Author's Notes:

I want to thank my Readers. You guys are the best. Okay, these characters are not meant to resemble any living or dead persons. I make no apology to anyone who is offended by anything in this story. If you do not agree with the idea of guys being in love, then find something else to read. Let me know what you think of the story by emailing me at

_Hnstskr4@aol.com_

Copyright 2008-2015 by Chuck B.

The Journey Begins; Eric's Pain

Chapter 23

Mark leaves Eric's room and the Eric is left alone. He cannot get over Mark's words to him, and he is still angry with Steve for bothering Sarah and Mark. No one was being hurt, so why did his ex-boyfriend spill his guts to them. It seems that he only has one person who will understand the situation. It seems that Vince is the only person who won't tell him that what's he's doing is wrong. He pulls out his phone and calls Vince so he can talk to someone who won't try to persuade him back into Steve's arms.

"Hey Eric, what's up?"

"Can you believe that Steve told my sister and brother in law that I broke up with him and that I was flirting with you?"

Vince is smiling because that as long as he plays his cards right Eric's ex and his family will push him right into his web.

"Yeah, he comes across as whiner."

Hearing Vince say that about Steve makes Eric a little upset, and he doesn't want to hear anyone talk bad about him, no matter how angry he is with his ex-boyfriend.

"It's not that, he just doesn't need to be spilling his guts about our relationship to other people."

"Eric, it's our relationship. We are brand new, and Steve needs to find his own boyfriend now, someone that wants what the hetero world wants."

`What if I want that?'

Nothing is said to counter what Vince said so he just assumes that Eric wants the same thing as he does. Vince wants a relationship that revolves around sex. All Eric can see is that Vince is attempting to be supportive of the breakup.

***

Vince knows that he has to be supportive over the breakup so he can wrap his fingers around Eric. Eric has to believe that Vince loves him because; one way or another he will get with Eric. It may not happen tonight or any time this week, but it will happen. How could Eric not like him, because he is handsome, strong, and confident, all the things that other guys have liked about him. It doesn't help that Vince does everything in power to ensure that other people like him. Eric and Steve have only been going to school with him for 5 years, but it has been enough for Vince to want the Mormon kid. This intruder knows exactly how to keep Eric and Steve away from each other. Eric trusts or trusted his ex-boyfriend so now all he has to do is break that trust or make Eric think that Steve has broken that trust.

***

Before Eric hangs up with Vince, Vince starts to fill Eric's ears with whatever it will take for his conquest to trust him.

"Eric, I heard Steve telling a guy in the locker room that he wants to get with you because he knows you're a virgin."

Eric has a hard time believing that Steve would talk like that, when all this time, he's said that he could wait for him. Still, Steve had dumped him and maybe there was more to it than the flirting between him and Vince.

"I don't know, I'm sure he would have told me if that was the case."

"No dude, I heard he wanted your ass. He never cared for you. All he wants is to be with you and then drop you."

For whatever reason, Eric is beginning to come around to Vince's lies. After all, there must be some truth behind what he is saying or at least he wants it to be true. It's weird because deep inside of him, he knows there isn't any truth behind it, and yet he still feels attracted to Vince.

"What do you say we hang out for a little while?"

"Sure, do you want to meet at my house?"

"Sure, I heard you have some pretty awesome pets."

Eric does not say anything instead he makes plans to meet Vince half way. He leaves his room and heads for the front door, so he bring Vince into the house and up into his room.

***

When he gets downstairs, Sarah is sitting in the living room, and she watches him as he goes to open the door.

"Where are you going?"

He is tired of everyone sticking their noses into his life. First, it's Steve, and now Mark and Sarah are sticking their noses into his life.

"I'm going out to meet Vince and he's coming over."

He walks out of the house before his sister can tell him that Vince isn't welcome in their house. As he walks the sidewalk, images of Steve perving over him start to fill his mind. No wonder he needed Mark and Sarah to think that Vince was a troublemaker. If they thought he was no good, then he wouldn't be welcome in the house, and Steve would have won a battle. Course, the walk also helped to calm him down, and when he sees Vince coming towards him, he is all smiles.

"Hey Vince, how have you been?"

"I've been good and you?"

Eric reaches out and hugs him at the same time he ignores the buzz from the cell phone. He doesn't even pull it out to see who sent the text, because it would be rude to take out his phone. Vince tries to go for a kiss on the cheek but Eric dodges the kiss, because it doesn't feel right. His action clearly shows that Eric still has an ember burning for Steve.

"Eric, do you want to love me?"

Eric wants to love someone, and that someone should have been Steve. He wants to develop that love with Vince, and not just give it immediately. Vince is hot guy no doubt about it maybe even cuter than Steve.

"Eric, do you think your sister will like me?"

This question is easy to answer and Eric doesn't need to give it much thought.

"It doesn't matter if she likes you or not, because I like you."

What Eric said tells the guy, that he's willing to stand up against his family for him. No one was going to tell him that the guy beside him is wrong for him and as they approached the house, Eric's confidence level rises to near all new highs. With each other arms entwined, they enter the house; walk past where Sarah is sitting, and past the room where Mark is working, and neither of them seem to notice them entering the house. They head upstairs to the bedroom, where the world cannot touch them, and they can be alone. Eric watches as Vince closes the door which he knows is against the rules in the house but he does not stop him either. Eric watches as Vince sits on the bed, then reaches out him, and pulls him down onto the bed. Vince looks around the room until he comes to a picture that Eric had enlarged and framed.

"Why is that picture on your wall?"

The picture is a photo of Steve and Eric kissing. Eric doesn't want to get rid of it just yet, because a part of him wants to give his ex a chance to come back.

"I can't get myself to remove it."

"Well, you know he doesn't want you. He hates you dude, and here you are holding on to the past."

The more he talks the more Eric tries to avoid looking at the photo. Having it up there hurts, Eric stands up and takes the photo off the wall. A single tear falls down his face but Eric can't imagine Steve hating him like Vince is saying. Vince can feel his snare tightening around Eric. Again, Eric's cell phone goes off and this time, the wrong guy sees the screen announcing that Steve is calling. Eric goes to pick it up but he's distracted by Vince's actions. Instead of Eric, it's Vince who grabs the phone and responds to Steve's text.

"Sorry but I don't talk to assholes."

When the text comes through Steve's heart drops, because he was hoping that they could meet and talk. He wants to fix whatever is going on between Eric and him.

"Why don't we go out for little bit?"

It's beginning to get a little uncomfortable for Eric, so a chance to get up and head out is a blessing.

"Sounds good!"

Once again, Vince makes sure that Eric parades him past his loved ones. For as uncomfortable as this guy makes Eric, he feels safe with him. As he passes Sarah, Eric glances at her and gives her a look that she can't put a finger on at the moment.

***

Sarah knows her younger brother more than Vince does, and she knows there is something not right. She knows Eric is feeling it, but at the same time, she also knows Eric is enjoying the attention. Without being able to hear what was being said upstairs, she knows this guy is lying to him. As she sits there, Mark comes out, sits beside her, rests his left hand up on her shoulders, and gives her a kiss.

"What's wrong Sarah?"

She looks at him and frowns, and then gives him a hug before readying her answer.

"It's Eric. He's in trouble, and he can't see it because he's blinded"

"Maybe you are just over reacting?"

She wants to smack Mark, because he should know that when it comes to her brother, she doesn't mess around with her feelings.

"No, I know something isn't right. He looked at me as he and that kid walked out of the house. He looked empty like there was nothing there."

With the mention of the kid being in the house, Mark gets a little upset with Eric because Vince did not belong in the house. Apart from telling Eric that this guy was not welcome in the house, they are not sure what to do.

***

A half hour passes and the new couple comes back to Eric's home. Eric goes to open the door and as he does, he takes a deep breath, because he knows that he messed up earlier. The door is opened and Eric and Vince go to step inside when Mark greets them at the door. He does not look happy and Eric is ready for the fight if Mark pushes the envelope.

"Sorry Eric, but if you want to hang out with him, you'll have to do it outside on the porch. Sarah doesn't want him in the house."

"It's my house too, don't I have any rights?"

Mark is not listening to the attitude and is quick to remind him about the way this arrangement works.

"Listen dude, Sarah and I took you in when your mom and dad kicked you out. We love you but your friend simply is not welcome."

Vince is not happy with Mark and Sarah, so he'll use this situation to his advantage.

"You know what Eric, I'll see you tomorrow when the old people have quieted down a bit."

"No don't leave."

Eric did his best to try to get him to stick around but that was not happening. Vince knows by leaving, it will force Eric to be unhappy with the adults in the house, and that will only help to bring them together. Eric tries to plead with Vince to at least sit on the porch with him but he won't listen and takes off for home. Eric heads up to his room but not before he gives Sarah a glance filled with anger. Eric walks into his room and slams the door shut. In his room, he sits there and looks at the picture of him and Steve, and can feel a ton of emotions washing over him.

`Why did you break up with me?'

Eric picks up stress ball from the headboard of his bed and tosses at the picture in anger. At this point, he is not sure who he's angry at, is he mad at Mark and Sarah for interfering or is he mad at Steve for not trusting him and breaking up with him. Laying down on the bed, he rests on the bed facing up at the ceiling while tears slide down the face.

***

Downstairs, Sarah is having problems with her brother's attitude. She decides to give him a few minutes to get over himself, and then she too heads upstairs. Eric ignores her knocking so instead of walking away she enters the room without his permission. She hates entering his room this way, but they have to talk this out or their relationship may never be the same.

"Eric, what is going on with you?"

She sits on the computer chair and faces him as Eric stares at her with a look that could kill. He refuses to reply to her question.

"Is this attitude because we won't let Vince into the house?"

She pauses and waits for him to answer because, she wants to know what's up with her sibling, so she can try to fix whatever is eating at him.

"You really want to know what's going on, why don't you ask yourself why I'm mad."

"I think you're upset because we didn't let Vince into the house."

There is a quick glance from Eric as he gives his sister "Whatever." Sarah remembers when her parents would refuse to allow certain kids into the house based on what they knew or thought they knew about the kids. In most cases though, they ended up being right about them. Sarah knows that this guy is not good for her brother, and it is something that she saw in Vince's eyes more than anything else.

"Yeah, I'm upset about you guys not letting Vince inside with me. So why isn't he allowed inside the house?"

He wants to hear her say that Steve said that Vince was troublemaker. She should give him a chance if she is just accepting Steve's word over giving his new friend a chance to show his true colors, good or bad. He deserves to be treated the same way that Steve was treated when he first showed up at the house. They gave Steve a chance to prove himself, but then he had already proved himself before he came to the house.

"You want me to answer that Eric?"

Eric nods his head in response to his sister's question.

"Okay then, I don't trust him. You know until today, I thought you trusted my instincts when it came to people. Mark and I both discussed this and we both agreed that he is not right for you. We can't stop you from seeing him, but be careful. He's interested in more than just being your friend."

Eric laughs in response to her last sentence, because he sees Vince in a different light.

"Of course, he wants to be more than just friends; he wants to be my boyfriend."

Sarah rolls her eyes as she stands up, walks to the door, and then turns back to her brother.

"Promise me, you will hold this guy to the same standards that you held Steve. Make him wait before you have sex, and if he won't agree to that, then walk away from him."

He does not want to do something that puts his own morals at risk. Steve at least accepted the fact that Eric wanted to wait for it happen. He does not know where Vince stands on the topic, maybe he needs to be asked about what he wants from Eric in regards to sex. If her reason for coming up here was to fix the problem between them, she failed, however she did get him to agree to at least keep his eyes on Vince.

***

Eric gets up and heads outside where he can vent his emotion by shooting some hoops. As he shoots around out there, there is motion from the other side of the street that he catches out of the corner of his eyes. As he stands out there, Shaun shows up to talk to him, and it's all Eric can do to be polite and not walk away.

"Hey, can we talk?"

"Yeah, as long as we don't discuss Vince."

Eric immediately shuts down any effort by Shaun to persuade him against seeing Vince again.

"I think you know me enough to know that I want what's best for you. Okay, I get it Steve is gone, so why not wait for someone else who has to offer you more than this guy?"

"You want what's best for me?"

"Yeah, I do and so does Sarah."

Eric knows what happened, this has his sister written all over it. She failed to reach him so she passed the torch to Shaun and no one is going to talk him out of this, so they might as well give up.

"Look, Steve had no right to call Sarah, Sarah had no right to call you, and I don't need to hear this from you."

"With that attitude, you'll walk right into whatever trap Vince has planned for you."

Eric walks away from Shaun and heads back up into the house and up to his room.

***

The only voice he wants to hear right now is his own, so he grabs his journal and his pen so his thoughts can collide with the paper. The voice, other people's words, and his thoughts all need to be recorded so he can go back and read all of this at some later time.

"Dear Me,

Steve has broken up with me over some guy named Vince. Vince has become the guy that hopefully will help me get over my ex. I found out that Steve contacted Jason and my sister about me and my decision to date Vince. I guess he is worried about my decision and worried what might happen because of the relationship that happened because of the breakup. I still have feelings for Steve, and I will always have a place for him in my heart. Today, I removed a picture of Steve and me from my wall because Vince did not like it. Honestly, I can't get myself to remove it from my room. Why is everyone around me doing their part to keep Vince and me apart? Yeah, there have been times that I've got strange vibes from him, but I can't put a finger on what's going on with him. Sarah, Jason, Mark, and Shaun all want me to ditch him, but I do not want to ditch him. I do however plan on keeping my morals with him. Guys, I really miss Steve at the same time, and I am being perfectly honest here."

He closes up his journal and then heads downstairs to have dinner then after dinner, he heads back upstairs to get some sleep.

***

The next day, Vince calls Eric's cell phone, and I quickly answer the phone and smile at the thought of talking with him.

"Hello Vince, What's up my friend?"

"I am taking you to a party."

Eric is glad that there is an opportunity to hang with Vince. Even happier for some reason that it will be out in a crowd.

"Guess, I had better get ready to party huh?"

"Yeah I'll see in an hour."

Grabbing some nice clothes, Eric heads into the bathroom to shower. As he showers that quiet voice echoes in his head, which backs up what everyone else has been telling him. `Don't go to this party with Vince.' He pushes that stray voice out of his head, and then he exits the shower, dries off, and gets himself smelling nice. Only thing left to do now is get dressed and head out the door, and with any luck, no one will question him on where he's going.

***

His fear comes to reality as he sneaks downstairs to meet Vince. Sarah and Mark are both sitting in the living room. His appearance in downstairs catches their attention especially since he seems to be trying to sneak out.

"Where are you going Eric?"

"Out."

Mark did not like Eric's answer to his wife's question. "Eric, I think the better question is who are going out with?" Eric didn't respond to Mark's question and just walked out the door completely ignoring his brother in law. Right on cue, Vince pulls up, stops the car, and opens the passenger side door. Mark and Sarah watch as the Eric gets into the car and heads off towards the destination. They drive a mile away from Mark's house and Vince stops the car and smiles at his boyfriend.

"Here we are Eric, welcome to the biggest day of your life."

"Cool."

For no reason, Eric becomes super nervous. Together, they walk towards a nice looking brick house that looks huge from the outside.

***

We flash back in time just a bit to before Vince and Eric left from in front of the house. Sarah's inner big sister voice tells her that Eric is in big trouble. She whips out her phone as she watches the car pull away.

`Come on Jason pick up the phone.'

"Hello Sarah, what's going on?"

"Hey, Eric just took off with that guy he's supposedly seeing. I asked him where he was going, all I got was "Out.", and then Mark asked about whom he was going out with and Eric just walked out of the house. A few seconds late, a car pulled up, Eric got in, they left, and we have no clue where they went. Jason, I have a bad feeling."

Jason isn't sure what he can do about this, but given time, he might be able to come up with something. Right now, he needs to comfort Sarah, and then come up with a plan on how to help Sarah and Eric.

"Sarah, Shaun and I will talk it over and then we'll do our best to see how we can help. In the meantime, you and Mark try and not get too mad at him. I think he's suffering just as much as you two are."

"He's going to be suffering."

Sarah is steaming now and for Eric's sake she had better calm down before he gets home. He has never been rude since coming to the house, and now it seems the gloves are off and no one is happy.

"Just take your time, and don't raise your voice."

"Okay, I just hope he's okay. I'll talk to you later."

She ends the call with Jason, and then takes Mark's hand and they walk into the house. They start making lunch and keeping their eyes on the phone.

***

Meanwhile back at the party, Vince has made every effort to get his date to relax. He's even offered him some drinks but Eric was adamant about not drinking. Still, the plan is burning in Vince's mind and he just needs his chance and then sweep in for the kill. They walk outside into the backyard, where Vince whispers into Eric's ear. "You know the party hasn't started till I get a kiss from my date." The only guy that Eric has ever kissed is Steve, and kissing Vince scares him. When Eric changed the subject, Vince is not happy but he still has time to put the plan into action. Vince walks away from Eric for a few minutes, and talks with one of the other teens. He comes back to Eric and they enter the house again, and again Eric gets nervous. Suddenly, Eric can see the look in Vince's eyes that everyone else has seen and it bothers him. For now though, he feels safe but he wishes that someone else were here. It does not take long for one of Steve's friends to see the couple together, and he quickly calls Steve, but he could not reach Steve so he leaves a message. Vince leads his cute date up the stairs towards a bathroom, where he's hoping to get him alone, and then he knocks on the door and someone shouts, "Go away!" Vince looks defeated but as far as he is concerned, the plan is still go.

"Why are we up here?"

Eric asks suspecting that something might be up.

"I just wanted to be some place quiet so we could talk."

Eric thinks he caught Vince smiling as he said talk, which means he doesn't just want to talk. There isn't going to be any talking if he has anything to do with it. Since the bathroom is full, they need another place to be alone.

***

We now flash back to Jason, and he is calling Steve to give him a heads up on Eric's choices.

"Steve, I don't want you to get upset, but I know you will be before I finish talking so stay calm. Sarah called, Eric took off with Vince and she does not know where, but she says she got a bad feeling as they pulled away. Any idea where they might have gone?"

Steve thinks for a second before answering.

"Nope, but I just got a voice mail, so let me call you back."

Steve ends the call, and then checks the message. After hearing the message, he quickly calls Jason back.

"Jason, I couldn't make out the entire message, but they're at a party somewhere."

Shaun is listening in and he doesn't immediately see anything wrong with being at a party, but then as Jason looks at him he knows this isn't good. Even Steve is a little worried, because Vince has a reputation as party animal, a drinker, and a druggie. He would know who to talk to so he could get his hands on some kind of knock out drug. Smooth talking is an art form to Vince and Steve has heard some of his lines, Eric's slight innocence would be ruined by this guy. Steve fears for his friend's well-being. Vince would never kill Eric, but he might take something away from him that he could never give back in the end.

"Can you find out where they are at and then give me a call back?"

"I can, but give me a few minutes to try and reach my friend. The party sounds pretty loud."

"I can wait."

Steve ends the call leaving Jason to worry about the outcome of the call. Jason stands ready to head out as soon as he gets the return call.

***

Steve tries to call his friend and at first, he is unsuccessful, so he calls again, and this time, the call is answered.

"Hey, where exactly are you at dude?"

"You know where Parker use to live, the old brick house?"

Steve thinks for a second and then the house pops into his memory.

"Yeah, I remember the place. Can you see Eric?"

"Nah, they headed upstairs about 3 minutes ago."

At this point, Steve is beside himself with fear, and there is no telling what's going on up there. He has to get to this party, and Jason has to be on his way to get there. If nothing is going on Steve can play it off as being there with Rick, but if something is going on then he will put a stop to it.

"I am coming to the party, see if you can find out where they are at, and I will be in a few minutes."

"Okay Steve, but you better hurry up. Vince was looking like he wanted a piece."

"Okay thanks Rick, I'll let you go."

It's good thing that he doesn't live that far away from Jason, because Steve needs him to be there like now.

***

Steve calls Jason and lets him know that he has the information they need. Pulling up at Steve's, Jason immediately honks the car horn. Steve rushes out of the house and opens the front passenger seat, gets inside, and then closes the door.

"I hope we get there in time. My friend, Rick, says that Vince is feeling frisky. I'm just worried that Eric won't stop him."

He's not giving his ex-boyfriend enough credit. They need to get to the party before anything bad happens. They talk about where the party is happening at and then they head towards their destination. Steve's heart is beating fast that it might pop out of his chest, and he cannot wait to reach Eric. Steve may have broken things off with Eric but he has never stopped loving him. As they are moving, Steve receives a text from Rick telling him that they are up in a bedroom. Hearing that news causes Steve's heart to drop and fear for his friend is filling him to the brim. They arrive at the house in ten minutes, at this point Steve is ready to punch the first person he sees but he restrains that urge. Steve opens the car door and runs for the door. Someone is entering the house at the same time that he is so he just pushes them to the side. Steve looks around for Rick, who luckily finds him and leads up to the bedroom.

***

A few moments before they arrived, we rejoin Eric and Vince upstairs as they move towards one of the bedrooms. Vince opens the door to the room and leads Eric inside the room. Eric starts to feel sick to his stomach as they enter the bedroom.

"I don't think we should be in here Vince."

"I told you, it's not a party till I get a kiss."

It becomes very apparent that Vince isn't just interested in a kiss as he removes the t-shirt he's wearing. Eric is taken by the teen's muscular build.

"I don't think you need to be shirtless for me to kiss you."

Vince removes his pants just before he leads Eric up onto the bed, but Eric resists against Vince's movements.

"Eric, just get up on the bed."

Eric climbs up on the bed if for no other reason than to get away from Vince. The older teen climbs up on the bed and drops his underwear, and then he walks towards Eric as he reaches down with his hands.

`Please, please send someone in here.'

The guys' hearts are pounding but each for a different reason; Vince's is pounding because he's excited, maybe too excited, and Eric is afraid. Soon, Vince is standing right above Eric with pleading eyes. As he stands there, he looks at Eric and says "Go ahead.", as he looks down at Eric. Eric looks away from the naked teen as Vince's hand rests on Eric's head.

"Dude don't be a wuss. I always get what I want, and what I want is you to prove to me that a Mormon guy knows what to do with this."

Vince's hand is holding his dick as he speaks continuing to gaze down into the other teen's eyes. Suddenly, Eric starts to cry and hoping that it will keep Vince at bay. Eric's attempt didn't work instead it made Vince get a little closer to him.

"Please...please, I...I don't want this."

"Oh come on Eric, no one needs to know about this, and Steve is out of the picture so come on let's play."

Eric tries get away from him but he finds himself trapped by two strong hands resting on his shoulders. Just when Eric thought things were going to get bad, the door the bedroom opens up.

***

Vince doesn't even turn around thinking that it is someone else from the party entering the room to get a show. Steve has an advantage since Vince does not think anything about his intrusion. Using this, Steve grabs Vince's shoulders and throws to the mattress.

"What the hell?"

Vince says, as Steve comes for him with a look that clearly says you are dead, and he is speechless. Eric cannot believe what he's seeing. Steve climbs on the bed and takes a hold of Vince's balls, and then he turns his head and looks at Eric, and then back at Vince.

"I don't know what was going on, but I know Eric didn't ask for this, so he's going to leave while you and me have a little talk, or my grasp is going to get very tight on your boys."

Eric does not wait around to see what happens to Vince, so he gets up and runs out of the room where Rick helps him get downstairs.

"You can let go now dude, please."

Vince normally wouldn't be afraid of Steve, but he knows if he fights back that he'll just hurt himself in the process. Going back on his word, Steve does tighten his grip and watches as the pain fills the teen's face. Vince needs to feel the message as well as hear it, otherwise Steve should have just stayed away.

"Leave Eric alone! You don't want to see what I can do to these things in my hands, and in case you think about causing us any problems before we leave, I have a friend standing in the hallway with Eric who has the number of my friend outside this house who is patiently waiting to help me fix this situation."

Steve says. as he makes a clipping motion with his free hand while looking at Vince's testicles. Steve wants to inflict real pain on Vince but maybe he just needs to scare him like he scared Eric, but instead he releases his hand from the balls of the other teen.

"I'm leaving the room now, and you are going to sit here and behave or you won't get these back."

As Steve leaves the room, he grabs a pair of underwear and a pair of pants, and as he walks out the door, he keeps his eyes on Vince. He closes the door and drops the underwear and the pants just outside the doorway. He has more important matters to deal with than the ass in the bedroom.

***

Eric is crying in Rick's arms luckily this friend of Steve's is straight. Steve slowly walks up to Rick, and his friend slowly removes Eric from his arms. Steve wraps his arms tenderly around his best friend and lets him just stand there for a second. No one says a thing as they stand there but it's Steve who breaks the silence as he hugs Eric.

"Eric, I'm so sorry. I never should have broken up with you. I love you baby."

Eric looks into Steve's eyes and he can see the sincerity in his eyes. The fear and doubt that he had been feeling before totally vanished. There is a warmth flowing through them and they are in no rush to let go of each other. Steve turns his head and nods at Rick who climbs back up the stairs and then enters the bedroom to just reinforce what Steve had said. Steve has only one destination in mind as he heads for the front door.

***

Jason watches for them to leave the house, and when he sees them, he opens his car door, and then opens up the passenger side back door. Eric crawls into the car and Steve gets in behind him as Jason closes the car door and then turns around to get in the car. When he closes the door, he twists the car key and off they go towards Sarah's house. Ignoring the law, Steve holds his friend in his arms while they head towards his house.

"Steve...Steve, I'm so sorry. I...I'm sorry. I...I...never wanted..."

Steve puts a finger to his lips and hushes his friend, because he doesn't want to hear sorry. He wants to just be here and enjoy holding Eric in his arms. Eric cannot get the image of Vince out of his head and it's an image vastly different from what he had with Jason and Shaun. Eric feels almost nothing now expect for love of Steve and fear of Vince. Steve can feel him shaking and that causes him to shake a little too. A couple of tears fill Steve's eyes as he whispers softly "It's going to be all right. He won't touch you ever again. I won't let him, and neither will Rick, Sarah, Mark, Jason, or Shaun. We have your back. Eric, I love you." Suddenly, he feels secure sitting here with Steve.

"I hope we can be boyfriends again?"

"I...I...think that is a good idea."

Eric smiles as he closes his eyes, but he is still shaking from what happened, but at least he's safe in these arms. They finally reach the house and now Jason has something to do before they get out of the car. He pulls out his cellphone, and places a call Eric's sister to give her a head's up on Eric.

"Sarah, Eric is upset and he's pretty shaken up. Don't let be too hard on him okay?"

A few minutes later, he hears the tone for the text message notification. He clicks on the message and brings it up on his display "Jason, what happened? Where is he? Is he okay? If he is safe that is all that matters." Jason is relieved when he gets her text but still she may react differently when he comes into the house, but for now she seems more concerned than angry.

"Steve, do you think he's ready to head inside?"

Steve quietly asks Eric if he's ready to go inside his house. Eric removes his head from Steve's shoulder and looks up at the house.

"Yeah...I...I need to apo..logize."

Steve opens the door to the car and walks Eric up to the front door and he gives him a kiss just before reaching for the doorknob. Checking to see if the front door is unlocked or not, he opens the door and escorts his boyfriend into the house. Seeing Mark and Sarah sitting in the living room causes Eric to burst into tears again. Sarah gets up right away, takes her brother in her arms, and lets him cry into her hug.

"Eric whatever happened, it's alright, we can get you help if you need it. Right now, you don't need to say anything to us. We want you to relax and then we can talk, okay. Mark and I are going to fix dinner and you and Steve can talk in the living room. It's going to be okay. We love you Eric."

She releases him from her hug and then looks him in the eyes before letting him sit down with Steve. Mark winked at Eric and then he took Sarah's hand and they disappear into the kitchen.

***

The teens are left in the living room to focus on each other. Eric cuddles up next Steve and Steve wraps him up in his arms, they need this time. Eric closes his eyes for a second or two just to take in Steve's scent; he smells like his signature cologne and sweat. Normally, the smell of sweat would repulse him but tonight he knows that the sweat is due to Steve coming to his rescue.

"Thanks for being there tonight. How did you know that I was there?"

He looks up into his boyfriend's eyes as he waits for an answer.

"A little bird told me that you were there with Vince, and he told me again that you were in trouble up in the bedroom. Eric, I love you. I meant it when I said that I wanted to be boyfriends again. Together, we will get through whatever else comes our way."

Eric is getting a little misty eyed as he listens to his Steve talk. He wants to forget about this afternoon and Steve is his best chance of doing so in this life. Eric quietly says, "I love you babe." It's his boyfriend's turn to shed a tear, a tear of happiness, he's glad that Eric is safe. Eric kissed his boy on the lips, Steve kissed him too, and then they stayed in their embrace. There is no greater feeling in Steve's mind than being kissed by his boyfriend. It's in that single act of love, that for the second time causes Eric's doubts melted away. No more fears about what will happen when they graduate from high school.

"I am still worth waiting on, right?"

Steve's question surprised Eric. He didn't know that Steve was into the whole waiting game and nothing was going to change that, not even Vince.

"I would wait for you to the end of time."

Eric answers with a smile as his brother-in-law and sister come back into the room.

***

Sarah and Steve are all smiles too, because they can feel a spark again between the teens. Sarah is beyond happy, because this just might be one step in the right direction for her brother. She knows how much power love's touch can be, and she thinks that she might have seen it go to work when the guys were cuddling. She had Mark text Jason to let him know that things were looking good between her brother and Steve. Steve joined the family for dinner and conversation, but when it was time for Steve to head out, Eric walked him out to Mark's car where they waited for Mark to come out. With Mark making the walk to the car, Eric started to get a little sad, because he does not want to see Steve leave just yet, but there isn't a choice so he joins them for the trip home. In silence, they head for Steve's house with their hands entwined and letting the silence speak volumes to their heart. Eric could almost fall asleep like this if the trip took any more time.

***

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