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.

Other stories by LittleBuddhaTW: "Seeking Nirvana" and "A Free Man In Paris"


As June turned into July, the oppressive summer heat was becoming almost too much to bear. I was extremely thankful that I was working in the air-conditioned piano store. I wondered how Ryan could handle all of the outdoor sports activities that he had been participating in, when the most I could deal with was the occasional trip to the swimming pool with the twins, or our combination football-wrestling matches played in their backyard, with the sprinklers turned on full-force. Ryan was also supposed to be going away for a three-week baseball camp later in the month, and I was getting worried that all that time spent out in the hot sun wouldn't be good for him.

I continued to surprise myself at how much concern I felt for Ryan, even after he so cruelly dumped me. My despair during the first few weeks after our separation had eventually turned into a feeling of anger at the way he'd been acting, refusing to communicate with me at all. But I still loved him, and probably always would. I still worried about him all the time, but I had also realized that it was time to start moving on with my life, despite the fact that I couldn't extricate myself from the situation entirely, being that we continued to live under the same roof.

I had no plans to date again for a long while, but it wasn't going to do me any good to sit around and mope like Ryan had been doing. And I had to credit the amazing support of my friends for helping me to get through it so quickly -- if you could call a month "quick." Having been practically friendless for so long, I couldn't imagine my life anymore without them. They were there when I needed comforting, or to nudge me when I needed nudging. And, I must admit, my shrink was a big help, too. Ironically, since I'd been skeptical of the idea of seeing a therapist at first, my weekly appointments with Dr. Frazier had become a part of my routine. It was helpful to have an outside, objective person to help me look at things.

Despite my being without a boyfriend, Toby and Cody seemed to be moving in that direction again. I was glad, because I thought they both deserved to have someone to love, and to be loved. At the same time, I was still worried that something would happen and Cody would end up getting hurt again. I'd discussed the issue with Toby, and he'd promised me that he would take things slow with Cody and wouldn't hurt him again. But I figured I should discuss things with Cody as well.

One evening in early July, Cody and I were pigging out at an Ethiopian restaurant that had recently opened. I had been a little wary of Ethiopian food at first, and actually had no idea that they were famous for their cuisine. All I'd ever heard about were people starving in Ethiopia. The food was incredible, though. I'd never eaten much "foreign" food before, but after we'd made a mess of ourselves, eating the large slab of bread covered with all different kinds of curry with our hands (apparently, Ethiopians don't use utensils), I decided that I definitely wouldn't mind trying out some more exotic restaurants in the future.

"So, what's going on with you and Toby?" I asked, swallowing a large mouthful of spicy curry.

"What do you mean?" Cody replied, arching an eyebrow. "We're friends."

"Are you sure you're just friends?" I asked. "You two were sitting awfully close together the other night."

"We're both touchy-feely kinda guys," he said. "You know that."

That was true. All of our friends were touchy-feely people. But considering Toby's and Cody's history, I figured something else had to be up.

"So is that all you want to be? Just friends?" I prodded.

"You're worried that I'm gonna get hurt, aren't you?" Cody retorted, with a wry grin.

Yep, Cody could always read me like a book.

"Yeah, so what? You know I care about you."

"We've talked about things, and I know why he did what he did. We're not together again, at least not right now. But I think if we do get back together, things will be different. He knows how much I care about him, sick or not," he said.

I really hoped it would work out between the two of them. But it wasn't in my hands, nor should it have been. It wasn't my place to get involved in their love lives, and I figured that they could decide things for themselves.

Work was still going well, although I'd discovered after a month of working at the piano store that the hours were a bit much. I was working about thirty-five hours a week. Since I'd been enjoying my time with my friends so much, I didn't want to waste the whole summer sitting inside, even though I loved being there and having the opportunity to play all the time. So, the manager let me cut my hours down to twenty-five per week, and that gave me more time to spend with the twins, Cody, and Toby. Because I was working on commission, the hours didn't really matter, anyway.

So, all in all, the summer was turning out to be better than I would have thought only a month before. I was enjoying my job and having a great time with my friends. The only drawback, of course, was the awkwardness at home. But I continued to manage that by avoiding home as much as possible. I doubted that Maggie even noticed that I was hardly ever there. At least, she didn't say anything about it. Ever since my conversation with her after Ryan broke up with me, I'd made an effort to avoid Maggie as much as possible. Between both of our busy schedules, that was pretty easy to do. The only real interaction I had to endure was getting the money that Social Services sent her for my care. I was back to being almost as independent as I had been before, and I liked it that way.

Derek and Ben were both on the swim team at the pool they belonged to. I'd asked them why they weren't on the swim team at school with Toby, and they both said it was too much of a time commitment. They just liked to do it for fun during the summer. I'd had to miss their first couple of swim meets because of work, but after I had my hours cut back, I was finally able to make it to one. I clearly remembered how hot Toby had looked in his little Speedo when I'd gone to see him at one of his swim meets, but the way the Speedos tightly hugged the twins' hips and butts, and the highly visible bulges in the front ... well, it was almost downright obscene! Of course, I loved it.

In fact, it was even better than watching Ryan and his teammates running around in their baseball uniforms. I figured I must be some kind of pervert or something, because I started thinking of ways I could get to spend more time around the pool, just so I could watch all of the hot guys running around, barely dressed. I thought about asking the coach if they needed a timekeeper or something at practices, but was too chicken shit to actually go ask.

Ben and Derek both did really well that day, and as I had been doing for the past month, I was going to be staying the weekend at their house. Apparently, though, they hadn't gotten enough water for one day and decided that we would go to a water park that afternoon. I thought it would be nice to invite Toby and Cody to go along, although I wasn't sure that being out in the hot sun would be very good for Toby's health. But Toby loved being in the water, and because of the leukemia, hadn't been in a pool for a while. And he insisted that he would be fine, and would go sit in the shade if he started to feel tired, so I figured it would be ok.

The five of us crammed into my car and headed over to the water park. It was just a local place, and certainly not as nice as some of the bigger theme parks, but it was still a lot of fun. I'd never even been to one of the bigger places, and wouldn't have known there was a difference if Toby hadn't mentioned it. I realized that there were a lot of fun summertime activities that I'd missed out on growing up.

Since it was summertime, and a Saturday afternoon to boot, the place was packed. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was definitely a perfect day for being in the water. The screaming of little kids running around and playing, as well as their parents yelling at them to slow down and be careful, was practically deafening. At some point, I seemed to have gotten over my fear of crowds. While it was a little annoying when little kids kept bumping into me, I wasn't as terrified by the large number of people as I would have been before. It was definitely a new feeling for me.

I almost fainted when I saw Cody come out of the changing rooms wearing a Speedo. I was a little surprised, because the twins had changed into board shorts, which was what Toby and I were wearing as well. If Cody had looked hot in a loincloth, he looked about a hundred times hotter in a Speedo. It was almost too much for my hormone-crazed sixteen-year-old mind to handle. I even noticed Ben sneaking a few glances at Cody -- although, I must admit, Cody's "bulge" wasn't quite as big as the twins' ... not that that mattered or anything ... just something I noticed. I was glad that Cody asked Toby to put the sunscreen on him, though, or else I might have made a mess in my shorts right then and there!

My favorite part of the water park was definitely the slides. Even though the lines were long, I kept going back for more. I couldn't get enough of the adrenaline rush that came with sliding down the slick plastic at breakneck speeds and plowing into the pool of water at the bottom. Eventually, though, Ben managed to coax me away from the water slides, and we got onto a two-person inflatable inner-tube that traveled lazily around the park in a man-made moat. It was very relaxing, and I enjoyed taking in all of the sights and sounds around me. Lying there in the hot sun, I also realized that I'd probably end up with a nice tan, provided I didn't burn instead.

It was a nice surprise when Ben took my hand in his. I wasn't expecting that, considering Ben wasn't "out" or anything. Heck, he'd never even said he was gay. But then again, the way we were positioned, it wouldn't have been obvious that we were holding hands. It was getting more and more difficult to ignore that things were going somewhere with Ben ... I just didn't know exactly where, or if I was ready for that. I wanted to be, though. Ben made me happy. Very happy.

I must have been daydreaming or something as we were floating around the park, because I suddenly heard Ben's voice, and when I looked over at him, he had a strange expression on his face.

"Are you okay, Connor?" he asked.

"Yeah, I'm great. Why?"

"I don't know. You just seemed like you were somewhere else for a minute there," he said. "What're you thinking about?"

"Just stuff, I guess," I replied, with a shrug.

"Good stuff?" he asked, with a cheeky grin.

"Yeah," I said. "Really good stuff."

The rest of the afternoon was great, and I did end up getting a pretty decent tan. However, I should have known that the day couldn't have possibly gone perfectly. I insisted on one more trip down the largest water slide before we left, as the sun was beginning to set. But this time, as I plunged into the water face first, my swimming trunks decided that they weren't going to stay on. When I came up, sputtering water, and realized that I was standing there in the middle of the pool buck naked, I almost had a total panic attack. Then I noticed Toby standing about five feet away from me, holding my swimming trunks up like a trophy.

"You lose something?" he asked, chuckling.

"Gimme those!" I practically shouted at him, trying to cover my crotch with one hand and going after my swim suit with the other.

Unfortunately for me, Toby was in one of his more immature moods, and decided that it would be funny for me to chase him around the pool. I was absolutely mortified. The only good thing was that the water came up to my hips, so it managed to hide my "equipment." Unless one were to happen to look down into the water ... then "Little Connor" would be as plain as day for anyone to see.

"Goddammit, Toby!" I shouted, as I finally caught him and managed to grab my trunks. "You're such an asshole!"

"You know you love me," he said cheekily, sticking his tongue out at me and slapping my bare butt.

"You're lucky I do," I retorted. "Or you'd be dead right now."

"Oooooh, I'm shaking," he said in a mocking tone.

Little punk. I was gonna have to think of some way to get him back for that!

I was in for yet another round of embarrassment while we were walking back to the car after we'd gotten changed.

"Now I know why my brother likes you so much," I heard Derek say as he walked up beside me. "You've got a cute ass."

And with that, he giggled like a little kid and ran on ahead.

Dammit! Now I had to get them all back!


"May I speak with Connor Matthews, please?" I heard a strangely familiar voice on the other end of the phone.

"This is Connor," I replied hesitantly.

"Hi, Connor. This is Detective Franz. How've you been doing?" the detective asked, in his slightly gruff yet friendly voice.

"Oh, hi, sir. I've been doing alright, I guess. Things have been a little tough, though, since Mikey's death," I sighed. "Is that what you're calling about? Do you have some new information or something?"

"Actually, no, Connor," he replied. "We believe we've got the man who raped you."

As soon as I heard those words, I almost dropped the phone. After everything that had been going on, and despite the brief chat we'd had at the hospital, I'd let that entire subject slip to the very back of my mind. I didn't need anything else to get upset about. And, I guess, a part of me figured they might never actually find the guy. But I didn't know if I should feel relieved, scared, angry, or what.

"Uhhh ... that's great ... I think," I managed to stammer out. "So now what?"

I hadn't thought about what would actually happen if they did catch him. The only thing I had thought about was whether or not they would catch him.

"Well, we have him in custody right now. We just had him extradited from Wisconsin. We'd like you to come down to the police station with your guardian to see if you can make an identification, and then you'll need to sit down and talk with the assistant district attorney," he replied.

I would have to identify him? Did that mean I'd actually have to come face to face with that man again? I didn't think I could deal with that right then. It was a terrifying thought, actually. I'd never really considered the possibility that I would have to see him again, probably sit in a courtroom, and even get up in front of all of those people to talk about what he'd done to me. That was not something I wanted to do. I had to find some way to get out of it.

And then it came to me.

"Ummm ... Detective Franz ... Maggie ... errr ... my foster mom ... she's working all week, including a few double shifts. I'm not sure if she'd be able to bring me down to the police station," I stuttered. I hoped that would at least buy me some time. Maggie was always busy. There was no telling when she'd have the time to go down to the police station with me and sit around while I identified that creep and was interviewed.

"That's not a problem, Connor," the detective said, dashing my hopes of avoiding this for a while. "I'll give your social worker a call and have him meet you down at the station. He can stand in place of your legal guardian."

"Uhhh ... ok," I replied, my mind beginning to shift into overdrive, wondering how I was going to react to all of this. It had all been so sudden.

"Can you meet us down here in, say, two hours?" the detective asked.

"Yeah ... uhhh ... sure," I replied. "I'll be there."

I didn't want to be there, though. Not until I had all of this sorted out in my head, at least. What would I do when I saw that man? Would I want to attack him or kill him? Would I start screaming and crying like a little baby? Two hours was definitely not going to be enough time to prepare myself. This was one of the times I really wished Ryan was with me to calm me down. I wished he could go down there with me and hold my hand the whole time. I felt so incredibly alone ... and scared.

Ryan wasn't even home, though. He was at some sports activity. Toby wasn't home, either. He was spending the day over at Cody's house. So, I really was all alone. Completely and utterly alone, and about to come face to face with the man who had changed my life, stolen my innocence, and nearly killed me. And the only person I'd have there for support would be Dwayne Jackson. It's not like I didn't like him. Dwayne was a really nice guy. But I didn't know him that well, and if I needed someone to cling to, he wouldn't be the one I would choose.

Unfortunately, the two hours I had to wait went by in a flash, and it seemed like no time at all before I was pulling up in front of the local police precinct. My hands were trembling so badly that I had trouble getting the key out of the ignition of the car. When I walked in through the front door, I saw Dwayne Jackson sitting on a wooden bench next to the sergeant's station. He quickly stood up and walked over to greet me, sticking out his hand for me to shake.

"Hi, Connor, it's good to see you again," he said, a little too cheerfully.

"Hi, Mr. Jackson," I replied sullenly, giving his hand a weak shake. Knowing what was coming, I was thinking that I'd probably rather be locked up in a room with Nurse Gertrude and a hundred enema bags than be there at the police station.

"You ready, big guy?" Dwayne asked, placing a hand on my shoulder.

I just nodded in response, suddenly unable to speak.

Dwayne led me down a long hallway, the bright lights accentuating the puke green color of the linoleum floor and the peeling paint on the walls. I guessed they really didn't pay the police very much nowadays, considering the shitty condition of their police station. Eventually, we stopped in front of a metal door, which Dwayne opened, and he gently nudged me inside. Sitting at a bare wooden table were Detective Franz -- not surprisingly, drinking from a Styrofoam coffee cup -- and a woman I had never seen before. She was quite petite, and had dark brown hair, tied tightly into a bun on the top of her head. She was wearing bifocals on the edge of her pointy nose, but her face was kind, albeit somewhat tired-looking.

"Good afternoon, Connor," Detective Franz said, standing up and pointing to one of the wooden chairs at the table.

I quickly took my seat and started nervously bouncing my right leg and biting my fingernails. I'd never bitten my fingernails before.

Dwayne sat down in the chair next to me and put on his glasses. He seemed a lot more relaxed than I was, but then again, he wasn't about to come face to face with a man who had raped him.

"Connor, this is Vivian Bolero," Detective Franz said, gesturing toward the woman, who just smiled at me and nodded. "She is an assistant district attorney. Do you know what that is?"

I didn't like being patronized. I was sixteen years old, for chrissakes! And I'd watched enough legal dramas on television to know what the hell an assistant district attorney was. I really hated it when people assumed that teenagers were stupid.

"Yeah," I replied, somewhat curtly. "She's a representative of the district attorney, who is an elected official, and prosecutes cases on behalf of the state."

"Smart young man," the bespectacled woman remarked, giving me a smile and a wink.

At least someone didn't think I was an idiot! Thank you very much!

"Anyway, Connor," the detective continued, "we brought you down here to see if you could identify the man who attacked you."

Now I was starting to get really worried. The moment of truth. And I had a million questions and fears racing around in my head.

"Uhhh ... is he gonna be able to see me? Is he gonna be behind one of those two-way mirrors or something? Am I gonna have to testify in court?" I asked, the questions just spilling out of my mouth.

"Slow down there, son," Detective Franz chuckled. "All we want you to do is look at some photographs, and tell us if you recognize any of the men."

I let out an audible sigh of relief. I wasn't going to have to face him ... yet. I could handle photographs.

With that, Detective Franz pulled out a manila folder, and placed a number of mug shots in front of me. I didn't even know how many, because as soon as I saw that beady-eyed, sleazy looking face and nasty smirk, I knew it was him.

"That's him," I said excitedly, pointing to the second to last photograph. "That's the man who ... who attacked me."

The detective and Ms. Bolero glanced at each other, seeming to communicate with their eyes, and nodded.

"This is the man whom we just extradited and are now holding in custody," Ms. Bolero spoke up. "He is wanted here for a number of serious drug-related offenses, kidnapping, as well as at least ten other rapes of underage boys, that we know of."

As soon as I heard that there were at least ten other boys who had been violated by that man, my stomach dropped. It killed me to think that he had done that to so many other kids, and what personal hells they must be living through. I felt sick, and I was angry that the police hadn't caught him sooner, letting him do so much damage.

"What's his name?" I asked, gritting my teeth.

"Lenny Sclafani," Ms. Bolero replied.

"So what now?" I asked. "Do I have to give a statement or something? Testify in court? Do I have to see him? Is he gonna see me? I don't know if I can handle this ..."

The stress of the situation was beginning to consume me, and nearly my entire body was trembling. I had switched from biting on my fingernails to chewing on my lower lip, and my stomach was doing somersaults.

"Calm down, sweetie," Ms. Bolero said, reaching across the table and putting her hand on mine. "We have plenty against him to put him away for a long, long time, without having to try him for what he did to you. Most likely for the rest of his life. It doesn't make you weak or a coward if you don't want to testify against him. God only knows you've been through enough, and I would understand completely if you never wanted to see him or be in the same room with him. It looks like we'll be able to spare you going through that."

Her words, matched with the kind and sincere expression on her face, were incredibly comforting. I really didn't want to have to face him, or show up in court to talk about what had happened to me. But I did want him put in jail to rot forever. I was afraid of being weak, felt that maybe I needed to stand up to him and play a part in putting him away ... but I couldn't do it. I couldn't take any more stress. I just wanted to close that chapter in my life, once and for all.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," I said. "If you absolutely needed me to put him in jail, I'd do it. But if I don't have to, I'd just as soon put it behind me ... if that's ok."

"Of course, that's ok, sweetie," she said, giving my hand another squeeze. "We'll keep you up-to-date on what's going on, if you'd like, but I'm sure you'll be able to read about it in the papers and see it on television. It's going to be a pretty big story."

Hearing that made me even more happy that I wasn't going to be involved in the trial. I'd feel too embarrassed to go into work or school if it got out that I was involved in all of this, and what that man ... Lenny Sclafani ... had done to me.

"Thank you, ma'am," I replied, managing a weak smile.

"You're more than welcome, hon," she said, giving me another wink.

I looked over at Dwayne, who hadn't said anything the entire time, and he gave me a smile and an approving nod. What a relief!

"Oh, by the way," Ms. Bolero said. "I think you go to school with my daughter, Sally Bolero. And I believe it was your foster brother who took her out on a date last weekend. Ryan McCormack, right?"

WHAT THE FUCK?!?! The assistant district attorney was Sally "Big Ass" Bolero's mother? The archnemesis of the twins? And, excuse me, but did she just say she went on a date with Ryan? The same Ryan I was living with? The same Ryan who I had shared a bed with for almost a year? The same Ryan who was GAY?!?!

I just managed to gulp and nod. I didn't know of any other Ryan McCormacks at our school. And he had gone out last weekend, although he hadn't said to where. I had just assumed that he'd gone out with Delcondris, the only one of our friends who was on speaking terms with him at all.

My mind went into a tailspin. I wasn't sure what to think, but I had to get out of there ... and fast!

"Uhhh ... are we ... ummm ... done now?" I stuttered. "Can we go now, Dwayne?"

All three of them looked at me with slightly confused expressions, but then nodded and said I could go, but that they'd be in touch. I got out of there as fast as I could and headed to my car. As I was driving home, I tried to figure out exactly what I was feeling. It didn't take me long, though. Yes, I felt sad. Yes, I felt hurt. But most of all, I felt betrayed ... and pissed! How in the fuck could he do that? It had only been a month since we'd broken up, and he was already dating ... and with a girl, for pete's sake!

As soon as I parked my car in front of the house, I stormed inside and ran upstairs. I heard music coming from Ryan's bedroom, so he had obviously gotten home while I had been gone. I tried the door, but it was locked. And I wasn't in the mood to knock. I wasn't exactly feeling too polite right then.

So, I kicked the door as hard as I could, and it busted wide open, breaking one of the hinges. It was actually a little funny to see the door just sort of hanging there, and I realized that I would probably get in big trouble for busting it. But before I could ponder what my punishment would be, or how much it would cost to repair the door, my eyes fixed on Ryan, who was sitting on his bed, looking quite shocked, to say the least.

"Connor ... what the fuck?" he asked, sounding more surprised and confused than angry.

"You goddamn, fucking sonofabitch! I fucking hate you! I wish I'd never fucking met you, you no good piece of ass lint! If I believed in God, then I'd wish you would go straight to fucking hell and burn, you bastard prick! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! GOD, I FUCKING HATE YOOOUUU!" I screamed at the top of my lungs, startling even myself at my outrage.

Anger issues, Connor. I heard Dr. Frazier's voice chiding me gently in my head. But fuck that! If Dr. Frazier had been standing right there, I would have knocked the glasses off of his fucking head! Fuck that shit!

"What in the hell is going on, Connor?" Ryan asked, getting up from the bed and walking towards me, looking even more confused.

"Sally Bolero, that's what, you asshole!" I shouted. I could feel how flushed my face was. I'd never been so angry in my entire life. I felt like all that time we had spent together had meant nothing to him, that there I was, loving and idolizing him, and that didn't make a damn bit of difference to him.

Ryan stopped dead in his tracks.

"Yeah, buddy," I said sarcastically. "I ran into her mom today when I went to the fucking police station alone, to identify the asshole that fucking raped me. Your girlfriend's mom is the assistant district attorney, and my ex-boyfriend is dating her daughter. How funny is that?"

"Connor ...," he started, stepping toward me and reaching out his hand to touch my arm. But I slapped it away as hard as I could and stepped back, pointing my finger at him. I think I was trying to be menacing, and was hoping that this time, at least, I could pull it off.

"Don't you ever fucking touch me again, Ryan!" I shouted at him. "You lost the right to do that a month ago when you fucking left me. I told you, I hate you! So just stay the fuck away from me!"

"Connor, please, I ...," Ryan tried once again, stepping toward me, but I stepped back before he could reach out to touch me.

"I told you to back the fuck off, Ryan," I said, this time my voice much lower. "What part of 'back the fuck off' don't you understand? Are you retarded, too, besides the ADD?"

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted it. Despite how angry I felt toward Ryan, that was too cruel. I think I was expecting him to get angry, but his face just fell, and he looked ... defeated. But that's what I wanted, right? I wanted to hurt him as much as he had hurt me. At least, that's what I thought. Fuck! Why couldn't it be easier to hate someone?

I couldn't face the torrent of emotions that were welling up inside of me, so I turned on my heels and stormed out of the room. I would have slammed the door behind me, but it was just sort of hanging there on the door frame, looking all pitiful. And it wasn't the door's fault, anyway.

I did slam my door, though, when I got to my room. I then proceeded to quickly stuff some clothes, deodorant, and toothbrush into my back pack, then darted back out and ran downstairs, not sparing a glance at Ryan's room. I was going to go be with someone who did give a fuck about me.


The twins. They were my sanctuary. Cody would have been an option, too, but Toby was over there, and I wasn't ready to explain things to him yet. I was still too emotional. And if Toby and Cody were moving in the direction of getting back together again, I didn't want to spoil that with me showing up over at Cody's house in the state I was in. Plus, I just really wanted to be near Ben. I still wasn't sure what I wanted, or what was going on with him -- or me and him -- but I knew that I wanted to be with him, in some way or another.

"Hey, Connor," Derek said cheerily as he answered the door.

I just stood there shaking.

"Are you okay?" he asked, his tone suddenly worried, as he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the house.

"Where's Ben?" I managed to squeak out.

"He's upstairs. What's going on?"

Without answering Derek, I bolted up the stairs, practically knocking the twins' mother as she was coming down the stairs with a basket full of laundry.

"Hi, sweetie," she said. "Ben's in his ..."

I didn't stick around to hear her finish what she was saying. I ran straight to the twins' room, and immediately flung myself at a rather surprised-looking Ben, who was lying on his bed, listening to his iPod. Oddly enough, I wasn't crying. I hadn't felt like crying since I exploded at Ryan. I was shaking like a leaf, though, and my stomach was doing somersaults.

"Connor, what's wrong?" Ben asked, as I held on to him tightly. I didn't want to talk, though. I just wanted someone to hold me ... no, I wanted Ben to hold me. And never to let go.

"Guys, what the hell is going on here?" I heard Derek ask, as he came into the room.

"I don't know," Ben replied, cradling me in his arms.

"Boys, is everything alright?" I heard their mom's voice coming from downstairs. Shit! Their mom was nice and all, but she was a parent, and I didn't want any more parents meddling in my life.

"Everything's fine, ma," Derek shouted back. Fortunately, the twins were well enough aware of my issues with parental figures.

Within moments, Derek joined Ben and me on the bed, and I felt his hand rubbing the back of my neck.

"Connor, what's wrong?" Derek gently prodded me.

Somehow, I managed to find my voice again and told them everything -- from my attacker being caught, to running into Sally Bolero's mom, and, finally, my confrontation with Ryan. Ben held onto me, and Derek gently rubbed my back and neck the whole time I was talking, never interrupting me as the words came spilling out. I could feel Ben cringe, though, when I mentioned Sally Bolero's name, and I figured the twins would probably enjoy having an excuse to do something vile and cruel to her. It wasn't her fault, but I found some sense of satisfaction in imagining the horrible things that they were probably thinking of doing.

"You know, you can stay here as long as you want to, Connor," Ben said, as soon as I finished talking.

"Thanks," I mumbled, my face buried in his shoulder. "I think I'll stay tonight, but Ryan's leaving for baseball camp tomorrow, and I need to talk to Toby, too."

The rest of the evening, the three of us lay curled up together on Ben's bed, with me in the middle, watching DVDs. It was a strangely familiar sensation, and I enjoyed every minute of it, able to push all of the day's events out of my mind, even if for just a little while. Ben and Derek were absolute angels, and I enjoyed being babied by them.

Between Derek bringing dinner up to me -- his mother having made the most delicious prime rib I had ever tasted, with garlic and cheese mashed potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, and garlic bread -- and Ben giving me a back rub and foot massage, I felt as though I was being treated like a king. Other than the sound of the television, and the occasional moan of pleasure as Ben massaged and cuddled me, there was no talking, and I liked it that way.

After finishing off a large bowl of cheese popcorn and watching our fifth movie of the evening, we eventually called it a night. After I took a shower and brushed my teeth, I crawled into bed with Ben, as I had done quite a few times over the past month. But something felt different tonight. Something inside of me. Things between Ben and me had been moving toward "something" for a while. Finding out about Ryan and Sally Bolero had been the catalyst to make me realize that he just wasn't worth it anymore, especially not when there was someone like Ben around. However, since I had put up boundaries in our relationship that night Ben and I had kissed, I didn't expect him to take the next step ... at least not beyond flirting.

So instead of waiting for Ben to put his arms around me, I took the initiative and snuggled up to him, wrapping my arms around him, our bare chests pressed tightly together. That was a new position for us, as usually it was Ben spooned up behind me. For whatever reason, I didn't feel nervous, uncomfortable, or awkward at all ... and I wanted Ben to notice. Burying my face in his neck and gently sucking on the soft flesh there probably did the trick.

"Geez, Connor," Ben giggled, as I nibbled at his neck. "What's up with you?"

"Do you like me?" I asked softly, pulling my mouth off of his neck so I could look him in the eyes.

"Of course I do," he whispered, no doubt because he didn't want Derek to hear us. I didn't really care about that, though.

"No, I mean, do you ... like me?" I asked again, this time pressing myself even more tightly into him.

"Connor, what's gotten into you?" he asked, giggling again as I squeezed his butt.

"Ben, you've been flirting with me for the past month, whether you realize it or not. I'm not stupid ... so, do you like me?" I asked for the third time, starting to feel a little irritated at his evasiveness.

"I know I've been flirting, and you know as well as I do that I feel something ... uhhh ... different for you," he answered. We were pressed so closely together that I could feel his heart beating faster, as well as a bulge growing in his crotch.

"Well, I like you, too ... a lot," I said, resuming my nibbling on his neck. His whole body was shuddering as I flicked my tongue against his skin, my fingertips caressing his back softly, working their way ever so slowly toward the waistband of his boxers.

I had never been so forward in my whole life, but I didn't want to be the same shy, awkward, nervous kid that I'd always been. I just hoped I hadn't gone too far in the other direction and come off as slutty.

"So what do you want?" I asked, finally ceasing my assault on Ben's neck and resting my head comfortably against his chest.

"You mean sex?!" Ben asked, his voice cracking sharply.

"No, silly," I laughed. "I mean, between you and me."

Ben let out a long, slow breath, and I suddenly started to feel nervous again. Was this a mistake? Were things going to get really awkward now? Had I just fucked up one of the best friendships I'd ever had in my life? Way to go, Connor!

"Connor, I ...," he began.

"No, forget it," I said quickly. "I don't know what I was thinking. I'm sorry."

I tried to turn around, but Ben stopped me, bringing his hand up to hold my face and forcing me to look at him. I tried to wriggle free, but his grip was too strong.

"Connor, stop it," he chastised me. "I want to be with you. I really do. I just don't know if I'm ready to be in a 'gay relationship' yet. I mean, as soon as I say those words, it's like there's no going back. I mean, what if I want to get married and have kids some day? And what about Ryan? I don't want you to be with me just because you're upset with him. I'm really confused here, Connor. I don't know what to do."

I was stunned by his words. He sounded so ... desperate. I wasn't used to people asking me what they should do. And I didn't have the answers to give him.

"I don't know what to do, either, Ben," I sighed. "But I do like you, and I do want to be with you."

Ben let go of my face and pulled me into a tight hug. I was so tired and confused, and I could tell he was, too. The whole day -- no, the past few months -- had just been so fucked up.

"Connor, I know I want to be more than just friends," Ben said softly, running his fingers through my hair. "How about we try it out, but no serious commitments? Would that be okay?"

"Yeah," I replied. "I think that would be a good idea."


"Where have you been?" Toby asked, as I walked into the kitchen the following afternoon.

"I was at the twins' house," I replied. I didn't think there was any need to tell him yet what had happened between me and Ben.

"What the hell happened here yesterday?" he asked. "When I got home this morning to say goodbye to Ryan before he left for baseball camp, he was a mess."

Surprisingly, I was glad to hear that ... that Ryan actually felt something, for a change. Or at least acted like it.

"Hmmm, let's see," I started, making a dramatic pause and scratching my chin. Then I continued.

"Oh, yeah ... the police called, and they caught the guy who attacked me, so I had to go down there by myself to identify his picture and talk with the assistant D.A. The assistant D.A. turns out to be Sally Bolero's mother, who informed me that your wonderful brother, my ex-boyfriend, is now dating her daughter. Then, I came home, trashed Ryan's door, screamed at him, and then went over to see Ben and Derek. I think that about covers it."

I didn't mean to come off sounding so sarcastic, but it was a long and complicated story, and I wasn't exactly eager to go through it all again. Especially not right after I got in the door from having a pretty darn good night, despite all of the shit that I'd had to deal with the previous day.

"Shit," Toby muttered.

"Yeah, well, shit does tend to happen," I replied.

"I mean ... Sally Bolero," Toby said, turning red and looking slightly uncomfortable.

"What about her?" I asked, arching an eyebrow.

"It wasn't what you're thinking, Connor," Toby blurted out.

"What?!" I practically shouted. "You mean, you knew about that? And you didn't even tell me? Jesus Christ, Toby!"

Hell, I could deal with Ryan keeping things from me. He hadn't talked to me for a whole month. But Toby? That was like getting yet another knife driven into my back.

"Connor, please, just listen to me," Toby pleaded.

"Well, whatever you have to say, Toby, you'd better say it fast," I said. "I think I'll be on my way back to the twins' house pretty soon."

"Sally Bolero asked him to go hang out, so he said yes. He said he didn't think it was a 'date' until she tried to kiss him, and he told her he wasn't interested. He told me about it that night, and I thought it would be better not to tell you because you'd been upset enough as it is, and nothing really happened. It was just all a big misunderstanding."

"Well, whatever," I sighed. "It doesn't matter anyway. Ryan can do whatever he wants. I've moved on."

"What did you say to him yesterday?" Toby asked. "I haven't seen him so upset in a really long time."

"I think I made some sort of remark about his ADD and being retarded or something," I replied, starting to feel guilty all over again for having crossed that line.

"Why in the hell did you do that?" Toby asked, raising his voice again. "You know how sensitive he is about that."

"So now you're defending him?" I shouted back.

"I'm not defending anyone, Connor!" Toby retorted. "He's my brother, and I love him. I don't like seeing him get hurt. I love you, too, and what he did to you was beyond wrong, but as my mom always loves to tell me, 'two wrongs don't make a right.'"

"Yeah, well, I said it, and I regret it, ok?" I said, shrugging my shoulders. "I'll apologize to him when he gets back. I know it was wrong. But I was pissed, and wasn't exactly in the mood to hear his little explanation about Sally Bolero."

"There is definitely way too much drama in this house," Toby sighed.

"Tell me about it," I agreed.

"Wait a minute," Toby said, perking up again. "What exactly did you mean when you said you've already 'moved on'?"

Might as well get this over with now, Connor, I thought to myself.

"Ben and I," I answered.

"Holy shit!" Toby gasped, appearing scandalized. "You turned Ben gay? And you're together now?"

"We're not exactly 'together' together ... yet," I replied. "And I don't think I turned Ben anything. He's been flirting with me for a while now, and I just decided to flirt back. We're gonna take things slow and see what happens."

"Good God almighty," Toby sighed, shaking his head. "This is really getting interesting."

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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