"The future is for those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"

One Life

by Ryan Keith

Part 6 - The Gift of Tomorrow

Buttoning the cuffs of the shirt, Tyler looked up at his reflection. He stood before the mirror but couldn't recognize the well-dressed man standing in front of him. Green eyes met green eyes, and a knowing smile spread across his face as he realized he fit the tuxedo well. It was perfect.

"Hon," a motherly voice called out, "how does it fit? Do you like it? We have five more out here for you to try."

Tyler looked at the dressing room curtain and made his move toward it.

"We have lots more to try, Tyler, so don't be troubled if one or two don't..." The woman stopped midway in her sentence as she turned to see a well-dressed young man walk towards her.

"What do you think, Mrs. Stafford?" Tyler asked, looking around his back to make sure the jacket hung smoothly. "Fits like a glove, huh?"

"Oh, dear, you were made for that tuxedo. My son is so lucky to have caught you!" Mrs. Stafford smiled as her eyes teared up.

Tyler looked to the floor, his eyes wandering restlessly as he tried to form his words carefully. "Thank you, but the truth is, I'm the one who should be grateful. Jaylin means so much to me, but I don't understand why I deserve him."

Mrs. Stafford looked as if she were offended. "Oh, stop this right now! You were meant for my son and he was meant for you," she said gently but firmly. "I see the way he is around you, and I wish he could have found you sooner." Her features softened to a smile. "He's changed so much since you came into his life. He's much more happy and strong. I sometimes used to get the feeling he forced himself to be happy around others." She took hold of Tyler's two hands. "When he's around you he's as natural as the wind, and his smile is like the rays of the sun. Thank you, Tyler. Thank you so much. You freed my son."

Embarrassed by her praise, Tyler reddened a bit before giving Mrs. Stafford a hug, which she accepted.

"I hope your mother doesn't have too much trouble dealing with Jaylin. He can be a picky dresser," Mrs. Stafford worried.

Tyler chuckled.


"No! That will not do at all." The woman shook her head, annoyed.

Jaylin sighed and rolled his eyes before trying another approach. "Mrs. Morton..."

"It's Janice... Call me Jane."

"Umm... Jane, I don't really think it's important to buy me an expensive suit. I'm only going to wear it like once, right? I mean..."

"You get your butt in there, mister, and try on that suit. That cheap shit idea of yours will not do!" the woman said angrily, crossing her arms. She raised an eyebrow as if she expected him to object.

The timid sales lady looked afraid to speak. She stood meekly near the entrance of the change room. It was her job to comment on suits the customers chose, but she didn't think it applied to a situation like this.

Jaylin walked back into the change room to disrobe. As he unbuttoned the shirt, he stared at the suit Tyler's mom had picked for him. He really didn't want her to spend so much on just a suit. He understood that Tyler's family was tight on money, but she had insisted she buy his suit.

Well, at least I know where Tyler gets his wild side. Jaylin laughed inwardly. He did one final turn to make sure the tux was in order before stepping out.


Tyler's mom breathed out before walking around him to make sure it fit. "It will do. For heaven's sake, Jaylin, can't you do the bow tie properly?"

She grabbed the tie that was around Jaylin's neck and roughly tugged at it. Jaylin stood helpless under her rough hands.

Compared to his mom, Mrs. Morton was a tough woman. His mother was always kind, but Tyler's mom was the straight-to-the-point, no-fucking-around type of woman.

As she finished the tie, she pulled down hard, causing Jaylin to lean his head forward. "Okay, you listen to me, you little shit," she said calmly. "You don't deserve my son, but he says he loves you. I'll give you one chance. I knew jocks like you when I was in high school, and if you think..." She caught herself midway, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. "If you hurt him, you make him cry, you do anything to my baby, I will make your life a living hell. You hear me?"

Jaylin came to the conclusion that to be married to a man like Mr. Morton you would have to be as tough as Tyler's mom. He was more scared of her than he was of her husband. Jaylin knew it would kill him if he ever hurt his Tyler.

"Ma'am, the day I hurt your son intentionally will be the day I will disembowel myself at your feet..." Jaylin tried smiling that smile that everyone loved. He knew if he could charm her, she might be less protective of her son. "I love Tyler, and I will never ever hurt him."

Mrs. Morton stared at him for a moment longer before standing straight with her head high. "I will give you only once chance. I expect a written copy of that vow."

She turned away, leaving a jaw-dropped Jaylin.

Wait... She's not serious, is she?

A voice that sounded like heaven called out, "Mom? Jaylin? You guys almost ready?"

"Tyler, dear, we'll be out in just a few. Make sure to thank Mrs. Stafford, okay? Make sure you help her with everything." Mrs. Morton's voice and tone changed at the blink of an eye. Jaylin was shocked to see the switch in personality.

Multiple personalities? Jaylin wondered.

Mrs. Morton turned to him, causing him to tense up. "You don't mention any of this to my son, or I'll have your head!"

Jaylin ducked into the change room as fast as he could. He wondered if Tyler knew the woman who gave birth to him the way he knew her.


The mothers took one car while Jaylin and Tyler took another. They agreed to meet at a restaurant for dinner with the rest of the family.

Tyler let out a sigh as he stared out the window. Jaylin looked painfully at him, understanding his pain a bit. His father had completely cut their relationship. Tyler was proud his mom accepted his relationship with Jaylin, but it hurt him that his father had shunned him out of his life.

"It'll be okay, babe. I'll be the only man you'll need in your life. You don't need him," Jaylin said calmly as he gripped the wheel tightly.

Tyler looked at him and smiled. "I was thinking about that, but also how unbelievable this is. You saw how Sam and Dave reacted when we told them. You would have thought they were the ones getting married."

Jaylin chuckled at his boyfriend and took a turn onto another road.

"It was kinda weird how everyone suddenly found out, Jayse," Tyler said. "All my engineer friends knew and wanted to be invited, then everyone on residence. Who told them?" Tyler sounded a bit angry.

Tyler and Jaylin were gay, but they didn't want to flaunt it.

"Well, first, there's Sam. We know how excited she can get. Dave would say things too, just for the sake of saying them. And let's not forget Jem and Lindsey. The moment we told them they practically brought out the city phonebook."

"I love those two," Tyler laughed. "There isn't one moment they aren't up to something. Watching them fight is great. I can't believe I actually hated Jem when I first met him. He turned out to be a pretty cool guy."
       "I know what you mean," Jaylin said. "I guess I was a bit put off by the sparkles and the voice."

"Oh, come on, he wouldn't be Jem without the sparkles."

They turned to each other and laughed.

"That Alex guy has worked wonders on him, though," Jaylin commented. "Who knew all he needed was to get laid."

"Hey, that's my roommate you're bashing," Tyler said playfully. "I'm just glad Alex had a single room. I really wouldn't have wanted to walk in on anything."

"That would be hilarious. Imagine if Jem and Lindsey walked in on us just one time. I don't think I'd ever live it down."

Tyler laughed nervously. Jem and Lindsey had walked in a few times, but Jem was usually the one who walked in first. At those times Tyler had shot up from his bed while Jaylin lay asleep.

"It doesn't bother you that we're out, does it?" Jaylin asked.

"Hell no. We're getting married; I don't care if everyone knows. I just don't like all the attention."

"You love it, buddy, so don't deny it," Jaylin teased.

Tyler playfully punched Jaylin's arm.

Most people had discovered about Jaylin and Tyler's hookup, but no one said anything harsh, to their faces, anyways. Within a week after the cottage trip, most of the people they knew had found out. It placed them in an embarrassing situation, but they had gotten used to it over the few months. Their wedding date was in early July, one week away.

"It's embarrassing, though. The girls at residence were happy but disappointed. I feel sorry for them," Tyler said.

"Buddy, you're gay. Why would you feel sorry? You won't even see them again. I doubt many of them will have your courses next year. They'll forget you in no time. And don't look at me like that. You couldn't get it up for them even if they dressed in jock clothes."

"Well, maybe if you had worn them first I would."

Jaylin turned and smiled at his husband-to-be. "Oh, God, I love you."

"I hope you do. He played a vital role in hooking us up," Tyler said.

It took a moment for Jaylin to catch what he had said, but he let out a roar when he got it.

"Did I tell you that Dave wanted to throw me a bachelor party? Then he realized that since you're also a guy, and it wouldn't be a bachelor party unless the stripper was male. I guess Dave couldn't handle that."

Tyler laughed so hard he began coughing. Seeing his love in pure joy put a smile on Jaylin's face.

"Gay weddings are a new thing. We need to figure out a ritual for friends. It's not fair that straight people have bachelor parties and we don't," Tyler said casually.

"I'm glad we can marry at all. It's a new thing in Canada. Not only that, but one of my dad's friends is a priest and he asked him to marry us. He was more than happy to. The church would freak if they found out. Babe, this is going to be a full-bloom wedding, bouquet and all," the larger boy gleamed with pride. They were rather lucky. The priest friend was able to organize a date fairly quickly and behind the church's back. It wouldn't be something that the church recognized officially, but their family, friends, and God would witness it.

Tyler made a sigh that sounded like he was seriously considering something.

"What's up, babe?"

"Two things," Tyler said, opening the window to let the wind in. "Can I take your last name? I really don't want the Morton name anymore. You know my mom moved out to her sister's when she found out what my father said to me. I talked with her afterwards and ended up telling her everything he did to me since I was a kid. She wanted to press charges, but I told her not to bother."

"Yeah, my mom told me when she talked to her on the phone. It might be better that way. And sure, you can be a Stafford. You're good looking enough, I guess."

Tyler punched his arm playfully and Jaylin whined like it hurt.

"And don't worry about your mom. She's a real tough woman. Something tells me she's a lot more frightening than your dad."

"Mom? Hell no. She's the most gentle, loving and peaceful mother I know. What made you think she's tough?"

Jaylin suddenly remembered Mrs. Morton's words. "You don't mention any of this to my son, or I'll have your head!"

     For some reason, Jaylin's knuckles whitened as he dropped the idea of telling Tyler about his conversation with Mrs. Morton.

"She seems like a strong woman. Anyways, what's the other thing you wanted to ask?" Jaylin said, trying to steer the conversation in a different direction.

"Oh yeah," Tyler chuckled. He turned to his love and asked playfully, "Who gets to throw the bouquet?"

"Wow! Shit, man," Dave said excitedly. "It's a full wedding and all, right? Church and all?"

Jaylin and Tyler nodded. The group of friends sat around at a bar and grill to just relax. The semester was more than a two months done, and everyone was preparing for the big day. The Stafford wedding. Jem, Jem's boyfriend Alex, Lindsey, Sam, Dave, Tyler, and Jaylin sat around a large round table so that everyone was facing each other.

"Dude, I forgot to ask you a long time ago, but...well, here it goes," Jaylin said to Dave. "Want to be the best man?"

"Fuck, man! I'll be the ultimate best dude," Dave yelled with excitement. He stood up on his seat and shouted loudly, "My best friend's getting married! I'm the best man!"

Everyone turned to him and cheered while the circle of friends laughed at his slightly intoxicated state.

"Jem, I want you to be my best man," Tyler said to his roommate.

Jem nodded with joy, but his boyfriend joked, "Don't you mean 'best woman'?"

That caused everyone to start laughing again as Jem playfully slapped Alex.

Jem and Alex had started hanging around Tyler and Jaylin a lot more after they had been told about the wedding. They both liked Alex. He wasn't as muscled as Jaylin, and there was definitely some excess weight on the young man, but Jem seemed to find him attractive, and vice versa. Apparently, effeminate guys like Jem attracted Alex. Jaylin and Tyler had heard him say it felt like he was dating a girl with the best parts of a man. Alex enjoyed showering Jem with gifts, and Jem was eager to accept them. Behind all of that, there was love.

"Wait, what the fuck does that make Sam and me?" Lindsey asked, annoyed.

Lindsey and Sam had become close friends after everything had come to light. Lindsey confessed to Sam that she had tried to seduce Dave earlier in the year. That started a whole new friendship between them.

Sam looked like the thought had just occurred to her, her face slightly red from the alcohol. "She's right! I was Jaylin's best friend way before Dave." She turned to her boyfriend and sneered. "You bitch!" Everyone laughed as Dave looked like he was being scolded.

"I guess they can be the maidens of honour," Tyler suggested.

"Why not? There's never been a gay wedding ritual made, so let's do whatever we want. Each groom gets one best man, and one maiden of honour," Jaylin finalized.

The friends raised their glasses in agreement. It was the first time Tyler and Dave actually saw Jaylin drink. Dave was slightly disappointed his jock friend chose a "bitch drink" as he called it. Jaylin said he enjoyed the crisp taste of Smirnoff Ice.

Jaylin stared out the window of the taxi. Tyler was asleep on his shoulder. He gently kissed the boy and felt him move slightly. Sam, Dave, Jaylin, and Tyler had taken the taxi because they had been drinking. Dave was staying at Sam's house, and Jaylin prayed he kept his act together in front of her parents, for his sake. Surprisingly enough, Jem and Lindsey had relatives in Jaylin's hometown and decided to stay there, along with Alex. Tyler's mom was staying at the Stafford residence, and Jaylin hoped the woman was already asleep. He was afraid of what she would do if he brought her son home drunk.

Probably gouge my eye out with a rusty spoon.

Getting Tyler into the house was a challenge and a half. The boy wouldn't get up from the car, so Jaylin had to carry him on his back. When they were finally inside, he had to talk to Tyler silently so he wouldn't start shouting like Dave and Jem had done at the bar. Then he saw the stairs. When the two finally got to the top, Jaylin noticed a light from under his parents' bedroom door. He figured they were still awake.

After Jaylin put Tyler in his bed, he changed to sweats and a shirt and went to the kitchen to get some water. Tyler sometimes woke up thirsty and Jaylin didn't want him to have to go downstairs in the middle of the night.

When he got to the kitchen he was surprised to find a dim light. His parents were sitting outside on the patio.

"Hey, Mom, Dad," Jaylin said, making his presence known.

His mother turned to him with a smile. "Hey, Jayse, come sit here with your mum and dad."


He took a seat beside his dad as the three of them stared into the night sky. It was quite beautiful out; the stars were in full view. Jaylin loved the stars. At a young age he had thought they were angels, and that was the reason he had become interested in space.

"Did you guys have a great night out?" his dad asked.

"Yeah, we all went drinking." He saw his parents looking at him thoughtfully. "We took taxis back, and Dave, Tyler, and his roommate Jem were the only real ones drunk. I just have a slight buzz." He didn't mention Sam and Lindsey, not wanting to ruin the perfect image Sam maintained in front of his parents.

He watched his father turn to his mother. "Remember when I used to sneak alcohol into your dorm?"

His mother giggled delightedly. "You were such a bad influence. My roommates were scared for me but they did agree you were quite the stud.

Jaylin shook the thought out of his head. It was hard to believe that at some point his parents had been young.

"We married a few years older than Jaylin," his dad said.


"Oh yes, your dad and I married in our final year. Our parents were furious, but when we got together with them for dinner they acted like long-lost friends by the end of the night," Mrs. Stafford reminisced. "They approved quite strongly, afterwards."

"So, you guys aren't too angry that Tyler and I decided to jump ahead of ourselves?"

"Of course not, honey," his mother said, touching his hand. "I'm happy for both of you. It's not like you guys can have children, but I think you're smart enough to know not to adopt until you're done with school and have jobs."

"So, unless one of you gets pregnant all of a sudden, we have no objection to your marrying Tyler. And Mrs. Morton is quite proud her son will be getting the love he deserves," said his dad. "But I think you're the lucky one. Someone like Tyler is hard to find."

"You guys have no idea," Jaylin said, smiling.

"Don't go into details, dear. I'm forty-five," his mother said quietly as she took a sip of her tea.

Both Jaylin and his dad laughed at his mother's mild joke.

"So what are you guys doing still up?"

"Well, your mom had a sudden craving to see stars..."

"And I have satisfied that craving," his mom said, getting up. "Don't stay up too late, boys."

Jaylin and his father chuckled as she walked inside. Alone, the two just stared at the stars.


"Yeah, Jayse?"

"You're not disappointed I'm gay, are you?"

Jaylin's father let out a sigh. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. I always thought my children would have children of their own one day. But now, when I see you with Tyler and see how happy you two are, I feel proud that you are who you are. I also realize you can adopt, and those children will be my grandchildren and I will love them."

Jaylin looked away, emotion building inside him.

"Jaylin, I told you this before; you will never disappoint me. All your failures, all your successes, I am proud of them all. And I know you and Tyler have a happy future together. I really like the boy. He sure knows a lot about business for an engineering major."

"Dad, don't," Jaylin said, smiling.


"You can't give him your company."

"And why not? My children don't seem to be interested at all in it," his dad mocked.

"Well, maybe Leah will be interested someday."

"I hope so. I don't know what to do with it if she doesn't want it," he replied.

"It could sell pretty well, don't you think?" Jaylin joked.

"Yeah, it could, but you wouldn't sell your own father's life, would you? His hard work, his sweat and blood." Mr. Stafford held the same joking tone as Jaylin.



The two sat in silence for a while.

"So, Saturday is the big day, huh?"

"Yeah, everything's set. Thanks again for doing this for us."

"Son, I've made it clear since you were a kid that I want to pay fully for all my children's weddings. That includes gay ones."

Jaylin couldn't resist laughing.

"So, what are the plans after the wedding?" his dad asked.

"Well, Tyler and I take off to Hawaii for a good two weeks. Can you believe Ty has never taken a plane before?"

"A lot of people haven't, son, but I was talking about living and school."

"Oh... Well, I think Sam, Dave, Jem, Ty and I are going to find a house near the university. The ones that have like four or five bedrooms? We found some places that will be fairly cheap if we split the costs."

"Don't be afraid to dip into your investment funds. They're there for a reason. You're old enough to open them now. Does Tyler know about them?"

"Well, we've never talked about it, but money has never been a problem for us so far."

"At least you know he isn't marrying you for the money," Mr. Stafford joked.

"No, he's in it for my skills in bed," Jaylin said arrogantly.

His father let out a howl of a laugh, which got Jaylin going as well.

"Just don't let him hear you say that. You wouldn't believe what your mother used to do to me," his dad said, wiping a stray tear from his eye.

Jaylin cupped his mouth with shock. "No... she didn't... a week sex ban?"

"It was more than that, sometimes," his father commented as Jaylin shook his head with disgust. "But yeah, she wouldn't let it get over my head. I was a bull grabbed by the horns."

"Wow, it's like I'm marrying a male version of Mom."

His dad slapped his thigh like that was the funniest thing he had ever heard. "Maybe we Staffords are attracted to the dominating type."

"Yeah, Mom was never in it for the money, right?"

"It never crossed my mind. I trust her too much. But be sure to tell Tyler, though. He might be hurt if you delay too long and tell him in the future. Your spouse should know you inside and out," his dad said, getting up.

"Like mom?"

"Exactly. Let's get some sleep. We have some final preparations to do before the wedding."


The wedding day began with a beautiful morning. The two lay in bed lazily as they heard the birds chirping. Jaylin held his Tyler in his arms as they took in God's gift. Both were on the edge. They wanted to make their honeymoon special, so they were quite hungry for each other.

The banging on Jaylin's door had them up in no time.

"Come on, you studs, today's the day," Dwayne called through the door. "Everyone's having breakfast out back."

They both turned to the digital clock, which read 6:30. Their wedding would be early, at 11:00 AM, so they figured the household had been up since 5:00.

The wedding breakfast with guests was a large buffet prepared by Dwayne and his mother.

Within an hour, Jaylin and Tyler had been fed and chased upstairs. They took separate showers and were dressed in separate rooms. Tyler's mother tended to her son while Mrs. Stafford saw her own to perfection.

"Mom," Tyler said hesitantly, "what about dad?"

"What about the old fool?" his mother inquired as she nitpicked his suit.

"Well, what's going to happen between you guys?"

"We're getting a divorce. Don't blame yourself. I've been thinking about it for a very long time," she said, smiling at her son's reflection in the mirror.


"Yeah, I wanted to so long ago, but I wanted you to be raised in a good environment. I didn't know what might happen to you if you were raised without a father. I think it would have been better if I had dumped him years ago." A tear fell from her eye. "Instead, I was too busy to see anything. I was so blind, Tyler. It's all right if you're angry with me. You have reason to be. You shouldn't have had to deal with things like that. Your father...that man is very disturbed. My marriage ended long ago, after you were just born."

"Don't blame yourself, Mom. I'm glad you stayed with him for so long," Tyler said, trying to cheer her up. "Think about it. If we'd left him long ago, I'd never have made the decision to go to university. I'd have stayed home and commuted to some school near us. I would have never met Jaylin. I'd go through it all again just to know I would end up with Jaylin."

"He is a fine man." His mother smiled, wiping her tear. "I think he'll make you real happy. I wish I had your sense when it comes to choosing men. I always thought I could change your father, but he's a lost cause."

"You really mean that? You like Jaylin?" Tyler asked.

His mother raised an eyebrow. "Why, did he say anything about me?"

"No, of course not!" Tyler took note of how his mother's eyes seemed so piercing. "Its just that usually the mother of an only child has the hardest time letting go of her son. I thought..."

"That I had some sort of mother-son complex?" His mother smiled.

"Well, not really, it's just..."

"I'm glad you are marrying Jaylin. I believe he'll treat you right. I feel it in my heart." She hugged her son gently as they both stared into the mirror.

"I really love him, Mom."

"I know you do. Just tell me if he ever hurts you or makes you sad. I'll set him straight."

Tyler looked at his mom in the mirror and wondered who the woman was. There was a twinkle in her eye. She seemed more headstrong than the woman he had grown up knowing. He wondered if her decision to divorce his father had changed her. He was happy.

As the time crept forward, the boys were driven to the church in separate cars. Jaylin and Tyler just took things in stride, not caring that everyone was being pushy and excited. They had a reason to be.

By 10:30 the church pews were packed with friends, family, and students. Quite a few had never met Jaylin and Tyler, but they knew it was a gay wedding, and as members of the university's Gay-Straight Pride group, they found it obligatory to be there. Of course, the real talk was how great the two looked together. Tyler was surprised to discover his relatives on his mother's side had come to congratulate him. Tyler's father was a single child, so Tyler never met a relative on his father's side. He didn't see his father. He was sad, but at the same time happy, the man hadn't shown up.

The church was stunning. The choir and organ player were on the platform above the church entrance. The rows of pews were decorated in white and light blue, flowers showered the carpet, and three little girls holding baskets of flower petals stood at the altar. There were exits on both sides that led to the altar. Jaylin and Tyler waited nervously at each end. Behind each groom were his designated maiden of honour and his best man, each pair trying to set their groom straight, each with broad smiles for this most important day for their friends.

The priest made his entrance as a blanket of silence enveloped the crowd. Then the organ player started with the opening wedding piece.

"This is it, dude," Dave whispered to Jaylin. "As your best man, it is my duty to say this. If you go through with this, Tyler's... well... ass, will be the last one you ever fuck. Think about it, man," the boy said seriously.

Shaking her head, Sam smacked Dave on the side of the head. "You idiot, be serious for a moment."

Jaylin laughed before taking a step forward. "Don't worry, Dave, Ty is the first and the last. There will be no other."

No words needed to be exchanged. His friends smiled proudly as they followed Jaylin.

"You don't know how jealous I am right now, Ty," Jem whispered. "This is a dream come true for you. I still can't believe Jaylin is gay, though. Sucks I never stood a chance against you."

"Quit kidding, stud. If I hadn't stolen him first, you wouldn't have Alex, remember?"

"I always knew he was gay," Lindsey said proudly, as the two turned to her. "What? I did! The moment he stepped out of the shower with that rainbow-coloured towel, I knew he was a fruit."

The three laughed happily before they took the first step forward.

"You guys have no idea," Tyler grinned.

"Actually, I do!" Jem said. "Remember, I walked in on you guys one time? Too bad it was already over and I only got a small peak."

Tyler immediately turned red.

"No way! How big are they?" Lindsey said excitedly.

"Oh my God, you should have seen them! I was in heaven. I mean, Jaylin was..."

"Guys! It's my wedding!" Tyler complained.

The two continued to laugh at Tyler's discomfort.

As Jaylin and Tyler stepped towards each other, they felt each other's heartbeat. So badly they wanted to just reach out and take their love in their arms. Instead, they opted for the old-fashioned, hand-holding greeting. Staring into each other's eyes, they became lost in the moment and the church disappeared from around them.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered on this special day to welcome Jaylin Stafford and Tyler Morton into the family and house of God..." The rest of the words faded as the two just stared into each other's eyes. Moments stretched on forever.

As the priest mentioned the importance of marriage and its significance to every family, gay or straight, neither Tyler nor Jaylin released the other's gaze.

"There's always a benefit to asking a priest you know to marry a couple. Sometimes a couple asks to say their own vows. I very much encourage this, for it is by their words they are bound. Tyler, if you will." Murmurs rose from the crowd as some very happy and envious people watched the love in front of them unfold.

Jaylin squeezed his lover's hand a bit as if conveying his love for Tyler.

Tyler smiled and kept his gaze focused on Jaylin.

"Jaylin, I never met anyone I could say I really liked, before I met you. There was no one for me before you. I am blessed to have you in my life. I was nothing, before, but you have made me proud of who I am; what I am. For the rest of my life I will love you, and only you. I could recite every metaphor a poet has ever written, and still it would not describe my love for you. You are Jaylin Stafford, the one I will stand by, the one who brings me joy, and the one I will love. You are forever a jewel in my heart."

Tyler could feel the emotion coming out of Sam's eyes. He knew Jem and Lindsey were silently crying as well. He was too. They were tears of hope. His feelings were so strong, so strong that he couldn't contain his happiness.

As Jaylin smiled at the boy, something indescribable flooded Tyler. It wasn't joy, happiness, or any other emotion. It was pure bliss. He felt a sense of enlightenment. He knew truly in his heart that God had smiled down on him.

"That was beautiful, my boy," the priest said, wonder and pride filling his smile. "Jaylin also has asked to say his own vows."

"For God's sake, just marry the dudes, already," Dave said.

It was a bit loud and quite enough people heard it. The priest laughed as if it was the first time he had heard a joke.

Ripples of laughter echoed in the pews as people whispered to one another what Dave had just said.

"I'll make this one short for you, buddy," Jaylin said, turning to Dave.

Turning to his man, Jaylin cleared his throat. "I love you, Tyler. I know I don't deserve you. I don't know why I have been blessed to be loved by you. Perhaps it was my charm, my witty remarks, or my overall good looks." He grinned at Tyler as the boy raised an eyebrow and smiled. Another chuckle arose from the audience.

"And so with all I am, with all my soul, I will become a shield for you, to protect you always from harm's way. As your personal knight, I don't charge much. A kiss now and then. We'll discuss the rest later." The crowd was roaring with fits of laughter.

"Tyler, I am yours, if you will have me."

Silence fell upon the church as Tyler smiled and nodded.

"And so, by the power vested in me by the Lord our God... "

Before the priest could finish his reading, Tyler's and Jaylin's lips blissfully sought each other's touch.

Cheers filled the church as family and friends stood up to congratulate the now-married couple. The two broke their kiss and stared deeply into each other's eyes before turning to the crowd and holding their joined hands up high.

The cheering faded as music filled the house of God.

Late at night when all the world is sleeping, I stay up and think of you.

Tyler and Jaylin stared up at the balcony above the entrance. Leah stood in the center, with a line of singers behind her. The stained glass windows complemented the dress she wore. She truly looked like an angel. Jaylin wrapped his arm around his husband as everyone turned towards the singing goddess.

Leah raised her hand towards the two.

And I wish on a star,

That somewhere you are thinking of me too.

The girls behind her raised their voices to complement Leah's beautiful voice.

'Cause I'm dreaming of you tonight
Till tomorrow, I'll be holding you tight
And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
Than here in my room dreaming about you and me.

Jaylin smiled proudly as she belted her voice out while everyone listened in awe.

Wonder if you ever see me, and I
Wonder if you know I'm there
If you looked in my eyes,
Would you see what's inside?
Would you even care?

I just wanna hold you close
But so far, all I have are dreams of you
So I wait for the day, and the courage to say
How much I love you.

'Cause I'm dreaming of you tonight
Till tomorrow, I'll be holding you tight
And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be
Than here in my room dreaming about you and me.

The music faded and left Leah singing on her own, her voice carrying it's own melody and music.

 Late at night when all the world is sleeping,

I stay up and think of you.

Tears of joy glittered in Leah's eyes.

And I still can't believe,

That you came up to me and said I love you.

I love you too.

The backup singers came in as well as the instrumentals, sending an uplifting sound into the hearts of everyone in the church.

Now I'm dreaming with you tonight,
Till tomorrow and for all of my life.

Leah pointed out towards the happy couple as her voice lifted to the sky.

And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be...

Than here in my room dreaming with you endlessly.

The sun shone brightly down on the couple as they emerged from the church, family and friends cheering and congratulating them on their marriage. They turned to each other and shared a kiss that conveyed their happiness. As guests started to leave, Mr. and Mrs. Stafford organized people in front of the church for photos. They had hired a professional photographer for this merry occasion. There were pictures of Jaylin and the guys, Jaylin and the girls, Tyler with the guys, and Tyler with the girls. They then took couple photos. Tyler and Jaylin together had more than two rolls of film.

"Did I tell you how hot you look in that tux, babe?" Jaylin commented as he hugged his love from behind.

Jaylin breathed in Tyler as Tyler sighed happily. "No, but you can start anytime, my husband."

Both felt the rush of the words. They were married; they were joined, now and forever.

"What are you doing here!" a woman bellowed.

They turned towards the voice and Tyler felt his whole body freeze. His father stood firm, his dark sunken eyes showing lack of sleep and perhaps drinking.

"He wants nothing to do with you. Get out of here!" she shouted.

Sam and Dave were close by, holding each other, as Mr. Stafford told Dwayne to call the police.

"Oh, I'll leave, in a bit," the man mocked as he walked towards Tyler and Jaylin.

Tyler gulped in air as his grip on Jaylin became stronger. Jaylin just held him tighter, as if saying it was going to be all right.

"So, you're the one who my son married. You sure fooled me. What's wrong, a cheerleader bite your dick? It doesn't surprise me the little shit there is a cocksucker."

Tyler saw Dave advance with an angry look on his face, but stopped him with a stare.

"Dad, I'm sorry you can't understand how I feel," Tyler said, seeming unafraid. He was terrified, but he couldn't show it. "I'm gay and you can't change that. I wouldn't want to change, even if I could. I love him. Please just let us be."

"I think it's best you leave. Now!" Jaylin said, threateningly.

"Please leave them alone!" Mrs. Morton begged, with tears in her eyes.

"I want you to leave. I assume this is the last time I'll see you," Tyler said, showing no emotion.

His father held his position, and his dark laugh scared Tyler.

"I always knew. In the back of my mind I always knew you were gay. I always thought I could change that, but I guess I can't... His words weren't loud, but his expression showed his anger.

"I'm sorry I couldn't do my job properly, boy, but I'll fix that for you," he snarled, as he pulled out a gun.

A thousand thoughts flooded Tyler's mind as he broke out of Jaylin's hold. His only concern at that moment was his love's safety.

I have to protect Jaylin! I...

Three shots rang out in front of the chapel on Bay Street.

Three times Tyler's body shook. He was falling. Thoughts rushed through his mind. This isn't too bad. Is this what dying is like? All I feel is this pressure around me. It doesn't hurt much. As long as I saved Jaylin, I don't care what happens to me.

His heart pounded as if it were in his ears. Tyler realized his eyes were sealed shut. He opened them, not shocked to find what was before him.

Nothing. Darkness. He knew his eyes were open, but darkness was all he could see.

Am I already dead? That was fast...

Slowly he noticed little things. He noticed the pressure around him never seem to release. He noticed how his breathing was short and difficult. He noticed a scent. The smell of Jaylin seemed to find him even at the moment of his death. He then noticed specks of light at the corners of his eyes. Finally gathering his senses, he realized he was still standing.

The pressure around him wasn't from being shot. He knew this feeling. This feeling was familiar, like he was in his love's arms. He pulled his head back, the light around him seeming to get brighter. As he pulled his head away, the beating sound began to fade.

Fear and anguish struck Tyler. His breath was ragged, his vision blurred, as he slowly looked up. His heart cried out as he found the face of his love, his soul, his husband, smiling down at him. His body was being held gently by the only love in his life.

"Hey," Jaylin whispered. "Are you ok?"

Wetness stung Tyler's face. His love grinned, despite the pain he felt throughout his body. The ragged breathing was not Tyler's. In his lover's arms, he felt Jaylin struggle to remain standing.

Tyler shook his head, denying the truth, hoping to change what was happening.

"No..." Tyler groaned.

Jaylin released his love as he fell to one knee, holding his side as harsher pain enveloped him. Tyler fell with him and held his shoulders. He encircled his arms around Jaylin's back and shuddered as he found the proof that confirmed his fears.

Holding Jaylin close to himself, he whispered in his ear, "You're gonna be okay, babe. Hold on. Please, don't let go. You're going to be okay. Sam!! Dave!!" Tyler called out to his friends.

Jaylin weakly smiled and cringed as pain stabbed at his back. Just trying to open his mouth seemed to rip his sides apart.

"Lay me down, please. I can't do it on my own," Jaylin whispered with his eyes closed.

Tyler eased Jaylin onto his back, seeing pain on his precious face, and looked around for help. Too much movement was happening around him. People were shouting, yelling. Dave stood fiercely over Alan Morton, anger and sadness mixed together in his features. Mr. Morton was on his stomach with several people pinning him down. The man Tyler had called father was laughing; a glimmer of insanity marking his eyes.

Tyler turned back to the man who trembled in his arms, "It's okay, Jayse. You're going to be okay."

Jaylin simply stared at him and shook his head. "No, Ty... "

He felt like cursing at him. He had to hold on; he couldn't let go. "Damn you, Jayse! Don't say that!"

"I know my body best, Ty."

"No..." he begged. "You can't do this! You can't leave me!"

"Tyler... God, you're so perfect. I love you so much." Jaylin reached up and brushed his love's face. "Be strong. Everything's going to be okay... You're going to be okay." Jaylin's body shook again as more pain surged through it.

"Jaylin... Don't... We promised to be together until the end. Please don't leave me alone," Tyler cried out. Having the man he loved so much ripped out of his life would be too much for him to bear. "We have to finish school still... We'll get kids. You'll pick them up from school, and we'll watch over them as they sleep. We'll grow old together. We'll watch each sunrise and sunset..." Tyler was openly crying now, as he felt his lover growing cold. "This can't be happening. I- I can feel you getting weaker. Please don't go. I need you!"

It was as if Jaylin was overcoming his pain with a smile. "You always were the one to think ahead. You'll do those things, Ty. You will."

"I will with you."

Jaylin's smile faded into a sad expression. "You know... that's not possible... right?"

Tyler brushed Jaylin's face with his free hand. "You're not leaving me... You will live." He said "live" firmly, in hopes that his love would not give up.

Jaylin just stared at Tyler, his face not flinching from the pain.

"Ty... God, you mean so much to me. There's so much I want you to know... so much I want to tell you..."

"There will be plenty of time." Tyler almost forced his words. "You will recover, and you can tell me..."

"Listen to me, Ty," Jaylin said with great effort, "things might be a little different from now on. It's going to be hard..."

"Jayse, you need to save your strength..."

"Ty, just listen for a sec..." Jaylin said with forced anger.

Tyler was silenced by his love's command.

"Things are going to be different from now on, but you're going to be okay. My family... they'll take care of you...our friends will watch over you... I'm sorry I have to do this to you..."

A hole opened up in Tyler's stomach, "Why did you do it, Jayse? I didn't ask you to save me... Why?"

He heard his love chuckle. "Heh, I don't know. My body reacted on its own, but I always promised to be your shield, remember? I lived up to my word, right?"

Tyler clamped his eyes shut, trying to hold in his emotion. A gentle hand caressed he face. He opened his eyes and saw his love sadly staring up at him.

"I'm sorry. I...." Pain momentarily stilled the words that tried to escape. "T- this is sort of selfish for me to ask, but can you please smile for me? I want your smile to be the last thing I see. Please smile."

Tyler still shook his head, hoping that this was all a nightmare. Tears of anguish flowed from his eyes.

"I'm begging you, babe. Please, just once more...your smile." Jaylin coughed, each word tearing at his throat.

Despite wanting to cry out loud, to run up and kill his father, to live the rest of his life with the love he held in his arms, Tyler struggled to quiet his tears and look down calmly at his lover. No matter how hard he tried to defy fate, he realized he was going to lose the one person that meant the world to him.  It took all his strength to smile for Jaylin. Yet it was all worth it.

His husband looked up at him, the same glitter in his eyes, the eyes Tyler had fallen in love with. The brown gems seemed to glisten.

"I'm sorry, Ty... I'm so scared... I don't want to leave you... "

Seeing his love in such a pained state, Tyler couldn't hold his smile any longer, and lowered his lips to Jaylin's before he could notice it fade. He tried to ignore the coolness of Jaylin's lips, and the shortness of breath of his love in his arms. As Tyler lifted his head, Jaylin's eyes were closed, but he breathed deeply, and a smile briefly fluttered across his lips.

Tyler held his husband's body close to him as the breathing shortened. As Jaylin released one last breath, Tyler heard the wind whisper, "I love you, Tyler Edison Stafford, forever..."

Watching his love's head slowly sag lower, Tyler embraced his life, his soul, his everything.

Trying to call back a departed soul, Tyler whispered endlessly, "Come back, don't go..."


The valley was an endless green, hills planted as far as the eye could see. The scenery looked a bit odd with so much green and not a single flower or tree. The wind encircled Tyler as he opened his eyes to this wonder before him. He smiled knowingly. He had made it. Far off in the distance he saw a lone figure moving towards him. Taking off at a fast run, Tyler bolted down the hill, knowing who waited for him below.

As he came closer to the figure, its features became more familiar. Joy burst out of Tyler's eyes as he ran into Jaylin's arms. He breathed in all he could of his husband. He felt Jaylin's strong arms pull him close.

"I've missed you so much!" Tyler almost yelled.

"I'm here for you, baby," Jaylin said quietly. Without looking at his face, Tyler knew the man he had searched for was smiling.

Moments that stretched out for eternity seemed to exist here.

The wind was all Tyler heard at first, but then the singing voice caused him to look up at his love.

"So lately, been wondering, who will be there to take my place," Jaylin sang softly, his eyes closed.

"Jayse, what are you... Stop it!" Tyler said angrily, suddenly choking on his own words.

Jaylin ignored the precious voice that used to halt his words with that tone. "When I'm gone, you'll need love, to light the shadows on your face."

Burying his face into his love's chest, Tyler wanted to scream, but he couldn't raise his voice at the man he loved. "Jayse, no, please. Please stop!"

Firm hands that could belong to none other than Jaylin grabbed his shoulders and gently pushed him back slightly. Jaylin sang the song that seemed to tear Tyler, forcing his beloved to look up at him. Tyler watched as more pain than he had ever known washed over his Jaylin's face. It was hurting him to sing this. Tyler didn't understand why Jaylin looked so hurt. He had never seen his love so sad, so much in pain, not even in the moments before his death.

"If a great wave shall fall, and fall upon us all," Tears now streaked Jaylin's face, but his tears didn't weaken his singing voice. "Then between the sand and stone, could you make it on your own?"

Tyler tried to hold in his sorrow as he listened to his love sing to him. He buried his face in his love's chest and cried.

The wind picked up and seemed to embrace the two. In almost a whisper but still maintaining his audible voice, Jaylin sang, "If I could, then I would. I'll go wherever you will go. Way up high or down low, I'll go wherever you will go."

Tyler cried harder, knowing what his love was trying to say. 

"I love you, babe. As much as it fills me to see you here, it hurts me to have to let you go."

Tyler backed away from his lover's arms. "Why are you doing this to me?"

Jaylin just sadly smiled at the boy. "You can't stay here, Tyler."

"Yes! I'm staying here with you. I won't be separated from you anymore. We'll be together forever!"

Jaylin's smile faded. Tyler could have sworn that he was angry.

"I know what you did, Ty, and I'm not proud of it," Jaylin began, anger showing through his tears.

"What are you talking about?" Tyler gave Jaylin a look that feigned ignorance.

"You can't fool me, Ty. You can't join me here, not yet. You have a life to live!" Jaylin said, grabbing Tyler's wrist and exposing a wound along it.

Tyler swallowed hard. It was true. Losing the one who meant so much to him was too much. He had tried to take his own life.

"Then, I'm not dead?" he gasped, steadying himself. "How?"

"A friend named Dave. I knew I could count on him to watch over you. He's a true friend, Tyler. Why didn't you talk to him, so he could help you?"

Tyler shook his head in anger. "I don't want to be helped. I want to be with you! I want to die! What the hell am I supposed to do in a world where you don't exist?" It was too late to try to hold back his tears. They flowed freely as he stared intently on the one he refused to let go. "What do you expect me to do?"

"Live," Jaylin whispered.

"Live?" Tyler shouted. "Without you? And what... live every wretched day with you in my shadow? Every day I think about you. Every night I dream about you. Yet, I can't touch you." Tyler struck at Jaylin's chest with his fists. "You're so far away, but every night I feel you close to me. Not like this. I can't live like that." Tyler's face became distorted. "I can't do it, Jayse. Please just take me away. We can be together forever."

Jaylin suddenly grabbed his husband in a tight hug. "You will live. You will live because I died for you. I died for you, Ty! But by doing what you did... by what you want to do, you are throwing that love away. I want you to live. I gave you my life." His stern voice became once again soothing. "Live. For me and you. You will live, and you will love again, and I will watch over you and be happy for you."

"I can't love anyone else."

"But you will. It will take time, but I know, now, you'll be okay."

"This is all my fault... I... I could have waited. We shouldn't have gotten married... I could have stopped him... I should have known... W- why did this have to happen, Jayse?" Tyler's throat ached.

"Hey, look at me," Jaylin whispered, lifting his love's chin with his fingers. "This couldn't have been avoided. Your father would have come after you sooner or later. I might not have been able to save you then."

"Oh, Jayse," Tyler cried.

"Ty, listen, I don't regret anything. Every moment spent with you was heaven for me. Everything we've been through has made me happy I met you..."

Tyler shook his head. He didn't want to hear this. "Our time was short, but I had the time of my life, Ty. I don't regret anything, and I would go through every pain, every sadness, every torment I ever felt in my life a thousand times over, than live one life without you. What's done is done, babe. You need to move on..."

"But this isn't fair. Why can't we be happy?"

Jaylin smiled at his husband through tear-soaked eyes. "We will be. I already am, knowing that I saved you, knowing you will live to see another sunrise, knowing that you will live the life you've always wanted to have. All that is enough... enough for me... to let you go." His words were hesitant and his tears caused him to struggle with his words. "I know you will be happy, even if it isn't with me."

"That isn't true. I can't be happy without you. I won't."

"You will," the gentle voice said. "There isn't anything you can do that will change it, without hurting others. Think about who it will affect if you die now. Your new friends, your new family, they will be torn if you leave now. And you will be doing your old man the favor of finishing the job he tried to do. You can't let him win, Ty. You've worked too hard just to let it go."

Each word that left Jaylin's lips was true, but Tyler wanted to tell his love to just shut up. He didn't want to face the truth. A life without Jaylin was not a life at all. He believed that so strongly, he didn't want to leave. Yet he knew his love would not let him stay.

"I would give it up to be with you again," Tyler said suddenly.

"Tyler Edison Stafford," Jaylin said firmly, "promise me you will live. Promise me you will live on, not for me, but for yourself. Promise me you will find other joys in life. Promise me you won't give up, and swear our love on it."

Tyler tried to look away from his love, but the eyes held him. There was no escape. Tyler tried to think of a way around this, but there was none. His love had left no loopholes in the promise. Tyler forced his eyes to look downward.

"Promise me, Tyler. Please, if you love me, then promise."

"I- I... will live," Tyler whispered, looking up. "But I will always love you. For you and me and the hope that we will one day be together again, I will live, and I will find you again. When I do, I won't leave your side, ever. I will stay with you forever, I promise. I swear to you, Jaylin Derik Stafford," Tyler said fiercely.

He saw his love's eyes soften and he embraced Jaylin, who said, "You are strong, Ty, stronger than me. I love you. Remember that. I will always be a part of you and you won't forget me. It will be all right now. I'll watch over you.

"We'll definitely see each other again... someday," Tyler whispered. "And when we do, I will tell you over and over again how much I love you, that I love you with all my heart... until my voice gives out..." Tyler's eyes stung with sorrow.

Tyler rested his head on Jaylin's chest. They held each other, breathed each other's scent. Tyler would be happy if this was for eternity, but he knew it was going to end, so for now he was content with being in his lover's arms again.

Jaylin began to sing, his voice carrying a sweet melody that Tyler would never forget.

I know now, just quite how
My life and love might still go on
In your heart, in your mind

I'll stay with you for all of time...

Tyler looked up into the eyes of the one he had promised to one day find again. Jaylin looked down into the eyes of the man he promised to love and only love. To each other they had sworn their love in their promise. Slowly their lips met, and they kissed a kiss that will last for eternity.


As Tyler opened his eyes he realized he was in an unfamiliar room. He slowly sat up and he felt his heart tremble. He brought a finger to his lips. He could have sworn that just a moment ago those lips had touched Jaylin's. As he realized where he was, he noticed the funny instruments all around him. He noticed how they were connected to him, and then he felt the pain.

As if cold water had splashed over him, Tyler convulsed as he stared wide-eyed at the contraptions that monitored his condition. He didn't know whether the pain was from seeing Jaylin one last time, or whether his body was really hurting. Not thinking clearly, he struggled to sit up as he ripped the tubes from under his skin. Each pull sent enormous pain through his body. Yet he knew it was not even half the pain Jaylin had felt when he was shot, or even a quarter the pain of seeing his love one last time. He endured it.

Tyler cursed himself because he was alive. The promise he had made to Jaylin resurfaced in his mind as he wrapped his sore arms around his shivering body. Tears fell, and he no longer wondered which pain he was feeling. Everything was just too much, yet he endured. After a minute, he had a sudden urge to get up. Carefully and gently, he lifted his body, using his arms as supports, and threw his legs over side of the bed, towards the window. His legs were sore, but they weren't hurting. He thanked Dave in his mind for helping him develop his arms. He felt weak, but he was able to lift himself.

Placing his feet firmly on the cold floor, he stepped towards the bright orange rectangle that hung on the wall. It was dawn, or so he thought. Grabbing hold of the ledge, Tyler leaned on it to take some pressure off his sore legs. His eyes felt heavy as he scanned the scenery before him. He almost felt like he was outside.

He imagined himself at Jaylin's cottage. His body was sore enough to think he had just hiked up a mountain. He figured he was pretty high up, since he could see the entire town. He wondered why there were buildings near Jaylin's cottage. He could remember a setting similar to this, yet the buildings were green trees. He felt a breeze and breathed in the air. Not as crisp as he remembered, but still it sent a cool feeling down his spine.

"It's beautiful, isn't it, Jayse?" Tyler whispered, turning to his right.

He was surprised to find no one to his right. He looked to his left and found no one. A rush of emotions he'd never felt before engulfed his mind and soul. He felt like falling over and crying, and that's what he did.


To say that Dave was scared, hurt, angry and sad would have been an understatement. He couldn't get over the fact that the most influential, the most interesting, and the closest friend he ever had was gone. He couldn't mourn. He had to be strong. Too many were devastated by Jaylin's death. He had to remain strong for Sam, for Jaylin's family, for everyone Jaylin's soul had ever touched, and of course, for Tyler. Dave had done his share of crying when he was alone, with no one around to see his weakness. He fell to the floor, feeling the agony of losing his friend. He hated not being able to show his tears, but someone had to comfort Sam and Tyler. For weeks, Sam cried while Dave held her tightly to him, and repeatedly he told her things were going to be okay.

Sam's tears were not only for Jaylin. For weeks Sam told Dave through her tears, "I'm perfectly fine, but what about Tyler? How is he supposed to feel? His feelings...Oh, God, Jaylin!!"

Each time, Dave held her tighter as she bawled. He didn't know the answer, and he couldn't show Sam his tears. He had to be strong. With his face away from hers, he cried tears of anger, sadness, and guilt.

Dave remembered the events of the day his best friend departed the world.

"Did someone call the police?" Dave asked frantically.

Several people he didn't know were on their phones. He turned to Jaylin's parents. Mrs. Stafford was on the ground; she had fainted. Mrs. Morton was by her side with horror spread on her face.

Sam was with Jaylin and Tyler, trying to get everyone to give them space. Crowding over a victim was bad; he needed space to breathe.

Dave wondered why Sam looked like she did. She was worried.

"No! Jaylin's a strong guy. He won't die from this," he thought desperately.

Dave was rubbing his left arm. It was sore from tackling the mad man. Several other people, including Jaylin's father, had thought of the same thing. Dave had been the first to hit Mr. Morton, but everyone piling on him afterwards had caused his arm to bruise. Dave didn't care; his best friend was wounded and it was because of some homophobe.

"You... you fucking asshole," Dave said under his breath.

He felt like kicking the man in the face to shut him up. Mr. Morton laughed sadistically at his actions.

"Dave... how is Jayse?" Dwayne asked. He was one of the guys who had Tyler's father pinned roughly to the ground.

Dave's legs wouldn't move, his mouth wouldn't open.

"Dave!" Dwayne said, his voice louder.

He turned to Jaylin's brother, but his mouth still wouldn't open.

"No! Jaylin... Dave! Dave!" He heard Sam shouting his name. In that second, his heart dropped.

Dave turned from Dwayne's face to Jaylin's father's. He saw a wave of grief wash over both of them. Dwayne shook uncontrollably, his head cast down. Mr. Stafford's hands were balled in fists as he got up. He paced around, looking blankly around the streets, searching for the ambulance, his breathing heavy and desperate.

"Dave!" He heard Sam call his name again and turned in time to see Tyler rushing towards him.

He caught Tyler by the arm but the boy whipped his arms, frantically trying to get loose. With his fists, Tyler managed to backhand Dave a few times in the face. Dave felt the wetness from Tyler's fists. They were soaked with Jaylin's blood. He felt so sick, so angry, but he couldn't let go, he wouldn't let go. Dave didn't care; all he wanted to do was stop Tyler from killing his father. A part of him wanted to let him do it...

"Let me go!" Tyler shouted in the angriest voice Dave had ever heard from him.

"Ty... stop it..." Dave whispered painfully. The wound that he felt in his heart was greater than any pain Tyler was inflicting on him. Tyler hit him a couple more times until Dave wrapped his arms around his friend.

"Tyler, don't do this, please..." Dave begged. Deep down he cursed himself for holding Tyler back. He knew Mr. Morton would die by Tyler's hand if he let him go. He didn't want Tyler dipping his hands in murder.

"He killed him, Dave!" Tyler shouted at the side of his head, "He killed...him... Let me go!"

"Stop it!" Dave said angrily. He held the boy tightly as Tyler slowly lost his strength. When Tyler no longer pushed or tugged, Dave eased his hold on him. He felt Tyler collapse on him; a gut-wrenching cry escaping as he held him. Dave buried his head on Tyler's shoulder as he himself trembled with fury and grief.

Dave slowly cried as he whispered to the young man in his arms, his words conveying his heartbreak. "I'm sorry, Tyler... I'm so sorry..."

Jaylin's family was devastated. Leah cried herself to sleep every night. She awoke in the middle of the night screaming her brother's name. Dave had watched her pray with all her might in front of the church, asking God to return her brother. She had told God she would exchange her voice for her brother's life. Dave had witnessed her pure soul laid out to God, and had felt daggers in his heart. Dwayne had also seen what Leah was doing. Leah fought relentlessly as her brother tried to hold her.

"Leah, you can't do that," Dwayne said, his voice almost harsh. Dave could tell he was trying hard not to cry. "God doesn't work that way. A life that has been lost can't be returned."

Leah gave up and fell into her brother's arms, her sorrow spreading to others like wildfire.

Dave turned his head as tears streaked down his face from witnessing the heart-wrenching reactions of the two.

"Jayse loved your singing. Do you think he would be happy if you gave up your voice?" Dwayne asked. He didn't give her time to reply. "No, Leah, he would never ask that of you. So don't even think about it. It's going to be hard, but..."

At that point Dwayne had choked on his own words and just held his sister tightly as they both cried. 


Jaylin's mother couldn't bear her son's death. Lost in her thoughts, she went in and out of sleep from the pills her doctor had given her. Her husband was more like Dave, trying to keep his tears to himself so he could appear strong for the others. Dave understood that Jaylin's father truly loved his son. He was proud of the boy; who wouldn't be? Jaylin's father was torn to pieces. When he and Dave were alone, he tried thanking Dave for being there for the family. Dave told him  that he understood his pain, and that he had to let it out before it destroyed him.

Smiling, Mr. Stafford began, "Jaylin taught me a lot. Whenever I tried to get Dwayne to think my way, I would get angry, and I showed it. Jaylin always hugged me and said that Dwayne wanted to do things his way, and that I should trust him." The older man closed his eyes. "I did, and I learned. You can try to guide children, but in the end it's the path they choose that's important. Jaylin taught me that. He worked hard to please everyone, and he did. He never failed anyone. He tried his best, and that was always enough, because he believed in himself." Mr. Stafford sat on the couch and asked Dave to sit.

Together they were silent for a moment. Mr. Stafford continued, "He always tried to make everyone happy, but didn't think of himself. Sometimes he was so unselfish it was annoying."

"He always put his friends before himself," Dave said. "I could never understand how he could think the way he did. You nurtured him to grow up to be that way."

"I hardly did, Dave." Mr. Stafford looked downward. "Before Jaylin turned fourteen, I was working long hours, and because of that I was hardly home. Dwayne seemed to blame me when things were hard, but Jaylin was understanding and wise. I don't know where he got it. I'm so proud of him because of the man he became. Nothing could bother him, and he was always positive... but now..."

Dave watched Mr. Stafford tremble, his own eyes starting to tear up.

"But now he's gone. My... my precious son is gone." Mr. Stafford took a moment to cover his eyes with his hand and wipe away his tears. "I don't want to say what he did was wrong. He saved the man he loved. I am so proud of him that he did. He sacrificed his life without a thought, just to see Tyler safe. But it's hard, Dave. It's hard, but I know he doesn't regret his actions. He lay in that coffin quietly... His face, Dave! Did you see it?" Mr. Stafford's pained faced conveyed his sorrow. "He was at peace, like he was just sleeping, but my son won't be waking up..."

Dave was crying now, his mouth sealed, fearing he was going to start bawling.

"A parent isn't meant to watch a child die like that. Parents are not supposed to go through this kind of pain! I was able to tell him how proud I was, but he doesn't know the reasons why. I didn't know how to say it... How can I say it?" The grieving father shook his head. "And now, I won't ever see him again. Life is so... so fucked up, sometimes. Oh, God, Jaylin... my boy..." Jaylin's father's hands trembled in front of him before he took his face in his hands and released his emotions. "My boy is gone..."

It was the first time Dave had seen a grown man cry. The man had collapsed from his emotional burden. Jaylin's father was the only person to see Dave cry. Together they cried with no shame. For both of them a piece of the world had died.

Tyler was extremely quiet. He wouldn't eat or drink until Jaylin's family forced him to. Even then, he only ate a piece of bread, or even half, with a little juice.

Dave watched Tyler slowly start to die. He didn't know what to do. How do you comfort a man who has lost the person he loved? Tyler wouldn't respond to anyone. At random times, he would start crying. Others times he would just collapse and call out Jaylin's name.

Tyler's mom couldn't do anything to help her son's sorrow. At times she felt like she was to blame. Tyler had drawn that conclusion a couple times when he was shouting angrily at nothing.

Tyler was the hardest one for Dave to deal with.  No matter what he tried, Tyler wouldn't respond. He felt like he was talking to the walls when he was around Tyler. One time, Tyler lashed out and became destructive. He ripped paper, pillows, and curtains in Jaylin's room, before Dave had to tackle him. Tyler yelled out a death wish for his father. He wanted five minutes with the person he had once called Father.

Mr. Morton was charged with a number of offences, including homicide. The man was tried and sentenced to two hundred-to-life sentences, with no chance in hell for parole. That was not enough to satisfy the community and society in general.

Jaylin was viewed as a modern-day martyr, for the love and commitment he had shown others and had expressed through his love of another man. Dave hated the way gay society labeled Jaylin as a hero who died for love, and placed him on a pedestal as a modern-day saint. Sure, it helped the gay community in their battle against discrimination, but no one asked Mr. and Mrs. Stafford if they would permit it. While Dave was pissed, the Staffords didn't react. Their son was still dead.

Tyler didn't return to school to start his second year. He was still despondent and Jaylin's family thought it was best for him to stay with them for a while. Dave agreed, and when the new semester started he left the Stafford home with Sam. Dave and Sam returned to school, and there they read articles about Jaylin. A monument was set up in his name, and everywhere people were talking about him. Dave tried to be kind to the people who offered their condolences, but it was too much. Each time someone walked up to him to talk about Jaylin, he felt like crying. Sam always did, and he hated watching her cry.

The Staffords slowly got back to their lives, yet a piece of them was forever lost. Mrs. Stafford had gone on a trip to Toronto to do a presentation about discrimination based on gender, culture, color, or sexual orientation. Her son's death had caused a complete change in her life, and she didn't want another mother going through the same thing. It amazed Dave how she was able to recover.

Dave was in class when he suddenly got a disturbing sensation in his stomach. It was the first week of the new semester. The tragic wedding where his best friend had been painfully ripped out of his life had occurred two months ago.

Dashing out of class, he ran to Sam's car. She had given him a key so he could use it when he needed to. Something at the back of his head clawed at him. Not knowing why, he sped off towards Jaylin's hometown, a long four-hour drive.

Dave tried calling the Stafford residence several times as he drove. Just as he got to the house, he was finally able to contact Jaylin's father. He told him that something was going on in the house.

Dave banged on the door, but no one answered. He jumped the fence to find another way into the house. The back door was open. He somehow knew where Tyler was, and he somehow knew he was hurt. As he rang for an ambulance, Dave ran into Jaylin's room, where he found Tyler on the floor. A puddle of red stained the carpet.

A week had passed since Dave had found Tyler bleeding from a wound on his wrist. He had stayed by Tyler's side the whole time in the hospital, but was forced to go back to the Stafford's house to get some real rest. He was awakened to see a tear-streaked face smiling down at him.

"He's awake!" Sam cried.


"Tyler!" Dave shouted as he burst into the room.

The young man with green eyes turned from the window at Dave's sudden entrance.

"Hey..." Tyler whispered.

Dave flew to Tyler's side and engulfed him in a tight hug.

"You fucker! God, you're such a fucking dumbass... Fuck!!!" Dave cried.

"Dave..." Tyler replied holding his friend tightly, "I'm sorry..." That just made the young man cry harder. Since Jaylin's death, Tyler hadn't spoken one word with any emotion. Dave knew his friend was alive again.

"Thank you, Dave, for saving me." Tyler said suddenly. Dave had finally clamed down and had taken a seat next to his friend.

"How did you... "

"Jaylin... Jayse... told me," Tyler said sadly.

Dave looked confused and looked towards the scar forming on Tyler's wrist, which he kept stroking. It finally struck him.

"You saw him," Dave whispered.

He was happy that Tyler was finally responding. Dave probed for more, "Jaylin?"

Tyler nodded his head with a small sad smile.

"What did he say?" Dave asked, unsure of what he was hearing.

Tyler looked up at his friend and forced a smile, as tears broke out of his eyes. "He said `No'..."


The grinding metal sound was all around. As awkward as a jail made her feel, Mrs. Morton knew what had to be done. She was frightened, sad, and angry. More angry than frightened, and more sad than angry. As she waited patiently, Mr. Ramone stood by her side and squeezed her shoulder to show his support.

After the door creaked open, Mrs. Morton stared into the eyes of the murderer who had killed her son's husband.

"And what occasion do I owe this meeting to?" the gruff man asked.

She produced the iciest voice she could, and kept her voice low. "Just unfinished business."

Mr. Morton chuckled dryly. "So, how's that son of yours doing? Is he still crying?"

Anger raged in Mrs. Morton as she struggled to resist the urge to strangle the dirt in front of her.

"He is fine.  He was just released from the hospital."

He released a booming laugh. "So what did the fag do? Cry himself into a coma?"

"He tried to take his own life!" Mrs. Morton slapped the table in front of her with rage as she stood up.

She glared daggers at the man. She watched him swallow as she pushed her presence onto him.

"You took away my son's happiness... How dare you!"

Mr. Morton snorted before turning to the man standing behind his wife.

"Who is he?"

The woman wiped her tears away before composing herself well enough to stare at the man who had destroyed her son's happiness. "He's a lawyer, to finalize the divorce..."

The guard escorted Mr. Morton out of the room, leaving Janice Andrews and her lawyer.

Tyler's mother stared at the table in front of her and shed her last tear. "May God have mercy on your soul... The mercy you failed to show your own son."


2004     Ryan Keith

Okay, before you all try to kill me, please read the epilogue. I know it was a shitty thing I did, and I hope you all aren't too angry with me. There's no excuse for what I did. I had planned it all along. Sorry.

For those who are really emotional right now, I want to apologize, this chapter may have been really hard on you. I cried too when I wrote this. And so far, everyone I showed this to cried. Let me remind you that this story is fiction, and no one was really hurt in the process of making this story. I strongly pray nothing like this ever happens. I hope you guys liked this chapter. Many of you may hate it, but lets hope the finale clears up your anger. I sure was angry at myself for doing what I did.

E-mail is Ryan_Kayden@yahoo.ca

Special thanks to Aaron and his crew for doing a fantastic job with editing and providing a home for my work. If you're reading this at another site, please note that www.themailcrew.com has my other story. That's a great site for guys in high school, and I recommend you guys check it out^^. Great stories there by other authors, too.