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.


As April turned into May, and the weather grew warmer, I felt an uneasy sense of trepidation. Toby was still continuing his chemotherapy and drug treatment, and the doctors were hoping that they could get him into a state of remission, and then continue managing his condition with lower dosages of medication to destroy any remaining cancer cells. The typical length of time for someone to be on the highest doses of chemo was about four weeks, and he still had a couple more weeks to go.

With each treatment, Toby's condition seemed to deteriorate -- I could see him growing physically weaker and weaker. During several of the times we spent cuddling and chatting together, he would tell me how scared he was, and how he was close to just giving up on the treatment and letting nature take its course. Of course, I wouldn't stand for that. I could not lose Toby!

Fortunately, it was pretty easy for me to convince him to keep going, although I felt a little bad that I was, in a way, using his feelings for me to keep him sticking with his treatments. But I figured that it was for his own good, so it didn't matter what method I used to persuade him to endure the suffering just a little bit longer. Too many people would be devastated if he were to die, and I couldn't let that happen. I had to do everything I could to keep him in good spirits.

Ryan was so busy with baseball practice that it only seemed natural, and just a matter of time, that the bond between Toby and me would grow stronger. But it never exceeded the boundaries of close friendship or brotherly love. I was careful not to make the same mistakes as before. Even though it was obvious that some things had been changing in Ryan's personality, I was still not going to betray him. And despite my concerns about how he had been reacting to his brother's sickness and Mikey's personal problems, he still treated me like he always had. I wasn't a psychologist or anything, but it didn't take an idiot to figure out that he was scared, and perhaps this was his way of coping with it.

In the extended time we spent together, Toby and I talked about things that most fifteen and sixteen year old boys should never have to talk about, like life and death ... and we also talked about love. I had come to the disappointing conclusion that a small part of why he was pushing Cody away still had to do with his feelings toward me. But I wasn't ready to give up on him and Cody yet. I thought they were good for each other, providing balance in each other's lives. Cody opened up Toby to another way of thinking about the world and himself, and Toby taught Cody to lighten up and be more of a typical teenager.

I also fulfilled my promise to myself and started spending more time with Cody. He was well aware of what was happening between him and Toby, but he was taking it pretty well, all things considered. I think both of us were hoping that Toby would come to his senses once he got through the hardest phase of the treatment, and that he'd realize that he was stupid for ever pushing Cody away.

They hadn't "officially" broken up yet, and still hung out together at school as friends, even sharing a few brief kisses, but it was impossible not to see the changes in their relationship. And that bothered me. But what could I do that I hadn't already done? I'd talked to both of them, but with few positive results, other than getting Toby to promise that he would think things over before making any rash decisions.

As for Mikey, things weren't going so hot, either. Maggie had convinced his parents to take him back, but he had become increasingly sullen and withdrawn. He'd almost completely cut himself off from his friends, barely saying a word during lunch, and didn't hang out with any of us after school anymore. I'd tried talking to him a few times, but he always just brushed me off, either telling me he had things to do, or that he didn't feel like talking.

His not being willing to talk to me about whatever was going on with him hurt, especially since he had opened up to me so much that night he had been kicked out of his house. I'd thought we'd really bonded, and that he would come to me if there were any more problems. I told him that I would be there for him, and I'd meant it. And he knew that he could come back to our house for a while if things weren't going well with his parents. What had happened? It made me start to feel like maybe he didn't value our friendship as much as I did.

Even Dominic was worried about him. I got a phone call from him one evening, asking if I knew what was up with Mikey. It was the first time I'd ever spoken one-on-one with the enigmatic Dominic, but based on his concern for Mikey, he seemed like a really sweet guy, and it was easy to tell that he did have feelings for our blond-haired friend. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything I could tell him. I didn't think it was my business to go into what happened that night when Mikey showed up on our doorstep, and as to what his problem was, I frankly didn't have a clue.

"So you really have no idea about what's going on with him?" Dominic asked me for the fifth time that night.

"I wish I did. Things went badly with the 'rents, so I think he's just trying to keep everyone away. That's not going to do him any good, but I can't figure out how to convince him to let us help," I answered with a sigh.

"If he was ignoring me because he didn't like me, I could deal with that," Dominic continued. "But you said he likes me, and I like him ... so, if two people really like each other, doesn't it make sense that they should try being together?"

"I think so," I replied. "But I don't think Mikey's acting all that rationally right now."

I should know a few things about not acting rationally. I was the king of being a twat and pushing people away when they were trying to help me. I just wished my experience with those feelings would give me some sort of insight as to how to go about helping Mikey. But I kept drawing a blank.

"So, do your parents know you're gay?" I asked him.

"Yeah, they found out right after the incident with the psycho bitch. But they said they'd suspected it for a while, and everyone's cool with it. After seeing how bad things have been going for Mikey, I feel so lucky. You and Ryan are really lucky, too," he said.

"Yeah, we are," I agreed.

I felt bad for Dominic. I really did. He liked Mikey, and he knew that Mikey liked him, too. But Mikey just wouldn't let himself get involved with Dominic because of his own issues and fears ever since he'd been outed. It seemed to me that if I was in a similar situation, having someone there to go through it with me would make things a lot easier, and apparently Dominic was willing to do that. Heck, all of Mikey's friends, especially me, were willing to do that, too.

If Ryan had been his "normal" self, perhaps he could have helped me out with Mikey. Instead, he just chalked it up to Mikey going through some rough times and said that he'd eventually get over it and come to us when he was ready. Maybe he was right. At least, I hoped he was.


May also meant that it was time to start preparing for the following school year, at least as far as making class selections and stuff like that. I knew that my junior year would be important, because I would have to start seriously thinking about college and my future, taking the SATs or ACTs, Advanced Placement exams, and all of that fun stuff -- right!!! I still hadn't even decided if I wanted to go to college. I certainly didn't have the money for it, and I couldn't think of any scholarships I could qualify for.

I knew I was smart, but probably not smart enough for one of those academic scholarships. I couldn't play any sports, so obviously an athletic scholarship was out of the question. And, of course, if I did decide to go to college, I was insistent that I would be going wherever Ryan went. With his sports abilities, I was sure he wouldn't have much trouble getting an athletic scholarship to a decent university. I knew that Maggie would be willing to foot the bill for me to go to college, but I wouldn't feel right about taking her money.

During one of my weekly sessions with Dr. Frazier, he had suggested that I start looking for a summer job. Part of me thought that maybe I should stay at home with Toby and take care of him, but on the other hand, staying at home bored all summer would probably drive me nuts. If things continued to remain as stressful as they had been, and without the outlet I'd previously had with playing at the pub, a job sounded like it could be a good thing. Not to mention, the money would certainly help as well.

One evening, as Ryan and I were strolling through the mall, I noticed that a new retail piano store had opened up, and they were looking for salespeople. There couldn't have been a more perfect job for me, except for maybe a full-time performing gig. The manager seemed slightly skeptical of a sixteen-year-old being able to sell pianos, but when I graced him with my vast knowledge of all the different kinds of pianos, what they could do, how they differed in sound and performance, as well as demonstrating a little of my own piano-playing ability, he seemed to be sold on the idea. I guessed that I probably knew more about the merchandise than the manager did himself.

The piano store itself was quite nice. Its most expensive pieces of merchandise were two baby grand pianos, one of which was a Steinway, and the other, a Yamaha. Besides those, there were also a number of upright pianos, and many different kinds of keyboards, synthesizers, and digital pianos. They carried all of the top brands, such as Korg, Casio, Yamaha, Kurzweil, and Roland. The manager told me to come in right before school let out to fill out an application, and I'd be all set.

I also finally got a chance to talk to Cody alone. It had been a while since I'd hung out with him, so I had made plans to go over to his house one afternoon after school and have a little jam session with him. By the time we got through Amanda Marshall's "I'll Be Okay," a beautiful song about love loss and finding oneself again, and a half-hearted attempt at playing the Eagles' "Hotel California," we both realized we weren't really in the mood for music that day.

"Do you know what's been going on with Toby?" Cody asked me, as we sat on his sofa, sipping hot tea and listening to Enya on his CD player.

"He's just been feeling really out of it because of his chemo treatments," I replied.

Even though I wanted to be honest with Cody about what Toby had talked to me about, I knew that I couldn't say anything, otherwise I would be betraying Toby's trust. But at the same time, by not being totally truthful with Cody, I felt like I was betraying his trust as well. What was a boy to do?

"I feel like he's been pushing me away lately," he continued. "I know he's embarrassed about the shape he's in, but he should know that I don't care about that. I want to be able to help take care of him, and just be there for him."

"Do you love him, Cody?" I asked.

As soon as that question slipped out of my mouth, though, I regretted it. That whole "love" thing could open up a big can of worms, or Pandora's Box, or something like that. And to be totally honest, I didn't really want to hear Cody's answer, because if he did admit that he loved Toby, and I knew that Toby wasn't in love with Cody (or, at least, that's what he'd said), I'd feel even worse.

"I love a lot of people, Connor," he said. "You know that."

I raised an eyebrow at him.

"I love you, my mom, all of my friends ... so, of course, I love Toby, too," he explained. "If everyone tried to love everyone else, even the people we didn't like, I think maybe this world would be a much better place."

"You know what I meant," I said, rolling my eyes.

"Yeah, I do," he admitted. "And yes, I do think I probably love Toby in the kind of way you're thinking about. I think our different personalities and interests complement each other very well. I know we didn't hit it off very well at the beginning, but I feel really lucky to be boyfriends with him."

UGH! This was not sounding good. If Toby did decide to break up with Cody, it would absolutely break his heart!

"Has he talked to you about any of this?" Cody asked.

"No, not really," I lied. What was I supposed to say? Tell him that Toby was thinking of breaking up with him and didn't love him the same way, and that one of the reasons might be that Toby still had some feelings for me? I didn't think that would be a very good idea. And I still couldn't be totally sure of that last part ... but I had my suspicions.

"So what do you think I should do?" he asked.

Huh? Was Cody actually asking me for advice on something? That was definitely odd.

"I don't know, Cody. It seems like so many things are just so out of whack right now. I mean, Toby's sick and all, Mikey's totally shut himself off from the rest of the world, and Ryan's been acting weird. I think I'm just as confused as you. I don't know what to do," I sighed.

"I think the only thing we can do is wait, and be willing to be there for them when they're ready," he said.

He was probably right, but I didn't like it. I hated not knowing what was going on. I felt so helpless. But then again, I'd felt helpless for a good portion of my life. And now that I'd started getting used to all of the changes that had happened since I'd moved in with the McCormacks, I didn't like feeling that way again. I'd begun to get accustomed to having some degree of control over my life and what went on around me, but that was quickly fading away.

Unfortunately, the rest of the month went on pretty much the same way. I worried incessantly about Toby and Mikey, and about what was going on in my boyfriend's head. I continued spending lots of time with Toby, especially when he was feeling ill right after his chemo treatments. It was difficult to understand how this stuff that was supposed to be curing him could make it seem like he was just getting worse and worse.

He was happy that he still hadn't lost his hair -- and I had to admit that I was, too, since it was hard to picture a bald Toby -- but he kept losing weight, was constantly exhausted (he practically collapsed as soon as he got home from school every afternoon), and it seemed like he grew paler and weaker with each passing day.

I forced myself not to let that get to me, because I knew I had to be strong for Toby. And when we were alone, I even tried flirting with him some -- although nothing too serious, since I didn't want to give him the wrong idea -- hoping to boost his spirits a bit. When he was up to it, we played video games together, but that was about all he ever felt like doing. One good thing, though, was that I hadn't seen him have a cigarette ever since his diagnosis.

And since Maggie was working long hours (and Ryan seemed less than concerned), I was the one who got up during the night when I heard him throwing up or stumbling around to get to the bathroom. There were even a few times that he'd had nightmares, and I had to go to his room to comfort him when his crying woke me up. Other than that one time at Christmas, I'd never seen Toby cry before. I couldn't even begin to imagine how miserable he must have been feeling.

Toby still hadn't had "that" talk with Cody, either, which I was hoping was a good thing. Cody still came around to see Toby a few times after school, and they even spent some "alone time" watching movies up in Toby's room, but that wasn't a frequent occurrence. I still held out hope, though. That's about all I could do when it came to the two of them.

On the Mikey front, I'd been holding out hope since the beginning of the month that his reluctance to talk would eventually pass, but as the days went by, he remained as withdrawn as ever. I'd tried everything I could think of to get him to talk to me, but nothing worked. Each time I invited him to go out for a snack after school, or just to hang out and talk, he turned me down. He'd also stopped going to GSA meetings entirely. That was probably what worried me the most, since that was his only real support group besides his friends, most of whom were also in GSA.

I was so worried, in fact, that I actually hoped that he would show up late one night, crying on our doorstep again, just so I'd know what was going on. Some people would say that no news was good news, but in the case of Mikey, with the fact that he seemed to be emotionally deteriorating, I didn't see much of a silver lining. Toby was lucky, in one sense, because he had people taking care of him. But Mikey had no one. So I decided that I was going to figure out a way to rectify that. I just needed to find someone to give me a hand.

I finally ended up spilling my concerns about Mikey to the twins. We decided that if Mikey hadn't started getting back to his old self again within the next couple of weeks, we would kidnap him and force him to spill his guts about whatever was bothering him. Of course, it wasn't a very well thought out plan, but it was all we could come up with. Now, I just needed to wait a couple weeks to implement it, and hopefully in the meantime, come up with something a little more concrete. At least I had the support of the twins now, and I was glad that they shared my concerns.

The one bright spot during this time of turmoil was that Ryan was doing really well in baseball, and that kept him in a good mood most of the time. Even though he'd been acting somewhat indifferent toward Toby and Mikey, he still treated me the same as he always had, and when we were alone together, it was my one respite from all of the bad stuff that had been going on.

I'd been to every one of his home games so far, and was, without a doubt, his biggest fan. And surprisingly, it didn't embarrass me all that much that I was screaming for him about ten times louder than everyone else. I got a few funny looks from some other people in the stands, but I didn't really give a rat's ass about that. I was happy for my boyfriend, dammit!

And not only were things going well on the baseball diamond, but they were going great in the sack, too. It wasn't that our first time wasn't good, because it was, but I soon learned that the old adage "practice makes perfect" really did ring true. Each time left me feeling all tingly and quivery, and even though the physical part of it was mind-boggling, I enjoyed snuggling with Ryan afterwards the most, lying in his arms and feeling him gently kiss my forehead, ears, cheeks, and neck, all the while telling me how much he loved me. It was during those moments that he seemed like the "old" Ryan again, the one who had helped me off the sports field that day and taught me how to feel something other than pain, and the one I was still hopelessly in love with.

Shortly after we'd gotten back from Las Vegas, Ryan had asked me if I wanted to try switching roles. I figured there were probably a lot of gay guys that did both, but for some reason, the thought of it just didn't appeal to me. I'd told that to Ryan even before the first time we'd had sex, but I guess he didn't totally get it. Even if he'd really wanted for me to fuck him, I wasn't sure I could do it. Maybe it was performance anxiety or something, but when I thought about doing it, I couldn't stay hard. Fortunately, though, Ryan didn't seem that disappointed, although I'm sure he might have liked to try it at least once. Maybe some day, but for now, I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that I was a total bottom, and I liked it that way.


The evening of my performance at Senior Night in mid-May was warm, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I could see all of the stars in the night sky, shining brightly, and it really was a beautiful sight. It had been over a month since my last performance, at the school's Spring Fair, and I was looking forward to performing again. I had met with the "techies" who would be taking care of the lights and sounds, and made sure that everything was just the way I wanted it.

I'd also taken the money they'd given me to rent a tuxedo, and instead spent it on an expensive metallic black vinyl suit, complete with a pair of black-framed Versace glasses with pink lenses, and a dangly silver earring. I was very proud of my ensemble. I just hoped the principal didn't have a bitch fit when he saw that I wasn't wearing the tuxedo. However, I firmly believed that the music should speak for itself. Whenever or wherever I performed, it was always on my terms. It had always been that way.

I arrived early at the country club where the event was being hosted, wearing a Detroit Pistons warm-up jacket and a pair of white Nike shorts, with my stage clothes tucked away in a garment bag. The banquet hall where the event was being held was decorated very elegantly, with dozens of large, circular tables, each covered with a linen table cloth, expensive-looking silverware, and a vase of flowers at the center. There were black balloons hung up all around the room that said, "Congratulations Seniors!" as well as a podium up front, near the stage, and a table where the DJ had his equipment set up. Between the stage and the tables, there was also a modest-sized dance floor.

I was trying to be more professional about my performances now, so I wanted to personally check the sound and light arrangements, and have enough time to make any corrections. The Kurzweil digital piano was set up on a small stage, and the lighting effects that one of the "techies" discussed with me met with my satisfaction. With no one in the large reception room yet, except for me and a couple of the "techies," I decided to do a sound check to make sure everything was perfect.

I sat down at the piano and adjusted the microphone as the lights were dimmed and a single purple spotlight shone down on me and the piano. I ran through Billy Joel's "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)," which I wasn't planning on playing that night, but which was a song I had always liked. I then switched to something more fast-paced -- in case I got the urge to really rock out that night, despite the "formality" of the occasion -- playing Tom Petty's classic "I Need To Know," which was accompanied by a more exciting light display, matching the up-tempo rock beat of the song. I was definitely satisfied with everything and was confident that it would be a good show.

Once the sound check was completed, and I was positive that everything was set up properly, I left to go home for a little while, since I really had no desire to sit through hours of dinner, awards, and dancing. There wasn't much going on at home, though. Ryan was downstairs watching a baseball game on TV, and Toby was up in his room, feeling sick as usual. I decided to spend the couple hours of free time I had with him. We just lay next to each other on the bed and chatted about whatever random thoughts popped into our minds. I was hoping that someone would have a camcorder to record my performance at Senior Night, because Toby had really enjoyed the video of me performing at the Spring Fair.

I arrived back at the country club at around nine o'clock and had about a half hour to get ready. So I found an empty room where I could get changed, and waited for my introduction from the principal, which was to be followed by the pre-recorded orchestral introduction from the Broadway musical Aida that I had used the previous fall at the talent show. As I peered into the large banquet room, I could see that everyone seemed pretty worn out from the evening and would probably enjoy a few slow songs to dance to, a nice relaxing way to wind down. I hoped I wouldn't disappoint them.

"Let me have your attention, everyone!" the principal announced at around ten o'clock. "We are very pleased and honored to have a brilliant musician to perform for us, and I think it will be the perfect ending to a wonderful evening."

As soon as he stepped off the stage, the lights dimmed, and the wonderful light crew put on a show of stars revolving slowly around the stage, as the opening bars of the orchestral introduction began. The gentle, flowing string arrangement seemed to get the audience into a much more relaxed mood, as the sounds of their chatting and laughing began to die down. After about five minutes, the strings began their final, powerful crescendo, and then slowly began to fade away, cuing me to walk onto the stage and take my place at the digital piano.

I glanced over at the principal, and it was obvious that he wasn't pleased with my outfit -- but he'd have to just get over it. At least I hadn't come out dressed like Donald Duck or something. Personally, I thought my wardrobe was quite understated.

After adjusting the microphone and waiting for the final chords of the orchestral piece to die away, I began to sing an a capella version of Leon Russell's "Song For You," then immediately segued into a perfectly crafted medley of two of Elton John's classic love songs, "Blue Eyes" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues." Feeling energized, I continued on with an extremely powerful and impassioned rendition of Ella Fitzgerald's "At Last," followed by my favorite, Jim Reeves' "He'll Have To Go," Bob Dylan's "Forever Young," and Leonard Cohen's "Light As the Breeze." I even threw in a newer song for good measure, Robbie Williams' "Better Man." There were no fancy light displays during this portion of my set, just a lone purple spot light that shone on me and the piano, and a number of lit candles placed around the stage. The ambience was perfect.

I then took a short break to say a few words to the audience of graduating seniors.

"Thank you all for being such a great audience, and it's a real pleasure to have been invited here to play for you. This is the beginning of your new lives, and I wish you all the best of luck," I said a bit shyly into the microphone, and was met with a loud round of applause.

Sometimes, I surprised myself at how articulately I spoke when I was up on stage, even when I wasn't singing. It was a room full of strangers, one of which I knew was most certainly Trent Lomax, since he would be graduating this year, but it didn't bother me at all. After all of the drama that had been going on recently, this evening was a much needed break for me, and I was feeling great.

As soon as the applause from the audience died down, I started in on The Beatles' "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds," accompanied by a psychedelic light display, and which got everyone singing along with the chorus. I followed that up with Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," and then finished up with the classic Billy Joel song "This Night," which I dedicated to all of the graduating seniors.

The applause was nice, although not nearly as deafening as it had been for some of my performances at the club or during the talent show. But it was still enough to inspire me to do a couple more songs to end the evening on a more upbeat note, after I had changed back into more comfortable clothes. So, for my encores, I chose Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" and Elton John's raucous rocker, "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)," which really got the crowd going wild.

After having shifted from slow-tempo ballads to upbeat rockers, carefully manipulating the audience's emotions, I brought them down one last time with my finale, Billy Joel's "This Is the Time," which had become a standard for high school graduations. Sure, it may have been a little clich
éd, but it was kind of expected.

I felt pleased with myself as I finally exited the stage and went to get changed back into my regular clothes. That performance was just what I needed to get me feeling a little more balanced and relaxed. When Dr. Sandler approached me with my two hundred dollars, that was just icing on the cake. And I didn't even bump into Trent Lomax, either.


The weekend after Senior Night, the twins, Natalie, Tuwanda, Delcondris and I decided to put our little "intervention" plan into effect, and deal with the whole Mikey thing once and for all. Ryan, however, said he had too much homework to do and then needed to get to bed early because of his baseball game the following day. Maggie was working late again, so I figured it would be good that someone would be home for Toby anyway. He'd just had his chemo treatment that afternoon, and was undoubtedly not feeling too hot.

I even managed to convince Dominic to come along, because even though Mikey swore up and down that he wasn't interested in a relationship right now, he needed all the friends he could get. I didn't plan on trying to force the two of them to get together, but I was going to try to prod Mikey to at least be upfront with Dominic about what was going on. It wasn't fair to leave him in the dark like that. Heck, he'd been leaving all of us in the dark! But after enough nagging, pestering, and begging, Mikey finally agreed to go out with us for the evening. Now, the only thing we needed to do was to get him to start talking.

We had all agreed to go out to a movie that Friday evening, and then a late dinner at one of the local 24-hour diners. None of us really liked the big-name chain restaurants, like TGI Friday's or Chili's, and there was nothing that could beat a bacon cheeseburger, greasy French fries, and a big chocolate milkshake from one of the local establishments. Unfortunately, those types of "mom and pop" restaurants were becoming less and less common.

As we pulled up in front of Mikey's house, all crowded into Delcondris' father's Suburban, I immediately sensed that something was wrong when I got out of the car and heard the sounds of screaming and yelling coming from the house. Before I had made it halfway up the driveway, the door to Mikey's house burst open, and he came barreling outside with his backpack slung over his shoulder and a very distraught expression on his face.

"What's going on?" I asked him, remembering all too well the day that Ryan heard the sounds of fighting coming from my mom's trailer.

"Nothing, let's just go," Mikey mumbled, noticeably trying to hold back his tears.

We crammed into the Suburban, and according to plan, Mikey got crammed in right next to Dominic. Dominic turned his head and blushed. Although Mikey looked like he was about to protest for a moment, he just sighed and slouched back in his seat, with tear streaks clearly visible on his bright red cheeks.

Unfortunately, this was about as far ahead as I had planned for our "Mikey Intervention." Now that someone actually had to start talking -- and it was doubtful that Mikey would just open his mouth and start spewing out his troubles -- I had absolutely no idea what to say. I was starting to wonder if this was a good idea, after all. Luckily, I didn't have to say anything, because as soon as Delcondris began backing the behemoth Suburban out of Mikey's driveway, barely missing the mail box on the way, Tuwanda jumped right in.

"Mikey, sweetie, what the hell is going on with you?" she asked, turning around from her position in the passenger's seat next to Delcondris, and looking Mikey squarely in the eye.

"I said it's nothing," he muttered angrily under his breath, refusing to make eye contact with anyone. I would have said he looked adorable like that, kind of like a little kid who'd just been scolded, but that obviously wouldn't have been appropriate under the circumstances.

"Don't back talk me, boy," Tuwanda chastised him. "You tell us what the hell has been going on with you, or we ain't leavin' this car!"

"Fine!" Mikey retorted. "My parents can't stand the fact that I'm a faggot, so I've been grounded. That means no car, no friends, no telephone, no computer, and no going out ... anything to keep me from having contact with anything 'gay'."

"Then how did you get out of the house tonight?" Ben asked.

"That's what all the screaming was about when you pulled up," he replied. "My parents told me I couldn't go out, and I told them where they could shove their stupid ass rules."

"Rock the fuck on! You go, Mikey!" Derek cheered.

Mikey glanced over at him and rolled his eyes.

"So what're you gonna do now?" I asked, finally figuring out something to say.

"I don't know. There's not much I can do. They've never hit me or anything like that. They just scream and yell a lot, and have basically grounded me until I'm eighteen," he sighed. "It's been like this ever since they found out about me, and I don't know how much longer I can take it. Things were better for about a day after Dr. McCormack came over and talked to them, but then they went right back to the way they were acting before. I really wish I didn't have to go back there, but I can't run away."

"You know you can stay with us as long as you want, Mikey," I said, squeezing his hand.

"I know, and I appreciate it. But my parents would come get me eventually. They like to keep up the image that they have the perfect family with a perfect son. If I suddenly disappeared, it would make them look bad. So, I'm stuck where I am," he said.

"Well, why don't you at least come and stay with us tonight?" Derek chimed in. "We'll have our mom drive you home tomorrow morning, and she can try talking to your parents again. Maybe she can say something that will get them to lay off you for a while."

"So your parents are cool with the whole gay thing?" I asked Derek.

He chuckled. "Yeah, they're totally cool with it. They know about you, Ryan, and Toby. They've actually been trying to get Ben to admit that he's at least bisexual for the longest time, but he refuses to admit it."

That comment earned Derek a glare and a flick to his ear from his twin.

"Shut the fuck up, Derek," Ben said, sounding extremely annoyed. I'd never seen them bicker like that before.

"Dude, just get over it. No one's gonna hate you," Derek retorted. "Mom and Dad practically want you to be gay or bi. Just get over yourself."

"But I'm really straight," Ben protested. "I dated Sandy Macpherson last year. And I even banged her ... twice!"

"Keep telling yourself that long enough, and one day maybe you'll actually start to believe it," Mikey mumbled.

"Hey, now!" Ben protested. "This was supposed to be about helping Mikey, and now everyone's ganging up on me all of a sudden. What the fuck is this?"

"Boys, just hush it for a while," Tuwanda jumped in. Thank God for her timely intervention. "Mikey's going to Ben and Derek's tonight, then their mom is gonna talk with Mikey's mom tomorrow. After we know how that goes, we'll decide how to go from there. So, for tonight, the case is closed. And lay off poor Ben, too!"

I don't think anyone was really in the mood to argue with Tuwanda, so we all just shut up. Mikey seemed visibly relieved that he didn't have to go home that night. I just hoped the twins' parents could do a better job of talking with Mikey's parents than Maggie had done. Throughout this whole ordeal, though, I noticed that Dominic hadn't said a word. He'd just kept staring out of the window.

We finally got to the movie theater, and it seemed like everyone was in a much better mood. We lined up and got our tickets, and although I was in the mood for some popcorn and yogurt-covered raisins, I decided to hold off, so I could gorge myself on bacon cheeseburgers and fries at the diner later.

The movie turned out to be an excruciatingly awful teen slasher flick. I spent most of my time trying to see if anything was progressing between Mikey and Dominic, since we'd managed to get them to sit next to each other again. Unfortunately, they didn't seem to notice each other's existence, which was a major disappointment for me. I really wanted to see Mikey happy, and from the little I knew about Dominic, I could tell that he wanted to try. Mikey was turning out to be a tough nut to crack, though.

Dinner went pretty well, too, and I managed to wolf down two whole bacon cheeseburgers, a large order of super greasy fries, and a strawberry milkshake. Everyone was chatting and joking around with each other, and the atmosphere was totally different from earlier in the car. I was starting to feel optimistic that things would work out. I was also kind of glad that Ben and Derek were going to be taking over from here, because I had enough stress as it was with things at home -- although if Mikey continued to need my help, I would gladly give it.

Despite the whole "Mikey drama," the evening turned out to be pretty nice. I didn't even feel bad that Ryan hadn't joined us. It was kind of fun to hang out with everyone else, and it again confirmed for me that these were my friends, too -- and not just Ryan's. Knowing that made it a lot easier for me to open up and join in on all of their conversations and jokes. It was a really good feeling. But in the back of my mind, I was still very worried about Mikey, Toby, and Ryan. I knew that the rough times we'd been going through for the past month were far from being over. But at least I had my friends to help out, and I didn't have to face things alone anymore.

After Delcondris dropped me off at home, I found Ryan watching the late night talk shows in the living room. I was a little surprised that it was after midnight and he was still awake, especially since he'd said that he wanted to get to bed early because of his baseball game the next day.

"Hey, what's up?" I asked, walking into the living room.

"Nothin'. Just waiting for you to get back," he said, glancing over at me. "Did you have a good time?"

"Yeah, I did," I said with a smile. "The twins are gonna take care of Mikey tonight, and then their mom is gonna go talk to Mikey's parents again tomorrow. Hopefully things will work out."

"Cool," he said, turning back to watch Letterman's "Top 10 List."

"How's Toby doing?" I asked.

"I dunno," he said absently.

"Didn't you go check in on him at all?" I asked, a bit incredulously.

"He didn't call for help, so I'm sure he's fine," Ryan said, his eyes still glued to the television.

Of course Toby wouldn't call for help, even if he really needed it! I thought to myself. And Ryan knew that. I wanted to wring his neck for not at least having gone in to check on his brother. But I kept my angry thoughts to myself, and instead headed upstairs to check on Toby myself.

When I got to Toby's room, I found him hovering over the pail next to his bed, practically puking his guts out. It was not a pretty sight. I sat down next to him on the bed and patted his back while he finished vomiting, then helped him wipe off his mouth. I gave him some mouthwash to get rid of the taste, which he then spit back into the pail.

After flushing the contents of the pail down the toilet, I got a bottle of Gatorade and a straw for Toby. I knew that he could become dehydrated from puking so much, and that would not be good. He didn't want it at first, but I coaxed him into drinking about a third of the bottle, then wiped him down with a cool washcloth. He just kept looking worse and worse, and I couldn't do anything about it. I felt totally helpless.

We waited a few minutes to make sure the Gatorade would stay in his stomach, then lay down together on his bed. I wrapped my arm around him and stroked his sweat-covered hair with my other hand. His breathing was uneven, and he was clearly in a great deal of discomfort.

"How're you doing, bud?" I asked gently.

"Not so hot. But I'm sure you already knew that," he said, managing a slight smile.

"Do you want me to stay with you tonight?" I asked.

"I wouldn't want Ryan to get upset. He's your boyfriend. You should stay with him," Toby replied.

"Well, you're my brother now, and I love you. He's not doing anything to take care of you, so he's just gonna have to deal with it," I said.

"After everything you've been through, how have you managed to stay such a sweet guy?" he asked.

I blushed. "I don't think I'm all that sweet."

"No, you really are, Connor," he said, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. "Thank you for taking such good care of me. It really hurts that Ryan's been acting like such an ass. Sometimes I wish he'd come and hold me like he did back when I was little. But at least you're here now, and I'm really grateful for that."

"You're very welcome, Toby," I said, giving him a soft kiss on the forehead. "Now try to get some sleep."

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.

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