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

The Ordinary Us

Chapter Twenty Two: Taking steps

My mom sure knew how to keep me waiting. Maybe that was punishment for turning off my phone. But, at least I had company. Of course, she wasn't really doing anything to help me get through the waiting process I noticed, as I lifted my head from where it was resting comfortably on my pillow and looked across the room to where Bree was going through my CD collection, turning up her nose at just about everything. I would have asked her to leave, if I wasn't so terrified of being alone at the moment. I was definitely on the verge of a mental breakdown. My mom and Jude had been downstairs alone together going on three hours. I wanted to think of that as a good thing. After all, my mom hadn't come running up the stairs screaming, Jude's gay so Quinn must be too, yet. But, as the time went by I began to worry. Each minute that passed, Jude was likely trying to convince her that he could live on his own just fine, thank you very much. But if it was taking this long, then that just meant that my mom wasn't at all easy to convince. Bree was right. She had way too much free time on her hands, and I hated that she was focusing that time on Jude.

"That's it." I finally snapped, standing up. Bree turned to look at me, seemingly unfazed by my outburst.

"So, you want to go down there?" she asked.

I blinked. Go down there? Why the hell hadn't I thought of that? I released a frustrated growl and passed my sister to head down the stairs. She was on my heels as soon as I left my room.

"Wait, you're actually going down there?" she asked, as if she hadn't expected me to take the suggestion seriously.

"I'm tired of waiting." I complained. "I want to know what they're doing."

"They're probably talking, Quinn. Do you really want to interrupt that?"

"Yes!" How could she even ask me that?

"Fine." she sighed. "But if you're going to go storming down there, I have one small suggestion."

"What?" I frowned, glancing back at her as she followed me downstairs.

"Don't tick mom off. There's a good chance she won't even ground you, so..."

"She already did." I informed my sister.

"Oh... okay, well maybe she didn't mean it." Bree suggested. "Look, I'm just saying..."

"Bree-I get it."

I forced myself to smile back at her. It really did feel like I had my sister back, and the fact that she was worried meant everything to me. I just didn't have time for a pep talk. Okay, I really did have time, I just felt rushed. I wanted to get downstairs so I could see for myself what my mother was up to. If anything, I needed to get the damn nerves in my stomach to settle. Eating that chicken had definitely been a mistake. I had these horrible images in my head, of Jude being cornered by my mother who shot question after question at him. If anything, I wanted to rescue him from that. That was reason enough for me to get my ass downstairs, whether or not my mother liked it. Bree probably sensed my frustration, too, which is likely the reason why she was attempting, in her own way, to calm me down before I got there. What neither of us knew, was that it wasn't me who was going to need a good calming down until we reached the bottom of the stairs and entered the living room, where I saw something that I wasn't expecting.

The first thing that seemed out of place, was the laughter. Jude and my mom were sitting on the sofa, and before I could even see what they were doing, I heard both of them laughing. I was surprised at that, but I didn't exactly see it as a bad thing. But, Bree saw it as a very bad thing a moment later when my mom spoke.

"Oh, look! Here's Bree and her first potty chair."

"Mom!" my sister shrieked. She practically leapt over the sofa to snatch the old album from out of my mother's hands, startling bother her and Jude, who looked back at me almost instantly and smiled. That, was the best sign that I could have asked for, almost enough for me to forget I was worried in the first place and ignore the sudden spat that had erupted between my mom and my sister. Almost. "Are you out of your mind?" Bree demanded.

"Don't be like that, Brianna." my mother chastised. "You were an adorable baby. And don't you remember, you were so proud of yourself the first time you used it, too. Quinn showed you, remember?"

"Mother! Will you shut up!" My poor sister was scandalized.

"You were cute." Jude tried to intervened, obviously sensing oncoming trouble. For my part, I was too busy feeling relieved to take any of this seriously.

"Like you would know." Bree snapped at Jude, and he defensively held up his hands as my sister turned angrily towards my mother. "I can't believe you'd do this!"

"Do what?" Mom, who was definitely clueless, innocently inquired. "I just thought Jude would enjoy seeing some old family pictures. "Oh, and Quinn, look what I found." she said, turning back to face me as she held out a picture in her hand. "I thought maybe you'd like to hold onto this one."

The picture she handed me, was enough to smother my relief and bring me right back to current problems as I hesitantly reached out and took the photograph from her. Oh yeah, I remembered it. It had to have been taken the first year I'd met Marissa Rixis. Brad and I had known each other longer, but as soon as we met her, the three of us had been inseparable. The picture was the image of all three of us in a sandbox together. I was pouting as Marissa dumped a bucket of sand on my head while Brad stood aside pointing and laughing. It used to be one of my favorite pictures. Now, it seemed ominous somehow.

My face fell for only a moment before I caught it, and while my mom didn't seem to notice, and neither did Bree, because she was too busy being outraged, Jude saw it and got up from the couch to walk around and look over my shoulder. He probably only got a glimpse of the picture before I slipped it into my pocket.

"Thanks." I mumbled.

"I can't believe you would show anyone that picture." Bree was still obviously annoyed, and my mother turned back to her, rolling her eyes.

"Bree, it's not like that's the only picture I showed him."

"And that's supposed to make me feel better?"

"You alright?" Jude whispered from behind me, placing a subtle hand on my back and pulling me away from the argument my mom and sister were having.

"I don't know." I replied honestly. "Is this what you guys have been doing? It feels like you've been down here forever."

"For a little while." he quietly admitted.

"Is everything... okay?"

"I don't know yet... we'll talk."

I glanced back at him, but only for a moment before my mom's voice cut in again. "Bree, I'm sorry if you're upset. I didn't think you'd have a problem with me sharing a little family history with Jude."

"You call that family history?" Bree frowned, and my mother sighed.

"I think it's getting late. I know I'm tired. Quinn... why don't you go get the air mattress out of the garage. Jude's going to need somewhere to sleep."

"What?" This was news to me. I looked at him again. "You're staying here?"

"For tonight." My mom answered for him. "I'd put him in the guest room but I think we're still using that for storage. He can stay in your room tonight, and Bree, like I told Jude, you can spend some time together before bed but I don't want you sneaking up to Quinn's room tonight."

Once again, my sister looked horrified, and I could understand why, considering what my mother was implying.

"Jesus, mom, what do you think I am?" she demanded.

"A teenager." my mother replied simply.

Bree huffed and sank back on the couch, looking like she'd given up completely as she shook her head. "In that case, he'd be safer in my room than Quinn's." She mumbled, and my eyes widened on her while Jude actually had the nerve to smile at that. At least Bree was kind enough to flash me an apologetic look.

"Quinn, air mattress." my mom reminded me almost impatiently, bringing me back to what was actually happening.

"But I thought..." I started.

"As I told Jude, I'd like for him to stay here tonight. You can plan on having a long talk with me tomorrow."

"But mom..." I frowned.

"Quinn, while I can understand why you left today, you had no business doing it without telling me first." She responded stubbornly. "I'm disappointed, and I want an explanation... but not now. I'm getting online to look up some information, and I want everyone in bed by a reasonable hour tonight."

I opened my mouth to argue. I didn't much care for being sent to bed early because it suited her, and I really didn't like hearing that she was disappointed without letting me say anything on the matter. But, before I could say anything that would likely get me into more trouble, Jude placed a hand on my shoulder to stop me and spoke up.

"Thanks for everything Mrs. Moore. I'm sure I'll be fine in Quinn's room."

At first I looked at him, annoyed that he'd interrupt me, but all it took was one pointed look from him before I finally realized what was happening. Jude was spending the night. My mom knew about it. Hell, she'd invited him. To sleep in my room. I guess that explained why he wasn't resisting the idea. He was probably wondering why I was. Not that I was really resisting. Everything was happening so fast, and after feeling the stress of the last few hours, only to discover that the world hadn't ended with one conversation between my mom and Jude, I was having trouble concentrating on more than one thing at a time. But now, I was beginning to get it, and I found myself wondering why I was wasting time with my mom anyway, when I could be learning first hand what had happened from Jude.

"I'll get the air mattress." I announced.

"I'll go with you." Jude offered, but the moment we turned to head for the garage with my sister rolling her eyes at us as she scoffed and got up to flee with the photo album my mother intervened again.

"Jude, hold on a second, can I see you for just a few more minutes?"

I gritted my teeth, but Jude put on his best smile and gave my mother a nod.

"Sure." He replied, although he sounded unsure of the idea. That only had me wanting to know what they talked about even more.

"Quinn, why don't you go get Jude set up." My mom suggested.

I sighed and gave up. It seemed like the only way I'd be able to talk to him at all would be if she got her few minutes. It wouldn't take me long to get Jude set up, anyways. The air mattress had it's own pump, so after getting it up to my room I hardly spent two minutes airing it up and throwing a few sheets over it. I didn't see the point in spending my time on something that wouldn't be used, anyway. I had a lock on my door and I fully intended to use it, considering I didn't see Jude sleeping anywhere except for next to me. I think I was anxious for that more than I was to talk to him. It had been a while since I slept in the same bed as him, and the last time wasn't exactly something I cared to remember. But, things were different now. I didn't know what to expect exactly, but whatever it was, I was sure I wanted it. Whether we did nothing but talked all night, or just lay there like we had earlier... it didn't really matter to me. Of course, it would be a lie if I said that my brain, and quite possibly my hormones, weren't jumping to other possibilities. After all, unlike a few hours ago, Jude seemed to be in a better mood, and for all I knew, he could have been thinking the same thing. The possibilities themselves made me nervous, but I was beginning to realize that it wasn't a bad nervous. It felt similar to those damn butterflies I used to get in my stomach every time he smiled at me. Maybe I would have taken more time to think about it, too, if I hadn't heard my door open and close, and then the unmistakable sound of the lock.

"Jude?" I called curiously, only a moment before he appeared at the top of the stairs. He smiled at me, but it definitely looked forced. I crossed the room to meet him half way, only to have him pass by me as he ran his fingers through his hair. I watched as he stopped just in front of the air mattress, which was next to my bed, and then turn to give my room a once over, which looked more like a blank stare. His troubled demeanor was definitely doing nothing to keep my nerves settled. "What happened?" I asked.

"Nothing... yet." he responded after a moment, lifting his eyes to meet mine. "We talked. You know, your mom's kinda... I don't know. I like her."

"Jude..." I sighed. This was not the answer I was looking for. He must have seen that I found it unsatisfying because he suddenly seemed to snap out of his uneasy posture and his expression softened as he took a step back towards me.

"Sorry, Quinn. It's been a long day... I didn't tell her I was gay, so you don't have to worry about that."

I did release a mental sigh of relief. That had been a concern, but honestly, I'd pretty much figured out that he hadn't told her on my own. I wanted more of an answer than that.

"Is she going to start trouble for you?"

Jude looked a little surprised with my question, probably because as far as he was aware, I'd gotten the information I wanted and he didn't see why I'd care about anything else. Unfortunately, not so long ago, he would have been right, and despite my efforts to show him that I cared today, it seemed that I still had a lot to prove to him.

"Um... it's sort of too early to tell." he explained, regarding me somewhat curiously. "She mostly wanted to know why I wasn't living with my parents. I think I was able to get away with leaving out most of the details because she saw what my mom was like... I basically told her that me and my parents don't get along."

"And she bought that?" I asked skeptically. "She didn't want more of an... explanation?"

"She stopped asking questions, Quinn." Jude frowned. "That's what's important." And then he added somewhat irritable, "But, if it makes you feel better, I'm sure she'll have plenty of questions on Monday."

"What do you mean?"

"I agreed to show her where I live." he frowned. "The only reason why I'm not showing her tomorrow is because I lied. I told her I had to work-which only got me into more trouble. You know, it's the reason why I hate lying, Quinn."

"What are you talking about?" I demanded. I really didn't like the sound of any of this.

"She wants to see where I work now, too." he sighed. "That's why tomorrow I have to go talk to Murphy and convince him to help me out here. Hopefully on Monday your mom will find my life... acceptable."

I was still trying to digest the fact that my mom was going to go see where Jude lived. I didn't even want to think about the possibility of her meeting Murphy, too. Especially since the guy didn't have one good thing to say about me.


"Quinn?" My mother's muffled voice suddenly came through the door, followed by loud knocking, and I think it was the nature of our conversation that made me panic. "Quinn, why is this door locked?"

Thank God Jude seemed to have his wits about him when I didn't, because it only took him a few moments to get to the door, while I only made it to the top of the stairs to watch as he opened it for my mother.

"I'm sorry Mrs. Moore." He said quickly. "I locked the door... it's sort of a habit, from living alone. I can't hardly even sleep at night in a room with an unlocked door."

Whether or not his claim was true, I was impressed. My mother even flashed him a sympathetic look as she passed him the towels she was carrying.

"That's okay Jude," she insisted. "Here, I thought I'd bring these up in case you wanted to use the shower before bed."

"Oh, thanks," he replied. "And, um.. Thanks for having me."

I watched as my mother fondly patted his cheek before flashing a small smile in my direction.

"Goodnight boys..." she said, before turning to go. Jude waited until she was out of site before he closed the door again, and this time he locked it as quietly as possible before he turned to come back up the stairs.

"Jude, you know it's a bad idea to bring her home with you-or to work. It doesn't matter what you do, she's not going to..."

"Quinn," he cut me off as he reached the top of the stairs, placing the towels on my dresser before he reached out and rested a hand on my side. "I don't have a choice... look, I'll figure it out. I promise. Could we just... I'm kind of tired, okay?"

I frowned, obviously wanting to talk more. I wasn't exactly convinced that he could just figure it out, and the idea of my mom getting too involved in Jude's life scared me. But, even I knew that it would have been stupid for me to think that he could straighten everything out with her with one little talk.

"Yeah," I shrugged after a moment, deciding not to push him. "We can just go to bed if you want. I'll find you some sweats or something."

I turned towards my closet, wondering how the hell I was going to sleep now. I didn't see it happening if I was going to be worried about what would happen on Monday all night. I knew my mother. She definitely wasn't going to approve of Jude's little apartment, she probably wouldn't even approve of his employer or the building he worked in. The first time I ever went looking for a job I was forced to turn three of them down just because she didn't think they were in `safe' enough places. But, I hadn't minded then. That was just her being... a mom. But now, since she was doing it to Jude, it felt more like her, being overbearing. I was actually beginning to wonder why Jude didn't seem to have more of a problem with it.

"Quinn," he said, before I even reached the closet. "I don't need anything."

I turned back to look at him and found that he was already removing his shirt, which he carelessly tossed aside before he flashed me a look that said picking it up off the floor would be an obnoxious mistake on my part. I just sighed and let him have his way as I watched him slowly move towards me as he unbuttoned his jeans and dropped his pants to his ankles, kicking them off as he walked. My eyes seemed to wander then, as more of him became available to look at. Actually, it was kind of hard not to look when I realized that Jude wasn't wearing his usual boxers, but rather a very familiar pair of tight, black briefs, ones that I'd objected to him wearing at one point.

"Look," he sighed, getting even closer. "I know you're worried about your mom, but please don't be. All I have to do is convince Murphy to tell her that he looks after me. I already know he will, so it's not a big deal."

Yeah, yeah. He could speak for himself. To me it was a very big deal. Only, I wasn't thinking about my mother. I was more interested in the fact that Jude was standing in the middle of my room, just under the light, wearing my underwear, which were a little more than appealing on him. "Quinn?"

I didn't respond. I heard him, but I was more focused on the underwear that left little, if anything, to the imagination. They were definitely tight. Really tight. I'd always known that they were tight on me, but on Jude they clung to everything they touched. Through the thin material I could make out the outline of his soft cock, slightly curved to the right, and below it the tightly packaged bulge that was his balls, which seemed to stand out even more as he started to turn. When he turned his back completely it suddenly dawned on me that the reason why my underwear looked so much tighter on him, and definitely better was because he had more of an ass. Not that I spent a lot of time looking in the mirror at my own butt. I just knew it was there. But, not like Jude's. Under the tight garment his cheeks currently looked like two high sitting round mounds and I found my hands twitching as I wondered if I was allowed to just touch him.

"Like that, huh?" Jude remarked, and the sound of his voice brought me right back to reality as my eyes snapped up to his, where they were currently peering over his shoulder at me. It took me that long to realize that I'd been caught starting, and the smirk that spread over his face said that he'd turned on purpose, for that very reason.

"Shit." I muttered, turning away from him to hide the blush that was spreading over my entire face. Maybe I was trying to get over some things, but that didn't mean that I wasn't still shy as hell when it came to others.

"At least you're paying attention to something." Jude laughed as he reached out to grab my hands before I got too far, and once I was facing him again, I forced myself to meet his eyes and he pulled me closer and guided my hands to his ass before gently slipping his arms around me. I decided that I wasn't going anywhere the moment that my hands cupped his cheeks and I felt the warmth of his body through the thin material. But, I still felt like an idiot for drooling over him while he was trying to talk to me.


"Why?" he replied as he slipped his hands under my shirt. His hands felt cold, and as soon as he touched my skin my body momentarily tightened before I overcame the chill and did my best to relax and accept the contact. "I'm glad you look... it's better than when you..." Jude allowed the sentence to trail off and I regarded him curiously as I lifted my arms so he could get my shirt over my head, and I became even more curious when he didn't continue after it was off. Instead, he seemed to have found a place on my chest to stare at as his fingers moved in small patterns over my back.

"What?" I asked, and he lifted his eyes to mine with a small smile.

"You used to try really hard, not to look." He pointed out. "And... that kind of sucked, because I'm not all that shy."

I found myself laughing at that comment, because it was definitely true, but my laughter came to an abrupt halt when he slid his hands around my sides and went for my belt buckle. He unfastened it and began to work on my zipper before he paused and looked at me again.

"If you're not comfortable because we're in your house, that's cool, Quinn. I just thought after today we could both use a break from..."

He stopped talking and smiled when I shifted my hips forward and my erection, which had to have been obvious swaying in my loose boxers, brushed up against his hand. Maybe we were in my room, with my family downstairs, and maybe that even made me a little nervous, but considering that I'd been turned on since the moment he dropped his pants, those were feelings that I was completely willing to ignore. I closed my eyes and waited when he leaned down, anticipating the feel of his mouth on mine. But instead, I felt his lips on my chin before they made a gradual movement upwards and I felt the unmistakable sensation of his tongue pressing against my lips, urging me to open. As I kissed him back, I became braver, allowing my hands to explore the territory in which he'd previously placed them, cupping his ass with both and moving my thumb over the tight material, along his cleft. Jude's breath hitched for a moment then, but when I tried to pull him closer to me he resisted until my pants were around my ankles and I was struggling to step out of them and my shoes. That was no easy task, especially when Jude slid his fingers down the front of my boxers and wrapped them around my erection, setting me off balance. I had to place one of my hands on his shoulder to hold myself up, but I was able to get out of my jeans. I'm sure Jude would have been pleased to know that I didn't even think about picking them up off the floor. Of course, that could have been because as soon as I was free of my pants, his fingers were working their way under the elastic band of my underwear and began to push them down. It only took him a moment to have them guided over my cock and down past my ass.

It was when I felt the tips of his fingers teasingly move over my shaft and his hand wrap around it that I broke the kiss and found myself looking down at his hand around me and the way that his fingers explored, his thumb brushing over the head of my cock. I moved an arm around Jude's neck and drew him closer to move my mouth gradually over his cheek and then his lips, sighing as everything else faded away, leaving only the sensations as he touched me. I hardly even noticed it when my boxers dropped away and I stood there naked in the middle of my bedroom until he suddenly pulled back to look. It occurred to me that I'd never been completely naked in front of him before. I found that I was somewhat self conscious over it, and couldn't help the way that my cheeks heated under his scrutinizing gaze, but I forced my hands to move to my sides, refusing to cover up.

This wasn't anything like the locker rooms at school. Then again, no one at school had ever stood back and scanned my body with their eyes like they were attempting to memorize every inch. If they would have, I'm sure it wouldn't have turned me on nearly as much as it did when Jude did it. In fact, I felt... envious of the way that he was looking at me as I lowered my eyes and took in the site of those black briefs again. I definitely liked the way they looked, but plain and simple, I wanted them off.

I met Jude's eyes when he suddenly removed his hand from my cock and placed it on my hip. "Do you want to go to bed?" he asked quietly, and in response, I looked back at the light switch, which was all the way across the room, just past the stairs. My shyness had me wanting to turn it off immediately, but it also had me hesitating because it seemed like a long walk to make in the nude, especially with Jude watching, and the way he was looking at me now, suggested that he definitely would be. But ultimately, I decided to face whatever insecurities that I had, if anything, so we could get into bed already. But, as I turned my back to him and walked across the room, I did find myself standing a little taller and tightening my buttocks every once in a while. I think acting like that made me feel even more self conscious. I was almost relieved when I reached the light and flicked it off. I knew my room well enough to make my way back to the bed in the dark, which is what I fully intended to do, hoping that Jude would be there waiting for me. I wasn't expecting to take two steps before the lamp on my desk lit up most of the room. Jude of course, was the culprit, and he smiled at me when I spotted him sitting on my bed, still watching me.

"We aren't going to use that, are we?" he asked, indicating the air mattress, and something about the way he was making small talk put me at ease enough to smile as I shook my head and made my way over to the bed. I was proud of myself for only jumping slightly when I sat down only to realize that Jude had slipped a hand under me in the process, but that could have been because he didn't give me much time to think about it as he gave my balls a gentle squeeze. I released a small groan when my cock lurched because of the contact and when I leaned towards him he abruptly cupped the back of my neck and practically dragged my lips to his. Jude leaned backwards onto the pillow, and as a result I was forced to move over him, but that was only because he literally had my balls in the palm of his hand, not that I was complaining. I moved my knees to either side of him, straddling his waist as he settled in beneath me, his fingers wandering from my balls and up my shaft to the head of my cock where his thumb lingered in taunt, circular motions. The way that he was touching me made it hard to pull away from him, but I forced myself to, breaking the kiss and moving just out of reach of his wandering hands as I looked down and allowed those underwear to steal my attention again. Jude watched my eyes move down from his face, over his chest and pause at the waistline of his briefs where his erection had become even more apparent, the head of his cock looking strained as it peeked out from under the elastic. I glanced back towards Jude, meeting his eyes for the briefest second and he grinned at me as his hands seemed to move over his own stomach in an agonizingly slow fashion and he hooked his thumbs in the elastic band surrounding his waist as he reached it. It took me only a moment to realize that he meant to take them off, and as much as I wanted that it seemed very important for me to do it for some reason, which is probably why I found myself swatting his hands away, a gesture that made him laugh.

I flashed Jude a disapproving look and he immediately straightened his face, even if it did look forced, but to my relief the moment that I placed my hands over his stomach and began to follow the same trail that he had with his own hands, I felt him still beneath me. He released a breath, his body noticeably relaxing as I dragged the tips of my fingers lightly over his skin, watching in the light as a small shiver ran through him and a light layer of goosebumps emerged over his body while his nipples became noticeably hard as the skin around them tightened.

My fingers reached the elastic band on either side of the organ protruding from it and I paused for a moment and took the time to glance in Jude's direction again. I think it made me feel better, the way that he looked almost as nervous as I felt, chewing his bottom lip. I'm sure he was wondering whether or not I was just going to go for it. There was definitely some expectation on his part, the way that his eyes were trained on me. They watched my every move, I noticed, as I let out a breath and the air expelled from my lungs bushed over his chest, sending another chill over him as I hooked my fingers in the briefs and gradually pulled them downwards, guiding them over his long shaft. The only assistance he gave me was to lift his hips from the bed, and when I moved aside to peel the black material further down his thighs he lifted his knees towards his chest so I wouldn't have to go very far as I continued to assist the underwear with their descent until they were efficiently guided over his feet and falling into a place somewhere on my bedroom floor. I almost laughed out loud at myself, the feeling of great accomplishment that I had, seeming incredibly ridiculous. Jude seemed oblivious to my self satisfaction, however, looking at me with a much more pronounced expectancy as he placed his feet on the bed, neglecting to drop his knees, and the way he positioned himself had placed him wide open to me.

I'd never seen anything like it.

I looked over him, from the small beads of pre-come seeping from the head of his cock and down his shaft where veins were swollen beneath velvety skin. The layer of hair that coated his balls was as blond as the hair on his head, and below there was the cleft of his ass, slightly parted, just enough to give away the place of his tiny, pinkish ring.

Looking at him, I decided right then and there that I was a visual kind of guy. Seeing was a turn on. I knew that I was attracted to guys, but I don't think before that moment that I'd realized just how much of the male body I was attracted to. Jude pulled me out of it, though, when he moved his hand over mine, which at some point I'd placed on his knee, and reminded me that I was supposed to do more than look as he guided it down his inner thigh until my fingers rested just inches from the space between his parted knees that I'd been admiring. It seemed like I was holding my breath, as I slid my hand further along, until it came to stretch out over the length of his cock. Jude sighed, looking up at me. I felt him twitch against the palm of my hand as I leaned over him, shifting myself between his legs until he trapped my sides with his knees and leaned upwards to meet my mouth with his.

I gently wrapped my fingers around his erection, squeezing and finding it necessary to lighten the kiss when he released a small moan. I'd realized that I really liked it when he did that. It was like Jude's own personal stamp of approval, and someone like me who had no idea what he was really doing, needed all of the approval that he could get.

For a while, I'd been worried about not knowing what I was ready for with Jude. I'd been worried that he'd be ready for more than I was, a concern that was becoming easier to deal with only because he currently seemed like the most patient person on the planet to me. But, as far as what I was ready for... I was beginning to see that I didn't exactly have to stress about it. Taking things one encounter at a time seemed satisfying enough to me. But, now I was nervous.

From the moment I peeled those underwear from Jude's body, I'd had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. The problem was, actually going about it, as nervous as I was. It was always easier when he took the initiative. I could just go along with it that way. When I had to do it, there was a lingering fear that I'd end up disappointing him, like there was now. But, thinking about that too much was a problem, too. So, I did the only reasonable thing I could think of: I reminded myself that he was currently the most patient person on the planet and hoped that I wouldn't screw this up somehow.

God, I wished that I wasn't thinking so much. I was already sweating and we'd just gotten into bed. I tried to think of every previous time that we'd been together. Something seemed to be missing now, that had been there then... or rather, something was present now. My mind. Every other time I'd lost pretty much all ability to think clearly. I wanted to go back to that. I think it was my nerves that prevented me from it. Ever since I realized that I had something to prove to him, I couldn't think of much else. While he may have been patient, I think Jude had made it rather clear that he wanted someone who would want him back. I didn't know if I was going a good enough job of showing that that someone was me.

Jude moved restlessly beneath me and I realized that in all my attempted concentration I'd tightened my grip on his cock, but hadn't done anything with it. He made me aware that he was becoming impatient with it, too, the way that his kiss became more urgent and his hand slid down my back and over my ass until his fingers gripped me, pulling my body down against his until my hand was forced to move away from his erection so my own could replace it. My eyes snapped open as I rubbed against him and the sudden urge to thrust my hips forward overwhelmed me. For some reason, the thought of just humping him took me by surprise and I felt like I should have more self control than that, but Jude didn't seem to think so, the way that he shifted upwards again, our bodies grinding together as he continued the pattern in slow yet effective motions until I lost it completely and began to match his rhythm as my body allowed me to think of nothing but the sensations running through it. Mission accomplished. Taking the initiative with Jude was so much easier when I lost all track of reasonable thought.

I broke away from the kiss and slid my body further down his, breaking the contact between our erections, which Jude objected to with a small whimper as he reached for me. But, I needed to get away. I was certain that if I didn't, this experience would prove to be even shorter than the last. I didn't stop, though, as I felt the head of his cock brush against my stomach, leaving a cool, wet trail.

I lowered my head and placed a few awkward kisses on his shoulder in an attempt to show him that I was still there, at which point he relaxed beneath me and cupped the back of my head lightly with both of his hands, his head lifting from the pillow as he watched my attempt to move further down his body. my mouth followed my hand as it made a gradual decent over his stomach and through a thatch of soft hair before my fingers were around his cock again.

I began to wonder if there was a certain way that I was supposed to go about my task, but found the question irrelevant as his head fell back and he bit his lip to stifle another small moan as his cock lurched in my hand when my mouth reached the place just under his belly button and I allowed my tongue to linger for a few moments. I looked down at erection, as I lifted my mouth from his body. I still new what I wanted to do. Now, all I had to do was act. I opened my mouth and went down on him just as quickly as he'd done it to me a few nights ago. I closed my eyes for about two seconds as his organ filled my mouth before they were snapping open and tearing up when I guided him right to my gag reflex, at which time I came off of him coughing, but that hardly smothered the sound of Jude's laughter as he sat up and placed a gentle hand on my back.

If there was ever a disastrous moment, this was most definitely it.

I glanced away from him, feeling every bit the fool as I mumbled a few curses under my breath, whatever confidence I'd had in the situation abruptly leaving me.

"Are you okay?" Jude asked, amusement apparent in his voice. I shot him a look that said I most certainly was not, but then I felt bad about that, too. He wasn't the one screwing this up, after all. Maybe I deserved to get laughed at.

"Sorry," I muttered, still entirely unable to meet his eyes, and the soft chuckling coming from next to me quickly stopped, and so did the hand moving soothingly up and down my back. Next, I felt the same hand on my shoulder as he guided me to look at him. Once again, his expression had become serious.

"Just slow down, okay?" He said gently, but I didn't understand. Slowing down could mean any number of things. Hell, it could mean stop. Being told to stop was the same as rejection, as far as I was concerned. But, as soon as I had the disturbing thought, Jude washed it from my mind, obviously not at all intending to reject me. I watched a small smile curl his mouth as he leaned towards me and pointedly kissed me on the mouth, and when he pulled back, I allowed him to take my hand as he scooted back on the bed. Only, as I leaned towards him his hand traveled from my hand to my shoulder, and I was a little surprised by the way that he guided me back down, his other hand taking hold of his own erection and pointing it towards me like an open invitation. He wasn't at all aggressive, and while I would have thought I'd be either too embarrassed, or too intimidated at this point to continue, I was oddly eager to try it again, and suddenly, going slow made sense, especially when I almost made the same mistake twice. But fortunately, Jude stopped me before I could, holding his cock away from me as his hand gently made it's presence known on the back of my head. "Go slow," he said again, and I found myself obeying the hand on my head as he guided me down at a new pace, until the head of his cock was against my lips as he looked down at me, waiting for me to make the next move.

I parted my lips, and this time very slowly and took the head of his cock. As sensitive as ever, Jude's whole body seemed to momentarily shake as he released a breath he'd obviously been holding. I waited a moment, getting used to the way he felt against my tongue, the way he tasted. It never really occurred to me that this could be unpleasant, but I was still somewhat relieved to find it wasn't. As I felt more pressure from his hand I slid down only a little further, taking more of him. Perhaps I would have tried for more if his fingers didn't tangle in my hair and I took it as a signal that he wanted me to come back up, which I did, but as soon as my lips surrounded the head again Jude was gently guiding my back down.

It seemed to take several minutes, but eventually I sank into a slow rhythm as Jude guided me. The way that his breathing was steadily growing heavier, and the way that he was obviously trying not to just thrust his hips forward made me a little braver. The way he was closing his eyes and releasing small moans every few moments didn't hurt either. I attempted to take a little more of him, moving half way down his shaft and found that it wasn't a problem for me, but to my surprise, when I tried to go even further, Jude wouldn't let me. Something about the way he held my hair tighter and prevented me from going any further seemed incredibly annoying to me. For a moment I wondered if he thought that this was all I could do, but only for a moment, before I realized that it didn't matter what he thought in this situation.

I suddenly moved my hands from the mattress to his hips, and gripping him tightly, I pulled him towards me, much to his surprise. Jude gasped, and as a result of setting him off balance his hands on my head unwittingly pushed me down further. I wasn't expecting that, either. I nearly had to pull off of him gagging again but managed to control it, finding that I was close enough to taking all of him. Jude started to say something, and if he'd finished, I'm sure it would have been my name, but it turned into a series of groans as his body began to become restless under me while I quickly renewed my rhythm.

Anyone who would say that this was in any way unnatural, would have baffled me at this point. Sure, I was still gagging here and there, and when my teeth got in the way once or twice I made him wince, but as I got the hang of the situation and Jude finally left it to me, mostly because laying back and enjoying it was his only option at this point, I began to realize that I was enjoying it as much as he did. I liked the way I made him squirm. I liked the small sounds he practically purred out of his throat and I liked the way that he lifted his knees and rocked his hips, even when I wasn't ready for it. I guess I just liked that it felt like Jude was just as involved as I was, and his obvious enthusiasm seemed to trigger the need to move faster, not caring whether or not it felt like I was choking myself as I moved my mouth up and down his shaft, every so often resting at the head of his cock where I let my tongue do some of the work for a while. I could feel him pulsing against my lips as I continued my quest to take all of him.

Both of his hands tightened in my hair to the point that my scalp actually burned when I suddenly moved a hand to the back of his knee and pushed it further towards his chest in an attempt to achieve better leverage. Apparently, whatever I did, Jude liked, because the next time I moved down, way past the half way point, rather than stopping me, he'd hardly let me up and I suddenly found myself trapped there with his hands on my head and his knee hooked over my shoulder after he lifted his leg.

I slid my hand down the back of Jude's thigh and he moderately released his grip, but a moment later it was back even stronger when my hand drifted down and my thumb fell between the cleft of his ass, causing him to lift his hips from the bed altogether, disrupting my pace, which I found again rather quickly and I allowed my thumb to brush over his cleft again, this time deliberately. It was his reactions that were teaching me, and I thought that I was learning pretty quickly, thank God. Jude seemed grateful, too, because as I allowed my finger to explore further he writhed under the contact, his hips thrusting upwards with less control and as I replaced my thumb with my forefinger. As I brushed against puckered skin he suddenly pressed back against me and cried out in a way that made me wonder whether or not anyone else heard. But, the very thought seemed to drift away from my mind as he abruptly reached his climax. I think I was surprised by it. Obviously, I was aware that it would happen eventually, but the moment definitely took me off guard, and after of a moment debating what it was that I should do, I followed Jude's example and dutifully swallowed.

I was no sooner off of him than he was reaching for me, pulling me upwards until my body rested lengthwise over his and his tongue was sliding into my mouth. I closed my eyes, feeling satisfied as I accepted the kiss, enjoying the way that he gently nibbled at my lip and the feel of his hands moving over my back. I realized I was still sweating, and the way that my body was so close to his brought me back to the fact that my own erection was still hard and jolting from the contact with his body. There was no ignoring it at all when his hand gripped my ass and pulled me even harder against him, at which point I seemed unable to control anything as I began to grind against him, matching the way that his tongue was moving steadily in and out of my mouth. I didn't expect it to take long, and it didn't, before I was efficiently sated and turning onto my side to relieve him of my weight. Jude turned towards me and I listened to his breathing above my own as we slowly cooled down, shifting closer to each other in the process.

Jude didn't argue when I insisted on cleaning us both up before we went to sleep. He didn't even object when I made a point to pick up all of the clothes on the floor afterwards. Actually, I think he was surprised that I'd left them there that long. I checked the door lock one more time, even if realistically I knew that Jude had already taken care of it, and then I returned to bed only to watch him fall asleep first. But, it didn't take long before my eyes grew heavy and I joined him.

I remember waking up in the morning, before my alarm went off. We'd drifted apart in sleep, but I found it amusing that our hands were joined together. I moved closer to him, wondering if it would always feel so good waking up next to him after a night like the last one. I smiled to myself, as if I were one of those fortunate people who happened to be worry free. The smile faded, though, as my thoughts turned to what would happen in the next few hours. I shifted closer to Jude, wrapping an arm around him and feeling relieved that I didn't wake him as he turned towards me and I rested my face against his chest. I wanted to enjoy the next thirty minutes before my alarm went off, and I did. I just wished that we didn't have to get up and face the day at all.


I glanced at the clock as I took a bite of my sandwich. It was already going on one o'clock. Bree flashed me a small smile from across the table. She was well aware of how stressed out I'd been all day, wondering if Murphy was really going to help like Jude insisted he would. But, that was probably because Bree had been with me all day, cleaning out the garage. My mom had decided that I should spend my time doing that while she thought up a suitable punishment for me, for sneaking out of the house and taking my car without permission. Then, she decided that my sister should help me. I think that was because Bree was still angry about the photo album incident, and even after my mom finally apologized, my sister still wouldn't let up on the issue. To be honest, I really couldn't blame mom for wanting Bree out of her hair. Maybe it had been a mistake to share that picture with Jude, but she had apologized. This time it was Bree being unreasonable. It was almost as if my sister expected our mom to go back in time and change it. For my part, I had too many of my own problems to deal with and decided that it would be better, and definitely easier, to stay out of theirs. Besides, it wasn't like my mom and sister fought with each other very often. I was pretty sure that it wasn't going to last.

I tried to return Bree's smile, but I'm sure I failed. The muscles in my face just didn't seem capable of doing it at the moment. I was more than capable of frowning, though, and that's exactly what I did when my mother entered the room.

"Has Jude called yet?" she asked, after taking a moment to glance between Bree and I.

"No." I said shortly. My mom's brow furrowed for a moment and she looked like she wanted to say something, but instead she wisely chose to walk away.

For a few hours now, my mom had been regularly dropping in to see if Jude had called, but as of yet, he hadn't. There were two things that I didn't understand about this. The first was that Jude wasn't supposed to call my mom, so it seemed pointless for her to keep asking. Before he'd left our house that morning, it was agreed that Jude would meet her the next morning at the house, and they'd go to his apartment together. My mother had wanted to do it sooner, but she'd ultimately agreed to Monday morning. They never said anything about a phone call. The second thing I didn't understand, was why Jude hadn't called me yet. That, he did say he was going to do, and the fact that he hadn't even given me a courtesy call was driving me certifiably insane. But, I was trying not to panic. Really. The thought of Jude having second thoughts about getting involved with me because my mom was sticking her nose where it didn't belong never crossed my mind. Okay, it definitely had, but I was sure that there was a better reason for why he hadn't called. Maybe he was busy... or still with Murphy. That would explain why he hadn't been home any of the six times that I'd tried to call him. Besides, after the night before I rationally knew that Jude wasn't having second thoughts. That would practically make him a liar, and I already knew that he was no good at that.

"You know, I bet he'll call as soon as you stop thinking about it." Bree said, and I regarded her skeptically. "Well-that's how it usually happens." she shrugged.

"How am I supposed to stop thinking about it?" I frowned, shaking my head. "God, why can't mom just leave it alone?"

"Because she's acting like a freak." Bree mumbled, and I raised an eyebrow at the comment. Obviously, she was still angry about the picture. Maybe this time I would have asked her why she wasn't letting it go, but the sound of the phone ringing pulled me completely out of my thoughts and I found myself dropping my lunch and nearly knocking it off the table so I could get up to answer it. Unfortunately, the phone happened to be right behind Bree and she simply reached around to pick it up. The way she laughed at me was less than encouraging as she brought the piece to her ear.

"Hello?" she answered. I remained standing, fully expecting her to hand the phone to me at any moment. "Yeah...?" she said slowly. Any moment now. "Oh. Hi." In another second, she would give me the phone. "Really?" she leaned back in her seat, completely oblivious to me hovering as she started to talk. Why the hell wasn't she giving me the phone?

I frowned when my mom reentered the room, probably expecting it to be Jude as much as I did, but unfortunately, as my sister continued to talk I think we both came to the conclusion that it wasn't.

"I don't know." Bree said, suddenly flashing a sharp look at my mother. "My mom probably won't let me go anywhere." I glanced at my mother, and she was now looking disapprovingly at Bree, but that didn't stop my sister. "No, Quinn's the one that's supposed to be grounded, but you'd think it was me, too... yeah, tell me about it." my eyes widened on my sister as I wondered what had gotten into her. I knew Bree was upset about something when it came to my mother, but while I wasn't pleased with her either, even I could see that my sister was out of line.

"Bree!" my mother cut her off, sounding irritated. "I'm standing right here, you know, and if you don't lose the attitude then you will be grounded. If you want to go somewhere then why don't you just ask me."

Bree sighed, looking exasperated as she lowered the phone and faced my mother. "It's Kara." She announced. "She wants to know if I can go shopping with her."

"If it will put you in a better mood, then by all means, go." My mother rolled her eyes.

"We'd need a ride because her mom can't do it." Bree said. "Can Quinn take us?"

"No." I said firmly. There was no way I was going anywhere. I planned on staying home all day, where I wouldn't miss Jude when he called.

"Why not?" Bree frowned at me. "It's not like you have anything else to do. You're grounded, remember?"

"Quinn, why don't you go with your sister." My mom sighed. "You can drive them back when they're finished, too. I have some work to do around here."

"Mom!" I objected. "No... and I'm grounded."

"Take your sister to the mall." My mom replied pointedly. "Just make sure your both back by dinnertime."

I glared at my sister when my mom abruptly turned and retreated, looking annoyed as ever. When Bree just smiled at me and brought the phone back to her ear I nearly screamed. What the hell was she trying to do to me?

"Hey, I can go..." she said. "Yeah, Quinn's coming, too. He has to drive me... uh-huh, well, thank you... yup, see you in a while. Bye." She hung up the phone and stood with her plate before she finally looked at me again. I was still trying to glare her head right off her shoulders.

"I'll meet you in the car." she smiled sweetly.

I sighed in defeat when Bree left the table, but that didn't mean that I was pissed as hell. She knew I was waiting for Jude to call. I couldn't believe that she'd set me up like that, especially when it felt like we were trying so hard to get our relationship back. I walked around the table and picked up the phone, and after trying Jude's number one more time, I cleared the table, and resigned to my fate, went to meet my sister in the car.

I's hardly turned the ignition before I abruptly turned at face Bree, who was in the passenger seat, looking very satisfied with herself.

"You're a brat, you know that?" I snapped at her. "You could have waited to go shopping until..."

"Oh, shut up, Quinn," she cut me off. "We're not going to pick up Kara, we're going to Trina's house."

"What?" I demanded.

"It wasn't Kara. It was Taylor." She shrugged.

"Taylor? How the hell did he get our number?"

"Not the point, Quinn."

"Bree, I'm not..."

"They're having a party at Trina's."

"We are not going to a party at Trina's!" I stated. I knew what went on at Trina's house, and there was no way I was going to let my little sister walk into that.

"Fine," Bree rolled her eyes. "I just thought that you might want to go, since Jude's on his way over there and all... but hey, if you don't want to, then I can just tell mom..."

"Jude's going to be there?"

She sure knew how to get my attention. "You can thank me later." Bree smiled.

I gave my sister an incredulous look.

"But... you lied to mom! After everything that's happened I can't believe you haven't learned... "

"So? I lied. If she wasn't being such a pain then I wouldn't have had to... now are we going, or not?"

Brat. She already knew the answer to that question.


When I parked in the empty lot across from Trina's house-very carefully, still being wary of stray nails- I didn't make any move to unbuckle my seatbelt or even turn off the car, unlike my sister, who was already unbuckled and ready to go walk through the front door of the house, which was wide open, making it easy to see that there were already quite a few people there. It wasn't as many as it had been the first time I'd been over, but crowded enough to make me wonder just how many people thought it was a good idea to get wasted in the middle of the afternoon.

"Quinn, let's go." Bree insisted.

"Jude's not here yet." I stated, looking around for his car. "I think we should just wait out here for him."

"Oh come on." Bree rolled her eyes. "Taylor's inside, we could go hang out with him for a little while. Jude will be here, it's not like we have to wait in the car."

"I know we don't have to," I frowned. "But I want to, and I can go another few minutes without seeing Taylor." I mumbled under my breath.

"What do you have against Taylor?" Bree demanded. "He seems pretty cool. I mean, it's not like you liked Jude when you first met him, but... oh!"

"What?" I frowned.

"Taylor's the one who gives you a hard time, huh? I did read your diary, remember?"

"It's a journal."

"Fine." she relented, rolling her eyes. "Journal."

I fell silent as once again I wondered whether or not allowing my sister into my most personal thoughts had been a good idea. I guess I could justify it, considering she was sitting next to me now like that rough patch between us had never existed... and like the fact that I was gay didn't mean anything to her. But, it still felt weird knowing that she knew so much about me now. I tried to ignore the uncomfortable feeling though, shaking it away as I thought about Taylor. Sure, he wasn't my favorite person in the world, but if I really thought about it, I didn't have that much of a problem with him. Actually, I don't think that I really had a problem with him at all.

"It's not really Taylor. I'm just not that comfortable here, Bree." I admitted. I think it was because I was aware that most of the people in the house probably couldn't stand me. Besides, the last time I'd encountered any of them I'd made a complete ass of myself, and if I walked in now, they'd probably wonder what the hell I was doing there. The other reason why I wasn't so interested in going in there had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Bree. She was still my little sister, after all, and I didn't really like the idea of her at a party like the ones Trina had.

"Well, you can wait out here if you want but I want to go in." Bree stated. "It's cold out here, Quinn."

I inwardly groaned as my sister got out of the car, and somehow felt obligated to follow her, so once the ignition was turned off and the keys were safely in my pocket I was on my way to the front door, looking around for Jude's car, hoping that it would turn the corner any minute. Somehow, I was sure that his presence would make being there so much easier. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

At least Bree slowed down as we neared the house. I could hear mixed voices, some loud laughter, and I could smell food mixed with smoke from a grill. I think I was relieved to see that no one was stumbling around drunk yet, at least not in the front yard. But still, I found myself stepping past Bree as we reached the opened door so I could see what was going on first. What I discovered, was that most of the noise was coming from the living room where eight or so people were scattered, except for on one wall, which was being used to play a game of darts. I recognized only a couple of them from school, but the rest I recognized from the first party I'd been to at Trina's. I wasn't surprised when a few of them paused and looked towards the door where my sister and I were standing. I tried to ignore the awkward moment where they just stared at me as if they wanted to know what I was doing there. My sister didn't, though.

"Hi." she smiled. "Is Taylor here?"

One guy looked over Bree cautiously as he pointed towards the kitchen, at the very moment that Taylor decided to make an appearance. He walked out of the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of blue jeans three times too large for him, and my eyes automatically drifted to his head as I noticed his hair had changed again. I'd noticed that when Taylor made changes, they weren't very subtle. This time he'd changed the purple to an electric blue, and the way that it was piled on his head in messy spikes made it look like he'd had it cut, too. The color actually looked kind of good on him, not that I was anywhere near ready to let him know that. Besides, I was more focused on the way that he was grimacing. Bree, only noticed the hair.

"Hey," she grinned, approaching him as if she'd known him for years. "I like it." he returned her smile as she lifted a hand to lightly touch his hair, and then my attention was drawn to his chest as he pointed for my sister, directing her to look at what I saw only a moment later.

"What do you think?" he asked her, indicating the ring going through his right nipple, which looked a little red. "Mike just did it."

I glanced over Taylor's shoulder at a tall, thin guy with black hair and a crooked nose, who smiled momentarily before he joined the game of darts.

"Does it hurt?" Bree asked, acting as if she wanted to touch it, but obviously afraid to.

"Hell yes." Taylor smiled broadly, and then glanced at me. "Want one, Quinn?"

I instantly covered my chest protectively and in response my sister and Taylor, along with a few other people laughed at me.

"It's alright, Quinn," Bree said, "mom would freak, anyway."

"So no nose ring for you?"Taylor remarked, playfully lifting her chin. "You have the face for it."

"Taylor." I warned, and he released an exasperated sigh.

"Will you relax, Moore? I'm not going to corrupt your sister," he said as he hooked his arm with Bree's and started leading her towards the kitchen. I only followed because I had no desire to stand in a room full of people that I didn't know. "I can't believe you got him to come." Taylor told her.

"I told you, he had to drive me."

"You don't have a license?"

"Well, yeah..." Bree admitted. "But, my mom still thinks I'm a little girl sometimes and forgets."

I paused at that comment, as I realized that often I saw Bree the same way... a lot younger than she was. I mean, I still gave her barbie-dolls for Christmas. I wondered if I'd ever see her any differently, despite whatever happened between us, but I didn't spend too much time dwelling on it.

"What are we doing here Taylor?" I asked as we crossed through the kitchen, where a few more people were present.

"Having a party." he replied smartly as he led us right out the back door to where a grill was set up, and currently, unattended. Taylor fixed that, though, as he picked up some tongs and flipped a few overly cooked burgers.

"I told him you said that Jude would be here." Bree explained. "He's still coming, right?"

I stepped up to Taylor's other side, practically daring him to tell me that Jude wasn't coming. He laughed at the expression on my face.

"He should be on his way, Moore. Now, make yourself useful. There should be some plates on the kitchen table and a shit load of raw meat. I need both."

I almost told him to get those things his damn self, but decided against it. It wouldn't hurt to go back inside for a few moments, at least to see if Jude was there yet. But, I did make sure to look completely inconvenienced as I went. When I reached the kitchen, I noticed that it had emptied out, or at least it looked that way, until I neared the table and noticed that the refrigerator door was open and I saw two small, bare feet on the other side. I watched as the door closed, only to reveal Trina on the other side, and I stood there as my eyes drifted to the tall glass of what looked like a mixed drink that she was pouring.

I'd never been very fond of Trina Ashpock. In all actuality, I didn't even like her a little bit up until recently. I didn't agree with what Marissa did to her, but if I were being completely honest, I'd have to say that there was one thing I agreed with Marissa about; Trina Ashpock was a bitch. A mean one, too. But...I really was beginning to like her. I liked that she was there for me... in her own way... when my friends hadn't been. I liked that she seemed to genuinely care about Jude, and even Taylor. But, what I didn't like now, was the drink in her hand. After the last time I saw her, unable to keep herself up over the toilet bowl-that drink... pissed me off. As she noticed me, I seemed to voice this unexpected anger before I could stop myself.

"You're fucking unbelievable, you know that?" I snapped, before she could even get a word out, and Trina raised an eyebrow at me. "You were so damned worried about me hurting Jude and look what you're doing! Do you think he likes wiping puke off your face? I swear to god, Trina, is it really that hard to put down the drinks for more than one night at a time?"

Trina blinked, looking at me as if I'd lost my mind, but she recovered quickly enough.

"Yeah, especially when it's this stuff." she retorted. "I make a mean kool-aid, Quinn... want some?"

I frowned and roughly lifted the plates and raw meat patties from the table. Obviously, Trina was going to be impossible, and I was already irritated and feeling impatient, waiting on Jude. It wasn't going to make for a good situation. That's probably why it was so easy for me to walk away. But, I didn't get far.

"Quinn, wait." Trina called, and frankly, I was a little surprised by that. Surprised enough to stop and turn around to face her, placing the items in my hands back on the table so I could cross my arms in a defensive sort of way. I never really knew what to expect from Trina. "Look," she said, moving forward with her glass and holding it out as if she expected me to examine it. "It really is kool-aid. I'm not drinking... neither is anyone else here. We don't even have anything. According to Jude, you helped clear it out, remember?"

"Oh." I took a moment as a feeling of sheer stupidity hit me, which quickly turned to embarrassment. Maybe remembering how upset Jude had been only a few nights ago as he stood outside a bathroom door, pleading with his cousin to open it was enough for me to justify wanting to protect him from never having to go through something like that again, and maybe I was under a lot of stress at the moment, but that seemed like a poor excuse to forget that Trina didn't exactly have it easy, either. And of course, I couldn't even give the girl the benefit of doubt.

There was no doubt in my mind that Jude and Taylor had already voiced their disapproval to Trina about her drinking. She also didn't have the easiest life, I'd noticed. I doubted that she needed to hear any of this from me, either, considering that up until recently we didn't even speak to each other unless she was bickering with Marissa about something.

"Look, Trina I'm sorry. I'm not really thinking right now. I was just..."

"You were looking out for Jude." she said, and then graced me with a momentary, slight smile. "I think that's... good, Quinn.... Do you want something to drink?"

"No thanks." I shook my head.

"He told me about your mom." Trina said as she took a seat at the table and sipped her drink. "That kinda sucks... do you think she's gonna cause trouble for him?"

"She already is, isn't she?" I shrugged, and then frowned as I took a seat across from Trina. "I just wish she'd mind her own business."

Trina stared at me for a moment and then shrugged again.

"Normal parents don't mind their own business, Quinn. You shouldn't worry, though. Jude will fix it. Murphy really is pretty cool. He won't be happy about it, but he'll talk to your mom."

"Do you and Jude tell each other everything?" I found myself asking.

"Not everything." Trina insisted. "But, he did call this morning to tell me what happened."


"He also said he'd stop by later. Is that why you showed up?"


"Ah. That makes sense. When Taylor talked to Jude, Jude kept complaining that if he came here he wouldn't be able to see you until later tonight."

"He did?" I was a little surprised by this, but only because Jude hadn't called all day, and it was hard to not feel forgotten. Trina rolled her eyes at my question and stood up, obviously intending to walk away. But before she went, she glanced over her shoulder at me with a small smile. "Hey Quinn...that was kinda cool of you to clean up the other night. Thanks."

I let out a breath and nodded.

"It wasn't a problem." I insisted.

"It was still cool of you." Trina said. "... I mean it, Moore. Thanks."

I felt a knot forming in my brow as Trina walked off, leaving me alone in her kitchen. I guess to be honest, I really didn't understand what she was thanking me for. I'd wiped up some puke and sanitized a few areas, that was all. In my opinion, if she wanted to thank someone it should have been Jude or Taylor. After all, they were the ones who apparently took care of her. But as I thought about it, I realized that I probably wouldn't figure out Trina Ashpock or what she was thinking, any time soon. That, definitely hadn't changed.

I stood and lifted the plates and the meat again. I'd figured that I'd left Bree and Taylor unattended and alone together long enough. Bree was still upset with my mom, and something told me that Taylor would do nothing to help the attitude she was developing. But, I wasn't even half way across the kitchen when I heard the voice that made me stop and turn around.

"Hey Trina."

"Hi." Trina said, obviously still in the hallway. "Are you hungry? Taylor's on the grill, oh, and you might want to know..."

"Let me get something to drink first, okay?" Jude's voice cut her off. "My head's killing me."

I watched as Jude walked into the kitchen, without even noticing me. But, that could have been because his eyes seemed preoccupied with the tile floor as he went straight for the sink and reached into the cabinet above it. I watched, as he reached for a bottle of aspirin, finding that my mouth was easily shaping into a smile just upon seeing him. . . even if he did look a little tired.

He tilted his head back and shook his long, straight bangs away from his eyes as he opened the bottle and then reached for a plastic cup. He'd filled it with water and swallowed down the pills before he caught site of me with a sideways glance and actually looked twice before he turned to face me, obviously surprised. Apparently, he had no idea that I was going to be there. The smile that began to spread over his face was enough to bring me to the conclusion that I liked surprising him.

"What are you doing here?" he asked as he crossed the room, and before I knew it his arms were moving around my waist as he pulled me into a hug. I was still holding a stack of plates in one hand and raw meat in the other, leaving me completely helpless against fending him off as I felt his lips brushing against my neck. Of course, even if I could fend him off, I doubted that I would. At least, I wouldn't have until he lifted his lips from my neck and I found them firmly placed over my own before I could even answer his question. I didn't mind him kissing me so much as I minded that he was doing it in a kitchen where someone could walk in and see us. When he pulled back he saw the startled look on my face and smiled, stepping back.

"Sorry." he said sheepishly as he relieved me of the load of plates, leaving me with the meat. "But what are you doing here? I called your house and your mom said you were out with Bree, shopping."

"That's just what she thinks-what Bree told her. Don't ask... so you talked to my mom?" That was the exact scenario I'd been worried about when I left the house in the first place.

"Yeah. She wants me to go back to your place and stay again tonight, and then just go to my apartment first thing in the morning... but something tells me that the only reason why she wants to go now is so she can move me out of it. She mentioned boxes, Quinn." Jude explained, sounding irritated. "She promised she hasn't called anyone yet... but I'm getting sort of worried about her. Murphy agreed to talk to her for me... but now I'm wondering if that's going to do me any good."

"Shit." I muttered, instantly panicking, and Jude had to take the plate of hamburger from me so I wouldn't end up tossing it across the room when I irritably waved my arms. "Jude, she can't... I can't let her fuck things up for you." He placed the load that I'd previously been carrying on the nearest counter and moved to grab my head, but it took him two tries before he actually caught it because suddenly, I couldn't seem to stay still.


"I'll skip school tomorrow and go with you." I insisted, although realistically speaking, I knew that there wasn't a chance in hell that my mom would let me do that. "Maybe if I try to talk to her..."

"And say what, Quinn? It's not going to happen. I'm just going to have to deal with it and hope Murphy..."

"What if it doesn't work?" I cut him off. "What if she starts calling people because she's worried and get's you in trouble? You said that you weren't legal to live on your own. What will happen if...what if you end up in a foster home because..." Jude's expression darkened at the suggestion, but only for a moment. Still, it was enough to tell me that panicking was not helping him.

"Come here." He insisted with a forced smile as he tugged my hand, leading me towards the hall.

"Jude, there are too many people here." I complained, hoping that he wasn't leading me to the living room to continue this conversation.

"I know." he replied, and I think I was actually relieved when he led me into what I recognized as Trina's room and shut the door behind us. Her room was dark compared to the rest of the house, only a small amount of light was escaping through the closed curtains, but the darkness seemed to have a calming effect, and so did Jude when he turned and pulled me closer to him. I closed my eyes as he dropped his forehead to rest against mine and found myself gingerly moving my arms around him as he kissed my brow.

"I don't know what's going to happen." He said slowly. "But...I'm not going to worry about it until tomorrow, and neither should you. I'm sorry I even brought it up. I should have known you'd get upset.

" Of course I'm upset! Jude..." I did not understand how he could be so calm about this.

"I mean it, Quinn." He cut me off. "Look, getting stressed out about it isn't going to help anyone... tomorrow, you're going to go to school... and I'm going with your mom. I think...we just have to wait, okay? I'll meet you tomorrow after school. Can you be by the tracks?"

"Yeah, but..."

"Okay. So, we'll meet tomorrow and I'll tell you what happened."

I opened my mouth to argue that I didn't feel like waiting to find out what was going to happen, but talking wasn't easy with his mouth coming down over mine.... or necessary, for that matter as I wrapped my arms more tightly around him and I kissed him back. The same warm feeling that I'd experienced waking up with him that very morning came over me. That feeling, I noticed, worked wonders for frazzled nerves. I found myself wondering if I had the same effect on him, because despite the fact that he seemed so much calmer than I did, I highly doubted that he really was. After all, it was his life in question here.

I didn't even hesitate when he began to push me back towards Trina's bed. As always, I didn't know when I'd have another opportunity to feel him this close to me, and I was eager to take advantage of it. I probably would have, too, if we weren't interrupted before the opportunity presented itself. As my phone started ringing, I began to wonder why the hell I'd ever gotten one in the first place.

Jude stepped back and watched patiently as I lifted the phone from my pocket and while I just stared at the device, he looked at me expectantly. "Quinn, if you're avoiding your mom again..."

"I'm not." I replied, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in my gut as I regarded my phone as if it were about to grow fangs and bite me. "It's not my mom... it's Brad."

"Are you going to answer it?" Jude asked. Before I could even decide the answer to that question the phone stopped ringing, but by the time I turned to face Jude there was a beep indicating that I had a new message. "I don't know what he wants." I said blankly. The last time I'd seen Brad he was with Marissa, and honestly I couldn't think of one reason why he'd be calling me now. The more I thought about him, the more I'd come to the conclusion that we were finished. I wasn't even sure that I wanted to hear what he had to say.... actually, it was more like I was afraid to hear what he had to say. But, as the message started to play, I couldn't help feeling a little hopeful, too. Maybe Brad would actually surprise me. Unfortunately, I was surprised, but any hopes I had were dashed as I heard the message. Maybe it was Brad's number that had called, but it definitely wasn't his voice.

"Quinn, it's Marissa, call me back at Brad's. It's important." the message was very quick, but spoken very sharply. It definitely sounded more like an order than a request, and that definitely didn't sit well with me. But, I didn't comment on the fact as I took the phone from Jude and silently returned it to my pocket.

"Do you want to talk about it?" he remarked, smirking at the look on my face.

"No." I said shortly.

"Okay..." he turned to face me better, moving his body so that he could cage me where I sat with his arms, forcing me to lean back a little. "What if I want to talk about it?"

"And why would you want to talk about my ex-girlfriend?" I asked, lifting a suspicious eyebrow.

"Because," Jude replied, his expression and voice turning more serious. "She's more than just your ex, isn't she?"

I frowned at that and found myself pushing him away so I could stand up.

"She's a pain is what she is." I stated.


"Look, Jude... Marissa is... I should just stay away from her, okay?"

"Why? Because she figured you out?" he grabbed my hand and pulled me back down next to him. "You know... last night when your mom was showing me all of those pictures..."

"Pictures don't mean anything."

"She's your friend, Quinn."

"You do realize that this is the same girl who outed your cousin." I said. I was quickly becoming irritated. I didn't understand at all why Jude would want to defend Marissa.

"Yeah, and that means I'm obligated to hate her. He replied smartly. "But you...look Quinn, this thing with your friends is bothering you. I saw it last night when your mom handed you that picture. I think you should do something about it."

"Like what? They..."

"They obviously want to talk to you. Call her back. What could it hurt?"

"Me!" I said, before I could think to stop myself. "Jude, do you have any idea how sick of this I am? It's not exactly easy for me, you know. I don't know how to trust Marissa. When we broke up I thought we could still be friends, but... all she cares about is herself. Now, she has me figured out and I still don't know what she's going to do with that information. And I tried to talk to Brad... I think he made it clear enough that he doesn't want anything to do with me, so whatever they're up to..."

"You don't know they're up to anything... look, I understand it if you're upset with them, or even if you're too afraid to try to talk to them because it hasn't worked before. But, take it from someone who's been there... friends deserve second chances. Otherwise, you really will lose them. If you think it hurts now, just wait. It'll hurt like hell then."

I felt my face twisting into something just short of a scowl. This was not what I wanted to hear from him. Actually, when it came to Brad and Marissa, I didn't want to hear anything at all... it already hurt like hell. Maybe I'd been preoccupied with Jude, and worrying about him lately, and that served as a distraction, but somewhere in the background, I couldn't stop thinking about the two people who were supposed to be my best friends. I really didn't know how to trust Marissa, and I felt close to the same way about Brad. He'd been so angry that I wouldn't talk to him, and then when I tried to he'd made sure I'd regret it. I didn't even know how to react to that. It seemed like the only option I had was to ignore the problem because facing it...I didn't know how to face it. I didn't want to.


I let out a breath and glanced in his direction, shaking my head.

"Could we just talk about something else, please?"

Jude frowned at that, but obviously saw that I'd had enough because in the next moment he was moving his arm around me and touching my chin to tilt my face towards his. This time my response was instant and I cupped the back of his neck and grabbed the front of his shirt as he kissed me, more determined than ever to enjoy this time with him before I had to go home to my mom, who could quite possibly shatter the world I was actually beginning to like, the very next day.


Bree and I left Trina's house leaving just enough time to go to the mall and then make it home before dinner. As far as I was concerned, that didn't leave me near enough time with Jude, but as Bree wisely pointed out my mother would never believe that she didn't buy anything if we really went shopping. Bree also made use of that time buy looking for gifts for Mrs. Clair's baby shower. This wasn't exactly the easiest shopping trip for me to put up with because it reminded me of Brad, and thinking about him automatically brought me back to Marrissa's phone call-the one I'd refused to return.

It really didn't help when Bree brought up Brad with me again. I hadn't mentioned the phone call to her, but that didn't stop my sister from suggesting that I at least try to talk to Brad-or allow her to do it for me. I became frustrated with the suggestions and ultimately left the shopping to my sister to go get a drink in the food court. But, not the entire trip was a waste. On the way back with my drink I worked up the nerve to stop by the sunglasses stand where I used to work where I forced some poor new kid to call up the manager. It took plenty of convincing on my part, but I ended up getting my old job back. Now, I'd just have to remember to show up for work the following weekend.

Dinner with my mom was... different. I'd expected her to want to talk about my sneaking out to see Jude, but instead, she did something that she'd never done before. She brought her laptop to the dinner table and pretty much ignored me and my sister. Maybe I would have welcomed being ignored for a little while, if I didn't have a sneaking suspicion that she was online looking up stuff about Jude. I had a bad feeling about it. I could just picture the computer screen being filled with the names of places for boys whose parents didn't want them anymore, and the very thought made me sick to my stomach. It definitely ruined my appetite and I ended up excusing myself from the table early. I guessed that Bree wasn't far behind me, the way that she glared at my oblivious mother all through dinner.

Going to bed sucked. I missed him-Jude. I missed having him next to me. My mother had invited him to stay the night again, but when I asked him about it before we left, he'd refused. Even though I much rather would have had him there, I could understand why he couldn't be. It was his way of making a small stand against my mother, to show her that he had his own bed and he planned on using it, despite her objections. But still, without him next to me I noticed that there was a lot more room to toss around in my sleep, and that made for a restless night. I drifted in and out of sleep until one o'clock in the morning when I finally got up to use the restroom, and when I got back in bed afterwards I couldn't resist the urge to pick up my phone. I only hesitated for a moment, thinking that it was too late, before I gave in and dialed Jude's number.

"Still worried about tomorrow, huh?" I heard Jude's voice say after two rings.

"How'd you know it was me?" I asked, leaning back in bed.

"You're predictable." he responded, but I could hear a smile in his voice, which immediately put me at ease.

"Why are you still awake?"

"Why are you calling me if you actually thought I'd be sleeping?" He teased, and I smiled.

"I can't sleep."

"Yes you can. You're just trying too hard."


"I know, Quinn." He said quietly. "But... it'll work out."

"I feel like it's all my fault." I admitted.


"Because she's my mom!" I said, as if it were obvious. "Jude, I would have given anything to get her focus off of me, but... shit. We never should have met her for lunch! None of this would have happened."

"I hate to break this too you, Quinn, but we couldn't have kept it from your mom forever. Look... it's probably better that we're dealing with it now. If it happened later she'd probably be angry about how many times we would have lied to her just so we could see each other."

I let out a breath and incredulously shook my head, even though he couldn't see me.

"Do you always have to make everything seem so... positive?"

"Someone has to," was his simple response. "Hey, are you in bed?"


"Do you have your pillow?"


"Good," he said. "Hug it."


"When you go to sleep, hug your pillow. That's what I'm going to do."

"Why?" I asked. He'd completely lost me.

"I'm going to pretend it's you."

This time when I laid down to go to sleep, I found myself silently chuckling to myself, wondering whether or not a pillow could complain about sexual harassment.


I was beyond surprised when Meyers called me into his office the next morning to tell me that I'd managed to get my grades back up and I was passing all of my classes with flying colors. It was a definite achievement, especially with the way that I'd been distracted lately. When he asked me if there was anything else that I wanted to talk about, I nearly broke and told him what was going on with my mom and Jude, but decided against it. There was no sense in drawing anymore adult attention to Jude's home situation. I excused myself from his office when he started to ask if I was seeing an outside councilor again. So far my mom had seemed to have forgotten and I wanted to keep it that way.

I'd predicted that my day would go by slow, with waiting for it to be over so I could meet Jude. But, my morning classes actually flew by. I'm guessing the only reason that happened was because I used school work as a distraction. I hoped that I could do the same after lunch.

I'd also been able to avoid both Brad and Marissa all morning. But, that I did on purpose. I made sure to keep to myself and I stayed out of crowded halls. I didn't even stop at my locker between classes. I'd loaded up every book I needed first thing in the morning. I did see Trina a few times, though, just in the halls. It looked like she was even going to be attending her classes today. She actually smiled at me twice, earning me a few odd looks from people who weren't used to Trina Ashpock smiling at all. But the strange thing was, I really didn't care. I think I was actually getting used to strange looks from my peers. I'm just glad that none of those expressions said I know you're gay, yet.

All and all, everything seemed to go smoothly... until lunch. I'd packed one this morning, so I could avoid the cafeteria altogether, but I'd been so nervous about what was going to happen with Jude that I'd left it on the kitchen table when my mom was ushering Bree and I out the door and telling us not to be late, since I was driving my car again. At least she hadn't taken that away from me for a second time, even if I was supposed to be re-grounded. But, now I had no lunch, and after skipping breakfast, I was officially starving. That meant that I could either continue to starve, or brave the cafeteria. I chose the latter and attempted to get there before the crowds... and hopefully get out before Brad or Marissa made their appearance.

I should have known that it would never work.

Unfortunately for me, they showed up together just as I finished paying for my meal. They'd also spotted me before I spotted them, which gave them a head start. I wasn't pleased at all when they headed towards me, and not their table... at least, it looked like they were headed in my direction. Marissa definitely was. Brad just looked like he was along for the ride, the way that she was dragging him along. Either way, with them both coming straight towards me I felt like a deer trapped in the headlights. I jumped and nearly dropped my lunch when a hand suddenly dropped down on my shoulder.

"It might be safer over here." Taylor was smirking at me as he began to lead me towards the table where Trina was already sitting.

"I should have starved." I mumbled, but followed Taylor. I highly doubted that Marissa and Brad would even think about going to that table. Unfortunately, the look on Trina's face as we sat down-Taylor next to her, and me opposite of them- said that I was dead wrong.

"Taylor, are you trying to spoil my lunch?" Trina demanded, that stone faced scowl that she reserved for Marissa appearing on her face as she looked past me.

I glanced over my shoulder and completely regretted it. Brad and Marissa weren't just on their way to the table, they were already there. I caught Brad's eyes first, and noticed that he immediately looked away from me, but that didn't stop Marissa from dragging him into the seat next to her as she sat down right next to me.

"Shut up, Trina." was the first thing out of my ex-girlfriend's mouth before she faced me pointedly. But, before she could speak she was interrupted by the way that Taylor loudly dropped his fist on the table.

"I object!" He announced, looking at Marissa. "The only bitch allowed at this table is me. That means get lost, whore."

"Taylor!" I hissed when his outburst drew attention to the table. It wasn't just a few glances, either. Marissa Rixis sitting down anywhere in the vicinity of Trina Ashpock was bound to draw attention. It didn't help that Trina was clutching her plastic fork as if she were about to jump over the table and attempt to poke out Marissa's eye with it. But, Marissa seemed completely oblivious to the danger she was placing herself in as she turned up her nose at Taylor and looked at me, hooking my arm with her's in the process.

"Quinn, enough is enough already." She stated. "We need to talk about this...all of us." she added, looking at Brad, who in turn looked away from her before she directed her attention back to me. "Look, I know you're mad at me right now, but I'm doing you a favor here. Now please come sit with your friends so we can work this out."

"I am sitting with my friends." I suddenly snapped, finding that last thing Marissa said offensive. I think I was a little surprised with myself for it. I don't think I would have openly admitted that I saw Trina and even Taylor as friends otherwise. It was true that the pair was growing on me. They'd been there for me when Marissa and Brad weren't.... but friends? The perplexed looks on their faces said that they were surprised by this too.

"Quinn..." Marissa frowned, looking at me as if I were putting her on.

"They are my friends." I decided aloud, looking at them across the table. It made for an awkward moment as Trina looked away and Taylor looked like he wanted to say something sarcastic, but I looked at Marissa and continued before he could. "If you have a problem with that, then leave."

She looked at me indignantly and opened her mouth to say something, but Brad surprised both of us when he cut in.

"Are we your friends, Quinn?"

I looked over at him. It was the first thing he'd said to me since he practically demanded that I stay the hell away from him. I wasn't really sure what to think of this, or how to answer the question. True, recently I'd been the one avoiding the two of them, but that was because I was afraid of a confrontation just like this. Actually, not just like this. I'd expected it to be a lot worse. In fact... I hadn't expected them to want to work things out at all.

"Friends don't attack each other and go throwing around words like fudgepacker."

I looked up, surprised again that this came from Taylor, who was now looking across the table at Brad coldly. It certainly was a switch from when they'd met at my locker and Taylor had been all but drooling over him. But, it wasn't the first time I'd seen that look on his face. It had been directed to me the first time I ever showed up at Trina's house. I remembered very clearly that Taylor hadn't wanted me there... he was defending Trina. The fact that he seemed to be defending me now oddly seemed both touching and a little creepy. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate it... I think it was that word that threw me off. For fuck sake, we were in the middle of the school cafeteria! I'd really have to have a conversation with Jude about repeating everything I told him to Taylor, especially when the term fudgepacker was involved. Until that moment, I had no idea that Taylor was even aware of what had happened between Brad and I.

"You called him that?" Both Trina and Marissa demanded. But it was Marissa who actually backhanded Brad's arm before she turned to glare at Trina, who was glaring right back. Obviously, they didn't like sharing sentences. For my part, I attempted to lean away from my ex-girlfriend, not so sure that she wouldn't smack me next.

"I told you he caught me at a bad time." Brad frowned, rubbing his arm where Marissa had struck him.

"You jerk," Marissa scolded him. I looked at Marissa somewhat incredulously. Was she defending me to Brad? She looked in my direction, and as if she could read my mind she rolled her eyes. "Don't look at me like that. I told you, Quinn, we're friends."

"You know she is, you know," Brad said, regarding me coldly. "I wouldn't even be here right now if it wasn't for Mar."

I took that the wrong way.

"If you don't want to be here, no one's forcing you." I retorted. I think any anger I felt towards my supposed best friend for hitting me with that water was coming to the surface.

"That's not what he meant, Quinn." Marissa stated. "If you'd just try to talk to him already you'd know that."

"I did try to talk to him!" I argued, glaring at Brad. "He's the one..."

"Oh shut up," Brad cut me off. "You'll only talk to me on your terms, Quinn! I don't exactly remember you being open to it when I tried to talk to you."

"I did try to talk to you!" I stated. "I remember chasing you down the stairs when you showed up at Jude's! You're the one that couldn't accept that I'm..."

I abruptly cut myself off, realizing where I was. The raised voices at our table had definitely attracted attention, and now it seemed that every table surrounding us had at least a few eyes looking in our direction. That made me more than just a little nervous. At least Brad didn't make the same mistake twice. He looked around, too, before responding.

"That's not true." He stated. "You surprised me, Quinn! I didn't even know how to react!"

"You could have reacted better." Marissa mumbled, and Brad and I both looked at her, him looking annoyed and me feeling surprised again. But, as I looked around at the eyes glancing in our direction I couldn't seem to respond to any of them. I noticed that Taylor and Trina were looking around now, too, seeming very uncomfortable.

"Well how would you react if you knocked on a door and then figured out he took so long to open it because he and his boyfriend had to put their clothes back on?" Brad hissed at Marissa.

All four sets of eyes snapped to me after that announcement. Brad almost looked ashamed of himself, which he should have been for opening his big mouth again. Trina looked mildly surprised, although her eyes were also darting around the room to make sure that no one had heard that. Marissa was looking at me with a mixture of disapproval and shock, and I don't know why because it's not like everyone at that table didn't know I was gay. Taylor was the only one who looked amused.

"I can't do this here." I suddenly announced, finding my feet as the color rushed to my face." I wasn't expecting my legs to feel so shaky, but I found my balance as I grabbed my bag, intending to get out of there.

"Quinn!" Marissa definitely didn't seem happy about me going. I looked down at her, still feeling put off by the way she was acting...and I wasn't talking about bad behavior, either. Maybe I wasn't fond of her attitude, but even under the stress of the situation it didn't escape my attention that Marissa was being supportive of me, in her own way. I wasn't sure if I should be grateful or suspicious. "You can't just..."

"Don't, Mar." Brad cut her off. "I told you this would be a mistake." I ignored the way he looked at me and I left the table, not brave enough to look at Trina or Taylor now. I'm sure they weren't very pleased with me for causing this drama at their table and then leaving them with it by walking away, especially after claiming that they were my friends.

But, it was probably better that I distanced myself from the situation, anyway. Especially as I walked away and heard Taylor casually tell Marissa that she was looking fat. A few moments later, I wondered if what sounded like a lunch tray hitting the floor had really been aimed at Taylor's head. I was too afraid to look back, though, and walked even faster.

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