by Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce
© Copyright 2005 Julien
All rights reserved.
No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author. This story is almost all fiction. Almost all of the characters depicted in this story exist exclusively in the imagination of the author. Any resemblance to an actual person, living or dead, is, sometimes purely coincidental. For a list of my other stories, original and fan fiction, please visit my personal website.
"So, someone has been putting hate messages and bombs in
your locker," said Meg once we were seated in a booth at the closest pizza
place to Dustin's apartment.
"That's the gist of the school week," I said with a sigh before sipping my soda.
"And now you and Steve are fighting," she said, looking at me pointedly.
She had a way of looking at me that made me shiver. It was almost as if my mother was looking at me through her eyes when she looked at me that way. It had an interesting effect on me each time. This time, I wanted to grab her and wrap my arms around her. I had to keep reminding myself that Meg was not my mother.
"Steve and I fight a lot, but it never amounts to much," I replied. "This time its his overprotective urges. Last time it was about his relationship with his brother, and the time before that it was about me keeping my feelings bottled up. There's always something for us to argue over. This is no different."
She was quiet for a moment after I said that. I wondered what she was thinking. I wanted her to tell me something that would make them all back off, but with the bombings I didn't see that happening any time soon. What I wished was that my friends would lay off me and worry about who was trying to kill us. That seemed a lot more important than whether or not I ran too far or lifted weights too long. It seemed to be the most important thing in the world.
"Listen to yourself a moment," she said finally, and I was confused. "You say that what you and Steve are fighting about isn't anything to get upset over, yet you're very upset with him about it. Tommy, if it isn't anything for you to be upset about why did you leave?"
"Because he got Shirley to help him gang up on me," I said crossly. "I don't understand why none of them will back off. I'm not going to hurt myself again, and I'm not going to hurt anyone else. If they won't leave me alone and give me space, then I'll leave Storyville completely. With everything else that's going on, I don't need all of this from them."
I was breathing hard, and my hands hurt from balling them into fists and gripping my jeans. I knew what she was doing. She was getting me agitated so that I would see that this fight between me and Steve, the others as well, was really important. At least it was important to me. I knew that, actually. I just didn't want to talk about it as much as I thought I had. That was my problem. Steve would say that I was bottling things up again, and he'd be right. Damn him.
"And that's not important," she said, crossing her arms and leaning back in her seat. "Tell me, Tommy, what is important?"
"This is," I mumbled. "Meg, thanks for talking, but I really need to go home."
"Good boy," she said, smiling.
I did kiss her then. Right on the cheek. Then I was out the door and headed for my car. I had to get back to the house and talk this out with Steve. Sure he'd said the wrong thing about me talking to my psychiatrist, but he was upset. We were both upset, and people say things they don't really mean when they're upset, right? I just needed to get back there and fix the mess that was currently staining my relationship with the guy I love.
I drove straight home with no stops. His car was in the driveway with Vince's car right behind it. I knew that Vince was going to be unbearable, but I needed to talk to Steve. Vince would have to wait. As I got out of the car, though, Vince was storming out the front door to intercept me. He looked furious.
"Do you have any idea how worried you have everyone?" Vince demanded . "Everyone is looking for you, Tommy. How dare you take off at a time like this. What is it that's in that head of yours?"
"Back off, Vince," I said, bounding up the porch steps. "Where's Steve?"
"I don't believe this," he fumed. "You don't care that we were all worried at all, do you?"
"Look," I sighed in frustration, "I'm sorry for running off and scaring everyone, OK? Just back the fuck off now. You all have to back off and let me live, Vince. You can't keep smothering me. I won't stand for it anymore. Now where is my lover?"
"I'm right here," said Steve as he came out the front door. "And you promised not to jump on him, Vince."
"Oh for the love of . . ." Vince whirled around to face Steve, but Steve didn't let him get any further.
"Vince, we're alive, Tommy's home now, Maria called, and I need to talk to Tommy," he said calmly. "Go to Maria."
They stared at each other for a few minutes before Vince finally let out an exaggerated sigh and turned to face me. There was fire in his eyes, but he didn't say anything. Instead he stalked past me and got into his car. I kept my eyes on Steve as I heard Vince gun his engine and spin his tires as he pulled away from the curb. I sighed when I heard the car round the corner and drive away.
"We have to talk, Steve," I said after a few minutes of silence. I didn't want to be angry with him anymore, but I still wasn't ready to back down about how everyone was treating me. Things had to change, or I was still going to leave. That was all there was to it.
"I know," he said, staring into my eyes. I could see that he was very nervous. I watched as his Adam's apple move as he swallowed as he looked me in the eye. I hated myself for making him so nervous, but I didn't know how I was going to calm him down after what I going to say. They had to give me space. I couldn't go on with this anymore. It was driving me crazy.
Then things just started to move without my head even registering what was happening. I walked right up the steps and passed him as I walked into the house. I was in the living room, sitting on the couch before I even realized what I had done. He came in the house and walked into the living room where he just stood in the doorway and looked at me. That nervous look on his face made me want to jump up and wrap my arms around him. I had to remind myself that I was still angry with him. It was so damned hard to be angry with him when I looked into his eyes, though.
"I'm sorry about what I said, Tommy," he said without taking his eyes away from mine. "I shouldn't have said that about you needing to see a doctor. I was just upset, because I thought you were going to just go ahead and leave school."
"I forgive you for that one," I said after a moment. "Steve, I don't like fighting with you. You know that, right?"
"I don't like fighting with you, either, Tommy," he said. "But I can't help being worried about you."
"All right," I sighed. "Be worried all you want, but do you have to jump on everything I say? I mean, I know you can't control the others, but Steve, if you can't trust me to take care of myself, then what are we doing together? I love you, Steve. I couldn't love you any more than I do, but I can't take the constant worrying about what I say in front of you.
"Its bad enough that I have Vince and Andy breathing down my neck all of the time," I continued. "Does there have to be a war between us to make you understand that all of this is suffocating me?"
"I can understand that, Tommy," Steve replied, coming the rest of the way into the room and sitting beside me. "I've been kicking myself since you walked out of here. I know what you're saying. I really do."
"Then can we relax a little about this?" I asked. "Can we go even one day without you getting too protective?"
"I can try," he said. "Its hard, though. I love you, Tommy."
"I know you love me, Steve," I said quickly. "But monitoring everything I say and do isn't showing me love. Its showing me control. I have never tried to exert control over you, Steve. I won't accept controlling from you, either."
Our conversation was far from over, but at that moment the picture window behind us shattered. I heard before I saw the brick hitting the floor just inches from where we stood, and I could hear the car speeding away outside as well. Shock hit me before fear set in, and from the look on Steve's face, he was just as shocked as I was. We were both covered in glass, and I could see little specs of blood on the side of Steve's face.
"What the Hell . . . " Andy was saying as he came into the living room. He stopped when he saw the brick on the floor. Steve and I were staring at it, too.
"There's a piece of paper tied to it," Steve observed, but none of us moved to touch it.
Andy looked at us for a minute before walking over and picking up the telephone. I could hear him telling the police our address and what had happened, but I couldn't figure out why he'd called them. My mind wasn't working very well. I just kept seeing the little specs of blood on my lover's face. Something, besides the obvious, bothered me about the way he looked with the blood on his face. I just kept staring at him.
"Don't touch it," said Andy when he got off the telephone. "The police are on their way. We might want to do something about your cuts, though, Tommy."
"Cuts?" I asked, finally dragging my eyes off of my lover's face to look at Andy in confusion. I'd been so concerned about Steve that I hadn't even noticed that my own face was cut. It had to have been cut worse than Steve's, because as soon as I thought about it, it hurt.
"Sit still," ordered Andy as he walked out of the room. He came back with a wet wash cloth and a bottle of peroxide. "This might sting, Tommy," he said before applying the cloth to my face.
If I had known what he was going to do, I probable would have had a fit, but he had the large piece of glass out of the side of my face before I even know what was happening. Steve was still looking at me strangely, and he hadn't said a word. I looked back at him, pressing the cloth to my face to staunch the slow bleeding. His eyes looked unfocused, and I could see from the tension in his face that he was gritting his teeth.
"Steve?" I said, putting my hand over his folded hands in his lap. "Are you all right?"
A sound that I couldn't identify came from him as he slowly began to lean toward me, and then he threw his arms around me and gripped me tightly. He was mumbling into my shoulder, but I couldn't understand him. He just kept mumbling as he held me. I wrapped my arms around him, too, and I kept trying to ask him if he was all right. I could hear sirens coming toward our house, but I was still trying to focus my attention on what he was saying but still couldn't understand.
". . . blood running down your face, and I couldn't stand to think that you were hurt. It scared me so bad, Tommy. I love you so much, and I don't ever want to argue with you ever again. Please don't leave me," he said into my shoulder after turning his head slightly. I caught the end of what he was saying and I could feel him sobbing as he held me.
"Steve," I gasped, tightening my arms around him. "I'm never leaving you. I'm not mad at you anymore. Calm down, I'm fine."
"I know that I get too protective, but I just worry about you, Tommy," he said in that same desperate tone. "I thought you would die last time when you were in the hospital, and it really scared me. I don't want to go through that again. Then the brick . . ."
"Steve, I'm fine," I said, pushing him away so that I could look him in the eye. "I know you love me, Steve, and I know you worry about me. I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize my health again. I promised then and I promise now. You don't have to worry so much. I'm not going anywhere."
He looked at me hard for a moment as if he was considering what I'd said. I could only hope that he heard the sincerity that I tried to convey with my voice. I had no desire to hurt myself. I hadn't when I dropped from exhaustion, and I didn't at that point in time either. I just needed him to understand that what had happened before was caused by suppressed grief. I'd dealt with my mother's death, and I wasn't going to go down that road again.
"Don't ever hurt yourself like that again, Tommy," he said with so much conviction in his voice that I didn't mistake it for anything other than the command that it was. I didn't argue as I usually would with an order like that. Steve was shaken up. I understood that seeing the glass all over me coupled with the fact that a large piece of glass had stuck in my face had scared him. I knew that it was the reason behind this outburst and command. I loved him even more for it in that moment.
"The police are almost here, guys," said Andy. He'd remained a silent observer while Steve and I were having our aftermath discussion, but he'd warned us that he was about to be joined by others, and neither of us wanted a larger audience for something that was so personal and private.
Within minutes, there were two police officers in my living room with us. I recognized one from the school. He'd been asking questions after the locker bombings. He hadn't asked us any questions, but he knew that we were two of the people who had been bombed. Because of this, he took what had happened very seriously. His partner had wanted to right it off as a prank, but Officer Reagan quickly filled him in on who we were and what had happened to us just that morning at school.
"Did any of you see the car?" The other officer, his name tag identified him as Portman, had finally started to take the brick through our window seriously after Reagan had explained who we were.
"We were having a discussion," I replied. "Our backs were to the window."
"Then we were too stunned to even turn around," added Steve. "Tommy had glass stuck in the side of his face, and Andy removed it. The car sped away while that was happening."
For nearly an hour, we answered questions about both the school bombings and the brick that had sailed through our window. By way of a radio call from other officers, we learned that there were two more incidents where bricks had been thrown through windows not far from where we live. Steve and I exchanged glances at this news. Both of us knew that it had to be Rick and Mark.
"Mr. Porter, you should really go to the hospital and have that cut looked at," said Reagan before he and his partner left my house.
I only agreed to go to the hospital to calm Steve down. In the end, I didn't need stitches. All they did was clean the wound and apply a bandage. I was more than ready to leave when they were finished. We headed for Mark's house as soon as we left the hospital. His was closest. I wanted to know what the note on the brick thrown through is window said. The police had told us that ours said that we were sinners and should be stoned.
"My God, Tommy," said Vince when we got to Mark's. He and Maria were standing outside with Mark as we pulled up. "What happened to your face?"
He cast a worried glance at Steve, but didn't say anything. I almost thought that Vince was going to accuse us of fighting, but as soon as we explained what had happened, Vince just looked at the ground silently. Mark told us all about the brick thrown through his window. The note tied around it had said the exact same thing that ours had.
"Rick is on his way over," said Mark when he'd finished telling us about the brick. "The police just left his house."
"Who do you think is doing this?" I asked him, trying hard to keep the edge out of my voice. I had to admit that I was more than worried about what had been happening. I was scared.
"No clue," he sighed. "First the bombs. I thought that had to be Leo Hartman, but you said that it couldn't be. Now these bricks. Someone really doesn't like us."
"I wonder what they're going to do at school," said Steve. "We're all supposed to return to classes on Monday. I don't want to go back if there isn't some sort of security in place."
"I don't think that's going to be a problem," said Vince. "I talked to Mitch about this, and he told me that police officers will be stationed at the school. They're even installing cameras all over the school, especially in the locker bays."
"Well that makes me feel a little better," sighed Mark. "I just can't think who would want to kill us."
"We don't even know if the bombs in our lockers were supposed to kill us," said Steve. "They may have just wanted to scare us, make us leave the school."
"Of course they were meant to hurt us," I gasped, shocked that he would entertain such an idea. "The messages tied to the bricks that sailed through our windows clearly lets me know that someone out there wants us all dead."
"Tommy . . ."
"No," I said, cutting him off. "This isn't just pranks, Steve. This is serious. They want to hurt us."
"Well at least one of you is taking this seriously," said Vince. "Steve, Tommy's right. Someone wants to hurt all of you, and I don't think letting you all go back to school on Monday is such a great idea."
"We're going back to school," I said firmly. "Mitch is already setting up security, and it would just make whoever is doing this happy if we didn't go back to school with the rest of our classmates. I'm not letting some sick shit head win. I'm going to school."
"Me too," said Steve, taking my hand.
"You know we'll be there," said Mark, speaking for himself as well as Rick.
Later that night, Steve and I sat in our room talking about what was going on. He was still sure that no one really wanted to kill us, but I knew better. I reminded him of Jason Cox, and he stopped trying to convince me that no one wanted to kill us. I knew that the person, or people behind this had nothing to do with Jason, but that one event reminded Steve that there were people in the world that hated us just because we were gay.
"That makes this even more terrifying, Tommy," he said, holding on to me. We were lying on our bed, holding each other. We'd been that way since we'd returned from Mark's.
"I know," I replied. "But telling ourselves lies isn't going to make us any safer. We really need to keep our eyes open."
"This sucks, Tommy," he said. "We're supposed to enjoy our senior year of school. We aren't supposed to be wondering who is trying to kill us. I don't even know if I want to go back to school on Monday now."
"Not going back to school won't make us any safer either," I informed him. "They're throwing bricks through our windows now. That means they've brought this to our home."
"How can you be so calm about this?" he asked, letting go of me enough to prop himself on an elbow.
"I'm not calm about it at all, Steve," I replied honestly. "I'm scared to death. Someone is trying to kill us, and I can't figure out who it is. On the other hand, being a basket case won't make things any easier. I have to at least try to keep my head on right."
The story will continue soon . . . .