If you are offended by male/male relationships, or male/male sexual relationships, then you shouldn't be here in the first place. If this conduct is illegal in your area, you must EXIT NOW. This story is not to be copied or posted elsewhere without permission from the author. If you are interested in a story about gay teenage males, then please take your time and enjoy. Feedback/comments/suggestions and even complaints are welcome at DomLuka@aol.com

Chapter Twelve

"What are you doing here?" I asked my mother. I admit, it probably wasn't the best way to start this conversation off, but quite frankly, I was a little more than shocked to find her home.

"You're not the one asking questions here, Quinn."

"Quinn!" I glanced up as my sister came running down the stairs, probably to give me a late warning.

"Bree, upstairs!" my mom cut her off before she even started. But, it was the tone she used that shocked me. It was surprising enough when my mom had snapped at me, but I never would have thought that she'd snap at Bree like that too.

"It's not her fault mom," I said immediately, sibling loyalties kicking in.

"So it's your fault she lied to me for you?" my mother demanded.

"Quinn didn't ask me to do it...." Bree started.

"Upstairs Bree." my mom ordered.

Bree managed to give me an apologetic look before she retreated back up the stairs and towards her room. I had been expecting some sort of confrontation when I got home, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Dealing with my sister was one thing, dealing with my mother was quite another.

"Where were you?" she demanded in a controlled but angry voice.

This was tricky. I had no idea what Bree had told my mother. Personally, I would have just told her the truth, or at least something close to it. But, if I said the wrong thing now, I could get my sister in trouble too, and that wasn't what I needed, especially if I wanted to get back on Bree's good side.

"I was... where did Bree say I was?" Stupid, I know, but it was worth a shot.

"Quinn," mom warned. "I want to hear it from you. Right now. Where were you?"

"I was with a friend." I sighed.

"I know you weren't with Brad because he dropped Bree off, so does this other friend have a name?"


"Jude what?"

"Jude Landon." I explained, "mom, we were just over at his place...."

"Who is this boy? Where did you meet him, at school?"

"Yeah." that wasn't a complete lie.

My mom started to pace without actually taking her eyes off of me and I hung back by the door, unsure of what to do in this situation. Maybe I wasn't supposed to do anything. Maybe I was supposed to wait for her to tell me what to do.

"Are those Jude Landon's clothes you're wearing?" my mother wanted to know as she gave me a disapproving once-over. I frowned, realizing that I had forgotten something over at Jude's after all... like my own wardrobe.

"Yes, they are."

"Why are you wearing another boy's clothes, Quinn?"

I let out a breath. I should have known that question would come up, and there was really only one reasonable way to answer it.

"Because I slept there last night, and I didn't bring anything to change into."

My mom abruptly stopped pacing and stared at me for a long moment with a look on her face that seemed... cold, and furious, and it terrified me. Just when I started to prepare myself for the screaming that was bound to happen, my mom turned and shouted up the stairs instead.


I cringed. I hadn't wanted to get my sister in trouble, but without knowing what Bree had already told my mother, I didn't really have many options other than telling her what I could of the truth. When Bree came back downstairs she had a knowing look on her face, one that suggested she had expected this to happen, so I at least felt a little less guilty. I know that I never asked my sister to try to cover for me, but the fact that she tried to anyway, only made me want to protect her more.

"Mom, Bree didn't do anything wrong," I insisted, "I'm the one..."

"Quiet, Quinn. Bree, where was Quinn last night?" my mom asked my sister, and I realized my mistake. My mother had no idea that anything was amiss last night until I told her that I'd slept somewhere else. Obviously, the reason why she'd been upset before now, was because of something that had happened today. But, it was too late to take back my words now, so I looked at Bree, hoping that she realized it would be best to just tell the truth.

"He was with Brad," Bree replied, obviously sticking with the story she'd given my mom before, and I frowned, right before I did my best to pull my sister away from the mess that she was about to step in.

"Bree didn't know I was out last night." I said quickly. "I snuck out after she went to bed... I'm sorry."

Bree looked at me, obviously surprised, while my mother continued to stare her down.

"You didn't know he went out last night?" she asked Bree suspiciously.

Bree fell silent for a few minutes, obviously trying to decide whether or not she should let me take all of the blame for this. I could tell it was hard for her, but the way Bree was struggling with what to do was just another reminder to me that even when Bree and I were at odds with each other, as rare as it was, we were still on the same team, especially if one of us was in trouble. But, I let out a sigh of relief when she finally shook her head and answered my mother.

"No." Bree reluctantly replied.

"Mom," I said in what was a remorseful but strong tone, "this wasn't Bree's fault. Can we please leave her out of this, we can talk..."

"Quinn, your sister got herself into this when she lied about where you would be tonight." my mom angrily cut me off.

I frowned at the interruption and finally moved into the house. I had no idea what to do or say at this point. I'd never seem my mother this upset with either me or my sister, and now she seemed pissed off at both of us. Add to that the fact that she looked tired and irritable, and I was terrified of her at the moment.

The notion of being afraid of my own mother would have been laughable to me, if it weren't true. My mother wasn't exactly one of those intimidating women, but I actually felt fear towards her now. It wasn't the type of fear where I thought she would turn on me and become violent. I would never, ever fear my mother like that. But, it was fear from seeing how angry she was, how disappointed she appeared, when she looked at me.

I didn't know what she expected me to do, so I took a seat on the sofa, and I wasn't at all surprised when Bree joined me, looking quite on edge herself, and together we watched my mother pace some more.

"You were not to leave this house without telling me where you were going, Quinn." mom stated.

"I know, I'm sorry."

"And are you sorry for ignoring the second thing I told you to do, too?" she demanded.

I knew what my mom was talking about, but this time I had no intention of apologizing.

"I couldn't do that." I said immediately.

"You couldn't do it? Quinn, all you had to do was go to the school and talk to him! Now you're still suspended, and since you're not going to be in school until Tuesday I had to take time off work that we were supposed to use for our vacation this year just so I can keep an eye on you!"

"You know you didn't have to do that!" I argued, not liking the sound of this.

"Do I?" she demanded. "Just like I knew I could trust you to do as I asked in the first place?" I guess I couldn't really argue that, although, it wouldn't have been for lack of trying if she hadn't cut me off when I opened my mouth to respond. "You're grounded, Quinn. Don't even try to argue with me. The only way you're leaving this house unless you're with me between now and when I drive you to school on Tuesday morning will be if it burns down! Bree, you're grounded through the weekend, longer if I find out you've lied about anything else. I'm disappointed in both of you. Now, Brianna, go to bed so I can finish talking to your brother."

"But mom..." Bree tried.

"Bree, now."

Bree openly frowned at being sent to bed, but headed to her room for the second time since I'd been home, leaving me alone with my mother, who was now staring me down in a way that caused me to lower my head and keep my mouth shut, and only when that happened did she take a seat to the left of the sofa, facing me.

"Quinn," she said in a much calmer, quieter voice, "we have a very big problem here, and I'm not sure how to fix it... I trusted you to do as I said, and when I got that phone call from Mr. Johns today, you have no idea how much it hurt to learn that my own child couldn't do one thing that I asked of him."

Great. I almost preferred her angry, scary tactics, to the guilt that she was trying to lay on me now.

"Mom, I wasn't trying to hurt you, or Bree, but you wouldn't listen to me when I said I couldn't go talk to Mr. Johns!"

"Why not? Quinn, he's your counselor! He just wants to help. Would it be that hard to sit down and talk to him? It would probably make you feel better. I know you're struggling... and it might seem a little strange to you, the idea of talking to an older man about troubles you're having with a girl, but I'm sure he has experience with these things."

"Trouble I'm having with girls?" well, at least it seemed that Mr. Johns had kept my real secret.

"You don't have to play dumb with me, Quinn. I was young once. I know you're upset about Marissa, and I'm sorry you chose to break up with her, but if I remember correctly, that was your choice. You made that mistake, but just because you're not dating someone and she is, is no reason for you to act out by seeing another girl who has obviously been a less than positive influence on you."

"What?" I demanded.

"I called Marissa." my mother admitted. "She told me some of what's been going on between you two."

"You what? Mom! You had no right to call my ex-girlfriend for anything!"

"I have every right to know what's going on with my son." she retorted. "I'm disappointed, Quinn. You weren't raised to treat people the way that you're treating Marissa."

"What are you talking about?" maybe I had been a little hard on Marissa lately, but the way my mother said it would make you think I'd taken a sizeable shit in my ex's sandbox.

"I know you're upset that she's seeing someone else, Quinn, but dating the girl who said such nasty things about Marissa isn't going to solve your problem."

"Oh god," I groaned, "mom, I'm not seeing anyone else."

"Quinn, are you doing drugs with this girl?"

"No! And there is no girl!" I shouted, exasperated. "Trina came by the other day and we talked, that's it. I am not dating her!"

"Then it shouldn't be a problem if I say that I don't want you seeing her anymore."

"What? You can't tell me who to be friends with!" I said defiantly. I wasn't defending a friendship with Trina, because honestly, I didn't know if I even had one with her. It was more the principle of the thing. Maybe this was my mom talking, but she had no right to pick and choose my friends for me.

"I won't have her in this house. And you are not to see her anymore. Or this Jude character."

I froze. Jude? I'll admit, I was confused myself when it came to Jude Landon, how I felt about him... how I wanted to feel about him... but if I knew anything, it was that there was no way I could stay away from him. He was the one who understood me. He was the only one who I felt comfortable discussing my issues with. And, he was the one who I'd had warmly against my chest less than an hour ago as my feelings tried to convince my mind that having him there felt more natural than trying to convince myself otherwise.

"You can't do that! You don't even know him!"

"I know that whoever he is and whoever his parents are had my son sleeping over at their house last night-on a school night-without trying to contact me first. Honestly, Quinn, do you really want to spend your time with people who are going to get you into trouble? You don't need to be around them. Now, give me your car keys, you won't be using them for a while."

I stared at my mother as she held out her hand to make her point, and after a good five minutes of hesitation and being stared down, I handed over my car keys, frowning.

"And your phone." she ordered.

"Why do you need my phone?"

"You're grounded. You won't be needing that, either. Come on, where is it?"

I wasn't exactly happy about handing over my cell phone, but I couldn't even think straight as it was, feeling shocked at what was happening to me. I handed it over, finding it pointless to argue at this point. I felt numb again, but panicked, having what little control I seemed to have left being taken away from me.

"Good," my mom nodded, "you might be getting the phone back on Tuesday, but until you straighten your act out, I've made other arrangements for your transportation. On Tuesday I'll be driving you to school. After that, you'll be riding with Brad. I've already spoken to his mother. Other than school, you won't be needing to go anywhere, but if something comes up we'll make arrangements."

"What about my job?" I asked, wondering if my mother was aware that I didn't exactly have one anymore.

"Write up your work schedule for me and we'll see," she replied as she stood and I followed. "But, you'll have to adjust your schedule anyway, as soon as we work out a schedule with Mr. Johns."


She held up her finger as a warning to cut off further argument.

"It's nonnegotiable, Quinn. Now go to bed. We're getting up early tomorrow. There's an errand we need to run."

She leaned forward, as if she expected me to kiss her cheek like I always did, but I ignored it completely and silently walked past her, not even bothering to ask what kind of errand we were supposed to run in the morning. It seemed to be a good way of letting her know how I felt about this, seeing how my mind was running in too many circles to argue properly.

My stomach convulsed in knots as I made my way upstairs, my earlier nausea and headache returning with a vengeance. But, I felt like my mind was shutting down, into a numb darkness where I didn't have to face my troubles, or my fear of what would happen on Tuesday when my mom took me to see Mr. Johns. But, the numbness faded and I was suddenly overtaken by an onslaught of new emotions as I entered my room, moved up the stairs and looked around, expecting everything to be in it's place, just as I always did. Only this time, everything was most definitely not in it's place.

The first thing I noticed was that the fish food was on top of my fish tank and not to the left of it, where I kept the container. Perhaps this didn't seem like a big deal. Maybe Bree had come in to feed my fish since I had been gone since yesterday. But, it wasn't very likely. My sister just wasn't that responsible. But there was more. It was probably strange, that I noticed the fish food first, because there were much larger things amiss in my room.

As I looked around I saw that the pillow on my bed wasn't resting against the headboard, under the comforter, but rather further down on the bed, and that the top drawer to my dresser wasn't perfectly closed. My closet was also cracked open. These were all subtle things. The more noticeable things were the fact that my computer was completely missing from my desk, as was my phone.

My room had always been my sanctuary, and standing there, seeing that someone had walked in here, where they had no business being, moving my stuff around, taking things that belonged to me... I felt violated. Betrayed. And definitely more than a little panicked as I felt a tightening in my chest that seemed to crawl up my throat, cutting off my ability to take in oxygen properly.

After running to my desk I almost blacked out from pure fear as I opened my bottom drawer and discovered school books in it instead of my journal. My hands were shaking as I frantically began to remove the books from the drawer, tossing the books aside, not caring where they landed as I did so. When the heavier books were gone and I was staring down at my charred journal instead of an empty drawer, I looked at it for a full minute just to convince myself it was real before I lifted it up to find that it was in fact there. My most personal possession was safe in my hands.

But I had to be sure. I flipped through the pages until the one surviving photograph fell onto my lap, and as I looked at the image of Jude and me, I immediately missed him, wishing I'd stayed with him, where things were safe, as I simultaneously cursed myself for not letting the damned book burn in the first place. But, at least it was safe. If anyone had looked through it, the picture would have been discovered, and I was certain that if that had happened, the journal would be missing from my room entirely. I didn't take much time to think about it, though, and as soon as the panic faded, I was ready to feel those other emotions that had hit me.

I was angry. Actually, angry was an understatement. Infuriated, outraged, pissed off.... that covered it better. I'd never been all that good at the whole teenage rebellion thing. I'd never had a reason to rebel. Getting drunk the night before had been the closest I'd ever come to it. But, that didn't really even count because when I went to Trina's I wasn't exactly doing it to rebel. Either way, I was ready to rebel when I shoved my journal under my pillow, the drawer suddenly feeling tainted and unsafe. But, while I was on my bed, putting the journal away, I noticed that the entire bed seemed somewhat crooked. It was probably only off by a quarter of an inch, not even noticeable, really, unless you're me. I noticed the small things like that, especially if they were in my territory. And noticing the bed, prompted me to reach back behind my headboard. I felt my magazine there, only, when I lifted it out, I discovered that it wasn't my magazine at all, but some sports magazine with a bunch of soccer players on the cover.

I had to chuckle at the irony. Obviously my mother had gone through my room, by the grace of God missed my journal, and decided that she'd subtly replace my magazine with more suitable reading material for her teenage boy. I wondered what she'd do if she realized that I could do more with the magazine she left than the one she'd taken in the first place. I'd always thought that soccer players had great asses, not that I would have been willing to admit that to myself until recently. But, despite my amusement, I was still thoroughly pissed off over the violation of my personal space.

"You were in my room?" I practically screamed before I even got down the stairs. There was an edge to my voice that I didn't quite recognized.

"Quinn..." my mom started, as soon as she walked out of the kitchen.

"You were in my room!" I accused her.

"Well excuse me," she said defensively, "I didn't realize that I had to have permission to go anywhere in my own home."

That was a stupid thing for her to say, especially having teenagers under her roof, and she knew it.

"You. Were. In. My. Room." I glared at her relentlessly.

"I took your phone, and your computer. You can use the computer for school work. But until..."

"You went through my stuff!" why wasn't she seeing the problem here?

"Lower you're voice, Quinn."

"You were in my room, mom! You went through my things! You had no right..."

"Quinn, I went in, I took the computer and the phone, and I did a little cleaning."

"Cleaning? Since when have you ever had to clean up after me? You were snooping! What the hell were you looking for, anyway? Drugs? I told you, I don't use them!"

"I was looking for answers, Quinn." she replied rather calmly.

"And what answers did you find? Oh, wait, I know, you found out what I look at while I'm jacking off. What did you think of those pictures, mom?"

"Quinn Moore!" she shouted, obviously outraged. "Are you having sex with that girl?"

After a moment of digesting that last remark, I decided to resist the urge to defend myself against it.

"Don't turn this around on me! You had no right to go through my room!"

"If you don't watch your tone with me, you won't have a room!" she retorted.

"Fine, you don't want me here? Give me back my keys!" I demanded, and we both paused. We were both angry, and deep down I knew that she wasn't going to kick me out right now, just like she knew that I was too afraid to really leave.

"You're not going anywhere, expect for to your room! You're grounded."

"You already grounded me," I remarked.

"Then you're grounded for another week, now go to your room!"

"Fine, at least there I don't have to deal with you!"

"Quinn!" she called after me as I turned and headed back up the stairs. "Quinn! Stop! You'll apologize to me right now!"

I was far to angry to care about the consequences as I ignored the irate woman chasing after me. I passed Bree outside of her room and she seemed startled, and a little wide eyed as I brushed by her, not bothering to stop. I slammed my door when I reached my room and locked it before anyone could do anything about it. It was only a few seconds later that my mother was pounding on the door.

"Quinn! Open this door!"

I just frowned at the loud noises coming from outside of my bedroom, and headed up the stairs, calling out, "Let me know when the house is burning down," on my way to bed.


I'd never actually been grounded before. I never would have imagined how boring it was. But for me, it was also pure hell as I worried about what was going to happen next, unable to escape the conflicts in my own mind.

I didn't sleep that first night. I was in mental agony fighting against my instincts when the urge to go apologize to my mom hit me around midnight. I was still furious with her, and hurt that she would go through my room as if I were some sort of delinquent that couldn't be trusted. But, I hated feeling so disconnected from my family. I hated knowing that my mom was disappointed in me. I just hated it that we were fighting. It was probably the worst feeling in the world for me, knowing that everyone under our roof was miserable, and it was all my fault. I felt like that for most of the weekend.

After that first sleepless night in my room, fearing that my family would never be the same again, I was actually looking forward to talking to my mom in the morning. Maybe I was angry, but I still wanted to apologize. Maybe if I apologized I could tell her how much it hurt that she was in my room like that, and maybe she'd be more open to hearing about how unreasonable she was being.

However, as soon as I learned that the errand my mother had in mind on Friday morning involved driving me down to the hospital so I could piss in a cup, all thoughts of apologizing left my mind and I decided that she was the one who needed to apologize. When she didn't, even after the drug test came out clean, I stopped talking to my mother. It was probably better to stay away from her, anyways, rather than risk saying something that I'd regret later. As soon as I got home I locked myself in my room, refusing to come out, even when my mother wanted to have meals together. I didn't eat anything until that night when Bree brought my dinner up to my room. I didn't let her in, but she did leave the food outside of my door and called to let me know it was there. She did that a lot over the weekend, while I kept my door locked and slipped back into a habit that I was probably better off without.

I discovered that while my mother had been in my room, she either hadn't noticed or hadn't bothered with what was left of my prescription, and once again those tiny little sleeping pills became my best friend, although, I never did take more than two at a time. I only took enough to stay asleep, especially after that first restless night. When I was sleeping like that, I didn't have to worry, or to think about anything. Not to mention it helped the time pass by faster.

My mom did try to talk to me during this time, and to her credit, she wasn't demanding about it, she was actually nice, reminding me of my mom and not the woman who was so pissed off at me. But, by then I'd already given up on trying to talk, anyways. It's not as if I really had anything to say. I wasn't about to tell her I was gay. That would be... disastrous.

So really, I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what to do. But, the good news about having no control over your own life, is that you don't have to make any decisions. I guess the only plan I had was to try to get through this... and maybe, try to get my phone back.

I wanted to talk to Jude. I wanted him to tell me that it would all be okay now. I probably wouldn't believe him at this point, but for some reason, when he said it, it made me feel better. Too bad Jude wouldn't be making me feel better anytime soon, especially if my mom got her way and I was forced to stay away from him. Oddly enough, the idea of being unable to see Jude anymore was more troublesome than anything else, even being forced to talk to Johns.

At some point on Sunday night, I woke up from a long nap feeling groggy and sweaty, and I risked running into my mother to go take a shower. When I was finished I headed back to my room, ready to go to sleep again, in my sweat pants and Jude's t-shirt, the same one I wore home after the first night I'd slept in his bed.

I could smell food as I headed back towards my room. My first thought was that Bree had dropped off dinner. But, as I reached my door I saw that my sister was still there, sitting against the wall with a plate of lasagna, waiting for me. I didn't say anything. I simply picked up the plate and opened my door, and then held it for Bree, who silently got up and followed me in.

I brought the plate directly to my bed, and noticing that there were two forks, I held one up for my sister as I took a bite with the other. Bree took her seat next to me, and as she took a large bit of her own she looked around my room.

"Mom's making me crazy and it's all your fault." she finally sighed.

"It's not my fault you're grounded too. I didn't ask you to lie for me." I pointed out.

"You didn't have to ask." my sister frowned at me, and I gave her a small smile that I wasn't really feeling. "Besides, we wouldn't have gotten caught if she didn't come home early. She wasn't supposed to be here until tomorrow morning. But, I wasn't talking about being grounded. I can deal with that. I'm talking about you hiding out up here. It's driving mom crazy that you won't leave your room, and since I will, I'm the one who she's complaining to."

"The weekend's over." I shrugged. "You get to go back to school tomorrow."

"Yeah, but it will all still be here when I get home, won't it?"

"Probably." I admitted, and Bree turned to face me better.

"What's happening here, Quinn? You're fighting with everyone, including me, but now it's mom too. I feel like... I'm missing something with you. I feel like something horrible happened and I didn't even see it when maybe I should have... am I making sense?"

"You make sense to me." I replied, leaning back against the wall as I studied my sister. Just being around her like this relieved some of the stress I was feeling. I really did hate being at odds with my family. And Bree... I really hated being at odds with her.

When Jude mentioned that I should consider telling my sister exactly what I'd been dealing with, I wouldn't even entertain the idea. But, he did have a point when he said that it might help to have my sister on my side. I just wished that I wasn't so afraid that she'd react badly if I ever worked up the nerve to tell her I was gay.

"Bree?" I said after a moment, "what if I told you that you're right? You're missing something, but I can't tell you what it is."

"I'd say... I wish that you made as much sense to me as I do to you." she remarked. "Quinn, since when can't you tell me anything?" I could hear in my sister's voice that she was frustrated, but at least she was making an effort to remain calm. "What am I missing? I mean, you can't say something like that and then not answer me."

"Bree..." I frowned.

"Wait, wait. Let's start from the beginning, okay? Can you at least tell me why you're so angry all the time? What are you so pissed off about, and don't start with mom, I know last night she sort of pushed it, but before that... what made you so mad?"

Mad? Angry? I found my sister's choice of words interesting. It wasn't because I didn't think that I'd been angry lately. I'd been downright pissed off lately. But, I suppose the way that I thought other people saw me, and the way that they actually saw me, were completely different. At least, the way that Bree saw my behavior lately was different than I thought it would be.

For the last few weeks, I'd been so depressed that the anger I was feeling had been almost unnoticeable to me. I was a guy who wanted to disappear, who wanted everyone to leave him alone. I was pitiful, not angry. Maybe, since that's the way that I saw myself, that was how I expected other's to see me.

"Angry." I repeated, realizing just how true the word was for me.

"Yeah." Bree insisted, "I mean, what happened. I know there could be a million reasons with Marissa... but why Brad? It's been bothering me Quinn. What made you so mad that you'd actually hit him? What did he do?"

"Nothing." I answered. I didn't exactly want to explain to my sister why the word faggot struck a nerve with me. "It's not Brad, it's not Marissa, it's not you... It's not even mom. I'm mad at me, Bree."

I shook my head to myself, as if I were just realizing this. I'd been angry at a lot of things recently, but none more than...me. I mean, even I could see that I hadn't handled the situation properly. Gay kids hide the fact from their loved ones all the time without drawing half the attention to themselves that I had. I was pissed off that I'd gotten myself into this much trouble. But I also resented myself. I didn't understand why I was the way that I was. I didn't understand why I was gay, and I begrudged the fact. It wasn't something I wanted. I'd never wanted it. But I still... was. I hated it, and it made me angry and frustrated, that I couldn't change it.

"For hitting Brad?" she asked.

"That too." I shrugged.


"Look, Bree... I'm sorry." I sighed. "You're not going to understand... I'm going through some stuff right now, and I can't talk to you about it. I just need... time."

"You're really not making sense now," was her response. "Again I ask you... since when can't you talk to me, Quinn? I know you're probably mad at me, but you know that I'm here for you."

"I'm sorry, this isn't something you can help me with... I need to deal with it on my own."

That was a poor excuse for being too afraid to tell her the truth, and deep down I knew that. But, it didn't seem that Bree did. My sister stared at me for a long time after I told her that I couldn't talk to her. I'm sure she wanted to argue with me. In fact, it looked like she wanted to argue with me. I was pretty sure that she'd want to start a screaming match, she looked so frustrated. I was grateful when she didn't, though, at least until she silently placed her fork on the plate, stood up, and left. She didn't say a word to me, not even a goodnight. I didn't know what that silence meant, but I did know that it wasn't something I cared for. It made me wonder if the silence was really any better than screaming would have been.


"Welcome back, Quinn." my mother elbowed me when I said nothing to Mr. Johns as he greeted us outside of his office, but he didn't seem to mind as he extended his hand to my mom. "It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Moore.

"Please, call me Brenda." my mom said with the smile that she reserved for people who impressed her, and I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes.

"Well, we've got about a half hour before Quinn needs to be in his first class. Mrs. Moore, I think it would be best if we had a word alone, first. Quinn, do you mind waiting out here for a few minutes? I'd like to speak to your mother."

"Of course he doesn't." she insisted when I said nothing, and Mr. Johns gave me a smile, although, it was a cruel smile. Even if my mother couldn't see that, I could. I immediately began to worry about what he planned to tell her, but as my mother whispered for me to sit down and wait, I realized that there really wasn't anything I could do to stop him from telling her anything. So, resigned to my fate, whatever that was, I took a seat near the office as the knots twisted my stomach to the point of nausea.

I'd been dreading this day since Thursday night. I'd thought the weekend had been rough, even when I was indulging my prescription and ignoring everything. But, it hadn't been as rough as Monday when Bree went back to school and my mother insisted that I come out of my room. She'd started early, just after Bree left. My door was locked, so she couldn't get in, but that didn't stop her from shouting at me through it for the next hour, telling me that she had chores for me to do. I don't think I would have minded the chores, not really. It would be a good way to get my mind off things. But, I had a feeling that my mom would be all over me as soon as I came out, so I avoided leaving my room until noon, no matter how frustrated she sounded on the other side of the door.

I'd been avoiding her all weekend, and when I came out of my room I expected her to lecture me for not listening to her again, so I was surprised when she handed me a list of chores, mostly yard work, nicely asked me to get it done, and then left me alone. That behavior from her had me feeling guilty again. Maybe she really was trying to get along with me. There was still no excuse for her going through my room, but maybe it wouldn't hurt to give her an apology because I'd refused to unlock my door when she asked me to. I could at least give her that, since she hadn't started to lecture me like I thought she would.

Unfortunately, all peaceful thoughts of my mother were temporary, and completely forgotten when I finished my chores. I went straight up to my room, meaning to grab a fresh pair of clothes and then go take a shower. But, as I reached my room, I realized once again... something was off. Way off.

This time it wasn't the fact that she'd been through it. Everything in my room was exactly where I left it. Everything except for my door. Yes, my door. It was missing entirely, and in it's place was a blue curtain, not a very effective privacy tool. I guess she was tired of me hiding in my room, but still, this just wasn't right.

Of course my missing door resulted in another screaming match with my mother. Honestly, I don't remember everything I said. My missing door, the last link I could hope to have of any privacy, was gone. It was just enough to send me over the edge as far as patience with my mom was concerned. We screamed at each other for the better part of an hour in a revolving argument over whether or not she would be returning my door. Poor Bree walked in on the worst of it, and by the time it was over she was in tears, my mom was claiming that I was grounded indefinitely, and I had never felt more broken.

I spent the rest of the day in the backyard on the tire swing, replaying numerous events in my mind, beginning with the day that rumor started with Marissa, and then meeting Jude... even that night at my house, next to the tire swing when Jude kissed me for the second time. It seemed like so many things had gone wrong for me since I met Jude. It would definitely be easy for me to blame it all on him. If I did, it wouldn't be the first time. But it was hard to blame someone for entering your life and messing everything up when they happened to be the one person who you wanted to talk to more than anything. I really did want to talk to Jude. I don't know if it was that forbidden fruit thing or what, but whenever I heard the phone ring, my stomach would knot up, wondering if it was him, and wondering if my mom was telling him to never call here again. In some ways I wished that I'd never left Jude's place on Thursday night. I wanted to be back there where it felt safe. I wanted to bitch and moan to him about all of my problems, all of my frustrations, but at the same time I would have been content being back on that sofa with his sleeping body resting comfortably against me. No, it wouldn't be fair to blame Jude for my problems, considering that lately I saw him as the only relief I had from them. As I sat on the tire swing, I came to the conclusion that my situation was all my fault. Maybe if I had handled my own mental crisis more... rationally... I wouldn't be the cause for my own, and everyone else's misery.

By the time the sun was setting on Monday night I felt so alone, and just about ready to break down and cry like a baby. That was when Bree came out. She didn't say anything. I'd pretty much gathered that she was giving me the silent treatment, but it didn't matter that she wasn't talking to me. The hug she gave me before she went back inside spoke volumes. It also made the thought of going back in to face my reality, somewhat bearable.

Indeed, Monday had been a horrible day. If I still had a door on my room, I likely would have locked it and thrown away the key, anything to block the rest of the world out. Instead, my mother shook me awake Tuesday morning. It was time to go back to school... and see Mr. Johns.

Only now, I wasn't the one in that office with the counselor. It was my mother, and it was pure torture wondering if she was in there right now learning that her only son was some sort of perverted queer who needed to be cured. At least, that's how I could imagine Mr. Johns telling it.

"Where's your mom?" the familiar voice asked, startling me out of my thoughts, and I looked up, seeing Brad's unexpected face as he took a seat next to me. I knew that Brad was going to be chaperoning Bree and I to and from school for a while, but I hadn't expected any more interaction with him than that. Maybe I'd been gone for a while, but I was fairly certain that my reputation among my usual crowd was trashed. To them, I was now the idiot who cheated on Marissa Rixis, and the guy who attached Brad Clair. I doubted I had a seat waiting for me at our table.

"She's in the counselor's office." I answered Brad's question, despite being surprised to see him there. There were things that I wanted to say to him. I really did miss him. I missed his friendship. The last few weeks seemed like an eternity, and especially now, with everything going so wrong at home... I missed Brad. But, I didn't say anything. I'd probably only make things worse if I tried. I seemed to be good at that lately-making things worse.

"Alright," Brad sighed, when I said nothing more. "So, I just wanted to let you know I can meet you and Bree in the parking lot after school. You know where."

"Yeah, okay. Thanks." I responded politely, but I was inwardly frowning. I didn't exactly like to be reminded that I could no longer drive myself where I needed to go.

"Sure." Brad nodded as I watched him out of the corner of my eye. Actual eye contact just seemed too awkward right now. "So, I'll see you at lunch." he'd added that last part abruptly as he stood up to leave. I just nodded to what he said, but when I realized what he meant, I looked up curiously to find that he had paused in the hall and was looking back at me.


"Yeah, I'll save a place for you." he shrugged, right before he walked away.

Instinctively, I wanted to feel relief. Brad's small invitation was almost like being welcomed back into the fold that was supposed to be my life. Logically, however, I couldn't feel anything other than being nervous over the idea of hanging out with people, who more than likely, had issues with me at the moment... people who probably wanted to ask me what the hell my problem was lately. I definitely wasn't looking forward to lunch now. Not that I had been looking forward to it before. Before, I didn't have any type of plan, except for maybe avoiding as many people as possible. It was nice to know that Brad wasn't shunning me, but I was already dealing with enough people, and I was reminded of that when my mother reappeared with Mr. Johns.

It took all the self control I had to remain calm and stay seated. I think I half expected my mom to run out screaming burn the faggot or something along those unreasonable, more dramatic lines. And oddly, I think that part of me even wished that Mr. Johns had told her about me. At least then I would know what was going to happen if my worse fears came to pass, and I could stop worrying about it. But, when I saw her with a smile on her face, I can admit that I was relieved.

I let out a breath and stood as they neared me, growing nervous again as I wondered what was going to happen to me next.

"Quinn, are you ready to come in and have a word with me?" Johns asked with a smile that made me want to throw up.

"I should probably get to class."

My mom frowned at my response and gave me a pointed look that said I better get my act together.

"Don't worry, Quinn." Mr. Johns insisted. "Why don't you come back and have a few words with me, and I'll have you to your first class right on time. I promise."

"Go on, Quinn." mom insisted, patting my shoulder. "I'll be home when you get back from school, we'll discuss a few things then."

"Why? You want to move my bed out to the living room so you can keep a better eye on me?" I remarked. I admit, after my mother took my bedroom door, everything that came out of my mouth when I spoke to her tended to be either smart or hostile. I was learning the whole rebellion thing rather quickly.

"Quinn." she warned, and Mr. Johns gave me a disapproving look. I just rolled my eyes and walked ahead of him to the office, leaving him to say goodbye to my mom.

Despite the defensive body language I was displaying, I was terrified as I took my seat in Johns's office and waited for him to come tell me how wrong I was in general. The office still held the faint smell of cigarettes, but this time, instead of reminding me of Jude and a few of his comforting words, it made me feel like I was choking, and when Johns entered, I felt like the room itself was much too small for the both of us, and it was strangling me. It didn't help at all when he closed the door and I had to take a deep breath, afraid that I would black out from stress.

"You're mother is a lovely woman, Quinn." Mr. Johns said cheerfully as he walked around his desk. "She reminds me of your sister. You know, Brianna came to see me once last year, when she was having trouble with another girl." the fact that Bree had been in to talk to Mr. Johns at some point surprised me, but I didn't comment on it. He fell silent for a few moments, letting the silence drag on as he lifted a file on the desk which I assumed was mine, and he flipped through it before he casually started to speak again.

"Your mother mentioned that you're having some trouble at home. Would you like to tell me about that?"

"No thank you." I declined, but Mr. Johns didn't look as discouraged as I would have liked him to.

"She says you were quite distraught that she'd been in your room." he commented.

This was a sore subject for me, and despite my personal vow to say as little as possible to this man, I found myself reacting, probably falling right into his trap.

"She had no right to go in there."

"I'm sure many kids your age would feel that way. But, I have to say, Quinn, it sounds like what your mother did was innocent for the most part. She's been concerned about you.... She mentioned that she thought you might be doing drugs."

"Yeah, and I passed her stupid piss test." I retorted. "So what excuse does she have for taking my bedroom door down?"

"Well, I'm sure it's not as bad as you think. As soon as we get you back on the right path, I believe your mother will see that you're the well rounded young man that I see you as, and things will return to normal for you."

"Normal?" I repeated skeptically. "Do you mean not gay, Mr. Johns?"

I'm not sure why I was even bringing this up with him. He hadn't brought it up, so really it was probably a mistake to do so. But, I couldn't seem to help myself. This man saw me as something wrong, and naturally I felt the need to defend myself, even if I knew that I was being foolish. Logically I knew that Johns would only have something to say that would end up making me feel worse, but I think part of me still wanted him to take back our last encounter. I wanted to go back and do it all over again, I wanted him to take back everything he said after I made the most important admission of my life to him.

"I see you're still struggling, Quinn," was Mr. Johns's sighed response. "I've told you before, I'm here to help. Would you like to talk about why you think you're gay?"

I sat up a little in my chair, annoyed at the way he said that. I felt sick sitting there, and the room just seemed to get smaller by the second. Think? Why I thought I was gay? I'd been denying the fact that I was to myself for so long that words like think in the same sentence as gay only served to confuse me. It was as if everything I'd gone through, everything that I'd put myself through until I'd finally admitted to myself that it wasn't something that was going to go away, that it wasn't something that I couldn't change, was all for nothing. I'd been free of that burden for about two seconds before everything went wrong. It didn't really help that I still mentally scolded myself for having gay thoughts that were in all actuality, completely natural to me. When someone like Johns told me that what I'd recently come to accept was wrong, or something that I just thought was happening, it struck a nerve, and sadly, it made me doubt myself, as old questions would come back to haunt me. What if it's just a phase? What if you just haven't met the right girl yet? What if there's still time to grow out of it? Because you can't be gay. That's not you. You don't want to be a sick pervert.

I could feel my hands shaking, but they seemed numb. Everything in that moment felt so wrong, and I was getting sick and tired of my physical reactions to emotional blows. Johns was looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to tell him why I thought I was gay. I was waiting for him to... take it back. Yes, I was waiting too, and quite irrationally, I'd decide later. It was the vile working it's way up my throat that snapped me out of whatever void I was about to sink into, and I seemed to choke for a second as I broke out into a cold sweat and prevented myself from puking. When I recovered and looked up again, Mr. Johns still had that expectant look on his face, and I hated him for it.

"There's nothing wrong with me." There. I said it. I wasn't sure that I believed it for a moment, but it sort of had the same calming effect that it had when Jude said it.

"Of course there's not." Mr. Johns replied in that manipulative tone of his as he finally took a seat at his desk. "You're just confused. Why don't you tell me what it is that makes you think this. Obviously something must have happened recently..."

"Why do I think I'm gay?" I demanded, in what sounded like an almost desperate tone, one that had been completely unintentional. "I think I'm gay because I've been having those damned dreams forever! I think I'm gay because I like kissing boys! And given the opportunity, I think I'd like doing more than just kissing with some of them. I think I'm gay because I am gay, Mr. Johns!"

"Many young people experiment at your age," he replied calmly, although the look on his face was one of distaste, "it doesn't mean..."

"And I think I'm gay because I couldn't get it up with my girlfriend." I cut him off, not wanting him to finish whatever he was saying. My mouth was dry and my knee was bouncing through my stress as I wiped the sweat building on my forehead. I don't think I was even paying attention to what I was saying anymore. I was just saying what was there, because I was terrified of listening to anything more that he had to say, and I could hear my voice raising as I continued, until I was practically screaming at him. "Not that we every tried... but I couldn't do it. I didn't even want to. And she was Marissa Rixis! It can't be because I just wasn't attracted to her, everyone's attracted to her! That's why I think I'm gay, Mr Johns! I had no desire to fuck Marissa Rixis. You have to know who she is! You've probably wanted to fuck her too you old freak, so don't tell me that you don't know what I'm talking about!" I suddenly looked up at Mr. Johns, who looked a little shocked at that last remark, and even angry... maybe embarrassed, but in the state of mind I seemed to be trapped in, I couldn't seem to help myself from one last remark. "Who's the sick pervert now?"


I groaned inwardly as I dropped my head on the desk of the almost empty classroom. There were only two others there besides me, serving a lunch hour detention.

For someone who never got into much trouble before, I was sure doing a fine job of it. Hell, maybe I was just making up for lost time, I don't know. All I knew was that there would be more screaming when I got home, especially when Mr. Johns placed a call to my mother. Who would have thought that he wouldn't like being accused of having sexual fantasies about a student?

Actually... I think Johns would have let me get away with my outburst. It just didn't help that the principal was passing by just at the end of it and heard enough to land me in detention. I suppose I should just consider myself lucky that I wasn't suspended again. But instead, I felt nothing.

I had calmed down quite a bit since my encounter with Johns, both mentally and physically. Now, I felt calm. Tired, but calm. Maybe too calm. It was almost as if I didn't care anymore. I was getting used to this trouble and punishment thing. I also felt that there wasn't much else that could go wrong, and if it did, it didn't matter because I just didn't care anymore. At least, that's what I told myself. I'm sure I'd care later, but for now, I had other things on my mind, besides what would happen when my mom discovered how my visit this morning with Johns had went.

Over the last few hours, I'd gone to my classes, I'd walked through the halls... it was just like any other school day. Except, it wasn't. In a way, it was just like the last few weeks. People looked at me a little differently, because I had changed. I'd become unpredictable to them. Only now, they were whispering, they were talking, and during second period someone had worked up the guts to ask me a few blunt questions, and I figured out exactly what they were talking and whispering about.

I think I'd known that a few people would be curious to know why Trina Ashpock was seen at my house, but I'd never expected the rumor that had apparently spread like wild fire. Apparently, I was now dating Trina Ashpock. I'd also cheated on Marissa with her and when I got sick of both of them I went on a date with Elise. Whatever. I'm not sure why the rumor would bother me, anyways. According to the rumor mill, Marissa had been dating Trina a few weeks ago. I guess Trina was just getting lucky all over the place. Although, I'm sure she wasn't seeing it that way. There was nothing I could do about it, though, except ignore the looks I was getting when I was released from detention twenty minutes before lunch was over. They let us go early, giving us just enough time to eat.

I wasn't hungry. But, that didn't stop me from going to the cafeteria. I probably should have just avoided the whole scene, but I was sort of running on autopilot at this point. I got my soda. I got my cheeseburger. I even grabbed a bag of chips. And then I stopped and looked around. Brad said he'd be saving me a spot, so naturally my eyes went to the table I always sat at. There he was, with all our friends, including Marissa.

I couldn't go over there.

It didn't feel like I belonged there anymore. Besides, I didn't want to go there anyways. I'd have to explain why I hadn't shown up an hour ago to Brad, and explaining that I was in detention just didn't seem like a good idea, all things considered. But, when he suddenly looked in my direction and caught my eyes before waving me over, I found myself moving towards the table, despite all of the stares that the other occupants were giving me.

My attention was swayed elsewhere however, as I passed another table. I almost didn't notice Trina and Taylor sitting there. Trina looked a little uncomfortable and annoyed when I glanced in their direction, and I realized that it was because there were other people looking, probably wondering if I was going to sit with my new `girlfriend.' But, it was Taylor who got my attention.

There were plenty of empty seats around the duo, but Taylor subtly moved the bag from the seat next to him, clearing it, and he mouthed the words any time to me. There was no sign of mockery on his face. He wasn't trying to get to me. He was sending a message. Maybe I didn't feel like I had a place at my own table anymore, with my friends, and I never would have imagined having a place with Taylor and Trina, even if we all did have something in common... but for once Taylor made a gesture that I didn't ignore. This one meant something.

I didn't accept Taylor's offer, but I did get his message, and it sort of felt good, knowing that I had a place if I wanted it. In fact, I found myself wanting to sit down with both of them just then, if anything just to ask about Jude, where he was, what he was doing... if he'd tried to call me-and to bother the shit out of Marissa. It would serve her right. She was the one who likely started the rumor about Trina and I, anyways. But, even in my current mood I knew how disastrous joining them would be, especially if that got back to my mom, too.

Thank God there were only ten minutes left to eat when I reached Brad. That meant little conversation time. Brad asked me where I'd been, and I mumbled something about telling him later before I ate the food I wasn't at all hungry for. Brad didn't push, either. Actually, he turned the attention away from me by starting up another conversation, and for the next ten minutes the only thing I suffered through were a few looks from people I'd known forever, glaring at me like I was a stranger at their table, and a few curious glances from Marissa, who didn't seem to have her new boyfriend with her today. Brad did pull me aside when the bell rang, though.

"You will tell me where you were, won't you?" he frowned, looking like he expected me to blow him off again.

"Yeah," I sighed. "If you call later... my mom might let me get on the phone if it's you."

He nodded and let me go, and the rest of the day passed by a lot slower than I would have liked it to. It was about twenty minutes before my last class ended that my teacher approached me and told me to pack up my things.

"You need to go to room four-o-eight, Quinn." she said, and I inwardly cringed. I was pretty sure that it was the room number to a counselors office, and the last thing I wanted was another dose of Mr. Johns, but I silently gathered my things and headed towards his office, nonetheless.

When I got there, I lifted my hand to knock on Mr. Johns's door but paused and stared when I saw the room number. Four-o-nine. I shrugged to myself and went down to the next door, thinking that Johns was in another office, but when I knocked, it wasn't Johns who opened the door. This man was younger, thin, with dark hair and a thin beard. I thought I'd seen him around before, but I couldn't remember who he was.

He waved me in silently, holding a phone to his ear, and I regarded him curiously as I entered the office where pictures of a chubby golden retriever seemed to be a common theme. When he spoke, it was to whoever he was talking to on the phone, and when I heard what he was saying I paused as alarm washed over me.

"That's right Mrs. Moore... yes, actually he's here right now. I'd like to talk to him so we can get this mess sorted out.... no, I don't think that's a good idea...." he paused to give me a warm smile and wave me to a seat, but I still regarded him cautiously and remained standing. After all, it was my mother he was talking to. "Yes, I think that can be arranged. Yes.... no.... uh-huh..."

I took a moment to take note of the name on the desk. Richard Myers. Myers. The name sounded familiar, but I still couldn't place it.

"I'll do that. Thank you for listening, Mrs. Moore."

I looked up as he hung up with my mother and then dusted some imaginary perspiration from his brow as he let out a whistle.

"Your mom can be one tough lady." he remarked, and then suddenly extended his hand to me. "Hi, Quinn. I'm Mr. Myers.... you look confused." he said that last part with some humor in his voice, but these days I was finding it difficult to laugh at all.

"Am I in trouble again?" I asked.

"No," he laughed, "actually, I called you down here to see if we couldn't get you out of trouble."


"Your friend Taylor came to talk to me this morning," Mr. Myers explained to me as if I was already supposed to know this. "He mentioned Mr. Johns was giving you a hard time. I would have tried to talk to you and your mom this morning but I had a meeting...I'm sorry things went badly."

Myers. The name had been mentioned before while I was with Trina and Jude. He was the other school counselor, the one who wasn't Johns. And Taylor... Taylor said that he was going to do something to help, but I'd never actually taken him seriously.

"What..." I started, but he cut me off.

"I don't want to keep you too long, school will be out soon and I'm pretty sure your mom is expecting you home. Truth be told, I'm in a bit of a hurry myself today. But, I want to see you tomorrow. Can you stop by on your lunch break?"

"I have detention for the next..."

"Not anymore." Mr. Myers replied. "You've served your full sentence today. So, what do you think, can you be here at eleven-thirty?"

"I guess." I shrugged. I was still confused.

"Good," he nodded as he tore a piece of paper from a binder on his desk. "Go ahead and take this home to your mom," he instructed as he handed it over, and I saw that it was a list of names and numbers.

"What for?" I asked suspiciously.

"It's a list of counselors." he replied, and then laughed out loud at the look of fear that came over my face. "I promise you, they're all good. The name at the top is mine own guy. Your mom wants you to talk to someone. I convinced her that it shouldn't be Mr. Johns, so that list should help.... oh, and when you come in tomorrow I need you to bring your class schedule with you. It seems you've missed a lot of homework lately and we need to make sure you don't fall behind."

"I don't have to talk to Mr. Johns anymore?" Honestly, I stopped hearing everything this man said after that, and I could already feel a weight lifting off my shoulders. But, I refused to get too excited. My luck hadn't exactly been great lately and I was already preparing myself for whatever blow was coming next, but Myers just shook his head.

"You don't have to talk to Mr. Johns anymore. In fact, I'd prefer that you didn't at all. Not everyone gets along with him, Quinn. That's why there are more than one of us here to talk to. Believe me, some of the students here feel the same way about me."

I didn't have to talk to Mr Johns? Who was this guy? Who cares. I liked him already. Although, there were still the obvious concerns.

"Um... Mr. Myers... did Taylor say... did Taylor happen to mention...." God, why couldn't I say it? It wasn't as if I hadn't said it before. But, I suppose that it had something to do with how it turned out the last time I confided in an adult.

Mr. Myers seemed to see my struggle because he came around the desk and placed his hand on my shoulder, maintaining eye contact... the gesture made me more nervous than it put me at ease, and not even his friendly smile was a comfort until he actually started to speak.

"Quinn, Taylor didn't have to tell me why you didn't feel comfortable talking to Mr. Johns. There are only a few reasons why students complain about him and only one reason if Taylor was the one who brought the situation to my attention. And just so you're aware of it, I only expect you to talk to me about it if you feel comfortable with it. But, I do hope that you decide to talk to someone. Any of the names on that list I gave you would be a good choice. Also, if you ever do feel like you need to talk here at school, stop by anytime. I'm not always here, but you're welcome to come in and leave a note on the bulletin board."

He gestured behind him to where there were several notes tacked to the long brown board, all addressed to Mr. Myers. I found myself looking between the board and the man who'd just relieved me of one of the biggest problem's I'd been facing lately, and I said the only thing that seemed appropriate.

"Thank you."



I looked up, across the parking lot at Brad as he waved me over to where he was standing by his car, waiting. I knew he was there, but I was purposely buying my time. There was no sign of Bree yet, and as childish as it might seem, I didn't want to go to the car and face Brad alone. If I went alone, he'd likely start asking questions. I was still digesting the fact that Johns was no longer a problem for me. It was the first good thing that had happened to me all day. So needless to say, I didn't want to face anything that would bring down my... better mood.

So, instead of going over there, I waved to Brad and then turned my back on him and continued to watch for my sister. He let me get away with it for about a minute before he was calling to me again.

"Quinn! Will you come on already?"

"I'm waiting for Bree." I called over my shoulder.

"She's not coming, so let's go."

I finally turned and started walking towards Brad, feeling confused.

"What do you mean, she's not coming?"

"She was here a few minutes ago," Brad explained, "she said she has another ride. She's probably going shopping or something. Let's go."

I sighed and went to get in the car, inwardly cursing my sister for leaving me alone with my best friend. Brad waited for me to buckle up before he even started the car, and as we drove I stared out the window, hoping that the drive home would be a silent one, although, I did know how unlikely that would be.

"You know, you didn't have to blow us off at lunch." Brad said after a few moments. "If you didn't want to hang out with everyone, I would have understood... we could have gone somewhere." I looked over at Brad, surprised, and he smirked at the look on my face. "Come on, Quinn. Maybe I think you're acting like a dumbass, but that doesn't mean that I hate you... I just want to know what's going on. You're supposed to be my best friend. I mean, I still care about Marissa, but I'd blow her and everyone else off if you wanted to do something."

I studied Brad for a long moment as he watched the road. This wasn't exactly the conversation I'd expected to have, but I must admit that it was a pleasant surprise.

"Thanks for saying that," I replied softly, "but... I didn't exactly blow you off. Something else sort of came up and I couldn't get out of it." Not that I actually tried very hard to get out of detention.

"Like what?" Brad asked skeptically. Obviously, he still thought I was just making more excuses to blow him off. I guess I couldn't blame him for not trusting me, though. I hadn't exactly been forthcoming lately.

"I had detention." I admitted.

Brad's head snapped in my direction and he gave me an incredulous look.

"What the hell did you do now?" he practically demanded, although I heard no anger there, only exasperation.

"It's a long story." I sighed. I decided not to be evasive this time. It seemed like Brad really was making an effort, more of an effort than I had made. I could at least talk to him about this. "I ticked off one of the counselors. My mom wouldn't listen to me when I tried to tell her that I couldn't get along with the guy, so today when I was in his office, he got a little too... personal... and I said something to him. If Principal Palmer hadn't heard it, I probably wouldn't have gotten in trouble, but... I don't know. It was stupid. I didn't blow you off, though."

"So, what did you say to him?" Brad asked, when I didn't say anything more.

"I accused him of having impure thoughts about Marissa," I shrugged, rolling my eyes while I was at it. It really did seem like a stupid reason to get in trouble for. But, with my current attitude and the added knowledge that I didn't have to see Johns again, I thought that maybe it was worth it to see his face turn red like that. Who knows, maybe he did think about Marissa... I shook my head at that grotesque thought and forced it away before I ended up with some sort of dreaded mental image.

What sounded like a choke coming from Brad pulled me away from my thoughts and I looked over at him to see that now, my friend's face was turning red. For a moment I was concerned, watching him, but when I saw his shoulders shaking, I realized he was laughing and trying to hold it back. I thought I was missing something and began to look around, wondering if he saw something funny, but I soon realized that it must have been something I said, so I just stared at him as he failed to hold more and more of his laughter. He did calm down once, but as soon as he looked at me, it started all over again.

It didn't take long for my confusion to turn into amusement. I really saw nothing funny about the situation, but Brad's laughter seemed contagious, and before I knew what was happening, I was laughing too. It seemed like it had been forever since the last time I really laughed, and when I started, I couldn't seem to stop. Brad was laughing so hard that he had too pull over, and every time we calmed down, all it would take was looking at each other before we started again. The five minute drive from the school to my house, took twenty minutes that afternoon, and when I got out of Brad's car and he said he'd call me later... I was looking forward to it.


I could smell food coming from downstairs as I remained stretched out on my bed, doing homework. When I'd arrived home, my mom was just running out the door to get a few more things for dinner. She debated taking me with her, but fortunately decided against it when I mentioned having homework. To my surprise, nothing about Johns was mentioned, or Mr. Myers. She only asked me for the list Mr. Myers promised to send so I handed it over, quite frankly, feeling annoyed. She could at least tell me whether or not she was mad at me for getting in trouble again... or maybe even admit that she was wrong for sending me to Johns in the first place. Instead, her abrupt exit after I got home left me feeling frustrated, and more than a little disappointed.

But, I didn't say anything. I didn't want to fight with her. If I could manage to stay on her good side she might let me have my phone back... or at least let me talk to Brad when he called tonight.

It was already past dinner time when I heard some noise coming from downstairs, signaling that my sister was home, but a few minutes later it was my mom who entered my room, and I frowned when I saw her holding the same list I'd brought home and given to her.


I let out a breath as I closed my books and sat up on my bed as she approached it.

"Here, take this." she said, holding out the list, and thoroughly confusing me as I reluctantly took it. "Tomorrow after school I want you to call a few of those numbers. Find someone who... you feel comfortable with... and we'll set up an appointment."

I looked at her in disbelief.

"You want me to do it?" I asked cautiously, wondering if this was some sort of trap.

"Mr. Myers suggested it." She admitted. "But you have to find someone."

"I don't need a shrink, mom." I frowned.

"It's not open for discussion." she said shortly, and then let out a breath. "I'll want to know who you're going to talk to by tomorrow night. I have a short shift at the hospital, but I'll be back before dinner to deal with this... and I want to talk to you some more tonight, too."

"Okay," I shrugged, "about what?"

"Not right now," she said with a small smile, patting my knee, "Bree brought a new boy home for dinner, she's showing him in now."

I rolled my eyes, not caring whether or not my mom saw I was annoyed with this. I hated when Bree brought guys home. This time it was probably Chad Barlow. Oh well, if I had anything to say about it he wouldn't be over for dinner again anytime soon... at least, he wouldn't want to come over again anytime soon. My mother saw the malicious look on my face and actually laughed as she swatted my arm.

"Don't you dare," she warned, but she was smiling. She was well aware of how I felt about my sister dating, and I think it was something that amused her. I actually found myself smiling back... smiling at my mom for the first time in days. At least it seemed I could still do that.

"No promises." I shrugged, and she pinched my cheek.

"Come on down, Quinn. And be nice, I think Bree really likes this boy, she sounded happy when she called."

I watched my mom walk out first, and after pulling some socks onto my bare feet, I didn't see the point in dressing up in anything more than the same clothes I had warn to school for Chad Barlow. After running my fingers through my hair I headed downstairs, wondering if there was any possibility of my mom letting me eat in my room while Bree had her guest over, and that's when I heard my sister's voice.

"Mom, this is Jude Landon."

Comments/questions send to DomLuka@aol.com

Official site: <http://domluka.gayauthors.org/>

Mailing list: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DominicLuka/>