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

"Owen!" Tony was knocking on my door. Actually, it was more like pounding on my door, but it didn't make a difference at the moment. I'd been home for five minutes. After my little discussion with Aiden's mom I came right upstairs and happened to walk in on Tony and Jake making out. When I didn't so much as tease them about it, Tony assumed there was something wrong and he'd followed me to my room.

And there was something wrong. The last two days had been so great; I'd probably spend the rest of my life trying to remember every single detail of the forty-eight uninterrupted hours with Aiden. I knew that we would have problems to deal with when we got home, I just didn't think that we'd have to deal with them so soon. And I didn't think that one of my problems would end up being Karen Knightly.

I replayed the conversation in my head. She had been vague, maybe I misunderstood her. No. She'd been warning me away from Aiden. I knew that much. She called me a distraction. A distraction from what? I wondered. Did she think I was distracting Aiden from her? She'd been back for two minutes, how was I distracting Aiden from her? If she wanted to spend time with her son, then that was completely reasonable. But where the hell did she get off deciding that it was best for me to stay away from him?

I couldn't help wondering if she'd feel different about it if I was Aiden's friend and not his boyfriend. Aiden said before that his mom had always been supportive, at least when it came to her son being gay. But, he also said that he'd never brought anyone home before. Maybe Karen Knightly was able to accept Aiden before she actually saw him with another boy. Maybe seeing it shocked her.

I needed a reason. I needed to know why she didn't want me around him. I'll be the first to admit that my track record with parents wasn't the greatest, and to my credit that wasn't exactly my fault. But still, this was Aiden's mom I was dealing with. I didn't like her, and I didn't like that she was a drunk, and I didn't like how she treated him, but Aiden cared about her. She was important to him. And if she was seriously trying to get better, if she could get better, and be the mom that he deserved, then I was happy for them both.

But what the hell did she have against me?

She mentioned that she'd heard about what was happening with Aiden at school. I can assume that that meant that she heard he'd been outed. And I had a few opinions on that matter. First, where the hell was she when it was happening? She was drunk, that's where she was. Aiden was in pain and she only made it worse. It seemed unfair that she would assume that she could make it all better now. And second, did she somehow blame me for Aiden ending up out at school? Is that why she wanted me to stay away from him, because she thought I would make it worse? If that was the case then I was offended. If I thought for a second that I was doing anything to hurt Aiden then I would stay away.

I was confused, and angry, and I didn't know what to do in this situation. Was I supposed to keep my distance? I wasn't opposed to giving them space, not at all, but to stay away from Aiden seemed like an impossible task at this point. I felt like the right thing to do would be to talk to Aiden and ask him how he felt about it. But I couldn't do that either. It wouldn't be fair, and it wouldn't help anyone. Either way he'd end up angry, whether it would be at his mom or me, I didn't know, but it wouldn't be fair to put him in that situation. I guess the only thing I could do was wait it out and see what happened, but it was going to bother me. It was definitely going to bother me.

I was feeling childish, working myself up over this. I didn't doubt that I was a few seconds away from throwing a tantrum. I felt like stomping my foot and everything. After everything that I'd been through, and after everything I'd been through with Aiden, after this weekend I felt like I'd just found him. I'd had rough times, but I won't say that my life was completely miserable, because it wasn't. I had friends. I had family. I cared about them and they cared about me. But I loved Aiden. In many ways I felt like he was the best thing that I had going in my life. I'd never felt that way about anyone before, and as ridiculous as it might seem, I felt like Karen Knightly was trying to take him away from me and my instinct was to go on the defensive over it.

"Owen, will you answer me?" Tony called.

"Have you tried opening the door?" I heard Chris's voice. He sounded amused, and sure enough, he opened my door with no trouble at all and I looked up from where I'd sat blankly on my bed and stared at my brothers.

"Where'd Jake go?" I asked.

"He's checking on dinner." Tony frowned at me, "what's up with you?"

"Nothing." I shrugged. I thought about talking to Chris and Tony about what Karen said, but I decided to wait on that. They'd go talk to her, and that might make things worse.

"So how was your trip?" Chris grinned at me as he came in, leaving Tony to glower suspiciously at me from the doorway. Chris's grin was infectious, and I found myself smiling back and remembering the weekend, despite my foul mood.

"It was good." I replied, "really good."

"So? What did you guys do?" Chris asked.

I thought about what we did too, which was probably a mistake because I found myself blushing and turning away.

"Never mind." Chris laughed, and even Tony smiled.

I pulled myself together and looked between my brothers, trying to shake off the troubled mood I was in.

"It was really great, guys. Thanks for letting me go."

"I'm glad you had fun." Tony sighed, finally stepping through the doorway. "Is Aiden downstairs?"

"With his mom." I nodded, trying to sound neutral. "They're spending some time together, so he won't be up for dinner."

Chris must have sensed something in my voice, because he have me a sympathetic look.

"Miss him already?"

"Yeah." I admitted, and that was the truth. "I'm kinda tired, though. I think I'll be going to bed after dinner." And then I smirked at Tony and added, "and no, I didn't forget, I'll still talk to Ben."

"Good." Tony nodded his approval. "So are you hungry?"

I smiled at Tony, happy that he was satisfied enough with my willingness to talk to Ben. After my encounter with Aiden's mom the last thing I wanted was a discussion about my psychological problems.

"Starving." I nodded, although that wasn't completely true. My appetite seemed to be gone again, but I could at least humor my brothers and eat something. I guess I could humor myself too. Maybe if I acted like nothing was bothering me, this problem with Karen would be easier to deal with. I guess I could hope, right?


It was awful. The worst night of my life, by far. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but still. I had grown so used to Aiden sleeping with me that being in bed alone was more exhausting than being in bed and being preoccupied with activities other than sleep with Aiden.

I'd hoped that he would come by after dinner last night. He said that he was going to but I understood that he was preoccupied. I just wished that could have seen him before I went to sleep, or before I didn't sleep, I should say.

I tossed and turned all night, and every time I was close to getting to sleep I would reach for Aiden. Of course, when he wasn't there I'd wake up and the process would start all over again. And it felt lonely, and empty, and I hated it. It makes me blush to think about, but during the night I woke up hard a few times, remembering what it felt like Saturday night when he was inside me. I even missed the ache, which had faded away. It was like my body missed him as much as I did, and it had only been one night. I figured that I was either pathetic or in love, and I opted for the latter, because who wants to be pathetic? Unless you're pathetically in love.

That thought brought a smile to my face. And it scared the hell out of me. Now that I knew how I felt about Aiden, without a doubt, and he knew how I felt with him, the thought of losing him scared me. And it was all because of his mom. Maybe I was jumping to conclusions, I know, but I couldn't help it. And it definitely didn't help when I left for school in the morning, and instead of finding Aiden outside my door or by my truck waiting for me, I found him getting ready to get into his mom's car.

They were smiling. Aiden was smiling. The feeling I got, seeing him like that, happy with his mom...I felt so good for him. But I would be lying if I said that I wasn't as jealous as hell. It was probably because of what Karen had said to me. Why else would I be jealous of the time he spent with his mother? At least when he saw me, I got an even bigger smile, and I took some satisfaction in that.

I noticed that when Aiden and I approached each other, Karen looked a little annoyed with me. It put me on edge, but it also wouldn't be fair to say that she was looking hatefully at me, either. When Aiden glanced back at her she even had the nerve to force a smile at me. Witch. I'd use other words, but it was my boyfriend's mom I was referring to.

"Hi Owen." Karen said.

"Hey," I nodded, only sparing her a two second glance before I turned my attention to Aiden.

"Hey," he smiled, "my mom asked if she could take me to school today. You don't mind, do you?"

"No." I insisted. I was such a liar.

"Well, hey, why don't you ride with us?" he asked.

"Then how would we get home?" I smirked.

"Right." he sighed, "so I'll see you in five minutes?"

"Yeah." I smiled. Behind Aiden I could see Karen giving me the evil eye. Okay, maybe not evil, but it was one of those watchful motherly eyes. It came to mind that while I was intimidated by her, I didn't feel that same fear as I usually did when it came to dealing with parents. I was feeling more annoyed than anything. Maybe that was because this particular parent was trying to take something from me that I saw as worth fighting for. Aiden.

I think I shocked Aiden, and myself, and definitely his mother, when I leaned forward and kissed him right there in the parking lot where anyone could have seen us. Granted, it was on the cheek, but it was still a kiss. Whether it was staking my claim or proving a point, I don't know, but that kiss was for all three of us. For Aiden, because I didn't want to go another second without letting him know how I felt. For me, because it was something that I needed, to prove my point; I wasn't going away. And for Karen, who narrowed her eyes on me, because she needed to know that I wasn't going away. I even got cocky and shot her a challenging look. Maybe that was a mistake, and it was definitely immature, but technically speaking she was the adult and I was the child in this case, so I decided that that alone should excuse me. Like I said, immature, but I didn't care.

I laughed at Aiden when his eyes widened and he looked around, lightly touching his cheek where I'd kissed him.

"Whoa." He remarked, "We should go away more often. You seem happy this morning."

I leaned forward, so only he could hear me.

"Miserable, actually." I admitted, "My bed was cold last night."

"Hmm," Aiden chuckled, "then maybe later I'll warm it up for you."

"You'd better." I smirked, "even if I have to tie you to it."

Aiden laughed and started backing away towards his mom again.

"I wouldn't have problem with that," he remarked, " just so you know."

My eyebrows flew up at him and he laughed as he got into the car, and I got in my truck, feeling satisfied that things were still okay between Aiden and I. But, my newfound security didn't last for long.

Karen's car followed me all the way to the school, but when I parked in the usual space, it didn't escape my attention that she drove Aiden all the way to the end of the parking lot, and I ended up meeting him at my locker. At least he was waiting for me there. We only had a few minutes before class, another disappointment.

"Did things go okay with your brothers last night?" Aiden asked me as he walked me to class, "or is Tony still worried?"

"I think he's okay since I agreed to talk to Ben." I replied, "but what about you? You seemed happy with your mom this morning."

"Yeah," he smiled, "we were up all night talking. It was really nice, Owe. We've never really done that, you know? I mean, I still worry that she'll slip up, but it's nice to have her back. Oh, and she asked me to have lunch with her today, she was gonna come pick me up."

"Oh." I replied, struggling to keep the disappointment out of my voice. "That's really great, Aiden. You guys should spend some time together."

"Well, do you want to come?" he asked, "I know we were talking about dinner, and I know it's soon, but it could be fun."

Fun wasn't the word I would use, but I still took a moment to think about it only because it seemed like Aiden wanted me to go. And I did think about going, just to prove another point to Karen. But, I guess this was the part where I was supposed to back off. As unhappy as I was with the situation, I knew that the right thing to do was to give them their time together, even if his mom seemed to want to keep us apart.

"That's okay." I insisted, "spend some time with your mom, maybe I'll see you later, okay? I'm not working tonight, remember?"

"Alright," Aiden nodded, "so I'll see you after school?"

I nodded, but it would be before then if I was lucky. I would try to spend every moment that I could with him, even if it meant being late to every single one of my classes.


Alright, I didn't get to see Aiden at all before lunch, and by then I was definitely disgruntled. It wasn't just not seeing him, but it was missing him too. Maybe I didn't have anything to complain about, I mean, I'd just spent an entire weekend with him. I guess I was just upset because I had a sneaking suspicion that Karen was trying to keep me away from Aiden on purpose.

I took a deep breath when I sat down at our usual table for lunch. It seemed like it was going to be a lonely day. Not even Reilly was around, which made me curious. I hadn't really seen him in the halls today either, and I hoped that he wasn't sick again.

But I could eat alone. No big deal. I'd spent plenty of time alone before. Only then I'd wanted to be alone. Now, being alone just gave me more time to think about how angry I was at Karen Knightly at the moment. I wished that I could talk to Aiden about it, but I'd already decided that that wouldn't be fair to him.

"Hi Owen, where's your boyfriend?"

I looked up, frowning. Janie was just not what I needed right now.

"Hi Janie, where's the dumb-shit?" I responded dryly.

"Phil had a practice." She frowned at me.

"Funny, how you knew who I was talking about there." I remarked. She'd definitely caught me at a bad time.

"It looks lonely at your table today." She glared at me. "You and Aiden have a little fight? Or did he run off with that Reilly guy? I guess it makes sense, faggots never stay with the same person for long anyways."

"And bitches never know when they're not welcomed." I retorted. "Get lost Janie," I stated, waving a fly away from my salad, "You're making my lettuce wilt. Must be all that frigid bitch coming off of you."

Usually I just ignored Janie, but like I said, she'd caught me at a bad time, and if she was stupid enough not to walk away then she was going to have to deal with it.

"You better watch how you talk to me, asshole," she warned, "Phil will..."

"You can tell your boyfriend to stay away from me too." I interrupted, standing with my lunch, which seemed ruined after talking to her. I started to walk away, my mood even worse than it was before. Unfortunately, Janie was stupid enough to follow me.

"You know, you'd deserve it if Phil kicked your faggot ass." she hissed at me.

What was her problem? I mean, seriously? Why didn't she just know how to walk away? I swear all would be right in the world if Janie could just forget that I even existed. Biting my tongue with her was getting old, and there was only so much more I could take, especially when she didn't allow me walking away as on option. So I did the only thing I could do in my current state of annoyance and I turned on her so fast that she backed away.

"What the fuck is your problem?" I demanded, and I didn't care who heard it, "Is there something about me that fascinates you Janie? Or are you just so fucking stupid that you can't figure out that I don't want anything to do with you? And by the way, Aiden doesn't either. Why would he? He's gay, Janie. Deal with it or piss off. And while your busy pissing off, do me a favor and don't talk to me. Don't approach me. Don't even look at me, and while you're at it tell your boyfriend to stay away from me too." she opened her mouth to say something but I cut her off again. "Don't." I warned. "Just, don't." I started to walk away, this time without Janie following me. I wasn't sure that it would last, but I hoped that it would last long enough for me to get my temper under control. At the moment, I was sick and tired of dealing with crazy bitches.

I dumped my lunch into the garbage can, and a second later I was stopping in my tracks as I ran right into a familiar face.

Adam was staring at me blankly. I guess he'd seen what happened between his sister and me. There probably weren't many people around who didn't see it. I prepared myself to deal with Adam too, if he had anything to add to this, but after a long, awkward moment passed while I challenged him with my eyes he gave me a small smile.

"You should have told her not to breed, too." he remarked, "I know she comes from my gene pool, but she does sort of insult the rest of us."

I stared at Adam for a long time, and then I did something that I never thought I'd do again.

"I'm getting out of here." I stated, "Do you want to go get some lunch?"

The smile Adam gave me had me smiling back, and with a nod of my head, he followed me towards the parking lot. I wasn't sure where I was going. I decided that I'd go somewhere close, and it seemed to be a good decision because being alone with Adam was definitely awkward. But, if I was going to be honest, it was nice to just be around him again, especially today, when I was feeling specifically lonely. But, when we sat down to eat I discovered that talking to him wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.

"Where's Shane?" I asked.

"With his new girlfriend." Adam mumbled.

"He has a girlfriend?" I smiled.

"Yeah." He nodded, "some girl we met at a party over the weekend. I say it'll last a week."

"What about you?" I asked, "I haven't seen you lately."

"Yeah." He shrugged, "I guess I've been keeping my distance, you know? After you said that we shouldn't..." he paused and there was another awkward silence.

"Look, Adam..." I frowned.

"No, wait." He interrupted, "you were right before, Owen, when you said that we couldn't be friends. I acted like a real jerk, going to Phil like that."

"Yeah." I agreed, "but you apologized for that."

"It's still no excuse." Adam replied, "and I sort of have a confession to make. When I apologized to you and said that I still wanted to be friends, even if you kept hanging out with Aiden, I meant it; I did want to be friends. But, I sort of thought that if we kept hanging out, then maybe you'd forget about Aiden, you know? I mean, it made sense at the time, I figured since you and me knew each other longer..."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" I blurted. Did everyone want to keep Aiden and me apart today?

"Wait, let me finish." Adam frowned, "I know it was stupid, I do. Just let me finish, and then if you never want to talk to me again, I really will understand...I wasn't going to tell you, but when you asked me to come here with you today..."

"What is it Adam?" I demanded.

"I was jealous, okay?" he admitted. "Of you and Aiden. It's like before, when I got mad at you for defending him that first day...I mean, it was like as soon as you met him the two of you became best friends. I was jealous of that. Of your friendship."

"But you have Shane."

"Yeah, I know." Adam nodded, "I've known Shane forever. But when you showed up in town...it was like you weren't boring, Owen. I mean yeah, you were quiet, but there was just something about you. I mean, not even Dennis messed with you until that day you got his attention...anyways, no one like you, has ever paid attention to someone like me before."

"Adam, I'm not any different from you." I frowned. I didn't understand where he was going with this. I remembered before, when Aiden said that Adam looked up to me. It made me uncomfortable then, and it definitely made me uncomfortable now. I wasn't exactly what I'd call roll model material, and then there was the little fact that there were certain things that Adam didn't know about me. one thing in particular.

"But you are different." Adam stated, "the way you stood by Aiden like you did. I never would have done that. I mean, I still don't get the whole gay thing, but even if I did...I still would have walked away. I wouldn't have wanted to deal with it all. But you...you know, I wasn't that surprised when you took up for him. You guys really did click from the beginning, didn't you? I mean, before you came along, Aiden and Janie were inseparable. It's probably a good thing, though, that they split up. She always treated him like shit anyways, even if he didn't see it...maybe you can tell Aiden, whatever it's worth, I'm sorry. And I'm sorry for what I did to you."

"You can tell Aiden yourself." I pointed out.

"Yeah, I guess I can." Adam admitted sheepishly, "It's just that..."

"You don't want to catch those nasty gay germs?" I sarcastically remarked with an edge to my voice. I guess I wasn't being very easy on Adam, but I couldn't help it. I'd experienced his attitude towards Aiden before. I didn't like it then, and now I was putting myself on guard in case it happened again.

"I guess I deserved that." Adam smirked, "but it's not what you think. It's just after everything; I didn't think Aiden would want to talk to me. I didn't think that you'd want to talk to me."

"Neither did I." I admitted.

"So why did you ask me to come with you?"

"I don't know." I shrugged with a small smile, "I guess I miss having you around, you know?" I looked at him for a second and we shared a small smile, before mine faded, "but you're right, about Aiden and me. We're, close. That doesn't mean that I didn't think of you as a friend, Adam. You were my friend. But I meant it before, when I said that I can't be friends with people who think the way that... that you do."

"Yeah, I get that." he nodded, "and I think I understand it a little better...I mean, not the gay thing. Ryan gave me some stuff to read and I'm trying to understand, but it's still so..." he paused, and I caught myself giving him a challenging look, which I quickly wiped off of my face. I knew that he was just trying to talk to me, and considering that I'd invited him out to lunch, the least I could do was listen, and I had to admit that it actually sounded like Adam was trying. "Look," he suddenly said, sounding determined, "what I understand is...why you feel the way you do. Owen...I know. You could have told me."

I straightened and narrowed my eyes at him. What exactly was he saying? I couldn't help feeling a little nervous at the implications. He knew, what exactly?

"Told you what?" I asked carefully.

"Look, I saw your brother." Adam frowned.

"What?" now I was really confused.

"With Leo Sader's roommate." Adam explained, "your brother and that guy were at the theater this weekend, holding hands and...well, you know, they were together."

"Jake?" I replied.

"I guess," Adam shrugged, "I'm not sure which brother it was, though, I mean, you can't really tell them apart."

"Tony." I replied softly. This was suddenly on odd conversation for me. For a second there I thought that Adam knew about Aiden and me, but I guess it was Tony he knew about. Tony had been in public with Jake. I guess I knew that my brother was out, but I'd never known how out he was. For some reason the idea of Tony being open about his sexuality in public surprised me. I hadn't really thought about it before. When I thought of really out I thought of Ben and Leo. I guess now that Tony was with Jake, it made him more obvious. I also began to wonder how this being out with your boyfriend thing affected him, or if it did at all. I made a mental note to ask him about it later.

"So I guess it makes sense." Adam continued. "I mean, you're brother's a...you're brother's gay, I mean, that can't be easy."

I wanted to tell Adam that being gay wasn't easy, but instead I found myself repeating some of Chris's words, "He's still my brother, Adam. It doesn't matter to me who he falls in love with. It doesn't change anything. It doesn't change who he is. And Jake's a great guy...and being gay doesn't change Aiden, either. He's still the same person you've always known."

"It's just new to me." Adam replied, "I just wanted to say that I think I understand a little more how you feel. I mean, after seeing your brother, I can understand why you got so...angry."

"Adam." I frowned, I wanted to tell him that it had to do with so much more than having a gay brother, but I wasn't sure how. I couldn't help the way that I saw Adam as a bigot now, not after our previous conversations. I'd been thinking about what it would be like to come out, and a few weeks ago maybe Adam would have been one of the first people that I told, but a lot had changed since then.

"I'm trying, Owen." He interrupted, "and not just because it hurt when I figured out that you actually hated something about me. You know that talk with Ryan, it really made me wonder about the way that I see some people. I mean, there are things I was wrong about, with Aiden, and some of the things I said...well, I know I can't change it overnight, but I am trying to understand. I just want wanted you to know."

I thought about it for a second. I guess you could say it annoyed me that I couldn't just change his opinion, even with everything that had been said between us already. I guess that was my own bias. I'd seen Adam's ignorance and my previous experiences made it difficult for me to believe that he deserved time to think about this. But that was the wrong way to think. The fact that he was trying should have been enough for now. I guess I just couldn't help wondering if he'd still be trying, if he knew the truth about me.

"Alright." I nodded, and Adam smiled.

"I'm glad we did this today, though." He said, "and, I really do think my sister's being a bitch."

"Yeah." I smirked.

"So maybe we could do it again?" Adam asked, "I mean, if you don't want to, that's okay, but..."

"No," I interrupted, "we can. I mean, maybe we can do something after school some time." I guess it couldn't hurt. If Aiden was going to be preoccupied with his mom and I wasn't working, then I needed a distraction anyways. It couldn't hurt to hang out with Adam, I mean, I'd want to be cautious around him, I wouldn't be able to help being cautious around him. But who knows, maybe if there was anything left of our friendship, we could end up salvaging it, and maybe one day Adam would accept Aiden for who he was, and me too, if I decided to tell him.

"Yeah." Adam nodded, "that would be good...really good."

I hoped so.


I leaned against my truck, frowning, and checked my watch again. School had let out ten minutes ago, and when I didn't find Aiden at his locker I'd gone looking for him at my truck. I hadn't seen him since this morning. Every time I went to meet him after a class I didn't seem to make it on time, and it had been getting to me. I had been waiting all day to see him, and now that he was nowhere to be found, I was becoming concerned.

I hardly noticed Ryan approaching me until he was right in front of me. I at least saw him earlier, when we met after lunch for our work out. I'd mentioned Adam to him, and at least Ryan thought that it was a good idea that Adam and I were spending time together again.

"Hey," I gave him a small smile, "do you need a ride?"

"Yeah," he grinned, "Leo's running late. I just ran into Aiden."

"You did?" that got my attention.

"He said to tell you to go on without him." Ryan shrugged, "I guess his mom's taking him somewhere."

This time I think the annoyance on my face was apparent because Ryan touched my shoulder and smiled.

"Damn, I guess you do have it bad." he laughed, "dude, cheer up, you'll see him soon enough."

"Right." I nodded, only I wasn't smiling, "come on, let's go."

I got in my truck and waited for Ryan, wondering if it was reasonable to be upset at this point.

"Hey, are you okay?" Ryan asked when he got in and I turned the ignition.

"Yeah." I nodded, but then suddenly turned off the truck and looked at a confused Ryan, "She told me to stay away from him." I blurted.


"Aiden's mom." I explained. "She wants me to keep my distance. She called me a distraction. And what the hell is that supposed to mean anyways? Distraction? It's fucked up, Ryan. The last two days were perfect until we came home and now this! I mean, I know she just got back and everything, and I'm trying to give them their time together, but it would be so much easier to do if I didn't know that his mom was purposely trying to keep me away from him."

"Wait a minute," Ryan frowned, "maybe I'm just slow, Owe...but, what are you talking about?"

"Aiden's mom." I replied, exasperated. "Last night she warned me away from him and then everything started this morning when she took him to school. After that it was lunch, and now this. I haven't seen him all day."

"She actually told you to stay away from him?" Ryan sounded as annoyed as I felt, I think that actually made me feel better.

"Not in so many words." I sighed, "but I got the message. She said that Aiden needs his space right now so they can work on putting their family back together now that she's home from rehab. And some parts of that, I can understand. But she also made it clear that she doesn't want him to have a boyfriend right now."

"Does Aiden know about this?"

"No." I shook my head, "and I can't tell him, either."

"Why not?"

"Because you should have heard him this weekend." I shrugged, "he wants things to work with his mom, and this morning he looked so happy that things were working. If I told him, he might not believe me anyways."

"That's bullshit and you know it."

"Maybe." I admitted, "but I still can't do that to him. He wants things to work with his mom, and if it makes him happy...so do I."

"Look, Owen...that's nice and all," Ryan replied, "but I think you should tell Aiden what she said. We've been through this before. He's a big boy and he can take care of himself. I mean, I know you don't want him to get hurt, but think of it this way...how would you feel if someone told Aiden to stay away from you? Not that it would ever happen, but what if one of your brothers warned him away, wouldn't you want to know about it?"

"I guess." I admitted, frowning at the thought.

"You know you would." Ryan laughed. "Look, all I'm saying, is don't let her keep you away from Aiden if you can help it. And you know he'd want to know about this."

"You're probably right." I sighed.

Ryan studied me for a moment and then frowned.

"You're not going to tell him, are you?"

"Not yet." I shook my head. "I just can't do it to him. If he can work things out with his mom...I don't know. Maybe if I see him later I'll feel better about all of this."

"I hope so." Ryan smirked, "hey, if you're not busy, you want to come with me? Lacy was gonna pick me up in an hour, we were gonna catch a movie or something. She'll probably want to see something depressing, but if there're two of us we can outvote her."

I started to say no, but then I thought about it. If I went home I'd be going out of my mind, either that, or Tony would insist that it was time for me to call Ben, which I wasn't in the mood for at the moment.

"Yeah." I smiled, "as long as you're sure we can outvote her."


As it turned out, I don't think we could have outvoted Lacy if there had been ten of us. I was beginning to learn that she usually got what she wanted, but at least she was polite about it. And I think an afternoon spent with Ryan and Lacy was just what I needed. They were the perfect distraction, especially with their constant bickering, which seemed entertaining for the most part. We ended up leaving the theater laughing.

"I'm hungry." Lacy complained. Ryan and I looked at her incredulously, mostly because we had just watched her polish off two large tubs of popcorn. I found myself staring at her, wondering where it all went.

"What?" she demanded.

I exchanged glances with Ryan and we cracked up again.

"Oh shut up." Lacy smirked at us, and then gave Ryan a pointed look that had him rolling his eyes.

"Fine." He sighed, "I'll go get you one of those big cookies or something."

Lacy grinned at him and Ryan looked perfectly satisfied when she kissed his cheek before grabbing my arm and giving it a tug.

"We're going to the pet store." Lacy announced and waved to Ryan, "don't forget my drink."

Ryan rolled his eyes, but was smiling when we separated. I glanced down at Lacy when she grabbed my hand and laced her fingers with mine. And I even held her hand back. It often surprised me how comfortable I felt with her lately. And holding her hand reminded me of my outing with Aiden, at the zoo. I wondered when I might get my next opportunity to hold his hand in public, or when I'd at least have the guts to do it.

"So where is he?" Lacy asked me.

I smiled, already knowing who she was talking about.

"Aiden's with his mom." I explained.

"Hmm," she sighed, "I think we should all get together again, like last week. Maybe we can go somewhere next time."

"That sounds good." I nodded, and it did. I liked the idea of hanging out with Ryan and Lacy when Aiden was with me. We could at least be open in front of them.

"Don't look now." Lacy suddenly groaned.

I glanced up to see what she was talking about and frowned. I'd definitely had enough of Janie today, but there she was, coming in our direction with Phil Clayton. I must have tightened my grip on Lacy's hand because she hissed in a breath next to me.

"Ease up sweetie." She giggled.

"Sorry." I muttered, noticing that now Janie and Phil were purposely coming towards us, "this could get ugly."

"Oh, come on, Owen." Lacy smiled, "anything involving Janie is already ugly."

I smiled at Lacy, but then had to brace myself, as Janie and Phil got closer. Didn't I just tell her today to stay away from me? I swear I was getting tired of this. It was the first good mood I'd been in all day, and I didn't need them to ruin it. As soon as Janie opened her mouth to talk I felt myself cringing.

"Hi Phil." I looked at Lacy, a little surprised. I wasn't sure what she was doing but the sweet smile on her face seemed to stop Phil in his tracks and it definitely took all of that hot air out of Janie's sails. "I've been meaning to catch up to you."

"You have?" Phil and I asked at the same time and then glared at each other. But then I noticed that Janie's grip tightened on Phil and I understood what Lacy was doing, trying to get to Janie. It seemed to be working.

"Yeah," Lacy smiled, "you know, to tell you it was a good game on Friday. No one thought we'd win without Dennis, but you were really great."

"Yeah, well..." Phil smiled sheepishly. I guess Lacy had a knack for flattering anyone when she wanted to.

The news in this conversation didn't escape my attention. I guess Dennis really didn't play. It was strange, the way that I felt a little proud of him, but at the same time I found myself wondering if he was okay. If he didn't play on Friday, then I was pretty sure that it wasn't his dad's decision, and I doubted that Mr. Gordon was happy about it.

"I didn't know you followed football, Lacy." Janie said coldly. Lacy never lost her smile.

"Oh, I follow a lot of things." Lacy insisted. "Like the way you were following Mike Orver the whole time during the game, Janie. Mike's cute, I think he likes you too, god knows why."

I bit back my smile at the glare that Phil suddenly shot Janie, who for once opened her mouth without any of that usual shit coming out.

"Mike?" Phil demanded.

"Oops. Was I not supposed to say anything?" Lacy smiled, "sorry about that. Come on, Owen, I'm sure these two have plenty to talk about."

I didn't object when Lacy gave my hand a tug and pulled me away from them, but I couldn't help glancing back to where it looked like Janie and Phil were arguing.

"Janie's cheating on Phil?" I asked.

"No." Lacy shrugged, "the only thing that happened between her and Mike at the game was when she accidentally spilled her drink on him and then followed him around for ten minutes apologizing. Too bad Janie doesn't know that Phil and Mike hate each other...I guess she's gonna find out though, huh?"

"Remind me to never get on your bad side." I laughed.

"Never gonna happen." Lacy smiled, lifting herself on her toes to kiss my cheek.

"Well thanks." I smiled, "I didn't think I could take much more of Janie today."

"No problem. Besides, it's about time that bitch learns not to mess with my friends."

I just smiled at her. Lacy really was my friend. I guess in some ways I was beginning to think of her as the sister I never wanted. And I had to admit that her sudden interest in trying to protect me was flattering, even if she was absolutely evil doing it. But, I guess if anyone ever tried to give Lacy a hard time, I'd want to protect her too, and that was a good feeling.

"So, Dennis didn't play on Friday?" I asked, changing the subject. I know, there were other subjects, but this was one I was interested in.

"No, you didn't hear? Everyone's talking about it." Lacy explained. "He was at practice but he never showed up at the game, which is completely unlike him. When someone did finally find him and asked him about it, he just said he didn't feel like playing."

"He said that?" I frowned, wondering why he didn't just bring up his knee injury.

"Yeah, the coach was so mad that he almost suspended him from the team, but I guess Dennis's dad talked him out of it. But then today, the rumor is that Dennis flunked a huge science exam. Mrs. Preston said he could make it up, but if he fails again he's off the team, she won't budge."

I sighed to myself. Maybe Mr. Gordon didn't control everyone in the school after all.

"So guess he's pretty much off the team." I said.

"I don't know." Lacy shrugged, "the strange thing is, science is Dennis's best subject. He could have passed that exam with his eyes closed. And he'll pass the make up too, if he..."

"Wants to." I finished for her. Maybe Dennis was smarter than I gave him credit for. Maybe he couldn't beat his dad in some ways, but he'd found a way to beat him this time. I only hoped that Dennis wouldn't end up suffering for it. I really did. Maybe I couldn't stand the guy, but with this, I was in his corner, if only as a silent bystander.


"You're here." I'd come home to a quiet apartment after the movie there was a note from Tony on the refrigerator and tonight's dinner defrosting on the counter. I'd gone to my room to change, wondering if I should start dinner without Tony, but all thoughts of food left my mind when I found Aiden in my room, sitting on my bed and flipping through a book I wasn't sure I'd picked up since sixth grade.

"I'm here." He smiled back at me. He started to stand, but I didn't give him the chance as I dropped my bag and wrapped my arms around him as I fell over my bed, or more specifically, Aiden. He laughed at me until I closed my eyes and dropped my lips soundly over his, then he moved his arms around me, pulling me closer to him and I opened when I felt his tongue against my lips.

Saying that I missed him was an understatement. I guess it was fair to say that my day had its share of ups and downs, but as far as I was concerned, I hadn't seen enough of Aiden. I never expected to find him in my room when I got home, and as he kissed me, that earlier idea of tying him to my bed didn't seem like a bad idea, if anything I'd do it just so he couldn't get away for a while.

Aiden turned us onto our sides and I tangled my legs with his as we settled in and I turned my head, burying my face against his neck as I took a deep breath. Yes, I was smelling him, but I hadn't seen him all day and I think I was hoping to remind myself of everything that was Aiden. The way he smelled, the way he tasted, the way he felt, even the temperature of his body, which always seemed to be just a little warmer than mine.

"How long have you been here?" I asked against his neck.

"About ten minutes, my mom ran out for groceries. Where have you been all day?"

I let out a breath. I was more interested in where Aiden had been but I could humor him, especially if it kept him with me a little longer.

"Told Janie to piss off, went to lunch with Adam, and then I met Lacy and Ryan for a movie after school and we ran into Phil and Janie again, but mostly I just missed you." I looked up at him and smiled, "where have you been?"

Aiden laughed and sat up, so I moved with him.

"Wait a minute, go back." he insisted, "You had lunch with Adam?"

"Yeah." I shrugged, "he's really trying, and he said to tell you he's sorry for being an ass. I dunno. Maybe we'll do something later this week."

"That's good." Aiden smiled, "so do you think you guys can work it out?"

"Maybe." I shrugged, " I mean, he still doesn't know I'm gay. He's says he's trying but I still don't know..."

"You don't know if he'd be trying if he knew the truth about you." Aiden finished for me.

"Yeah." I admitted. "But well see...meanwhile, Lacy wants the four of us to get together again. What do you think?"

"I think that would be fun." He smiled, "as long as I can do plenty of this." I smiled and cupped the side of his neck as he leaned forward to kiss me. It was exactly the type of affection I needed to remind myself that nothing had changed between us, yet at least. Maybe his mom had warned me off, but Aiden was still there, he still came to see me and if I had any questions about whether or not he missed me today they were answered with that kiss, and that smile when he pulled back and lightly rested his forehead against mine, so that we were close without being on top of each other.

"Where have you been?" I asked, "I missed you after school."

"Sorry," he sighed, and then sat back. "I wanted to catch up to you after lunch but I couldn't find you. I had such a good time with my mom that when she asked if we could do something after school, well...you don't mind, do you?"

"No." I lied, taking his hand, "so you had a good time?"

"Yeah." He grinned, "We actually talked, Owen. I mean, we always talk when she gets back, but this time felt different. We actually talked about Asher, my mom never does that." he had a far away look on his face but he was smiling. He really was happy, and I was happy for him. Maybe things would work out with his mom. It would be nice if they did. It seemed so important for him to work things out with his mom; I just hoped that she would stop trying to keep him away from me eventually.

"That's good." I nodded.

"Better than good." He smiled, "she put some of his pictures back up. Only two of them, but still...when I walk into my house, it won't feel like I'm supposed to just forget half of my family because she can't handle it. You have no idea just how good that feels." I opened my mouth to say something but before I could he was kissing me again. I chuckled against his mouth; glad to see he was enthusiastic and pressed my tongue back against his. "Come over tonight." He insisted when he suddenly pulled back.

"What?" I smiled.

"Come over." He repeated, "for dinner. We did talk about it, you know. And I mean, everything today just seems so perfect with my mom...and I miss you..."

I smiled at him, but inside I felt like a mess. Aiden wanted me to go over there. He wanted me to get to know his mom, and I wanted to do it just to keep that smile on his face. Too bad what Aiden wanted, and what his mom wanted were two different things. I doubted going over there would be a good idea. Karen Knightly would just end up pissed off at me, and eventually Aiden would feel the tension. He was perceptive that way. No, I couldn't go over. This was the part where I was supposed to back off and let Aiden spend some time with his mom. I could deal with the rest later, as long as I knew that he was still with me.

"I can't." I sighed.

"You have plans?" he frowned.

"Tony will be home soon," I nodded, "but I just think it's a little soon, you know?" and then smiled, hoping to reassure him, "but you go spend some time with your mom. I really am happy for you, Aiden."

But he wasn't smiling.

"Owen, I know you're freaked out about getting to know my mom, but she really does want to get to know you, and I swear it'll be okay. Just come over. One dinner, that's all I'm asking."

Damn I was really beginning to hate Karen Knightly. Of course she would let Aiden think that she was okay with our relationship. That way, I was the one who came out looking like a prick.

"It's just sort of soon." I replied, tightening my grip on his hand, but he pulled it away from me and stood up, frowning. Uh-oh. I didn't like this. It was like I could see the red flags going up, but I was either too stupid or incapable of doing anything about it.

"If you don't want to, then just say so." He frowned at me, "it's not like I wouldn't understand, but..."

"It's not like that, Aiden." I interrupted. "I just think I should give you guys some space, that's all...so you can get to know your mom again."

"Space?" he repeated. Okay, maybe that was the wrong word to use, but honestly, I didn't see anything wrong with what I was saying, and yet Aiden was getting noticeably upset and I couldn't understand why.

"That's not what I meant either." I frowned, feeling frustrated "look, I'm just not ready to go down there, okay? Maybe another time, just now it's...it's just too soon."

Aiden gave me the kind of measuring look that made me nervous, and when he let out a breath I stood up, wanting to do something to relieve the tension that I suddenly felt between us, but before I could, he backed away towards the door.

"I gotta get back." he said, "I'll...see you later, Owen."

"Aiden, just wait a second." I insisted. Damned if I wasn't about to tell him exactly why I didn't want to go down there, even if it would end up upsetting him more. He glanced back at me, not really angry, but definitely disappointed, and that hurt just as much.

"I really do need to go." He said flatly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

God, I wanted to go after him. And I was probably stupid because I didn't. It was obviously important to him that I get to know his mom, he wouldn't have walked out, otherwise. But I guess I just wasn't ready to tell him that it was his mom who didn't want to get to know me.

I tiredly plopped back down on my bed. I had a feeling that tonight, would feel even lonelier than last night. And I definitely didn't think that I could keep this up much longer. Just one day seemed like too much. I guess if Karen Knightly didn't adjust her attitude soon, I was going to have to do something about it. Or adjust it for her.


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