dashed my eyes away from him to keep him from noticing my love intoxicated stare. "Do you have something to write on? I'll give you my number too, just in case."

I didn't! I left my bag in the locker everyday when I ate lunch! " Shit! A-a-actually, I could get a napkin or something..."

"Don't sweat it. Here, give me your hand..." He then gently took my hand in his, writing his number on the back of it. AHHHHH!!!! He's writing on the back of my HAND! Sweet! My heart was about to leap out of my chest! Calm down for Christ's sake, he's going to think I'm some kind of nut case. I sat there, trying my best to keep from giggling, as he scribbled his phone number into my skin with his pen. His grip on me was so delicate, and the gentle scratch of the pen on my flesh was one of the most erotic moments of my young life. I couldn't believe that this was happening. I had to hold my breath to keep from screaming. "Ok. Now DON'T lose this!" He grinned, letting my hand go. "I'll give you a call tomorrow or something, and we'll, like....make plans. K?" He said, his eyes focused on mine for just a BIT longer than what I deemed comfortable.

" I'll...uh...I'll talk to you then." I said, softly bouncing on the balls of my feet as the nervous energy in my chest raced circles in my ribcage. He smiled again, and gave me a little wave as he walked away from me. I was left standing there, breathless. I was too amazed to move. Too excited NOT to move. I had his phone number...written in HIS handwriting on the back of my frickin' HAND! And there's his name, right there at the top! I never wanted to wash it off. I'd save it forever if I could. I had quick flashes of the dream I had earlier, of the times when Brice made me laugh at the lunch table, and of the very first day that I saw him out on the front lawn of the school. I was literally trembling. Knowing that absolutely nothing was going to happen, praying that I wouldn't let on that I wanted something to happen, and yet still hoping that something WILL happen. Confusing? Good...then I've made my point. Welcome to my nightmare.

My heart was in the clouds for the rest of the afternoon while my common sense kept trying to anchor me back down to the ground. Putting the breaks on the kind of silly unfounded hope that drives your average teenage crush and sends you crashing into a brick wall every time. I'd been there, I'd done that, and here I am doing it again. I was setting the inevitable chain reaction in motion, climbing to the peak of pleasure mountain only to be thrown off of the top and plummett down to impale myself on the harsh jagged rocks below. There was no stopping it now, and I could only hope that I'd soon find some reason to not feel this way anymore. To somehow come to my senses and get back on track before I end up some suicidal statistic from having my heart broken yet AGAIN. I only had until Saturday to tone it down and figure out how I was going to handle this. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Let's hope that karma is on my side this time.

The next day went by twenty times faster than usual. Time was such an instant flash when I was trying to hold it back for a moment of two. Trying to keep myself from being too anxious when I saw him again. But I guess time waits for no one, right?

When I got home, I had only been given about ten minutes to kick my shoes off and rest before the phone rang. "Hello?" I asked.

"Are we still on for tonight?" It was Brice, and he wanted to make extra sure that I wasn't going to back out on him at the last minute.

"Um....yeah. Yes. I'm there." I said, already beginning to tremble again. "What's the plan?"

"Well, my brother wants to go out and visit his girlfriend tonight, and he's gonna borrow the car. He said he'll let me drop him off after we pick you up, and then I can drive us there."

"Wait...are you sure you can do that?" I asked.

"Of course. Well...." He said, pausing for a moment. "...I technically don't have my driver's license yet....but I've ALMOST got my permit!" He said, and it caused me to giggle.

"So...we're going to jail tonight, is that right?" I said, and he laughed. It was a really sweet laugh. It warmed your heart to hear it, even over the phone.

"We'll be ok. I'm a very careful driver."

"A very careful ILLEGAL driver."

"Details, details. Do you wanna go or not?" Brice knew I was going. He had me hooked from the moment he sat down to lunch with me for the first time. I was his puppet now whether I liked it or not. All I'm missing are the visible strings.

"When should I expect you?" I sighed.

"I'll be there in twenty minutes, tops. Wait outside, ok?"

"You got it." And we said our goodbyes before hanging up the phone. Now all I have to do is pretend that I am not falling madly in love with this cutie while eating popcorn and sitting next to him in the dark. Easy.

I fixed my hair as best as I could, refreshed my deoderant, even brushed my teeth again. It was a remembered pattern of mine. I used to do that whenever I was going over to see Adam. Always wondering if that particular day would be the day that the kissing and rolling around would progress to something more serious. Always wanting to see him naked, feel him naked against me, toch him, taste him...waiting for that magic hour when we were complete. Before going to see him, my whole world seemed bright. I would check myself out in the mirror....and back then I really liked the reflection looking back at me. When Adam loved me...I really felt worth something, you know? Now, all I see is a ghost of that happy boy that used to look back at me from behind the glass. Now all I see is failure, and the inevitable curse of being hurt again. Today...I backed away from the mirror, and avoided my own eyes. Hoping that the fantasy could stay with me just long enough to keep me from turning coward and running away from the whole situation. It's such a helpless feeling to wrestle with infatuation.

I walked outside and waited, rather impatiently, for Brice and his brother to show up. Thankfully, the wait wasn't too long. In fact, he was five minutes early. His older brother was driving, and he was in the backseat, leaning over to open the back door for me to insure I sat back there with him. His brother looked about 18 years old or so, and they shared a similar look. In fact, it almost appeared as if Brice made an effort to mimic the way he looked. It looks like the men in his family are destined to only get better looking with each passing year. A comforting thought. We took off, and his brother introduced himself to me as Alex. He was a pretty nice guy, and didn't seem to mind ushering us around at all tonight. "I'm glad you came, Danny." He said, smiling at me and gently putting his hand on my arm to shake me.

" too." I didn't quite know what else to say. He kinda just kept this half cocked grin on his face, and when I looked back over at him, he turned his head the other way. It almost looked like...he was blushing.

"So, got a girlfriend?" Alex asked me. I knew the drill. I had been practicing. You can't say yes if you don't have one. If you DON'T have a girlfriend, some people might raise an eyebrow and suspect that you're gay. But if you LIE about having a girlfriend...that pretty much sends up a big pink flare to let folks know that you've got more 'sweetness' in you tan is deemed normal for a nice looking teenage boy. That can be dangerous.

", actually." I said.

"Ahhhh....ok." Alex smiled, and I looked at his eyes in the rearview mirror as he made eye contact with Brice for a moment...with no response. Alex smiled, but his brother didn't seem to have any expression on his face at all. I felt that awkward vibe creep into my bloodstream, and it made me nervous to see Brice's brother to smile at my answer. It made me wonder if a little bit of my 'homo' was showing in the way that I looked. Or maybe the way that I talked. I don't know. But I hope he's not making fun of me. This is hard enough to do without being paranoid all night.

We finally came to Alex's girlfriend's house after a long silence between the three of us, and he put he blinkers on as he took off his seatbelt and got out of the car. Brice grinned at me shyly, and said, "Come on, come up front with me."

I didn't know how shakey my legs were until I tried to stand on them again. Alex patted me on the shoulder as he walked past me, and then leaned forward to quickly whisper, "Whatever you do, don't reject the popcorn." And then he walked on.

"What...?" I asked, confused. But he didn't give me an answer, just gave me a hidden signal to take his advice. And then he backed up to cross the street.

"You two boys have fun tonight!" He said. "Brice?"


"Take it EASY tonight! You got me? If mom finds out I let you guys drive alone we'll BOTH be in trouble! Come back and pick me up around eleven." An agreement was reached, and I sat up front to join'date'.

"He worries too much." Brice said. "Now buckle up, I'm gonna see if I can reach 60 by the end of the block and jump this curb!"

"Har har har." I replied sarcastically. "Just drive, psycho."

In all honesty, Brice actually was a pretty careful driver. In fact, he was almost TOO careful. Then again, I guess I'm used to being in the car with my mom, where she's talking into a cell phone while trying to rush me to school so she can get to work on time. So it was a bit of a contrast. Besides, I was grateful that he was paying more attention to the road than he was to any complex conversation. I found myself trying to find little opportunities to glance over in his direction, and soak in as much of his physical features as I could before turning away. I'd let my vision crawl as far to the side as the corner of my eye would allow, trying to stare dreamily at the blurry image without turning my head. And if I looked for too long, he'd look back, smile, and try talking to me again. I'd look away, keeping my calm, being friendly...but not TOO friendly. And when he'd get quiet again...I'd find my vision being pulled into him again. It was an urge that all the self restraint in the world couldn't prevent. I didn't like the feeling, but indulged in it anyway. Shit...Brice was so beautiful. I couldn't help but be attracted. Aroused. Enchanted. Awakened.

By the time we had gotten to the parking lot of the theater, I had lowered myself to staring at his thighs and crotch everytime he looked away from me. I don't know why. I couldn't 'see' anything really. But ohhhh how I wanted to. Anything. A slight bulge, an outline, a jiggle...just...anything. Not that the idea that he was housing a delicious piece of meat just beyond the barricade of that thin layer of fabric wasn't enough to excite me anyway. When the car stopped, it was hard to pry my eyes away from it. But I did get a nice peek at his butt though as he got out of the car. Always let the cute ones get out of the car first, that's my rule. It's the second most shameless chance you'll ever get to looking at someone's ass. It's right up there with following them up a flight of stairs.

We walked up to the theater and got in line to buy tickets...and he started..'talking' again. Which made me tense up, because he was being so damn...cute about it. It was like he couldn't help it. I don't think I've ever seen Brice smile so sweetly, and I had to keep my eyes from focusing on him for more than a few seconds just to resist the urge to kiss him on the cheek. The feelings that I was beginning to develop for Brice were getting stronger just by BEING out here with him. I couldn't understand why. This wasn't anything we haven't done over lunch a hundred times before. But this was different. This was...extracurricular activity. The connection was different, and we were suddenly tossed out of the 'friendly acquaintance' category with no hope of return.

"My brother wants to stay with his girlfriend until eleven o'clock, but I'm sure the movie's not that long. Do you wanna maybe get something to eat afterwards? I know a good place that has some kick ass super nachos. You'll love 'em, promise." Brice said.

"Um...sure. OK."

He gave me a look for a second. "Danny? Are you alright?"

"Sure. Why?"

"You seem...I dunno, nervous or something." He told me. "I mean, if you'd rather see another movie or something..."

"No. No, I'm ok. Really. I've just got...'stuff' on my mind, that's all." I said, hoping to hang in there long enough to say that I gave this a real shot.

"You sure? I mean, just let me know."

"Nah. Bond rocks." I worked up a smile, and felt a few more cracks in that clown mask of mine split down the center. If anything, I was kinda glad that he asked. It reminded me how pointless a crush on him would be in the long run, and that comment was only going to make it easier to get rid of. What was I worried about? I had nothing to gain here. Even better, I had nothing to lose. So why worry? "I wouldn't miss this movie for anything."

"Ok. But...I'd tell me if you weren't having a good time, right?" He asked.

"No." I said it plainly, and with a straight face. It took him a second to catch on, and when he broke out into a giggle, I couldn't help but giggle myself. Then I reassured him, "Don't worry. It's not you, Brice. I'm gonna have a good time tonight. You have my word."

"Ok then." His eyes caught mine for one of those brief moments where the contact was JUST a split second longer than it should have been, and I could have sworn that we both turned a light shade of pink at the same time. Everything about him was gorgeous, and I was enjoying being bathed in his light for a little while. Just a little while. things usually do...everything went horribly...HORRIBLY....wrong!

Maybe it was a familar laugh, or the sound of recognized voice. Maybe it was a scent wafted my way by a gentle wind. Maybe it was just a sixth sense that I had picked up from caring so deeply for somebody. Whatever it was, I locked in on it. And as I turned around casually, I saw a sight that caused my fabled clown mask made of glass to crash at my feet and shatter into more pieces than I could ever hope to repair.

Coming closer to the theater line, was Adam. His blond glory was an astonishing aura that neither my heart nor my body could ever forget. With every step he got more beautiful, as he decreased the distance between us. He didn't even see me. How could he? He was there....

...With someone else.

Jonathan Hersh...a boy who was almost as gorgeous as he was. Has been since the second grade. Even the teachers would stare at him from time to time. And he was...walking side by side with the biggest love of my life.

"Sweet! There's a poster in there for 'Taryn's Song'! Have you seen the previews for that? It looks awesome." Brice said, and I snapped my head back towards the front of the line. Adam and his...'FRIEND' got in line about fix or six people behind us, and I felt my heart begin to harden in response.

", actually. I never heard of it." I said, trying to keep myself focused.

"Well, it's like this vampire story, where this kid runs away from home with his little brother, and..." Brice continued to describe the movie to me in detail, but his voice had blurred out of my attention. Everything seemed to blur out of my attention at that moment. He was right there. He was RIGHT behind me! It was all I could think about. I didn't know what to do, or what to feel. I hadn't expected reality to slam into me so suddenly tonight.

"Uh huh." I said, to keep Brice talking while I tried to figure out what to do with myself. I heard Adam's voice behind us, talking, laughing. He was LAUGHING with somebody else. The kind of cute flirtatious giggle that he used to give ME when I'd go over to his house and we knew we'd get some time alone. That laugh wasn't meant for anybody else. That laugh was for ME! It was MINE! Why? Why is he sharing it with someone else? Why is Jonathan Hersh even HERE? WHY ARE THEY TOGETHER?!?!?!

"You phasing out on me again dude?" Brice asked, and I smiled, even though my heart was withering up into a dried husk of what it used to be at that very moment.

"I'm listening." I said.

"Uh huh, sure you are, space boy." The folk in front of us went inside, and Brice went up to the window to buy his ticket. Leaving me a few more seconds to secretly look at what was going on behind me.

There they were...Adam and Jonathan, being all 'friendly'. I could have made a natural assumption. I could have written them off as just being two buddies going out to a movie. Like Brice and I were. gay boy wants to be 'friends' with Jonathan Hersh! It just doesn't happen. Get outta here! That's like a hungry shark befriending a surfer! And the more I observed the two of them together, the more I saw some of Adam's patterned behavior around boys he likes. least the behavior he used to exhibit around me.

"Next person in line, please?" Said the lady in the window. I can't believe he's here. I can't believe it. What if they're together? Like together together? What if Jonathan is kissing the lips that Adam promised to ME first? What if they're doing MORE than that??? What if..."Next person in line, please?" The lady said louder.

"Danny...that's you." Brice waved me forward, and I tried to get my mind focused back on what I was doing. I walked up, and bought my ticket. Still hearing faint bits and pieces of Adam's sweet teenage voice in the back of my mind. My whole BODY felt like it turned cold. And I got scared. An actual fear ran through me at that moment, and I could hardly breathe. I was literally shaking. I could hardly hold onto my money as I bought my ticket, and it felt like I was going to cry spontaneously without being able to stop it. Adam was here. He was HERE. Oh God........just when you think you'd be able to stop hurting so much over comes back to completely crush you under its full weight. Adam was here with someone else. Those were the only words that kept repeating in the back of my miserable mind. Someone else. Someone else. Someone else.

Danny, my've just been 'substituted'.

I got my ticket, and began walking towards the door. Following Brice while looking back to see if I could catch another few glimpses of Adam before going inside. Stuck between a bleak, painful, past, and an ever increasing dismal future. I don't think ANYTHING has ever hurt so much. Ever. My whole WORLD seemed ready to crumble! How can he be happy? How can he POSSIBLY enjoy being with someone else after what he did to me? HOW?!?!?! It's not FAIR!!! IT'S NOT FAIR!!! How can he want somebody else! He promised himself to ME!!! ME!!!! And I was willing to give him EVERYTHING!!! And now he's come here to shame and humiliate me even further? To make me out to be an even bigger idiot? To make me suffer even worse than I was before? It really hurt to not have him give me his love anymore. It ached every single day of my fucking life. But I'll be DAMNED if he gives himself to somebody ELSE!!!! Not somebody ELSE!!!! I'd fucking murder them BOTH before I let that happen!!!

"Danny? You coming?" Brice was beginning to get concerned. That perceptive quality of his shining through, knowing damn well that something was wrong with me. I couldn't hide it. Not now. I nearly burst into tears right there in the doorway. I wanted to collapse and never rise to my feet again. That was it. That was my proof. That was my truth. There was no more suspicion, no more assumptions, no more question of things getting better between us. There was no more possibility for me to EVER have Adam in my life again. I couldn't even make him MISS me anymore. He had someone to keep him 'busy' now. He had someone to make him smile. I didn't. Adam was involved with a new boy, they were more than just friends. I could tell. I could just see it in his eyes and tell. And there is no way to describe the total isolation that I felt at that moment. No way to explain how utterly alone, ashamed, worthless, and rejected, it know that the person who once said he loved you, is now saying it to somebody else. Looking into their eyes instead of mine. Touching their shoulders instead of mine. Kissing their lips instead of mine. I felt as though my whole reality had flipped. Every kind and sweet thing Adam had ever done for me, every joke or laugh that we shared, every moment, every kiss, every little love note we traded back and forth amongst each other....they all belonged to Jonathan now. He was the lucky one now. He got to be loved by the most beautiful boy on Earth. He got........'sniffle'....he got possession of the one thing in this world that made me special at all. I lost. I can't believe I lost. "Danny?" Brice asked again.

"Yeah.......I'm coming." I said, and held my breath to keep from sobbing. My chest hurt, my throat burned, and I was just hurt enough to keep from being enraged. Just angry enough to keep from being broken down into hysterical tears. My soul was bleeding...and as I stepped into that theater...I left every hope of ever being happy again behind me.

That's it. I'm done. I don't ever want to see another sunlit day again for as long as I live. As of right now...consider me dead.

Thank you all for reading. There is another chapter coming next week, so I hope you guys will stop back in to see what happens. I truly appreciate the feedback that I've gotten on this story. Sme of you have shared some really heartbreaking stories of your own with me, and I'm glad that this has made you feel a little less 'alone' in how it hurt you when you went through it. I guess we've all gotten hurt at one time or another. Some folks heal.....some, unfortunately, don't. But you're not alone. You're never alone. Ok? Let me know what you think at or just drop by the website sometime at (Don't forget to sign the guestbook!)