Someday Out Of the Blue

by LittleBuddhaTW

Special thanks to Kitty (PiscesRising) and Sharon (Sat8997) 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"


I knew I shouldn't have told Ben about what Ryan told me, about how much he missed me. I should have known there would be some drama. My life seemed like a never-ending soap opera.

"Ben, you're over-reacting!" I pleaded with him.

"Connor, calm down," he said, stroking my arm gently as we sat on the sofa in his living room.

It was just the two of us, for once, and I'd been hoping for some "quality time" together ... namely, some making out, some naked cuddling, and maybe a little bit more. But no, I had to open my big mouth and tell him what had happened that night when I cancelled my date with him.

"I don't want to break up with you!" I practically shouted. "I didn't cheat on you! We didn't do anything, I swear!"

I was definitely worked up.

"I know that, Connor," Ben replied. "And I'm not 'dumping' you or anything. This was just a trial run, remember?"

No, no, no! This couldn't be happening again! I'd been so happy with Ben, with my life ... everything. And now I was getting dumped for the second time in less than a year. What in the hell was wrong with me?!

"But I thought everything was so good between us," I whimpered. I was prepared to start begging.

"It was ... and it is, Connor," Ben said, pulling me into a hug. "You've been the best boyfriend anyone could ask for. You're sweet, cute, and fun to be around. But your heart has always been with Ryan, and his with you. Ever since that first time he brought you over to our table at lunch, it's been obvious that the two of you have something special. It's hard to explain, and I've never really believed in soul mates, but if ever there were two people who were meant to be together, it's you two."

I pulled back from Ben's embrace. "If you thought that, then why did you agree to date me in the first place?"

He sighed and leaned back into the sofa, running his fingers through his hair. "Because I like you, Connor. I did, and I still do. Maybe it was a little selfish of me. Shit, I didn't even think things would go this far. I didn't think you'd be interested. But that's why I didn't want to get too serious or be 'official' boyfriends or whatever. A part of me always knew that you were meant to be with Ryan in the long run, once you'd both had time to cool down and think about things."

In a way, his explanation did make sense ... sort of. But that didn't make me feel any better. He was making a decision for me, and I didn't like that. Shouldn't that have been a choice for me to make? And if it was, I would have chosen to be with Ben. But, apparently, he wasn't giving me that choice, and it crushed me. Once again, I wasn't in control of my own life.

"I hope we can still be best friends, Connor," he said, looking at me hopefully.

"I wouldn't count on it," I muttered, then got up from the sofa and walked right out the door, without waiting to hear if he had a response. I'd had just about enough of having my heart broken.

I didn't tell anyone about my break up with Ben. If Ben wanted to tell people, then that was his business. There wasn't much of a chance for me to tell anyone, anyway, since I started pulling away from my friends. My excuse was that I wanted to work more hours before school started up again, but it was really because I didn't want to deal with all the questions, nor did I want anyone telling me what I should or shouldn't do, or trying to console me.

I started hanging out with Cody more, which worked out well for him, since Toby had recently started back to swim practice. But I kept my distance from Ryan and Ben. I wasn't upset with Ryan or anything, but I was afraid of being tempted to go running back to him, and that wasn't something I was ready to do. I knew he was sorry for what had happened, but he still hadn't given me any kind of explanation. I wasn't about to take the chance of getting hurt again, especially after having had my ass dumped twice in one summer. That wasn't an easy thing to deal with, especially with my already fragile self-esteem.

Ryan had started up lacrosse practice in preparation for the fall season, so it wasn't too difficult to avoid him. Ben, on the other hand, was proving to be more difficult. He kept calling me, practically begging me to hang out with him, but I rebuffed him every time. Sure, it was easy to say that you wanted to remain friends when you broke up with someone, but reality wasn't always that simple. And despite how much I cared for Ben and loved being with him, I couldn't handle it. Not yet, anyway.

The only time I was actually forced to be around the two of them was for Ryan's seventeenth birthday party. I'd momentarily entertained the thought of not going, but I figured that would probably be pretty shitty of me, so I forced myself to suck it up and make an appearance. I even made sure to buy him a present -- a silver necklace, which cost me about two hundred dollars. Apparently Ryan thought it was a nice gift, and he surprised me by pulling me into a tight hug. I wasn't prepared for that and didn't know how to respond. Sure, the obvious thing would have been to hug him back, but I was afraid of how any little gesture would be interpreted. I ended up just patting him on the back, but while he was hugging me, I caught a glimpse of Ben, scowling. Wasn't he the one who had wanted to break up with me?

The party itself was on a much smaller scale than my sixteenth birthday party, and I felt a little guilty about that. It was also raining that day, which meant that while Delcondris was huddled up under an umbrella at the grill outside, the rest of us were in the basement, watching movies, chatting, and playing darts. Eventually, Toby persuaded me to sit down at my digital piano and play something. I went through two of my favorite ballads, Elton John's "Blues for Baby and Me" and Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song." But I was still a little pissed at Ben's attitude when Ryan hugged me, so against my better judgment, I decided to make a veiled swipe at him and play something with a bit of a message. The song I chose was a country-flavored Elton John piece called "So Sad the Renegade," the lyrics expressing almost exactly how I was feeling about Ben.

You say I can't understand
The highway's hold on a troubled man
You want me but you don't know how
To quit the chase and settle down

I don't know but I can tell
You fill that saddle pretty well
But God knows I need something too
I've hung in all these years for you

So go ahead and chase the wind
And if someday you fold your wings
I'll be the nest you never made
If not, so sad the renegade

So sad that you lost me
When all you ever had to be
Was balanced in the games you played
You'll lose so sad the renegade ...

As soon as I finished, I knew I'd made a mistake, because it wasn't Ben who was scowling this time, but Ryan. That hadn't been my intention at all. The song wasn't directed at him, but since no one actually knew that Ben and I had broken up (except for probably Derek), there was nothing I could do about it at the time. From the looks on everyone else's faces and the lack of applause, I figured they must have gotten the wrong "hidden" message as well. I quickly recovered, though, and led everyone in singing "Happy Birthday" to Ryan. Unfortunately, I was afraid that the damage had already been done, and I'd ruined Ryan's birthday party.

That night, after everyone had left, I had the strange urge to sit outside in the rain. So, I got a couple of large rain ponchos and a humongous umbrella, and went out to the backyard. I set one of the ponchos on the ground to sit on, and then made a small, make-shift tent out of the other poncho and the umbrella. My little fort was a bit cramped, but it was cozy. Something about sitting out there, with no sound but the raindrops pelting off the umbrella, was so tranquil. Even though it was still August, the evenings were beginning to get chilly, but it didn't bother me. In fact, the only thing that was bothering me was how I was feeling about Ryan. How did I feel about him? How long would it be before everyone found out that Ben and I had broken up? Well, it probably wouldn't be too long, I figured. But why was I insisting on keeping it a secret? What was I afraid of?


As the days went by, I began to realize how silly it was to think that I could keep my breakup with Ben a secret. It wasn't like it wouldn't be obvious to everyone that I used to hang out with Ben constantly, and now I suddenly wasn't. So, I decided to tell someone -- Cody. Of course, I made sure to swear him to secrecy. I was still concerned about the news getting back to Ryan. I just hoped Cody could keep his mouth shut around Toby. And hopefully Toby would be so worked up seeing all those Speedo-clad boys in the pool every day that there wouldn't be much talking going on between the two of them when they did have time to hang out.

The whole "secretive" thing was really bothering me, though. I'd made so much progress in learning to relate to other people and not hide things anymore, but now I felt like I'd taken several big steps back. I was clamming up like I used to do. It was probably those feelings of guilt that urged me to tell someone, not to mention the hope that maybe Cody would be able to tell me what the hell my problem was, because I sure didn't know.

"I don't get what's wrong with me," I complained to Cody one Saturday afternoon, right before the new school year was getting ready to begin. "Why do I keep getting dumped?"

"There's nothing wrong with you," Cody said, pulling me into a hug. "The problem is with them."

Cody's hug felt so warm and safe. For a moment, I wondered why things hadn't gone anywhere between the two of us. He was the only one I was confident would never hurt me. But he was Toby's, so I forced myself to push that thought away. I'd rather be single for the rest of my life than be the cause of two people in love breaking up, especially when those two people were Toby and Cody.

"I've heard that one before," I sighed. "It's not you, it's me. And it's such bullshit."

"No, it's not, Connor," Cody said gently. "I learned it myself when Toby and I broke up before. At first, I thought it was my fault. I kept racking my brains and driving myself nuts trying to figure out what I did to make him stop liking me. And I finally realized that it really wasn't anything about me. When I figured that out, everything became so much easier."

I couldn't think of anything to say in reply. All I could do was sigh.

"You'll find someone, Connor. Trust me," he said.

That remark got my attention, though, and I pulled away from the hug.

"I don't get why people say that," I began, starting to get worked up all over again. "How can you, or anyone else, possibly know if I'll ever meet someone who's gonna make me happy? I really hate it when people say shit like that, 'cause they're just trying to make you feel better, but hearing that just makes me feel worse."

"I'm sorry," Cody said, barely above a whisper, and shifting his gaze from me to the ground.

Fuck! Why do I always say crap like that and hurt people's feelings? Me and my big fucking mouth!

"No, I'm sorry, Cody," I sighed. "I know you were just trying to help."

"Have you thought any more about what you want to do about Ryan?" Cody asked.

"I don't know," I replied, rubbing my fingers against my temples, trying to get myself to think straight. "I don't think I'm ready to go through that again."

"Have you ever considered that maybe Ben was right?" he asked.

"Right about dumping me and making me feel like shit?" I offered.

Cody rolled his eyes. "No, right about your feelings for Ryan, silly boy."

As much as I hated to admit it, I knew he was right. I just didn't want to admit it to myself, and especially not to anyone else. I'd feel like even more of a wuss if I went crawling back to Ryan. Like I was some helpless little kid who couldn't survive on his own. But I had survived. I'd survived my mother's abuse, getting raped, Toby's illness, Mikey's death, and Ryan's shitty behavior. I'd made a life for myself, and I was going to show everyone that I didn't need someone else to make me feel complete.

"I don't need Ryan, or any other guy, to survive," I asserted. "I'm doing just fine by myself."

"I didn't say you did, Connor," Cody replied. "I don't think anyone needs another person to make themselves whole, but sometimes it's nice to have someone to walk with you as you make your way through life."

"Thank you, Zen Master Cody," I said, looking at him and rolling my eyes.

Cody stuck out his tongue at me in reply, and we both started cracking up. It felt really good to laugh. Everything in my life had become so serious, and I was beginning to wonder if the "second childhood" I had been briefly granted had come to an end before it really got started.

"Do you love him?" Cody asked suddenly.

"What are you talking about?" I questioned him, with a raised eyebrow. Actually, I knew what he was talking about, but I was trying to avoid answering such pointed questions.

"Do you love him?" he repeated.

"Yeah, I do," I sighed. There wasn't much use trying to hide it from Cody. He could read me like a book. What I was most surprised about, though, was that I could even admit it to myself now. Nevertheless, that didn't mean that I was prepared to actually do something about it.

"You know, Connor, I don't think your little idea about keeping this a secret is going to work," Cody pointed out. "People aren't stupid, and they're gonna figure out that you and Ben aren't together anymore, if they haven't already."

"Are people talking or something?" I asked, starting to feel panicky.

"No one's said anything to me," Cody reassured me, "but just because we haven't heard anything doesn't mean they don't know. You haven't said anything, so they probably figure you have your reasons. You still haven't told me exactly why you think you need to keep it a secret, though."

"I don't know," I sighed. "I guess I just don't want to deal with it right now."

"Deal with what?"

"I don't know that, either," I replied.

"Well, you're gonna have to deal with it sooner or later," Cody said. "And probably sooner rather than later."

I knew that, of course, but it didn't mean I had to like it.


The start of the new school year was fairly lackluster. It was amazing to think, though, how much had changed over the past year. When I'd started my sophomore year in school, I'd been a wreck. In some ways, maybe I still was. But at least I wasn't getting the crap beaten out of me several times a week, and I had a nice home, the best friends in the world (even though they had a tendency to break my heart), a job, and a hell of a lot more confidence in myself than I ever had before. And how did I get all of that?


The name I'd been avoiding and hoping to keep out of my thoughts. It had been several weeks now since my breakup with Ben, but I still hadn't mentioned it to Ryan. He hadn't said anything yet, so I was hopeful that Ben hadn't brought it up, either. Of course, it was possible that everyone did know, as Cody had suggested, and just chose not to say anything. Either way, I was glad. Avoidance was working well for me ... so far.

Initially, being friends with Ryan again had turned out to be easier than I'd thought. Once I'd made up my mind that I needed to forgive him, things just went from there. I knew that I still loved him and cared about him, but was that really enough to overcome the problems and trauma of the previous few months? I fell in love with the boy who picked me up and took me home with him that day on the lacrosse field, the one who saved me from the nightmare that I'd been living for years. But Ryan had changed. I had changed. Could we ever go back to the way things were before?

I didn't have a whole lot of time to dwell on that, as I was thrown back into the daily grind of sitting through incredibly boring and uninspiring classes and homework. We also started back to our GSA meetings. Our first GSA meeting of the new school year began with a moment of silence in remembrance of Mikey, and then we moved on to the business of electing the student leaders. I was a little surprised when Toby nominated himself to serve as president of the group, but then again, with his outgoing personality and charisma, he was a perfect choice.

I was really surprised, though, when Dominic volunteered to be secretary. He'd never struck me as the leadership type, or one who would be interested in being active in any kind of school organization, but I was glad that he was getting more involved. Although he was pretty quiet, he'd made a great addition to our group of friends. One day as I was surfing around on the Internet, I came across a picture of a seventeen-year-old kid, Nick Simmons, the son of Gene Simmons, better known as "The Tongue" from the famous rock band KISS. The resemblance between the two was uncanny.

I was also relieved to see that Trent Lomax seemed to be leaving me alone. I supposed it would have been great if he'd suddenly turned into Mr. Nice Guy, but considering I'd beaten the hell out of him and probably destroyed his ego, I figured that probably wasn't going to happen. He just ignored me completely, and I was fine with that. One thing I did notice, though, was that his group of friends seemed to have shrunk considerably, and the cocky, arrogant smirk he usually wore was gone.

Lunch was another possible complication, and one that I thought would be best to avoid for the time being. It would have been weird sitting there with everyone, and questions were bound to come up. So, once again, I retreated to the school's auditorium, and spent the forty-five minute lunch break tinkering away at the Yamaha grand piano. This time, though, no one came looking for me. I think a part of me was hoping that someone would.

One afternoon shortly after school began; I came home expecting to have the house to myself, since Ryan and Toby were both at practice. I was a little surprised to find Maggie there, since she hadn't been home in the afternoon for a long time. I tried to slip past her so I could lock myself up in my room, but I didn't quite make it.

"Hi, sweetie. How're you doing?" she asked. "I haven't seen you in a while."

"Fine, thanks," I muttered, looking around nervously and shuffling my feet. I was hoping for a quick escape and to avoid any kind of inquisition.

"You haven't been hanging out with Ben lately. Is everything okay with you two?" she continued to prod.

I was tempted to tell her to mind her own business, but I was growing tired of whatever conflict I'd been having with Maggie. She'd pretty much left me alone, just like she'd promised, and I'd just continued being stand-offish. I think what really got me to start taking a look at my behavior and my relationship with my whole "family" was Ryan's birthday party. He'd gotten some pretty nice gifts, but it was nothing like the birthday party Maggie had given me, not to mention Thanksgiving and Christmas from the year before, or everything she'd done to give me a new home. Whatever my issues were with her, they were pretty childish and petty. Sure, I thought she wasn't a very good mother to Ryan and Toby, but other than a few minor incidents, she'd done a hell of a lot for me. So, the least I could do was try my best to be civil and polite.

"We broke up a while ago," I answered, my gaze now fixated on the floor, and I could feel my face flushing.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, honey," Maggie said, stepping toward me and pulling me into a hug. My first reaction was to pull away, but if I was going to try to be nicer, I figured that maybe I should just let her hug me.

"It's okay," I replied, politely breaking the hug. "I guess it just wasn't meant to be."

"Are you and Ryan getting along okay?" she asked.

"Yeah, I guess so," I shrugged.

"You still love him, don't you, sweetie?"

Jesus, am I like an open book or something? I thought to myself. It's not like I had photographs of Ryan pasted up all over my walls and sat around all day drawing pictures of him or tracing his name on my school notebooks!

I just nodded meekly in response.

"Have you talked to him about how you feel, Connor?" Maggie continued prodding me.

"No, ma'am. And please don't tell him, either," I pleaded with her.

"I won't, hon. But I hope you'll at least talk to him. That doesn't mean you have to get back together with him. That's something only you can decide, if that's what both of you want. But keeping the lines of communication open is always important. I don't think you've been doing a very good job of that lately. Ryan seems a little hurt by that."

"Yes, ma'am," I answered. "I'll talk to him ... soon."

And that was that. Maggie went on with whatever she had been doing, and I went up to my room to do my homework. I didn't talk to Ryan that night, though. I knew I had to, just not right then. Maggie didn't bring it up again, either, which was a relief to me.

The next day at school, it was announced that this year's talent contest would be held the same weekend as homecoming, which was about a month and a half earlier than it had been the previous year. They wanted to make it one of the week's festivities. I didn't need any prodding to participate this time, though. Right after school, I went to Mr. Tillworth's office, adjacent to the drama room, and signed up.

With the talent contest moved up to the weekend of homecoming, I would only have a short time to prepare, and I wanted to do some songs I had never performed on stage before. I spent every moment I could practicing, in the auditorium during lunch, while I was working at the piano store, and I even went to a few small clubs by myself to try out some of the new songs. I wanted to be prepared, because I wanted to win. It also gave me another excuse to avoid the inevitable ... talking to Ryan.


It was a strange feeling to be getting ready, once again, for the school's talent contest. Just like the year before, this year's show seemed to be somehow inextricably linked with Ryan and my relationship with him. I'd been avoiding him for weeks now, and as Cody and Maggie had said, the time had come to have a talk with him. Even though I wasn't necessarily desperate for him to come running back into my arms, his mere presence was enough to throw me a bit off balance. But for this evening, I had to try to keep my mind on the show, and not on Ryan or Ben. I would have plenty of time to do battle with those demons later.

I would have waited backstage as usual until it was my turn to go on, but since Natalie was going to be performing, I decided to go out and sit in the audience with my friends to watch. I hadn't gotten dressed in my stage clothes yet, and was just wearing a plain black track suit and Detroit Tigers ball cap. As soon as Mr. Tillworth announced Natalie and the band she had put together for the performance, the stage lights went down and the keyboard player started playing a gentle and familiar melody, the guitar player coming in moments later with the opening chords of Fleetwood Mac's classic "Rhiannon."

Natalie then made quite a grand entrance, walking on stage in a flowing black gossamer dress, looking very much like a young version of the original rock and roll goddess, Stevie Nicks. She walked up to the microphone stand, which was covered in black lace scarves, and began to sing, her voice sounding raw and powerful, as the band picked up the tempo and intensity.

As the song began to reach the climax, Natalie's wailing became even more intense, and she was dancing around the stage like some kind of whirling dervish, her whole body shaking and her eyes rolling back in her head as she shredded the vocals and unleashed one of the most incredible vibratos I'd ever heard. She was absolutely amazing, and so was her band. Very tight and professional.

As soon as the song ended, Natalie and her band dove right into Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll." The colored stage lights were dancing frenetically across the stage as the band tore up the song and Natalie screamed out the vocals like a banshee in heat. There was a Kasbah being rocked up there on that stage, and she was the one rocking the fuck out of it. Natalie was all over the stage, wailing like a madwoman, dancing, twirling, and flirting with the guitar player and bassist.

She was naturally charismatic and had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. It would be a tough act to follow, and I hadn't been prepared for it. I could rock out, too, but I didn't have a band to back me up. All I had was the piano and my voice, and there was no way I could match the intensity of Natalie's performance. I was going to be upstaged, and I didn't like it. But, being the fierce competitor I was when it came to music, I wasn't going down without a fight.

Even though I wasn't feeling as confident as I had before Natalie's performance, I still had a show to do, so I walked quickly backstage to change into my performing clothes. I put on a pair of baggy, bright yellow trousers, a purple jacket, high-heeled leather boots, a black trilby hat, and a pair of plain black sunglasses, all of which I had bought at a thrift store for only twenty dollars. Once I was dressed, I made my way over to the set of double doors that led to the backstage area and waited for the act before me to finish. I was terribly nervous and felt like I was going to puke.

I couldn't outdo the intensity of Natalie's performance, so I was going to have to rely solely on my musicianship. Sure, my piano playing skills had improved as a result of my stint of playing classical music, and Thom had helped me a lot with my vocals. I was confident that I was a better musician than the year before, but would it be enough? It had to be. I needed to beat the panties off of Natalie. Yeah, she was my friend and all, but this was war!

As I mentally prepared for the impending performance, the door that led from the hallway to the backstage area opened, and none other than Trent Lomax came walking out -- wearing a frilly pink dress and thick make-up. I would have sworn he had had a sex change when I saw the enormous titties he had, until he reached inside his bra and started pulling out wads of Kleenex. My jaw was hanging open in shock, and I was speechless.

"What the fuck are you looking at?" he snarled at me, and before I had the time to come up with a smart-alecky reply, he brushed past me and walked at a brisk pace down the hallway.

What the fuck?!

I didn't have much of a chance to ponder the absurdity of what I'd just witnessed, as I heard Mr. Tillworth announce my name. I walked quickly out onto the stage to a nice round of applause, without any introductory music this time. I'd been playing mostly digital pianos for months, but I had decided that it was time to get back to basics for this performance, so I sat down in front of my old friend, the shiny black Yamaha concert grand piano, and adjusted the microphone, as I had done many times before.

With no hesitation or fanfare, I immediately started pounding out the rapid-fire, staccato introduction to Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man." When I started singing, I closed my eyes and wailed out the vocals with as much intensity as I had ever put into a song before, with all the angst, uncertainty, and pain I had been feeling pouring out of me like an uncontrollable flood. As soon as I was finished, and before the audience's applause had died down, my left hand started hammering out a steady bass rhythm, which was then joined by my right hand, tapping out the familiar opening melody of yet another Billy Joel classic, "My Life," which got the crowd roaring.

The colored lights were dancing across the stage, in time with the up-tempo beat of the song. This was the largest crowd I'd performed in front of since the previous year's talent contest, and it felt great. I could feel the energy of the audience feeding me, urging me on, and up there on the stage, I was in a trance-like state, with nothing in my mind except for the chords and notes of the music. I didn't even care about winning anymore. I just wanted to put on the best show I possibly could. And it was an extremely cathartic experience.

When I finished my second number, I chose to slow down the pace, and played a slow, moving rendition of Emmy Lou Harris' country-flavored ballad "A Love That Will Never Grow Old," the lyrics for which had been written by Bernie Taupin, Elton John's long-time lyricist. It was a sharp contrast to the two angst-filled songs I had just performed. For my final number, I chose an Elton John piece. It wasn't my favorite Elton song, but it was catchy, and most importantly, it expressed what I was feeling.

"This is for you, Ryan," I said softly into the microphone, right before I jumped into the song, putting as much emotion, passion, and longing into my piano playing and vocals as I could muster. This wasn't just a song -- it was me talking directly to Ryan. All I could do was hope he got the message and then see where things went from there, if anywhere.

Someday out of the blue
In a crowded street or a deserted square
I'll turn and I'll see you
As if our love were new
Someday we can start again, someday soon

Here comes the night
Here come the memories
Lost in your arms
Down in the foreign fields
Not so long ago
Seems like eternity
Those sweet afternoons
Still capture me

Someday out of the blue
Maybe years from now
Or tomorrow night
I'll turn and I'll see you
As if we always knew
Someday we would live again, someday soon

I still believe
I still put faith in us ...

As I finished, I looked out into the audience, but was disappointed that the lights were so bright, I couldn't see the expression on Ryan's face. That mattered to me more than the loud round of applause I was receiving. Perhaps part of me was hoping that as soon as I'd finished, he would jump up on stage and plead with me to take him back. But he didn't. And I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. Maybe I had waited too long, and now it really was too late. I was more nervous about Ryan than I was about the stupid talent contest.

I said a quick "thank you" into the microphone, then got up and walked off-stage. I headed back to the band room so I could change into my regular clothes and prepare for the final judging. The band room was empty when I got there, and I was heading for my bag to get my track suit, when I heard someone calling my name. My heart practically leaped up into my throat, and I turned around, momentarily hopeful that it was Ryan who had come looking for me.

But it wasn't Ryan. It was Ben.

"What do you want?" I asked, feeling both irritated and slightly defensive.

"You were really great out there," he said. "Even after hearing you play so many times, I still don't know how you do it. You're really incredible."

"Thanks," I muttered, as I went back to pulling the track suit out of my bag and started peeling off my stage costume.

"Do you hate me, Connor?" he asked suddenly.

As soon as the words came out of his mouth, I wanted to tell him that I did hate him, that I wished I'd never met him, and then punch him in the throat. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was getting tired of being angry and bitter. And I missed hanging out with my friends ... our friends.

"No, I don't hate you, Ben," I sighed.

"Do you think we can ever be friends again?" he asked.

"We can try," I said, shrugging my shoulders.

"Let's head on back," he said, putting an arm around my shoulder. "The judging should be about finished by now."

With that, we made our way back into the auditorium and sat down with the rest of our friends, although Ryan seemed to have disappeared. I was disappointed, although I tried my best not to let it show. I was also incredibly nervous about the outcome of the contest. The previous year's competition hadn't been that challenging, but with Natalie entering the fray this year, there was a real chance that I wouldn't win. I tried to act like it didn't matter to me, and I even told Natalie that I was pulling for her. But like I've said before, I had a fierce competitive streak, and I wanted to win badly. So, for the next few minutes, Ryan was actually the furthest thing from my mind.

As Mr. Tillworth walked up onto the stage, the audience grew quiet, and the butterflies in my stomach started working overtime.

"We had some wonderful performances here tonight," Mr. Tillworth began. "In fact, this is the best show that I can recall we've ever had."

Just like the year before, Mr. Tillworth seemed to be dragging this out. I didn't want to hear about how "everyone was a winner" or crap like that. I wanted to hear the results!

"And the winner of this year's talent contest is ..."

The moment of truth had arrived.

"... Natalie Kiehl!"

The audience erupted in applause, and I was floored. I knew that I wasn't guaranteed to win, but I suppose I thought I still would. Even though I was upset, I shook it off and stood up to join the rest of the audience in applauding for Natalie. After all, she was one of my friends, and I was supposed to be happy for her. I didn't feel very happy, though. I'd put everything I had into my performance. Why didn't I win? Had I been too distracted by my feelings for Ryan?

My thoughts were interrupted as Natalie walked up to the microphone on stage along with her band to accept her prize.

"Thank you guys so much," she said cheerfully. "I had doubts about performing tonight, because I knew that the competition would be tough, from one person in particular. He also happens to be a good friend of mine, so I want to invite him to come up here and play one more song with us."

She looked right at me, smiling, and started motioning for me to come up on stage. I was embarrassed and didn't want to go, but I apparently didn't have much choice in the matter, as Toby, Cody, the twins, Tuwanda, and Delcondris were all pushing me towards the stage. As I walked up the steps, the audience's applause was nearly deafening.

Natalie walked over to me and winked at me, then whispered, "Do you think you can handle 'Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)'?"

I just nodded dumbly in response, and walked over to sit at the piano. Almost immediately, the guitar and rhythm section started in on a long, hard-rocking introduction, as the stage lights started flashing and dancing frenetically around the stage, and Natalie began jumping up and down and clapping her hands to get the audience going. As Natalie tore into the first verse of the song and I started pounding on the piano, everyone in the crowd was on their feet, dancing to the music.

I joined in at the chorus, and then did the second verse myself, screaming out the vocals as powerfully as I could. Natalie joined in again at the next chorus, and after a good five minutes of rocking out, we brought the song to an intense finale. It was tiring, but I felt great. The disappointment of losing the contest was washed away by the rush I got from the audience's reaction and energy, and the feeling of being up there with a great band and playing together.


I don't know what possessed me to go sit in the dark in the bleachers at the school's football field. It was a really nice night, the autumn wind blowing gently through the trees, the full moon casting an eerie glow over everything. It would have been nicer if it was raining, but this would have to do. I was still pumped up from my performance -- even though I'd lost -- and didn't feel like going back home yet. I also wanted to be alone so I could think about some stuff, mainly about how I was going to talk to Ryan, and I figured no one would think to look for me there.

I was wrong.

"Connor, what are you doing out here all by yourself?" I heard Ryan's voice coming from a few feet away.

Shit! I thought to myself. I was really hoping to avoid this for a little while longer. I knew what I wanted, and I knew that I wanted to be with him. But now that I was faced with him, I didn't know what I wanted to say.

"Just thinking," I muttered, afraid to make eye contact with him.

"Why didn't you tell me you and Ben broke up?" Ryan asked, moving up the bleachers and walking toward me, his feet clanking against the aluminum steps the only sound cutting through the stillness of the night.

"I don't know," I sighed, trying to avoid looking at him. The way the moonlight reflected on him made him look like an angel, and my will was steadily crumbling. Despite all of the trauma he'd put me through, at that moment, I saw the boy I'd fallen in love with only a year ago.

"That song you sang was for me, wasn't it?" he asked, sitting down beside me.

"Yeah," I replied, barely above a whisper.

"I'm sorry, Connor," he said. "I never meant to hurt you."

Yeah, that's what they all say, I thought to myself. And this is where he's supposed to pull out the infamous "It's not you, it's me" line.

"Why did you do it?" I asked, looking down at the ground and refusing to meet his gaze.

I hadn't pushed him to explain himself before, but I needed answers now. Even if we weren't going to get back together again, I had to know. If for nothing else than just to convince myself that there wasn't anything wrong with me. But even though I wanted an explanation, something that could make some sort of sense out of the craziness and heartache that I'd experienced over the past few months, I was scared of what the answer might be.

Ryan sighed, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw him run his fingers through his red hair. "I was scared," came his reply.

"Scared of what?" I asked, my curiosity piqued.

"Scared of you getting hurt," he replied.

"Uh ... Ryan ... I still did get hurt," I pointed out.

"I know it probably doesn't make much sense," he said.

"Try me," I suggested, really needing to hear what he had to say.

"That first day we met, you totally blew me away," he began. "When I saw you lying on the grass, and saw how cute and sweet you looked, my heart skipped a few beats. I'd never felt that way before. You were acting so shy and withdrawn when I was taking you home with me, and for some reason, it just made me want to get to know you even more. Then, as I got to know you, I realized that I was falling in love with you. It wasn't that hard to accept -- it didn't bother me that I was falling in love with another boy. But then when I found out how bad things were for you, I felt like I had to protect you, to make you safe. When that asshole attacked you, I felt like I'd failed you."

"You didn't fail me, Ryan," I interrupted. "There's no way you could have known something like that would happen."

"Well, that's what I felt like," he replied. "But the amazing thing was that after all of that, after all the shit you'd been through, you started to change and turn into this incredible person. You came out of your shell, got along with everyone, and you were so focused and determined to move on with your life. I really envied that. And then Toby got sick, and I couldn't handle it. The last time it happened, my dad was there, but this time I felt like it was all up to me to hold our family together. But I'd already failed you, and I was afraid that I was going to fail Toby and my mom, too. So, I just tried to ignore it. After that, everything with Mikey started, and it just got to be too much."

By this time, Ryan was sobbing, so I reached out to hold his hand and felt him squeeze back tightly. I was on the verge of tears, too, but I held them back.

"When Mikey died," he continued, after pausing for a few moments to settle down, "it was like the last straw. It was all just too much. I felt like it was my fault for everything that had happened -- Mikey dying, Toby almost dying, and everything else. I figured that I just hurt everyone I loved. And I guess I thought that if I let you go, maybe you wouldn't get hurt anymore."

For the next several minutes, we just sat there in silence. I didn't know what to say to Ryan. Yeah, he'd been an asshole and broken my heart, but after hearing what he had to say, all I could do was feel bad for what he'd had to go through.

"You could have told me this sooner," I said, turning my head to look directly at Ryan.

"I know," he replied, his voice barely above a whisper. "I'm sorry, Connor."

"I'm glad you finally told me, though," I said, putting my arm around his shoulder. "But as Cody would probably say, a relationship is about two people, and we both have a responsibility to be there for each other. You thought it was your job to take care of me and help me, but you should have let me do the same for you. You shouldn't have just walked away. You really crushed me when you did that. I kept think there was something wrong with me."

"Did you really love me, Connor?" Ryan suddenly asked.

"I still do love you, Ry," I replied cautiously.

"I mean, you weren't just with me because I happened to be there? You really did love me?"

"Of course," I said, feeling a little surprised that he would ask me something like that. Whether I'd been able to admit that or not, I did love him, even after he'd broken up with me. I'd always loved him.

"What about Ben?" he asked.

"I don't know," I sighed. "I guess it just wasn't meant to be."

"I was really upset when I found out you two were together," he said. "I felt like I'd lost a ten million dollar lottery ticket."

"I'm sorry, Ry," I said, pulling him in tighter.

"No, don't apologize," he interrupted. "You had every right to go out with someone else. And Ben's a good guy."

"Yeah, well, he hurt me, too," I said, still feeling a little bitter.

"I don't think he meant to hurt you," Ryan said. "I've known Ben for a long time, and he's not that kind of person."

"I know," I sighed. I didn't know if I'd ever be good friends with Ben again, though. But it wasn't worth it to feel bitter and angry with him for the rest of my life. I needed to move on. We all needed to move on. If I had to do that alone, then I was ready ... sort of.

We fell into another bout of silence, but it wasn't an awkward silence. So, we just sat there, listening to the sound of the crickets chirping in the night, my arm still wrapped around Ryan's shoulder. Eventually, he laid his head on my shoulder, and I instinctively pulled him in even closer. It was a feeling I had missed, perhaps more than I ever realized. And now that I felt it again, I didn't want to let go.

"Connor," Ryan said softly, breaking the silence. "Do you think ... I dunno ... maybe sometime you'd let me take you out to a movie or something? I mean ... I dunno ... I don't want to push you or anything, or go too fast ... I know you probably still haven't gotten over Ben yet ...."

"You mean, like a date?" I asked, cutting him off.

"Yeah, I guess ... like a date," he said.

"I think I'd like that," I replied, giving him a tight squeeze. "Just as long as I don't have to get hit in the head with a lacrosse ball first."

A huge smile spread across Ryan's face, and for the first time in a long time, I saw that familiar sparkle in his eyes. For now, there was nothing else that needed to be said, so we just sat there in the cool evening air, holding hands. I couldn't predict the future, but I knew for sure that this was where I wanted to be, where I belonged. I loved Ryan, and he loved me. Nothing else mattered.


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 from "So Sad the Renegade" (written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin), Copyright 2004, HST Management, Ltd./Rouge Booze, Inc.
** Lyrics from "Someday Out Of the Blue" (written by Elton John, Patrick Leonard, and Tim Rice), Copyright 2000, William A. Bong, Ltd.

Visit my website at!

For discussion and notification of new chapter postings, go to

Please let me know what you think of the story! Send comments to