Sparkling Combustion

Chapter 18

Thanks to Mark for looking this one over

  I avoided him after that.

       I never told Jeremy why, but I think he could see through me. I think he could see how deep I was sinking and how much it hurt me now that the adrenaline, excitement, and anger had exploded. Reality had hit again and I could see nothing good could come out of this. When I had held him, or been held by him, things had changed again. I couldn’t take it at face value anymore; I couldn’t stop myself from wanting more from him. These were things he couldn’t give me, things he didn’t want to give me. It would only bring me down again and I didn’t want that.  My physical needs were all he could satisfy, but the brusqueness of that had gotten overshadowed by my ardent need for his affection. It hurt me badly when he’d left last night.

       It hadn’t hurt when I’d used him for a good time in the sack a few days ago. It hurt now, and I didn’t want to hurt anymore, not for others and not for myself.

       The fact that my emotions had become so unhealthy was something only Jeremy seemed to have noticed. It was also obvious he'd continued taking note of it. Everything about my relationship with Ryan had spiraled me into this and I couldn’t seem to get out of it or stop hurting.  I could at least leave him alone and let him live in peace.

       Only Nathan seemed to understand me. He didn’t resent me at all and I respected him for it. I wondered if I hurt him like my thing with Ryan hurt me. I wondered if seeing me caused him pain and how he felt when I sat beside him at lunch in the grass without speaking. I felt guilty, stupid, and highly unworthy of having him as a friend.

       Unlike Jeremy, who took a look at me and understood, Nathan asked me what was wrong. And I told him, I actually did, instead of letting it build up inside of me and refusing to tell him. He simply smiled a sad smile—perhaps at the irony—and then took a bite of his food.  He didn’t comment any further, and I appreciated that much. I didn’t want anyone to make a big deal of me. 

       When I asked quite obtusely how things were going, Nathan had laughed at my sputtering and knew what I meant.

       He shocked me by grinning widely and saying, “I’m actually dating someone.”

       “Wow, yeah?” All I could think was…so fast?

       “Yeah,” he grinned sheepishly, “ I mean,” he held his hands up defensively, “I’m not someone to move from person to person, and what I feel, and do feel for you is real, but when you meet the right person for you, you just know and  it feels like they can fill…any wound…you know?”

       “Yeah,” I said softly. “So who’s the lucky guy?”

       “Actually, it’s a girl, and I met her when I came here but you know things just started getting…” Nathan blushed, “And before you go on, it’s just...well..... maybe sexuality isn’t as straight and narrow—pun not intended—as people think it is. I mean, maybe someone is mainly straight. Like they mainly go for girls, but a guy—maybe one in a million—could do it for him too. And when it comes to love,” his voice softened and he smiled, “you don’t usually control who you fall for.”

       I nodded, “I know what you mean, and I agree. Still…you found your one in a million?”

       Nathan smiled, “Yes. My one in a million, both in terms of being the one exception to my preference to guys, and the person I think is my one in a million in general.”

       “So fast?”

       “Sometimes you just know, and don’t give me crap about being young and shit.”

       “I’m not, man.” I held up a hand. “So when do I get to meet her?”

       “That’s more like it,” Nathan grinned.

       “So we’re good?” I asked as I searched his face.

       “I’ll always love ya, but you’re my bro.” He gave me a one-arm hug and I was really, really happy for him.  I felt my happiness for him wave through my body and I forgot about being a sad, emo boy for a while. Nathan deserved this and I prayed to a God somewhere out there for his lasting happiness.

       Her name was Fancy Harris and she was much nicer than her name.  She wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  I met her that very day after school and we all went out to grab a bite together. She had bright red hair that curled fiercely in ringlets to her waist. Her skin was pale and milky white with a light dusting of freckles. Her eyes were moss-green and were exotically curved up at the corners. Her mouth was small and cherubic and perpetually curved in a smile. She was thin, graceful and tall, with long limbs, and long elegant pianist’s hands. I learned that night, that she was some sort of a child prodigy and a genius to boot. 

       “Nathan told me all about you,” she said warmly, which I assumed was just out of politeness.

       She made Nathan happy and she kept up with him easily. She knew about me, which surprised me and Nathan blushed at the look on my face upon this discovery. They were so perfect for each other, my nostalgic heart felt constricted, but ultimately it made me happy.

       By the end of the evening, I was certain that Nathan was right about her. It was in the little things...... the way she automatically passed him the ketchup when he didn’t even ask for it......the way he knew what she wouldn’t touch on her plate and helped himself.....and the way she looked to him for confirmation and found that and more in his eyes. It was the sort of things my parents did, but that came after years of marriage. Or perhaps it’s like that with the right person sometimes. They’d apparently been friends for a while too.

       Fancy drove Nathan and I home—Nathan’s house came first—and I found that it was easy to converse with her. She looked like the type of person I’d like to paint if I had any talent, so utterly breathtaking in a  non beautiful way that you couldn’t look away from her. She laughed when I asked if people stared at her a lot and said yes they did. I wasn’t surprised.

       When we reached my house, she asked for my number and I gave it to her, while letting her type her own out into my phone.        

G’night, Kyle. Oh, and make sure you call me sometime. I like you,” she said bluntly.

I grinned, and found myself thinking I would. “I don’t much like you,” I wrinkled my nose, “but I’ll call you because you have an interesting face.”

She laughed and waved me off, pulling out of my driveway. I stood and watched her leave.

That night, I didn’t dream.



Josh and Laura had noticed my hesitance in talking about Ryan and how I’d change the subject quickly, so they’d not attempted to inquire further.  I knew Laura had probably assumed something went wrong again and the right thing to do would be to mind her own business for now. Josh probably understood that something was wrong too, and probably that it was the end of it with Ryan. Again they didn’t make a big deal of it and I appreciated that from them as well.

Josh treated me to the usual chatter, but I would catch Laura giving me an intense look when she thought I was distracted. She always looked away quickly, but I knew she wanted badly to butt in. It’s not that I’m a bad friend; it’s just eventually friendship can get to the point where you know when to keep silent, and yet they know what’s wrong without words.  I hadn’t even identified the problem, but they knew it hurt and Ryan was involved. I was never known for my intellectual prowess.

I didn’t act funny or strange, at least I didn’t think so. I was just slightly more quiet and thoughtful. I didn’t always catch the jokes, and I wasn’t as quick to come back with cutting remarks like I normally was.

When I saw Ryan in between classes in the halls, I looked the other way or pretended I was staring intently at something ahead. I think I imagined his stares.

In the classes we shared, I managed never to look in the direction he happened to be. I was afraid that if I looked at him too long, I’d do something stupid, like go after him again. That wasn’t healthy, for me or him. Without anger to fuel me, I wasn’t one to do something like that again. Yet, nothing was the same. It hadn’t gone back to being how it was before we’d had sex at that party.  I think I would even welcome that juvenile behavior to this. I felt years older and so much more mature. His actions-- or lack of them--proved the recent events had changed the both of us. Had his anger and unsightly feelings melted too?

I found myself thinking that one day, I’d be able to stand in front of him and talk about all of this without fucking him or cussing him out.  Even that hurt to think about because somehow I knew that would never happen for me.

Fuck me, I’m screwed.

And yet, a whole week passed this way. I began feeling normal again, as if the suddenness and shock of everything had begun settling down. You know when something huge happens, and it’s all you can think about? Even the world feels different. Slowly, you begin recovering and life feels normal, even with that cavity in it. You learn to work with it and around it. Like a beaten up train track that can’t be used, you find another road.

The weekend was a welcome retreat. My mom had noticed my behavior and had even elected to have a talk with me, being the wonderful—even if slightly odd—mom that she was. I managed to look cheerful and I told her that yes, something had been bothering me, but that she needn’t worry and that it would get better. She didn’t look convinced, but knew better than to push me.

Saturday morning, I woke up not knowing what I wanted to do, so I sat at my computer, surfing the net and listening to music. I finished all my school work and watched a movie. By the evening, I was exhausted despite the fact that I had moved very little. When I’m down, I have a tendency to listen to depressing music that worsens my mood, so I quickly forced myself up from the computer and decided to call Jeremy. He sounded as he always did, stable and light, even with his deep voice.

“Kyle, where you been? I thought you died or something.” Jeremy said in all seriousness.

I didn’t laugh like I normally would have, “Yeah, sorry about that. I’ve been busy with school crap, so I didn’t get a chance to call. Anyway,” I fiddled with a pencil, “Wanna chill or something?”

“Or something,” He agreed, “Want me to come over?”

“No,” I decided, “Pick me up?”

“My house, then?”

“Yeah, okay, cool.”

“Be there in a few,” he hung up.

When I looked out the window, it was raining again. It certainly rained a lot lately. My room faced the driveway so I saw when Jeremy pulled up into the drive and ran down the stairs. My parents asked where I was going at this time on a Saturday so I said, “Jeremy’s,” and shrugged. My dad nodded, slapped me on the back and ushered me out the door, clearly hoping I’d be brighter when coming back through it.  

“You could always stay over if it gets late,” he suggested.

“I’ll see,” I called back and ran out the door.

“I always catch you in the rain,” Jeremy said, smirking, as I sat down next to him.

I grinned, “Shut up and drive.”

“Or what, you’ll ‘disturb’ me?”

“That was lame.” I laughed.

“Okay, okay, it was.”

“It’s okay, I heard you should be nice to people with proper brains that can’t work them right.”

“Fuck off, Kyle.”

“You’re the one who ran here to pick me up.”

“I did not run here, I drove.”

“So why don’t you drive now?” I rolled my eyes.

Jeremy shook his head, and complied. As we drove, he asked if I’d rather go to his house or hang with a bunch of people from his school. He said it was just a small gathering, not really a party, but there would be drinking, and hot boys.

I raised an eyebrow at that, “Coming out of your celibacy?”

He shrugged, and smiled softly at me. “Dunno,” he shifted, keeping his eyes on the road,“So you want to come?”

I thought of the alcohol, and was actually tempted. How things change. “Yeah, why not. But these hot boys…”

Jeremy smirked, “Most are straight but I could probably fuck them if I tried,” he shrugged, “And I think Jason and Ty are bi and kind of together. I think only Jason will be there though. Paul is totally gay, but probably not your type. He’s a total drama queen, and, not to stereotype, but probably a bottom as well.”

“As well?” I raised an eyebrow.

Jeremy actually blushed, “Yeah,” he mumbled, “You just seem like you know…with Ryan…he’s totally straight. I doubt he’d let you…”

“Yeah, definitely,” I said, my face totally serious. “I love it.” I wasn’t kidding.


I laughed, “I’m just trying to make you uncomfortable.”


 “Brain not functioning again? I rolled my eyes. “Anyway, let’s go do this shit.”

“Aye,” Jeremy replied.

The small gathering consisted of 12 or so people. The majority was boys, but there were many girls too. Everyone seemed really glad Jeremy had showed up, which made me see he’d been forgoing these gatherings lately. They all greeted me politely and I did the same in turn. The fun was apparently just getting started and the bottles of booze were still nearly full.

There was light music in the background, but mainly everyone was talking in small groups of twos and threes and being stupid. I grabbed myself a bottle of something that looked good and drank straight from it, not bothering to read the label. Jeremy was surrounded by two girls in the corner and they were getting very touchy feely. When he caught my eye, I shrugged and smirked at him. He didn’t seem to mind the attention.

By the time I’d drunk half the bottle and was feeling it indeed, I’d gotten to ‘know’ half the people in the room. Lisa-May and Jennifer were two very nice girls who liked sitting close to me despite me having declared loudly I was gay. I didn’t mind, and I kind of liked them.

Lisa-May was a pert little red-head who looked innocent and sweet, but I removed that judgment from my memory bank when I saw her locking lips with two guys and doing something with her hand that looked skillful.  Jennifer was a pouty brunette with a slight horsey face. She liked having her ear-lobes licked apparently, as she proceeded to tell me.  I seemed to find that very funny and was laughing hysterically with Lisa-May and Jennifer when I saw the guy looking at me with a bemused expression on his face from across the room.

“Hi,” I called to him, “I’m Kyle.”

He laughed, his eyes crinkling at the corners. He had hair the color of wheat and nice pale skin. His lips were a startling color that was some shade of pink. I perused his body boldly, and found he had a nice body too, really built and bulging with muscles. “I know,” He said, “And you’re gay.”

I’d forgotten I’d told everyone in the room already. I nodded. “You are?”

“Jason,” he told me and walked over to sit across from me.

Lisa-May giggled. “Jason likes you.”

Jennifer pouted, “I like getting my ears licked…”

“Oh lord,” I got up.

“Jason was totally checking you out.”

“Yeah? I was totally checking him out.” And I did just that, looking boldly at his body.

Oooh,” Lisa-May crooned.

I don’t remember what happened next entirely clearly. I did recall Jeremy telling me that Jason was bisexual, though, and I could now tell he was interested. The booze had gotten to my head and I didn’t much care about anything. Jeremy had disappeared, probably upstairs, I thought.  He probably didn’t think I’d do something stupid with Jason, but I was managing many amazing things as of late.

Lisa-May and Jennifer had gotten distracted by some boys. I think Jennifer finally found someone willing to cater to her one desire.  And thus, somehow, I found myself outside with Jason. Eventually, we ended up kissing, arms tightly around one another.

It was utterly void of emotion or thought. It was just sensation, physical gratification.

Mmm,” Jason moaned and gripped my hips tighter. I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned into his embrace, pressing my nose against his neck and closing my eyes. I just wanted to rest, I felt sleepy.

“You have such a hot ass,” Jason said and demonstrated how much he appreciated that part of my anatomy by grabbing it and squeezing. I giggled and buried my face further into his neck. He smelled alright; Ryan smelled like heaven. I never understood how a person had a unique scent that could be described as their ‘essence’, till Ryan that is.

He should be making me forget Ryan with the way his hands roamed my body. Instead, I was thinking about Ryan while getting man-handled. Fuck!  

Jason raised my face for a kiss, but I pulled away. He gripped me tighter and I couldn’t move, “Mmm,”  he moaned in my ear again, “So fucking sexy,” he said as he rubbed my ass through my jeans. Even though I was drunk, I was starting to feel uncomfortable.

Nothing felt right.

“I have to go find Jeremy,” I mumbled and tried to unwrap him from me, but he wouldn’t budge and tried to push my shirt up. I shoved him hard and he crashed into deck as he went down hard. By the time he was up and on his feet, with a venomous expression on his face, Jeremy had walked outside as well and was watching us curiously. Jason lunged for me, but I dodged and he hit his head against the wall.

“Fuck off, Jason,” I laughed while he clutched at his bleeding forehead. I looked over at Jeremy and saw that his eyes were on my arms, where there were large bruises forming from the strength with which Jason had held me. His eyes narrowed and he walked up close to Jason.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

“He fucking wanted it, the little bitch,” Jason yelped.

“He’s hardly little, Asshole, and from the fact that he decked you, I don’t think he ‘wanted it’ at all. Get lost.” Jeremy said the last sentence in a low, deadly voice and Jason, despite being several years older, stalked back into the house.

Jeremy then stomped over to me and grabbed my arm. He held it out, feeling it with his fingertips before dropping it again and walking back in to the house.

“Come,” He ordered, and I didn’t dare question his him as we went back through  the house. Some people looked at us curiously, and Lisa-May waved at me as I walked past.  People tried to say bye to Jeremy as we exited, but he had a stony expression on his face and didn’t speak to anyone. He opened the car door for me once we were outside,  and when I was seated, he walked around to his side and got in. He sat there for a few moments before he turned to me.

“Kyle,” He said, “Come on, what is up with you?”

“Hmm? Nothing,” I drawled.

“Then why were you locking lips with Jason O’Toole, who you don’t even know, and why do you have bruises on your arms from where he clearly wouldn’t let you go?” Jeremy asked quietly.

“Uh…” I had no idea what to say. What was wrong with a little tryst between two willing people? It was my own fault after all, I’d gotten cold-feet in the middle. “He was hot.”

“So? You throw yourself at any hot guy who takes a second look at you?”

“No, but you do.” I pointed out.

“No, you see I’m the one usually giving the second look,” He said simply, and he was right.

“I think maybe you really need to think about things, you’re acting really weird. I know all of this has to do with Ryan--.”

“Fuck, no, it doesn’t.”  I lay my cheek against the cool glass of the car and my voice came out funny.

“Kyle, even this denial is unhealthy. I’m seriously worried about you, man.”

“Why didn’t you kiss me again?” I wondered aloud. I looked at him pointedly.

“See you’re so—what?”

“Why don’t you kiss me? Kiss me, now.” I turned to him.

“Kyle, you and I, we’re friends, okay? Know what that means or have you gone completely nuts?”

“Friends can’t kiss? I liked kissing you, you’re great Jeremy,” I told him, laying my head against his shoulder. “You’re great.”

Jeremy sighed deeply. I could feel the reverberations against my cheek. “No, friends don’t kiss,” but he leaned down and kissed my forehead gently, his lips lingering lightly. I sighed at the contact. “Why can’t it be you?”

“Why indeed?” He said. “I’m here for you, buddy.”

“I know,” I yawned loudly, then laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“I fucking love him.”

“Oh, is that what it is?” He asked casually.

I shrugged, “What the fuck is love, anyway?” Despite that obvious question, I knew without a doubt what this turmoil in my heart was. I knew what this pain was. It hurt because I couldn’t have what I loved.

“Bunnies, roses, candy-hearts, valentines-day, puppies, rainbows--.”

I laughed loudly, “Yeah that’s one way of looking at it. Or the pure innocent, angelic kind. Love between two people that gently grows and is beautiful.”

“Is that what love is? Hmm,” Jeremy said thoughtfully. Clearly, he hadn’t been drinking, “Love can be simple. You can love a person purely, without selfish desires, love them from a distance and truly be happy for them no matter what. Selfless love, I  guess--.”

“And?” I interrupted.

“And,” he added, “You can love a person passionately, with your whole being, selfishly, greedily, jealously. You want them and you not only desire them, but the desire fuels you. It’s either you have them or you don’t have them at all. I guess that’s the love that hurts.”

“That doesn’t sound beautiful.”

“What the hell is beauty anyway?”

I shrugged. “Besides, it isn’t so easy to define something like love. Everyone loves differently.  I wish I could say I know him well and I love every facet of his beautiful personality, but I can’t. I don’t know why I love him, but I do. I can’t stop wanting him anymore. Instead of growing sofly, it just sort of blew up in my face, sparkling slowly while I’ve been catching all the stray pieces. I’ve known deep down, but I’ve finally voiced it.”

Haha, a sparkling combustion, eh?”

I grinned, “Something like that.”

“So you love him?”

“Yes,” I said, sure of it now.

“I wish I could say I’m surprised.”

 “Don’t you want to know why? I’m sure you’re dying to know why I’d love someone like him.”

“Not particularly,” He said truthfully, “Love doesn’t make sense. There are so many different facets of it that you can’t possibly begin to explain or analyze it without going mad.”

“You sound knowledgable, I’d almost like to think you’ve been in love before.”

He raised an eyebrow, “You start sobering up easily.”

I laughed, “I’m not drunk,” I said.

“Drunks always claim they’re not drunk…”

“Shut up,” I waved him off, “So have you been in love before?”

He looked at me for a few moments, considering me, then spoke casually, “As a matter of fact, I have been.”

“Yeah?” I asked. “Guess he or she was stupid to let you go.”

“As a matter of fact,” he said again, “he or she was so stupid they probably wouldn’t have noticed if I walked up and bonked them over the head with it.”

I giggled, “Really?”

“Yes.” Jeremy smiled softly, eyes crinkling up. I felt like I was being warmed by the sun when he looked at me like that. “But I never wanted anything more.”


“Yep,” He said simply. We were making no moves to drive.

“The pure kind, eh?” I asked him, feeling sorry for him. “So that’s what you were talking about.”

“Yep, that kind,” He laughed.

“And you never wanted anything more?”

“Nope, not unless he did.” He said, revealing that it was a guy.

“So you just cared about his happiness, huh? Wow, I had no idea someone could love so purely. What if he told you he wanted to be with you?”

“Then I’d be his for as long as he wanted me.”

“But he didn’t?” I was so curious. He never ever talked about himself, I was eating the information right on up. I assumed this was from a while back when he didn’t live here.

“No,” Jeremy said.

“Do you think he got his happy ending?”

“I sure hope so,” Jeremy said sadly.

“And you still love him?” I wondered.


“Wow,” I said, at a loss for any other words. Now, a silence wedged on between us as we both thought about things. I hoped Jeremy found someone who could love him entirely one day and whom he could love fully.

“Is he why you won’t kiss me?” I wondered aloud, looking up from where my head was once again perched on his shoulder.

“Kind of,” He said, “I don’t know,” He seemed confused and flustered all of a sudden. “Just leave it alone.” He said more gently, “I’d rather not discuss it.”

“Okay,” I said, “Are you going to take me home? We spend too much time talking in this car.”

“Are you kidding? You want to go home like this? With bruises on your arms and drunk to boot? Seriously, what were you thinking tonight?” He was stern again. “Promise me you won’t go around kissing strangers again.”



“I promise…”

“My house.” Jeremy said simply.

“No!” I protested. “I wanna sleep in my own bed. I’ll sneak upstairs, they’re probably asleep and even if I get caught they’ll just be happy I’m acting normal enough to drink.”

Jeremy looked like he wanted to protest, but he complied with my demand and took me home. Only, when we pulled up in my driveway, and I got out of the car, neither of us noticed the car parked on the street in front of my house.

“Sleep, rest your mind and everything will eventually be okay. Maybe we should take a trip together during March break and get away from this crap. You could meet someone new…oh, and by the way, if you bump into the rents nod or shake your head, try not to speak…”

“We’ll see,” I grinned, and saluted, “G’night, Man,.”

 I waved a final goodbye and walked inside slowly. The hall lights were turned off but I could see a faint light in the living room. I groaned, just great.

“Kyle, is that you?”

Mmm-hmm,” I called.

“Come here, won’t you?” My mom said.

I banged my head against the wall before walking quickly into the living room. My mother sat with a glass of juice in her hand, one of her home-made health concoctions, and my dad sat beside her drinking scotch. Across from them both sat an individual I would not have ever expected to see sitting in my living room.

“Your friend came a while ago, but insisted on waiting to talk to you, so we’ve been chatting till now. You can go upstairs if you’d like.” My dad told me, inclining his head towards Ryan. I looked from Ryan to my dad, then back again. Ryan’s jacket lay sprawled beside him and he wore an ash green sweater with faded old jeans. His green eyes glimmered in the light and his hair lay unruly upon his head from having been in the rain and then dried.

Ryan stood and looked at me levelly.

“Hello, Kyle.”


Epic chapter? I think so. Kyle finally admits his love for Ryan, not exactly under great circumstances but that’s life for you. And well, that’s 17 for you. Comments,critiscism,concerns,questions,etc,etc? Email me at:

Also, do check out Mark’s wonderful story. I’m going to be reading it and so should you! /nifty/gay/beginnings/taking-stock/