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Chapter twenty-four: Things that change
I guess I didn't need any more of a hint that my boyfriend was mad at me than the one I got on Tuesday morning, after another restless night, when Aiden got into his mom's car without saying a word to me. Sure, he'd looked in my direction, but only long enough to let me know that we would be taking some of that space that I'd been talking about last night. The satisfied look on his mom's face after that exchange was almost too much, but I couldn't just approach Aiden now.
Not that I was just going to let him walk away from me completely. I didn't go to my locker when I got to school, I went straight to Aiden's and I waited for him. But when the final bell rang, it became clear that he wasn't going to show up. So, annoyed, I went to class.
I tried to find him twice before lunch, but each time I went to the usual places where I'd find him, he wasn't there. By the time lunch rolled around, my nerves over this whole situation were driving me crazy. I knew he was upset, but he didn't have to avoid me. I was actually getting mad at him.
I knew he was upset, but the way he was acting seemed so unlike him. He'd never stayed away from me before, but then again, he'd never really been mad at me before. And I didn't understand why he was so pissed this time. I didn't think I did anything that bad. I didn't go over to his house for dinner, that's it. I was beginning to wonder if I should have, even if it meant I would have had to deal with Karen. Maybe it was more important to Aiden than I realized.
I went out, feeling almost relieved when I finally saw him at our table during lunch. Unfortunately, Reilly was there today, and I couldn't have the conversation that I needed to have with Reilly around. I was afraid that going over there would make for an intense encounter, and since I was actually starting to like Reilly, I didn't want to drag him into this.
So I left.
Maybe I shouldn't have, but there was no way I could approach Aiden and not be able to talk to him. I'd have to wait until we were alone for that. I ended up going to the same little dinner that I'd gone to with Adam the day before, hoping that the break would help me clear my head.
I sat down, and probably ordered more food than I would eat, and then I stared out the window, wondering what the hell I was going to do. The feeling of Aiden being mad at me wasn't one I cared to live with. I started thinking about what Ryan said, that I should just tell Aiden about his mom. But, would that be selfish? Aiden was so happy, getting along with his mom. I didn't want to do anything to ruin that.
But I didn't want Karen's reappearance in Aiden's life to ruin my relationship with him, either. I couldn't let her do it. Obviously asking me to stay away from Aiden was wrong on Karen Knightly's part, and at least part of her must know that. Why else would she go behind Aiden's back to do it? Maybe Aiden wasn't the one who I needed to confront. Maybe Karen was. I was intimidated by the idea, but I think my anger towards her was enough to make up for it. I definitely had a few choice words to say to her.
I was so busy wondering what I should do, that I didn't even notice it when my food was placed in front of me. But, I did notice it when someone slid my plate to the other side of the table and started eating off of it.
I looked up and stared at Dennis, wondering if this was another twisted nightmare that I was experiencing as he took a large bite out of my burger. I guess technically, things couldn't get any weirder. I mean, just yesterday I was sitting at the same table with Adam, why not Dennis today? And it didn't bother me at all that he was eating my food, at least, that's what I told myself as I reached over and grabbed a fry with no objection from him.
He wasn't looking at me; he was just staring at the plate and eating like he'd been starved for days. I wondered if he had. I also noticed that he wasn't wearing his team jacket. He was wearing a black sweater instead, and a ball cap that shadowed his face.
"How did you do it?" he asked quietly, and I sat back in my seat, studying him.
"How did I do what?"
"Get out." he replied, looking up at me finally, and I had the perfect view of his swollen right eye. I guess my alarm was on my face because Dennis laughed and shook his head.
"Get off it, Dovan." He remarked. "Phil did that."
"Phil?" I asked, incredulously.
"We had a disagreement." Dennis shrugged.
"And you didn't hit him back?" I asked, again in disbelief.
He just shrugged. I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever figure Dennis out. I'd just seen Phil yesterday and he didn't have a mark on him, not the kind of marks that one might acquire after getting in a punch to Dennis Gordon's face. And I knew this from experience. Dennis was also tougher than Phil. The only way Phil would walk away from a fight with Dennis, unharmed, would be if Dennis let Phil hit him. And they were supposed to be friends. I wondered what happened, that would make them fight.
"So, how did you do it?" Dennis asked again.
I leaned back and went to looking out the window again. I felt strangely comfortable there with him, not like the last time. Maybe that was because he had come to me.
"I didn't do anything." I admitted, "after my dad beat the crap out of me, I ended up in the hospital, and when I woke up, my brothers were there. They made a deal with my parents...I wouldn't press charges against my dad, if I went with them."
"Oh." He frowned. I looked at him again, wondering what he was thinking. I wondered if he was wishing that his own brother would be there for him.
"There are other ways." I added. "You could..."
"I can't do anything." He cut me off. "I'm not like you...I don't...I'm not like you." He suddenly slid my plate and half eaten burger back to me and stood up to leave. He seemed hesitant, like he really didn't want to go, but panicked, like he was trying to figure out why he'd ever sat down with me in the first place. And I felt something too. Concern. I didn't want him to walk away from me, not yet.
"Dennis." I called, and then found myself surprised when he actually turned back. "Sit down." I said, sliding the plate back across the table, and I was surprised again when he actually did, and continued eating. Even if he did look annoyed, like I was the one who was wasting his time.
"There are other things you can do." I insisted, "don't you know anyone? I mean, you're eighteen..."
"You don't know my dad." He frowned, "he knows so many people in this town. No one cares what goes on inside our house."
"You're eighteen." I pointed out again, "You can leave."
"There's nowhere to go." He shook his head, and then grew silent for a moment before he continued. "You know, the only job I've ever had is at my dad's dealership and I never saw a cent from that. Everything I earn is put into a trust for when I go away to college, and my only chance for any school away from here is if I get a football scholarship like my brother..." he looked down ruefully at his knee. "No chance of that now."
I just listened. I guess it was a surprise that Dennis had showed up, and I didn't really understand it, especially after last time. He'd made it clear that he wasn't interested in doing this again. But maybe, he needed someone to listen. I would have wondered why he chose me, except I didn't need to. Dennis had limited options. I knew how that felt before I'd met Dan. And with Dennis...it was more than feeling sorry for him. That's not why I was okay with being his ear. I understood what he was going through, at least, part of it. I think I was actually happy, in some strange way, that he'd chosen to talk to me.
"What happened when you didn't play on Friday?" I asked.
He laughed bitterly, and then smirked at me.
"I'm still making up for that." he remarked, "if I get kicked off the team..." his smile faded, and for a second I thought he was going to lose it as he took in a few deep breaths. "I really shouldn't be here." He shook his head. "Shit...I really hate you, Dovan. First you get away from your old man...and then you get away from mine. Don't think I don't know why you're not showing up for work anymore...you know, it's kinda too bad." he smirked, "my dog really hates the new guy." I was staring at the plate, looking uncomfortable. I wondered if in his own, twisted way, he'd just admitted that he missed having me around his house, and that thought made me uncomfortable.
"Yeah, I sort of freaked out on Thursday." I admitted. God, it was weird admitting that to Dennis. But, I felt like he was opening up to me, if only a little, and I felt compelled to do the same. "I had to get out of there...your dad...it was just too much... I'm sorry."
"What the hell are you apologizing to me for?" he suddenly snapped.
"Because on Thursday I got out." I said, calmly. "When I heard your dad tearing into you..." I stopped briefly when Dennis looked down and his face turned a little red. I wondered if he thought I was rubbing what I knew in his face. "I ran away from it, and it wasn't even happening to me." I continued. "I guess I feel guilty about it."
"You still got out." he said quietly, "you even got to stop working there. I think...that's good. It's good for you."
I stared at him as he looked down at his plate. He wasn't being cocky, and he wasn't calling me a coward. He meant it. I guess that was something that we had in common. The same kind of suffering that we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy. I think Dennis was actually happy for me, that I was away from his house, not that he'd ever admit it. But it made me feel guilty, knowing that he was still stuck there with his parents. When I'd gone, I didn't even have to deal with them and it had been too much. I guess in some ways I was a coward, unable to even finish my job. And while Dennis and I never really dealt with any of the crap that we were going through, together, I couldn't help feeling terrible that in some ways, I'd left him there, in that house, alone.
He suddenly stood up and looked around, like he was worried there was someone around who might see us there together.
"I can't be here." He stated, wiping his mouth with a napkin and then dropping in on the table before lightly sliding my plate back to me.
"Hold on." I said, coming to a decision when he turned to go again. He frowned skeptically at me as I fished out my wallet and a pen from my backpack. I used one of Jake's business cards, and then before I could change my mind, I wrote my phone number on the back and slid the card to the end of the table, not wanting to force it on him. "You do, have somewhere to go...if you need it." I didn't even worry about checking with my brothers first. They didn't like Dennis any more than I did, but they would never turn him away.
"I won't need anything from you." Dennis stated, but he took the card. He stared at me for a moment, but I couldn't read him, and then he narrowed his eyes in that familiar way. "Look, Dovan..."
"I know." I interrupted, "don't worry, Dennis. I still think you're an asshole."
I think he actually smiled at me, before walking away, leaving me to wonder how many more unexpected visits I'd get from him...and I wondered how many more times I'd end up buying him lunch, when I looked down at my empty plate.
I knew it was going to be a bad day. I had pretty much figured that out when I woke up without Aiden. Again. Not seeing him after he'd ignored me this morning didn't exactly help either.
I never did see him after lunch, and when I saw Karen's car in the parking lot after school I had a feeling that I wasn't going to talk to Aiden then, either. I don't know, maybe if Karen hadn't been waiting for him I would have tried to talk to him, but I left before I could think about it too much.
And I didn't go home.
I had plans today. I wasn't looking forward to it either, and I really wished that I didn't have to deal with it on top of the fact that I seemed to be fighting with Aiden.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I met Ben at the public library. I was actually surprised that he'd wanted to meet there. I soon discovered though, that we were meeting in a private reading room. The windows were glass, so I could see out, but at least we didn't have to keep our voices down. And I got to see a new side of Ben.
He wasn't as... well...he wasn't like the Ben I'd come to know. If anything he was serious, and quiet, but not so much that it made me completely nervous. I'd at least expected him to tease me about the last time we ran into each other, when I bought those condoms. But he didn't even mention it as I took an uncomfortable seat across from him at the table and he gave me a small smile.
"You don't want to be here." He said flatly.
"Perceptive of you." I smirked, but then became serious, "look, Ben...I appreciate you offering to do this and all, but I don't think it's really necessary. So, if you have something better to do, then I don't mind telling Tony..."
"Nice try." Ben laughed, "but I don't have anything better to do, Leo's still it work. I don't see why we can't hang out until then, do you?"
"I guess not." I shrugged.
"Good," he smirked, throwing his red high-tops up onto the table as he leaned back in his chair, making himself comfortable. "So entertain me. Tell me what you did today."
I guess now he was reminding me more of Ben. I was also surprised that he didn't jump right into the reason why we were both there in the first place. Unfortunately, the topic he brought up was no better than the one we were there to discuss.
"Let's not talk about today." I frowned, running my fingers through my hair.
"Okay," he grinned, "then tell me about this weekend. You were with Aiden and I want details."
Now that was the Ben I knew. I realized something else just then, too. He wasn't much older than me. Actually, he wasn't much older than Dennis was. I guess it was just the way he usually carried himself that made him older, and maybe he really was some sort of genius. Either way, realizing that he wasn't much older than I was, made it easier to think of him as someone who wasn't a shrink. Actually, it made it easier to think of him as just a friend. So, I decided to put the more recent, distressing thoughts about Aiden aside and I recalled the weekend. Of course, I told it in less detail when I explained it to Ben, not that he didn't try to get more information out of me. But, even with all of that, he seemed specifically interested when I told him about holding Aiden's hand at the zoo.
"I'm afraid to do stuff like that here, though." I admitted.
"Makes sense." Ben replied thoughtfully. "It's always easier to do things like that in front of people you never have to face again."
"Yeah." I agreed, "but it drives me nuts. It's like, I don't want to care what people think, and I really don't care what most of them think, but with this..."
"Do you think that's because you were outed before?" Ben asked me, and I looked up at him questioningly.
"Your brothers told me your history." He shrugged, "a friend of yours from school outed you, right? Just like what happened with Aiden."
"Yeah." I admitted, "but I didn't have to deal with it then. I just left. Sure, all those people found out...all of my friends... but, I sort of never really looked back. I got a second chance."
"A second chance to hide in the closet?"
"I guess." I admitted. I guess I'd never really thought about it like that before, and to be honest, I wasn't really sure how I felt about it. I always thought of closeted as how I'd dealt with things before I came here. Only one person knew the truth about me before and that was Dan. Here, the people close to me knew that I was gay. I no longer had to hide it in my own home, and that had been enough. But, I guess in many ways, I was still in the closet, and some parts of that really did bother me.
"Would you change it?" Ben asked.
"What do you mean?"
"If you could go back and deal with those people...would you? Or are you okay, just wondering what their reactions really would have been?"
I had to think about that too. I'd always played off leaving my old life as no big deal. I'd moved onto better things, I really had. I'd thought about certain relationships that I missed. Like Dan. I missed Dan, but I'd come to accept that Dan was gone. Nicky, was a different story. He was the only other person I really ever thought about. Seriously thought about. Wondered about. Everyone else...I didn't let myself think about.
But now that I thought about it, I'd left my life. Maybe I'd never really dealt with that because I was afraid to think about what everyone I'd ever known thought of me after Anna had spread the word around school. And why shouldn't I be afraid? It wasn't as if the reactions that I had received had been good ones.
"I don't know." I said honestly. "Maybe back then, I wouldn't have, but now...I guess I'd be curious to know what it would have been like. I know I ran away from it, but I was a different person then. I feel like I've changed so much, but some things...I guess some things really haven't changed at all." of course I was thinking about what happened with my dad, and what happened more recently with Dennis's dad. Ben must have been thinking about it too.
"What happened when you started working at Dennis's house?" he suddenly asked.
"You mean what happened when I freaked out?" I smirked at him.
"No, from the beginning." Ben smiled, "what happened when you first realized whose house you were working at?"
Maybe he was trying to make it easy on me, I'm not sure. But somehow, not jumping right into what happened that last day made me feel more comfortable talking about it. So I started from the beginning, telling him how freaked out I was when I discovered where the job was, how I didn't want to stay there. I told him how I decided to stay anyways because I didn't want to let Jake down.
When I got to the part about my first encounter with Dennis's mom, my story seemed to go slower, because that's where Ben started interrupting. I had played the encounter off as no big deal, that she was some sort of frightening yet comical figure. But Ben wanted to know more. He started by asking questions that I found ridiculous at first. Silly things, like what she said, exact words, and who she was looking at when she said them. How she was dressed, how she was standing. I was surprised myself, how much detail I could recall, and thinking about it made me just as uncomfortable as meeting her for the first time had made me.
Every time I made a bad joke as a defense against whatever upsetting feelings that were clouding me, Ben would only offer me a small smile before he quickly asked another question, and then when I had answered it, he'd move right back to the one I'd been having trouble answering, only, he'd reword it, and it sounded like an entirely different question.
I guess I was getting frustrated. He was exploring my feelings without actually asking me how I feel. But I was getting more out than I realized, and while I was getting a little frustrated when Ben kept bringing up the first time I met Mrs. Gordon, which was as far as we'd gotten into the story because he'd change the subject and then go back to it, I started to realize that there had been something about that moment, when I first saw her, that meant something.
"She bothered me." I shrugged.
"When she came out of the house?"
"Yeah." I nodded. "It was the way that Dennis looked at her, I think. I just knew then, what she was like. I didn't like it." Ben remained silent. I noticed that he did that a lot during our conversation. I didn't feel like he was analyzing me, but he'd leave me to lead the conversation, asking certain questions or expressing certain thoughts every once in a while to guide it in the direction that he wanted. He was doing that now, being quiet, waiting for me to say something more. A few times when this happened I'd let the silence stretch, waiting him out. But each time I'd feel compelled to say something before he did. "It was mostly Dennis, though." I continued, "It was because he was afraid of her."
"Why did that bother you?" Ben asked casually.
"I don't exactly get along with parents, anyway." I smirked.
"But why did Dennis's reaction bother you?" he replied, refusing to let me get off topic.
"Because it was familiar." I frowned. "It was like he was being careful. He didn't trust her, even if she was his own mother. And he was afraid; maybe ashamed too...I know how that feels. He wanted her approval, but he knew he'd never have it, no matter what he did, so he was afraid of her, afraid of what she'd do when she caught him outside...it seemed so stupid, to be afraid of something like that, but it wasn't."
There was another long silence, but this time Ben did break it.
"Why wasn't it stupid, Owen?"
"Because he had a reason to be afraid." I frowned.
"No." I said quickly. "I mean, I don't think I did. I was just surprised, that Dennis was afraid. I think I was relieved, when Mrs. Gordon looked at me, instead of him."
"Why were you relieved?"
"Because I remembered what it was like." I said after a moment. "To have that kind of attention off of me, even for a second. I was relieved for Dennis."
These were all things I'd thought about before, but it was the first time I'd ever let myself hear it out loud. I was having mixed feeling. All of this talking about Dennis and Mrs. Gordon was getting to me, making me remember what it was like to be back there, but not just back there at the Gordon house, back home too.
I didn't like it.
And I was getting angry. but what surprised me, was where my anger was suddenly directed.
"It was such bullshit." I remarked, "and I was afraid, but who wouldn't be? She made me feel small, every time I was around her. It was like no matter what I did, I was never good enough. Not to be her son." I knew that I was rambling, but Ben didn't seem to mind. "Tony was her favorite...she liked Chris too, but I was just...a mistake. Even after my brothers left I was never good enough for her. She was so fucking cold. Like, what kind of mother can just stand there while someone..." I frowned. At some point this had stopped being about Dennis's mom and started to be about mine. Maybe that was the point. And now that I was talking, I couldn't seem to shut up. "She was right there! She was in the fucking kitchen...and she watched him. He could have fucking killed me and it wouldn't have mattered to her." I glanced up at Ben and heard myself laugh bitterly. I don't know where it came from. Maybe it was one of those things that people do when they're uncomfortable. "She cared more about keeping her floor clean than she cared about me! That stupid fucking bitch."
For lack of a better word, whoa. I was feeling angry. I don't think I'd ever felt so angry when it came to my mom before. Sad? Yes. Disappointed? Definitely. Angry? Not like this. I started to wonder why I ever called her mom in the first place. She was a poor excuse for one. And why was I ever okay with it? Why was it okay that she had no problem expressing how much better my brothers were than me, before they left? Why was that okay with me? Because Tony and Chris were there for me instead of her? Bullshit. It wasn't enough. It was never enough. And I was never okay with anything, I'd only deluded myself into thinking that I was, because she was my mom.
My mother, had never been like my father. Not in the way that I thought of her. I think my dad was actually easier to understand than my mom was. He wanted his boys to be men. Not faggots. I guess to his way of thinking, you couldn't be both. He was a detached man. He had his moments, but for the most part, he'd been detached. I think Chris had been the only one who my dad had ever bonded with.
At least things made sense with my dad. I think I'd always known that he'd attacked me because he feared what I was. I was his second son to turn out to be less than what he expected, and he figured that made him less of a man. Only, I wasn't less. Neither was Tony, for that matter. I could see that. I guess my dad just couldn't.
But my mom...I hadn't been good enough for her before my parents decided to make sure I didn't turn out to be gay. Before they started conditioning me. Before my brothers left us. And that meant, that with my mom, there had been no reason. There was no reason why I wasn't good enough. I just wasn't. I didn't really know how to accept that.
"I think I need a break, Ben." I said after a moment.
I felt tired, emotionally. It had been a long day, and I had way too much on my mind by the time I got home. Oddly enough though, after talking to Ben I felt better. We hadn't gotten very far after I needed to take a break. Actually, we didn't talk about anything heavy after that at all.
But, we did agree to meet again. I guess talking to Ben hadn't been so bad. I think just venting helped. And the nice part was, that after my talk with Ben, as emotionally drained as I felt, all of that crap that I'd been dealing with in the library, was left in the library.
At least until I got home.
Maybe I didn't know the reason why my mother rejected me, but when I saw Karen Knightly outside of her apartment, it occurred to me that I could get a reason from her. Or, at least I could try. I think I took her off guard, when I walked directly up to her and faced her head on.
"Why?" I demanded.
"I think you should go home, Owen." She frowned at me. She tried to move past me, obviously she was going out somewhere. But, she'd caught me during another testy mood, so I stepped in her path and cut her off. "What are you doing?" she demanded.
"Just tell me why." I stated, "Why do you want me to stay away from him? Is it because you don't like me? Is it because you think I'm some sort of bad influence?"
"Get out of my way." she replied, narrowing those dark eyes on me. God, she looked so much like Aiden when she was pissed off.
"Is it because I'm gay?" I demanded, "Is it because he's gay and you can't handle the idea of two gay boys together? You can't handle the idea that we love each other?" I really hoped that I wasn't coming off as a stalker. It wouldn't surprise me if I sounded like one, though. I was upset. Not seeing Aiden all day had that effect on me.
"You don't know what you're talking about." She suddenly snapped. "Don't talk to me about love, Owen. I know a lot more about it than you do. You're still young. Now leave my son alone, he doesn't need you anymore. Give us our space and maybe I'll forget about this little incident."
I think I watched as she passed me in disbelief for a few seconds before what she said completely sunk in, and then I just wanted to know where the hell she got off saying that she knew more about love than me, and how the hell she decided that Aiden didn't need me. And as far as forget about this...
"Don't you forget about it!" I suddenly called after her, causing her to turn around, glaring. "Don't forget. Don't forget that you went behind your son's back and told his boyfriend to stay away because you're nothing more than a selfish..." I at least caught myself there. "You're selfish."
"I'm looking out for my son!" she hissed at me.
"You're looking out for you." I corrected her. "You had it right before, Ms. Knightly. You aren't able to give Aiden what he needs. Maybe I'm not either...because I should have told him about it the second you told me to stay away. And you...you never should have went behind his back to do it."
I gave her the most disapproving look I could muster before I headed up the stairs.
"Owen!" she called after me. She sounded worried, and I knew why.
"Don't worry." I frowned at her, looking back, "I'm not going to tell him, because that would just hurt him. But I'm not going away, either...and don't you forget this. I'm glad you're trying to get your life together, because whether you see it or not, it means a lot to Aiden. But when you screw up-and I'm sure you will, because interfering in his life is a mistake-just make sure you remember that I won't forget about it. And unfortunately for you, I don't think Aiden will forget about it this time, either."
"Just stay away Owen." She frowned, obviously unimpressed with the way that I was talking to her. "I know my son. You're not what he needs right now."
"Alright." I bluffed, "I'll stay away...if Aiden asks me to. Why don't you tell him what you think is best for him...let him decide." At least that way I wouldn't have to tell him.
Maybe I was being a coward, but despite everything, I just couldn't see myself telling him what his mother thought was best for him. Maybe he was angry with me right now, and maybe I didn't like the whole avoidance thing, but nothing could convince me that Aiden didn't care about me. I definitely wasn't going to let Karen Knightly scare me away. If Aiden wanted me away, he could tell me himself.
When I figured out that Karen wasn't going to say anything else I headed up the stairs again. I'm not sure why I thought confronting her would make me feel any better. If anything, it made me feel worse. Maybe it hadn't been a smart thing to do. I didn't even check to make sure Aiden wasn't there first. I wouldn't even want to know what he'd think if he heard me yelling at his mom. And, it wouldn't be surprising if he did hear it. After all, Chris did.
I froze when I saw my brother standing in front of the door, the concerned, annoyed look on his face was enough to tell me that he'd heard everything. I watched as he let out a breath, and then when he placed his hand on my shoulder, I silently let him lead me inside where he suddenly wrapped his arms around me and gave me a hug. I think after my day, I really needed it, and I hugged him right back.
"Take a seat." Chris sighed, and I walked around the couch to sit down. "When did she tell you to stay away from him?"
"Just the other night." I admitted, "When we got back from our trip. I couldn't tell him...he was happy, you know?"
"Shit." Chris muttered. "I hate it when Tony's right."
"When you got back." Chris smirked, "Tony knew there was something wrong."
"It wasn't the trip." I said quickly, "I really did have a great time, Chris...I had such a good time that I didn't want to come back. Aiden, he was so great...but when we got back and Karen asked me to stay away from him...now everything's a mess."
"Okay." Chris nodded slowly, "but what provoked you to talk to Karen? Is she really giving you trouble?"
"I don't know." I frowned, "maybe. It seems like she's trying to keep him away from me on purpose. And I decided to give them some space anyways, you know? So they can work things out together. But now Aiden's pissed off at me because I wouldn't go over there for dinner. He's so happy that his mom's doing okay that he wants us all to sit down and get to know each other. But how the hell am I supposed to do that if..."
"She doesn't want you there." Chris finished for me. "I'm gonna go talk to her, Owen. This is ridiculous. She feels threatened by you, she's done this kind of shit before."
"You can't talk to her!" I said quickly, "Chris, Aiden can't find out, it'll just hurt him...you haven't seen how happy he is to have her back." I absently shook my head and then looked up again, "what do you mean she's done it before?"
"This!" Chris frowned, exasperated. "Shit, Owe. You should have told us." I frowned at him, not liking his tone and his face softened a little. "Sorry...look, Owen, sometimes when Karen comes back she has a habit of relying on Aiden too much. Hell, she relies on him too much when she's not sober. She gets it in her head that as long as Aiden's there for her, she'll be fine. She uses him as a crutch and in the end that hurts him more than anything. It makes sense that she'd feel threatened by you. She isn't the center of Aiden's universe when you're around, and she doesn't like that. And I'm sorry; I am going to talk to her. Aiden doesn't have to know, but you're not the only one who cares about him, Owe. Karen has a chance to pull her shit together this time, and I'm not gonna let her ruin it by using her seventeen year old son as a crutch."
"He's just so happy right now...not with me at the moment," I added ruefully, "but with his mom. I don't want anyone to take that away from him."
"We'll do our best." Chris smirked at me, "don't worry about Aiden. And definitely don't worry about Karen."
"I just don't want to lose him, Chris." I frowned, "I...It just doesn't seem fair that she can..."
"She can't." Chris said sternly. "Look, if you're fighting with Aiden, my advice is...talk to him. You don't have to tell him about his mom, although I think you should. But talk to him, or you won't be happy."
"I know." I admitted. "I will...it's just been a bad day, Chris."
Chris studied me for a long minute and then gave me a small smile.
"How did your talk with Ben go?" he asked, changing the subject.
I just shrugged. I definitely didn't want to revisit that.
"Okay." He sighed. "Why don't you go take it easy for a while? Tony will be home soon and we'll do dinner here, alright?"
"Yeah," I sighed.
I wasn't sure that I wanted to think about a family dinner at the moment. I still hadn't talked to Aiden all day. And Chris was right about one thing. Maybe I didn't like the idea of my brother interfering, even if it couldn't be helped, and I didn't really care who talked to Karen, but I really did need to talk to Aiden.
Too bad he was working.
This just wasn't my day. I spent the rest of the night shrugging my answers. Chris disappeared for a while, and I could only guess where he was. At least Tony didn't push for me to talk. I think he was just satisfied that I'd finally gone to see Ben. He was even happier when I told him that I would be going back.
After a short dinner and a long shower, I settled in for what I assumed would be another restless night. I never saw it coming when I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I was getting used to my bed feeling cold after two nights alone. I was even getting used to waking up with the strong urge to jack off. Although, that was getting annoying. I couldn't remember waking up so many times like that since I was thirteen.
The third night, I started to wake up with that same uncomfortable ache in my groin and I debated whether or not to take a cold midnight shower, but this time something was different. I was warm, really warm as I tried to cuddle the pillow I'd been using to my chest.
But, as my fingers moved over the familiar contours of a chest that wasn't mine, and a hand closed over them as I pressed my erection up against Aiden's ass, my eyes snapped open and I lifted my head to see that he really was there, lying in his usual position spooned against my chest with his eyes peacefully closed.
I didn't even care why we was there. I was just happy that he was and I found myself sleepily smiling as I glanced at the clock. It wasn't even midnight yet. I assumed that he'd come over after work, but I'd already been asleep.
I lifted my hand and carefully tucked his hair behind his ear, deciding not to wake him, even if I was dying to. I leaned down and kissed his cheek as I wrapped my arm back around his chest to settle in again, but before I could, he suddenly turned his head and instead of his cheek, I felt his lips under mine, kissing me back.
I sighed and cupped the side of his head, closing my eyes as I flicked my tongue out over his bottom lip, and then into his mouth as he opened for me, and I shifted as he turned, better facing me and he wrapped his arm around my back, sliding his hand down to my ass, and he pulled my into him so that my erection was pressing against his thigh as our legs tangled. When I pulled back I rested my head on the pillow that we shared and just looked at him blankly.
"You're here." I said stupidly.
Aiden just smiled and moved closer until his face was buried against my neck and his breath sent a chill down my spine as I contentedly wrapped my arms around him.
"You're not leaving?" I asked.
"I'm staying right here." He whispered.
"I thought you were mad at me."
I felt him shake his head against my neck and I closed my eyes when his grip tightened around me and he lifted his head and kissed my cheek.
"I'm sorry, Owen."
I opened my eyes and looked at him, confused. I was the one who was getting ready to apologize.
"I'm sorry." He sheepishly repeated, "for this morning. It's no excuse for blowing you off like that...I was just frustrated. When I asked you to come over last night, I didn't mean to push you. I just got carried away, you know? I'm finally getting along with my mom. Really getting along with her. I just got selfish...you mean so much to me and I guess I wanted you to come over so she could see it too."
"Aiden..." I sighed, wondering how much I should tell him about his mom, if anything at all.
"I'm really sorry." He interrupted. "I knew it was a mistake this morning as soon as we started driving, but I didn't realize how bad I'd fucked up until I went to apologize at your locker and you weren't there."
I looked at him incredulously, and then I started to laugh. I couldn't help it, even with that pathetically cute, confused expression on his face.
"I'm apologizing and you laugh?" he frowned at me.
"I'm sorry," I said, snuggling up to him again, "it's just that, I thought you were avoiding me. The reason why I wasn't at my locker was because I was at yours. I've been trying to catch up to you all day."
"But you weren't at lunch." He frowned at me, "when I didn't see you there..."
"Reilly was there." I explained, "and before you go accusing me of being jealous, that wasn't it. I just figured that we needed to talk and I didn't want to try to talk to you with him there, you know?"
"Shit, I was dragging Reilly all over the school looking for you." Aiden shook his head. "You have no idea how sick I've been all day worrying about whether or not you were ever going to speak to me again. I thought about calling in sick to work but I couldn't find anyone to cover my shift. I came here right after work...I was almost afraid that I still wouldn't find you."
Actually, I knew exactly how he felt. It was exactly what I'd been going through all day. To hear him say that, made me feel incredibly secure with him, but it also made me feel horrible that he'd been going through the same sort of misery all day that I had. The only thing I could even think to do to respond to him was to tilt my head forward and kiss him as convincingly as possible, groaning as his hand tightened on my butt and my cock ground into his thigh. He was smiling at me when I pulled back and I let out a breath as his fingers ran down my chest, over my naval and hooked comfortably in my boxers.
"I'll never stop talking to you." I stated, "and I'm sorry too. I should have explained better, why I wouldn't come over last night."
Aiden shook his head.
"You didn't do anything wrong, Owe. I told you I'd give you time and I didn't. If you're not ready..."
"It's not that." I frowned, "look, Aiden...you're mom...you know I'm really happy that things are working out for you, right?"
He nodded, but it was obvious that he was trying to figure out where I was going with this.
"It's just that...I don't think...I don't think she likes me very much."
Aiden studied me for a second and then confused me, slowly smiling.
"My mom loves you." He insisted, cradling the back of my head and pulling me down to rest on his shoulder. It's probably a good thing that he couldn't see my face, otherwise he would have seen how utterly bewildered I was. "Not as much as I do, but you don't have to worry about her, Owen. I know you don't do well with parents, but I swear my mom likes you. She told me how much she does."
Well that pissed me off. I was beginning to wonder if Karen Knightly was psycho or something. It was like the manipulative bitch had a split personality or something. How the hell she could tell me to stay away from her son one minute and then tell him how much she approved of his boyfriend the next? I didn't like it, the way that she seemed to have Aiden perfectly fooled, and it put me in a difficult situation too. I wanted to tell him what I knew, what she was doing, if anything to protect him from going through the same pain he'd gone through with her before. But if I told him, he might really end up mad at me. Attacking his mom would just end up making me sound like the jealous boyfriend. So I still had the problem of not knowing what to do.
Maybe I would have put more thought into it just then, but Aiden provided a good distraction when he began to pull down my boxers and I gasped and arched up when I felt his hand close over the head of my cock.
I turned into him as he leaned forward and kissed me and I opened as his tongue pressed against my lips, and closed my eyes as he thrust into my mouth. I slid my hands down his sides, expecting to run into his underwear, but when I realized that he wasn't wearing any and I hadn't noticed under the sheets, I pulled back and smiled at him as I lifted my hips so he could remove my boxers.
"I missed you." I confessed. And it was true. Just having his hands on me again was a reminder of having him in me. I could feel my hole, aching almost as much as my cock did, just remembering the way it felt.
I reached over to my nightstand, wanting to retrieve the necessities that I'd stashed in my drawer as he moved over me and his mouth came down over my chest and he pulled my nipple between his teeth, forcing my to bite back a moan as I dropped the lube and condom on the bed and wrapped my arms around him, sitting up as I pushed him back and kissed him.
I reached down and slid my palm over his erection, just lightly, before I moved down and cupped his balls and Aiden leaned into me, moving onto his knees as I rolled them against my fingers. I placed my hands on his hips and held him upright as I pulled away from his mouth and moved down to kiss his neck, that place on his throat that he liked, as he tilted his head back to give me better access.
His fingers dug into my shoulders as I moved down his chest and when my tongue flicked out over his nipple he cupped the back of my head and held me to him. He groaned as I wrapped my fingers around his cock, stroking him as I kissed my way down and moved my mouth over the head, pressing my tongue against his tiny slit and tasting the pre-cum that had pooled there.
He tried to thrust up as I slowly moved my mouth down his shaft but I held him there, listening to him as he softly groaned and his fingers tightened in my hair while he shifted on his knees, until I could feel the head of his cock pressed tight against my throat and I held him there for a moment, pressing my tongue against his shaft before I pulled off and then went back down.
I moved my hands around and cupped his ass, urging him forward as he began to thrust slowly, and I tightened my lips around his shaft, sucking harder as I went down on him. I reached down and cupped his balls again, pressing my finger back against his perineum. His breath hitched and he tried to spread his legs wider without losing his balance while I rubbed that spot, pressing against it as I traced the line between his hole and his balls.
He whimpered softly when I suddenly pulled off of his cock and his fingers twisted in my hair as a light protest, until I moved my mouth over his balls and I pressed my tongue against them before pulling one gently into my mouth, sucking as he pressed against me, and then I moved to the other, pressing more deliberately against his perineum until I could feel him shaking.
I pulled back, dropping his balls from my mouth, and as I moved onto my knees his arm went around my back, pulling my chest against him. I opened, as his mouth came over mine and I pressed back against his tongue, closing my eyes and taking in a breath as he ground his erection against mine. When Aiden pulled back he laced his fingers with mine and I opened my eyes when I felt his forehead resting lightly against mine.
"I've never had make up sex before." He remarked.
I smiled at him and then turned around to retrieve the condom and lube. I didn't care what kind of sex we were having. I just wanted him in me. I wanted that good feeling back, the one I had before we came back from our weekend together, but I still wasn't prepared for it when he suddenly came over my back and reached between my legs to grab my cock.
I gasped and sank down, lifting my hips off the bed so that my butt pressed back towards him and I sank against the pillow, relaxing as I saw his free hand grab the lube and his mouth came down over my shoulder and he kissed his way to the back of my neck.
I felt his fingers, dipping into the cleft of my ass and I sighed as I felt him pressing against my hole, tracing my sphincter. He was hesitating again. I had to love him for it, not wanting to do anything that would hurt me. I once again thought of the situation with his mother, and wondered what would hurt him more; to tell him about it, or to remain silent.
I shook the thought away, now wasn't the time for it, so I lifted my hips again and pressed back against him, letting him know that I wanted it. I released a small grunt as his finger slipped into me, he did it fast and even with the lube it surprised me. I could feel my body clenching around his digit as I tried to relax.
Aiden released my cock and let my hips sink down onto the bed. His hand moved to my back, rubbing gently while he waited for me to get used to feeling his finger in me, moving around. It didn't take long, and when he purposely pressed against my prostate I realized that if his hand hadn't been on my back I would have come right up off the bed.
When I felt a second finger against my entrance, stretching my sphincter, I pressed back against him as he pushed in. I turned my head when I felt his mouth against my cheek and I pressed my tongue against his lips urgently, groaning as he opened and I thrust my tongue in, just as his fingers pressed against my prostate.
I deepened the kiss, straining to push back against him as I reached for the condom, feeling impatient as my cock throbbed every time it brushed against the mattress. Aiden's hand came over mine and I whimpered against his mouth as his fingers withdrew from my hole, and I felt him moving behind me as he kissed me harder, before I felt his hands on my hips and his cock pressing against my entrance. I pulled away from his mouth and took in a deep breath before pressing back against his cock, the same time that he pushed forward, but I winced and my body tensed up anyways.
He hadn't loosened me up as much as before, and while there was lube, it didn't help that I was face down this time and having difficulty relaxing, so I took a few deep breaths and felt ready for it when he tried again. This time I remained calm and let Aiden guide the head of his cock into me, and I lifted my chest slightly, letting his arm wrap around me as he kissed my face. He waited until I pushed back against him before he began to thrust in slowly.
I closed my eyes, sighing as he began to brush against my prostate with longer strokes and I let that comfortable, tight feeling take over. I lifted myself, slightly off the bed and pressed my back into his chest, letting him wrap his other arm around me.
I just wanted him as close to me as possible, and as his hand slid down and cupped my balls I decided that I would never go all day without so much as touching him again. Unless it involved what he referred to as make up sex, I happened to like the idea of that.
Aiden's breathing became labored against my ear as he nipped at my lobe and I pressed back harder against him, my body clenching around him as he angled his body, aiming for my prostate while keeping his thrusts slow and agonizing. I moaned against the pillow, lifting my hips, backing into him as I moved my hand to my cock, needing to touch it, but Aiden grabbed my hand and pulled it back up to my chest, crossing his arms over mine and he held me tightly against him.
"Aiden..." I started to protest, aching to touch my erection, but as his thrusts suddenly became harder I buried my face in the pillow and groaned, my body arching as he continued to hit my prostate, sending jolts shooting though my balls, up to my erection and I lifted my knees, gaining more balance as I shamelessly bucked back against him until I lowered my head, biting down on the pillow as I came, that same intense feeling shooting through me, even without having touched myself. Aiden continued to thrust forward as my body clamped around him in spasms, and I fell forward as he arched his back and spent himself into the condom before collapsing over me.
I groaned to myself, feeling properly sated and completely content as he softened inside of me. When he finally did pull out I resisted the urge to push back against him again, not quite ready for it. But instead I used the soiled blanket to wipe myself off and when I turned to face Aiden I leaned forward to kiss him as he pushed a strand of hair from my forehead, smiling.
"You're still not leaving, right?" I asked him, a little worriedly when I pulled back.
Aiden laughed at me, bringing a smile to my face as he moved an arm around me and pulled me down as he lay back, so that we were closely facing each other. I snuggled up to him, resting my head against his shoulder.
I'd noticed that while usually I liked to sleep with his back against my chest and my arm around him, after we had sex, I wanted his arms around me. Maybe it was leftover insecurities about feeling like I was giving up my body to him, but whatever it was, Aiden seemed to understand because the way he tightened his arms around me made me feel like he wouldn't be letting go until I was good and ready for him to.
It was already late, but as I closed my eyes I had a feeling that I'd sleep a lot better tonight than I had the last two. And I was right.
Chris winked at me from where he was pouring his coffee across the kitchen as I passed the butter over to Aiden. Chris had noticed that the smile was back on my face when he came in and saw that Aiden was there for breakfast, and apparently we weren't fighting anymore.
I knew that Chris went down yesterday to have his talk with Karen while Aiden was still at work, but I had no idea what was said. Still, I couldn't help wondering if that talk had something to do with Aiden being here this morning. I doubted it.
Either way, though, I was glad to be waking up with Aiden again. Maybe Karen Knightly thought I was too young...that we were too young to know anything about love, but I knew enough to know that after seventeen years of being perfectly happy with a bed to myself, I'd finally found a reason to share it, and now I hated waking up alone.
The last two days had been difficult, agonizing over the situation with Aiden's mom. But, this morning I was happy again, so I pushed all of the more depressing thoughts aside and decided that absolutely nothing, could ruin my day today.
"You guys leaving soon?" Chris asked, glancing at his watch.
We both nodded affirmatively because our mouths were full, and I think we both started eating a little faster, knowing that we had to get to school soon.
"I'm working again tonight." Aiden suddenly told me, "you wanna go somewhere for lunch?"
"Yeah." I smiled, knowing that he wanted to spend more time together as much as I did. I wondered if I should make a third trip to that dinner, this time having the right company with me.
We all looked up as Jake suddenly appeared in the kitchen, looking tired with a pair of sweat pants hanging on his hips. He'd been spending the night a lot lately, and often ended up over in the mornings, after Tony already left for school. But, as Jake smiled at Chris, I wondered if he actually knew that Tony had already left. I made a mental note to pull him aside one day to try and teach him to tell my brothers apart. Chris saw the look Jake was giving him and took a startled step back.
"Tony left already." Chris blurted, throwing Aiden and I into a fit of giggles and sending Jake blushing. Chris however, regained his composure and poured Jake a cup of coffee, handing it over with a smile.
"Thanks." Jake muttered, and then headed over to the table where he sat down across from us and gave me a pointed look.
"What?" I smirked, "ready to put me back to work?"
"If you want." Jake shrugged, "I've got plenty of it. Are you ready?"
"Mm-mm." Aiden mumbled around a mouthful of pancakes and I looked at him to find him glaring at me, "I work tonight and then I'm off for the rest of the week, take the time while you've got it." I knew what that meant. That meant Aiden planned on spending a lot more time with me and I smiled at him before turning back to Jake, who just laughed at the look on my face.
"Take it easy, kido." Jake smirked, "just let me know when you want to work."
"Sure." He smiled, "but I do need to ask you about something."
"What?" I asked, unsure about the look he was giving me.
"I got a strange phone call last night." he explained, "someone asking for you." I was confused at first, and I'm sure it showed. I also wasn't the only one who seemed confused, because Chris walked over to the table to listen and Aiden was watching me expectantly. "I tried to bring you my cell," Jake explained, "but there were...uh...noises coming from your room." My eyes went wide and Chris had the nerve to laugh at me while my boyfriend blushed furiously. Jake looked amused, but he didn't let the awkward moment drag on for long as he leaned forward and looked at me seriously, "anyways, I told the guy you were busy, Owen. He didn't leave a message, but it didn't take very long for me to figure out who it was after he called me an asshole and hung up...is there any reason why Dennis Gordon would be calling my cell phone, looking for you?"
"What?" Aiden actually sounded outraged and my face went pale.
I had almost forgotten about lunch with Dennis and giving him my phone number. But I'd written the number on the back of one of Jake's cards. The dumb ass must have dialed the wrong number, but I didn't spend too much time dwelling on Dennis's mistake. I immediately wondered why he called. I knew him well enough that he'd never call me unless he was desperate, and the worry must have shown on my face.
"What's going on, Owen?" Chris frowned at me as I abruptly stood up.
"Sorry about that, Jake." I said, "look, I've gotta go."
"What's going on?" Aiden frowned at me.
"I sort of had a talk with Dennis." I admitted, "look, can I explain later, Chris?"
"Owen." Chris frowned.
"Everything's fine." I insisted, "I mean, I think it is, but I have to go."
"Is Dennis in trouble?" Jake asked me.
I looked at him, frowning.
"I don't know." I admitted.
"I don't want you involved in this." Chris said flatly, and held up his hand when I started to object, "but, you're going to take my phone to school, find Dennis, and then you call and tell me what's going on, got it?"
"Yeah" I nodded, "thanks Chris."
"You stay away from the Gordon house, though." Chris stated as he handed over his cell phone, "and if anyone gives you any sort of trouble..."
"I'll call." I promised, before I turned to look at Aiden apologetically. He was already standing up, right behind me. I knew he wanted an explanation, but I figured I could explain things to him on the way to school. And he didn't seem angry, not the way I would have been if it were Aiden talking to Dennis Gordon. He even held my hand on the way to the door.
"When did you talk to Dennis?" he asked quietly as we stepped outside and I turned to look at him.
"Yesterday, at lunch." I admitted, "it wasn't planned, he just showed up...I sort of have some things in common with him, you know?"
Aiden didn't look like he liked that last statement, but he nodded.
"Hey," I smiled reassuringly, stepping closer to him, "I just gave him my number in case he needed help, you know, getting out of his house...it really is bad there, Aiden."
"So you're worried about him?"
"Maybe." I admitted, "I don't want to be, but I don't think he would have called unless..."
Aiden suddenly leaned forward and kissed me. I let out a breath and closed my eyes, sinking into him and slightly parting my lips as I kissed him back. He moved his arms around me and pulled back, just enough to look at me.
"I love you, you know." he smiled.
I smiled back at him and opened my mouth to tell him just how much I felt the same way, but a familiar, unwelcome voice interrupted us.
I looked down the stairs to see Karen Knightly frowning up at us. I hated that my instinct was to pull away from her son. But, Aiden didn't budge, if anything he held me tighter as he smiled down at his mom. I decided to relax, as much as possible under the circumstances, and I leaned into him as he called down to Karen.
"Did you spend the night over there?" she called up. I wondered if Aiden saw the glare that she cut me.
"Yeah." He shrugged casually, "why, did you need something, mom?"
I saw Karen straighten and I frowned at the fake smile that appeared over her face.
"No," she insisted, "just wondering where you were. Are you ready to go to school? I have the car warmed up."
"Thanks mom," Aiden replied as he took my hand and led me down the stairs, "but I'm gonna ride with Owe today."
He stopped to kiss her cheek at the bottom of the stairs and I cringed at the look she gave me. I guess Chris's talk with her didn't do much good after all. But, I refused to back away; in fact, I tightened my grip on Aiden's hand and glared back at her defensively.
"Alright." Karen replied, with another forced smile as Aiden looked at her again. "Just check in after school."
"I will." He agreed, before we headed towards my truck.
Aiden tried to let go of my hand as we moved out, into the parking lot, but I refused to let go and he smiled at me. I guess, maybe I really didn't have anything to worry about, as far as Aiden was concerned. Maybe he didn't see what his mom was doing, but maybe that didn't matter. He was with me, and I was sure that he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. That was a relieving thought. But, as we got in my truck, my thoughts turned to more troubling facts...like, Dennis Gordon had called me, and I was terrified to find out why.
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