Someday Out Of the Blue

by LittleBuddhaTW

Special thanks to Kitty (PiscesRising) for editing!

This is a story involving teenage gay males and may include sexually explicit content, adult language, and/or violence. If this kind of material is offensive to you, you are under the age of 18, or is illegal in the area where you live, do not read any further.


"Well, look at who we have here," I heard Trent Lomax's voice say as I walked into the bathroom during third period on Monday.

It had been over a month since Delcondris had his little "talk" with Trent, and he hadn't bothered me since. Unfortunately, it appeared that my luck had run out again. On the bright side, his usual group of cronies wasn't with him, and it seemed like I just showed up in the wrong place at the wrong time. And for some reason, it always seemed to be in the bathroom. I was just hoping it wouldn't be a repeat of the last time, when I'd had my head unceremoniously dunked in the toilet.

"What do you want, Trent?" I asked, feeling both scared and a bit annoyed. I was starting to get tired of this.

"You put on quite a performance on Saturday, Matthews," he said. "Where did you learn how to play piano?"

Was Trent Lomax actually trying to have a normal conversation with me?!

"Uhhh ... my grandmother taught me when I was little," I replied.

"Ahhh ... so was she trailer trash like you, too?" he sneered. So much for a "nice" conversation with Trent. I should've known.

"I just want to use the bathroom, so please leave me alone," I pleaded.

"What's wrong? Get plowed up the ass too many times by your boyfriend and can't hold it in anymore?" he asked with a sickening laugh.

Now I was starting to get pissed. First, he insulted my grandmother, then he insulted me and my boyfriend. After spending the weekend worrying about Toby and trying to figure out what the hell was going on with Ryan, I really wasn't in the mood to deal with Trent Lomax right now. Maybe I should have tried to come up with some kind of witty or sarcastic remark, but I wasn't too keen on getting the crap beaten out of me -- I'd actually kind of gotten used to not getting beaten up over the past few months, and it was a pleasant change. Plus, I really had to pee. So I just tried to ignore him, hoping he'd get bored, and made my way over to the urinals to do my business.

Unfortunately for me, Trent Lomax apparently didn't get bored that easily, because the next thing I knew, he had grabbed me by the shirt and thrown me up against the wall, pinning me against the cold, puke green tiles.

"I asked you a question, Matthews," he snarled. "So you'd better answer me before I bitch slap your faggot ass!"

His face was just inches from mine. I could see every bead of sweat on his forehead, a small scar above his right eyebrow, the tiny pimples on his nose, and each little vein in his piercing, angry eyes. I couldn't decide if I should pretend to faint or piss my pants in the hopes that he'd leave me alone. But before I could make my decision, my body reacted somewhat differently from how I had been planning.

I kneed him square in the crotch.

"OH FUCK!!!" he screamed, as he let me go and doubled over, grabbing his groin in pain.

I should have taken the opportunity to run as fast as I could -- and find another bathroom (I still had to pee!) -- but I didn't. Instead, I saw my archnemesis bent over in front of me, moaning in pain ... the punk who had tormented me since my first week at school ... and I was pissed!

So instead of running, I started pummeling him. I wasn't exactly sure how to go about beating someone up, since I'd never done it before. But I'd seen enough movies and had the snot beaten out of me enough times to get the general idea that fists, feet, and knees were all viable weapons. So I just started pounding on him with all three, surprising myself with the sound of my own screaming as each blow landed.

Trent eventually landed on the floor, and I was on him like a flash of lightning, whaling on his face with my fists and shouting every profanity I could think of. I didn't even realize anyone had come into the bathroom until I felt the strong arms of the vice-principal, Mr. Wakowski, pulling me off of Trent and trying to hold me back. I almost would have gotten free from his grip and gone back to beating on the now pathetic-looking lump on the floor if it hadn't been for Officer Karen coming into the bathroom, the walkie-talkie on her belt crackling with noise, and forcing me face first against the wall. It was not a pleasant experience.

After she held me pressed tightly against the wall for a couple minutes, with her surprisingly gentle voice telling me to calm down, my ragged breathing started to return to normal. As I glanced over my shoulder and saw the vice-principal tending to Trent, and the school nurse coming in the door only a few moments later, I suddenly wished that I had just blacked out. Then I could say that the whole thing was just a bout of temporary insanity, and that I'd had no idea what I was doing.

But I had. I felt every punch as it landed against Trent's face, heard the horrible cracking sound of what must have been his nose breaking, and each moan as my fists made impact, and I both saw and felt the blood spurting up from his face. And it sickened me. Not because I was squeamish when it came to blood, but because I had actually done this to someone else. No matter how much he had tortured me, I felt incredibly guilty and full of regret. I was actually more worried about Trent's condition than I was about my own fate. The school had a zero-tolerance policy against fighting on school grounds, and I was sure they wouldn't be very lenient with me.

And I also knew that my placement at the McCormacks' was based on my behaving well at school and maintaining good grades, as well as seeing a therapist. I'd been doing all of those things, except for now -- the first time I'd ever gotten in trouble at school. I should have felt some sense of pride that I had stood up to the school bully and given him a good 'ol fashioned beat-down, but I didn't. I just felt miserable. This wasn't the type of person I wanted to become.

But the whirlwind of thoughts racing around in my head was interrupted by Officer Karen telling me that she was going to take me to the office, and that they would be calling Maggie in to have a discussion with the principal. I was too tired to protest or disagree ... I didn't really have anything to protest about, actually. So I just let her lead me out of the bathroom, down the halls, and into her office.

I was grateful, and a little surprised, that she didn't slap the cuffs on me. I figured I'd wind up getting charged with all kinds of horrible stuff for beating the crap out of Trent like that. And I was scared about what would happen to me now. But for some reason, I was even more concerned that Trent would be okay. Despite everything he'd done to me, and how much of an asshole he was, I figured there had to be a reason for it, just like there was a reason for me being so closed off to everyone. And thinking about what might have caused Trent to become the type of person he was just made me feel more sad for him.

Officer Karen sat down at her desk and asked me what happened, and I related the events as best as I could. I told her that Trent had cornered me in the bathroom, and that I had lashed out at him. I also told her I knew that I could have just walked away after the first shot to the groin, but I didn't, and instead kept pounding on him like some crazed beast.

She surprised me again when she asked if I'd been bullied by Trent before, so I told her the truth. I told her about all the times I'd gotten shoved in the hallways, had my head flushed down the toilet, and the continual taunts and threats. It all just kept pouring out of me like word vomit. I was amazed that I didn't get yelled at, as she just sat there, carefully writing down everything I had to say.

When Officer Karen was done with her "interrogation," she told me to wait there until she came back to get me. So I just sat there, lost in my own thoughts and misery, hoping that I wouldn't get sent to some home for delinquent boys  -- which is what I figured I must be -- or worse yet, sent to jail.


Needless to say, Maggie was not looking too pleased when Officer Karen led me into the principal's office. This was looking bad for me already, as Dwayne Jackson was sitting right next to her. The principal, Dr. Spangler, motioned for me to sit down in one of the leather chairs in front of his desk.

"Well, Connor," the principal began. "Officer Karen filled us in on the statement she took from you. We've also questioned Mr. Lomax, and some of your friends even showed up to speak up on your behalf."

"I'm really sorry about what happened," I cut in. "I don't know what got into me. I'll understand if you need to punish me."

"Connor, I'm sure you realize that the school has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to fighting. So I have no choice but to suspend you for three days. However, it's also been brought to my attention that you have been putting up with bullying and harassment from Mr. Lomax since the beginning of the school year. I just wish you would have come to me sooner, so I could have done something about that."

"I'm sorry, sir," I said softly. "I thought I could just live with it."

"Well, you shouldn't have to 'just live with it,' Connor," he continued. "You're here to get an education, not to put up with bullying. With that said, though, you did quite a number on Mr. Lomax. His parents were intent on filing a lawsuit, until Officer Karen informed them that charges could be filed against them because of the documented history of abuse that he has inflicted on you over the past year. That changed their minds pretty quickly. So, as far as the school is concerned, once your three-day suspension is over, that's it. You've never caused any trouble before, and that certainly works in your favor. However, I don't want to see this kind of behavior from you ever again, because next time you will not get off so easily. Do I make myself clear, young man?"

"Yes, sir," I answered.

"Good," he said, with a nod and a smile.

"Uhhh ... sir ... is ... uhhh ... is Trent gonna be okay?" I stuttered.

The principal smiled. "He'll be fine. He's got a broken nose and will have a couple black eyes, but that's about it."

That was definitely a relief. I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if Trent had been seriously injured.

"So am I gonna be taken somewhere else now?" I asked, turning to Dwayne and Maggie.

"Connor, while we don't excuse your behavior, we also know that you're still dealing with a lot of issues. But you're already in therapy and working on that, and according to Dr. Frazier, you've been quite cooperative," Dwayne replied. "If this kind of violent and aggressive behavior continues, then we might have to look into other options to deal with it. That wouldn't be to punish you, and we're not trying to scare you. We just want to get you the help you need, and make sure you're in the best place possible to get that kind of help. But, for now, I think the best place is right where you are."

"Thank you," I said meekly. I didn't really think I deserved to get off that easily. Especially given how badly I'd hurt Trent. I still couldn't believe that I had done that, or that I was even capable of doing it. But I had. And in my mind, that made me no better than Trent.

"Your suspension is not a vacation," Maggie quickly jumped in. "While you're at home for the next three days, you're going to be doing all of the chores yourself, which means cleaning the house from top to bottom, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, and weeding the garden. Ryan will get all of your homework assignments for you, too. You're not to fall behind on your school work at all."

I just nodded. Considering the circumstances, I figured I'd just gotten a light slap on the hand. That's not to say that I was happy about having to do all of the chores, but it was certainly better than the worst-case scenarios that I had already thought up, such as being taken away from the McCormacks', locked up in jail, or worse yet, locked away with Eleanor Van Epps in the nut house. I could deal with a little house cleaning and gardening. Becoming the personal bitch of some large, tattooed biker dude named "Bruiser," or playing endless games of "Chutes & Ladders" or "Hungry, Hungry Hippo" with Eleanor while being watched over by large men in white coats, was not something I imagined would be a positive experience.

Ironically, right after our meeting in the principal's office, it was time to go for my weekly appointment with Dr. Frazier. I wasn't looking forward to it, since he'd most likely want to explore my feelings about the incident at school, and I wasn't really in the mood to talk about it. Plus, I was worried that he would want to increase my medication, and I didn't want to feel all doped up again. Fortunately, he didn't do that, but he did insist on prodding me with questions about how I felt as I was hitting Trent, and talking to me about "anger."

He said that I needed to learn how to channel my feelings better and not keep things bottled up inside, otherwise I'd risk having episodes like that again in the future. I thought I'd been doing pretty good, though. I'd told him everything, and had accepted most, if not all, of his suggestions for dealing with my past. And I'd never thought of myself as an angry person before. I'd never lashed out like I had with Trent Lomax, and perhaps that's what scared me the most.

As usual, Dr. Frazier said there was no "quick fix" to the problem, and the only way to work through what he called my "latent anger" was to keep meeting with him and talking about stuff. He also made me promise that I would report any bullying at school to the principal rather than letting it build up inside of me. I didn't like the idea of being a tattle-tale. I didn't want to be a wuss and go running to a teacher or the principal every time someone was mean to me. But I also didn't want to end up in the habit of getting into fights and risk being suspended again, or worse, taken away from my new home. Fortunately, no one besides Trent Lomax had been bothering me, and I had a feeling he would probably keep away from me for a while, so I should be okay, at least until I could work through these "anger issues" that Dr. Frazier insisted I had.

On Tuesday morning, the first day of my suspension, I got to work early, starting with the lawn. I'd never actually mowed a lawn before. Fortunately, Ryan had enough time before he left for school to show me how to get the lawn mower started and what to do. It only took me about forty-five minutes to do the whole lawn, but after coming inside and getting one whiff of myself, I decided that this was one chore I was glad that Ryan usually had to do.

I worked hard each day so that I could be finished by the time Toby got home from school. I wanted to be able to spend some more quality time with him, and since Ryan was busy with baseball practice in the afternoons, that worked out perfectly. Although Toby was well enough to go to school during the week, he still didn't look good. So far, he had been one of the lucky few who hadn't lost his hair, although he hadn't had that many treatments yet, and it could still happen. He had also lost some weight and just looked exhausted all the time.

Toby's condition worried me a lot, although both he and Maggie insisted that his physical symptoms were mainly a result of the chemotherapy treatments and didn't mean that he was dying. I wasn't that easily convinced, though. One afternoon, while Toby was taking a nap, I got on the Internet and looked up the particular type of leukemia Toby had. I found out that it was one of the most aggressive, and fatal, forms, and was most common in younger people.

Fortunately, it was treatable, and the prognosis was relatively good if it was caught early. And I assumed that since it had only been about a month between the time I first noticed that Toby wasn't feeling well until he was diagnosed, his treatment had started fairly quickly. And the fact that he had been through it before, and Maggie knew what to look out for, was probably a very good thing. But despite that little reassurance, it was still possible that Toby could die. I had no idea how I, or Ryan and Maggie, would react to something so horrible.

Despite my growing fears, however, it was nice to have those few quiet afternoons alone with Toby. Mostly, we just chatted and did our homework together, but we also watched some television and snuggled. I wondered why Toby wasn't spending more time with Cody, so on Thursday, the last day of my suspension, I asked him about that.

"I don't want him to see me like this," he sighed.

"Like what?" I asked.

"All sick and miserable and stuff. And I definitely don't want him to see me if I end up losing my hair," he replied.

"But he's your boyfriend, Toby," I retorted.

"Maybe that's not such a good idea anymore," he said, looking away uncomfortably.

WHAT?!?! Was he thinking of breaking up with Cody?

"Toby, don't say that. I thought you and Cody were doing good together. You know he's crazy about you, and I thought you felt the same way," I said, worry creeping into my voice.

"Yeah, I care about him a lot. That's why I don't think I want him to see me like this. I don't want to worry him," he insisted.

"You can't just push him away like that if you love him," I retorted.

Ryan had done that to me, so I knew from first-hand experience how badly that could hurt. And I didn't want to see Cody get hurt. But I suppose there was also a bit of a selfish motivation for my not wanting Toby to break up with Cody. It would make it very awkward for me to be around the two of them together, and I didn't want to be made to feel like I was stuck in the middle. Besides that, I was worried that if Toby and Cody were both single again, maybe Ryan would start to mind me being so close with Toby, thinking there was something going on. If Toby was with Cody, then that wasn't really an issue, right?

"I never said anything about 'love,'" he said suddenly.

"What?" I asked.

Toby sighed. "I like Cody a lot, and I like being his boyfriend, but I don't think I 'love' him."

Oh, God! Please don't let this be because he still thinks he's in love with me! I thought. But I was too chicken to ask if that was the reason.

"Just please think about it before you do anything, Toby," I pleaded with him. "Don't push him away for something stupid like being embarrassed. You know Cody doesn't care if you're sick or not."

Toby promised that he would think about it, and I was really hoping that he wouldn't break up with Cody. Not just for my own selfish reasons; I really did want them to be happy, and I didn't see anything wrong with their relationship at all. I'd never seen them argue, only tease each other playfully, and they always seemed happy to be around each other. And despite his being so mature and grounded for his age, I knew that it would devastate Cody if Toby broke up with him.

I was actually glad to be back at school on Friday ... that is, until I got called up to the principal's office during first period.

What did I do now? I thought. Didn't I already serve my sentence, both from the school and Maggie?

When I got to Dr. Spangler's office, he motioned for me to sit down. The butterflies in my stomach were working overtime, and I felt like I was going to puke. Had they changed their minds and were going to expel me now? Had Trent Lomax's parents decided to sue after all? Had Eleanor Van Epps escaped from the insane asylum and was now going on a killing rampage all over town?

"How are you doing this morning, Mr. Matthews?" the principal asked.

"Uhhh ... I'm fine, sir," I replied hesitantly.

"Excellent," he said, leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands together.

His smile was a little disarming, and I was not feeling at all comfortable.

"I have a little favor to ask of you, Connor," he continued. "Senior Night is coming up at the end of May. I'm not sure if you know what that is, but it's basically a fancy, black tie dinner we put on for the seniors before graduation. There's also a short awards ceremony, some speeches, and a little bit of music and dancing. We do this especially for the senior class, since the prom involves the juniors as well, and there's already so much going on with that."

Okay, it was nice that he was sharing this little tidbit of information with me, but why, exactly? I wasn't a senior, so Senior Night didn't really have anything to do with me. He must have sensed my confusion from the puzzled expression on my face.

"Anyway, we had booked a live band to play, but they just cancelled. And I recalled how wonderful you were at the talent contest last fall, and of course, your performance at the recent Spring Fair. So, I was wondering if you'd be interested in helping us out and playing for us," he said, looking at me expectantly.

"Uhhh ... what would be involved if I did this, sir?" I asked.

"Well, you would only have to play a few songs at the end of the evening. The music for dancing will be taken care of by a DJ, but we were hoping you could play a few slow songs, and maybe something to sort of sum up the last four years for our graduating class. And I've discussed it with the student government, and they can afford to pay you two hundred dollars for performing, plus money to rent a tuxedo."

It actually sounded like a good idea. I'd get yet another opportunity to perform, and I'd get paid for it, too. I couldn't see any reason at all not to do it, and by agreeing to this, hopefully I'd get back in the principal's good graces. I didn't really like the idea of having to wear a tuxedo, but I supposed I could deal with that.

So, I agreed to do the performance, only asking that they set up the school's Kurzweil digital piano for me, and have the same kids doing the sound and lights who had done so for my last two school performances. Of course, that wasn't a problem, so everything was set for my next gig ... and did I mention that it was a paying one?

As far as the school's reaction to my beating up Trent Lomax went, I was a little surprised that people didn't make a huge deal out of it. I chalked that up to people being more interested in the end of the school year and the impending summer vacation. However, I did get a few pats on the back from people who didn't like Trent very much, as well as glares from some of his friends. All of our friends had obviously thought it was really cool that I beat the crap out of Trent, but each time someone congratulated me, I cringed. I knew I was right to defend myself when he had me backed up against the wall, but then I took it too far. And that wasn't right. All I could do was hope that everything was over and done with, and that Trent wouldn't bother me anymore.


By Saturday night, I had decided to try to put the entire incident with Trent Lomax and my subsequent suspension behind me. I was also trying to look forward to performing at Senior Night. I had gone to Ryan's baseball game that afternoon, and it took all the will power I had not to cream my shorts, watching him running around in his tight uniform. Honestly, I had no idea how he did in the game, since I was so busy ogling his cute butt -- and, I had to admit, ogling the cute butts of a few of his teammates -- but he seemed happy when we got home. And, of course, the combination of seeing him in his uniform and his sweaty, musky scent after the game had made me deliriously horny. I practically tackled him as soon as we got home, and was treated to spending the remainder of the afternoon in bed with him.

Despite the afternoon's fun, not all was cheerful around the house, though. Toby had received his latest chemo treatment on Friday afternoon and was as sick as a dog, which kept me in a state of worry. I wanted to stay with him so I could make sure he was okay, but Ryan insisted on us spending some more "quality time" together. Since Maggie was working a double-shift at the hospital and wouldn't be home until the following day at around noon, that meant that we could snuggle up on the sofa in the living room and watch DVDs on their large screen, plasma TV -- which was a lot more fun than watching the much smaller TVs in Ryan's or Toby's rooms.

I insisted on giving Toby a bell so that he could ring us if he needed anything, but I knew that he wouldn't use it. He didn't like to be waited on, even if he really needed something. And I knew that regardless of whether he wanted help getting to the bathroom or getting some water, or having someone pat him on the back as he threw up in his pail, what he really needed was someone to just be with him.

I'd suggested having Cody come over to stay the night with him, but Toby insisted that he didn't want Cody to see him in that condition. I knew that it wouldn't bother Cody that his boyfriend was throwing up, and that he would love to be able to help take care of him, but Toby kept refusing. After talking with Toby on Thursday, I was well aware of what was going on in his head, and it was still worrying me. I just hoped Cody had the patience to wait out Toby's issues, or that Toby would get over it.

I guess I could see where Toby was coming from. I mean, I'd always let my pride get in the way of allowing other people to help me. Fortunately, I had gotten past that to some degree, and it actually felt good to let people be there for me. But, unfortunately, Toby wasn't at that stage yet. I also realized that I hadn't talked to Cody in a while and made a mental note to spend some time with him the following week. But if he brought up the thing with Toby, I wasn't so sure how to deal with it. Should I tell him what Toby and I had talked about?

Anyway, that could wait for next week. At Ryan's and Toby's insistence, Ryan and I got to have our quiet evening together, snuggled up on the sofa under a comfy blanket, watching some really terrifying horror films. After viewing the remakes of the classic Japanese horror flicks, The Ring and The Grudge, as well as the original Thai version of The Eye (thank God for English subtitles!), I was sure that I wouldn't be sleeping well for a few nights.

Just as the last movie was ending, I looked up at the clock to see that it was around ten-thirty. I almost jumped out of my skin when I heard a loud banging on the front door. It had been raining and thundering outside all evening, which made the movies just that much more creepy, and I couldn't have imagined who would be out in this kind of weather. So, of course, my overactive imagination got the best of me.

Fortunately, Ryan was a little braver than I was, and as he headed to the front door, I followed closely behind him, trying to decide which part of the "fight or flight response" I was going to choose. Before the incident earlier in the week with Trent Lomax, I would have said that I'd have run away, screaming like a little sissy girl. Now that I was having trouble dealing with my anger -- at least that's what Dr. Frazier had told me -- all bets were off.

As we reached the front door, and Ryan reached out to grab ahold of the door knob, another flash of lightning illuminated the dark hallway, followed only seconds later by a deep rumble of thunder, nearly causing me to go running in the opposite direction. As we collected ourselves and Ryan finally managed to open the door, it would be an understatement to say that we were both a little bit shocked to see a soaking wet, shivering, and very scared-looking Mikey standing on the front porch. He was tightly clutching an overnight bag, his wet hair hanging down over his puppy-dog eyes.

"Mikey, what're you doing here?" Ryan asked.

"My ... my parents ... they found out ...," Mikey stuttered, breaking down into tears.

"How? What happened?" Ryan continued to prod.

I, on the other hand, couldn't believe Ryan was playing "twenty questions" with Mikey while he was standing outside, crying and getting rained on. So I reached past Ryan, grabbed Mikey by the arm, and yanked him into the house.

"Ryan," I said, looking at my boyfriend pointedly. "Don't you think we should invite Mikey inside and let him dry off?"

"Oh shit, sorry," he mumbled, looking embarrassed.

Maggie, no doubt, would have a fit if Mikey tracked water all through the house, so I told Ryan I was going upstairs to get a towel. In the meantime, I figured he'd help Mikey get out of some of his wet things. Well, I'd been wrong. When I came back downstairs a few moments later, they were both still standing there, Ryan looking very awkward, and Mikey sniffling and sobbing quietly. What had happened to my sensitive and caring boyfriend? Did I have to do everything around here?

"C'mon, Mikey. Let's get your wet clothes off and get you warmed up," I said.

He just nodded dumbly and let me help him pull off his soaked sweatshirt, jeans, and socks, leaving him standing there in his tighty-whities. I'd always figured Mikey for a boxers kind of guy, but I guess I was wrong. It was cute, though. It was also the first time I'd seen Mikey in any state of undress, and despite the gravity of the situation, I couldn't help but take a moment to admire his nicely toned body. The fact that his briefs were soaked didn't leave anything to the imagination, either, so to speak.

Nevertheless, now wasn't exactly the time to be perving on my boyfriend's best friend, especially with said boyfriend standing right there. Nor did the state in which Mikey showed up at our house suggest that he would be in the mood to be perved on, either. So I quickly helped him start drying off, then took him by the hand and led him upstairs to my room, where I found a pair of clean boxers and pajamas for him to wear. I figured that would be best, since Ryan's clothes would be too big for him, and Toby was most likely asleep.

After I stepped out of the room for a few moments to let Mikey finished drying off and get changed, Ryan and I both went in to find out what the deal was. So far, all Mikey had said was that his parents had "found out." I was assuming that he meant that they had discovered he was gay. I couldn't think of anything else they could find out that would cause him to show up unannounced and crying on our doorstep at nearly eleven o'clock at night.

"So what happened, Mikey?" I asked, as the three of us sat down together on my twin bed.

"My dad was using my computer to do the online tax thing, and he came across some gay web sites I'd visited," he said quietly, looking down at the floor and still sniffling.

"Then what?" I continued to prod gently.

"He asked me if I was a 'fucking faggot,' and I couldn't really deny it, so I said yes, and he freaked out," he said, beginning to shake. "He told me he wasn't going to have some 'diseased queer' living in his house, and gave me ten minutes to get my stuff and get out. I couldn't think of anywhere else to go, so I came here. I'm really sorry for doing this to you."

"It's okay, bud. You can stay here as long as you need to," Ryan said, patting him softly on the back.

Thank God! Ryan finally said something helpful! I was beginning to wonder what the hell his problem was.

"Thanks," Mikey mumbled.

"What about your mom?" I asked him.

"She just stood there watching as I left. She didn't seem to care," he replied.

I then realized that I had no idea what to say to Mikey, just like the time I had talked with him at my birthday party. I really wished Maggie was home at that moment. She'd know what to do. Ryan didn't seem to have any more helpful comments or advice, either.

"Well, why don't you try to get some sleep, and we can talk more in the morning, if you want," I said.

Mikey just nodded, and I helped him pull down the blankets and get settled in before heading off to bed with Ryan.

As Ryan and I lay in bed together, I couldn't help but think how much of a dumbass I was for not being able to come up with anything better to say to Mikey. I was equally unimpressed that Ryan didn't have much to say either. He was always so sweet and sensitive when it came to me, so why couldn't he be that way for his best friend? Maybe it was the same problem I was having, simply not knowing how to react to this kind of situation because he hadn't been there himself, either. But at least I was trying.

And why did he seem so unconcerned with Toby? I saw how sensitive and caring he had been at Christmas when Toby got upset because he missed their dad. But now his own brother had leukemia, and Ryan just seemed to be blocking it out. This was all very confusing to me. It wasn't like he was ignoring Toby or anything, though. He'd still ask how he was feeling and talk to him the same way he did when Toby was feeling okay. But when Toby was sick from his chemo treatments, Ryan didn't sit with him like I did, or cuddle with him, or dote on him. He just kind of acted like nothing was out of the ordinary.

Ever since our little "fight" before going to Las Vegas, however, I'd decided I wasn't going to bring it up with him again. I hated confrontation, and I didn't want to end up getting into an argument with Ryan, especially since things between us were going so well. I was probably just thinking too much, as usual.

I eventually fell asleep, but woke up a short time later because I had to pee. After I did my business, flushed the toilet, turned off the bathroom light, and stepped quietly into the hallway, I heard the unmistakable sounds of whimpering and sniffling coming from my room. I was exhausted and just wanted to go back to bed and cuddle up with Ryan; but I couldn't stand the thought of Mikey being in there all by himself, suffering alone, feeling like no one understood or cared. I'd felt that way too many times before in my own life.

So without giving it any more thought, I quietly opened the door and walked into my room. I could barely make out the form of Mikey curled up into a little ball on my bed.

"Mikey, are you okay?" I whispered.

There was no reply, just more sniffling and whimpering. So I walked over and sat down next to him on the bed.

"Mikey, please tell me what's wrong," I said.

"You wouldn't understand," he whimpered. The tone in his voice scared me. He sounded so ... defeated. That was another feeling I knew all too well, and I wasn't about to let Mikey suffer through the same thing I had for so long.

"Try me, Mikey. I do know a thing or two about crappy families," I said, nudging him over gently so I could lie down beside him.

"I just don't know what to do. I hate not knowing what's gonna happen. I'm really scared. I'm only sixteen years old. I'm not ready to be on my own yet. I have no idea where I'm gonna go, what I'm gonna do, or how I'm gonna survive," he sighed.

"We're gonna wait until Maggie gets home tomorrow and talk to her. She'll know what to do. And you should know that she wouldn't let you just wander the streets homeless or anything. It may make things a little crowded around here, but you know she'll let you stay here as long as you need to," I said.

"I know that," he said. "But I don't want to be a burden on everyone. Maybe I'd just be better off killing myself and getting it over with."

"Don't you dare say that, Mikey," I retorted. "Even after all the shit I went through, I knew that killing myself wouldn't solve anything. And it's a good thing I didn't, because look where I am now. And as for being a burden, I used to think the same exact thing. But you know what? That's not true. Everyone in this house cares about you, and we're best friends now. I may not have much experience with what you're going through, or know the right things to say to you, but I'm gonna stick by you no matter what. Do you understand?"

"Thank you, Connor," Mikey said. "You've really changed so much since that day in the auditorium when I first talked to you. It's like you're an entirely different person."

I wasn't totally sure about that. I mean, yeah, I'd become a little more outgoing and open, but I had the same feelings of self-doubt as before, and my anxiety about a lot of things still plagued me from time to time, more often than I would have liked. But yeah, I guess a few things had changed for the better. I basically felt like I was the same person I'd always been, though.

"Just promise me you won't do anything stupid, like killing yourself," I said.

He sighed. "I won't. I promise."

"Thank you, Mikey," I said, squeezing his shoulder.

"Connor, how does it feel to be in love?" he asked shyly. I was a little surprised at the question at first, because I'd always thought of Mikey as being a lot more experienced than me. But then I realized that he'd never mentioned being in love before.

"It's incredible," I replied. "Things have been kinda rough around here lately, with Toby and all. But everything seems like it's gonna be alright when Ryan's holding me at night."

As soon as I said that, I realized that I'd probably said too much. I didn't want to rub it in that I had a boyfriend and Mikey didn't. The last thing I wanted was for Mikey to feel more alone than he already did.

"I wish I knew what that felt like," he said softly.

"You will, Mikey," I said. "Maybe you should try giving Dominic a chance."

He just shrugged.

After a few moments of silence, I started to get up to go back to Ryan's room, but Mikey reached out and grabbed my arm.

"Will you stay with me tonight, Connor?" he asked, sounding very much like a small, scared child.

"Of course I will. Let me just go tell Ryan, so he doesn't worry, and I'll be right back," I replied. I didn't want Ryan to wake up in the morning and find Mikey and me in the same bed together and get the wrong idea. I'd definitely learned my lesson when it came to that kind of thing.

It took me about five minutes to rouse Ryan out of his slumber, and he said he didn't care if I stayed with Mikey, although he didn't see what the big deal was. He said Mikey was a big boy and could take care of himself. I didn't really agree with that assessment, though. Mikey needed someone to be there for him right now. That much was pretty obvious. But I wasn't about to get into an argument with Ryan over that, so I just said "thank you" and gave him a soft kiss on the forehead before heading back over to my room.

I squeezed into the twin-size bed next to Mikey and wrapped my arms around him. It was the first time I'd ever snuggled with him, and it felt really nice. He practically melted right into my body and made what could best be described as a soft purring sound. I was proud of myself for not even having any sexual thoughts. It just felt like I was snuggling with my good friend. And it made me feel even better when his breathing slowed down and he finally fell asleep. I just hoped my being there with him would give him at least a little peace, even if only for a few hours.

As I lay there holding Mikey, seeing the moonlight streaming in from the window and shining on his soft, golden hair, I couldn't help but think about how my heart had managed to go from being so closed off to the rest of the world, not willing to let anyone inside, to opening up and finding so much room to love. Not just my boyfriend, but my new family and friends, too. As I silently prayed that Mikey was dreaming of somewhere much happier than where he was now, I couldn't help but sing softly to him, hoping that I could help him find that place.

Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes
And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you've been asking me
I think you know what I've been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you
And you should always know
Wherever you may go
No matter where you are
I never will be far away ...


The following morning, when Maggie got home from work, she was visibly upset when we told her what had happened with Mikey the night before. She said she was going to call Mikey's parents and talk to them. Mikey insisted that it wouldn't do any good, but he should have known that when Maggie had her mind set on something, there wasn't much that anyone could do to stop her. So I told him to just relax and wait and see what happened.

It seemed like Maggie was on the phone with Mikey's parents for quite a while, and since she had locked herself up in her room, we had no idea how it was going. When she finally came out, though, she said that she was going to take Mikey back home, and the four of them would sit down and discuss some things. I wasn't too sure that sending Mikey home right away was the best thing for him.

Could one phone call and a little chat with Maggie really change their minds so easily? It didn't seem very likely to me. Then again, I had been learning to trust Maggie more and more over the past several months, so I didn't argue with her. Personally, I wouldn't have minded if Mikey stayed with us for a while longer. Since Cody and Toby had started dating, Mikey had pretty much become my best friend, next to Ryan, of course.

After Maggie and Mikey left, I went to Toby's room to see how he was doing. He seemed a little better than the day before, but he was still obviously feeling really shitty from his treatments. I emptied the "puke bucket" that was next to his bed and cleaned it out for him, then spent the rest of the afternoon just sitting and talking with him. I cuddled up with him and took a nap for a while as well. Ryan was in his room doing his own thing, although I was pleased when he poked his head in the door briefly to ask how we were doing. I knew I could take care of Toby. I was starting to feel more concerned with what I was going to do about Ryan, though. And then there was Mikey to worry about, too.

Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved. No parts of this story may be copied, reproduced, in print or in any other format, without express written consent from the author.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.

* Lyrics to "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" (written by Billy Joel), Copyright 1993, Sony Music.

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