Never Too Far Away
Time Stood Still

Disclaimer: This story involves love, relationship, and "adult" subject matter between teenage boys... so I guess that means your not supposed to read this if your under 18, but really if you are younger than that, I can't stop you. Just Don't Get Caught :)  If homosexuality offends you, then leave, or join the 21st century, and open up to it.

This Is FICTION... any character resembling a real life person is by coincidence, and in the rare event a character is based on someone in real life their name has been changed due to legal and personal protection.  You never know who's lurking around reading this. So now the little spiel is over so hopefully you'll enjoy this.  Do Not Reproduce this story, and if you would like to have it on your web site, email me & get my permission. Thanks. Copyright © Jaded Edge Productions™


Chapter 10


The wind swept through the trees, swirling the fallen leaves and plants into the unusually clear sky.  The smog parted temporarily letting rays of sun shine down, sweeping through my hair while I sat on a hard, stone park bench..  This place is my solace, the one place I can go to try and catch a moment of clarity through all of the chaos.  My eyes fixed upon a small red ant wandering over the rocky terrain of gravel that covered the ground.  It dashed up and over each pebble like they were mere hurdles, never breaking stride to think about what it was doing.  Just staying focused on the journey it was on was enough.

I envied the simplicity.  While the ant is searching for that one nourishing crumb of food for it's survival, here I am fighting my own emotions for control over my life.  Maybe to some having a laid out plan of what you have to do like the ant would be dull and ultimately unfulfilling, but to me, it would be a welcome break from constantly trying to figure out the key to happiness.

How a brain can handle so many thoughts at once leads me to wonder how it doesn't become the equivalent of scrambled eggs inside my head.  The love, friendship and the what ifs all vying for position.  The more I thought about it the more it brought me to the edge of hopelessness.  What's the point of it all?  We fight constantly for something better.  Something that makes our existence feel like it means anything.  It's what we're programmed to do.  Yet all I ever end up with is a gaping hole of emptiness.

Everyone says don't let your happiness be determined by another person.  The thing about sayings is that they are called sayings for a reason.  They're easy to speak or write, but when it comes time to follow their lessons, you realize how hard it really is.  What if the one thing that makes you happy is a person?  Is it unhealthy?  Does it mean that we should let them go?  There's always that four letter word that makes all logic and sensibility fly out the window.

Love.  It's the only thing worth living for in life.  If we are denied that, then what's the point of going on?  Life is so fucking confusing that maybe we cling to this notion more than we should.  It's easy to reason with after the fact, but when you're heart soars at the very thought of someone, there's nothing else in the world.  I'm a grounded person in my ways of thinking.  I think a lot.  Way more than I should.  It gets me in trouble sometimes, but sometimes it's all I have.  That's why I keep trying to find something tangible to hold on to.  Something more than a friend telling me it's going to be okay or you'll find better.  I'm tired of hearing that every thing we go through is leading to what we're ultimately looking for.  I'm tired of waiting.

A boy appeared slightly behind the bench I was sitting at, followed closely by another boy.  I was so lost in thought that I didn't hear them coming.  I glanced back and my eyes met his.  His beauty was plain to see, the sun hitting his face in all the right places, giving him a certain radiance.  A moment of recognition passed between us as his lips curled up a bit forming a smile.  I mustered up what I could of a smile in return, nodded at him then turned away.  The boy and his friend made their way past me, heading down a trail that went through the vast orange groves.  After a few moments they disappeared out of sight.

Normally I would've been enticed by the sight of a good looking guy like that one.  I recognize the beauty, but at the same time, it's not enough.  It reminded me of school and how it would be one of those moments where you turn to your best friend and say "ZOMG he's so hot", then fawn about him wondering what it'd be like to be with him.  I just didn't see the point in it anymore.  There's a lot of gorgeous people in the world.  I need more than that.  What are the chances that the person of your dreams will come out of nowhere and sweep you off your feet while you're wishing for that very thing to happen?

None.  Especially when the boy of your dreams has already been found, but they don't want you.

I've been through a lot in the ways of love.  I lost Joey to a car accident..  I don't know what we were meant to be, friends or more, but either way I loved him with all of my heart as a person.  He gave me something that couldn't be replaced.  No matter how much I hurt, he could take it away.  He was my rock through and through.  Now he's my angel and I have to have faith that if anything can lead me in the right direction, it's the one that always did.

Chance came in when I was at one of my lowest points.  He was an unexpected treasure that was uncovered with a single order of a frappucino and coffee.  We both shared the loss of a loved one and in a way it helped us bond quicker.  He stood by me through everything.  The adoption came and he was there with me.  When I had to leave to face Scott, he was ready and willing to be on that plane next to me.  He never did anything wrong in our relationship and I don't think he would.  The way he treats Cameron like he's his own child makes me love him even more.  I'm just not sure it's in the way that he wants it to be. When he got taken away there was nothing either of us could do to stop it.  It nearly destroyed me.  Possibly destroyed us.

Then there's Tyler.  Where to begin?  It seems like every time one of us knows what we want, the other is in a completely different frame of mind.  I always thought he and I were meant for one another.  From the first time I laid eyes on him that first day of school, I felt something.  Something real, that jolted my heart into a frenzy.  The good times we had together were great and the bad were awful.  It always seemed to be one extreme or the other with us.  When I had my break down he was the one that picked up the pieces.  It was the first time we found a comfortable medium of friendship.  It was nice.  We still were affectionate, but the pressure that came with our never ending struggle subsided for awhile.  Once his career started taking off, I barely got to see him.  Our plan of going on some dates to see where we were headed failed miserably on both of our parts.  I fully intended on giving him a chance when we went to dinner.  Had I opened my mouth a minute sooner, I don't really doubt that he'd be my boyfriend right now.  But hey, everything happens for a reason right?

I came home from San Diego to find an envelope on the table in the dining room with my name on it.  I don't know why, but when I saw it, I just knew it was from Tyler and the lump formed in my throat immediately.  My emotions were a wreck as it was, then to come home to that.. It was nearly too much to take in.


Well, this isn't how I thought this would go.  I always pictured us happily ever after, you know?  I'm sorry for ignoring your calls lately.  I guess I was afraid of what talking to you would do..  When you read this I'll already be in the U.K.  The record company set me up on a tour as an opener for Echo.  I'm sure that it's a shock to you and I know how much of an asshole I am for laying this on you in a letter.  I couldn't do this face to face.  I know you probably hate me right now for this, but I need you to really read what I'm about to say and keep it with you always.

You, Blade Stevens, changed my life.  The day you showed up was the day I found what my heart was missing.  It was the first time I truly felt like I was alive.  I knew in that moment what real love was.  You gave me that.  No matter what happens from now until the day that I die, you will always be the guy of my dreams.  I didn't leave to get away from you.  I'm doing what's best for my family right now.  I talked to Kai before I left and he said something to me.  That you wouldn't let me go if you knew I was leaving.  You know what I told him?  Yes, you would because you love me like no one else ever could.  Enough to let me go.  I hope that eventually you will see this as my way of showing that I love you just as much.

I know you're hurting right now reading this and I know once again that I'm the cause of that hurt..  I promise you that I'll never hurt you again.  This is the last time. I want you to be happy.  I know you can have that with Zach or Chance, or whomever it is that is lucky enough to be your partner.

I love you with all of my heart and I know I'll see you again one day.  I don't know when or how, but I know that one day in the future I'll walk up to you, wrap my arms around you and kiss your cheek.  And I'll be okay, because I know you're okay.  That you've found that happiness that we both know you deserve.  I wish it was with me...  Maybe in another life, baby.

Always remember the love we had..


I didn't even need the letter anymore to know what it said.  Only a few days had passed since I found it, but the words burned into my consciousness like a branding iron.  Even now, tears stood like silent soldiers at the corners of my eyes.  To say I'm crushed would be an understatement.  Coming home to find out that the boy I thought was forever mine had left my life wasn't something I prepared for.  Added to what I went through with Zach just hours before, I nearly fell back into the state I was in at Christmas.

My phone beeped loudly, indicating a text message was coming through.  I looked at the name of the sender and sighed to myself.  I pressed the button to accept it and read the contents, "Please talk to me."  Zach's name had become a regular fixture on my phone since our blow out over the weekend.  I read all of the texts and listened to the voice mails, but didn't intend to give any sort of reply.  Anymore hurt this soon would push me over the edge and the fear of not being able to come back from it kept me at bay.

Zach caught me off guard, more so than anyone before him.  When I met him, I was immediately drawn to him, but with his modelesque looks I guess it was to be expected.  What I wasn't expecting was how our relationship with each other progressed so quickly.  I didn't intend on him being anything more than a friend.  I should've known that by having no intentions, it meant that he would be the one to slip through the cracks of my armor and get to my heart.  Our physical attraction came fast and it was something new for me.  I never in a million years would see myself as someone that would have casual sex with a friend.  Sex has always been something more to me.  It means something.  If it doesn't then something is wrong.  It's giving yourself to someone completely in a way that you can't take back.  Sharing that with Zach was too easy for me.  When I think back on it, I was developing feelings for him before it even started, I just denied them.  As time went on and we spent most of that time being together, I noticed how far I had let myself fall.  The small things started to really set off alarms in my head.  When we kissed, I knew he wasn't just another cute guy I would forget about. No, he was something else altogether.  Everything about him makes me light up.  I could be myself around him and not the armed fortress I felt the need to be most of the time.  I care about him so much it hurts.  Love?  Maybe.  My definition of the word is just as torn as my insides when I think of all of these people that have come into my life.  Love is defined many ways.  Which way it applies to each person is the mystery..  All I know for certain is that Tyler left and Zach chose someone else over me.  And it hurts inside like you wouldn't believe.

How I envy that ant....

Arrowhead High...

The lunch room of Arrowhead High School wasn't what one would call a gourmet restaurant.  It's food was serviceable to the point of it being edible, but other than that, there wasn't much to rave about.  Today's menu consisted of the most popular dish among those offered throughout the week, pizza.  It was the one day that the normal bag lunch bringer would elect to bypass their home made make shift lunches.  Not because the pizza was anything close to resembling real pizza.  It was just one of those things that seemed to go hand and hand with teenagers.  Pizza equals bad for you, which in turn means I have to have it to the common student.

The cafeteria buzzed with the excitement in the air.  It was an hour for most students to break away from their studies to relax, socialize with their friends and refuel themselves for the rest of their day.  Chairs moved loudly across the tiled floor, banging against the back of other chairs, common courtesy not being the strong suit of most.

Ben walked with tray in hand, doing his best to avoid bumping into anyone.  It was much easier said than done trying to navigate with such care and still keep all parts of his lunch set atop the flimsy plastic tray that held it.  A group of people had gathered near the entrance to the food line, forming a proverbial roadblock.  Ben squeezed between them slowly, "Uh, excuse me."

A girl turned to him with a snarl, but her look immediately changed once she saw it was Ben, "Ben!  How are you, Gorgeous?"

Ben blushed, not really all that familiar with the girl other than her name, "Um, I'm okay, Megan.  You know, nothing special happening."

"Do you have a date to prom yet?"  Megan gave Ben a flirtatious smile and flipped her hair back.

Ben tried to think of a way to quietly escape the conversation, but it seemed his friends were too far away to give him one, "No.  I'm not sure if I'm going to prom or not.."

"Don't be silly.  It's prom!  You have to go, it's something you only get to experience during this part of your life."  She leaned in close to Ben's ear and whispered, "And who knows, maybe you'll get the post prom ritual lay if you're lucky."

Ben turned beat red, "I, uh, have to go.. uh do something.  Like eat.. or die of embarrassment,"  The last half was whispered under his breath, but her comment was enough to make him force through the rest of the people in his way and walk swiftly toward his table.

"The offer is on the table!  Let me know!"  Megan yelled behind him, causing Ben to move even faster.

Somehow he weaved through the rows of chairs without having to stop again, before coming to a seat at his regular table.  He smiled at his friends that were already sitting comfortably with their food spread out in front of them.  Ben sat down next to Matt who greeted him with a warm smile.  Zach and Jordan sat across from them, neither seeming to be too chatty with each other. "What's up fellas?"

"Nothing much.  Just eating," Zach spoke softly.  A bit uncharacteristically for him and the fact that he said he was eating when he clearly was not didn't go unnoticed by Ben.

"Zach, you know you have to actually put the food in your mouth and chew to call it eating, right?"  Ben teased.

Zach glanced at the salad in front of him then looked up and met Ben's gaze, "I had a piece."

Ben laughed, "That doesn't count either.  You're skinny enough, Mr. Model.  You don't want to waste away or they'll kick you to the curb."

Zach forced a laugh and stabbed at the lettuce in front of him with a fork.  Even if he wanted to eat, his stomach was on edge from the emotional turmoil inside of him.  "It's okay.  I'll model little kid clothes or something."

Ben smiled, but looked at Zach strangely, "Are you okay, Zach?"

Zach took a deep breath in, dropping the fork into the bed of leafy lettuce.  He stole a quick glance in Jordan's direction and was met by an unexpected cold stare.  The coldness wasn't the surprise, that Jordan was looking caught Zach off guard.  Zach shrunk back in his chair a bit, "Yeah.  Just great."

Ben eyed Jordan and Zach wearily, unaware of why there seemed to be such tension between the two.  "You guys are acting weird today."

"Well, if people wouldn't do stupid things there wouldn't be a need for things to get awkward,"  Jordan snapped out of nowhere.

Zach turned to face Jordan, "Do you have to make a scene?"

"I'm not making a scene.  I misjudged you and it irritates me."

"I'm sorry okay?  I've been trying to apologize to him, I don't need to do it to you too.  I'm a fuck up, what do you want?!"  Zach stood from his seat abruptly, grabbing his food and back pack in one swift motion.  He left the table without a second glance, tossing his food into the garbage as he walked through the double doors that exited the cafeteria.

"Uh.. What was that all about?"  Ben questioned.


Silence overtook their small section of the room.  Ben shrugged and turned to Matt who looked equally bewildered.  "I guess that's the grumpy side of the table.  How's Matt today?"  Ben's smile was infectious and Matt returned it in kind.

"I'm okay.  A little sulky, I suppose.."  Matt looked to the empty chair next to him and frowned.  "Trying to keep my spirits high though."

Ben patted Matt on the back, "Is he coming back soon?"

Matt took a bite of pizza and then set it down before answering Ben, "I hope so.  It's hard to tell right now.  He's doing a lot better, but I think he's still having trouble sleeping.  I don't want to push him at all.  I want him back, but I want my Eric back.  Not the one that's been moonlighting as him."

"Eric's tough.  He's been through a lot, but I have faith that he'll come out of it okay.  I miss him too.  He brings a certain liveliness to this place."

"That he does.  I still feel guilty for letting it get as far as it did."

"Dude, if you're guilty we all are.  It happened right under our noses for how long and none of us even noticed.  Not until he was way gone at least."

"I guess."

Jordan piped in, "What about Corey?  Is he feeling better?"

"He's still going through all kinds of tests.  I don't really know what they could possibly still be testing for.  It seems like he's been sick forever."

"They have no idea what it is?  Maybe you should get a list of symptoms and I'll pass it along to Kai.  He's got the connections in the medical field."

Matt smiled softly, "I never thought of that.  As far as I know their diagnosis is still officially TBD, but they've knocked around auto immune as an option.  Who knows with the way doctors are nowadays.  I'll definitely ask him about his symptoms though."

Ben scanned the cafeteria keeping an eye out for a certain someone, but didn't catch sight of him anywhere.  He half frowned to himself, then pushed it away before anyone noticed.  "Are you guys planning on going to the prom?"

Jordan laughed, "I'm a senior, Ben.  Why would I be going to the Junior Prom?"

"Well, I don't know haha.  I guess I didn't think of it that way.  We always hang out, I just figured you'd be there.  Find yourself a hot junior boy to go with," Ben wiggled his eyebrows.

Jordan shook his head with a grin on his face, then waved his hand in the air showing his wedding ring, "I don't think so.  Besides if I do go to a dance, it'll be the Senior Ball and I'll take Kai."

"Aww, but I can't get into the Senior Ball!"  Ben whined.

"You can wait outside for us if you want?"  Jordan teased.

"You and Kai are really going to go?"  Matt questioned.

"Maybe.  We haven't talked about it honestly.  What about you and Eric?"

"I'm not sure he'll be back in school for it.  He's going to have a ton of work to makeup too, so I don't think we'll have time.  Not saying no for sure though.  It'd be nice, but even if we can't, there's always next year."

"True.  Ah, you young ones," Jordan snickered.  "Are you going, Ben?"

"Probably not.  Megan from one of my classes just asked me before I got over here, but I'm pretty sure she's planning to rape me afterward."  Matt and Jordan giggled loudly, "Hey!  It's not funny!  She scares me."

"Well, there's always option number two,"  Matt suggested.

Ben looked at him and furrowed his brow, "There's no option two."

"Does the name Jake ring a bell?"

"Matt, you know how it is with us.  I guess I wouldn't really mind as much at this point, but there's no way Jake.."  Ben stopped mid sentence as Jake suddenly appeared a few feet from the table.

He set his books down on the table and took a seat next to Jordan, across from Ben.  Jake looked tired and the bruise under his eye was still there.  "I heard my name?"

Matt spoke up, "We were just talking about prom.  I was saying how you and Ben should go."

Jake looked at Matt incredulously, "You mean, like together?"

"That would be the idea."

"Matt, we've been over this a million times."

"Yeah, I know you've had your war with Eric about it.  I'm not trying to start a fight about it.  I just think maybe you should."

"And say goodbye to my football career.  For a dance.  Right,"  Jake rolled his eyes.

Matt noticed Ben frown out of the corner of his eye, but Ben did just as he had earlier and covered it up right away, "Judging from your face, football isn't doing much for you lately."  Matt's mention of the bruise caused Jordan to turn and look at it.  As he did, his eyes moved downward and he noticed a very large dark purple colored mark peeking over the back of Jake's shirt.

"What happened to your back?"  Jordan blurted out..

Jake tensed up before regaining his composure, "Football."

"Did someone kick you instead of the ball, because that looks bad."

Jake glared at Jordan, "I said it was from football."

The sternness in Jake's voice took Jordan aback, "Whatever you say."

Ben eyed Jake curiously.  Jake's eyes met Ben's, but quickly averted downward toward the table.  To say their relationship had been on the rocks as of late would be a severe understatement.  They were verging on total strangers and it hurt both of them.  Ben was definitely the more sensitive of the two, but he always tried to keep up the illusion that what was going on didn't bother him.  In reality it was hurting him beyond what he thought possible.  Despite the issues they faced to even get together, Ben thought that they would be okay once they did, and they were for a little while.

"Maybe you should ask Ben what he wants to do about the dance, Jake," Said Matt.  Jake slowly pulled his eyes from the table and put his attention on Matt.


"Just because you don't want to go to the dance with Ben, doesn't mean that he doesn't want to go with you."

Ben jumped into the conversation, "Matt, don't.. It's okay.."

"You want to go to the prom.. together?"  Jake asked his boyfriend.

Ben could hear the tone in Jake's voice and knew that it was pointless to even suggest the idea, "It doesn't matter.  Everyone just forget it."

"No,"  Matt said firmly.  It surprised everyone at the table.  His normally level headed demeanor seemed to be knocked out of whack by the situation between Jake and Ben.

"Matt.."  Ben tried to get Matt to cease and desist.

"Ben, if you're not going to take up for yourself then I will," Ben just shook his head before staring a hole into the table.  Matt once again turned the spotlight on Jake, "You know, you have a great boyfriend.  Anyone would be lucky to have Ben.  I understand that coming to terms with yourself is hard, especially for someone all big and macho like you.  The problem is, it's not all about you, Jake.  Maybe if you'd take a minute to realize that a relationship has two people, then you'd have seen what Ben tries so hard to hide from everyone.  I'd give anything to have Eric here with me right now and he'd take me to the dance because if or no other reason than he loves me.."

Ben's head shot up with alarms going off in his head, "Matt, stop."

"Ben, tell him,"  Ben shook his head.

"Tell me what?  Why do you think you know so much more about MY boyfriend?"

"So now he's your boyfriend?  When's the last time you took him out?  When's the last time you just called to tell him that you were thinking of him or that you love him?"

"That's none of your busine..."

"Never.." Ben's voice came out in a whisper so soft that it could barely be heard, but somehow it cut through the air halting the conversation to a stand still.

"Ben.."  Jake looked ashamed.  It was written all over his face.

"He's right.  I've been holding it all in,"  Ben finally looked up from the table so Jake could see his face.  Tears teetered along the edge of his eyes, just waiting for that one little shove to knock them over.  "I miss you and I want you to want to be with me.  I don't want to come out after practice and find out that you couldn't wait a few minutes for me.  I don't want to feel like I've done something wrong to push you away.  It hurts.  It hurt when you rejected me before we got together, but this hurts a hundred times worse."

Jake swallowed back the lump in his throat, "I'm sorry.  I never-- I--I'm just sorry.  Tell me how to fix this."

Ben thought for a few moments, doing his best to hold himself together, the happy go lucky personality of his seemingly having vanished into thin air.  He slowly extended his arm across the table and held out his hand.  "Show me that you want me."

Jake looked from Ben's face, down to the hand that he had extended to him.  Jordan and Matt remained silent, the tension was thick enough that it had nearly consumed the air around them.  Jake felt torn.  Whatever decision he made would impact his life in a way that couldn't be changed.  One embodied the word fear to him and the other embodied heartache.  Ben's eyes held a silent plea, begging the boy he loved not crush him right then and there.  And then...

Fear won.

Jake shook his head and pushed himself back away from the table roughly.  "I'm sorry, Ben.  I can't."  Jake disappointed in himself and disappointed in life, angrily stood up and knocked his chair over.  He couldn't stay there and watch what he had done.

He couldn't stay there and watch Ben's heart fall to pieces.

That Night...

Eric stood on the boardwalk all alone.  Nothing and no one was around him, but the cool ocean air and the sound of crashing waves.  The normally crowded hang outs were empty and desolate.  Like the life had been sucked right out of the entire world in one fell swoop.  Eric shuddered from the chill the wind put upon his skin.  He brought his arms up to his chest and wrapped them around himself the best he could, trying to keep what little heat he had left inside.

Eric started walking, keeping his eyes peeled for some sign of life other than himself.  His lips formed a half frown as the loneliness set in.  He shook his head trying to shake the feeling away, knowing that he couldn't let it take him over again.  Suddenly a loud commotion caught his attention..  Voices, arguing.  Eric picked up his pace, heading in the direction of the sound, his body suddenly alert and exhilarated.  He was excited just to be around people again.  He felt his feet start running under him until he came upon the source of the loud voices.

Eric stopped dead in his tracks, taking in the scene unfolding in front of him.  Eric's eyes darted to the sign identifying the restaurant he had brought himself to.  Hanging bright neon lights was the word KAHUNA.  Eric shuddered inside unable to grasp what was happening before him.  "This can't be happening.."

Matt stood visibly upset, throwing his arms up in frustration at a very unconvincingly remorseful Riley.  Jake stood by apparently trying to keep the peace, but failing miserably.

"Yeah, it was just a friendly game," Said Riley.  Matt gave him a glare, "You're a lucky guy, dude.  Eric sure knows how to work his tongue."  Matt lunged at Riley, but Jake grabbed hold of him, causing the drinks to fly off the table and onto the floor due to the struggle.

"Let me go, Jake!  You saw them!  Why didn't you stop it?"  Matt questioned, his voice now starting to quiver.

"Matt.. I'm sorry man.  I didn't think it would go that far.. I thought we were just joking around," Jake spoke somberly.  Matt quit struggling and just sort of slumped into Jake's arms.  He pushed free from Jake's grasp and turned in the direction of Eric.

The pain in Matt's eyes was unbearable..  They literally screamed out in agony as they pierced into Eric's soul, "No, no, no, no, no, not again.."  Eric's chest tightened.

"How could you do this to me, Eric?  How could you..."  Tears streamed down Matt's face, then he did what Eric knew he was going to do.  Run.  Eric stepped up trying to stop him, but Matt's shoulder accidentally bumped Eric firmly sending him backwards onto his ass.

Eric stood up quickly rubbing a hand over his butt trying to rub away the sting, "That didn't happen last time."  Eric frowned and ran as fast as he could after Matt.  Before he knew it, he was lost in a labyrinth of parking lots and endless side streets.  He slowed his pace to catch his breath and try to catch a glimpse of his boyfriend. "Get ahold of yourself, Eric."  Eric's idea of getting a grip wasn't having a conversation with himself, but he didn't know how else to calm down.  He took a deep breath and looked in every direction around him.  Somehow he caught sight of Matt's blonde hair disappearing around the corner at the end of the next street over.  Eric quickly took off in hopes of stopping Matt from leaving him behind.

As Eric came to the corner his heart sped up.  Something was eerily familiar about it.  The street light flickered on and off, the bulb nearing the end of it's life.  Eric took a step onto the street and suddenly the light popped and all was dark.  Eric froze in place, nothing but his breathing and heart beat to be heard.  "You're okay, you're okay," Eric tried to convince himself.  He took a step forward, "Okay, not so bad.."  He continued walking slowly, keeping himself steady against the side of a building.  A loud rustling came from above, more specifically the clinking of shoes on the fire escape connected to the building Eric stood against.  Eric gulped, having deja vu once again.  He turned around slowly seeing a group of guys descending down to the ground.

"Mmmm.. fresh meat boys."

Eric backed away, stumbling a bit, "I-I don't want any trouble man.."

"I don't think I asked you what you wanted."  As the mouthpiece of the group stopped talking, Eric froze up.  Eric's eyes held a fear and his body shook with nerves.

His mind screamed, why's all of this happening again?  He shuffled backward a few more steps trying to distance himself from the threat when he felt a hand grasp his shoulder.  Eric felt a bit of relief, knowing that this is where he got away.  He turned with a slight smile on his face, but when he caught sight of who had a hold of him, his smile vanished.

"Aww, not happy to see me?"  Scott grinned sickly.  Eric screamed, petrified with fear.  Scott held him firmly, but Eric couldn't move even if he wanted to.

"You.. you're not real.  This can't be real!"  Eric's started having trouble breathing, a panic attack hitting him full force.

Scott leaned in close bring his other hand into sight.  The silver pistol glistened under the sudden appearance of the moon.  Scott let the metal of the barrel slide over Eric's smooth cheek, "Does that feel real enough?"

Eric cried heavily, "Please stop.  I didn't do anything to you.  I don't want to die.  Just go away.."

Scott ran his tongue up Eric's face, "You got it."  With that Scott cocked the hammer of the pistol and put the gun to Eric's temple.  The sound of the trigger clicking was the last thing Eric heard..

Silence filled the bare halls of the small rehabilitation complex, which was something of a rarity.  No one screaming or banging on walls, letting their withdrawals control them.  The staff relaxed, savoring in the moments hoping that it would remain peaceful for the rest of the night.  Everyone needs a break now and then.

As peaceful as it seemed on the outside, the same couldn't be said for everyone on the inside.  The residents seemed to be at peace for the night, sleeping away their worries and sorrows until the next day arrived to greet them all over again.  Unfortunately for all of them, their peace had to come to an end.

"NO!!!!!"  The single scream bounced off the walls, seemingly waking everyone within ear shot..  The first orderly on the scene ran his security card through the slot unlocking the door.  He dashed in to find Eric curled up in the corner hiding his face against his knees.

The orderly grabbed his radio and hit the call button, "We need a doctor down here stat."

Eric's regular physician happened to be on duty and arrived within a few minutes to assess the situation.  He stepped into the room and nodded for the orderly to give him a moment.  The Doctor cautiously moved closer to Eric and knelt down beside him.  "Eric?"  Eric remained despondent, "Eric, can you hear me?"

Eric slowly lifted his head giving the doctor a full view of his face.  Eric's hair was drenched with sweat, his face flushed red and his eyes puffy from the tears pouring over his skin..  "It was so real.  He killed me."

The doctor put a hand on Eric's shoulder, but Eric flinched noticeably, so he pulled it away, "Eric, you're okay.  No one is in here and you're definitely not dead."

Eric rocked back and forth replaying the nightmare in his head.  What made it so real was the fact that it had all happened.  Maybe not in that specific sequence, but all of those pieces were parts of what plagued him.  "I want Matt."

"It's not visitor time.."

"I want Matt!!!"  Eric yelled.  "I need him, you have to get him!"

The doctor sighed and stepped out of the room.  The orderly looked to him for instruction, "Just keep an eye on him while I go talk to the receptionist to see if we can get ahold of someone."

Twenty minutes later the lock to Eric's room clicked.  The orderly had gotten him to at least get off the cold floor and sit on the bed.  Eric stared out the window, paying no attention to the rest of the world at that moment.  The only thing that existed were the remnants of his dreams swirling around in his mind.


Eric's head turned slightly, his eyes like a sheet of glass, "Blade?"  Eric jumped from his bed and into my arms..  He cried heavily, the sobs sending tremors through his body.  I held him tightly, letting him get all of the pain out.  "I'm sorry,"  His muffled voice met my ears.

"I know, I know."  I pulled back a little and lifted his face so he was looking at me, "Ready to talk to me?"

Eric took a deep breath and diverted his eyes before nodding.  "I'm scared.  I want to be me again, Blade.  I don't want to live my life afraid of someone getting me."

I pulled him close and kissed the top of his head, "In time, bro.  It all takes time."

I held my little brother in my arms letting him pour his heart out for what seemed like hours.  I had no idea that he had been going through so much inside of that brain of his.  It gave me a better understanding of what led him down the path he chose.  The one that led to Surge and drugs.  He had no other way to escape himself.  Eric fell asleep shortly after he got everything out in the open with me.  Scott may not have killed him, but he did enough to severely damage my brother's spirit.  You can only hide the pain for so long before you look for another way to get rid of it.  I slid off of the bed silently and tucked Eric under a blanket.  I gave him one long look as I hit the button to be buzzed out of the room.  His face seemed at peace for the moment, but the swelling under his eyes showed how long it had been since he had felt that peace.  The door opened and I sighed to myself, walking out with one thought playing on my conscience.  It feels like I should've known.

Two weeks later, Kimbal Residence...

Kai sat in an old wooden chair, its recently polished frame gleaming under the sunlight piercing through the window pane.  Rocking back and forth relaxed Kai's mind, letting it clear to absorb the information that he needed to further his studies.  The thick text book he held was filled with information on all of the body's many parts and functions.  Though at times it seemed to be a ridiculous amount of things to memorize, Kai enjoyed the challenge.  As much as he loved to have fun, he really wanted to make a difference in some kids' lives one day.  Sitting there in the rocking chair, led his thoughts astray for a few moments.  Back to when in that very same spot he nearly ended his chances at experiencing anything ever again.

A lot of times since the night he contemplated taking his own life, Kai wondered if he really would have gone through with it if Blade hadn't came crashing through the window.  Looking back on it, it seemed beyond stupid.  Unfortunately when your emotions take over, there's not much reasoning going on inside.  Kai shook his head, nearly cursing himself for considering something like that.  It seemed like it was ages ago, but some things don't ever fade completely from the mind.

Now, the only things on his mind were becoming a surgeon, taking in a few surf competitions and his number one, Jordan.  Kai considered himself beyond lucky to have been blessed with such a wonderful gift at a young age.  Finding that special someone that most spend a lifetime searching for while he was only 17 was nearly incomprehensible to him.  Every relationship seems like it's the best thing ever until you find the real "one" that makes you understand how wrong you were about all that came before.  Then you see what real love really feels like.

"Kai, can you come down here and help me carry these boxes out to the car?"  Mrs. Kimbal called from downstairs.

Even though Kai had taken up residence with Jordan, he still made a point of spending as much time as he could at his family home.  He didn't get where he was today on his own and he loved his mother and sister, so there was no way he was going to up and abandon them.  He stood from his chair and made his way down stairs.  When he got to the living room, he spotted his mother trying to carry two large boxes through the doorway.  He laughed and shook his head, "Easy there, Hulk."  He quickly went over and snatched the boxes from her hands.  Mrs. Kimbal had decided to do some spring cleaning and get rid of a lot of things that weren't in use to them anymore.

"Thanks.  I didn't interrupt your studies did I?"  Mrs. Kimbal asked.  She was beyond proud of the young man she had raised.  That he wanted to follow in her footsteps made her even more full of pride.  The medical field isn't an easy one, it's a lot of hard work and even more schooling.  Kai seemed to take it all in stride and she really didn't expect any less from her son.  He was always there to lighten a heavy mood or make smart alec remark.  And she loved him for the person he turned out to be.

Kai stepped outside and walked carefully toward the driveway, fighting to see past the boxes he held.  Mrs. Kimbal followed before moving ahead of him to open up the back seat door.  There was already a few boxes packed away in the trunk, so the back seat was the next best option.  She planned on donating everything to a local goodwill in hopes that someone less fortunate would get some use out of the items.  "Just push them in the back, Kai.  It's going to be a bit tight, but I don't really have anymore room if you're going to ride with me to drop them off."

"I have my own car, Mom.  If you need the space it's not a big deal."  Kai glanced over to his car parked on the side of the road, noticing a black Lexus parked right behind him.

"Seems kind of crazy to take two cars to drop off one car load of boxes.  Just make it fit."

"That shouldn't be a problem for you.  I'm sure you have no trouble making things fit in places that they're not supposed to go into."  Kai's head snapped to attention as he pulled himself out of the car.  His eyes narrowed into a deadly glare.

"Get out of here."

Colin stood just behind his mother's car, wearing his patented self satisfied smirk, "Is that any way to greet your big brother?  Come on, give me a hug."

"Get bent, Asshole,"  Kai spat with venom in his voice.  Colin appearing at his wedding was enough to make Kai hate him even more than he already had, but coming to the family house was another thing altogether.

"Such a mouth on you.  You let your son talk like that, Mother?"  The way Colin said mother was filled with a nasty undertone.

Mrs. Kimbal scowled, "What do you want, Colin?"

"What, I can't stop by and visit my loving family?"  Both Kai and Mrs. Kimbal glared, "I guess not."

Kai tried to keep his anger in check.  The bad blood that ran between himself and his brother wasn't that of a normal sibling rivalry.  It was personal.  Mr. Kimbal was what one would call an adulterer.  If he was faithful for more than a day in his life, it was unbeknownst to the family that he once held.  The problem was, he was really, really good at it.  So much so that he got away with it for many years without so much as a single suspicious glance thrown his way.  Mrs. Kimbal worked a rough schedule at the hospital, always on call and never really home that much when her husband was, so she never could have known what was going on while she was gone.  Kai and Colin on the other hand knew very well.  Kai started to suspect when he was around 13, his father got careless or just gave up trying to hide it any longer.  Arianna was much too young to have any idea what was going on the household so she was left relatively unscathed by the whole situation.  Kai noticed the smell of perfume on his father when he would come home after being gone for hours at a time without leaving a note as to his whereabouts.  Then the lipstick smudged collars.  Eventually his father had given up being discreet altogether, bringing a woman to their own house and disappearing into the same bedroom that he shared with his wife.  The process repeated a few times.  Oddly, Colin never mentioned anything to Kai, even though it was clear that both of them saw what was going on.  Instead Kai noticed Colin start to act strangely.  He would do abnormal amounts of laundry, hold onto a cordless phone at all times and keep a sharp eye on the goings on in front of the house.  He was covering up his father's discretions.  That's when Kai decided enough was enough.

Kai loved his mother and wasn't going to stand for what was happening under the roof that she had worked so hard to put over their heads.  One night when Mr. Kimbal brought home another of his many tricks, Kai was waiting.  When they stepped through the front door, Kai stood up and confronted them immediately.  Needless to say, it didn't go over very well.  Mr. Kimbal became enraged, rushing Kai and throwing him up against the nearest wall.  Kai had never had his father physically put his hands on him before and it caught him by surprise. He pushed his father back when Colin appeared from the hallway.  Kai looked to his brother for protection, even though he knew that Colin was covering for their father, he never thought that Colin would stand for someone hurting his little brother.  Colin walked over to the two of them and seperated them.  Mr. Kimbal cursed under his breath and left the house with the woman he brought with him, slamming the door behind them.  Kai was about to walk away when Colin suddenly and violently punched him hard in the stomach.  Kai had no time to react and found himself knocked to the ground, being held down by the brother that was supposed to be on his side. He remembered the words that came out of Colin's mouth like they were said yesterday, "If you ever try to tell Mom about what's been happening here, I'll hurt you in ways you can't even imagine.  Don't think I don't see the way you look at your little queer friend Tyler.  Open your mouth about Dad and you'll regret it.  You wouldn't want Mom to know she birthed a faggot would you?"

From that day on, Colin was dead to Kai and Kai dead to Colin.  Kai had been betrayed by his own brother and to make it worse, he blackmailed him on top of it.  It was rough around the house for a long time afterward.  Three years to be exact.  Then one fateful day came that changed the Kimbal family forever.

It was just like any normal afternoon, nothing seemed especially unordinary about it.  Colin did what he did best, made sure his father's secret was safe and sound, locked away so that Mrs. Kimbal would never be the wiser.  As soon as the bedroom door closed behind Mr. Kimbal and his newest girl, Colin stood watch like the watchdog he had been trained to be.  Kai on the other hand had company in his room.  The one that held his heart at the time and his very best friend in the world, Tyler Pierce.  It was before either of them let the other know how they felt about each other, but that was the day it would all change.

Sickening moans eminated up through the first floor and into Kai's room.  He cringed and hoped that Tyler wouldn't ask about it.  Luckily for Kai, Tyler was too busy admiring the object of his affection.  They were smitten with each other and even with the secret home lives they both kept from each other, being able to have time to enjoy each others' company was solace enough.  They laughed, talking about their upcoming senior year and the plans they had for it.  At some point talk turned to relationships.  Neither of them had ever really had one to talk about it, so the conversation went nowhere fast.  That is until the phone range.  Kai looked to the doorway, paying close attention to hear if Colin was phone stalking like usual.  When he turned his attention back to Tyler, he was met with soft wet lips pressing against his.  Kai's eyes opened in shock, but soon settled into what he had been longing for, for so long.  The phone kept ringing and ringing, but there was nothing in the world that could break up the magical moment that was taking place at that time.  Except one thing.

"Answer the fucking phon.."  Kai and Tyler jumped at the voice that intruded on them.  Colin stood in the doorway with a look of disgust on his face.  "You dirty little faggots!  I knew it!  I'm going to kill you for bringing that shit into this house."  Unfortunately for Colin, by him losing his cool and focus to berate Kai and Tyler, he never saw what was to come next.  Mrs. Kimbal had pulled into the driveway a few minutes earlier and had just made her way inside when she heard Colin screaming from upstairs.  She dropped her things on the floor and ran upstairs to find out what the commotion was.  When she got there, Colin looked like he had seen a ghost. He stuttered and tried to say something, but nothing coherant came out.  Mr. Calm and Collected was now nothing other than a scared teenager.  He did his best to distract his mother, but then she heard it.  The same moans that Kai had heard earlier. Coming from her bedroom.

What came after that was academic.  Mrs. Kimbal found her husband with another woman in her own bed and she lost it on him.  After a furious argument, Mr. Kimbal was sent packing by his wife and once she found out Colin was helping him get away with it, she told him to get out with his father.  She seemed to hesitate and have second thoughts about Colin, afterall, it was her son, but then he showed his true colors.  He went off on a verbal tirade, outting Kai and Tyler, letting every piece of verbal slander he had for gays fly out of his mouth without a second thought.  It all ended with a hard slap across his face courteousy of the woman that had given him life.  An ugly divorce followed, but it ended within a few months.  In the end both Mr. and Mrs. Kimbal ended up with half of everything, just not in the way it of monetary funds.  They both ended up with one of their two sons, a family torn in half.

Kai stepped up to Colin, coming withint a foot of behing right up in his face, "You're not welcome here."  This was not the joking Kai Kimbal.  The other times he had seen Colin around since his wedding, he tore him down with his sarcasm, but coming to the house that he helped create so much chaos in was something Kai would not tolerate.

"Relax, K, I didn't come here to slap you around.  Maybe some other time though," Colin's smugness was sickening, "I came here to talk to Mother about Arianna."

Mrs. Kimbal's face reddened with anger, "Arianna is none of your concern."

"Oh, but she is.  You see, regardless of how much you hate me or Dad, she's still my family.  I think it's about time that we got our turn with spending some quality time with her."

"Aren't you supposed to be far from here?  Like in a different fucking country?  Did they deport your sorry ass already?"  Kai asked.

"Funny.  I do have other clients than your pansy little friend.  I know you miss me, so don't worry, I'll be flying back and forth a lot.  I see your tongue is still sharper than your brain.  How's that med school stuff going?  I could put in a good word for you, you know, let your professors know what a waste of time you are and to drop you from the program."

"Fuck off.  Stay away from me, Mom and Arianna.  I mean it."

"You have no say in the matter.  This is between Mom and Dad."

"Then where is your father?  Sending you to do his dirty work again?"  Mrs. Kimbal shot out.

"He's busy.  As much as I'd love to stand here and chit chat, I do have a schedule to keep.  I'd really reconsider your stance on Arianna.  I'd hate to see this go to court.  Then again, I do have quite a team of lawyers at my disposal.  Your choice."

"You have no standing.  I was given sole custody of Arianna and Kai in the divorce."

"Things change, custody isn't immune to that notion.  Don't worry, we'll let you see her once in awhile."

Mrs. Kimbal started fuming, "We'll see about that.  I'm going to call MY lawyer right now.  You know, the one that won me everything in the divorce settlement."  Mrs. Kimbal didn't give Colin any time to respond before walking with a purpose back into her house.

Kai stepped up and got right in Colin's face, "Back off and leave now or this isn't going to end well."

Colin smiled, "Kai, you should know by now that I always win.  You should really think about what you think you want to do to me.  As much as you think you could hurt me with your fists, it would be like scratches compared to what I'll do to you.  With one small phone call I sent your invinceable Blade on the verge of self destruction.  If he couldn't handle me, what makes you think you could?"

"You're scum, Colin.  Blade made it and he'll pay you back one day.  You have nothing to hurt me with anymore.  So take your idle threats and choke on them."

"Ah, Kai.  You should really do your homework before assuming things.  I know more than you think I know.  I have a really good friend.. one who knows you very well.  Seems to know about that birth mark on your inner thigh pretty well too."

Kai's eyes widened, startled a bit, "Riley."

"That's right, Riley.  He's a pretty valuable little piece of work.  A good investment if I do say so myself."

"Nothing happened between him and I.  I don't care what he says, he's just as much a liar as you are and I won't let you blackmail me again."

"Baby brother, I made good on my threat on you before, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.  Even if I have to embelish just a little bit to get my point across.  I'm sure it wouldn't take much to make Jordan see what kind of person he married.  I mean, besides the fact that it happened, no matter how one sided, you still haven't told him, have you?"  Colin gave a satisfied smile as Kai averted his eyes away.  Colin put his arms around Kai and whispered in his ear, "Play nice, Kai.  Think of me the next time you kiss your husband and remember that I can take that away whenever I want."  Colin broke the hug and pushed Kai backward against his mother's car.

Kai watched Colin walk back to his car and get in.  Colin rolled down the window as he started to drive away, waving, with the same arrogant smile he came with still plastered over his face.

Blade's Condo...

The yells and screams pierced through the otherwise peaceful silence of the outdoors, followed quickly by a torrential wave of giggles.  The sound of genuine happiness that seemed like it was meant only to come from a child.  Cameron's legs kicked out in the air as the rest of him sailed upward, harnessed only by his small hands gripped on the chains to either side of him and the soft rubber seat of a swing supporting him from below.  I stood behind him, giving him a shove each time his body came back down toward me.

"Higher, Daddy!!"  Cameron's voice came out shrill and full of life.  Nothing at that moment could wipe the smile from his face, as long as the thrill of the swingset kept the adrenaline running through his veins.

"A little bit higher, bucko.  We don't want you to fly over the top now do we?"

"YEAH!"  I had to chuckle at his enthusiasm.  When he returned from the last push I gave him, I grasped the swing by the chains and wrapped my arms around him from behind.  I lifted him off the swing and tossed him lightly into the air, catching him on his way down.

"So, Mr. Cameron thinks he can fly does he?"  He laughed hard as I held him under his arms over my shoulders, going in circles like he was an airplane.

"YES!!  I can fly!!"  I brought him down into my arms then playfully tumbled over into the grass beside the swingset.  My fingers danced around his midsection, making him squirm from the tickling sensation.

"Looks like you crashed, silly boy."  His laughter was on the verge of uncontrollable, so I let up on the tickling and just watched him while he recovered from it all.  He laid still for a few moments, then rolled to his side, his sparkling eyes and cute little smile lighting up my heart.

"That was fun, Daddy."  I reached over and touched his nose.  He wrinkled his face up and moved his nose like a bunny before rubbing away the apparent itch it had caused.  He rolled over onto one of my arms and snuggled up against my chest.  I smiled to myself and took a moment to absorb the moment and stare up at the sky.  Sometimes it's the moments that seem so small that end up taking up such a huge space inside and for them I am thankful.

"Hey, Space Cadet,"  I turned my head to the side to see the sun bouncing off of Chance's bright smile.  Cameron wiggled out of my arms and ran right for Chance.  Cameron growled and leapt into the air.  I got nervous for a moment, but relief came immediately as Chance caught him and scooped him up.

I stood up and walked over toward the two, "We're going to have to get him some weighted shoes.  He's going to nose dive one of these days."

"AM NOT!"  Cameron yelled.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't even know what nose dive means.

I showed my teeth and gave him a grr face, to which he gave one of his own right back, "Whoa there, vicious.  Put those things away before someone gets hurt."

"Hahaha, you're goofy, Daddy,"  Cameron snickered.

"I'm goofy?  Do I have long ears?"  I asked, trying my best to catch a glimpse of my ears, "Is my nose sticking out like a snout?"  I looked down crossing my eyes, bringing the laughter back out of Cameron.

"Not that Goofy!"

"Well, how should I know, Mr. Shouty Pants," I reached over and ruffled his hair, much to his dismay.  He scrunched his face up before stealing a kiss on Chance's cheek.

"What was that for?"  Chance asked, grinning.

"Iono.  Just cuz.  I want to get down now."  Chance obliged and let Cameron down.  His little legs immediately started moving him off toward the condo's french doors.

"Hey!"  Cameron stopped in his tracks at the sound of my voice.  He peeked over his shoulder back at me, "Where's mine?"  He turned around and darted back over to me.  He tugged on my shirt, "What's the matter, Cam?  I thought you could fly?"  I teased him earning me yet another scrunched up look.  I knelt down and he gave me a kiss on the cheek, "I love you, kiddo."

"I love you too.  Can I go inside and watch tv?  I'm tired,"  He rubbed his eyes for dramatic effect.

"Yeah, just make sure you kick off your shoes when you get inside."

"Okay," And with that Cameron scampered inside and disappeared off into the world of mind numbing television.

Chance stood there grinning at me, "That kid loves you to death."

I gave him a weird look, "You're one to talk."

"Nah.  He loves everyone, I just happened to get an advantage by being around when we-- You first got him."

Smiling kindly, "No one takes care of Cameron like you do, Chance.  You've earned the right to be called his daddy just as much as I have."

Chance's face tinged with the slightest shade of pink, "Yeah, well..."  He trailed off apparently in thought.  I studied his face for a moment while he gathered himself.  It was plain to see that he was mulling over something serious.

I put a hand on his shoulder, "Are you okay?"

A small grin fought it's way into sight, "Yeah.. Do you think we could take a walk?"

"Sure, just let me run inside and let Erik know that we're going to step out."  I walked in the door to hear the phone ringing.  The ringer went off once and then stopped abruptly.  The answering machine didn't pick up so I assumed the caller hung up.  I shrugged and made my way down the hall toward Erik's room.  The door was open and I could hear Erik's voice as he spoke.

"Uhh, no he's not here right now.  No, I don't know when he'll be back.  Yeah, ummm, look I have to go... do chores or something.  Okay, bye."  Erik turned around mid sigh, catching sight of me.  He froze like a deer caught in headlights before regaining control of his mouth, H--Hey.."

I raised an eyebrow, "Hey yourself.  What was that all about?"

"Um, nothing.  It was the wrong number.."

"It didn't sound like a wrong number from what I heard."

"No-- Uh, not a wrong number.  Just sounded like a telemarketer or something like that."

To say the look on my face was suspicious would be an understatement, "Hmm.. Well, just let the machine pick it up if it's not for you next time."

Erik nodded at me and I let it slide for the time being, "Chance and I are going to take a walk.  We won't be gone long, but keep an eye on Cameron for me please.  He's watching cartoons, so he should be set, but just incase."

"Okay,"  And that was the end of that conversation.  Erik went over and picked up his guitar then delved right into strumming away.  I watched him for a few moments, noting the uncomfortable look on his face before walking out of his room.  I stuck my head in Cameron's room briefly and saw him entranced by his television before grabbing my keys and heading out.

Chance was sitting on the front steps tapping his foot nervously.  The door closing grabbed his attention, "Ready, Curly?"  He nodded and we started on our way.

Silence was the only thing passing between us as we walked over the hard sidewalk.  I decided not to push Chance to talk, knowing he'd do so when he was ready.  It was his idea to take the walk afterall.  The wind picked up a bit, the spring air not quite ready to give into the summer just yet.  I was thankful for that, the summer heat wasn't my idea of an ideal climate.  I guess being used to four seasons in New York, it's hard to adjust to the one and a half that Southern California seems to offer.  Chance remained staring ahead, not looking at me, seemingly lost in his own head..  We came upon a small bridge that continued the pathway over a shallow creek.  It was seperated from the road, so there was no danger of a car coming over it.  Chance stopped and leaned against the railing, watching the water pick up speed from the current down below.  He still remained quiet, the only sound coming from the gentle flow of water.  The sun started to set in the distance, bringing a pink and orange hue to the sky around it.  I stood next to him and softly put an arm around his waist, startling him a bit.  He jumped slightly, then settled in against me and sighed.  He turned his head to face me for the first time since we had left.

"How are you doing, Blade?"

I smiled softly, "I'm still around."

"That good, huh?"

I chuckled a little, "Well, considering what happened the weekend I went away, I'd say yeah.  I'm in a better place than I rightfully should be."

"That's because you're strong.. But I hope you know that you don't have to be on your own."

"I know.  Honestly, you being here has helped quite a bit.  Being able to get away and have some time to sort my head without worrying about Cameron and Erik is a blessing."

"I.."  Chance started, but something stopped him like it had earlier.  He closed his eyes for a few seconds then continued, "You know, I talked to Tyler before he left."

"I didn't know.  That must have been.. awkward?"  Chance and Tyler hadn't really gotten off on the right foot when they met in Hawaii.

Chance smiled and shook his head, "A little bit, but I think it was good that we did."

I cocked an eyebrow, "Why's that?"

"It gave me a better understanding of him.  I can see why you love him so much.  As much as I resented him for having that much pull in your heart when we were together, I understand why he did."

"Chance, you know that I didn't choose Tyler over you.."  Chance cut me off.

"That's not what I'm saying, Blade.  I don't agree with the way Tyler left, but I kind of admire him for going."

I frowned, "Admiration isn't how I would describe it..."

"Blade, he didn't run from you.  He left for you."

"Chance, I really didn't come here to hear Tyler's defense."  I pulled away from him softly, but he grabbed my arm and held it firmly.

"I didn't ask you to walk with me so I could defend Tyler.  I just know that he left because he wanted you to be happy with someone else and.."  He returned his gaze to the ground and became quiet.

I brought a hand to his chin and raised his face so he would look at me.  His eyes were holding the shine of glass and a look of something else, "Chance..."

"This is hard for me, okay? Really hard.  I still love you, Blade and I know it's not fair for me to be having this conversation with you right now.  Not after what happened with Zach and Tyler.  Especially when I already know what the answer is going to be."  He swallowed hard and let his eye lids slide closed one more time.  I didn't know what to say, so I let him have his time to compose himself.  "I didn't just come back here because I liked California.  I think you know that.  I came back because of you.. Because of what we had.  I didn't expect you to have stopped living while I was gone..  Frankly if you had, I'd have been really surprised.  I guess what I didn't expect was for you to be off in so many directions with your heart.  I figured that Tyler may have moved back in on you and I was prepared for that.  When I saw Zach that night, it all kind of hit me at once."

"Chance.."  He brought a finger to my lips and shushed me.

"I want you to know what you meant and mean to me.  You're the glue that kept me from falling apart.  I needed someone like you to make everything okay after Jamie.  You showed me that my life didn't end with him and I'll forever be grateful for that."  Tears started streaming down his cheeks, "I love you and I would love nothing more than to be all that you want, but I know that I'm not anymore."  He cleared his throat in an attempt to stifle his crying,  "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life with someone who will love you the way you deserve."  The dam broke with his last word, sending a wave of tears rushing over his face and trembles shaking his body.

I stepped up to him, my own heart burning with sadness.  My eyes betrayed me as I watched this boy.. this unbelievable person; hurt so bad over me.  My hand touched his shoulder and he threw his arms around my waist holding me tightly against him.  "Chance, don't do this..."

"It's already been done, Love.  Your heart isn't mine anymore and we both know that.  I love you more than anything, Blade.  I really wish you loved me the same way.  If you ever need me I'll always come running, no matter what.  If you need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or even just a hug, I'll be there to give you those things."  Chance's words came out strained and broken through his sobbing.  I laid my head on his shoulder and let the emotion flow.  The sadness settled into the atmosphere, the sounds of a love gone wrong breaking the peace of the sunset.  Chance pulled away slightly, his eyes bloodshot from crying.  He raised my chin with his hand and looked into my eyes with his own.  I didn't want him to go, but I wasn't sure it was right for him to stay.  He moved forward and pressed his soft lips against mine.  Just like the first time we kissed, I felt there was something special in him.  Our tears mingled, dripping between our faces.  Feeling his tears and tasting his sadness, I knew that I had to let him go.. to save his heart from anymore pain.

I stepped back from him, grasping his hand in mine, "Chance, you've brought so much to my life.  You showed me love and how to love when I thought I wouldn't be able to again.  You've made me so much better just by being you.  I don't want you to leave me again, but I can't bear to see you in pain like this.  All I can do is offer you my friendship at this point.  I don't know where my heart is going anymore.  I'll pray that if my heart leads back to you, you'll except me back into yours.  I want you to be happy and I can't give you that without hurting you right now.  Just know I do love you and I always will."

"You'll never leave my heart, Blade.  I'll pray for that day.. that maybe I'll be able to hold you and kiss you once again."  His lip quivered as the words rolled off his tongue.  I hugged him to me as tight as I could, his body trembling under my touch..

"I'm so sorry.. I wish I could change the feelings inside me.." I rambled out of frustration.  Chance leaned his head over my shoulder and brought his mouth close to my ear.

"You can't close your heart to things you don't want to feel.  It's no one's fault.  I've learned to accept the fact that with love comes heartbreak and if we don't get it right the first, second, or even third time; then we have to keep on trying.  You helped me get over Jamie, but he'll always be my first love.  He'll always have a part of me.  Tyler is the same for you, but sometimes that first love isn't who we're meant to have.  He helped me understand that when you love someone, sometimes you have to let them go for them to be happy.  So, you go.. you go and find what makes you happy.  I think it might start with a Z."  Chance gave a short giggle, "And if things don't work out, maybe we'll get another shot at making us what we always thought we were gonna be.  For now.. I just want one last thing from you."

"Anything."  I whispered.

"I just want to stay here for awhile and feel your arms wrapped around me one more time.  W-will you do that for me please?"  A small smile crept upon my face at his request.

"Nothing would make me happier."  Chance smiled and leaned back against me.  I put my arms around his waist from behind and let my head rest against his.  The suns final rays turned our tear drops into embers from it's reflection.  We stood on that little bridge knowing that we had crossed our own bridge and there was no going back in the immediate future.  Chance turned his head and kissed me sweetly, then grasped my arm and pulled it over him, wrapping it tightly against his body.  I kissed the top of his head and stood there silently as the last bit of the sun disappeared symbolizing the end of the day, yet to us it meant so much more.

One week later, Inpatient Center....

Zach watched one foot move in front of the other, padding along the hard, tiled floor.  He followed the orderly that had greeted him at the entrance to the living quarters of the treatment center, keeping himself in complete silence.  His mind was too busy trying to work out everything that had happened in his life over the last few weeks and why he chose to see Eric of all people about it.

The orderly stopped outside a wide double door, pulling one of them open and holding it in place, "Just head inside, Mr. Steven's is sitting by the window."

Zach nodded, "Thanks."  The orderly left him and Zach stepped through the doorway into the room.  The cafeteria area was set up just like it's school counterpart.  Some long tables spaced a few feet apart, lined with chairs on each side, with the serving area set to the front of the room.  A few random patients and staff were scattered throughout, taking in a meal or just keeping an eye on things.  Zach noticed Eric sitting at a table near the window as the orderly had said, apparently taking his lunch time to catch a glimpse of the outside world that he had been missing out on.  Zach walked up to the table a bit cautiously, stopping a few feet away from Eric.  He stepped up into view so as not to startle his friend, "Is this seat taken?"

Eric's eyes held an unreadable gleam, "It doesn't look like anybody is sitting there, Zach."

Zach weakly smiled and took a seat next to Eric.  He leaned back and set one foot up on the chair, hugging it to his chest, "You don't seem too surprised to see me."

Eric took a sip from the bottled water in front of him, then set it down to address Zach, "Nothing really surprises me anymore.  How'd you get in here anyway?"

"I, kind of told them I was your step brother..."  Zach said tentatively.

"And they bought that?  Geez."

"You saying I'm not good enough to be family?"  Zach asked in mock hurt.

"I'm saying no family member of mine would come to a treatment center dressed like they were walking a runway."  Zach smiled sheepishly, "Don't you have any normal clothes?"

"These are my normal clothes..."

"I guess.  You probably don't need to worry since you're out of them so much,"  Eric's face lit with a cheeky grin, but there was a slight tone of malice in his voice.

Zach wasn't sure how to take the comment, "Is that a shot at me?"

"It is what it is, man."

"Oh.."  Zach went silent, unprepared for the comment.  He looked away from Eric and out the window, trying to hide that it affected him.

Eric noticed, but didn't address the issue, "Why are you here, Zach?"  Zach kept his stare where it was safe, looking out into the sun lit environment beyond the confines of the room he was suddenly regretting being in.  As much as he had tried to perfect the art of being unaffected by much of anything, the words that came from Eric's mouth stung him.  Maybe not the words specifically, but the feelings that they clawed at.  Eric waved his hands, trying to get Zach's attention, "Hellooooo, earth to Zachary."

Zach sighed to himself and reluctantly turned his face back into Eric's line of sight.  He knew as soon as Eric caught the glassy look in his eye by the change in his expression.  "I came to talk to you."

"Why me?"

Zach sadly smiled to himself, knowing he had asked himself that question minutes ago.  The answer was clear to him now, "Because I don't have anyone else."

Eric felt the animosity inside dwindle a bit.  He never had problems with Zach, infact they were becoming quite close before Eric delved into the world of narcotics.  "That's sweet, dude, but if you're expecting us to make out now you've got another thing coming."  Zach furrowed his brow, "You better whip out your wallet if you want some of this lovin'."

Zach chuckled lightly, "Ass."

Eric grinned, "Triple for that."  Zach just shook his head, glad to have a reprieve from the burning inside his chest. "So, everyone's giving you the silent treatment because of what happened with Blade?"

Zach's surprise couldn't be hidden, "You know?"

"Yeah, I know.  I was having some.. Well.. I had a rough night earlier in the month and Blade showed up to help me.  Always my saviour, you know.  Anyway, I spilled my guts to him about everything that happened with me and somewhere inbetween he let slip some of his own problems."


"Oh, indeed.  I think he got caught up in the moment, usually to get things out of him you have to threaten to rape his kitten.  If he had one."

"So, your antipsychotics aren't working I take it?"  Zach teased.

Eric made to smack him playfully, but noticed one of the staff members eyeing him, "You're so lucky there's agents of S.H.I.E.L.D in here."

Zach held up his hands in surrender, "I give."

"I would have figured you to be a receiv.."

Zach cut him off before he finished, "Not what I meant."

"So you are a..."


"Okay, okay."  A few moments of silence fell over them, both taking in the first moments of normalcy that they had felt in awhile.

"So... What did Blade say exactly?"

"He told me what happened in San Diego.  I don't think you need a word for word recounting, you were there."

"Yeah, I was," Zach frowned.  "He didn't say anything else.. like.. did he say he got my messages or anything?"  Zach tried not to sound too hopeful.

Eric eyed him curiously, then completely ignored Zach's question, "Zach, do I detect a hint of a heart in there?"

"You make me sound so terrible..."

"Well, you hurt my brother.  It would be wrong of me to not get a few shots in."

Zach let his leg slide off the chair and made to stand up, "I'm sorry for bothering you."

Eric grabbed Zach's arm to stop him from walking away, "I'm sorry that you think this conversation is over, so sit."  Zach remained defiant for a few moments before sitting back down..  "You came here to talk about Blade obviously.  So what about him?"

"I wanted to know if he's okay."

"That's it?"  Zach shrugged, "No, he's not okay.  He's Blade, Zach.  If you know anything about him, you know that he's a fuckin' rock when it comes down to being strong.  I know he's hurting badly, but he's fought too long and hard to get himself back to let it all slip away. You know Tyler left too, right?"

"What do you mean left?"

"He's gone.  He ran off to Europe to play pop star.  Blade found a note from him the day he got back from Mission Beach."


"Yeah.  So the love of his life left him a letter to say goodbye and you kicked him in the heart all in the span of 24 hours, yet he's still standing.  I wish I had half of the resolve he does.  Maybe I wouldn't be here if I did."

Zach ran a hand through his hair, "I didn't mean to hurt him, Eric.  I swear on my life, that's the last thing I wanted to do."

"Then why did you?"

"It's a long story."

"It has something to do with that guy that you chose over Blade I'm guessing."

"I didn't choose anyone over Blade.  Look, you have to understand that I hadn't seen my ex in long time.  I didn't plan on seeing him ever again, so when he showed up at the party I was caught off guard."

"You don't have to justify your reasoning to me, Zach.  I don't know the guy or what you had together.  I just hope that you realize what you passed up and that it ends up worth it for you."

"We had something good for awhile.  Then it went bad for no reason and it was hard for me to get over.  So, I decided that I wouldn't let myself get attached to anyone again.  No strings, no hurt."

Eric saw the distress on Zach's face as he spoke, "How's that working out for you?"

"It worked for awhile, then Blade came along.  You know, I tried so hard to keep it what it was.  Just good friends that could be physical with each other and not have to worry about anything else."


"It was a stupid idea.  With someone else it might have worked, but from the moment I met your brother, there was an insane amount of chemistry between us."

"I'm confused now.  Are you saying you have feelings for Blade?"

Zach let out a groan of frustration, "Do you really need me to answer that?"

"No, but I like to make you squirm.  Not as much as Blade though,"  Eric made a sick face.

"Eric, come on.."

"Okay, serious Eric.  Why are you telling me this, Zach?  It seems to me that if you want my brother, then you did a really shitty job of showing it by going with your ex."

"I'm not with him!  We talked that night yeah, and I told Blade what was said, then everything blew up.  I didn't mean for any of that to happen, I just froze up.  I didn't get back with my ex, after Blade ran out I wasn't up for much of anything besides laying in the hotel and sulking.  I called him when I got back here and told him that I thought about it, but I wasn't going back to him and I wish him the best."

"Why didn't you say something to Blade then?  I mean, he said you just sat there and said nothing."

"I'm fucking stupid, okay?  I don't know how to express myself anymore.  I'm a scared, fucking idiot who buries everything.  I didn't tell Blade how I feel about him that night because I was terrified.  Even though I've cared about him more than a friend for a long time, I could deal with that.  I could deal with the feelings with us being friends with benefits and when Blade decided to take Tyler back, I would hurt a bit, cry about it and move on.  I'd still have him in my life, so I'd be okay.  If I told him what I was feeling, then we'd be together and no doubt I'd be completely in love."

"The problem with that being...?"  Eric questioned.

"That when things go wrong, I'd get my heart broken and I'd lose him on top of it.  I couldn't handle that.  I can't handle it.  I tried to protect myself and I lost him anyway."

Zach's voice cracked, his normally calm and cool demeanor long gone. Eric put his arm around Zach and hugged him to his chest.  "Oh, Zach.. You can't hide your heart forever.  You and Blade are a lot more alike than you know."

"I really fucked it all up.  He won't even talk to me or reply to my messages."

"Do you love my brother?"  Eric asked.


"Are you willing to tell him without running away?"


"Then, what are you waiting for?"

"He hates me."

"No he doesn't.  I know Blade and he doesn't hate you.  He's shutting you out to protect himself from being hurt any further."

"So, I should just go to his place and tell him how I feel?"


Zach's confusion nearly made Eric laugh, "Then what?"

"He's not going to be home tonight.  Matt told me he's going to a party at Kai and Jordan's place, so I know Blade will be there."

"I'm not exactly on Jordan's favorite person list right now."

"So?  You're not going for Jordan.  Now, get out of here and put some real people clothes on, then pretty yourself up. You have a party to go to."

Eric stood from his seat and Zach followed a moment later.  Before Eric could say anything, Zach stepped forward and wrapped his arms tightly around the younger Stevens.  "Thank you for being my friend, Eric.  You're a lot more like Blade than you give yourself credit for."

Eric pulled away and looked Zach in the eye, "Is that your subtle way of saying you want to bone me?"

Zach snickered, punching Eric lightly in the side, "You know it."

"As long as we're clear,"  Eric smiled.  It felt good to feel normal again for awhile.  Zach waved to him then started walking toward the doors that he entered through.  Eric called out to him, "Hey, Zach?"  Zach halted his stride, turning to face Eric across the room.  "Hurt him again and I'll have your balls in the most unsexual way ever."

Zach nodded, waved one more time then disappeared from the cafeteria.  Eric picked up the debri leftover from his meal and walked with a newfound step to the garbage cans, smiling to himself.  For once, he got to help Blade and even more, for the first time in months, he felt like himself and nothing in the world could take that away.

Kai & Jordan's Place..

Laughing and overly loud voices echoed through the enormous house, once home to the Chamber's family, now a place for Kai and Jordan to live their lives as partners.  Even though the house was so big, it sounded as if there was a block party going on the way the noise rattled all the way outside.  I stepped up and rang the doorbell, though I wasn't confident that anyone would even hear it over the music playing in the background.  I waited a few minutes and with no sign of anyone coming to let me in, so I pulled out my cell phone hitting the speed dial for Kai.  After four rings, Kai's voicemail picked up, causing me to sigh in frustration.  I waited for the beep so I could cuss him out.

"Dude, how are you going to invite people over and not answer the fucking..."  As I said the last word, the front door opened.  Kai stood there with a smirk on his face, mocking my frustration.  I snapped my phone shut and walked past him into the foyeur of the house.  He closed the door behind me and I turned to face him, "You're an asshole."

"Why, whatever do you mean?"  He put on his best angelic look, but the mischief in his eyes was unmistakeable..

"How long were you standing there listening to me get pissed off?"

"Oh, since the second DING DONG."  I shook my head and gave him a dirty look, "Touchy, touchy.  It's fun watching you get all flustered over the littlest things, Blade.  Maybe a little too easy, but you know, I have to get my kicks somewhere."

I adjusted the strap on my bag and flipped him off, "I'm glad I can be of such great entertainment value to you.  When do I get paid?"

"We didn't even have sex yet and you want to be paid already?   Did someone start spreading around that I fuck and run?  Damn.. smart hookers.. Okay, how much?"

I couldn't help, but smile, no matter how much I tried to hold it back, "I told you before that you can't afford me."  Kai stepped up with a sincere smile on his face and hugged me.  I hugged him back firmly, feeling a comfort in him that most people couldn't offer.  We pulled apart and I followed him toward the kitchen.  "So, where is everybody?"

Kai opened the refrigerator, pulled out a bottle of water and tossed it to me before hopping up to take a seat on the counter, "I've got them all locked in the basement."

"Ah, so the music is to drown out the screams."

"Exactly.  Always on the same page.  I turned the heat on really high, do you like your meat medium or well done?"  Kai said it so seriously, if I didn't know him better I might have turned and ran out of the house.

"I'll stick to the non meat variety.  So, shall we go join them?"

"Fa sho, brah."  Kai slid off the counter top and threw an arm over my shouders while headed to the basement doorway.  Now basement is a huge understatement, as in no way, shape or form is the basement of the house anything like most would picture.  No, the basement was completely finished and made with a wide open floor plan that was designed for entertaining.  Dance floor and all.  We walked down the stairs and the voices that could be heard outside became louder and louder..  The main lights were dimmed, but a disco ball and laser lights washed over the room, giving the rave effect.  I looked around the room and noticed some people I didn't know, along with the normal familiar faces.  The song that was on came to an end and the lights came back up, obviously set to some kind of synchronized timer with the music, "Hey everyone the stripper is here, wooooo!!"  Kai yelled and started tugging my shirt up.  I playfully smacked his hand away before breaking away from his grasp.  "She's fiesty so watch out!"  Laughter came from various parts of the room, while I slowly made my way through looking for people I knew.

The lights dimmed again in synch with the next song that came on, Love Game by Lady Gaga, and people started to really crowd around dancing, so it made it harder for me to see where I was going.  Matt was sitting on a couch next to Jordan, both of them caught up in a conversation about something.  They both looked up at me and smiled, to which I nodded at them in acknowledgement.  In a far corner there were three very modelesque looking girls dancing around someone in a very provocative manner.  I squinted and as I got closer, my jaw nearly hit the floor when I saw Erik emerge from between them, dancing his little white ass around like he had been born doing it.  My mouth moved, trying to form some kind of remark, but nothing was coming.  Erik glanced back over his shoulder then gave me a sheepish smile and shrugged his shoulders as one of the girls wrapped a leg around his waist.  I shook my head and snickered, never privy to that side of him before.

Smoke started filling the room, obviously from a dry ice machine and I started to wonder when the hell Kai had talked Jordan into putting a night club in the basement.  The smoke made it even harder to see, so I just started to move my body to the music. The lasers cut through the smoke as I felt someone rub up against me, assuming they were just brushing by.  Then I felt an arm slip around my waist and start running up my shirt.  I tried to look back but the smoke was too thick, so I just leaned back into the person's body, grinding against them in rhythm with the music.  We moved in synch, the music easy to get lost in.  I spun around, under the other person's arm, slipping down quickly, rubbing my body up against his.  His arms grasped mine firmly and held my upper body a few inches off the ground, while sliding me through his legs and back up so I was back to back with him.  His hands ran down my sides and we both moved to the opposite side, spinning into one another so we were face to face.  The green laser flashed over his face and I noticed Lucas smiling at me..  I smiled back while he seductively ran his hands up my sides, before pulling my shirt over my head.  I threw my neck back and he brought his face down, making it look as if he was kissing me when the music stopped and the lights went up.  Hoots and hollers echoed through the room and we broke apart, looking around flushed from the dancing.

"Still got it,"  Lucas winked and tucked my polo into the waist band of my jeans.

I was about to respond when a spotlight shined on me.  I put a hand over my eyes and looked to the source of it.  Kai stood there aiming the light right at my exposed torso, "Not here 10 minutes and he's half naked.  SLUT!"

Everyone laughed, causing me to roll my eyes.  I turned my attention back to Lucas, "Happy now?  Everyone thinks I'm a slut because you couldn't wait to get your hands on me."

Lucas smiled widely, "Well, you didn't put up much of a fight."  A Kylie Minogue song came on and in stereotypical gay boy fashion, Lucas' eyes lit up and he started moving to the music, "Dude, I'll catch up with you in a little while, I have to dance to this.. unless you want to go again?"

I laughed, "You're gayer than I thought man.  I'm going to sit this one out.  Have fun."  The lights had stayed up for the current song, so it was easier to weave through the people dancing around the room..  I came to a clearing where the seated area was and froze when my eyes fell upon the couch where Matt and Jordan had previously been sitting.  Matt remained, but next to him was the boy who had drawn my weary gaze.  Zach's eyes met mine and a small smile appeared on his face, unsure of the situation as well.

"Looks like I missed the good part of the party..."  Zach said as I pulled the shirt out of my waistband, lightly dabbed my forehead and tossed it over my shoulder for the moment.

"Oh yeah, didn't I tell you we had strippers?  I hear she's easy, so if you slip her a dollar..." Kai teased.

I glanced at Zach, who held his smile.  I felt uncomfortable, so I looked away, turning my attention to Kai.  "Funny that you still haven't gotten any after many dollars..."

Kai looked at me in mock horror, "You dirty bitch.."

"Kai, we both know that you're the woman in our relationship.  You love my lip stick.."  Matt choked and coughed, nearly losing the drink in his mouth.

Kai tried to act appalled, but busted out laughing.  "I can't believe you just called it your lip stick..."

I pulled my shirt back over my head and took a seat across from Kai, a safe distance from Zach.  "Well, if the lips fit.."

"I wouldn't know, Jewels,"  Kai said, patting me on the back while moving to a seat beside me.  "So what flavor does this lip stick of yours come in?"

"Cream," Zach blurted out, causing himself to blush, while Kai and Matt started laughing again.

"Zach would know.."  Kai said, but then quickly caught himself seeing the uncomfortable look on my face.

The music stopped and some feedback came over the speakers, followed by the sound of tapping on a mic.  "Um, if I could have your attention please."  Everyone turned to the sound of the voice.  Jordan stood in the middle of the room holding a microphone, looking a little uncomfortable with all eyes on him, but went on anyway, "The music and dancing is going to keep going, but if anyone would like to join Kai and myself for a game of truth or dare, meet up over by the couches in the next couple of minutes."  A Christina Aguilera song came on and I watched Lucas fight with himself on what to do.  I almost laughed when he dejectedly walked away from the dance floor and sat on the opposite side of Kai, on the other side of me.

"That was really hard for you wasn't it?  It was kind of sad to watch actually.."

Lucas laughed and lightly smacked me on the arm, "Yeah well, I love my craft.  It's my life."

"Yeah.. I know how that can be.  How long are you around for?  I mean you're supposed to be in Europe on tour aren't you?"

"That I am.  I'm actually just here for a couple of days, filling in for another dancer on a tour in LA.  Then I'll be catching a flight back out to London for Tyler's opening show."

I felt eyes on me, so I nonchalantly let my eyes glance around and noticed Zach was staring at me with an unreadable look.  I didn't turn to him, instead kept my focus on Lucas, "So, um, how is he?"

"He's good.  You know, workaholic.  He's really excited about his first huge show.  I've actually gotten up the nerve to ask him out on a date, but he's been so busy.. and well, I think he's really still hung up on you."

My eyes met Lucas's, somewhat surprised by his statement, "Me?  Well, he had a funny way of showing it.  You know usually when you care about someone that much you don't up and run off to Europe without any warning."

Lucas shifted in his seat, "I don't want to interfere, man.  I think the world of both of you guys.  I don't know why he did what he did.  Maybe it was easier than saying goodbye for him."

I took a swig from a drink that Kai had placed in front of me, "Maybe for him it was."  Our conversation halted abruptly as Jordan came over and sat in Kai's lap, followed by Erik and his groupies.

"This is it for truth or dare?  Man, what a lame turnout.."  Kai whined.

Jordan kissed him on the cheek, "You don't need a lot of people to have a good game.  Just good dares."

Kai looked at Jordan and wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.  "In that case.. DARE!"  Everyone laughed.

"So, how do we decide who's turn it is?"

"We'll just start with whoever and then the person that gets asked to do a truth or dare gets to ask next," Said Matt.  Everyone nodded in agreement, though I didn't really care either way.  "So, I'll start?"  Matt questioned and everyone seemed to agree.  "Okay, Jordan.  Truth or dare?"

Jordan looked semi suprised that he had been picked, "Um, truth."  Boos came from Kai and Erik, obviously wanting a dare to be played out.

"If you could be with any guy in the world, who would it be?  And if you say Kai I will puke all over you."

Jordan blushed, "It would be Kai, but if I can't say him then definitely.. Ben."

Matt looked perplexed, "Ben?  Jake's Ben?"  Matt questioned, thinking about his two friends, both noticeably absent from the current party..

Jordan got more embarassed, "Um.. yeah?  I think he'd be a good boyfriend.  Good looking, sweet, funny, athletic.."

"That's it.  We're so over."  Kai yelled in dramatic fashion.  "You.. you can have half of the kids.. they'll understand someday why they're missing their legs..."  Jordan took his husband's teasing in stride, obviously used to it.

"Anyway, drama queen, my turn."  Jordan scanned the small group and stopped on Erik who was still being smothered by the three girls he had been dancing with.  "Erik," Erik looked up from his gaze which was seemingly attached to one of the girl's protruding breasts, "Since you seem to like your women so much, I dare you to go behind the couch and switch underwear with one of them.  Leave the other clothes off when you're done."  Erik looked unsure for a moment, but then he put on a cool demeanor for the girl he had chosen.

"Okay, but this one's way too easy."  Erik led the tall blonde girl behind the couch and they disappeared out of sight.  Rustling could be heard and after a minute or two, Erik emerged from behind the couch.  He had on a bright pink lace bra, obviously not filling it out as much as the girl had.  He then walked all the way out and into the middle of the circle with had formed.  He blushed as Kai cat called at him.  The bottom that he had put on was nothing more than the same pink lace material made into a thong that rode right up the crack of his ass.  Erik had apparently been a little excited, the tip of his penis stuck up out of the material, causing his face to flush red with embarassment.

"Bend over!"  Kai yelled.  Erik laughed nervously and started to walk back behind the couch when he slowly bent over, giving an eyefull to everyone, before diving behind the couch.  Kai panted lewdly, while Jordan elbowed him softly in the side.  Erik emerged back into his seat with the girl he had changed with in tow.  They both were back in their own clothes and it was Erik's turn to pick someone, the logical choice would be Kai to get even with him for his taunting.

"Now that everyone has seen me practically naked," Erik glared at Jordan, "I pick Lucas."  Lucas sat up straight, game for whatever came up.  "Truth or dare?"

"Dare, baby,"  Lucas flirted.

"I dare you to get naked and go grind up on that guy over there for 20 seconds."  Erik motioned toward a guy I didn't recognize that was dancing with his back to us on the dancefloor.  Lucas shrugged and removed his clothing before he made his way to the dance floor.  He dropped his boxerbriefs as he came up behind the unsuspecting guy.  Erik leaned over and whispered, "I know for a fact that guy is totally straight."  I almost wanted to chastize him, because there's no way he knew how the guy was going to react and it could get ugly.  When I heard cheering from the dancefloor I cocked my head to see what was going on.

Lucas was bareassed, with his arms around the guy's waist, grinding his body against the guy's ass.  The guy spun and his face looked a little torn on what was going on, but soon Lucas' hands moved under the waist band of the guy's pants and boxers seemingly causing him to lose any reservations he may have had.  A little motion could be seen from where his hand was inside the guy's pants, when Erik stood up and pointed at his watch.  Lucas leaned over the guy's shoulder and whispered in his ear, "Time's up."  He cruelly removed his hand and walked back toward us in an obvious state of arousal.  He sat back down, not in any hurry to get back into his clothes.  The guy looked on confused as ever with a hardon that looked as if it would bust through his jeans.

"I hang out with a bunch of sluts... but that was hot," Stated Kai.

Lucas smirked while he slid his underwear on, "Guys are only as straight as you think they are.  Touch their cock and they're gay as you want them to be."  Everyone laughed, while Lucas put the rest of his clothes back on slowly.  "Zach, your turn."

I looked over to Zach who's eyes glinted in the light, "Truth."

"BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"  Kai yelled loudly.  "Zach and Jordan are laaaaaaaaame."

"Wait until it's your turn, you're going to get the worst dare ever for all of your complaining," Jordan warned.

"I like it when you get stern with me, baby."  I cracked up at how stupid Kai acted at times.  I was pulled from my amusement by Lucas's voice.

"If you could take back one thing you've done in the past month, what would it be?"  The words set off an alarm in my head.  I noticed Erik smiling out of the corner of my eyes, then my glance moved to Lucas and then to Zach, who was staring at me.  Suddenly I felt even more uncomfortable.

Zach's eyes didn't leave mine, even for a moment, "I'd have told someone how much they really mean to me.."  I felt a lump form in my throat and looked away from him.

The group was deathly quiet, whether they knew what he was talking about or not.  I looked at Lucas again and saw him give a sympathy smile toward Zach who nodded back at him.  I had been set up.  Zach cleared his throat, "So, um.. I pick, Blade."

I looked at him and gave him a challenging look, "Dare.  I dare you to fucking put me in this position again, Zachary."  I got up from my seat and brushed past everyone, then walked briskly up the stairs.  I held my composure the best I could, the air seemed to get thicker the further I made it up to the main level.  I headed directly for the door and went outside.  I sat down on the steps, taking in the fresh air, trying to keep my head.  Not a minute later I heard the door open and close behind me.  I didn't even bother to look back.

The person sat down next to me, our arms and legs touching, "Blade.."

"Why are you doing this to me, Zach?"  I turned my face to look at him.  "I mean, come on, what more do I have to do to please you?  I gave up for you and now you're going to set me up and say that in front of our friends?"

Zach's eyes glistened, "Look, I'm sorry if you felt like you were put on the spot.  I just.. I didn't know what else to do.  You wouldn't even acknowledge me in there."

"So what?  Now you want me?  After everything, what changed, Zach?  Because if I recall you let me walk out of that hotel room without so much as a word to stop me.  Not one damn word after I poured my heart out to you."

His voice wavered a bit, "Blade, I'm sorry.  I can't say it enough.  You were right, you know?  That we're given choices in life..and sometimes we make the wrong ones.  So does that mean that we can't try to make them right?"

I sighed, "I'm not going to be your consolation prize."

"Good, because you're not.  You're the grand prize, Blade.  You always were.. I was just too scared to let myself go for it."  I reluctantly gave him my attention, "It was easier, you know, to just have a sexual relationship, because then I wouldn't get hurt.  Even if I loved you, I could deal with that.  As long as there was still that barrier up between casual and serious.  If I didn't have to experience loving you and having you return it then I would be okay.  If I let myself give in and be with you, then something went wrong, I'd get my heart broken.  I didn't think I could take that.  So we were.. safe."

"You can't live life being afraid of love forever.."

"I know that now.  I wanted to go back to what I knew because that's where I felt I'd be safe.  Which is enormously fucked up because it's what made me like this to begin with.  I mean if I got hurt so many times before in it, why would it be any different this time around?  I did know how you felt.  At least I think I did deep down.  It scared me, because that meant that I was that close to opening myself up to that world of hurt again.  Even with that weighing on me, I realized something scared me even more than getting my heart broken.  Losing you.."  He paused for a moment, taking a deep breath before he continued, "When you left the hotel, I just laid there on that bed for hours.  I laid there and I cried.  I don't ever cry, Blade.  I felt like a hole had been ripped open in my chest and emptiness filled it up.  I felt.. I feel like such an asshole for hurting you.  I never meant for that to happen.  I never wanted to be the one to make tears fall from your eyes."  A silence fell over us.

I mulled over what I wanted to say, but so many things were going through my head all at once that it was confusing.  "You know, I never thought I'd get over Tyler."

He looked at me, "Not exactly what I expected to hear, but okay.  Did you?"

I sadly smiled, "I didn't have a choice.  We tried.. so many times.  When he left for Europe, it was the final break.  I thought no matter what happened we'd end up together in the end.  He made his decision that we weren't getting another chance and I've had to accept that. I mean sure, I've cried.. I've cried a lot.  I miss him.  Nothing can replace him, he's my first love.  Nothing can ever change that and I'll always have love for him.  We're just not meant to be together."

Zach ran a hand through his hair, "Lucas said that he thinks Tyler is still hung up on you."

"I think Tyler is stuck in the rut we've been in for the last two years.  He's not all that different from you.  He's afraid to move on because it's hard to start over again with someone new."

Zach pulled out a cigarette and smiled at me, "You're wise."

"I'm not wise.  Just experienced I guess"  I shyly reached over and slid one of my hands into Zach's free hand.  I interlocked our fingers before speaking again, "You know..those tears weren't just reserved for Tyler.  I miss you too.  I really care for you, Zach.  A lot."

Zach smiled a bit, but kept his gaze fixated in front of him while he toyed with the cigarette between his fingers, staring at it as if it was going to light itself, "So...."


"You still owe me a dare.."

I shook my head and grinned, "You would bring the game back up."

"Rules are rules."

"Okay, so what's the dare?"

"Kiss me."  Our eyes met, both sets shining under the moonlight.

I looked at the cigarette in his hand, "If you think I'm going to kiss you after you smoke that then.."

He quickly tossed the cigarette away and our faces moved closer until our mouths were an inch apart.  Zach's soft hand reached up and cupped my the side of my face.  His eyes seemed to be glowing with emotion.  He nudged his nose against mine, our breath dancing upon each others' lips, "Blade?"


"Give me another chance, please.  Be my boyfriend?"

I didn't need words to answer.  Our lips met with urgency, but with a tenderness only two people who deep cared for each other could share.  I felt a wetness agaisnt my face and when I opened my eyes I saw a stream running down from Zach's eye.  He pulled back a little bit and smiled at me.  I smiled back, then leaned forward to kiss his tears away.  I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him close, letting his forehead rest against mine.  Sitting there holding each other, stealing soft angel kisses, with our fears and feelings consumating under the stars outside, nothing could hold us back.  Not the ones that we let go or the ones that let us go.  Moving on is a struggle, but we do it because we have to.  The faces that remain in our hearts and minds are what hold us back, at a stalemate with life.  Letting go of the past is the hardest thing to do, until something comes along that's worth the risk..

Yahoo group:   Jaded Edge Productions