If you are offended by male/male relationships, or male/male sexual relationships, then you shouldn't be here in the first place. If this conduct is illegal in your area, you must EXIT NOW.

This story is not to be copied or posted elsewhere without permission from the author.

If you are interested in a story about gay teenage males, then please take your time and enjoy. Feedback/comments/suggestions and even complaints are welcome at DomLuka@aol.com

Chapter nineteen: Dennis

I looked out the window of my truck, at the large house in front of me. It wasn't as large as Reilly's house, but it was in the same neighborhood. It was also exactly where I was supposed to be, according to the note that Jake had left with Tony.

It was Monday afternoon, and my first day reporting for duty at the new job that Jake's had assigned me. Jake wasn't there yet, so that gave me a little hope that I wasn't in the right place, but according to the address on the small piece of paper in my hand, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Shit. This was not good.

Not good at all.

Not good, as in really, really bad.

And no, I wasn't complaining about the size of the house. No, what had me about to shit bricks was the name on the mailbox.


I was in hell. Sure, the name might be a coincidence. Maybe Dennis and his family weren't the only Gordons in town. But, the familiar blue sports car that had almost run me down once, was parked in the driveway, just outside of the garage.

I was at Dennis Gordon's house. Worse, I was working there. This could be trouble. Big trouble. And Dennis was home. Bigger trouble. I hoped that Jake would get there soon. I would have to warn him about mine and Dennis's `relationship.' It would only be fair. After all, under the circumstances, Jake might want to get someone else to work this job, right? I hoped so. I was about to find out.

Jake's work truck pulled past me and he parked in the driveway. I decided to remain parked on the street, and even when I saw him get out and wave to me, I hesitated to get out. I really didn't like this. Not at all.

I must have looked worried, because as I approached Jake the smile on his face quickly turned into a frown.

"Owen... Everything okay?"

I shook my head, keeping one wary eye on the house the whole time.

"I didn't realize this was where the Gordons lived." I replied.

Jake looked a little confused as he removed the work order from his truck and looked it over.

"Yeah, John Gordon. What's wrong?"

"Jake, Dennis Gordon is his son."


"You don't know who he is?" I asked incredulously, "Leo hates his guts, I figured you would have...shit. Look Jake, I don't know if I should go in there. Remember when I got suspended? Dennis is the one who I was fighting with."

Jake stared at me for a long moment, his frown slowly deepening until he let out a breath.

"Crap. You really can't go in there?"

"I'm sorry, Jake. I just don't know if it's a good idea. If Dennis's parents find out that I was the one who he was fighting with...well, I wouldn't want to ruin this job for you."

Jake ran his hand through his dark hair, obviously frustrated as he looked between the house and me.

"I guess I could get someone else..." he sighed, "It's just that the hours for this job are perfect for you, and it's too late to get someone else today...do you really think this Dennis guy will start trouble for you if you go in there?"

"I don't know." I admitted, "We really don't get along, Jake. But maybe...I mean I could try. At least for today, until you can find someone else. I just thought I should warn you, that's all."

Jake nodded and gave my shoulder a squeeze.

"Alright," he sighed, "Let's give it a try for today and see how it works out. It's a big house and we're not working anywhere near the family, for today. Let's get the supplies in and get started, and if he gives you any trouble, we'll deal with it."

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Are you?" Jake smiled, "I mean, as long as you don't go getting yourself into any fights while you're on the clock, I don't have a problem."

"I won't do that." I insisted, "But, um, hey...you might not want to mention this to Tony. I sort of promised him that I'd stay away from Dennis."

"Great." Jake rolled his eyes, "You'll end up getting me in trouble too."

"Sorry." I smiled.

"It'll be okay, Owen." Jake insisted, becoming serious again. "You're here to do a job, nothing more. If there's any trouble then I'll get someone else for tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay." I agreed.

"Good." Jake nodded, ruffling my hair as he walked around me to pull down the tailgate of his truck.

I followed him, and together we began to bring in all of the supplies.

Jake was right. It was a big house, and we didn't even see the family going in. We went in through the back, right up the stairs to the third floor where we would be starting. I could see why the house needed to be painted, at least the third floor, the walls were a greenish color, completely unappealing.

Then again, the entire house was unappealing to me. It had a smell. I won't say that anyone would have noticed a disgusting smell in the house. Actually, It smelled quite clean. But, every house has a unique scent; it's like the family's signature or something. And I associated this smell with Dennis Gordon, and it had me wanting to throw up.

It didn't help that there was a lot of work to do. We only had a few hours every day to work, so this job would take time with just two of us. We spent the first few house just setting up, making sure that the white carpet was covered, the windows, the door frames, even the vents, light switches and plug outlets. Luckily, there wasn't much furniture on the third floor, so we wouldn't be slowed down moving it around.

Jake and I separated, working from room to room, getting everything ready. We managed fast enough, just the two of us, but once we started painting it became clear that we wouldn't finish with the floor in one day.

Half way through I was feeling better. I hadn't even seen Dennis. I could get through this. But, despite my growing confidence I was still glad that this wasn't one of the days when Jake would have to leave early to go to the club. Just in case something happened, I thought it would definitely help to have him there.

But, nothing happened. Well, almost nothing. At one point, Jake asked me to go grab a couple of drinks out of the cooler in his truck, and I went. I was in working mode, even walking down to the truck, and when I turned back to the house, it was almost a complete shock to see Dennis Gordon standing on his front steps. He had just come outside, and was carrying a notebook-sized black book in his hands. I'm not sure who was more surprised, him or me.

I watched as he looked me up and down, clearly annoyed as he took in my work clothes, my appearance, and then my face, as his pea sized brain registered something like: yes, that's Owen Dovan, at my house. And then his eyes narrowed on me, obvious anger in them.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing here?" he shot out.

I thought of ignoring him, walking away, but that just might make things worse, especially if where I was walking, was into his house.

"I'm working." I replied calmly, "I work for the company that's painting your house."

"Not anymore you don't, fucker." He spat back, "I want you out of here you..."

He had started to descend the steps, and I hoped that I wasn't about to get into a fight, but he stopped abruptly when the front door opened and a round woman with cold eyes and brown hair stepped outside and regarded him coldly. And then, right before my eyes Dennis Gordon went from hotheaded jackass to cowering little boy. Maybe I would have been more amused by it if something about that woman didn't utterly frighten me.

"What are you doing out here, Dennis?" she asked shortly.

Dennis seemed to regard her as if he had just been caught doing something naughty. He quickly held up the book he was holding to show it to her.

"My journal." He said in a small voice, which held none of the confidence that it usually had. "I though I'd sit outside today, mom... I..."

"Well get back inside." She interrupted, "You can't concentrate out here and you'd better finish that before your father gets home."

"Yes ma'am." He replied.

Wow. I mean, wow. Dennis Gordon was afraid. It wasn't the kind of fear I'd witnessed in him while he blatantly challenged me, wanting to fight as he ranted about gays. This was a different kind of fear. I knew that's what it was because I felt it too. It was my own fear, being in the presence of that woman, and it wasn't the first time that I'd felt it. Fear like this, I was all too familiar with. It was the reason why parents made me nervous.

When she turned her cold eyes on me I realized that I was staring, but I couldn't stop. When Dennis looked back at me too, I held my breath, waiting for him to tell his mother that I was the evil person who had gotten him suspended from school, and made him miss the big game. I waited for him to tell her, and demand that I be run off of their property. But it never happened. Dennis said...nothing.

"Who are you?" Mrs. Gordon demanded when Dennis didn't say anything. Her voice, directed at me, made me jump. But I didn't let them see it. I at least had that much control. "A painter? What are you going, huh? Shouldn't you be working? What do you think we're paying you for?"

I refrained from answering her. Instead, I took it as the dismissal that it was and walked back around the house without looking back, brought Jake his drink, and went back to work. But the encounter left me disturbed. I tried not to let it get to me, to avoid the sinking feeling in my gut. That woman, Dennis's mother, had stirred something in me, something I couldn't quite place. I had known that Dennis was an ass. I guess it never occurred to me that his whole, entire family would be like that.

I was definitely bothered by it. I couldn't stand Dennis Gordon, but that look on his face, that fear as he talked to his mother, bothered me. The whole situation bothered me. I almost hoped that he would tell her who I was, so she would make me leave; so Jake would find someone else. But it never happened. In the end, I told Jake that I thought it would be okay and I'd see him tomorrow. And then I went home.


"I think it'll be okay, as long as I don't have to see him. Or his mom. She was a scary lady, Aiden."

We were lying on my bed. I had still been bothered over the encounter at the Gordon house and I told Aiden about it. I think telling him actually made me feel better. The thought of going back there still bothered me, but at the moment my little world seemed safe again, with Aiden's arm around me, and his fingers brushing the shower damp hair from my forehead.

"Maybe you should tell Jake that you can't go back there." Aiden suggested, "He can find someone else. I'm sure he'll understand."

"I know he will." I sighed, "but I already told him that I'd do it. I mean, it's just a job. I shouldn't let my personal feelings interfere, you know? Besides, maybe I won't see Dennis again. It is a big house."

"I guess. But, considering the way you and Dennis feel about each other, I can't say I think that it's a good idea."

"Let's not talk about it." I insisted, rolling to face him better. "Let's talk about you."

"Me?" he smirked, clearly annoyed with the subject change, but accepting of it. "What about me?"

"Well," I smiled, slowly lifting his shirt up over his stomach, "I don't think I ever did check to see if you're ticklish."

Aiden laughed as I rolled over him and attacked his stomach with my mouth, dropping quick, light kisses and nipping at his ribs with my teeth. It turned out that he was ticklish and he laughed as I held him under me while he tried to squirm his way out.

I pushed up his shirt some more and his laughter became a surprised moan as I moved my mouth over his nipple and lightly closed my teeth over the tip. I flicked my tongue over the hardened little bead and Aiden's hand went to the back of my head, holding me there as he relaxed under me.

When I heard the sound of the phone ring in the other room I obviously ignored it, having better things to pay attention to, but just as I felt Aiden's cock noticeably hardening and pressing against my hip, the knock on my door pulled us apart. I groaned and Aiden laughed as he watched me get off the bed to go answer the door.

Tony was standing outside of the door with the phone in his hand, and burst out laughing after taking one look at the perturbed look on my face.

"Sorry." He said, "But Aiden's got a call, someone named Reilly?"

"Oh." I sighed, taking the phone and bringing it to Aiden, who just winked at me when he took it.

We had seen Reilly again at lunch today. Aiden had invited him to eat with us, and somehow we all ended up exchanging numbers. I wasn't sure why I ended up giving Reilly my number. He was a nice kid, kinda quiet, but it was clear that he was much more comfortable talking to Aiden than me. I guess that would explain why he was calling Aiden at my house.

I tried not to let the timing of the phone call bother me as I kissed Aiden's forehead and then followed Tony out into the kitchen where I poured myself a glass of water.

"Who's Reilly?" Tony asked. "Friend of yours?"

"Kinda." I shrugged, "He's new at school, but I get the feeling he doesn't like me very much."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah, why do you think he asked for Aiden? Reilly's the other kid at school who's been recently outed, so I guess he has some stuff in common with Aiden."

"You don't sound too happy about that, Owe." Tony smirked.

"It's not that." I frowned, "He's a nice kid. I sort of feel sorry for him. We went to his house yesterday and his dad pulled me aside to tell me some stuff. Reilly doesn't really have any friends. I think that's why Aiden's so nice to him. But it still drives me crazy. He likes Aiden."

"So it's making it hard for you to be his friend?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, he knows I'm with Aiden. He sort of saw us together. But, it's sort of like it doesn't matter to him. It's like he worships the ground Aiden walks on Tony, he totally ignores that I'm there. I don't want to act like the jealous boyfriend, and I trust Aiden, but it still annoys me."

"It's understandable." Tony nodded, "But maybe he's just trying to make friends, so he's happy to have Aiden. It won't kill you to be nice to the kid, and who knows, maybe you'll find that you get along with him too."

"I guess." I replied. "But I still don't like it."

"Hang in there, Owe." Tony smiled after me as I headed back to my room. I was happy to see that Aiden was off the phone when I got there.

"What did Reilly want?" I asked as I reclaimed my seat next to him on the bed.

"Just to thank us for letting him hang out at lunch." Aiden replied, "He's a nice guy."

"I guess." I shrugged.

"Hey," Aiden smiled, wrapping his arms around me and guiding me to face him, "I think you're a nice guy too."

"You do?" I smirked

"Among other things." Aiden grinned.

I smiled and kissed him. Maybe Reilly had Aiden's friendship, but it was good to know that I had everything else.


I looked towards the door from the bedroom I was painting on the third floor of Dennis Gordon's house and smiled at Jake.

"How do you stay so clean?" I smirked. And he was clean. The blue jumpsuit he wore never seemed to have a mark of paint on it at all. Even his hands were clean. Most nights after work I was picking paint out of my hair, which wasn't an easy task, believe me. But Jake never seemed to have a mark on him and he worked just as hard as the rest of us.

"Takes practice." He smiled, "How are you doing in here? Almost finished up?"

"Uh-huh. I think we can finish this floor tonight."

"Yeah, I think your right." Jake nodded, looking around. "Except, I need to get to the club, and I was thinking that it might not be a good idea to leave you here by yourself, so..."

I looked at my watch and frowned. Six o'clock. Usually I worked until eight. One of the reasons that Jake wanted to me to work with him here was because I could stay late to finish things up on the nights that he had to go to the club. I felt like I was slowing him down by being there, and I hated feeling like that.

"Crap." I frowned, "Look, Jake, I can stay and finish up. It's no big deal. I mean, I haven't seen Dennis once today, and I doubt I'll be running into him."

"I don't know, Owen. Given your history..."

"He saw me yesterday. He could have told his mom who I was then, but he didn't. I figure he's just ignoring me, so I don't mind giving him the same courtesy."

"All right." Jake laughed, "But look, I want you out of here if he so much as looks in your direction, got it? I don't need to get in trouble with your brother, you know?"

"Yeah, I know." I nodded, "did you tell Tony where we were working?"

"Umm, I don't exactly talk to Tony about work." Jake blushed, "But I figured that you'd mention it to him anyways."

"I don't think there's a reason to." I insisted, "I mean, it's just a job, right?"

"I guess so." Jake frowned, "But look, I meant it about getting out of here. I don't want you getting into trouble. And I still say, tell me if you want me to find someone else for this job."

"I know. I will." I agreed.

"Okay, then you can finish up here. If you have time, try to take some of the equipment downstairs. We'll start the second floor tomorrow. I have a few guys coming to prep because of the furniture, so that should save us some time."

"Cool. I'll take care of it, Jake. Don't worry about it."

"Fine." He sighed, "But if Dennis..."

"I know, I know." I smiled, "I'll get out of here."

"Alright. I'll see you later, Owen."

I waved Jake off and he left me to keep working. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't sorry to see Jake go. Being alone in Dennis Gordon's house was more frightening than just being there, even if I was nowhere near the family. But, I had a job to do, and I was determined to do it, otherwise, I was useless to Jake.

It wasn't so bad after Jake left. It was quiet, but not bad. I finished with the painting and then began to round up supplies and bring them to the top of the stairs, except for the brushes, I gathered those and took them to the bathroom where we had been washing them.

I decided to crack the bathroom window, one of the ones we had been using to air out the house while we were working. This particular window, opened up into the back yard. Like at Reilly's house, there were a lot of trees, but they didn't start until the end of a well-groomed yard. And empty yard. It was just grass. It actually seemed pretty boring. And cold. Even back at my parents house the back yard had had evidence of a family; Balls left on the lawn, sometimes a lawn mower, even my mother's flower garden that she was always warning Nicky and I not to trample over.

But, Dennis's yard had nothing. It seemed like a cold place, not even somewhere where a Sunday barbeque would be held. I guess if I thought about it, the whole house was kind of like that; desolate and unfriendly, even if I only had seen the third floor, which happened to be empty.

I was just about to turn away from the window when I saw the first sign of life in the backyard that I had witnessed yet. Actually, what I saw surprised me. It was Dennis. I probably just should have turned away after seeing Dennis, but I didn't. He was alone, except for the black cocker spaniel on his heels, jumping up excitedly, waiting for him to throw a Frisbee.

And Dennis was smiling. That's what struck me. He was really smiling. It wasn't one of those sneers or self-satisfied cruel smiles that he wore at school. It was a real smile, as he threw the dog it's toy and then waited for it to come back, where he picked the animal up, actually cuddling it in his arms as it licked his face. It was a small, innocent looking dog and it actually trusted Dennis. Loved him even. I guess what they say is true; a dog really is man's best friend, even if that man is Dennis.

I guess it was difficult for me to believe that Dennis could show affection for anything. Sure, I'd seen him with girls before, but never the same one, and when he was with them he had the same cold, detached demeanor that he had with anyone. But a dog, a little dog that probably weighed less than twenty pounds; he treated like a fragile child. Even when he put the animal down it was gentle.

"Dennis! What the hell are you doing? Stop screwing around with that mutt! We've got work to do!" I deep, rough voice cut in. The voice made me jump and I saw Dennis go rigid in front of my eyes.

I looked down and saw a tall man; probably six four or so, with broad shoulders, appear on the lawn. I immediately didn't like him. He had the same strong build that Dennis did; only age had left him with a receding hairline and a beer gut. Even in the dark I could tell that he looked mean. It was the cold, arrogant way he held himself, just like Dennis's mother. And Dennis for that manner.

So that was Dennis's dad. He was an asshole, probably a bigger asshole than Dennis. And I couldn't tear my eyes away. It wasn't Dennis I was watching anymore, it was his dad. Something about that man disturbed me. It was stronger than the feeling I had after encountering Dennis's mother. This feeling had me frozen in place and my stomach churning, and it was so familiar. Frighteningly familiar. But I couldn't place it. Or maybe I could place it but didn't want to.

I watched blankly. It must have been thirty minutes that I just stood there watching, while Dennis and his father passed a football back and forth while the puppy was forgotten to entertain itself, and I shoved a distant memory out of my mind, of warm afternoons when I'd toss the ball around with my own father. I'd always hated those afternoons. My dad would push me as hard as he could, trying to make a man out of me.

I got the feeling that Dennis didn't like it either, but what Dennis did or didn't like was the last thing on my mind as I watched the older man tear into him, shout at every move he made. But, in my mind, that man down there wasn't shouting at Dennis. He was shouting at me, telling me how worthless I was. How weak. I'm just a fucking queer. A pansy assed weakling. Pathetic. I'll never make it. I'm worthless.

The sudden slap to the back of Dennis's head snapped me out of it and made me jump. It also made me focus on Dennis. That defeated look in his eyes, the slumped shoulders, the nodding of the head, agreeing with whatever the larger man said to him, no matter what it was because it didn't matter. He was nothing when that man-when his father-spoke to him. He was a no one. And I knew it. That was the familiarity. That's what I sensed in Dennis at school when he had decided to ignore me. Pain.

I was so busy staring, not really at them, but through that window at a small part of my past that I hadn't had the guts to face yet, that I hadn't realized that Mr. Gordon had walked away until Dennis suddenly looked up at the window, directly at me. And for a moment, I was looking at myself, or at least who I used to be. And Dennis looked back at me for a full minute before his eyes narrowed into that cold stare again and he angrily stalked off.

I'm not sure if it was the realization that Dennis Gordon was human and I actually could compare myself to him, or if it was the rush of old memories that I was desperately trying to push away, but when I turned away from the window I promptly turned towards the toilet and vomited.

I took a few minutes to collect myself, shaking off the bad feelings before I quickly cleaned up and got out of there. I managed to get the work that needed to be done taken care of and I left ten minutes before eight.

When I left work I couldn't wait to get home to a friendlier environment. I wanted to be with family, with people who cared. I wanted to forget everything I'd just seen. But, although Tony was there and wanted to have dinner together and talk, I told him that I wasn't feeling good, and after a quick shower I went straight to bed, suddenly feeling emotionally drained.

I think I got ten minutes of sleep before someone was shaking me and I opened my eyes to realize that I had left my light on and Aiden was over me with a bemused expression on his face. If I was going to wake up to anything, I definitely wanted it to be that face. But, I was still feeling so down from what I'd seen at Dennis's that I couldn't even bring myself to smile back at him.

"Hey." I said. My throat felt dry, and my voice cracked.

"You were supposed to come over." Aiden reminded me.

It took me a second to remember, and when I did, I started to sit up.

"Shit, I'm sorry..."

Aiden sat down on the edge of my bed as I made it into a sitting positing and I ran my fingers through my hair.

"Tony said you're not feeling good," he said, lifting his hand to my forehead much like a concerned mother would do, I couldn't help smiling at that. I took his hand, pulling it from my head and managed to smile back at him.

"I'm fine." I shrugged, "Just tired. Sorry I forgot to come over. If you want I can get dressed and..."

"No," Aiden laughed, "It's ten o'clock. I don't think it would hurt either of us to get to sleep before midnight for once."

"Well, in that case, why don't you get undressed." I smirked.

Aiden actually had the nerve to look like he was thinking about it, but then he gave me one of those sly smiles and stood up, making a show of peeling off his clothes while I dropped back against the pillows and enjoyed it.

I'd definitely be lying if I said that I wasn't tempted to jump him right then and there; pull his boxers down and have my way with him. He probably wouldn't have minded either. But the moment that Aiden crawled into bed with me I was in his arms, remembering how it felt to be at Dennis's house and what had happened between him and his father, and I melted against Aiden, demanding that safe closeness.

I think I surprised him, but he went with it, wrapping his arms around me and cradling the back of my head with his hand as I gently kissed his collarbone and made a point to hold him tightly to me.

"Hey," Aiden almost whispered, "Are you okay?"

I closed my eyes tightly and nodded against him.

"I'm so tired, Aiden." I mumbled.

Aiden reached back and turned off the bedside lamp and then I felt him close his arm around me again, keeping me warm against his chest as he kissed my forehead. I didn't have to see his face to know that he knew that something was up with me, but even if he knew, he wasn't going to push it. I wasn't ready for him to push it tonight. I was still trying to sort out all of the disturbing thoughts I was having.

"Goodnight, Owen." He whispered. Hearing him say that was almost like getting permission to go to sleep, and for some reason, I needed it. I was out like a light within the next ten minutes.


I looked up from the table that Aiden and I had been claiming at lunch and saw Dennis across the courtyard, being his obnoxious self among his friends. It was strange, this new understanding I seemed to have of him.

I still didn't like him. I don't think anything would ever change that. As a matter of fact, I couldn't stand the asshole. But, something felt different to me when I looked at him. Maybe it was because now I knew. I knew why Dennis was such an asshole. I knew what the cold stares were all about and I knew why he targeted people he saw as weaker than him. It was because here, at school, he had some power. He had friends and he was feared. He probably saw all of that fear as respect, something he obviously didn't get at home.

Dennis suddenly looked up from where he was talking to his friends and his eyes caught mine for a moment. The smirk momentarily disappeared from his face and he looked troubled. And I knew why. It was because I knew. I knew what it was like for him at home and he knew that I knew it. It probably frightened him that anyone, especially me, knew that he could be anything less than the bulling jackass that everyone saw. But, the troubled look faded and he replaced it with an icy glare, right before he averted his eyes from me.

I flowed his stare, for a second thinking that he was looking at Aiden, but oddly enough, he was looking at Reilly, who had been on the other side of the table with Aiden, and in my opinion, acting way too interested to learn about Aiden's camera.

Reilly had joined us for lunch again, all smiles and innocence around Aiden. I was trying to be friendly, but I was still feeling down from the day before and didn't join in on much of the conversation, as I watched Reilly laugh at everything that Aiden had to say.

Until now. Now, Reilly was returning Dennis's look. Only, Reilly looked scared while Dennis just looked annoyed, until he turned away from our table completely and went back to bantering with his friends.

I looked back at Reilly before he could stop staring at Dennis and I couldn't help the way I studied the younger boy, wondering what exactly he was thinking about Dennis. I knew that he was scared, but there was something else in his eyes that I couldn't quite place, and I was oddly curious about it.

Reilly saw me looking, and for a second, he even looked afraid of me, but he quickly turned back to Aiden as if nothing had happened, just in time for Aiden to take his picture.

"Oh, don't do that!" Reilly complained. "I don't photograph well."

I couldn't help laughing at the distressed look on Reilly's face, and Aiden laughed too.

"Don't worry." I remarked, "Aiden can make anyone look good."

Reilly looked up and gave me a small smile. That seemed like progress, considering that all of his smiles seemed to be reserved for Aiden.

"Don't listen to him," Aiden said to Reilly, but he was grinning at me, "He's biased. But don't worry, it'll be a good picture."

"Do you take pictures of everyone?" Reilly asked him, "You do the yearbook, right?"

I watched as Aiden's face fell. He hadn't taken a picture of anyone at school for days now. Actually, the one he had taken of Reilly was the first that I'd seen him take in a while.

"He does," I answered for Aiden when he didn't respond, "He's just taking a break from it right now." I looked at Aiden again, "You'll see, the next thing you know he'll be all over this school again and people will be begging him to take they're picture because he's the best at it."

Aiden flashed me a wan smile and I winked at him. I hoped that what I said had some truth to it. Seeing how hard things had been for Aiden was wearing down on my nerves, and I was moving past the point of being depressed and worried about it. Actually, I was beginning to feel angry about it. I was even angry at the way that Reilly had been treated. Granted, Reilly's locker room incident, which had spread like wild fire, was partly his own fault. He had no self-control, and other than swooning over my boyfriend, since yesterday, I'd noticed that Reilly had somewhat of a wandering eye, one that could get him in some serious trouble. I wondered if Aiden had noticed.

"You're working again tonight, right?" Aiden suddenly asked me.

I frowned at the thought. I really didn't want to go back to the Gordon house. I was even tempted to call Jake and get out of it.

"Yeah." I sighed, "For the rest of the week."

"Is Dennis giving you any trouble?" Aiden asked.

I frowned at him. He hadn't asked me what was wrong last night, but obviously he was asking now.

"No." I replied, "Everything's fine." That wasn't completely true, and Aiden knew it. But, this wasn't something that I was going to get into now.

"Why would Dennis give you trouble at work?" Reilly asked hesitantly.

"I'm painting his house." I replied.

"Oh." Reilly replied, "I guess you guys don't get along, huh? You and Dennis?"

"That's an understatement." Aiden laughed.

"I guess I just thought...well, maybe he's not as bad as everyone thinks." Reilly said quietly, "Dennis, I mean."

I gaped at Reilly. Aiden looked pretty shocked too. What exactly was he saying? This kid was getting harder and harder to understand.

"How can you say that?" I demanded, "Wasn't Dennis the one who chased you out of the locker room?"

"Well..." Reilly started.

"And he's the reason you had that panic attack." I frowned. Reilly's eyes flew to mine, wide and questioning, "I saw him outside the nurses office when you were sick." I shrugged, "He was listening in when the paramedics were talking to you your parents, probably there to cover his own ass. It wasn't that hard to figure out."

"He was there?" Reilly asked in disbelief, "I thought..." he frowned and looked down at his hands, obviously thinking about something.

"What happened that morning with Dennis, Reilly?" Aiden asked.

But Reilly didn't answer; so Aiden and I just shrugged at each other and let it drop. But, it had me thinking. Maybe Reilly had a little crush on someone other than my boyfriend. It was a welcomed thought. Only, I hoped that the other guy he liked wasn't Dennis. That could really get him into trouble.


"Be careful with that!" Mrs. Gordon shouted.

I glared at Jake for getting us into this in the first place. We had started painting the second floor of the Gordon household, which placed us closer to the family, specifically, Mrs. Gordon.

She had decided that an old grandfather clock that had been on the second floor should be moved to the first, and she wasted no time with recruiting Jake and I to move it. Jake had agreed, deciding to do the ungrateful woman a favor, and I had gone along with it, against my better judgment.

The clock was heavy, and ugly, and it probably didn't even work, but Mrs. Gordon insisted that we take extra care. Jake had taken it all in stride, but I could tell that even he was getting annoyed. It had taken us thirty minutes just to get the damn thing downstairs, and another thirty was spent with Mrs. Gordon ordering us around, trying to decide where she wanted it.

Just when I was about to give up and drop it, or tell the awful woman where she could shove it, she decided that she wanted it near the front entrance. I was thrilled to put it down, and I think Jake felt the same as we both took a moment to stretch our strained muscles.

"I think that will do." Mrs. Gordon sighed, sounding exasperated, like she was the one who had done all the work.

I got a chance to look around the house during the movie, and the Gordon house seemed just as cold as I thought it would have been. It was big, and clean, and boring. There were no personal touches, not even any pictures hanging, only a painting of the family hanging on an otherwise empty wall. Dennis was in it, wearing a suit and tie, and like the rest of the family, the expression on his face was one of disinterest. Not a smile in the whole group. There was also another boy in the picture who looked a lot like Dennis, only bigger and older. That must the brother that Aiden had told me about.

"Excuse us, Mrs. Gordon." Jake said, dropping a hand on my shoulder, "We'd better get back to work now before we run out of time today."

"Yes, I suppose you should, you've taken enough of a break already, haven't you?" Mrs. Gordon responded coldly, not sparing us a glance.

I frowned at her, but Jake shook his head at me, probably worried that I'd say something, and nodded for me to follow him. We were just about to head back up the stairs and get to our real work, when the front door swung open and Dennis walked in. He paused when he saw me, but when Mrs. Gordon began to talk to him, his attention was immediately turned to her.

"Where have you been?" she demanded, glancing at her watch. "You're late, Dennis."

"I had to make up a test." He explained. "I told you..."

"You said you'd be home at five." She cut him off. "We're not late in this family. You're father won't be happy with this."

I must have been staring, because Jake squeezed my shoulder and prompted me to follow him. Before I came to this house, I probably would have loved seeing Dennis shrink before my eyes, which was exactly what happened when his mother spoke to him, but if you asked me, she was being completely unreasonable. It was only ten minutes after five. Maybe he was late, but ten minutes was nothing. I began to realize what a short leash Dennis's parents kept him on.

"Go start your journal." I heard Mrs. Gordon order as Jake and I started up the stairs.

"Mom, I have homework." He argued, "If I don't get it done..."

"You'll get it done, alright." She snapped, "Right after you finish your journal. I want to see it when you're done. And feed that mutt of yours, she's been whining all day."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Wow." Jake said as we reached the top of the stairs, "That's one scary lady."

"Yeah." I sighed, "Not really what I was expecting."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know." I shrugged, "Dennis is such a jerk, I just figured that his parents let him do whatever he wants."

"Sympathy for the devil?" Jake smirked at me.

"Something like that." I smiled, but it was forced. I really did sympathize with Dennis, and I think that bothered me, because I really couldn't stand him.

"Well, come on," Jake insisted, "We'd better get to work, for real this time. We're already behind. Let's start in the bedrooms, you go left, I'll go right. Mrs. Gordon probably won't be happy if we don't at least get those done tonight."

"Alright." I sighed.

"You're already set up in the first two rooms, get those done first. I'll be with you tonight, so you won't have to finish anything up by yourself."

"Thanks Jake," I nodded, and then headed down the hall to the first room.

I was pretty sure that it was the guest room, and as promised, it was already ready for paint. The furniture had been moved away from the walls and covered, and everything else was already taped up.

I went to work quickly, wanting to make up for the time we wasted moving that damn clock. It was bad enough that it already seemed like we would be working this job into next week, and I didn't want to spend any more time in this house than necessary.

I was probably working for no more than fifteen minutes when I heard something behind me and turned around just in time to see the black cocker spaniel that I'd seen yesterday with Dennis, walk right through a pan of white paint.

I dropped the roller I was using into the nearest bucket and picked up the dog without even thinking about it. The last thing I wanted was for it to track paint all over the house. Fortunately, the dog was friendly. Really friendly. I groaned as it turned it's head and slobbered all over my face.

I managed to turn the dog in my arms, cradling it the way I had seen people hold babies, and saw that all four paws were covered in paint. I let out a breath, wondering exactly what I was supposed to do with it as I ventured out into the hall.

"Jake?" I called. Maybe he would have an idea of what I should do. I had a feeling that the last thing I should do was bring the puppy to Mrs. Gordon. So, when Jake didn't answer and I heard someone coming up the stairs, I ran into the first room that caught my eye. Luckily, that room was a bathroom and I wasted no time turning on the sink and holding the dog's hind legs under it.

Unfortunately, the dog didn't like that very much and immediately began to kick and squirm, and when it whined I struggled to clamp a hand over its mouth.

"Shit." I cursed, "Could you just calm down? You brought this on yourself, you know."

"Valentine!" that was Dennis's voice.

"Valentine?" I repeated, looking at the dog, which simply wagged its short stubby tail at me in response.

"That dog better not get in any trouble up here." That was Mrs. Gordon. "You know she's not allowed in the house."

"I'm sorry." Dennis replied, "She just got away from me. She hates being in that kennel all day."

"Well if you can't handle that dog then I don't see why you should have it." Mrs. Gordon said curtly.

"I'll find her!" Dennis insisted, actually sounding a little worried.

I realized that the bathroom door was cracked open and I had to muzzle the dog with my hands when Dennis called her again. At this point, I was desperately trying to get the paint off her paws. If they saw me, I would definitely be blamed for this.

"I'll look down here." Mrs. Gordon said as I watched her round figure pass by the door.

I looked down at my uniform and wondered if paw print shaped paint marks and huge wet marks from the sink qualified as a mess. I looked back towards the door, holding my breath as Dennis passed. Both he and his mom were in view now. All they had to do was turn around and they'd see me.

"Dennis," Mrs. Gordon said, just as Dennis suddenly looked back and his eyes widened on me, holding his dog over the sink.

Crap. Busted. I watched as he looked at me, and then his dog, and then the running water. And then, to my surprise he backed up and silently closed the bathroom door.

"Yeah?" I heard him say.

"If that mutt made any trouble up here you'll both regret it."

"Yes ma'am."

I heard them walking through the house, and with the door closed I made a point of quickly cleaning off the dog, but by the end of it she was soaking wet. And there were no towels, not one. I jumped when the door suddenly opened and Dennis came into the bathroom holding a towel. And then he closed the door and trapped us both inside.

"Fuck." He cursed, paying no attention to me. I placed the dog on the counter and stepped back as Dennis attacked her with the towel. "What the hell were you thinking?" he shot at me over his shoulder, obviously pissed off, although the way that he was handling the dog was completely gentle.

"I was thinking that your mom wouldn't like it if she tracked paint all over the place." I retorted.

"Just...shut up." He frowned.

I rolled my eyes just as Dennis's mom called for him again, and before I knew what was happening, he was shoving the perplexed animal into my arms and fleeing the bathroom. When the door opened again I held out the dog and Dennis reached in and grabbed her. He closed the door in my face only to open it a few seconds later.

"Stay the fuck away from my dog, Dovan." He stated, and then he was gone again.


I rinsed the soap out of my hair and turned down the water temperature enough to make it comfortable and looked down at my fist, wrapped around my erection. I had stroked myself until I was about to come, and then I had stopped.

I let out a breath, feeling somewhat foolish as I reached around and ran a finger down the cleft of my ass, just lightly, enough to let myself feel it as I squeezed my cock again, and granted myself another slow stroke.

I had meant it when I told Aiden that I wanted him to top me our first time together, the only trouble was, I still had some issues with anyone touching my ass like that. I wasn't even sure where it came from. Maybe it was because I didn't like the idea of submission. That would mean that I really was a faggot, the kind that my dad had talked about. A wuss, a weakling. A pussy.

But, it wouldn't really be submission. Not with Aiden. Yes, I would be exposing myself to him, making myself vulnerable. But, it would be like sharing something with him. That's how I wanted to think of it. And I wanted to be ready for it, which is what led me to fingering myself in the shower.

Considering that Aiden was in my room waiting for me, and would probably be more than willing to do this for me, I felt stupid, alone in the shower as I jacked off and ran my finger up and down my crack.

I closed my eyes, relaxing as I pressed gently against my sphincter. It didn't feel so bad, just a little pressure. Actually, it felt kinda good. Not as good as it felt when Aiden rimmed me until I came the last time we shared a shower. That definitely hadn't been so bad. But, it hadn't been the same as the penetration that I wanted to be ready for.

I applied more pressure against my hole, teasing with slow circles. I could feel myself relaxing, loosening up, as I resisted the urge to stroke my cock again. If I did that I would come, and I wasn't sure that I was ready for that yet.

When I pressed in it was quick. Probably too quick. I winced the moment I pressed in to the end of my fingernail. It wasn't even that far. But, I was definitely in need of a nail file.


Uh-oh. Needless to say, the sound of my boyfriend's voice placed me at new heights when it came to embarrassment. I had a very noticeable hard on and a finger in my ass. Dear lord, I did not want him to see this. At least I could withdraw my finger, which I promptly did, wincing again.

"Uh, yeah?"

"What are you doing in here?" Aiden asked. I heard him close the door, "It's been an hour. I thought you wanted to watch that movie. Chris is waiting."

"Um...Aiden, look. This isn't a good time, if you could just give me a few minutes..."

There was silence from his end for a moment.

"Not a good time?" he repeated. I could hear laughter in his voice. Damn it. "Why is that, Owen?" he asked teasingly.

I cursed, and Aiden laughed out loud.

"Okay." I groaned, "Look, I was just thinking about what we talked about the other night, you know, our first time...anyways, I know I've been jumpy and I thought that if I could..."

I jumped when the shower curtain was suddenly pulled back and Aiden stood there, staring at me with one of those bemused expressions on his face. I watched as his eyes slowly moved down my body and they focused on my stiff member before he lifted his eyes to my face again and smiled. I just scowled at him.

"I don't know if I should be offended or not." He laughed, "Why didn't you just ask me to help?"

"It's not funny." I frowned. I turned off the water and grabbed a towel, pulling it around my waist as I stepped out of the shower, but when I did I ended up right in his arms and any annoyance I was feeling was washed right away as he pulled me against his chest and his tongue fluttered against my ear.

"Do you have any idea how hot it makes me, thinking about you in here touching yourself?" he whispered.

Well, if the bulge in his pants, pressing against me was any indication, then I guess I had my answer. I moved my arms under his and wrapped them around his back, resting my chin on his shoulder.

"It's fucking embarrassing." I mumbled, causing Aiden to chuckle again.

"I think it's hot." He assured me. "So how did it go?"

"Not good." I frowned. "It's just...I'm not used to it, okay?"

"So let me help." Aiden replied, pulling back a little to look at me. "I'm not pushing, but if you want me to..." he quickly kissed my lips and then smiled with a shrug, pulling back completely. I watched as he turned towards the cabinet above the sink, opened it, and after looking for a moment, retrieved a container of Vaseline. I didn't have to guess what that was for. And then he handed it to me. "It's up to you." Aiden smiled, "But, if you don't want that, then, at least don't touch that." he glanced down at the tent under my towel and then flashed a sly smile and said softly, "That's for me."

I watched with a dry mouth as Aiden backed out of the bathroom with a smile on his face and then closed the door. And then I looked down at the Vaseline in my hands. With a shrug, I pulled my towel out a little to hide my hard on, and then walked out of the bathroom.

I wasn't prepared to run into Chris, who was actually home for once on a Wednesday night. He looked at me, and then at the Vaseline, and I blushed down to my toes. It was pretty obvious too, considering that I was only wearing a towel.

"Um, hey Chris." I said, avoiding his eyes, "Why don't you start the movie without us."

A brave glance at my brother's face told me that he was trying not to laugh.

"It's not what you think." I scowled.

"Uh-huh." He smirked, "So um...you're a little too old for the safe sex talk, right?"

"I'll be safe, and I swear I won't get Aiden pregnant." I snapped at him, right before I stalked off to my room with his laughter following me.

I slammed my door, completely disgruntled, until I saw Aiden standing in front of my bed, completely naked, and completely hard. That sight pretty much ended all reasonable thought.

I went to Aiden and kissed him before I even got my arms around him. I nibbled his lips and pressed my tongue against him until he opened to me as he tugged at my towel, pulling it away from my body and he pulled me firmly against him, grinding his cock against mine.

I dropped the Vaseline on the bed and then pulled Aiden down onto it so that we landed side by side, still kissing. Aiden reached down and wrapped his hand around my erection and I groaned and pulled back.

"Don't do that." I complained, "If you do that it will be over before it starts."

"Just how worked up did you get in that shower?" Aiden chucked, leaning forward and gently kissing me again.

"Very." I admitted. "I was thinking about the last time we were in the shower together."

"Really?" he smiled, turning so that he was over me, lifting my knee and moving so that his weight settled between my legs, "And you still didn't invite me into this one?"

"Give me a break." I laughed, "I'm nervous. I just wanted to...I wanted to have an idea, how it felt, you know?"

"I'll give you an idea." Aiden smirked. My eyes widened on him and he laughed before his tone became softer, "Don't be nervous, Owen. Just tell me if I do anything you don't like."

I gave him a small nod and sighed as he dipped his head sown and kissed my neck, his warm mouth and my shower dampened skin sent a chill through my body. I lifted one hand and grabbed his ponytail, running my other hand down his back as he held himself up over me, gingerly allowing his erection to brush against mine.

Aiden kissed his way up my neck, lightly nipping at the skin on my throat. He kissed my chin and I tilted my head down, grazing his lips only slightly before he moved his mouth over mine, his tongue flicking against my teeth before thrusting into my mouth.

I focused on the kiss, the way he would deepen it and then pull back as I let my fingers run up his sides, enough to make him tremble. It was almost a second thought as he placed his hands on my knees and lifted them up so that my heels ended up alongside his hips, and I let my legs fall apart, opening myself to him.

I became more aware of what he was doing when he suddenly sat up and reached for the Vaseline. I started to sit up too, somewhat startled, but Aiden's hand suddenly cupping my balls stopped me and I fell back sighing.

"Just relax." He smiled at me.

I nodded and then cupped the sides of his face as he leaned down to kiss me again, pushing my fingers through his hair and loosening his ponytail as I held him to me, pressing my tongue upwards against his. I could hear it, as he removed the lid to the jar and I felt myself tense, still nervous about what was coming, as pathetic as it made me feel. But, a moment later his hands were on my chest and I felt myself relax again.

Aiden deepened the kiss and I felt his hand move down my chest, his thumbs brushing over my nipples and causing me to arch up before he moved lower, until one hand held my hip while the other momentarily wrapped around my erection, teasingly squeezing before he moved down and fondled my balls.

I moaned against his mouth and then arched up when his hand moved away again. He pulled back from the kiss and I looked up into his eyes as he spoke against my mouth.

"Just relax." He said again. I cupped the back of his head in response and pulled his lips back to mine, kissing him hard as I felt his finger behind my balls, pressing against my perineum. So far it was nothing new, except for the thick, cool feeling of the Vaseline against my skin.

Aiden pushed his finger back, pressing the Vaseline into my skin, over my hole and he massaged a slow circle around my sphincter, every so often deliberately pressing against it. The first few times I jumped, waiting for that uncomfortable penetration that I had inflicted on myself in the shower, but as the feeling became familiar I became still, enjoying the sensations moving up through my balls, straight to my cock.

Just as I began to squirm beneath him, arching up off the bed, wanting more, his finger was gone. And then it was back again, with more of Vaseline, this time massaging my sphincter pointedly. I felt my hole twitch and I tightened my grip around him, running my hand down his back and pulling him down so that his cock pressed against mine.

Aiden pressed against my hole, this time a little harder and I gasped as he slipped past my ring, but it wasn't painful at all, my body slick with the jell. As he moved deeper I tightened my muscles around his finger, just getting the feel for it as I felt him moving inside of me. I felt a little stretched, but not so much that it was uncomfortable. I was curious, feeling the movement of his finger inside of me and I knew what he was doing, searching for that spot.

And then he found it. It was pretty instant, the way that jolt shot through me, straight to my inflated cock and I tore away from his mouth to cry out in surprise. My eyes rolled back and I lifted my knees, pushing back against his finger as he brushed against my prostate again and my body clamped down around him.

I opened my eyes to see that Aiden was grinning at me, looking very satisfied with himself. And believe me, he had reason to be. I smiled back at him and lifted my head, kissing him hard as he pulled back his finger and then thrust in again, hitting my prostate each time as he placed more of his weight against me, bringing my drooling cock into contact with his stomach, brushing against it in time with his thrusts.

It wasn't a surprise to me that I didn't last very long. I had been hard for the better part of an hour and as he pressed deliberately against my prostate once more time and trapped my cock between his body and mine I groaned into his mouth as my body clamped around his finger in spasms and I spent myself between us.

Aiden continued to kiss me as he withdrew his finger, and I think that I jumped more when he pulled it out than I did when he had put it in. I almost felt sad when he withdrew. I could still feel the digit, moving inside of me, but the feeling didn't last and I found myself pulling him more tightly against me to make up for it, paying no attention to my come smearing between us as I kissed him harder. When Aiden pulled back again I was still smiling, as I caught my breath.

"See, that wasn't so bad." He remarked.

I narrowed my eyes on him, knowing that he was teasing me and he laughed as I suddenly grabbed his hips as I pulled myself up, propping my shoulders up against the headboard as I guided him up onto his knees and slid my hands around to his ass, pulling him forward until his laughter stopped and he gasped as I closed my mouth over the head of cock and guided him to thrust forward, into my mouth.

I pressed my tongue against his shaft as he slid further into my mouth, until the head of his cock was against the opening of my throat. I pushed him back and then pulled him forward again, even deeper this time, guiding him until his fingers were in my hair and he was thrusting into my mouth on his own, stretching my throat as I relaxed my muscles and took him.

I moved my hand to his balls, fondling him and he thrust harder as I reached back, pressing against his perineum until he suddenly gripped my hair tightly, arching his back as he held himself in my mouth and he came. I had hardly finished swallowing before he had me pinned to the bed and he was kissing me again, only pulling back when breathing became a necessity.

I wrapped my arms around Aiden as he lay alongside me and we both took a moment to cool off. I began to realize that a layer of sweat had replaced the water from my shower, and lying there, I suddenly felt cold and snuggled closer to Aiden as he turned his head and kissed my shoulder.

"I think I need another shower." I mumbled.

"Am I invited this time?" Aiden smirked.

I tiredly smiled at him, brushing a loose strand of hair from his face.

"You're always invited."


I followed Jake down the hall, painting as he sprayed the wash on the wall. We were still on the second floor, but making good time. The bedrooms were finished, and I was just happy that I had never had to set foot in Dennis's room. Jake had made sure that I didn't. That would have made for an awkward moment if Dennis came in.

But now, things did feel a little awkward, even with Jake there. Dennis had been home when we arrived, and I was surprised to see that he was there with his mom, and what seemed to be the family doctor.

From what I overheard, he had injured himself during football practice, but it sounded like it was an old knee injury. I heard the doctor talking about surgery, but Dennis's mom had been adamant that he'd be fine. After all, he had a game to play this weekend.

Dennis had been silent during the exchange, and it was hard to imagine what was going through his mind. The doctor was insistent that he not play, or it could make things worse. It made me sick, just hearing his mother insist that he'd be fine. The doctor was talking about permanent injury. I wondered what Dennis's father would say. I was going to find out. I just didn't know it yet.

We were already painting the halls when Dennis came upstairs. His pant leg was rolled up and it was clear to anyone who looked, that his left knee was swollen. He was carrying an ice pack and he was limping, looking more pissed off than usual.

"What the fuck are you looking at?" he spat at both Jake and me, before locking himself in his room. Jake and I had exchanged quick glances, shrugged, and then went back to work.

It was almost two hours later when Jake stopped what he was doing, looked at me, and sighed.

"Thirsty?" he asked, "I think it's time for a break."

"Sure." I smiled, "If you wanna run down I'll finish up this wall."

Jake smiled and gave my shoulder a pat as he passed by me. I went back to painting the wall, using the roller for the second coat of paint. The house seemed quiet, except for whatever classical music was playing downstairs. It was quiet, but it didn't seem peaceful.

It was like you could feel the tension in the house every time you walked into it. The disturbing feelings that I had before were still there, and as much as I tried to ignore them, something deep down, that sense of familiarity that I felt, just being there, wouldn't leave me.

Strange thoughts would enter my head. Not thoughts, really. Memories. Small incidents with my parents, the feeling of being watched over. Feeling like I was in prison. Even the cold way that my mother regarded me. Although, it was difficult to compare Mrs. Gordon to my mother, because while Mrs. Gordon seemed to watch her son's every move, my mother had just been cold and uncaring at times. Maybe it was the cold way that Mrs. Gordon regarded Dennis that had brought up thoughts of my mother.

But Mr. Gordon...John Gordon...my first time seeing that man in the backyard with his son had left me feeling sick. That man reminded me so much of my dad that it was frightening. I didn't know how to handle it. I hadn't allowed myself to think of my father since I left my old life. Not really think of him. I didn't want to think of it. I didn't want to deal with those feelings, the ones I had buried. But being in the house almost forced me to deal with them. I wasn't ready for it, and I wasn't ready for the sound of stomping feet coming up the stairs.

I looked up, suddenly feeling very small as I faced John Gordon, coming down the hall. He seemed taller than before. Bigger. And meaner. The way he regarded me, if only for a moment, made me feel entirely worthless. Like a nobody. I had felt that way before. I didn't much care for it.

When he passed by me I tried to move out of the way, but he just brushed by me, nearly shoving me into the freshly painted wall as he passed, without even excusing himself. Just his presence, having him so close to me, put me on edge. When I continued to paint the wall, trying to pretend that nothing happened, I realized that my hands were shaking.

I tried not to jump when Mr. Gordon began to bang on Dennis's door, but it was difficult, especially when the yelling started.

"Dennis!" Mr. Gordon shouted, and then I heard the door open, and then slam again. There was a muffled conversation on the other side. I heard something about a football game.

"I can't!" I heard Dennis say, his voice had raised, he sounded angry, and almost as confident as he did at school, but that was the end of it after I heard a crash that did made me jump, followed by more of John Gordon's ranting.

"You will! You have to push yourself boy! What are you? A fucking faggot? Is that what you want to be? You little bitch!" Two slaps. The kind of slapping sounds that happen when a hand hits the back of a head.

I dropped the roller I was using, not really caring where it landed. I felt like I couldn't breathe. All of the blood seemed to be rushing to my head. Fear. I hadn't felt fear like that since...

`Is that what you want to be? You make me sick! I'll kill you before you become a sinner, boy! You won't be a faggot! Do you hear me! You fucking little pervert!' that's what he said to me the night, after Dan died. He said it right before the fist blow came, the one that cracked my ribs and put me on the ground. And it didn't end there.

"You have to push yourself Dennis!" Mr. Gordon shouted, "My son won't be a pussy! Do you hear me? You're going to play football, like your brother! You don't see him quitting when things get rough, do you? He's not acting like a fucking queer! You're just worthless! A worthless little bitch! Aren't you? Is that what you want to be? A fucking weak, worthless, queer? Do you think I don't know what you're up to all day? I'm watching you, boy!" another slap. "You're worthless! And you're mine! You got that? You do what I tell you to do!" Slap. "You watch you're mouth you little bitch! And don't fucking cry. Crying is for pansies! Knock it off before I give your faggot ass something to really cry about!"

`Don't you fucking cry you little queer! I'll give you something to really cry about!' I jumped, bringing my hand to my shoulder, remembering the moment of impact when my father's boot dropped down on it, the sound of the pop, and the pain.

Oh god, I couldn't breathe. I couldn't focus. The sounds coming from Dennis's room had me paralyzed. I wasn't in Dennis Gordon's house. I was back home. In that damn kitchen. The screams, the pain. The details seemed blurred together before, now there was clarity. Every word. Every strike. Every look. I was begging, begging for it to stop. I'm not sure if I had remembered that before. I didn't want to remember. That's why I'd buried it. I buried it where it couldn't hurt me.

I jumped and gasped, something was shaking me. I couldn't focus. John Gordon was still screaming.

"I didn't mean to make him mad." I mumbled. "Please don't hate me."

I'd said that to my mother, once.

`Damn it Owen, you're making a mess! If you can't pull yourself together then you can wait outside until your father comes home.'


I jumped, my eyes snapping up to Jake's. He was standing in front of me with his hands on my shoulders, looking worried.

"I..." I started, not really sure what was happening to me. I blinked, and felt a few tears fall. I didn't know where they came from either. I didn't cry, not anymore. Not since I woke up at the hospital.

"Owen," Jake said calmly, and somehow, John Gordon's screaming didn't drown his voice out. "I want you get out of here. Now. Go downstairs, and wait for me, don't drive anywhere right now, okay?"

I looked towards the door where the shouting was coming from again, but Jake shook me, bringing my attention back to him.

"Owen, go wait." It was an order, and I nodded.

I got out of there, as the screams faded out behind me. I heard Jake knocking on Dennis's bedroom door. He was probably trying to do something to help, but that thought didn't quite register then. I needed to get out, so I did. Somewhere I remembered Jake telling me not to drive, but by the time my mind registered that, I was already pulling up in front of my building.

When I got out of the truck, the panic was gone. Now, I was numb. I felt like I was going to puke, and my hands were shaking, but I was numb.

For some reason, I think I was surprised to find Tony pacing in front of the door when I walked in. He took one look at me with those concerned eyes, it was the same look he had given me in the hospital, and I felt about ready to break down all over again.

"Jake called." Tony hardly finished saying it before the tears came. My tears. I hated crying, and I didn't understand why I couldn't stop it. When Tony took a step towards me I even turned away, trying to wave him off, but it didn't work. He was in front of me a moment later, and the when he grabbed hold of me I spun around and buried my face in his chest, wrapped my arms around his back, and I cried.


I don't know how long Tony just let me cry. At some point he had at least gotten me to the sofa as I mumbled my way through all of the overwhelming thoughts that I was having, but I slowly snapped out of the fog I was under, and I became aware of some things. Like, Chris was there too. His hand was on my back, and he was right with Tony, trying to calm me.

And Aiden was there.

I think that seeing Aiden there was the biggest shock of all. He was in a chair across from us, looking on, obviously concerned. Seeing Aiden there had me feeling both ashamed, and suddenly horrified, because during my sob-fest, I had somehow managed to get out every single detail of what my father had done to me, every single word he said, everything my mother said, and Aiden had heard it all. Now he knew.

There was still Dan. Thank god I hadn't mentioned everything with Dan. I had wanted to have that conversation with Aiden on my own. I had already told him some of it, but not all of it. I think I was concerned that hearing about the car crash and Dan's untimely death might remind him of his brother and his father, and I wasn't sure if I should mention it to him just yet.

But now, Aiden was there, watching. He was obviously upset at the state I was in, but I couldn't help noticing that he also seemed frustrated. He probably didn't like just sitting there. And disgusted. He looked angry and disgusted. I knew it had nothing to do with me, but it hurt to see him like that. So, I tried not to focus on Aiden as I calmed down.

"I'm sorry." I whispered when the tears had finally stopped.

"You have nothing to be sorry for." Chris stated, "I think this was a long time coming. I'm just sorry that it had to happen this way."

"You never should have been in that house." Tony frowned.

"Tony, it's not Jake's fault!" I suddenly blurted, "He said that he'd get someone else, but I said that I could handle it. We didn't know...I didn't know how things were, there. I only thought that I'd be dealing with Dennis, not...oh, shit, Dennis's dad, he didn't...did he hurt him?"

"No." we all looked up as Jake walked through the front door and pulled off his jacket. "It was mostly just yelling. I interrupted it to ask Mr. Gordon a few business questions, and as far as I know, he left Dennis alone after that...I'm really sorry, Owen."

"It's not your fault." I shrugged.

Tony ruffled my hair and then left the couch to go hug Jake.

"How are you doing?" Tony asked him.

"I'm okay." Jake shrugged, "I just wanted to check on Owen."

"I'm fine." I said, although I still felt far from it.

Chris looked at me and then gave me a small smile as he patted my shoulder.

"You will be." He said, and then looked around the room. "Is everyone staying for dinner? I'm ordering in."

"I think so." Tony nodded, pulling Jake more securely against him, "I'm gonna go talk to Jake for a few minutes though, why don't you guys decide what's for dinner."

We all nodded blankly and Tony led Jake by the hand, back to his room. I hoped that Tony wasn't angry at Jake for letting me work at Dennis's house. The last thing I wanted was to cause trouble between them.

"Pizza okay?" Chris asked.

Aiden and I nodded again, and then Chris pulled me into a hug before he got up to go find the phone. I actually felt nervous, being left alone with Aiden, probably because I felt like I'd made a spectacle of myself with all of the crying. When I did work up the nerve to look him in the eye it was only for a moment before I lowered my eyes.

I looked up at him again when his hand landed on my knee. He had moved to the sofa to claim the seat next to me. For some reason, looking at Aiden and that concerned look on his face had me wanting to cry all over again. I had to turn my head and wipe my eyes.

"Sorry." I mumbled.

Aiden responded gently, by cupping the back of my head and pulling me to him. I closed my eyes and sighed as I felt his lips press against mine. His tongue fluttered out, coaxing me to open, and when I did and felt his tongue invade my mouth, I was surprised at how much I wanted that just then.

I gripped his shirt and pulled him even closer, pressing my tongue back against his and wrapping my arm around his neck, and when I finally pulled back and rested my forehead against his, I felt drained.

"I'm sorry," I whispered, "I feel so stupid right now."

He kissed my cheek, still damp from my tears.

"Don't. None of it's your fault, none of it." He pulled me towards him and I leaned into him, resting my head against his shoulder as his arm moved comfortably around me, and then he tightened his grip, making me feel more secure. "You're shaking, Owe."

And I was, but I couldn't control it.

"I didn't want to go back there, Aiden...I wasn't ready to go back there."

"You're not there anymore." He said softly, "You're with us now...you're with me now."

I closed my eyes, and focusing on the clean, comforting way he smelled and the warmth of his body as I snuggled in closer, I promptly fell into an exhausted sleep.

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