Here we are...the very last chapter of the "Never Again" series! A very special chapter, not only because it is the first of many series that I'll be 'ending' over my last couple of months online with you guys, but because it marks the 150th STORY that I've written online since I started! Which is a big milestone for me, and I'm glad that I was able to make it there before leaving for good! :) I want to thank all of the people who supported me from the Shack, as well as from other websites around the net! Big thanks to all of the authors who have ever made a link to my site, or a sweet little mention of me in their stories! Big thanks to everyone at GayAuthors for their dedication and their love (The site wouldn't exist without you)! And a HUGE thank you to David and the folks at Nifty ESPECIALLY! (I am forever grateful! I couldn't have done ANY of this without you!) Ok, that said, here is the final chapter! Take care, and I hope you guys like it. Let me know what you think at or stop by my website at (And don't forget to sign the guestbook!)

"Never Again 4"

"I'm gonna dry my EYES...right after I finish last cry. One last cry...before I leave it all behind. I'm gonna put you out of my mind for the VERY last time. Been living a lie. I guess I'm down...I guess I'm down...I guess I'm my last cry." -Brian Mcknight

I got into a GIANT fight with my mom when she came home from work! One of epic proportions, I assure you. She took one look at my room, the floor, the walls, and all of the stuff that I had broken in a rage...and was stupefied at how utterly brutal I had been with everything around me! She screamed, I screamed, she tried DESPERATELY to find out what the hell my problem was. But what was I going to tell her? Was there even a lie BIG enough to cover this kind of destruction? I doubt it. All I knew is that my fucked up room now 'perfectly' matched the way I felt inside. Torn apart, left in shambles, and broken beyond my ability to EVER be repaired again. The damage effectively represented my soul...and when I looked at the mess in front of me, I felt at home again. Heartbroken tears and all.

"What the HELL is the MATTER with you, DANNY?!?!?! LOOK at this mess??? WHY WON'T YOU TALK TO ME???" My mother shouted. But I couldn't answer her. I couldn't even speak! I just sat there while she went off on me about how much all of this wreckage was going to cost, and how she was trying to understand me but this was unacceptable. And I listened for a while. I'll admit...I even regretted my actions for a little bit. But...when I reached the point where I couldn't take any more, I shouted at her to leave me alone. She shouted back, I shouted was a big mess. I ended up slamming the door in her face and shutting her out completely. Locking the door, and just...wanting her to go away and leave me to decide whether or not I was going to fucking kill myself 'today' or 'tomorrow'. I'd had enough. Every concept of love and trust and fairness...and I mean *EVERY* fucking last concept....had been completely demolished! the ONE person who I thought would never hurt me like this. The one person who TOLD me they'd never hurt me like this! I just wanted to die. I wanted to be gone. I wanted to exist as a ghost in this world where I couldn't 'feel' anymore. Because this cavernous emptiness in my heart was collapsing in on itself over and over again, and there was no way I was going to survive this. No way at all. I needed to end this. I needed to end this NOW. And all that was left to do was to set a definitive date to do it, and start the countdown. I'm through with this fucked up world. Adam's already proven to me, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that life goes on all bright and happy without me. So if I don't matter to anybody, then why should I stick around? Why am I here in the first place? I'm sure that my tears don't mean shit to the selfish son of a bitch, or his new fag why would they matter to anybody else? Who would miss me? Who would care?

After the way I treated my mother, who had given up screaming at me through a closed door an hour ago, I'm pretty sure that I'm grounded for life. But I didn't have anywhere to go. What kind of punishment is solitary confinement, to someone who has nothing out there in the world to live for anyway? To be honest....I'm anxious to be done with it all.

Hours passed, and I got hungry but refused to leave my room to eat. My mom would have rushed over to scold me the second I took the lock off of the door. And my heart could only handle one problem at a time right now. So I sat there on the floor, amidst the debris of the most tiring and emotionally draining tantrum of my life. And as my senses slowly returned to me, little by little...I started to cry. It began with the sight of my computer monitor. Cracked as it lay on its side next to my desk. Then, as my eyes traveled across the room....I became aware of some of my favorite cds laying chaotically all over my bedroom floor. Their jewel cases stomped into shards of broken plastic. My walls were almost bare from me ripping down posters, and my curtains were still attached to a bent aluminum rod that used to suspend them over my window. As the regret of wrecking my own stuff began to set in, that pain came back to me, and it ached so much that I almost felt as though I had been turned inside out. Had my phone call to Adam made any difference at all? Was he already in the process of forgetting that I exist again? I can't believe he didn't care. He told me he loved can he not even want to talk to me? How can he just.....'let me go'?

Laying there on the floor...what hurt more than anything was the idea that this wasn't an 'open ending' anymore. He knew now. He was one hundred percent fully aware. He knew that he had broken my heart, he knew that I was hurting, he knew that I still loved him with all my heart, and he knew that I had spent every day of the past year thinking about the love that he had snatched out of my life without mercy. He knew it all. And......he just didn't care. He had his OWN happiness to worry about, and when I'm dead and'll be a relief for him. A closed chapter in a story that he probably never would have been a part of if I hadn't forced him into it. It was a lie. The whole damn relationship was a lie. He never thought about me, or cared, or wanted me to be with him forever. I didn't mean ANYTHING to him? could I have been STUPID! I opened myself up to his love, despite EVERY fucking bit of common sense I HAD telling me not to do it! I didn't want to fall in love! I NEVER wanted him to mean this much to me! I avoided it as much as I possibly could! But he....he made me feel know? Adam made me feel beautiful, and real, and 'wanted'. And I fell for it. Fuck me...I fell for it. I opened my heart as wide as I could, and he slid right in and punctured it beyond any hope of it ever working right again. And with Jonathan Hersh by his side...he'll never have to think about me again. No matter HOW badly I'm dying inside...he can conveniently forget me for good, and my pain won't make a damn bit of difference. I'm a 'childish thing' to be put away with his maturing emotions as he grows to find love for someone else. Someone better. And where does that leave me? I'll tell you where. Sitting alone on a dirty bedroom floor, with a heart so tortured and miserable that I could hardly breathe. What do you do, when you realize that you've become too worthless for the most important person in your world to even recognize your existence...even out of pity? It's like being forsaken by God Himself. It truly is.

I slept on a hungry stomach that night, and was scared to get out of bed the next morning. I didn't know what to expect from my mom at all. She was probably going to KILL me the moment she found a way to get her hands around my throat. But after laying wrapped up in my blankets for a while, my stomach rumbled, and I was aching for a morning piss. I didn't have much choice. I had to maneuver around the obstacle course of broken stuff on my floor, making a path towards the door. I probably won't be able to walk barefoot in here again for a week. I made sure that I was really quiet when I gently took the lock off of my door, and peeked out into the hallway. My mom was in the kitchen, I could smell toast and eggs coming from the stove, and she was on her cell phone. It was almost a 'typical' weekday morning. It was a bit freaky, to be honest. I tip toed out to the bathroom, relieved myself, and then peeked out into the hallway again. So far, so good. I knew that my mom could hear me moving around the house. My mom can hear everything. But there was no rush to suddenly charge through the house and jump on me. And while I should be thanking the angels for only made my suspicions worse. Because NOW it just seems like she's up to something sneaky.

I quietly made my way back to my room and got dressed. I fixed my hair, washed up, put on my shoes, filled my backpack...and made the terrifying walk out to the kitchen. My mom was standing over the sink with a bagel and price haggling with someone on the phone. My breakfast was waiting for me on the table like it always was. But she hadn't called me in to eat, or told me to hurry up before it got cold or anything. It was just....'sitting there'. It made me wonder if maybe she had poisoned it. Or drugged it enough where she could put me in a car and drown me in the lake. You can never tell when maybe your parents have just had enough. You know?

I sat down slowly, and she briefly looked over at me. There was no real readable emotion in her eyes. No concern, no worry, no anger. She just went on about things as though nothing had happened. She didn't say a word. Great. I must have REALLY pissed her off this time. I'm starting to think that she'll be relieved too when I'm gone.

The car ride to school was pretty much a silent one. She didn't provoke any kind of conversation, and I was too scared that I'd say the wrong thing if I opened my mouth. But, when she stopped the car in front of the school, she looked over at me...and her eyes were just reflecting this weird...sadness. And she said, "I love you, Danny. K?" I didn't know how to take that, but I felt kinda bad for wrecking the house, and shutting her out of my room, and just....not being the kind of son that could really tell her what was going on in my life. For having to be this secretive bastard that just punches holes in walls, or cries at the drop of a hat, or...keeps her at an emotional distance...and just 'expects' her to understand why. I wish I could tell you mom. I wish I could spill everything and let you in. But I'm gay. I'm one of the few minorities left on the planet that it's ok to hate and fear and make fun of. And to subject her to that....'disappointment'...that would be a slap in the face. Especially after all she's done to provide for me. So, I just kinda nodded, and grabbed my backpack from the backseat. Then, just as I opened the car door to get out, she said, "I want that room cleaned up before you go to bed tonight. You hear me?" It was firm, but not angry. What else could she say? I just nodded again, and I guess that the problem was solved...for now.

Walking into school, I had only made it fifteen steps inside of the front door before glimpses of Adam and his new love interest crossed my vision. It was as though they always made a point of being there, somewhere near me, where the sight of them would both disgust me and enchant me at the same time. It was like drinking a half gallon of corrosive acid to see them smiling. Feeling it burn and dissolve everything inside of me all at once. I could feel that burn, that 'sting', that sizzle in my heart that I knew Adam never once felt for me. He was spared the irresistable glow of misery that I was left to drown in while he chatted it up with the next pretty face he fell in love with. Seeing them standing together, not even engaged in any kind of real intimate activity, was another hundred stabs in my abdomen. And it got worse when Adam looked up and saw me momentarily. Our eyes connected for a brief moment...and then he turned away from me. As I was standing there wondering if I should wave, or maybe even walk up and apologize...he turned away. Not out of guilt or ignorance...but because he was embarassed for me. I had given him the most heartfelt confession of my young life, and only had a sense of soul crushing humiliation to show for it. That's it. That's all. Nothing more.

As I walked passed them, Adam pretending to hide his face in his locker, I felt my heart get heavier and heavier. I was more confused than ever. More HURT than ever. Now I was WORSE than some random forgotten memory. I was this sappy little reminder of his first 'mistake' in love. I was this little puppy that he had kicked in the stomach to get him off of his front lawn, and now he's annoyed that the stupid animal would even come limping by wounded just to show him that he survived. At least this 'end' was a little more definite than the one we 'didn't' have before. At least now....I knew for sure that he hated me.

I spent the morning in a daze. I was practically comatose, staring off into space with no real thoughts of any kind going through my head. None except for the occassional flash of Adam's kiss, and the myriad of images of what he and Jonathan must have been doing when I called. They must have been twisted up in the most sensual ways. They must have been naked with each other for hours, having sex over and over and over again. They were probably exhausted by the time his parents came home. They must be....sooooo....happy...

Thinking about it...I felt a stray tear roll down my cheek in the middle of class before I could catch it. I couldn't stop it. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I wiped it away quickly before anyone saw it, and excused myself to the bathroom to let out a few more random tears and get it overwith. Just so I could relieve some of the pressure and get back to trying to be 'normal' again for the people around me. I won't let them see me cry. I refuse. I'm better than that. They need me to be happy and happy and uncomplicated is exactly what they're gonna get. I just need to find that clown mask again, and try to make it fit. I've GOT to make it fit. At least for now.

By the time lunch had rolled around, I had found myself getting a little better at balancing out my emotions. I was even able to smile a bit here and there. So most of the other kids in my classes didn't notice what kind of chaos was going on behind my eyes, and that somehow kept me well hidden from my own emotions as well. That was a definite plus. But....seeing Brice at lunch didn't help. If anything, it reminded me of why I kept my guard up in the first place. At this rate, I might just trade in this glass clown mask of mine for a full body force field.

"What's up, Danny?" His smile could bring light to the whole world if he wanted it to. But today, I was shielded from it entirely. Afraid to stare into that light, lest it strike me blind again and hurt me like before.

"Hey...." I replied under my breath, and went back to eating my sloppy joe sandwich. He sat down at the table across from me, and despite his cheerful exuberance, I didn't look at him once. I kept my gaze glued to the table, and made sure to keep my mouth stuffed with food so I wouldn't even have to talk to him that much outside of a few nods and grunts. I'm pretty sure that he knew something was up. You could hear it in his voice that he was trying to figure me out. But he managed to keep talking anyway. I guess in the hopes of getting me to open up to him. I won't. I don't plan on 'opening up' for a long long time. Maybe not ever.

"So...I thought about maybe going out and doing something this weekend. There's a live band playing in the park this Saturday." He said, and waited for a moment or two, thinking that I'd reply. " you wanna go?" He asked after a short silence between us.

"Actually..." I started, just wishing this would go away. Just for a little while. "...I don't know if I'm really up to doing anything big this weekend." I said softly. And I peeked at him from under my lashes. "Sorry."

He could feel the cold shoulder in every word that I spoke. Building a wall between his efforts and my wounded heart. And even though he seemed to shrivel away from me emotionally at the realization of the barricade that I was wedging between us, he tried valiantly to understand. I felt kinda guilty about the whole thing. He was trying to be this wonderful caring, lovely person...and all I wanted to do was get away from him. Anyway that I could. I was struggling to squirm right out of his embrace and run off into the woods to hide alone, I never once gave him a reason or a cause for my behavior....and yet he was still attempting to be there for me and my needs.

"Ok. Well...we can just hang out and chill for a while or something if that would be better." He said, still trying. His smile had faded, and he was leaning forward a bit to get me to look him in the eye. I gave him a quick glance, and then just shrugged my shoulders. As if that was some kind of answer. It was then that he sorta sighed to himself. I couldn't tell if it was from aggrivation or if he was hurt by my sudden numb reaction to his affections. But he leaned back in his seat and put his food down. Taking a slow drink of his soda. We sat that way in silence for a few minutes, neither one of us saying anything at all. And when I looked up at his face, his eyes were also glued down to the table. He was sorta playing with his food in a pouty way, and I thought that maybe I should apologize. Maybe I should just tell him that I'm not feeling well, or that my mind is wrapped up in other things right now. Anything to keep him from feeling bad. I didn't want to hurt Brice. I'd NEVER want to hurt Brice. I just....I can't be what he needs me to be right now. I can't give away a piece of myself. I barely have anything left to me. I'm hardly alive. I started to open my mouth to say something, but he beat me to it. He put his soda down on the table and looked me right in the eye. "What? Huh? What is it?" He asked, determined to get an answer.

"Brice....I'm sorry...I just..." I trailed off, not knowing where to go from there.

"Danny...listen to me, ok? I want to be with you. Are you hearing me? I want to spend some time with you." He said. I don't understand. Why is he 'pushing' this? "Can you please just....just tell me if I'm wasting my time here? Please?"

"You don't have to give me an 'ultimatum', you know? God, I'm just dealing with some things right now, ok?" I replied.

"It's NOT an ultimatum, Danny. But....I thought you had 'fun' on Friday night. I thought we were having a good time."

"We were having a good time, Brice..."

"Then why are you suddenly treating me like you don't even wanna be seen with me? I mean...did I do something wrong?"

The beautiful gaze of his eyes captured me, glimmering with both pain and hope at the same time. "No. didn't do anything wrong." I didn't know what to tell him. I just wanted him to HOLD OFF for a while. He just wants to rush me and force me to 'give' myself over to this feeling inside...and, dammit, I'm not READY! Why is that so fucking hard for him to understand? I wanted to make it clear that I wanted him to just back off before I end up getting hurt again...but all he knows how to do is make me feel bad. He comes around me being all great and cute and cheerful, and when I try to slow down, he does something like this. And he makes me feel so much guilt that I cave in. Just like I'm about to do now...."I'm sorry. I'll let it go." I said softly. "This weekend sounds great."

He could tell that I wasn't happy about it. And he arranged everything in the center of his tray as he got ready to grab his stuff and leave the table. "Geez, don't surrender or anything. Fine, you know what? Forget it."

"Forget it? Brice, I SAID that I would go." I told him, confused.

"I wanted some company this weekend, Danny....not a hostage." He said, and he got up from the table. "Later." He walked away upset, and I felt even worse. Arrrgh! What the fuck am I supposed to DO? I tell him I don't wanna go, he's mad at me. I tell him I DO wanna go...he's mad at me. Exactly what variable am I overlooking in this equation?

Fine, whatever. I'm better off alone anyway. Who needs him.

I do....that's who. He's one of the few pleasant things about my day. If anything, I should be holding onto him with both arms, both legs, and my teeth.

My entire existence had been sinking further and further into this emotional tarpit since lunch. Brice storming out on me put my feelings at an all time low, and my whole sense of balance was gone. What was I gonna do? Just jump back out there and get my heart busted up again before it even heals from the last time? Am I supposed to pretend to feel something for Brice that I just don't? Because I'm not in love. I'll never be in love again. He's cute, and he's sexy, and he's a hell of a good guy...but just because he likes me and we have a few things in common doesn't mean that we're soulmates. For all I know, he could go home every day afterschool and boil small animals in a pot, feeding them to the bloodthirsty zombies that live in his basement. I tried to give things a chance, and I KNOW that he's sweet! And I KNOW that he has the prettiest aqua blue eyes that I've ever seen on a GIRL, much less another boy! And I KNOW that his laugh and his smile makes me wiggle and squirm inside with infatuation gone haywire! But....I just can't be one hundred percent sure that he's the one. I can't depend on him to not hurt me in the end, or to abandon me without ever looking back, or to simply...'replace' me with a better model. And until I can be absolutely SURE that my heart won't be totally destroyed again...Brice is going to have to stay off limits. He's....gonna have to stay out of my life.

The first day or two really took a lot of restraint. I felt like such an incredible bastard for treating Brice the way I had. But this wasn't a game where being the nice guy and playing by the rules gets you any points. This was survival. This was me fighting for whatever scraps of dignity I had left while the hyenas closed in around me for the kill. So, I skipped lunch. I took an apple and a juice into the library, tucked in under my jacket, and I had a midday snack while avoiding Brice completely. I made sure to slip through the halls late, after Brice had already gone to class, so I wouldn't see him then either. I made sure not to walk by one of his classrooms, or show up anywhere that he might cross my path. That was hard. Really hard.

Then, on the third day, he called my house. Wondering where I had been, and asking why he hadn't seen me. He even asked if I still wanted to go out this weekend. I never answered the phone. I wouldn't even let my mom answer the phone. And I erased all of his messages once I listened to them. His voice got increasingly sad with every message he left, until, at one point, he just sighed and hung up without saying anything. I knew I was hurting him, and I knew he didn't deserve it. I just couldn't bring myself to talk to him. I couldn't pick up that phone and call him. If I did, he'd trap me again. He'd MAKE me love him! He'd force me to surrender to that feeling all over again, and I'd be as helpless as a baby kitten once he decided to fucking DUMP me at the drop of a hat. Well, I won't give him the chance. If I never see his smile again...if I never again get to kiss those sweet pink lips of his...if I never find out what it's like to hold him close to me, just to listen to him breathe...I'd have no regrets. Better a happy life lived in safety, than a dismal wreckage of a life tainted by the undisputable evidence that I am as worthless as Adam thinks I am. Better to have no life at ALL.

I ditched Brice entirely that weekend, and he called again to ask if I was ok. I couldn't hide from him forever, but I was hoping that he'd eventually get the message and just leave me alone. I'm so tired of being scared of my own emotional involvement with him. I wanted to get away. I wanted to be ok again. Or at least left to wallow in misery by myself with no distractions. But when Monday came, and I skipped out on lunch again...he came looking for me. He was leaned up against my locker as I switched classes, and by the time I had recognized him, he had already seen me. I could have been an even BIGGER asshole, and just turned to run in the other direction...but I think Brice had had enough, and he wanted answers. So I lowered my eyes down to my feet, and pouted my way over to see what he wanted. "Hey....." I mumbled. He wasn't happy. In fact, he looked so hurt, that it almost brought ME to tear just to see the look on his face.

"I missed you this weekend." He said.

"Yeah...I was....'busy'."

He looked away from me for a second, as though he was daring a single tear to drip from his eyes. Then he said, in a slightly shakey voice, "Busy....huh? I see." He licked his lips a bit, and looked down, taking a deep breath. " this your way of telling me to get lost? can just tell me."

"It's not like that, ok? Please don't think..."

"What am I SUPPOSED to think, Danny???" He said, raising his voice a bit, and then trying to visibly calm himself down. "I'm sorry. Look...I'm NOT mad, ok? Just....just tell me it's over, and I'll leave you alone. Alright? Look me in the eyes, and just....'say' it, Danny. Because this really hurts, the way things are going right now. I don't know what I did to make you act like this, but it's cool if you'd rather not be a part of this anymore. Please....tell me? I'd feel SO much better if you just told me to fuck off." I saw him bracing himself for the impact, and the idea of clearing this whole problem up with just a few words was an alluring one indeed. But I couldn't. His very presence in my life was sucking me in all over again, and I nearly cried tryng to pull myself away from him. "Danny...I need an answer, ok?" He said, and I saw a tear fall from his eye, as he turned towards the lockers to hide it from anybody walking by.

I felt a ball of emotion get choked up in the back of my throat, and I tried to speak around it. All I wanted to do was comfort him at that moment. To throw both of my arms over his shoulders and make him feel whole again. It was my only priority. All of that pain, that doubt, that fear...he made it all settle down into the pit of my stomach like mud at the bottom of a riverbed, and the only thing left to reach the surface....was my love for the boy who was becoming the most important thing in my life. "I don't want you to go, Brice. I......I need you." I said, feeling a single tear trickle down my cheek and puddling at the corner of my lips. "I just...I'm so lost, Brice. I'm so lost."

He turned towards me, and in an uncontrollable burst of involuntary emotion, he tearfully opened his arms and hugged me tight against him. Right there in the hallway. There was such a high level of comfort in his arms. Such an incredible feeling of eternity in his gentle squeeze. I was falling, wasn't I? I was letting it happen all over again. Except this was a billion times WORSE! This time, I KNEW the danger behind being this vulnerable...and I fell into it anyway. I was spiraling downward at the speed of light now. And the only thing waiting for me at the bottom of my rapid plunge....was the hard jagged surface of reality. A rock hard reminder of my foolishness that was sure to split my head in two once I met up with it in the inevitable crash landing. I did not want this. I REALLY did not want this!

Realizing what we were doing, we released our embrace before we attracted more attention than we already had. Not that we jumped back from one another, protecting our position in the closet for the close minded idiots who don't have the capacity to understand. But a simple release. One where we could still meet each other's eyes. And the almost mystical shade of blue in Brice's eyes shined down on me, looking even more amazing when wetted down with tears.

The next two weeks went by in a blur. I was taking a leap of faith that didn't seem to make any sense at all. I remained conflicted the entire time, stuck between seeing Adam hide around corners to stay away from me, and fighting the urge to do the same for Brice. But we became better friends after a while, and although we weren't really kissing or flirting with one another, I could tell that Brice was interested. His smile was always slightly different when he was being shy. His blush had a specific color for when he was flattered, or for when he was flattering me. I kept a close eye on what was going on in my head and tried to keep those big goofy emotions of mine from getting out of control. I was becoming a pro at it to be honest. But there were still moments of total bliss, when my smile would break through in full bloom, and I'd find myself lost in an infatuated stare. Giggling boyishly at the boy of my dreams...hoping and praying that he wouldn't notice.

In return, Brice kept his emotional and physical attractions to me at a minimum. At least verbally. No sweet whispered words in my ear, no buckets of popcorn in my lap at the movies, no attempts to send me flying with another surprise kiss. But despite his best efforts, he didn't hide his love for me very well. Especially when we had any kind of serious conversation about something. He'd listen to my answer, and would end up staring at me as though I had quoted the most inspirational of all Biblical verses. Sometimes we'd bump into each other by accident while we were walking, and he'd turn red and start giggling. And sometimes he'd look at me as though I was the most beautiful creature on earth. Yeah...I could tell. And I almost wanted to make it real. There were times when I wanted to give up, and take down the iron gates that were keeping us from saying or acting on what we truly felt for each other. Times when all I could THINK about was kissing his lips, and licking the smooth surface of his neck. Times when I wanted to grab two handfulls of his ass and mash my face up against the front of his pants while he tangled his fingers in my head and moaned passionately above me. But I kept the walls firmly in place. I did all I could to swallow those urges and just....enjoy having something that I could enjoy...and yet, could possibly walk away from without ripping my heart in half again. If the time ever came when Brice was tired of me, if he just one day decided that I wasn't good enough anymore and he'd rather be with somebody else than try to love me for who I am...I'd be ready. I could pick my chin up, and be ok. All I had to do was make sure that he got no closer than he was right now. And we could both have the best of both worlds. No problems. No drama. Just.....'safety'.

One day, as I was going to meet Brice at the gate to walk home from school together, I happened to see Jonathan Hersh in the hallway outside of the main office. He was just standing there, evidently lost in his own thoughts, and I couldn't help but stare. It was a stare of anger, knowing that he was holding my boyfriend close and planting himself into a spot that was built for me and me alone. It was a stare of jealousy, seeing how angelic he looked. Gorgeous, blond, slim, great body, nice ass...eyes that could melt the will power of the most heterosexual of the male species. He was to die for, and he knew it. He pretended not to, but he knew. How could he not know? How can he not notice the way people fall all over themselves trying to just get a glimpse of him. He was that beautiful blond heartthrob that I knew I'd never be. The one that cute gay boys like Adam would toss ugly, below average, trash like me aside for. Without any remorse at all. He was the high physical standard that every boy and girl on the planet was searching for. The kind of boy that grown men dream about. He was...better than me in every possible way. And I couldn't stand him.

As I walked passed Jonathan in that hallway, my heart sank like a stone. Look at him. Just look. No wonder Adam loves him so fucking much. If I had a choice between me and him, I'd probably choose him too. He's better than me in every possible way, and I'm sure he's making the love of my life very happy. Just thinking about hurt me all over again. It savagely ripped open the half-healed wound, and I hurried my pace so that I could try to get him out of my sight faster. God....I wish I was him. I wish I could have Adam's affections again. I wish he would get mangled by some escaped animal from the fucking ZOO so Adam would be forced to miss me like a friend and a lover is SUPPOSED to. But that's just wishful thinking, isn't it? Grrr...WHY? Why does HE get everything he wants??? Jonathan doesn't even DESERVE to have someone as special and as awesome as Adam in his life! I do! Jonathan has already got an easy life ahead of him. He's got EVERYTHING...he had to take my boyfriend too? I tried my BEST to make things work! I would have done ANYTHING! I would have...I would have.....oh, who am I kidding? I lost. I lost to the competition, and I SHOULD suffer for being so inferior. This is what I get. This is my punishment. If I had just been better....if I had just been cuter...if I had just been funnier, or smarter, or more understanding....Adam wouldn't hate me. He wouldn't have left me. He wouldn't have...dismissed my life as being anything of value.

Great...I'm doing it again. I should just stop before I get myself all worked up again. Besides....Brice is waiting outside. And I don't need to approach him being all pouty and moody like I have been lately. Straighten up, Danny. Clown mask in place, big troubles. Let's get into character.

"It's about time. I was starting to think you had been kidnapped." Brice grinned when I finally caught up to him at the gate.

"Psh! I should be so lucky. Hostages get candy, don't they?"

"Only when you're ten years old or younger. After that, you get bread and crackers. NO water."

"At least I'd lose weight." I smirked, and he playfully slugged me in the shoulder to shut me up. As long as I concentrated on Brice's smile, his wit, his cute little habits, I could hide from the pain. Not forever, but at least in his presence. For now, that was all I needed. Anything more would be asking for a miracle.

" feeling any better?" Brice asked me as we crossed the street, walking off of school property, and into freedom again.

"Better than what, I wonder?" I mumbled sarcastically. Brice flashed me a look, and I smiled. Willingly retracting my last statement. "Sorry. Yeah, I guess I'm feeling ok."

"You guess you're feeling ok?"

"It's kinda hard to tell these days, you know? I mean...since Adam and all."

"Ahhh...Adam again." He said quietly. "You know, you should really let that whole thing go, you know? I mean, if it's bothering you that much, why hold on to it anymore?"

"I wish it was that simple. I mean...this just hurts sooooo much, you know? I can't believe he would even DO this to me. And he makes it worse every chance he gets. He doesn't even look me in the eye anymore when I see him in the halls, he won't talk to me on the phone...we used to be so close. How the hell could that just turn around and become so fucked up all of the sudden?" I said, feeling the pressure of that miserable feeling in my gut bubbling up in my stomach. Trying to rush back to the surface while I tried desperately to hold it back enough to keep from blabbing out of control. "Do you know that we used to send lovey dovey emails back and forth ALL the time! Like...I'd just think about him, and it was like I HAD to write him to tell him that. I don't care WHAT I was doing! ONe night, I even got up in the middle of the night, and turned on the computer to send him a message just to let him know I was thinking about him then."

"Really? Hmm...sounds cool."

"And I told him REALLY personal things about me. You know? And he told me REALLY personal things about him. We just...we connected, you know?"

"Yeah. I can see that."

"It's's like...for every moment of joy he ever brought to my life, he's now bringing a WEEK'S worth of unmerciful pain that I try to suffer through while I pretend that I'm not a total loser. My heart's completely broken this time. I just know it is."

"Uh huh..." It was at that moment that I stopped talking long enough to look over at Brice, who was listening, but the spark had been dulled in his eyes. His voice had lost its boyish charm, and had been replaced with just enough dead leaden sentences to let me know he was even there. I was going on and on with no real point, forgetting that what I felt had absolutely no bearing on what fate had in store for me anyway. I guess I was whining again.

"I'm sorry." He looked over at me, and gave me a halfhearted smirk to let me know it was ok. "Seriously. I'll stop. K? I're the only one I can actually talk to about him."

"Lucky me." He joked, and now it was my turn to playfully slug him to shut him up.

"Thanks for your sympathy, hehehe!"

"Sorry." He grinned and we kept walking. We made it to the corner where we'd have to go our seperate ways, and he almost looked sad that our walk had ended for the day. "I guess this is the end of the line, huh?"

"Yep. Well...I'll see ya later." I started to walk away from him with a wave, but he stopped me after just a couple of steps.

"Um...hey, Danny? Why don't you give me a call later tonight or something?" He said.

"For what?"

"I just know...maybe we could talk for a while. Maybe...make some plans for this weekend?'re not doing anything."

He was doing it again. Wrecking that comfortable vibe between us by trying to 'elevate' what we had to some other level. A level that I thought I had made clear that I didn't want to be a part of. Looking at him, gently biting his bottom lip, those sparkling clear blue eyes of his staring at me with such boyish hope...I nearly fell in love all over again. I hate him for making me feel so guilty about all this.

"Actually...I think...I'm gonna be pretty busy this weekend." I told him. And he sorta rolled his eyes in disappointment, but he didn't say anything about it. He just slung his backpack higher on his shoulder and nodded with a sigh.

"Yeah...I figured. Well...later then." And he walked off in the other direction, not looking back once. I really wish he would stop that. He's only making things harder on himself. What so damn special about me anyway, that he'd wanna put himself through the trouble of getting so close? Now he's gonna be all 'sad' and 'rejected', and he's gonna make me feel like it's MY fault. Sighhhh...great. Like I needed THIS on my conscience for a whole evening.

As I walked into my house, and saw my room in 'slightly better shape' since I had torn through it like a tornado through a trailer park, I found myself wrestling with conflicts again. Conflicts that I didn't understand. Conflicts that I didn't WANT to understand. Brice ALWAYS fucking does this to me, and I never know how to handle it! I'm constantly tempted by his charms and his effort and his looks and....everything about him. But it's no different than a child being tempted to eat those poisonous berries that grow in his backyard. I want him to be with me and to leave me alone at the same time. But...I don't think he's ever going to be happy with that. I don't think us just being friends is ever going to satisfy his thirst for something more intimate. And that puts the ball in my either pass it back to him...

...Or kick it over the fence.

The next day in school, I did my best to avoid the front door at all costs. I knew that Adam and Jonathan would be around his locker somewhere, trying to act like I was the fucking boogie man, and I just didn't want to see them together today. I couldn't stand to see him happy without me. It decreases my value with every grin he shares with his sexy new showboating blond boyfriend. So when my mom dropped me off, I walked clear to the other side of the building before entering the school to avoid them. However, I wasn't aware of the fact that it put me much closer to Brice's first period class, and I nearly crossed paths with him in the hall as I was walking in the door. I don't know what it was. Maybe I panicked. Maybe I just decided that I was going to be too weak to resist his magnetic aura today after doubting my ability to steer clear of him. Who knows? But just seeing his tall, slim, frame walking down that hallway struck fear into me, and I dipped into one of the nearby libraries before he saw me. At least...I HOPE he didn't see me. I crept close to the small rectangular window in the door and looked to see if he had walked by. It was hard to tell with all the kids running around, but since Brice was just a little bit taller than the rest of them, he stuck out. I watched as he walked slowly past the door and to the stairs to go to his first class. Whew...thank God. That was close.

I know it's a rotten thing to do, ducking out on him like that. But I've sorta made up my mind that this can't keep going the way it has been since we went to see that movie together. The fact is...Brice needs more than a friend, and I need a less than heartbreaking experience with someone before I can ever hope to hold my head up again. So, since he can't seem to stop trying for more, and I can't stop myself for falling for him when he does....maybe it's better that we just don't see each other for a while. Maybe even a long while. I like him, I mean...I REALLY like him...but enough is enough. And I'm cutting this party short while I still have some of my common sense left. God help me if I get lost in love again. The closer you let the feeling get to your heart, the more likely you are to make a really SLOPPY mistake. And I just...I just can't survive another 'mistake'.

When the coast was clear, I crept out of the library, and back into the hallway. But...the evasion didn't stop there. I went hungry instead of going to lunch that day. I strategically maneuvered around every staircase, classroom, and hallway, that I thought Brice might be taking. I even thought about alternate routs he might be taking to find me. If I had seen him, if he had seen me, I'm sure it would have caused some kind of emotional confrontation where he asked what he did wrong. He'd ask me why I was avoiding him, and I'd feel bad about ignoring him, so he'd use those beautiful eyes and sensual voice to lustfully bully me into saying everything was alright again. Everything is NOT alright! I don't even WANT it to be alright! Look at what Adam can do to my life after a whole YEAR without him! Look at how much this shit still hurts, even after all the times he spit in my face and laughed at my pain! If I can't deal with THAT heartbreak, how am I supposed to deal with TWO, back to back??? I can't! And if Brice is hurt....well.....I'm sorry. But better him than me. Better him than me.

Brice tried calling me that night, and I didn't answer the phone. Sure he left messages, but I didn't want to talk. He scares me sometimes. There were even a few calls where the number was blocked on the caller ID, but I was sure that it was him. I didn't care if it took weeks of ditched lunches and unconvential hallway detours...I wanted him gone. I needed him gone. Even if it hurt. Even if I missed him with all my heart. I'd rather remember him as the sweet boy I let get away...than the heartless bastard that tossed me aside. At least this time, I'm protected from the inevitable. At least this time, I can have some sort of 'ending'.

When I went back to school on Thursday, I was prepared to make my maze like run through the school to keep him from seeing me. It was raining outside, and the gloomy day had already put most of the people around me in a bad mood from the looks of it. Still, I plotted out my method of travel as I walked up the steps, hoping to stay invisible for just a little while longer. But this time, I made a slight mistake somewhere. Because I almost ran right into his path...and he saw me. His eyes caught mine as soon as I walked through the front door of the school. I froze, dead in my tracks, and had no way to dash off like I had before. Nowhere to run and hide, no excuse to give as to why I didn't speak to him. I looked him in the eyes from down the hall. With a hundred high school kids between felt as though we were the only two people in that hallway for a moment. And I saw a look of pain so hurtful on his beautiful face, that it nearly brought us both to tears. He knew. Brice wasn't stupid. He probably knew from day one. And just when I lowered my head, ready to go over and explain myself, ready to once again cave in and tell him that I was sorry for what I had done....he walked away. His blue eyes were wet with the beginnings of tears...and he just turned and walked away before I could reach him. I stopped dead in my tracks as he disappeared around the corner, and I figured....maybe now he got the message. Maybe's officially over. It looks like I got what I wanted afterall. But...if that's true...

...Then why do I feel so sick inside?

The minutes ticked by so slowly that day. Each one spent in mild agony. Each one spent rememering the look in Brice's eyes as he turned away from me. I should be happy to be free of that extra problem in my life, but I wasn't. I should be proud that I was able to hold out for as long as I did, finalling emerging victorious over a possible bad situation, but I wasn't. Already, I was missing his smile. Already I could feel my heart breaking for him, and I wished I had done this much earlier before it even got this far. At least it wasn't real. At least it wasn't love.

It was nearing the end of the day, and gym class had been moved to the indoor basketball courts because of the rain. I got dressed in uniform, and trotted my way in to play a few forced games of 21, hoping the sports activity would keep my mind occuppied for just a little while. But when I walked into that gym...what I saw...was NOT going to give me any peace of mind! Not at all! Sure enough, larger than life, combined with another class that was also forced in by the bad weather outside...was Jonathan Hersh.

Standing there in his gym shorts, smooth legs, tight calves, slim waist, flat chest...disgustingly perfect. The girls whispering and giggling arond him like a bunch of fucking groupies. I hated them just for being a part of his amazing sexual glow. Just seeing him there, with his perfect smile, and his perfect ass, and his perfect fucking hair....I nearly gagged on my own rage! I wanted to charge over there top speed and wail on him with every last bit of strength that my body could muster after having been destroyed by his very existence in my boyfriend's life! I wanted to choke him until the skin on his neck began to emerge between my fingers and his vertebrae snapped one by one! I fucking HATED him! I HATED him!!! Fuck him FOREVER, and fuck anybody willing to push him out of the way of a moving truck!

Naturally, fate finds such amusement in these situations, and when teams were chosen, Jonathan was playing against me. We were opponents, competition, enemies in every sense of the word. Although I doubt he even knew who I was. I doubt Adam ever even mentioned me. I didn't rate high enough on his radar to remember me being one of the first loves of his fucking life! And THIS asshole is the one responsible! HE did it! It's HIS fault! And this is ONE day that he's not gonna be better than me! Do you hear me? I may not be the best basketball player ever, but I'm gonna be a goddamn CHAMPION today! I've GOT to win! Do you understand that? Does anybody understand? I can't let Jonathan Hersh win this game, not this time. He...he took EVERYTHING from me! EVERYTHING! But this is the ONE thing that I might be able to beat him at. The ONE thing that might give me some kind of equal playing field against him and every nightmarish thought that he represents. I just....I just....I HAVE to beat him. I can't lose today. Not today. If I lose this game...then I've truly lost my soul. That would be the final nail in my coffin. He's my competition now. And after what he's done to me...after practically causing the only person to bring my heart any joy at all to abandon me so heart couldn't take losing to him. Not to him.

The whistle was blown, and the game began. I shot out towards that ball top speed, and made the first few points all on my own. I was a DEMON on that court! Stealing, dribbling, blocking, jumping, running...every point my team made was a slap in Jonathan's gorgeous little teeny bopper FACE! But his team wasn't about to lose so easily. And he had a whole army of players that all seemed to be working hard to make sure that they kept the score even. They were all playing a lot harder than he was, but I focused on him anyway. HE was the source of all this anger. HE was the one that I needed to beat! HE was the one who needed to be punished! I KNOW what you did you fucking son of a BITCH!!! And I HATE you for it! You understand? I'm NOT losing!!!

For the entire period we battled it out. I felt like it was me alone against his whole team, but it didn't matter. I'd cut through them all if it meant winning JUST this once! I won't let him walk out of here feeling good about himself, I refuse! I passed the ball to Chad, and he scored. I passed the ball to Maria, and she scored. I passed the ball to Drew, and he scored! Both teams were neck and neck for most of the game, and the class period was almost over. I was exhausted from playing so hard. Myheart felt like it was ready to burst, and I could hardly breathe. My shirt was drenched with sweat, and my arms and legs ached with fatigue. But I didn't care. If I fucking DIED playing this would be worth it! Just to be better than him at this ONE thing! Just to prove that he wasn't so much better than me that his very presence erases the very purpose of me existing at all. I was going to keep pushing and win this game if it broke every goddamn bone in my BODY!

The game went on, I played harder than I ever have before in my life...and then it happened. One of the boys on Jonathan's team stole the ball from me while I was heading for the basket. My legs were ready to collapse at that point, and I slipped down to one knee as I tried to turn around. The boy passed the ball to Jonathan Hersh....who scored a three point shot from side of the court. Putting them one point ahead of us. Looking at the clock, I knew that we only had time to make one more play, and I struggled to get to my feet. My limbs were weak, my head was spinning, but I stood up...and waited for the ball. It was tossed in, and I made a grab for it, using every bit of power that I had to run for that basket. I could feel myself almost ready to breakdown, but I just needed this ONE basket! Just one! And I was getting closer, and closer, I made the jump, raised my arms...and felt a bump from behind!!! Jonathan was trying to block my shot, and had accidentally bumped me from behind. The ball was thrown off course, and I missed. I missed.

I came down to the floor with a thud, and Jonathan reached out a hand to help me up. "Oh man! I'm sorry dude. Are you ok?" He said. But all I could hear was the sound of the whistle being blown again. Our teacher telling us that class was over, and sending us back to get dressed before we were late for our next period. The game was over. OVER. And I lost. I lost to Jonathan Hersh....again. And as I laid there on the floor, pounding the ground with my fist out of frustration...I felt tears come rushing to my eyes. Angry tears. That was it. He had beaten me. He had beaten me at everything...and when he left here, he was gonna go home, and fuck my boyfriend to celebrate. "Do you need help?" He said, still wanting to help me off of the floor. But when he touched me, an electric shock surged through me. It was as if that was the catalyst that set of the eruption of an emotional volcano inside of me. I viciously slapped his hand away from me and got up on my own!

"FUCK YOU!!!!!!!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, the tears now rolling down my cheeks, my face almost hot enough to turn them to vapor. I stomped over and grabbed the basketball in my hands, and with all my strength, I THREW it at Jonathan one handed! Hoping to crack his fucking skull with it! Unfortunately, he was able to duck it in time, and it slammed up against the wall harmlessly while the gym teacher and the othe kids looked on to see what the hell was wrong with me.

"What the fuck is YOUR problem?!?!" Jonathan yelled. And just hearing him raise his voice at me made me want to run right THROUGH him!

"YOU'RE my fucking problem, asshole!!!" I screamed, and the tears began to flood out of my eyes nonstop. I couldn't even breathe, and my fists clenched up uncontrollably. As though beating the shit out of this pretty boy would make Adam ever love me again. As though it would take back the hurtful look that Brice had given me in the hallway that morning. As though it would have any effect at all. Jonathan had no idea why I was so hurt, so enraged, so SICK of being shitted on by people who couldn't STAND to see me happy with somebody else! But I was going to make him find out. I was gonna SHOW him!

I started to storm my way over to him and get close enough to knock him the fuck out when two other boys ran over to hold me back from the fight. The gym teacher shouted out, "HEY HEY!!! What's WITH you today??? Get over here!" I didn't listen. I just wanted to get in one good punch! I swear...the way I felt at hat moment, I could probably stop his heart with one blow. The same way he stopped mine. "NOW, Daniel!!!" The teacher said again, and I shook myself loose of the guys holding me back to storm off to the locker room. To hell with the gym teacher. I'm done. I'm outta here. I just stomped back to the locker room and grabbed my clothes. I got dressed, got my backpack from upstairs, and I walked right out of school, rain and all.

I didn't even bother with waiting for the bus. I just splashed my way home, so angry that it gave me a headache. The ice cold water cascaded down on me the entire 45 minute walk, my clothes were heavy with the weight of being soaked through. But when the rage hit it's peak, and I was just a few blocks away from home...the sadness set in almost immediately. A deep depression so foul that it nearly felt like I was being turned inside out by its pressure. It clawed and ripped at my emotions, and I began to cry outloud as I stopped walking entirely. I was sobbing so hard that it made me weak in the knees...and I fell to the wet ground. I was kneeling in a puddle, letting my backpack slip off of my shoulders, and spent a few minutes just crying there in the rain as I tried to find enough energy to walk that last block to my house. I didn't want to live anymore. I didn't want to feel anymore. I had nothing left. Nothing.

When I finally did make it home, I tracked my wet footprints straight to the bathroom, peeled my wet clothes off of me, and stepped into a warm shower. Nothing was going to save me now. Nothing was going to wash away this pain. Jonathan...he wins. I have no other way to compete. He gets it all. And I get a reminder of why I wasn't good enough for Adam in the first place. I get to remember why I'm so utterly alone, and why God never meant for me to be with somebody else. I guess it was just never in his plan. All that's left to take the bottle of pills on top of the fridge that my mom uses to sleep at night, empty it out into my hand, and fill up a glass of water. That's all I have to do. I'm done. I'm so done.

After getting out of the shower, I grabed the bottle, and a big plastic cup to wash the pills down with. Sitting them both on the stand next to my bed. I have no idea how long I stared at that bottle. Not really thinking about anything...but afraid to move. Because I knew that if I did so much as blinked an eye or lifted a finger, I'd have the courage to do it. No regrets. No turning back. Not now. I reached forward....but avoided the bottle of pills and went for the water instead, taking a few sips. I was trembling...but determined. I never wanted to leave this room alive. I was gonna do it no matter what. It was just a matter of taking that bottle into my hand, and going to sleep. Sleep...I'd really to sleep right now.

I reached forward again, taking the bottle of pills into my hand, and popping the top on it. It was half full, and I was sure that it would be enough. If I took the whole thing, that is. I wondered how long it would take, and if I'd dream before I died. I wondered if that dream would be about Adam, and if I'd be lost in it forever. I'd have him back in my dreams. He'd be all mine again. How wonderful.

I thought about my mother, and her many calls on that cell phone. I thought about Brice, and the first time his kiss landed on my lips. I thought about Jonathan and Adam, and all the passion they must be sharing between them. My head was going in circles, and I knew that I was just delaying the inevitable. Take the pills Danny. Take the pills, and it'll be finished at last. My vision blurred as I looked down at the open bottle, as I felt that last bit of 'the need to survive' slip away from me, and I knew that I was ready. At last...I'm ready.

The doorbell rang. And I ignored it at first, but it rang two more times, and I put the bottle down and put the cap back on top of it. I wiped my eyes as best as I could on my sleeve and got up to answer the door. When I looked out through the window, I saw Brice on the front porch...waiting. It dawned on me that I should have pretended not to be home, but when I heard the bell again, I decided to talk to him. If only for just one last time. I opened the door and saw him standing there, wet from the downpour outside. "What do you want?" I asked him sadly.

"I want to talk to you."


"Because, unlike you, I happen to have some FEELINGS for the boy standing in front of me. And if nothing else, he at least owes me a fucking explanation." He said, and I didn't answer at first. "Can I at least come in out of the rain?" I stepped aside and let him in the house. Silently I was pouting, hurting, and almost upset at the last minute intrusion. I'd be on my way to resting in peace right now if Brice hadn't come over to yell at me.

"So.....speak." I said, waiting for him to dig into me for being a jerk. I didn't care at this point. Whatever. He doesn't love me anymore than Adam did, and I don't see why I should trust him to be kind with my heart. Nobody else was.

"Speak? Is that all I get from you?" He said, already hurt. I tossed him a towel to dry his hair with, and he patted himself dow with it. "You know...what you did really hurt me, Danny. I mean, you could have just told me that you weren't interested in me. And yet, you decided to play this stupid 'game' instead."

"You wouldn't have LET me tell you I wasn't interested. You would have kept pushing until I told you exactly what you wanted to hear..."

"What I wanted to hear, Danny, was the TRUTH!" He was the one who was angry now. And yet, he was still more beautiful than anything I had ever seen. Even with his gaze shooting daggers through me, I was mesmerized by its incredible depth of character and grace. I felt even weaker than I was before.

"You wouldn't...LISTEN to me, Brice! I TOLD you why I couldn't be with you! I told you what he did to me! But you just kept trying! I needed some space!"

"Oh please! You know what, that sappy excuse has worn out its welcome! Grow up!" What? Did he just say 'grow up'? What the hell is that supposed to mean??? By 'growing up' does he mean for me to magically wish the pain away? I wish that were possible, because I've been trying to do that for over a year now.

"Don't you DARE pretend to know what kind of hell I've been through since he broke my heart!"

"What? Adam? You wanna know something, Danny? You hold onto this pain, and you nurse it, and you feed it, and let it invade you every second of the day. But it gets old, really fast." He said. "So Adam dumped you. So what? It happens. We're in high school, Danny. How many people even know what they're looking for in a relationship right now? We're all looking to find somebody, and a great majority of us don't get it right on the first try."

"No." I said. "No...this wasn't some dumb, puppy love, teenage infatuation, lost in the moment high school crush here! This was LOVE! He said he LOVED me! I said I LOVED him! There's a difference!" I shouted, crying openly in front of him for the first time. "I wasn't good enough. I did something wrong. I didn't pay him enough attention. I waited too long to give him sex. I...I...didn't communicate enough, or I screwed up, or I forgot something..."

"STOP IT!!! Jesus, dude, do you even HEAR yourself??? Look at what you're doing to yourself here! You're living in this weird 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' fantasy world! WHY? Why can't you just get past this whole thing and try living again?"

"I can't! Don't you understand? I'm 'broken', Brice. Heartbreaks like this don't mend. EVER! How am I supposed to live through this again? Huh? How do I know that the second I let you in, the second I kiss you and allow my heart to feel something special for you, that you won't go out and hurt me the way Adam did?"

He moved closer to me, and I took a step back from him. I didn't want him to touch me. I didn't want him to convince me. I wanted him gone! GONE! "I can't promise you that I'll never hurt you, Danny. I wish I could...but I can't. Anybody who says that they'll never do anything to hurt you is lying. It happens. I can't tell you what's going to happen a year from now, or a week from now, or even tomorrow. All I know is that I really like you, and deep down I feel like you really like me too. I want to be close to you. I want to kiss you. I want to share laughs with you, and go to movies, and talk about personal bullshit over a plate of nachos." He tried to move closer again, and while my instincts told me to run, I stood still. And he then reached out a shakey hand to rub my shoulder. "I wanna....I wanna spend time getting to know you without always worrying about what questions I'm not supposed to ask and what constitutes me getting 'too close' for you to be comfortable around me. I'm trying my best to give you time and space, but you CAN'T keep doing this to me."

"Doing WHAT to you?" I asked.

"Keeping me so off balance. One day you wanna go to the movies, the next day you're too busy. One day you want to talk to me over lunch, and the next day you running into the library and hoping that I didn't see you. I kiss you after having a wonderful night together, and then you act like you don't even want to talk to me. Danny, this is MORE than just being confused here. I'm hurting over you, all the time. I'm constantly thinking about you, and all you can do is miss somebody, who as far as I know...let a really good thing slip through his fingers."

"I don't get you, Brice. I don't know why you can't just leave me alone. I mean...what the hell are you trying to do to me here?"

"I'm TRYING to LOVE you!" He shouted, taking his arm down from my shoulder. "I'm trying to break through this gigantic wall that you've put right in front of my face and let you know how I feel about you. And JUST don't seem to fucking 'GET IT'! You don't even WANT to get it! And it's killing me, Danny! Because while you're going on and on about YOUR feelings, you're completely destroying MINE!"

"I didn't MEAN to hurt you! But I can't get hurt like this again! I'm NOT gonna let you tell me you love me and then just fucking DUMP me for somebody else without so much as telling me goodbye!!!"

"DAMMIT...I'm NOT ADAM!!! When are you gonna get that through your head?!?!? You CAN'T just go judging me on what some other asshole did to you! That's not FAIR!" His shouting was almost at full volume, and he was so hurt that his voice began to crack. Not that it mattered. I wasn't going to let him trick me. I'd take that whole bottle of pills right now if I felt myself starting to give in. I didn't want to be here. I didn't want HIM to be here. I just....I just wanted enough privacy to die with some grace.

"I can't take that chance..." I mumbled.

"Why not???" He said. "Why can't you just give me a shot and see how it turns out? Why can't we just TRY?"

"You don't know how badly he hurt me. You just don't understand..."

"NO! I don't understand!" He said loudly. "You're not doing much to help me figure it out either! I mean...what the fuck, Danny? What am I supposed to be doing here?"

"I told you! It's not YOU, Brice..."

"Yeah? Well you're right about that. It's NOT me! It's never been about me!" He said. "But you wanna know something? It's not HIM either! No matter how much you want it to be, it just isn't. You might stand there and mentally make him out to be this sadistic bastard who's constantly twisting some fucking imaginary knife in your back...but the TRUTH is, he probably isn't thinking about you at ALL! He proably doesn't even fucking CARE! Sad, but true!" Having those words leave his mouth...hearing them said outloud...nothing had ever hurt me more. The last defense had been breached, and I felt so weak in the stomach that I collapsed against the wall, and slid down to the floor. My heart ceased to beat, my tears couldn't be held back a moment longer, and my head ached in misery. That was it. That was the defining blow to my pride, my love, my very will to live one more moment past that comment. If I had died right there on the floor, I would have considered it 'mercy'. I should have taken those damn pills when I had the chance. As Brice looked downat me, tears of his own welling up in his eyes, I tucked my feet under me, drew my knees up to my chest, and just sobbed out loud. He watched me...sitting there in my weakest moment. The lowest point. Rock bottom. And there was nothing anyone could ever do to make this pain go away. Not now. " need to just let that pain go."

"I can't..." I cried. "...The pain...the pain is all I have left of him. It's the only thing he left for me to have. Without that...he'd be gone forever. And I couldn't bear that. I couldn't."

Brice then kneeled down next to me, and put a gentle hand on my knee, his voice a bit more calm than before. "Danny? Please understand me, ok? I mean....maybe Adam hurt you unintentionally, maybe he did it on purpose. Maybe he's sorry for it, maybe he's NOT. Maybe he misses you, maybe he wanted to hurt you for some well defined reason, or maybe he has no fucking clue what he did to hurt you so much. Who knows? But when it comes right down to it...he's moved on." The more he spoke, the slower my heartbeat got. My tears felt stale, forgotten, as though the true pain that had been building for the last year had just now found its way to my eyes, and was bleeding out that old poison at last.

"I just don't understand how he can just...forget about me..." I sobbed. "I just don't understand how I could cease to matter to him anymore."

"I don't either." Brice said, and he leaned in closer, trying to comfort and console me, as he sat against the wall beside me.

"I just...I don't know what to do. It won't stop hurting. And everytime I see him happy, I feel forgotten and alone all over again."

"You're not forgotten, dude. And you're certainly not alone. Not if you don't want to be." He told me, his hand resting on my knee.

"I never wanted to believe that he was really gone. I never wanted to believe that he could live so easily without me. I always hoped day he'd call me, or send me a fucking EMAIL, or....something to tell me what I did that was so wrong. I mean...he didn't even really give me a reason, he just...left. He rejected me and he didn't even look back. I had all of this affection and love and trust to FINALLY give to somebody...and now I didn't have anything to attach it to. I didn't have anyone who would give a damn." I felt my throat burning with every word that I spoke, and I couldn't believe how totally torn apart I felt inside. "You want to know what REALLY sucks? A huge piece of me is still waiting for that phone to ring. A piece of me is still stuck in time, wondering if this was all some big mistake, and that things will be ok once he cares enough to talk to me again. I'm sorry, Brice...I know that it sounds stupid....but I just....I want him back, you know? I want him back so bad that it HURTS! And I just can't get him to give a shit anymore."

I think he felt a little rejected by that statement. It showed on his face. But he remained strong. And he did it for me. "You know...there's always a chance you two might get back together and make it work. And then, there's always a chance that it's just...'over', Danny. But whatever it is...if you really want to know...just ask him. Ask him what he's feeling, and deal with it."

"I can't do that. Ok?" I cried.

"Why not?"

"Because I CAN'T!"

Brice paused for a second, and then he said..."So you're just gonna leave this wound open and bleeding forever? Is that it? You're just never going to open your heart for another person again? That's ridiculous."

"Just leave me alone." I turned away from him, leaning my cheek against the cool plaster of the wall, wishing that this whole thing was a dream. I didn't want to hear about it anymore. It was draining just to live with these thoughts on my conscience. What the hell did Brice know about it, anyway? He's never been hurt like this. He's never known what it was like to be ripped open this way. He probably never will. And I'm too tired to be playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun right now. "It's over, ok? You and me...we're just not gonna work out."

There was a pause, and I heard him sniffle a bit before answering. "Fine." He said, and stood up. "But I want you to know something, Danny. I like you. A LOT. I know you don't see it, and I know you feel safer ignoring me than paying my affections any kind of real attention. But it's the truth." He told me, sadly. "If you'd rather keep chasing rainbows, instead of making a go for the boy standing right in front of you...then I can't force you to do otherwise. I can't make you want me. Which really hurts...but I'll get over it. I will. I just want you to be happy."

"I'll never be happy again." I replied, and curled myself into an even tighter ball. Not wanting to look at him.

"Not this way you won't, no. But you can be. Just know...that if you ever want to let this part of your life go long enough to snap out of this, you're gonna have to talk to him. Don't let him just fucking 'vanish' without any resolution to the whole thing. That's a coward's way out. Don't walk away without some kind of closure, and don't cry over somebody who isn't willing to give it to you." He brushed himself off as he rose to his feet, and offered me a hand to help me up. But I refused. I didn't ever want to stand again. My place was right here, curled up on the floor, crying my eyes out like a little baby. "Sighhh...I guess that's it then." He said, but before walking out, he said, "If, one day, you talk to Adam...and he decides to appreciate all the wonderful and miraculous things that there are to love about you, if he suddenly comes to his senses and decides to fall in love with you all over again...I'll understand. I'll respect that. I'll back off entirely and leave you both to live happily ever after, in whatever fantasy you two have planned for each other." He then reached down to lift my chin so I could look him in the eyes. "But if for some reason...he's decided to try to find better than your perfection, and he's moving on without you...then let him go, Danny. Just...let him go. And, for God's happy." He straightened up, ready to leave. "I'll admit...I wish it was 'me' that had so much of your attention, Danny. I wish I didn't have to work so hard to get a fraction of the beautiful soul that Adam so easily takes for granted on a daily basis. But I'm not. Unfortunately, I don't have the same tolerance for pain that you do. And I just can't hurt over you while you're hurting over somebody else. I just can't do it." He said with a slight whimper and a sniffle.

"I wish I could be what you need me to be, Brice." I cried. "I wish I could give this all up and start fresh. But it hurts. It hurts like you wouldn't believe...having the person you love more than anything in this world...push your strongest emotions aside to chase after somebody else."

"Yeah...." He said. "...I know." I looked up at him, and he dried his eyes. "Join the club." And with that, he left. Closing the door behind him.

Silence. It surrounded me for the next hour straight. Not a single sound could be heard throughout that entire house. I left my cheek pressed against that wall, left my knees curled up at my chest, for an hour straight. The emotion was gone from my face, but I felt the tears continuously streaming down my cheeks anyway. I couldn't move. If I had moved, then reality would settle back in, and I'd be forced to deal with this full force. Brice was right. He was absolutely right. All this time...I thought Adam was making it a point to torture me, when deep down...I had never even crossed his mind. And if I never once crossed his mind, if there was no guilt, no remorse, no connection at all...then it really was over, wasn't it? It was over, and I was alone. I have been for an entire year now. I was finally beginning to realize that I have been living in an imaginary fairy tale, where the kicked and beaten underdog has his first love come running back to him in slow motion. But that's never going to happen. That part of my reality died when he forgot my birthday last year. When he stopped answering my phone calls. When he didn't return my emails. And when I first found out that he was interested in...him. Thinking back, I can't even remember the last time he kissed me, or told me that he loved me. For the first time..I honestly was able to understand how long it had been since Adam and I had been...together. And I was suddenly ashamed for holding onto it for so long.

Did it still hurt? Oh GOD, yes! It ached in the center of my soul, and burned like hot lava in the pit of my stomach. It was the final gunshot to the head that was made to finish me off. But...this was a misery that I had been living with for way too long now. And the truth is, I just didn't want it anymore. I was sitting there on that carpeted floor, leaning against a cold wall, trying to get the strength to get back on my feet. But it didn't come until it was almost time for my mom to come home that night. Even then, I got up more to keep her from asking question than for any noble reason of self worth. I stretched and cracked my cramped legs back into position, I felt a bit 'lighter' than I did before. Emotionally relieved. It was as if I had just had my first 'real' cry over the loss of someone special. And I couldn't have done that without Brice. Thinking back to the bottle of pills on my nightstand next to the bed...I was almost unable to do much of anything past this evening. I was quick to return the bottle from where I got them, and let out a deep breath as I silently thanked the stars for not allowing me to make a fatal mistake. This time...I was glad that I had given into Brice's charms. And I was beginning to understand. At least, I think I was. I just hope that I hadn't driven Brice too far away to one day catch up to him again.

I didn't sleep much that night. I hardly had anything at all to say to my mother, no matter how much she tried to talk to me about being so quiet. I doubt she knew just how close I came to that final sleep today. I doubt I'd ever have the heart to tell her either. All I knew is that when I went to bed that night, whatever tears I had leftover from this afternoon came pouring out of me unmercifully. I had to shove my face deep into my pillow just to keep it from being heard all over the house. The more it hurt, the more I cried. And the more I cried, the less it hurt. Until..eventually...both sides balanced themselves out, and I found my way into a deep dreamless sleep for the evening. It was all the peace I needed.

My next morning followed a very quiet routine. I felt...embarrassed. I could hardly look my mother in the eye, and was happy to have her ease off of me with her motherly inquiries. Brice's words echoed in my mind, and I continued to let them ring true as those golden images of me and Adam being happy together....began to slowly fade away. The laughs we shared, and the kisses he gave me. The sweet little emails he sent to say he loved me, and the litle arguments that we had that we solved through more kissing and admissions of love for one another. I thought about the times when I would just stare at him, absorb his scent, or reach out to touch the softness of his skin. I remembered the sound of his laugh, and the feel of his warm breath against my cheek. I thought about how Adam could hug me with just the right amount of pressure, and how he seemed to be able to talk to me on a level that no one else on the planet could. And with all this going through my head, I attempted to get rid of what I didn't need anymore. Much like cleaning the intimate relics out of an old closet, I tried to keep only what I needed from the memories left behind. And I sadly waved goodbye to what I was tossing to the wind. Possibly for good. It's not easy, choosing what's important to remember about the love of your life when the magic is gone. But thanks to Brice, I now know that it has to be done. And it has to be done alone.

I didn't catch sight of Brice once the whole school day. Not even when I went down to the cafeteria for lunch. I suppose it was his turn to ditch me for a while. I doubt he'd ever give me a chance to apologize. Nor would he ever give me another chance to hurt him like I'm sure I already have. much as I missed him, a part of me still felt safe for having him gone from my life. I hate to say it, I REALLY do, but it's the truth. I was partially relieved that I didn't make the same mistake twice. And even though I missed him with EVERY inch of my being...I was better off not being exposed to that euphoric feeling of completion anymore. Because when you depend on someone else to give your life're bound to lose. Every time.

It wasn't until the very end of the day, that I found a small piece of my salvation. It was about ten minutes after the final bell had rung, and the halls were emptying out pretty quickly as the kids all rushed home for the weekend. But as I slowly made my way out of the side door...I caught sight of him. I caught sight of Adam.

He was standing at his locker, that beautiful teenage slump curving his shoulders ever so slightly as he dug around inside for whatever books he needed for the weekend. His shiny blond hair was enchanting to look at, always looking as if it were cascading down in a waterfall of pure sunshine. And his ice blue eyes were glowing with the light that seemed to pass right through them. They were so blue that I'm surprised the magical color didn't reflect outward onto the wall in front of him. His body was miraculously slim. Sleek and tight. The kind of body that teenage boys wish they had, but no amount of excercise or activity could give them. Not this body. This was God's work. Nothing could touch it. Yes.....looking at Adam in that hallway, I was reminded of all there reasons there were to fall head over heels in love with him in the first place. His smile, his sense of humor, his grace, his ability to demonstrate these great moments of heartfelt concern for the people around him. All properties that I admired, and enjoyed...while we were together. He was just as beautiful as he was the very first time I saw the summer sun touch his thin red lips and had it almost move me to tears of amazement.

I ducked behind the edge of the hall, and leaned my back against the wall. I closed my eyes and tried to wish away the feelings of desperation in my heart. Tried to erase all of the good times that we had together, and the image of his perfection as I looked upon his glowing aura of sexuality. And I attempted to clear my head for JUST a moment. JUST long enough to think. Remember, Danny...this is the boy that you wanted to run over with a TRUCK not long ago. What's changed? What is there to hang on to except for the pain? What do I really have to lose by finally letting him go? I didn't know. But my only two options were to either get down on my knees, plead my case, and beg him to fix me. Beg him to make me whole again, and show him that I could love him more and love him BETTER than Jonathan Hersh could ever HOPE to! I could do that.......


"Hey, Adam." I said softly, my gaze directed down at my shoes. He didn't expect to see me there, and I could hear a sigh escape his lips as he rolled his eyes. It was like a jagged piece of metal being jabbed in my abdomen to see him so aggrivated to see me. But I needed this. More than anything...I just needed to talk.

"What do you want, Danny?" He said, unsuccessfully masking his anger at getting caught in the hall alone.

"I just...wanted to talk for a second."

"Danny...." He whined. "...I know what you're doing. I mean, can we just stop this? This is getting weird."

Another stab at my pride. Ever second near him seemed to be another twisted metal spike in my heart. But I continued on anyway. "That's not why I'm here. Ok? Can we just....'talk'. Just for a minute or two?" I asked, and he didn't answer. "Please?"

"Whatever. Make it quick. I've gotta go."

"Adam...." I started, and had to take a deep breath before I finished the rest. "...I don't know...what happened between you and me. I don't know why things didn't work, or why we can't even talk anymore without having it be weird. I'll probably never understand why our friendship fell apart...nor will I ever stop loving everything about you." I felt tears welling up in my eyes, but fought them back. "But....I understand that it's....'over'. I understand that things won't ever get back to the way they were. And....I'm officially done with it. Ok? I'm done."

For the first time in a year....I saw a look on Adam's face that resembled the loving looks he used to give me when we were considering each other boyfriends. For the first time...I had his attention, and what I had to say, made some kind of difference. " know, I really wasn't looking to hurt you. I mean, you know that right?"

"It's not important." I said, letting the first tear drip from my eye.

"It IS important..." He started, but I stopped him.

"Don't worry. It took some time to realize it....but I think I'll get through this. Really. I just..." I took a long pause while I waited for the emotion to settle in the back of my throat. It almost seemed like a bitter acid, the words that were waiting to leave my mouth...but finally, I released some of that pressure that I had been holding onto for oh so long. "...I hope that you and Jonathan are very happy together. I do. I wish you the best. I guess it's all I can do."

I think the sentiment kinda caught Adam by surprise, and he looked at me almost as if it were a trick. I wish it was. "Um...thanks." He said. He waited for a moment while I wiped some more tears from my eyes. "You know...Jonathan...he's a great guy. You'd like him if you got to know him." He saw the look on my face when he said it, and a smirk spread out on those perfect lips of his. "But.....that's not gonna happen, is it?"

With a grin, I slowly shook my head, and we both giggled a bit at the idea. "I'm always gonna hate him. I mean...I really...REALLY fucking HATE him. And that's never gonna change. You know that, don't you?"

"Yeah. I suppose." He replied. He was still cute. Still the center of the universe as far as I was concerned. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to let that go. I'm going to be in love with this boy until the day I die. But I can't allow myself to suffer over it anymore. It's too much. WAY too much. " was never 'you'." He said. "The reason we're not together, I mean. It just...." He trailed off, with a sad shrug in his shoulders. And no more really needed to be said.

"Yeah. 'It just' sums it up pretty nicely." I gave him a bit of a heartbroken smile, as I felt a wave of...'peace' settle into my heart for the first time in forever. Being able to look him in the eye and was a huge accomplishment. Possibly the best thing I've ever done. "Um...I guess that's all I really had to say. I guess...I guess I should be going now."

"Are you gonna be ok?" He asked.

"Eventually.....yeah." Then, he surprised me by walking forward, and giving me a really tight hug around my neck. My body responded to his touch the way it always had. My heart began to race, my palms began to sweat, my lungs seemed to shrink to half their size as I tried to breathe. But my mind didn't follow suit this time. That wasn't what I was here for. So I allowed my arms to wrap around his small waist, and held him against me. The emotion in my heart came rushing out of my eyes as the damn burst, and I inhaled as much of his scent as I remember him by. "I love you, Adam." I whispered. "I love you SO much."

"I love you too, hon." He said, and then let me go. We looked at each other briefly, and he asked me, "Friends forever?"

"Sure. Friends forever." I nodded, and then I backed away from him. Taking a few of my final long glances at his beauty as I prepared to never look at him in this emotional spotlight ever again. I started to slowly turn, walking my long mile away from Adam and his last time. It was as much of an 'ending' as I could ever hope to get from him. And I finally felt like I had a chance to be free of this misery once and for all. I continued to walk, hearing Adam sniffle a little bit behind me. And once I got a few steps away from him, he called out to me.


"Yeah?" I said sadly, a single tear dripping down my cheek while he looked on with genuine sympathy.

"I really did care for you something awful. I'll never forget you, or any of the awesome things we did together. They were....good times." He said, now starting to cry himself. "I meant every word I ever said to you. EVERY one. Ok?"

I'd be lying if I said that his sudden sentiment didn't lift my spirits high into the air. I'd be lying if I said that it almost made me slip right back into that obsessive love quicksand that I had been trapped in before. Every movement of his lips brought me back in time to the immaculate rush of our first summer's kiss. But despite the attraction of being made 'whole' again with someone familiar, someone I may never be able to have near to my heart again...I knew that it was time to let go. Just like Brice said. I can't live in the past, and I can't 'fix' whatever it is that went wrong with this picture. We'll just have to both consider this a draw on terms of losing something special, and move on. No more tears. No more illusions. No more clutching tightly to something that just isn't there anymore. It's nw officially...over.

So I simply nodded with a half smile, and wiped my eyes clean. "So, Adam......when you see me in the halls or'll say 'hi'? Just once in a while?" I asked.

He smiled through his watery eyes. "I'll blow you a kiss."

I paused for a second..."No thanks. I'd rather just have the 'hi'." I replied. "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too."

"Tell Jonathan to kiss my ass." I grinned, and he giggled outloud.

"I'll do that."

"Bye...." I said. Then I gave him a gentle wave, and I completed my walk away from him forever. It was done. Finished. At last...that chapter of my life finally felt 'closed'. And I was free again. Mind, body, and soul....God bless it...I was free again.

I left the school grounds, and went out to the bus stop to go home. Feeling like the sun was shining just a little bit brighter than before. I dropped my backpack to the ground beneath me, and leaned up against the tree, my eyes closed as I smiled up at the sky. I couldn't believe it was actually over. It felt so fucking good that I thought my heart would jump right out of my chest and dance in the street while I tried to keep up! I wanted to cry, I wanted to run around the block, I wanted to soar above the clouds and rain multicolored candy down on the whole damn city. But I had to straighten up when I saw Eddie come out of his house across the street. He was eating one of his pattented sandwiches, and started to cross the street to come chit chat with me again. What the hell? I was too happy to avoid his cheerful rantings today.

"You look awfully happy, dude. What happened? You pass a test or something?" He said.

"Yeah....I guess you could say that." I grinned. "What are YOU up to? I thought you'd be happy to be as far away from school as possible on the weekend."

"Nope. Believe it or not, I stayed the whole day today." He said, and I flashed him a shocked look. "Hehehe! It's the truth. And I've got you to thank for that. That's kinda why I came out here."

"Me? What did I do?"

"You sorta indirectly, directly, gave me the courage to talk to Cindy Shuffleman, dude. No doubt."

"The 'flapjacks' girl?" I asked.

"That's the one. I took a shot, asked her out for tomorrow...and abracadabra....she said yes!" Eddie told me. "So...thanks and all, bro."

"Where are you taking her?"

"The ZOO, where else?" He chuckled, and finished the last bite of his sandwich, wiping his hands off on his pants.

I laughed along with him, and then just smiled in admiration. " you just kinda went for it, huh?"

"Yeah. I remembered talking to you about my dad and all, and I saw her in the hall, and it was or never. You know? So I just walked up and told her I thought she was a hottie." Then he said, "I was afraid before. But you know...everybody is afraid of getting dumped on. You can't let that prevent you from at least taking a risk and seeing what happens. Nobody ever accomplished anything by being 'safe'....and I'm not gonna miss anymore chances to tell somebody how I feel. Life is short, youth is even shorter, and I' rather look back and laugh at all the girls that threw dirt in my face...than cry over the ones I never approached. You know what I mean?"

The moment had take a hold of me. Every cell in my body felt alive, born anew. And with the widest grin that my lips could create, I agreed with him wholeheartedly. "'re a fucking PROPHET, you know that?" I said, spontaneously hugging him close to me.

"Oh....sorry if I'm talking too much. I had some 'herbal refreshments' before coming out here, if you know what I mean."

"No, you're perfect. Absolutely perfect! I'll see ya later, k?" I said, and took off to run across the street before the other bus came by.

"Wait...isn't this your bus home on THIS side of the street, dude?" He called out after me.

"I'm not going home!" I giggled, and jumped on the bus going in the opposite direction. Towards Brice's house!

I rang the doorbell several times once I got to his front door. I had been bouncing up and down the entire bus ride over there, and I had practically sprinted from the bus stop to his house. Please be home Brice! PLEASE!!!

I heard the chain being taken off of the door, and it opened wide to give me full display of Brices gorgeous face as he looked at me in confusion. "What are you doing here?" He asked.

"I had to see you." I said, stepping inside uninvited.

"I'm not talking to you."

"Good." And without saying another word, I swiftly grabbed both of his cheeks in my hands, and kissed him full on the lips! I kissed him with such a passionate burst of energy that it flowed from my every pore, and Brice hardly knew what to do with himself. I let him go after a few moments of enjoying our liplock, and saw him gently swoon from the contact. "How's THAT for a weird and awkward teenage moment?" I said proudly.

"Um....should I be somewhere else right now?" Came a voice from the living room, and there was Brice's brother Alex sitting on the couch watching us. I immediately blushed fifty shades of purple, and he giggled at the expression on my face as he got up to his feet. "Okaaaay... you boys have fun. I'll be in my room." He said. "With the MUSIC on!" He shouted after leaving the room.

"Omigod...why didn't you tell me he was here?"

"You didn't necessarily give me the chance to." Brice answered, still startled by my sudden invasion. "Danny...what's going on here?"

"Listen...I know I've been an asshole. I know I've been running from you. And I know that I have NO right to ask you to put up with my bullshit in any way, shape, or form. I treated you unfairly, and I was an idiot from day one." I said, the damn bursting, and the words flooding over my lips in rapid fire succession. "But the TRUTH is, excite me. You excite me like nobody else ever has. I love the way you smile, I love the way you pause in the middle of a sentence when you're looking for the right words to say, I love the way you can tell how I'm feeling even when I'm trying to hide it from you!" I let it all pour out of me. For feelings became visible. And who better to share it with, than the boy I loved with all my heart? "I love the way you eat your nachos one by one. I love the way your eyes sparkle when you're making a joke. I love the way you listen to me and try to honestly be there for me instead of just trying to cheer me up all the time. I love your shyness, I love your creativity, I love EVERYTHING about you! And it drives me fucking CRAZY because I can't find anything wrong with you at ALL and that seems just too good to be true!"

"Danny...what are you saying here?" He told me, trying hard not to get lost.

"I'm saying....I love you, Brice. I love you." I looked into his eyes, and we both almost started to cry at the exact same moment.

"But...but you said..."

"To hell with what I said. I wanna be with you." I said.

"I can't...I can't promise you that..."

"I don't care." I said. "I wanna try. I really wanna try."

"So help me, Danny....if this is a trick..."

"It's NOT a trick!" I smiled.

"If you change your mind..."

"I'm NOT changing my mind!"

He stopped. "Are...are you serious? You're....choosing me?"

"Brice...I chose you the day I saw you on the front lawn during that fire alarm. I just didn't know it until now."

He didn't know how to react to what I was telling him, but I didn't wait for him to figure it out. I wasn't a passive observer in this game anymore. I wanted him. And love...ANY kind of a risk worth taking. Brice wasn't about to be one of the boys that I sit back and wish I hadn't let get away from me ten years from now. I'm afraid of being hurt again, sure. Hell...I'm TERRIFIED! But if I don't at least try...I can't ever find what I'm looking for. I might be right, I might be wrong...but I think I've got a good feeling about this one.

When I broke the kiss, a tear fell from Brice's watered eyes, and instead of another kiss...he moved forward to hug me tightly around the neck. It was like he was so amazed to have me there, and refused to ever let me go. There was only a slight hesitation in him, wanting to be stubborn as if to teach me a lesson. But he gave in almost immediately. It made me feel foolish for having held out for as long as I did. "I love you, Danny." He siffled.

"I love you too." Just hearing the words leave my mouth made him weak inside, and I heard a gentle whimper over my shoulder, before he leaned back and began to kiss me again. Our lips wrapped around one another, and our tongues came to meet bashfully in between us. After all the time and the effort and the energy I had put into hurting over'd think that would be all I could think about while kissing Brice like this. You'd think I'd be remembering the taste of Adam's kiss, the feel of his breath on my cheek, or the way I could feel his heartbeat as his chest pressed firmly against my own. You'd think I'd have my mind swirled tightly around the sound of his laugh, or the feel of his hair as I ran my fingers through it, or the softened scent of soap that seemed to eternally linger on the nape of his neck, and that little space behind his ears. But the truth is, I didn't. Brice had a scent all his own, a feel all his own, a method of kissing all his own. Completely different, unique, and...dare I say it...better. Why? Because he was here. Because he wanted 'me'. And because my heart had been reaching out to him for ages while I kept smacking its hands away from him. It was time to give myself over to something more than a stupid memory. It was time to give myself over to something real again.

As we were making out, we began to heavily pet one another, our hands reaching out and squeezing the softest, and the hardest, parts of our anatomy. I thought I might have gone too far when I let my hands glide slowly down to the cushioned globes of his ass, and I heard him gasp. He broke our kiss, and I was afraid that maybe I was doing this too fast. But it was then that he began to stutter and mumble. " you want....I mean...I'm not saying that you WANT to...but if you DID...I mean...I'm not...I've never really..."

"Wait, what?" I asked, confused. But that only made the babbling worse.

Brice was blushing like crazy, and he was sorta awkwardly pointing to his room. "I'm just saying....or....ASKING, actually....I mean....God, you're cute!" Hehehe, he couldn't look me in the eye. And his leg was trembling so badly that his foot was tapping on the floor in front of him. "Danny....Do"

"Are you asking me into your room?" I grinned.

He seemed to get a small boost of confidence from my wicked smile, and looked as if he refused to be teased any further. "Yes, hehehe! Yes I am."

"You wat me to go?"

"I want you to go."

"And what are we gonna do in there?" I said, biting my bottom lip.

"I have no idea. We'll just have to figure that out when we get there." He was joking around with me, but we were both a bit nervous about taking this any further. Still, hormones aren't known for their patience. And once I saw Brice take a single step towards his room, I was quick to follow.

We passed Alex's room, and heard the music playing loud enough where we'd have some privacy. As he led me into his room and closed the door behind us, I kinda blushed and covered my face with my hand. It was a moment of bashfullness that seemed to overcome my every desire at that moment. But it was the sparkle of his ocean blue eyes that snapped me out of it. It was the genuine splendor of his smile that completely swept me up in the wet dream fantasy that was his love. We both stared at each other for a few moments, switching our weight from one foot to the other in a gentle sway. We giggled shyly as we tried to find a way to begin our 'first time' at any of this. But we inched closer to one another, our stomaches wild with rampaging butterflies, and were finally close enough to see each other eye to eye. He was just slightly taller than me, but his stare locked onto my eyes without any effort at all. We stood in limbo for a few seconds more, and both snickered a bit more as our boyish curiosty tried to move forward into something more fulfilling. And then, with a sigh, Brice reached out his hand first. He let the back of his fingers softly touch my cheek, and slide down to my chin as I closed my eyes and reveled in the sensation. His other hand reached up, and both rested at the base of my neck, his thumbs reaching up to my earlobes, his fingertips tickling the back of my head. And I allowed my hands to nervously reach forward to rest low on his waist. Intimately low. He looked at me with such an incredibly special gaze. One meant only for me. I don't think Adam ever looked at me like that. Not once. And I don't think I had ever felt this feeling so strongly before. How can the second time be more powerful than the first? Does that even make sense?

"You...are soooo beautiful." Brice whispered, and I felt like I was gonna cry. What's happening to me? And why does it feel so good. He leaned in to kiss me, just a peck on my lips, and then looked at me again. "You know, this doesn't have to happen today if you don't want it to. I mean...if you still wanna go slow...I'll understand."

" I'm definitely 'cool' with this." I smiled. " don't wanna..."

"NO!" He said quickly. "Hehehe! I mean, yes. I mean...yeah..."

I giggled a bit while he rolled his eyes in the cutest way. "You're so damn cute, you know that?"

"I do now." He said, and leaned in to kiss me again. Soft, long, sweet. His lips were as soft as fresh rose petals from my mother's garden. And having them touch mine was like a spiritual release from every problem in the world. His kisses were more than my candy...they were my oxygen.

Our hands moved from place to place on each other's young bodies, gaining experience through their touch. Getting more adventursome as that experimentation offered no signs of resistance. And it wasn't long before our clothes became a burden. We felt restricted, and needed more freedom. It's scary, being the first person to try to undo or remove an article of clothing from the person you're kissing. Especially if you've never done it before. I kept having these terrifying visions of his shirt getting tangled around his throat and having him suffocate before I can get it over his head. But I have a weird and overactive imagination anyway. So I begin to let my hands travel under the back of his shirt by moving them in small circles, slipping them underneath, almost by mistake. Sighhhh....the first contact that I have with his warm skin was magic. The silkiness of it was amazing, and it was radiating this heat that was just a few degrees short of being uncomfortable to the touch. A perfect tempeature.

I was relieved when he didn't resist, and he broke our kiss momentarily to take his shirt off for me. He reached for mine only moments later. Both of our nipples were extremely hard, like little pink snaps on a windbreaker jacket. As Brice ran his fingers across them, I shivered, and we both let out a little giggle from it. I kinda wanted to reach for his pants, but he moved forward to hold me in his arms before I could. So we kissed again, our experience heightened ten fold by the feel of our warm flesh sliding across each other's smooth surface. Wow, he was even warmer than I thought. His body heat was unimaginable. And when he held me close, I could feel his erect nipples sliding across my chest, just a fraction of an inch higher than my own. And when his kisses slid away from my lips, and began landing on the side of my neck, I was lost in his embrace. I tilted my head to the side to give him as much access to my neck as possible. He could have me. All of me.

It as Brice that reached for the front of my pants first, and when he straightened up to unbutton them, he looked me in the eye. It was as if he were looking for a reason to bail on the whole undressing thing. But I gave him no indication to stop, I simply smiled warmly at him. He had to look down to see what he was doing, and I let my gaze fall to the same pleasant distraction. He got the button open, and slowly lowered the zipper. He let my pants hang open for a moment while he looked at the tent in my plaid boxers...and then reached out a hand to gently rub the tip of it. I let out a long sigh involuntarily, and prayed that he'd go further. It was then that I felt his fingers trace the length of my hardness, and then tenderly wrap the steel rod in his loving grip. A single stroke is all it takes to bring a wet spot to the tip of my tent, and as we oth see it, we look up at each other and smile. Another gentle giggle escaping our lips. Omigod...he's holding me. The most important part of me. And I've never been more in love.

I reach out a hand to unbuckle his belt, and allow my fingers to open the button on his pants as well. The zipper slides down, and I reach in, careful not to hurt him. I'm cautious and gentle, tender and slow. But soon, I can feel his hardness pulsing under my fingers as though it had a heartbeat all its own. As we feel and squeeze and slowly stroke one another through the fabric, we feel our pants sliding down to our knees...and decide to step out of them. It take a bit more work than expected, but we manage, and are now standing only in boxer shorts and our socks. Looking down, I notice the cute shape and depth of his belly button. And I trace my finger inside of it slightly. Our eyes meet, and we can no longer resist the urge to have our tongues intertwine again. The first reconnection of our lips causes Brice to whimper in a high pitch, and it drives me wild. I grab two handfulls of his ass and pull him close to me. He does the same. And we moan in unison as our tents are cushed together in the middle. Our kissing increases in intensity, and we grind into each other with such a passion that we create the perfect rhythm. Completely in sync with each other as though we had been doing this all of our lives. I never knew that the bubbled melons behind him would be so squeezably soft. I find myself gripping them tightly, just to feel them wiggle and tense beneath my palms. I'm more turned on than I've ever been in my life, and feel almost out of control at this point. So I take the plunge, and let my fingers slip underneath the waistband of his boxers. I work my entire hand into the front, and take a hold of the warm piece of rock hard meat that lies within. It feels different from my own, and the same simultaneously. It's such a strange feeling. It was hot, and twitched and spasmed with my touch. I loved it.

My confidence gives him the green light, and Brice begins to lower my boxers from behind, his hands running over the mounds of my ass. He stops to give them a loving grab, and then lowers them all the way. As I flop out and upward, my leakage leaves a small wet trail on his thigh, and I giggle shyly. "Hehehe, sorry." But Brice lets me know that it's no problem. I lower his shorts too, and we kick them to the side, now naked except for our socks. And after taking a long look at one another, we move over to his bed, and begin to kiss again. This is even better than with our shirts off. This time I can feel the skin on his chest touching me, I can feel the flesh of his arms holding me tight, I can feel the warm butter soft surface of his legs as they tangle around my own...and I'm left breathless. I can feel his nutsack on mine, and my mouth waters for a taste of him. It is the moment I have dreamed about, and want it more than anything. So I let our lips unlock, and kiss my way slowly down his chest, stopping only to french kiss that perfect shaped navel on his soft flat tummy. And I feel Brice's hand on my back, rubbing me, his legs spread wider...he's been dreaming of this moment too. His hairs are so soft, clustered in a neat little patch above my goal, and I tickle my way through them with my fingers as I get ready to take him in.

My legs are up by his head, and I can feel his hands sliding up and down my thighs, pulling me closer to him. It makes me nervous, knowing that this is our first taste, our first real sexual experience unfolding right before our eyes. And there is a moment of hesitation for us both. But I then feel give my hardness a few gentle strokes, and it causes me to scoot my hips closer to him. I feel his breath on me down there, and I know he's ready. I'm ready. And I feel his hand caress one of my tight cheeks as he rolls me towards him a bit. I mirror his motions, directing his inches towards my face. It pulses a bit, swelling and tightening in anticipation, and I then lean forward. I suck a few inches slowly into my mouth, and I hold it there on my tongue. It tastes beautiful. It's scent is just an advanced aroma of the rest of him, mixed with a sexual heat that I can feel againt my face. And it is then that I can feel the warm wet sensation envelop me below the waist. My whole body feels as though it is slipping slowly into a hot bath. I can feel the movements of his tongue in my stomach, and my legs go weak. Is this what it feels like for him? Is this the feeling I'm giving Brice right now? Wow....I!

We begin to suck at each other, timidly at first, feelings of doubt and paranoid thoughts about whether or not we were doing this right flooding our minds. But we can feel it melting away as the mindblowing conflict between giving pleasure and recieving pleasure simultaneously begins to overcome all of our senses at once. I love the way he touches my butt when he sucks me. I love the feel of his breath on my balls, as his nostrils press the air out of him in low moans and high whimpers. We wiggle around with each other, the feelings making us squirm with delights that we had never known before this very day. And our sounds of sex get louder, and we become more 'free' with our expressions. The pressure is building, and I feel Brice roll over on top of me, neither one of us emptying our mouths, our tongues still doing their duty. I have complete access to his ass cheeks now, and grab two handfulls to pull him further into my face. I feel him sink into my sucking mouth and we both spasm from the action. I glide my hands down the back of his thighs, rubing him up and down, feeling the gentle texture of the fine, nearly invisible, hairs that I find there. And then I move back to his tight cheeks, and pull him against my face again. I am in total ecstacy. I can't believe I am so far into this. I can't believe we've finally connected.

Our loud moans get louder, and we suddenly hear the music in Alex's room get louder by a few decibels. Even with my mouthfull, underneath my beautiful Brice, I have to smile. I can feel the vibrations as Brice starts to giggle, and he takes his mouth off of me just long enough to shout, "Sorry, Alex!" And we both have a momentary chuckle about it before I feel his mouth capture me again. I felt like I was floating a foot off of the mattress with the way his vaccuum tended to me. And I wasn't going to be able to hold out much longer. Neither was he from the looks of it.

There is a moment, in every gay virgin experience, where the idea of swallowing the offering of another boy, even one that you love with all your heart, scares the shit out of you. It's not so much the act itself. But...what if it's bad? What if I gag, or have to spit it out, or get sick? I mean, people do it all the time, and I guess it's not exactly poison, you know? But...I always imagined it would be like swallowing snot. Which I've done when I had a cold....but that was MINE. I never thought about swallowing somebody else's. And...why am I thinking about this now? I should be concentrating.

The orgasm begins in my toes, I feel it creep up until I'm ready to burst. But the catalyst is hearing Brice's cute little whine as his hips sink down into my face again, and I feel his thighs tighten up against my ears. I know he's just as close as I am. So I grab the smooth cheeks and I hold him in my mouth. I don't know why, but my fear was shattered, and I held him to me, my lips sucking hard at him until they were sore. His orgasm begins just secnds before my own, and I feel a warm fluid splash across my tongue. I remember thinking, "This is it!" and wanting to remember every detail of this moment for the rest of my life. I begin to swallow, noticing the salty, buttery, and yet somewhat sweet flavor of his juices, and feel jet after jet squirt against the steamy insides of my mouth. I feel it hit my back teeth, my tongue, the roof of my mouth...squirt after squirt. It's so warm. So warm.

Brice's body starts to wiggle above me, but I hold him still. Then I erupt with a powerful lunge of my hips into his mouth. I can hear him sucking loudly at me, and a slow stream escapes his lips. I feel it drible down my shaft and land against my patch of hair...lingering there for just a moment before sliding down further past my balls and across the crack of my behind. Still, he sucks as much down as he can, and I feel as though a gallon is rushing out of me all at once. I almost wanted it to stop for his sake. Geez! But when I'm finished, and begin to soften, he licks me clean. Even down the long erotic path of the dribble that got away. We stayed like that for a while, whispering to each other with weird phrases and exclamations. But when we both turned the same way again, we only spoke with the power of our kiss, and the feel of our naked bodies holding each other close. Already getting hard again, the only thing we really needed to say was 'I love you'. And for the first was absolutely true. And I never wanted it to end.

I kissed Brice for a long time that afternoon, until we were both exhausted, and his brother made sure not to leave his room until I was ready to leave the house. We also fooled around two or three more times. Hehehe, sorry, I couldn't get enough. He' know...delicious.

We talked about things, and decided that we were definitely going to give dating a try. We declared each other a 'couple', and have been boyfriends ever since. I had never seen Brice cry so much. He was even happier than I was to be together. That day, we BOTH became free spirits again, and things pretty much progressed naturally from there. Brice became my everything, and he doubled or even tripled the pleasure of every fantasy that I had ever had about Adam. I'd like to tell you that everything was perfect and we never had a single fight...but that wouldn't be the truth. We had some pretty legendary fights over the course of the next few years. But it was that imperfection that kept us strong. They say you like someone for their qualities, but you LOVE them for their flaws. Nothing has ever been more true. Brice and I are still together to this day. And the sex is AWESOME!!!! Hehehe! GOD! The sucking, the penetration, the 69s, the kissing, the rolling around, the two-man-showers....I NEVER expected sex to be this cool! We've fucked each other's brains out on an almost daily basis ever since that first afternoon, and we're only getting better at it! But hey...that's for US to enjoy in private! You guys can peek in some other time.

As for Adam...him and Jonathan split up a few months later. A rather 'nasty' split up too, or so I heard. I hate to brag, but I lasted a lot longer than he did. Looks like all the attention, and the good looks, and the sex in the world, couldn't make Jonathan a perfect boyfriend. It couldn't make him a caring individual, or intelligent, or give him the ability to level someone with a single kiss. But I hated him anyway, hehehe. What do I care? All I knew was that he wasn't a part of my 'EX-boyfriend's' life anymore. I didn't take any 'pleasure' in that, of course. But like I said before, I'm gonna love Adam until the day I die. And I'm there for him if he needs me. I can't help it, he's a part of my own personal history. And I'm never gonna forget the joy he once brought to my life, a long long time ago. I guess a piece of me is always going to be extremely hurt by the idea that we couldn't make it work. Ah well...whatever. Sometimes fate paints you into a perfect picture...and other times, you get tangled up in a scribbled mess. What can you do?

There was a time when I said that I never wanted to fall in love again. But as I lay here on top of the sheets, completely naked, and cuddled up in front of the new winner of the 'most beautiful boy in the world' award....

...I know I'll never say 'never' again.

Never. Hehehe!

Thanks for reading this series, you guys. It really meant a lot to me to share this with you. I'm dedicating this to all of you who have ever had your heartbroken in the past and thought it would never get better. Ash...the one boy who, with his heart, and his spirit, has truly helped me to 'believe' again. If only for a little while.

Thank you all for helping me to reach my 150th story posted! Especially to all of you who have been helping me keep count since story number one! When I'm gone, I'll always remember ths magic number! Always! Please let me know what you think of this series at or drop by the website at (And don't forget to sign the guestbook!)