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.

This chapter is dedicated to Lugh!


"So what time do you have to be home?" Cody asked.

"It doesn't really matter. I'll call Ryan to come pick me up later," I said, trying not to sound too unenthused.

We were sitting on the bus together, riding to Cody's house. Ryan had convinced me to go over on Tuesday after school, and said to give him a call when I was ready to leave, and he'd come pick me up. Even though I'd agreed to go, I still wasn't happy about it. I could have spent the afternoon with my boyfriend instead of going over to some kid's house who I hardly even knew. I didn't see why it was such a big deal to make other friends, and part of me had started to think that maybe Ryan didn't want me hanging around him so much. Sometimes it really sucked to have little or no self-esteem.

Fortunately, Cody didn't try to engage me in much conversation until we had gotten off the bus, walked the five minutes from the bus stop, and were finally standing on the front steps of his house. It was quite a nice house, too, I had to admit. It was a two-story red-brick house with dark green shutters and two car garage. Based on the newly-planted saplings scattered all around the yard, I'd guessed it was a new house. The fact that it was in a new neighborhood was probably a dead giveaway, too.

"Well, this is it," he said cheerfully.

I managed a weak smile as he opened the door and led me inside. Expecting to find a "normal" house when I stepped through the door, I was surprised to see that there was hardly any furniture, at least not much in the bright, spacious living room. There was just a low, square coffee table surrounded by some mats, what looked like a futon, some Oriental-looking landscape paintings, and all hardwood floors. Not even a rug or anything. I certainly wasn't "Mr. Interior Design," but even I could tell this place was ... lacking.

As I was surveying the emptiness of the place, an extremely odd-looking woman came floating into the room. Not literally floating, of course, but it wasn't walking, or strolling, or striding, or anything like that ... she just kind of ... floated. She had long, frizzy brown hair, a tan, weather-beaten complexion, and a pointy face. She was wearing a long, flower pattern dress that covered her feet (maybe that's what made it look like she was floating), with layers of beads around her neck. She had a dreamy, spaced-out expression, and her eyes didn't really fix on anything until she floated over toward where Cody and I were standing at the entrance to the living room.

"Oooh, I see you have a new friend, Cody," she said in a heavily accented voice. Her eyes were still dancing around, not looking at anything in particular, which was starting to creep me out.

And then her eyes fixed suddenly on me.

"Hello, Cody's friend," she said in her thick accent. "You will learn when to let go, and when to fight. You are strong inside. Don't be afraid to be strong for others when the time comes."

She then plucked a flower out of her hair and stuck it in my curly locks.

"So pretty!" she gushed, clasping her hands together.

I just stared at her, open-mouthed, as she proceeded to float right on out of the room.

I turned to Cody with a questioning look on my face.

"That's my mom," he said, shrugging, his wide, toothy grin still shining brightly.

Cody then led me on a short tour of the house, which was all as sparsely decorated as the living room. I asked him about it, and his enigmatic reply was that "there is beauty in emptiness." I wasn't too sure what he meant by that, but I was certain that I'd never met anyone quite like Cody. After the brief tour, he led me down to his bedroom in the basement. I was surprised when I noticed that, for one, it was huge. He had practically the entire basement of the house to himself. Secondly, it wasn't decorated anything like the upstairs. For the most part, it looked like a normal teenaged boy's room.
He had a large futon in one corner that was folded out into a bed, a desk with a computer in another corner, a set of big bookcases that held a large number of books, a small television set, stereo system, and lots of framed photographs. He had posters of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix all over the walls. On the far side of his bedroom, there was a small sitting area with a couch and coffee table, and a doorway that led to what I assumed was a bathroom, covered with a beaded curtain.

Despite the fairly large number of furnishings, it still felt very open, since the whole room was so large. He also had an older Yamaha digital piano, and a couple of different acoustic guitars (along with a mandolin and banjo) propped up on guitar stands, as well as a small amplifier. The whole set up was pretty impressive, a veritable wet dream for an amateur musician like myself.

Cody's ever-present smile was starting to become infectious, and I found myself finally starting to let my guard down. I was even sort of looking forward to jamming with him a little bit. The only thing I wasn't too keen on was the whole "friends" thing. To me, becoming friends with Cody would mean having to open up to him about me, about my life. It was hard enough to do that with Ryan, and he didn't even know the whole story. I didn't know if I wanted to go through that with Cody either.

However, as we sat down in his little sitting area and started chatting, drinking iced Winter Melon tea that he had gotten out of the refrigerator that was in one of the storage rooms in the basement, I found that he was actually pretty easy to talk to and very laid-back. I was also finding myself becoming more interested in the kind of person he was, not to mention his rather eccentric mother.

Cody told me that her given name was Tatyana, but she changed her name often based on her changing moods, dreams, or just on a whim. Apparently, this week, her name was "Petunia." She was born and raised in Russia (which explained the heavy accent), but later moved to England to study, and finally to the United States to get her doctorate. She was currently a professor of Asian religions at the university.

He also informed me that she was into what he called "esoteric practices," although I wasn't quite sure what that meant, and that she had spent three years living in the wilds of Siberia learning to be a "healer," kind of like the Native American medicine men. It sounded to me like she was some kind of witch or something, although he assured me that she didn't go flying around on broomsticks -- although I had my doubts. Cody happened to be the product of a one-night stand while his mother was living in England, where he was born and lived for the first two years of his life, and had never met his father.

What was it with me and always meeting guys who didn't have fathers?

Cody himself was also into a lot of what his mother did, and besides English, he also spoke Russian fluently. He said that at home, he and his mother spoke Russian almost exclusively, although there was no hint of an accent in his voice. Cody showed me some of the many books he had, and most of them were about spirituality, psychology, and things like that. I was definitely captivated. I'd never met anyone like Cody or his mom, nor had I ever heard about some of the things he was telling me about.

Some of it seemed a little far-fetched to me, especially when he was talking about things like moving one's "energy" by practicing T'ai Chi, or things like the "spiritual bliss of meditation" where your spirit could leave your body and travel throughout the cosmos. I wasn't a complete idiot on the subject, though, having learned a little bit about what he was talking about in my World Religions class at school.

Despite the fact that some of those things seemed pretty hokey to me, I had to admit that I was becoming intrigued. The way he talked about finding inner happiness, regardless of one's external environment, was something that definitely appealed to me. I even found myself telling Cody little things about myself, like my problem with anxiety (which he said he could help me with, although I was skeptical), and I even mentioned that I didn't have a very good home life, although I kept that part as vague as possible. He didn't push me on it. I also told him about how Ryan and I had met.

"So how long have you and Ryan been boyfriends?" he suddenly asked.

"Huh? Why do you think we're boyfriends?" I retorted, my eyes practically bulging out of their sockets.

I didn't think we were that obvious or anything. I mean, we didn't stand around in the halls at school making out or feeling each other up. And I wasn't exactly the manliest of guys, but I didn't walk around referring to my male friends as "girlfriend" or "sister." I didn't have rainbow patches sewn on my backpack, or a bumper sticker that said "I brake for dick" -- well, I didn't have a car, but I wouldn't have had that bumper sticker any way. So how in the hell did he come to the conclusion that Ryan and I were "together?" Had everyone else already figured it out, too?

He just rolled his eyes at my shocked response.

"When you interact with someone, you shouldn't focus on just their words, but on subtle things, like body language, changes in their tone of voice, and even the things they don't say. Things you don't say often say more than what is said. You can learn a lot about someone that way," he replied matter-of-factly.

"What do you mean?" I asked hesitantly. If he could read me that well, I was worried about how much he could really tell about me.

He laughed. "I guess I just spend a lot of time watching people. There's a different dynamic between you and Ryan. The way you look at each other, how closely you sit together, the expression on your face when you talk about him. For someone who pays attention to little things like that, it's not that difficult to see."

"So do you think a lot of people have noticed?" I asked, starting to feel worried, not so much for myself, but for Ryan's sake.

"Probably not. Most people don't know what to look for," he replied, shrugging his shoulders.

"So ... ummm ... are you gay?" I asked.

"No, I'm Cody," he said with a wink.

If I was confused before, that comment left me pretty well dumb-founded.

"So you never really answered my question. How long have you two been a couple?" he asked again.

"Well, technically, only for a couple weeks," I admitted. "So not very long, I guess."

"Solid friendships can be created in just a few hours. Time is irrelevant, really," he said.

Cody definitely did not sound like any fifteen-year-old boy I'd ever met. I thought Ryan was mature and wise beyond his years, but Cody was something entirely different, and it was somewhat unnerving. I'd always been a smart kid, done very well in school, and read as much as I could, but I wasn't even in the same league as Cody. Despite feeling slightly intimidated, however, I wanted to know more. Not to mention, just being in his presence had an eerily calming effect on me, and I didn't know why. If it had been anyone else, I probably would have bolted out the door already or had a panic attack.

"Where did you learn about all of this stuff?" I asked.

"My mom, mostly. I've grown up around it, she talks to me a lot, always gives me books to read. She's always treated me like an adult. She knows a lot more than me, though. You should sit down and talk with her sometime," he said.

"I don't know about that. She doesn't seem like she could sit still long enough," I chuckled.

"Oh, she'll come talk to you when you're ready," he said. "She'll know when the time is right."

"You don't seem to have any problems. It's like you already have everything all figured out," I said, somewhat enviously.

"Not at all," he laughed. "I'm still just a kid, the same age as you. One problem with my mom is I don't think she realizes that. I don't think she knows much about raising a teenage boy. And I've never really had many friends to talk about normal 'boy stuff' with."

"Why wouldn't you have a lot of friends? You're really easy to talk to, and that's saying something, especially coming from someone like me," I said with a self-deprecating grin.

"Honestly," I continued, "I wasn't too interested in being friends with you. Ryan made me come over here. But after talking to you for a while, I started to feel like I really did want to be friends with you. You're cool."

"That's why I walked over to you that evening at jazz band rehearsal. You're different from most kids. I can see it in your eyes -- which are beautiful, by the way. Maybe you just don't realize it yet. But a lot of kids our age just think I'm weird, and when they meet my mom, they don't usually tend to come back," he said, with a tinge of sadness to his voice.

I surmised that Cody wasn't as totally happy and care-free as I had thought at first. Maybe he needed friends just as much as Ryan said I did. In a way, I guess neither of us really had moms. Mine was just a drugged-out whore, and even though his obviously didn't abuse him or treat him like shit, she didn't exactly "mother" him either. Even so, he was definitely more grounded and balanced than I was.

I decided then and there that I did want to be friends with Cody. I wanted to understand him better, and, in time, I would let him understand me better, too. Although I had a sneaking suspicion he probably understood quite a lot about me already.

"This is a lot to absorb in one afternoon," I said, rubbing my face with my hands. "I've never talked about stuff like this with anyone."

He giggled. "I figured."

"So what do you want to do now?" I asked. I was starting to feel a bit mentally drained from all of this "deep" stuff.

"One more question, and then we can jam, okay?" he said.

"Yeah, I guess," I replied, somewhat hesitantly.

"Why are you so insecure?" he asked, regarding me curiously.

Huh? That one certainly came out of left field. I wasn't really sure how to answer. I mean, I knew I was insecure, and I guess I probably figured it had a lot to do with the way I'd been treated by my mother and all the shitheads at school. I'd never really spent much time thinking about it. It was just the way I was. I didn't see any need to analyze it, nor did I think that I could do much about it. It was just a part of my personality that I had learned to accept.

"I don't know," I answered, not really knowing what else I could say.

"Okay," he said. "Go and sit over at the keyboard and play something for me."

So that was it? He was just going to drop it like that? No trying to psycho-analyze me or anything?

"What do you want me to play?" I asked, still feeling a little perplexed by his seemingly random questions, but also relieved that he seemed to know when not to push me.

"Anything you want. I haven't heard you play anything except for what we've done in jazz band," he said.

So I got up and walked over to the keyboard. I thought for a few moments about what I should play, and settled on Elvis Presley's "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You," a song my grandmother used to sing with me at the piano. It had been a while since I'd really played and sung, so I put everything I had into it, figuring I needed to warm up my voice for my performance at the pub the following night, anyway.

Feeling more and more in the mood to play, as soon as I finished, I went immediately into Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind." I got so totally lost in the music that I didn't notice Cody was watching me intently, until I finished playing the last few notes and opened my eyes to see his stunned expression.

"See, that's why I don't get why you're so insecure," he said.

"What do you mean?" I asked, honestly not sure what he was getting at.

"You're an amazing piano player. A genius, actually. You can't even read music. You have an amazing voice, too. Deep and soulful. Your singing voice is so different from the way you talk. It's powerful, clear, and strong. And that's just one part of you. You're obviously intelligent, caring, and you're very cute," he said.

Normally, I would have just laughed at him, but the way he said it, the way he looked at me, the tone of his voice (see, I was paying attention to what he said earlier!) all showed me that he was sincere. All I could do was blush.

"Well, you're wrong about the 'cute' thing," I said. I could somewhat accept that I was good at playing the piano, even though I didn't quite think my singing voice was as good as he said, but being called "cute" I couldn't accept.

"No, I'm not wrong. Your curly blond hair, your big blue eyes that make you look so innocent, your little nose ... your lips. All of your features fit perfectly on your face. You're not the big, hunky jock type, but you're definitely cute," he said, looking me right in the eyes.

His piercing gaze was making me feeling even more self-conscious. It was like he was looking right into me.

"I thought you said you weren't gay," I said, barely above a whisper.

"Like I said, I'm just Cody. I can still tell if you're cute or not," he said simply.

My typical reaction would have been to look away, change the topic, or start fidgeting. But his gaze held me right there.

"And if I kissed you, I'd still just be Cody," he added, his voice now also barely above a whisper.

"You want to kiss me?" I asked, nonplussed.

"Unless you think Ryan would mind ..." he said.

"If it's just a kiss ..." I replied, without really thinking about it.

With that, he moved over next to me on the piano bench, reaching his left arm around my shoulders and pulling me in close to him, our foreheads pressed together, eyes locked together. I could tell he was looking deep into my soul at that moment. I knew he could see things I didn't want him to see. I knew he could see the pain in my life. But I didn't move. For some reason, I wanted him to see it. At that moment, I would have told him anything, or given him anything, if he'd asked.

After what seemed like hours of us just looking into each other's eyes, he leaned in slowly and placed his lips gently on mine. I felt a jolt of electricity that I hadn't felt since the first kiss I'd ever had ... from Toby. I couldn't break away. I didn't want to break away. It was just a kiss with our lips. He made no attempt to put his tongue in my mouth (although I don't think I would have resisted if he did). But it was still an extremely passionate kiss nonetheless. And I felt more than I'd expected to. I also found my hand making its way slowly down his back and eventually resting on his cute little butt. When he finally pulled away, I was left breathless. Immediately, I began to feel guilty. Did I just cheat on Ryan?

"It was just a kiss. Don't think too much," he said, as if reading my mind. "I'm not trying to steal you from Ryan."

Could he if he wanted to, though? I mean ... Cody was HOT!

I was feeling emotionally drained after all that had happened, so I suggested that we spend some time jamming so I could pull myself back together (and surreptitiously readjust the hard-on in my pants). Nothing could get my mind centered like pounding away on the piano and singing. Cody readily agreed, and I found out that we both liked a lot of the same kind of music. He wasn't as much of an Elton John fan as I was, but he did like him, and could even play some of his songs, mostly the well-known ones. His favorites, though, were the Beatles and Bob Dylan. That didn't surprise me. So as I sat down in front of the keyboard, and he picked up his guitar, that's what we started with.

We ended up going through a bunch of classic Beatles songs, like "Can't Buy You Love," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "Let It Be," "Come Together," and "Hard Day's Night." He then played "Mr. Bojangles" for me. His voice was very beautiful, higher in pitch and smoother than mine, but I didn't think it really suited the sort of music that he liked to play. Since he seemed to like the more psychedelic kind of music, I played Elton John's "Madman Across the Water" for him, and he instantly fell in love with it.

For the next hour, I taught him how to play that, as well as "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirty Cowboy," which he also really liked. We harmonized very well together, and playing with him seemed so natural. He was a very talented guitarist and picked things up easily. I showed him the basic chords on the piano, and he could follow along from there, with a little added instruction from me. It was really cool, like we spoke the same language or something, and I felt a bond with Cody that I had never felt with anyone else.

I really had a good time with Cody. I was more than ready to be his friend. When Ryan showed up later to pick me up, though, the guilty feeling of having kissed Cody came back. Ryan took care of that by giving me a long, passionate kiss in the car before we pulled out of the driveway. I ended up telling him what Cody and I had talked about, and how much fun I'd had. He seemed pleased that I'd made a new friend. In fact, I got a smack on the back of my head and an "I told you so" from him. I also told him how Cody didn't really have many friends, and suggested that we invite him over to hang out with us sometimes on the weekends, and maybe do some stuff together over winter vacation. Ryan thought that was a good idea.

I didn't really want to tell him about the kiss, but I felt like I had to. After I did, his reaction was entirely different from what I had expected, which was to push me out of the moving car. He just asked me how it was. I answered him as truthfully as possible.

"It was really good, actually," I said, blushing deeply.

"Cool. He's a really cute boy," he said matter-of-factly.

"You mean you're not angry or jealous or anything?" I asked. "You're not going to stop talking to me for six weeks like after I kissed Toby?"

He laughed. "You're a cute boy, Connor. I can understand why someone would want to kiss you, and why you would want to kiss someone as cute as Cody. As long as you don't leave me for him, I don't mind."

There was that damn "cute" thing again ... it made me feel like I was six years old or something. And I was a wee bit unsettled by how well he was taking the whole kissing thing. If he'd kissed Mikey, I probably would have freaked.

"So you still want me hanging out with him, and having him hang out with us? You won't feel weirded out or anything?" I asked.

"Not at all. Maybe if he is gay, which he might not be, we could see how he gets along with Toby," he said.

That was definitely an idea. I was still feeling very guilty about the way we messed things up with Toby and Mikey and was hoping to make it up to him some way. Their personalities seemed very different, and I wasn't too sure if they'd click at all, even just as friends. But it was at least worth a shot. Then I thought about Cody spending the night in Toby's room, and I suddenly felt a slight pang of jealousy. But was it about Cody or Toby? I wasn't sure. And I was with Ryan now. I shouldn't be feeling things like that. At the same time, the thought of Toby and Cody "doing it" was totally hot.

When Ryan finally pulled up in front of the trailer and noticed that it was completely dark inside and my mother's car was gone, he asked if he could come in for a while. Part of me was definitely tempted, especially since I was already horny from thinking about the various things that Toby and Cody could possibly get into together (like each other), but I was still too embarrassed to let my boyfriend see the crappy trailer that I lived in. I hated it when people felt sorry for me. So I made up an excuse about having a lot of homework to do, which I'm sure he didn't buy, but I guess he understood, because he gave me a nice long kiss and said he'd see me in the morning. As I watched his car pull away, though, and realized that I was completely hard, I started regretting not letting him come in.

I guess I'll just have to take care of it myself, I thought.

And I did ... three times.


Wednesday night was my first show at the pub in a couple weeks, and I was looking forward to it. Ryan said he had some errands to run after school, so he would meet me later at the pub. I had spent some time working on a few new songs to add to my set list and was excited to try them out. My voice was still slightly raspy after my bout with pneumonia, but I figured I could still manage it. It actually ended up making my voice sound a little deeper, more soulful. The only problem was that I was having trouble singing in falsetto and hitting some higher notes.

I had always considered myself to be a piano player more than a singer. Lately, though, I had been thinking about spending more time working on my vocal skills, even though Cody seemed to have the insane notion that my voice was already good. I just thought it was mediocre at best.

I didn't see Ryan as I walked into the pub but was greeted warmly by Mr. Bill. The pub wasn't as crowded as on Friday or Saturday nights, but it was still a decent-sized audience. I figured this would be a good trial run for my new set, and then I'd really go all out on Friday night. I got changed into my usual all-black outfit, although I replaced the Buddy Holly glasses with the magenta-colored John Lennon glasses that Ryan had bought for me. My hair was also extremely unruly, in desperate need of a haircut (that comes with having curly hair, I suppose), so I also threw on a black baseball cap. After getting dressed and going over the set list in my head, I went to the side of the stage to await my cue from Mr. Bill to go on. The familiar, smoke-filled atmosphere, with the old upright piano sitting in the center of the stage, was a welcoming and comforting sight.

As I walked on stage and made my way over to the piano, I noticed Ryan sitting up front, and lo and behold, sitting right next to him at the small table was none other than Cody! I figured that must have been Ryan's "errand" that afternoon. I was happy to see both of them and knew that I had to put on the best possible show for them.

I started out the show with something different, jumping right into Elton John's classic "Bennie and the Jets," which the audience immediately responded to, clapping along with the rhythm, followed by a country-ish ballad also from the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, "Roy Rogers." I then moved on to my favorite Jim Reeves song, "He'll Have to Go," Ray Charles' classic "Hit the Road Jack," and the Beatles' "Get Back."

Even though time was running out, I just kept going. I moved on to Billy Joel's "Summer Highland Falls," Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love," for which my still slightly raspy voice was perfect, the Bee Gees' haunting and contemplative "I Started a Joke," and finally, Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop," which got the crowd roaring, cheering and clapping again. It felt good to be up there on stage again. It was where I belonged. Sometimes, however, I wished that the confident, self-assured showman I was onstage was the real me.

But I was happy that Ryan and Cody were there to see it, and that there didn't appear to be any tension between the two of them. That was a huge relief. Another potential drama avoided ... for now. The only thing left to do was to see if I couldn't get Cody to be friends with Toby (my own strange sense of jealousy aside). The whole Mikey thing had really blown up in our faces. He still hung out with us at school, but I never saw him talking with Toby, nor did he come back to their house again.


Winter vacation was drawing closer and closer, and I continued rehearsing with the jazz band on Monday and Thursday evenings, with my pub shows on Wednesdays and Fridays. Things at home were okay as well, and had been for a while. It had been some time since my mother had last beaten me, and the only thing I could think of was that maybe Krull was a positive influence, although the few times she actually was at home, she was usually drunk.

During the past few weeks, though, I hadn't noticed any drugs. It was difficult to imagine my mother ever settling down or getting married, but part of me was hoping that if the recent lull in her debauched life was a result of Krull, then I would like him to stick around for a while. I mean, a boy can dream, can't he?

We'd never "bonded" or anything like that, nor had we had any serious conversations. But he was at least friendly to me, never once hit me, and even stepped in a couple times when my mother lost her temper. It was hard to picture my mother ever feeling "love" for anyone, and I doubted that that's what she felt for Krull. The reason he'd stuck around so long (more than a couple weeks was a long time for my mother to have one "boyfriend") was most likely because of his abilities in bed.

Even though I'd been spending every weekend at the McCormacks' house, I still slept at my own home at least four nights a week, and each time that my mother and Krull happened to be there, I could hear the unmistakable sounds of my mother getting the holy hell reamed out of her. Krull was a moaner, too, but no one ... and I mean no one ... could ever possibly outdo my mother when it came to her animalistic wailing when she was having sex.

I even started to wonder if that was genetic, and if I'd end up screaming like that when Ryan and I eventually went all the way. With the thought of Ryan's thick dick shoved up my scrawny little butt, it was hard to imagine that I'd be able to keep totally quiet. But the thought of Maggie or Toby hearing that made me promise myself that if I felt the urge to start screaming, I'd at least bury my face in a pillow or stuff a sock in my mouth ... or something.

The weekend prior to the last week of school before winter vacation was a busy one at the McCormack house. I was really looking forward to Christmas, not because I expected to get any presents (except maybe from Ryan), but because of the festive spirit that I'd almost forgotten since my grandmother had passed away. Now, I'd finally get to really celebrate Christmas again, and enjoy two and a half weeks together with Ryan and his family.

Normally, winter vacation was something I'd come to dread, not only since it meant having to endure my mother with no school to grant me a reprieve, but also because it made me miss my grandmother. Even this year, I had been a little less than enthusiastic about the holidays, because I hadn't expected to be spending the entire time at the McCormacks', until Maggie ordered me otherwise. I tried to put up a little protest to be polite, since I was constantly afraid that I was going to become a nuisance, but in reality, I was nearly jumping for joy.

On Saturday morning, Maggie took us shopping for a Christmas tree. That was a first for me, since my grandmother had always just put up a small fake tree. There really hadn't been room in her apartment for a big, live tree. When we got to the Christmas tree lot, Ryan and Toby started chasing each other around, darting in and out amongst the trees, while Maggie and I walked around slowly.

"I really appreciate your having me stay for Christmas this year, Maggie," I said.

"Well, we're very happy to have you, Connor," she replied, smiling at me. "I just think it's too bad that you're not able to celebrate Christmas with your family."

That was definitely a sore subject with me, and I wasn't happy that the conversation was turning in that direction ... again.

"Things have been better lately ... honest," I said, trying to placate Maggie. "My mom has a new boyfriend and things have been really calm over the past few weeks. I think he's probably pretty good for her."

That was probably the most I'd willingly opened up about my life at home to Maggie, but I hoped that would make her feel more at ease. I didn't want the thought of my home life to ruin my first real Christmas in years, nor did I want it to be a cloud hanging over Maggie's head. She'd already been kinder to me than most people, despite my anger at her over the Thanksgiving holiday for going to see my mother. I'd pretty much gotten over that, though, and she hadn't brought it up since.

"I hope that's the case, sweetie," she said, squeezing my shoulder. "And anyway, Ryan's really excited that you'll be staying, so that's enough to make me happy."

Hearing that, I couldn't have been happier if I'd tried.

"Do you have any idea what I should get Ryan and Toby for Christmas?" I asked, deciding it was time to turn the subject away from my family.

"Connor, honey, you don't need to give them a thing. In their eyes, you are the best gift they could have gotten for Christmas. I know your relationship with Ryan is different than with Toby, but they both think the world of you. They're boys, and boys aren't always that good at expressing their feelings, but I see it every time you're with them. You make them both so happy," she said, smiling warmly at me.

I didn't really know what to say to something like that. That kind of compliment was a little too much for me to accept, so I just nodded and smiled sheepishly. I wanted to believe that I could make them that happy. I just didn't see how I did. I hadn't done anything for them.

"Why are you so okay with Toby and Ryan being ... well, you know ... and me being Ryan's ... well ...?" I asked, not really understanding why I was even bringing this subject up. I wasn't typically one to urge conversations forward, especially with adults, not to mention a conversation that would normally make me extremely embarrassed.

Maggie got a wistful look in her eyes before replying.

"Sometimes it's difficult, honey," she said, looking over at me. "The doctor part of me knows that it's natural and that's just the way they were made. Of course, the mother part of me has always hoped they would get married and have grandchildren for me one day."

I looked down at the ground, suddenly feeling guilty that I was going to be depriving her of something she really wanted.

"But," she continued, "when Toby was eight, he was diagnosed with leukemia. It was very difficult on all of us, and we almost lost him. The treatment was so hard on him. I had always loved my boys, but I realized then just how much. I swore to myself that no matter what, I would always love and support them, and I prayed to God that I would do that if He let me keep Toby. And He did. Toby has been in remission ever since. I will always love both of my boys unconditionally."

If I hadn't known what to say before, I was even more speechless at that moment. I'd never known that Toby'd had leukemia. And Maggie's words were so touching. It was hard for me to imagine a mother loving her sons so much, when mine couldn't care less about me. It hurt to think about that, but at the same time, it made me happy for Toby and Ryan. If anyone deserved that kind of love, it was them.

When we got back to the house later that afternoon, with Christmas tree in tow, Ryan and Toby immediately got to work setting it up, while Maggie began pulling out boxes of decorations. They looked like little kids running around, placing decorations on the tree, stringing up lights and garland around the house, dancing around and singing along to the Christmas carols Maggie had put on the stereo system. They even ended up in a battle with some tinsel. Sometimes, I really envied the relationship Ryan and Toby had with each other.

Like any brothers, I suppose, they had their fair share of disagreements and fights, but there was definitely something unique there. In moments like this, as they were running around the house, acting like crazy little kids, goofing off with each other, I noticed how special their relationship really was. It wasn't in their words or their actions, which a casual observer might have interpreted as brotherly bickering, but in the subtle looks they gave each other, what I saw in their eyes ... a deep, strong love. That's what I wanted most. To be loved. Any kind of love, actually. I just wanted someone to love me like that.

After we spent most of Saturday afternoon taking care of the Christmas decorations, the rest of the weekend schedule was relegated to studying for the coming week's final exams. I did well in all of my classes, and was the type of person to study a little bit at a time over the course of the semester, so that when it came time for final exams, I didn't have to do any cram sessions. Ryan and Toby, on the other hand, were in for some serious cramming, and I ended up being the one to try to help both of them.

Toby wasn't actually that difficult to help. Once he got settled down, save for a few questions here or there, he could pretty much take care of himself. The only times he got a little distracted were when he was trying to flirt with me, which I tried to tactfully avoid. Ryan, however, was another matter. It was when I was trying to help him review for his American Government exam that I realized just how much his ADD did cause problems for him.

I found that it wasn't really a matter of needing to explain things to him. He was a very smart guy. It was keeping his attention focused that was the problem. I'd always associated ADD with being hyper ... but he wasn't hyper at all. He just couldn't focus, and I could tell that it really frustrated him.

The only thing I could think of to do was to try out different memorization exercises with him, not spending too much time on one activity, and giving him as much encouragement as I could. It nearly melted my heart each time he got an answer right, and he would look up at me with a big grin, and a look in his eyes like he was seeking my approval ... my approval! The kind of feeling that gave me is nearly impossible to describe.

And I loved lying there on the floor, watching him with his head buried in his book, his brow slightly furrowed, and his tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth. It had to have been one of the cutest expressions I had ever seen. Every so often, he would look up at me and give me a big smile, then go right back to studying.

By Sunday night, we were all exhausted, and I was happy to have some alone time with Ryan. We hadn't had any "intimate" moments that weekend, except for the occasional kiss and some cuddling, but that was more than enough for me. As we lay in bed talking, I realized how many different sides of Ryan's personality I'd seen over the past few weeks. He really was a complex person, and each part of him intrigued me. I could see how easy it was to fall for someone like him.

"Connor, I can't wait until this week is over. We'll have the whole winter vacation just to have fun and relax. I'm so happy you're staying with us," he said as we lay in bed, holding hands.

"I'm glad your mom invited me. It's been a while since I've really celebrated Christmas."

"I know all of this has happened really quickly, Connor," he said. "I hope you feel okay about everything. I want you to feel comfortable, and I want you to feel like this is your home, too."

I wanted to feel that way, too, but I wasn't totally there yet. They all treated me so well, and made me feel very welcome, including me in all of their family activities. But I still felt like a guest. I figured it would take some time.

"I know you think I have such a perfect life and everything. I play lacrosse, I've got my friends and family, but before I met you, I was so lonely," he said, his voice sounding distant.

"I was lonely, too, Ry," I said. "More than I probably realized ... until I met you."

"You saved me from my loneliness, Connor. When you look at me, or hug me, you make me feel special ... like I'm really worth something," he said, reaching over to wrap me in his arms.

This was yet another side of Ryan that I was now seeing. I'd never imagined that he even had the slightest bit of insecurity, and that I could be the one to make that go away. It was a little overwhelming ... and unsettling. I mean, I'd always felt the need to be protected, taken care of. But it seemed like Ryan might need me to do the same sometimes. Could I do that?

"Maybe we saved each other," I ended up saying, kissing him softly on the lips.

There was really nothing else that needed to be said, although there were still so many questions running through my mind, like how I felt about Cody, my own insecurities, Ryan's insecurities, and my screwed up family. So I just tried to push all of those thoughts out of my mind and enjoy the moment, snuggling up in my boyfriend's arms, enjoying the warm, safe feeling, and quickly fell sound asleep.


The following week's exams weren't too difficult, at least not for me, and I was satisfied that I'd done well. Both Toby and Ryan seemed fairly pleased with their performance as well. Of course, we'd have to wait until after the winter break before we got our exam results.

The holiday concert, as expected, went well. It was nice for a change to be in the background. Of course, I didn't get that powerful feeling that I usually got from the audience, but it felt good to be part of a group. I wasn't sure yet if I wanted to continue with the jazz band the following semester, but I was still glad that I'd had the experience. And, at least, I'd met Cody.

After the concert, I promised Cody that we would hang out together over the holidays, and he informed me that his mother wanted Ryan, Toby, and me to come over for dinner one night. I thought that would be an interesting experience. For one, I wanted Ryan and Toby to see what kind of woman Cody's mother was, and I also wanted to see how Toby and Cody would interact with each other. Maybe I shouldn't have been trying to play matchmaker, but it was worth a shot.

I asked Ryan to stop by my trailer quickly before we headed back to his house to begin the holidays, because I needed to pick up a few things. As usual, I was a little nervous when I walked in the door but was pleased to find that my mother wasn't even there, although Krull was sitting on the sofa in just his underwear watching television, with a beer in one hand, and scratching his balls with the other. He nodded at me when I walked in, and then I went back to my bedroom to grab my things.

As I was getting ready to leave, I realized that I'd never told my mother where I was going. Not that she'd care, but I figured that since I was going to be gone for the next two and a half weeks, I should at least say something.

"Ummm ... Krull ..." I said hesitantly.

"What's up, little dude?" he asked.

"I'm going to be staying with my friends for Christmas, so I won't be back until after New Year's. I just wanted to let you know, in case my mom ... well ... worried or anything."

"No problem, bud. I hope you have a good time. Oh, and Merry Christmas, Connor," he said with a sincere smile.

"Merry Christmas to you, too, Krull," I replied.

With that, I walked back out of the trailer and got into Ryan's car, ready for our two and a half weeks together.

"Did everything go alright inside?" he asked me.

"Yeah. Even things at home are better than they've been in a long time. Maybe things are finally starting to come together in my life," I said, more to myself than to Ryan.

"I hope so, Connor. I want you to be happy. I don't want to see you hurt anymore," he said, taking hold of my hand and looking at me intently.

"I want you to be happy, too, Ryan. I just hope I can make you as happy as you've made me."

"You already have, babe ... you already have."

And with that, we were on our way. Winter vacation was beginning, and I hadn't been so excited for as long as I could remember. I just hoped things kept getting better. It seemed like everything in my life had changed so much over the past several months. It was a little difficult to understand it all. I was so used to the empty feeling I'd always had, that it was weird to suddenly feel this ... this feeling I didn't even know how to describe. Maybe my lot in life had finally changed, and I was being allowed the happiness I'd been deprived of for so long.

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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