This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. . Asmodean_uk@yahoo.com
There he was again, day two of trying to survive high school after being branded a Fag. He had ridden in with Brody and had luckily been spared the bus ride. It felt kind of good not to be bouncing along the back roads with a whole bunch of screaming kids who liked nothing more than to be as rude and as vulgar as they could.
Brody was unusually boisterous that morning; it was as if he awoke each morning with a new burst of energy that he couldn't contain. He seemed to jump from one task to another without stopping. Producing a breakfast of oatmeal that he set down in front of Will. Will had looked down at it and winced, apologizing profusely he had settled for a cup of strong coffee that curled his toes and work him up like a cold slap.
However, despite Brody's energy that morning, Will felt sluggish. He had so much swimming about in his mind that he barely noticed the drive. Staring out the window at the houses whipping by. He had chosen some of the clothes Arthur had insisted on buying him the night before, a cool pair of Khaki Cargo's and a dark purple dress shirt. Over that, of course the leather jacket had been tossed. It was the coolest he had ever dressed.
As he went to get out of the truck, Brody stopped him and lifted a pair of sunglasses off of the dash and casually put them on Will's head, not on, more that they rested on top. He nodded in satisfaction at his addition and hopped down out of the truck. "Any one fucks with you today." He said firmly, "Tell 'em I'll see them after school for a real lesson."
Will nodded at his friend, the senior shop jock that had a protective side. It was a don't fuck with me attitude that he cultivated so much that most people just didn't see him for who he really was. Brody could be kind, thoughtful and generous but hid it well beneath a veneer of indifference.
He took a deep breath as he pushed his way into the school lobby ready for anything.
Except the stares of utter disbelief. About twenty or so kids stopped to look at him as he walked in, and a palpable hush settled over them, causing Will to look frantically over his shoulder hoping there was someone standing behind him. He wasn't that lucky, and his stomach clenched, he knew exactly what they must have all been thinking.
Jared broke the spell, "Hey Carter..." he walking right up to him and buckling his knees extending his hand to slap Will's hand, "Looking sharp!" he took a step back and nodded approvingly, as the lobby of students roused themselves from their stunned silence and went back to their talking.
"Don't get too close Jared," Todd Gadreau, a heavyset defenseman on the Condor's team sneered as he walked past, "he might be after your ass."
Jared arched his eyebrow at Todd, built like a brick building with a low center of mass, Todd could drop just about anyone in the school and had on several occasions. The C on his jacket was the only thing standing between him and a full-blown suspension. He had a perpetual angry look on his face, one that was now directed at Will.
"Yeah?" Jared looped an arm over Will's shoulder, "Looking like this I think he might just get it too!"
Todd froze in mid stride, gaping openly at Jared, "You what-?" he choked.
That deadly silence had descended over the lobby again. Will suddenly wished he'd stayed home that day. What was Jared doing, was he looking to get his head kicked in?
Jared just smiled, and pointed at Todd, "Dude you should see your face!"
There was a burst of laughter as the lobby kids realized Jared had been teasing Todd. And Todd worked his jaw a couple of times cluing in to the fact that he was the butt of his own joke, and he sneered again stalking off towards the gym.
Jared guided Will over to where Lisa was sitting with a cup of coffee already poured and waiting for Will. And as he sat down he tilted up his hat to wipe his brow. "Wow that was cool."
Will sat down as he shook his head, "What was that all about?"
Jared grinned, "Hey I figured throw them a curve ball and they'd be too busy scrambling to figure it out they would forget completely about you. Besides everyone knows I'm straight." He grinned, "I am sleeping with a cheerleader."
"You're a pig." Lisa commented as she handed Will his coffee, she looked him over approvingly, "Who'd have thought there'd be a teenager under all those old scruffy clothes. Now we just have to get your hair cut and you'd be hot."
Will shook his head as he drank from his coffee cup, "I'm not hot." He said with a shy grin.
Lisa smirked and reached out to turn his head to look at the large glass bulletin board. It had a black backing so it acted like a mirror reflecting the table, and Will saw a stranger sitting where he should have been. He really hadn't looked at himself that morning, stumbling about half awake and tugging on clothes. He sat and stared, it was a wonder what new clothes could do, and Arthur had made sure to dress him in things that were stylish. And added to that the sunglasses gave him a touch of style.
He blushed. It was still him, but not him. He shook his head as he sat back in the chair a weird smile on his face. He looked good and he couldn't deny it. Lisa was right, he needed a haircut but other than that he looked... good.
Andrew crossed the lobby heading towards the gym and he stopped, doing a double take. His eyes wide in surprise as he quickly recovered, looking about him to see if anyone had seen. Lisa, sitting beside Will smirked at his shocked reaction. Jared, as usual, remained oblivious.
Will looked up at Andrew and smiled confidently, the Canadian could still stir butterflies in his stomach, but the look of surprise on Andrew's face was calming. In a single look he had shown Will that he was not the only one to be nervous about what they had started.
Andrew checked about him once again, and gave Will a thumbs up before continuing on his way to the gym. Condor country.
Mike Greenwood was an institution at South Carleton, he had been there since the school had opened, and nobody questioned his right to be head of the English department of the school. He was considered brilliant, and the students lucky enough to have him always passed on stories of how hard he worked.
He always reminded Andrew of Richard Dean Anderson, that same kind of temperament even though Greenwood looked a bit older. There was a sense of energy about the man, and an irreverence that endeared him to the students. He was one of those men that could actually relate to his students. And if the rumours were to be believed, it was because he had been a renegade protester in the sixties.
Andrew's mother had always dismissed that as gossip and rumour, something she had no patience for. She was known around town for her strong stance against the rumour mill that seemed to fuel a small town. There were members of her church group that went so far as to avoid Micheline Highmore, fearful of incurring a stern lecture from her on the subject.
Andrew grinned as he sat up towards the back of the auditorium listening to Greenwood recite a selection from Othello.
"Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial." Greenwood's voice resonated around the stage as he closed the book. He was the only teacher in the school that used the Auditorium as a teaching tool. Treating it like a university lecture hall, he rested a hand on the lectern and stared up at the Grade 12 students, "What did Shakespeare mean when he penned those words?"
A student's hand snaked up, "He is saying that a person's reputation is important, so important that without it they are nothing?"
Greenwood shook his head, "Quite the contrary," he stepped down off of the stage and took the floor of the auditorium, tapping the book against his hand, "He is saying that reputation is important to the individual. It his perception of himself as reflected in the eyes on another that he feels separates him from an animal. But..." he held up a finger, "We are not slaves to reputations, if we allow our 'image' to dictate who we are and how we act then are we no better off than an animal? What separates us from the animals is the capacity for independent thought, that freedom to be whoever we wanted to be regardless of what another person thinks or feels about it."
Andrew raised his own hand, "I'm sorry sir, but our society isn't built like that, we depend on reputations to dictate where we sit in a social group..."
Greenwood smiled, "Spoken like a man with a reputation to protect." He sat down on the edge of the stage and set the book aside, "we are all concerned with how we are supposed to look, how we are supposed to act that we sometimes don't notice that what we want to do, and what we are doing are two different things."
Robin Doyal, one of the most dynamic seniors in the school and a definite contender for Valedictorian that year held up her hand, "But what about social obligations?"
"How far does that go?" Andrew countered looking across the hall at her, "We all have social obligations, to the law and to what's morally acceptable, but what about something like slavery. It was socially acceptable to own slaves."
"Mister Highmore raises a good point," Greenwood said, "it took some brave people a long time ago to realize that the perception was wrong and for them to set out to change the beliefs of everyone around them. But we don't need to go for such an old example, can anyone think of an example of how perceptions in this school could affect the decisions you make?"
Robin nodded, "Yes smoking."
Greenwood nodded, "Definitely, society tells you smoking is wrong, yet we have for the longest time thought it was socially acceptable to smoke."
"Fag's." Todd Gadreau yelled from the back of the room where he lounged with one leg looped over the top of the chair in front of him sitting next to a couple of his friends.
"A perfect example," Greenwood said as he stood up again, "Is homosexuality wrong?"
There was a murmur in the auditorium, and Greenwood swept his gaze over each of them. "I see we have a pretty mixed crowd here today." He observed, "So lets not focus on the issue of Homosexuality itself, but the perception of homosexuality."
"Like that Carter kid." Mario Guerra chimed up, the small Latino who was on the basketball team.
"Carter kid?" Greenwood asked.
"Yes," Robin said as she adjusted her blouse, "there is a kid in the grade below us that was 'supposedly'" she threw a meaningful glance back up at Todd, "Caught kissing another guy."
Greenwood became a bit nervous, "I don't think we should be discussing a specific person..."
"Carter's gay," Todd threw back, "If he wasn't why hasn't he denied anything?"
"Maybe," Robin said turning fully now to affix a dark stare at the hockey player, "he hasn't had a chance to deny it, because some people have already made up their minds!"
"I heard he got kicked out of his house," Mario chimed in, "If he wasn't gay why'd his dad kick him out?"
"Listen," Greenwood tried to interject again, "I don't think this is appropriate..."
Andrew felt himself sinking lower into his chair, his mind swimming back to that first kiss. And for the first time realizing exactly what Will had been talking about. He wanted to say something anything, put a stop to this debate, but what could he say?
He was standing before he realized it, his hands sunk into his pockets as he looked about the room, "Do any of you actually know William Carter?" he watched their surprised reactions to his sudden anger, "I mean really know him?" he looked up at Todd, "Did you know Carter's dad is in the British Army, that even the suspicion of his son being gay is enough to send that bastard over the edge?" He looked over at Mario, "Ever stop to ask him if he's gay? Even if he was what difference does it really make? I know him; I've talked to him. Just accusing him of being gay based off of what one girl thought she saw in a park..." he shook his head as he sat back down seething. He hated getting angry like that, but he couldn't just sit there, that was Will they were talking about.
"Andrew's right," Robin stated, actually agreeing with him. Robin had never agreed with Andrew on anything. It was surprising, she nodded at him again as she stood up, "You're judging someone you don't even know. I think..."
She was cut off by the sharp sound of the bell. As students rushed to collect their books Greenwood called out to them, "It just serves to prove that even though Shakespeare is old, his message remains the same. I expect your English papers at the end of the week and we will have a test on this on Monday."
The day just seemed to be getting longer for Will, lunch time he had planned just to find a quiet corner and hide, but for some bizarre reason seniors kept saying hello to him. There were still dirty looks, even a few snide comments thrown at him by kids in his own grade and lower, but the seniors seemed split. Some openly acknowledging him warmly, some with looks of pity and others with outright hostility.
As a group of senior girls said hello to him and walked away giggling and throwing looks back at him over their shoulders, he felt that all too familiar flush of embarrassment sweep over him.
"Well that's just strange!" Lisa observed reaching into her locker to retrieve her lunch, she looked at Will and noted he hadn't brought a lunch with him. She gave him a worried maternal look as she closed the locker. "Do you have money for your lunch?" she asked in concern.
He nodded absently as his head turned to follow a couple of seniors that had greeted him as strangely as the others had. "You think they put something in the water today?" he craned his head around her to look down the hall.
She looked him up and down and shook her head, "You're just popular all of a sudden."
He winced, looking at her as if she had told him he had grown a tentacle out of his forehead that was waving a Norwegian flag and screaming un-boring... "Look I don't know much," his voice dipped, "But this isn't supposed to happen..."
She shrugged at him leading the way down towards the cafeteria, "Well if it makes you feel any better there's still a lot of people that dislike you." She shrugged, "Maybe it's just the clothes, you do look good..."
She drew up short and Will nearly collided with her, he stared at her a moment the looked around to where Charlene blocked their path. The cheerleader had her gaggle of Harridans with her. The popular girls that seemed to flock together out of some kind of mutual need to stroke each others egos.
Charlene had a round face that wasn't so much pretty as it was... soft. She had a mass of curls that built up on top of one another in a very eighties style of volume hair. But she pulled it off with her own style. Her cousin and best friend Marie-Lynn clutched her books to her breast standing as ever at her right hand. The two were as inseparable as twins. Both in his year, Will swallowed as he felt Lisa tense.
"We were looking for you Lisa." She said in a matter of fact tone. The kind that said 'I'm popular so you will do what I tell you.' She smiled prettily, "we were going to eat and I," the way she said 'I' it was as if she was taking sole credit for the decision, "Felt you should join us."
"Well I was going to eat with Will..." she said nervously, glancing at him.
He smiled, "I'll be alright, you go, we'll catch up later."
She looked at him for confirmation of his decision before Charlene swept off with her arm around Lisa. And he smiled, circle jumping as Lisa had called it last week. He was glad for her; she had always wanted to be one of the in-crowd. He stuck his hands into his pocket and sauntered down to his locker to get his new jacket.
He didn't feel like eating in the school cafeteria, but there was a store just a half block away he could pick up some lunch there. Something that wouldn't hit the plate with a cold hard splat as it was deposited there by a lunch lady that looked as if she hated her job.
He had just crossed the lobby to the front doors when Jared caught up to him. "Hey the guy everyone's talking about."
Will chewed on his lip as he scratched his temple, "I don't get it, this morning it was as if I had some incurable disease and now..."
"Apparently Greenwood had a debate today about homosexuality, and you were the case study."
Will's jaw dropped open, "what?" he choked. He suddenly felt ill.
Jared patted his buddy's shoulder, "Don't worry it wasn't like that. Apparently Todd brought your name up, and both Captain Amazing and the Ice Queen shot him down."
"Captain Amazing and the Ice Queen?" Will asked in open confusion.
"Andy Highmore and Robin Doyal," He grinned as he followed Will out into the snow, the pair walking down the hill towards the store together. Jared continued his description of events, "so Todd was being an ass, no surprise there, and Andrew gets up and asks him if he ever actually asked you if you were gay. And Todd was like, uh errr...and Andrew went on to blast him about being prejudice, and then Robin gets up... and we all know what a tongue she has on her, and she tore strips off of him. Basically from what I heard, they said 'get to know him before you judge if he's gay or not'."
Will shook his head in dismay, "Oh no..."
Jared nodded, "Yeah I know fucked up isn't it." He glanced at Will, "so are you?"
Will balked, staring at Jared's bold question in shock.
Jared shrugged, "I figured I'm your friend, and since I stick up for you I could ask..." he suddenly realized how his question sounded and he shook his head, "No... no... I mean, its like I don't care if you are or not, and I won't tell anyone or anything if you were... I was just curious."
Will stared at the half inch of snow he was trudging through, wondering at how he should answer that question. It wasn't that he didn't trust Jared, he did, Jared was good to him, and had been absolutely amazing to him since the start of the mess.
"I don't know," he said choosing the truth, "I'm confused right now..."
Jared nodded sagely, "We've all been there." He punched Will's arm playfully, "you'll figure it out...now me I like the ladies," his eyes sparkled as he grinned, "just in case you got any ideas."
Will grinned in return, as they both pushed their way into the store.
Andrew sat watching the basketball team run through its daily routine, small scrimmage games in the gym that really served no point other than to kill time. Half of his team were out there was well bouncing balls around, and he sat at the table normally set aside for the scoreboard controls. It was his right to sit there while everyone else lounged on benches or on the floor. It wasn't like it was a written rule; it was just that he usually sat there on his lunch hour.
Greenwood's class had bothered him, and he had skipped his lunch instead choosing to watch the basketballs bouncing around. Across the way Bruce Guitard was playing badminton with one of the junior coaches. Bruce was up for a regional tournament and was practicing whenever he could. He was agile, quick and dominated the game.
Andrew didn't feel like participating, sometimes he did he could play basketball, but it wasn't as much fun as hockey could be. He was looking forward to his game on the weekend. And idly speculated that they would play well, he had a practice after school and intended to work his team hard.
Coach Thorburn was refereeing the basketball scrimmage, he was everything a football couch should be except that he lived and worked in Canada where High School football was just impractical. He was a good coach, sharp witted and protective of his team. But that meant most of them felt they could get away with anything. Guys like Todd Gadreau who, since earning his jacket had become a major asshole.
Andrew looked at his watch, glancing about him at the group of people sitting chatting about nothing in particular. He noticed Charlene and her friends were clustered around that waify friend of Will's. The Red head that looked almost elfin in her appearance. They seemed to be talking like they had been friends for years. It was amazing what a rumour, even a bad one, could do for a person's popularity. Greenwood had been right about reputations.
He got up, noticing the shift of some of his teammates getting ready to come with him. He shook his head as he motioned for them to keep sitting, "I've got to go to my locker." He said indicating he wanted to be alone. Generally most people respected that, though sometimes there were a couple of the juniors that hadn't learned to leave him be.
Today they stayed where they were. He nodded to himself in satisfaction as he sauntered across the gym. His calm rolling gaits letting him amble through the other kids. He never appeared to be in a rush to get anywhere, why hurry. His Mother had always taught him that he would get there eventually.
He wasn't heading for his locker, he had finished his homework the night before, but seeing Lisa had given him an urge to track down Will. It was irrational and he knew it, what could he possibly say in school? And some one was bound to notice eventually that the Captain of the Team was being so friendly with a sophomore.
Reputation, reputation, reputation.
Greenwood's deep baritone voice rang in his ears, as he entered the Lobby attached to the Cafeteria, taking a moment to stop and nod hello to a few people that had done the same to him. He glanced around the brick pillars that separated the lobby from the main cafeteria and saw no sign of Will. He continued on past the office and leaned in the doors of the Library. Still nothing. He sighed a little in frustration as he continued through the school, glancing into the classrooms that were like carbon copies of each other, square magnolia with chalkboards and cheap desks.
It was a typical high school a little older than most, built in the late sixties and modernized several times since then. But it was clean; there was no peeling paint. All the lockers were the same shade of deep magnolia and all the doors were a drab olive green, pretty dull. He walked until he wound his way down into the shop area of the school. Huge bays for auto shop, wood working, there were even a welding class held down there once a week. It wasn't Andrew's area of the school, but he figured find Brody and he would probably find Will.
But other than some determined guys wrestling with an engine block Andrew was disappointed again. It was turning into an empty quest and he stuck his hands into his pockets as he walked back the way he had come. Will was about somewhere, but was proving elusive, and it was getting close to the end of the lunch hour, so Andrew felt he might as well just get his books and go to class.
Something made him walk down into the basement where Will kept his locker, that quiet corner of the school no one bothered with. Sure enough Will was sitting at the foot of his locker, nose tucked into a book. He didn't seem to notice Andrew approaching until the senior crouched down beside him.
"Must be a good book." He observed with a smile.
Will glanced up from it a surprised smile on his own face. He set the book across his knees, "Its all right." He confided after a moment, "what are you doing down here?"
Andrew looked at the darkened hallway and shrugged, "Looking for you, you're a difficult guy to find."
Will shrugged, "I felt kind of uncomfortable with all the attention so figured I'd hide down here." He turned slightly to face Andrew, "though I think I have to find a better hiding place."
Andrew shifted to sit down beside Will, "I'll hunt you down. You know us Canadian's great trackers."
"Ahh," Will said with a grin, "How does it go, a Mountie always gets his man?"
Andrew chuckled, "Mission accomplished." He said with a wry grin.
The bell rang and Andrew looked up at it in annoyance, so much for his alone time with Will. He smiled a moment watching as a couple of students hurried to their lockers, not even acknowledging the two young men sitting on the floor. The vanished again as the second bell rang a couple of minutes later.
Neither of them bothered to stand up, even though they were now both late for class.
"We're late." Will observed.
Andrew nodded, "Detention for sure."
"I plead innocence your honour." Will said blushing slightly.
Andrew laughed as he got to his feet, "We should get to class." He extended a hand to help Will up, and as he pulled the younger man up, he looked about him up the hall, confident no one was about he leaned in to touch his lips to Will's.
Will blushed a furious shade of red, "We can't do that here," he protested around Andrew's mouth touching his. Andrew ignored him and gently brushed his nose under Will's.
He felt Will relax, and begin to return the kiss, his hands reaching up into the warm jacket to touch Andrew's back through the thin cotton shirt he wore under it. And then Will stiffened up, his eyes widening in shock. Andrew broke his kiss and looked puzzled at Will a second before he turned.
Mister Greenwood stood in the hallway, a look of shock mirroring Will's own on his aged face. He looked first at Will and then turned his head to Andrew before turning back.
"Mister Carter I presume." Greenwood said regaining his composure, watching as Andrew hurriedly stepped backwards, he looked over at Andrew, "And you must be the mysterious man from the park."
"Um..." Andrew stuttered, Will looked like he was about to suffer a complete heart failure; he was a shade of mortification white, his eyes wide and glassy. And Andrew felt his heart go out to him.
Mister Greenwood looked between the two of them, the absurdity of the situation finally became too much for him and he began to chuckle. "You two are going to get to class," he said making his mind up, "And I am going to forget I saw this today." He coughed in his own embarrassment, "And I am going to give you both the same lecture I give to... other people I find... kissing in the halls." He shook his head in wonder, "Though this is the first time... well anyways... this is a place of learning, and you do that in a classroom, not... err... in the halls..."
Andrew nodded dumbstruck. Will just continued to stand there, frozen with terror. "It won't happen again...Mister Greenwood..." He added afterwards, "I'll just... well make sure Carter here gets to class..."
Greenwood shook his head, "I think Mister Carter is in need of a glass of water, you go Mister Highmore, I will ensure Mister Carter gets to his next class."
"Y-yes sir..." Andrew said nervously, throwing a final apologetic glance at Will before he jogged off as fast as he could.
Greenwood calmly set a hand on Will's shoulder, staring him squarely in the eye "Mister Carter?" He inquired calmly, "Are you going to be ok?"
Will stared at the kindly old gentleman's face, feeling himself still shaking from the shock of the situation, "I don't know." He replied with total honesty. He was beginning to recover from the surprise of being caught; beginning to think again, and his thoughts terrified him.
Greenwood nodded, "Come with me Mister Carter." He led the young man up through the heart of the school, winding through the halls till he led the way into a cramped lounge that was officially a teacher's lounge but seldom, if ever, used. It was the one Lisa often raided for coffee.
Greenwood pointed to one of the couches, a gaudy faux leather thing that had been donated sometime in the eighties and flatly refused to die. Will sat on it, feeling a sense of dread sweeping over him. He wanted to be in class, he wanted... he wanted to be anywhere else than right there at that time.
Greenwood poured a couple of cups of coffee, and returned, pushing one into Will's hands he sat down in a rather comfortable looking chair. "I think, under the circumstances we should have a talk." He said sternly.
Will swallowed, stirring some sugar into his coffee and adjusting his position on the couch, "I guess..."
Greenwood stroked his Vandyke beard with aged fingers. Studying Will with a careful eye, there was silence between them and Will wondered what the old man was thinking about. He was growing a bit self-conscious sitting there cradling a mug of coffee. So he decided to take a hesitant step forward.
"I... I'm sorry about that."
Greenwood arched an eyebrow resting simply in his chair, "I'm not concerned about the fact you were kissing in the halls." He said with a tight smile, "I am more concerned about you." He set his coffee down on the coffee table and steepled his fingers in front of him, "It sounds like you are going through a lot right now, and I was wondering if you needed to talk about any of it."
Will sat quietly looking at the swirls the cream had made in his coffee, "I...don't know." He said again.
"That's not like the young Will Carter I've heard so much about." Greenwood observed, "I was under the impression you were quite an opinionated young man. Your English teacher seems to think you have strong opinions on most things. I've read some of your Essays; I tend to agree with her."
"I guess..." Will said still feeling nervous, but a thought crept in, Greenwood had read his essays?
"You're conclusions were all wrong." Greenwood said with a dry chuckle, "But considering you're still in high school you still presented a strong argument." He sat forward a bit changing the subject, "How long have you and Andrew...?"
Will winced again, "N... not long." There was no point in denying anything Greenwood wasn't blind.
The teacher nodded his head. "He's a good young man, a good head on his shoulders."
"Y-yeah." Will agreed.
"This is awkward to ask," Greenwood said still studying Will carefully, "Are you comfortable with his advances?"
Will was startled, something on his face must have given that a way because Greenwood nodded, "I just wanted to make sure. He was very protective of you earlier today."
"I-I heard." Will felt his cheeks turning red, embarrassed that he had been the subject of debate, that his life discussed in open forum.
Greenwood nodded, "Yes, I wanted to apologize for that, I do not normally allow such a discussion in my class. But you should know Mister Highmore was... very forceful in his defence of you." He paused, "Now in hindsight I can see why."
Will's cheeks reddened even further.
Greenwood nodded, "Well I just wanted to make sure that you were alright and that Mister Highmore wasn't..." he choose his words carefully, "taking advantage of your current state..."
Will shook his head adamantly, "Sir, it's not like that, Andrew wouldn't..." the thought was abhorrent.
Greenwood nodded, "Yes, I can see he feels for you quite strongly, and you for him." He almost smiled, then caught it and buried it under a look of concern, "I will give you the same lecture I give to the young ladies I...find in similar situations. Mister Highmore is a very popular young man and you may feel pressure to... act on emotions." He gave Will a meaningful look, "Just be certain you're ready, alright?"
Will nodded again, feeling mildly reassured.
Greenwood nodded, "Then you can go back to class Mister Carter." He watched as Will got up to leave, "Oh and I meant what I said, I saw nothing. Just don't do it in the halls again."
Will nodded thankfully, "We won't Mister Greenwood."
After he had left, Greenwood remained in his chair rubbing his temples chuckling to himself. That was definitely a first for him.
Andrew caught up with Will just after the final bell, he was carrying his equipment bag and a pair of taped up hockey sticks that he endeavoured to wrestle around to keep from dropping everything. He looked at Will with a sheepish grin as he set the bag down and propped the sticks up against a locker.
He was probably going to be late getting to practice, but he didn't seem in a hurry. Will was shrugging on his coat and stuffing books into his backpack getting ready to go home.
"Look I'm sorry about earlier..." Andrew started nervously, again pushing his hands into his pockets. Will picked up on the nervous gesture; it was something Andrew did subconsciously, and Will couldn't help but grin.
"It's okay, Mister Greenwood just wanted to make sure you weren't taking advantage of me." He put on an innocent look, "Big bad Hockey player stealing my virtue..."
Andrew's eyes widened in surprise, "He said what?"
Will was enjoying the scandalized look far too much, and he closed his locker door, "he gave me the same lecture he gives all the cheer leaders."
Andrew leaned on his hockey sticks, "So," he seemed to consider it a moment, "You're a cheerleader?"
Will gave Andrew a flat look, "Don't you start." He shrugged, "Though I'll walk you to your car, you have practice tonight right?"
Andrew nodded as he recovered his equipment bag, and the two of them walked through the school towards the student parking lot. It was quiet, most of the students already gone, and thankfully the snow had finally stopped falling. It was quite a pleasant evening in fact.
A quick glance showed Brody had waited for him, the French Canadian sitting on the hood of his truck smoking a cigarette and staring off at nothing in particular. It was kind of him to wait, and Will felt grateful for such a small gesture.
"Look's like your ride is waiting for you," Andrew observed as he opened the door to his own car, the smile on his face became a little unsteady, "Look...I'm sorry about today I shouldn't... not at school."
Will stuck his hands in his pocket in a mimic of Andrew's gesture, "I'm not as fragile as you think I am." He said with a shrug, "Though it just seems every time you kiss me we get caught."
Andrew nodded in concern, "And that bothers you."
Will patted the roof of Andrew's car, "You're late for practice," he offered a small smile, "good luck."
Andrew glanced about him and gently rubbed Will's tummy, "For luck," he explained as he got in and shut the door.
Brody was still smoking when Will crossed the parking lot, and Will moved to hop up on the hood of the truck beside him. The two young men sat quietly for a while as Brody stared peacefully at the school. Will didn't say anything, not wanting to disturb the warrior's quiet contemplation.
It was a strange way to look at Brody, but that is what he reminded Will of. A young man so angry at the world that he felt he had to pull against the system, push the limits of what he could do. One of those people that steadfastly refused to live within the sterile boundaries of society, he had to chart his own course no matter how many people told him the world was flat, he had to see it for himself.
"We're waiting for Lisa," Brody said after a minute of silence, as if answering Will's unasked question as to why they were still waiting.
As if summoned by the very mention of her name, she pushed out of the doors to the school and walked over to the truck. She looked tired as she got into the cab, and the two guys exchanged worried looks as they got in as well.
She sighed expressively as she hugged Brody before he started the truck, "Thanks for giving me a ride, I have to get my hair done tonight..." she shook her head, "so much to do."
Brody nodded as he drove the truck down from the school, taking a turn that brought him onto the small main street of Merrickville, he came to a stop outside the small stylists that Will always felt was outrageously over priced.
As she got out she locked onto Will's arm, "You're coming with me." She said firmly, and she threw a sweet smile over at Brody, "See you in an hour, ok?"
Will began to protest as she pushed him through the doors into the small salon, each time he formulated some clear argument for him to not be there, she countered it. I can't afford it, I'm paying. I normally go to barbers, this is a stylists it's better... and so on. Till finally he was sitting in the chair, an overtly enthusiastic hairdresser happily clipping away at his hair, sculpting it for the first time in his life.
He had been so used to the same haircut, a pair of buzz clippers that just shaved everything off when it grew too long that when asked he really had no idea what to ask for. The stylist had looked over at Lisa for direction, and the young woman, hair soaking with highlight treatments offered her advice.
After a half hour of cutting, clipping and styling he was looking at a person he barely recognized in the mirror. His hair had been brought in close at the sides, but had been left a little long on top, the stylist had used a little wax to let the hair stay upright, and she ruffled her fingers through it to give it a more natural look.
"Very James Dean," she said with a smile.
Will frowned that was the second time someone had made that comparison, and he still had no idea who that was. The name was familiar, and he was an actor, Will knew that much, but beyond that he had no clue. He smiled when he was finally permitted out of the chair and he sat down on a chair waiting for Lisa to finish.
She came out looking almost exactly the same as she had going in, just a little neater. But naturally a fuss had to be made over how good she looked. Will never quite understood the need to constantly comment on new haircuts or clothes, but then he had never really had to. Growing up in the Major's house had meant a very strict, disciplined upbringing, a very masculine upbringing. This was the way boys were supposed to act, and so that was the way he acted.
As they waited idly for Brody to return sitting on the steps of the salon Will looked at her over the rims of Brody's aviator sunglasses, she was a beautiful woman, fine auburn hair spiralling down into ringlets gave her the appearance of a true Celtic beauty, delicate and waify she moved with a grace that so many other girls in the town were jealous of. And rightly so, Charlene was a lumbered when she walked alongside Lisa. Lisa had the potential to be the most beautiful girl in school, but she was also the most real. Too many years pretending to be a boy when she was younger Will guessed.
"What?" Lisa asked self-consciously as she noticed Will was staring at her.
"I was just thinking how beautiful you were." He said honestly, glancing back down at the slush filled roads where a couple of children were splashing about in puddles.
She gave him a warm smile. "Flirt," She accused with a playful look, "Now at least I know why you don't have a girlfriend."
Will shifted uncomfortably, "I..."
She reached out and squeezed his knee, "It's okay, and I don't blame you Andrew's well he's a great guy even if he is a meat head jock."
Will nodded, suddenly craving a cigarette, not that he smoked, but he had heard they did wonders for the nerves. He looked over at Lisa again and shrugged, "Greenwood caught us kissing in the halls today..."
"No!" she said incredulously looking at him with wide luminous eyes, "What is it with you and getting caught all the time?"
Will chuckled, "I don't know." He gave a slight shrug, "But Greenwood's not going to tell anyone. Though he did give me a lecture about..."
"Let me guess," Lisa said doing her best Greenwood Impression complete with the stroking motion of the beard, "you may feel pressure to... act on emotions..." She flashed her dazzling smile; "I got the same lecture last year when I was dating one of the Condor's."
Will nodded, "Apparently he says it to all the girls..."
Lisa snorted, "He thinks you are the girl?" She shook her head as she laughed, "Boy he doesn't know you that well, your about as stereo-typically masculine as I am feminine..."
"Not that much then." Will replied as he ducked under her attempt to cuff the back of his head.
She stopped laughing and turned to him, "But it's true though, I'd have never though you were gay. You're quiet, a little shy at times... but you're not effeminate."
"I know, it's confusing, because Andrew is certainly a masculine guy..." Will said having difficulty trying to express what was running through his head, "I just can't explain it, I just feel safe when he touches me..." his voice trailed off as he stared absently at the kids playing.
She studied his face in concern, and relaxed. She knew him too well and she could read him clearly. "It'll be okay," she said reassuringly, "you'll figure it out."
He gave a ragged breath as he leaned back on the steps, "Yeah, it's strange if you'd have told me a month ago I'd be..." his voice dipped conspiratorially, "dating a guy, I'd have laughed so hard..."
She looked at him again, reading his expressions and nodding, "You must like him a lot."
Will thought about Andrew juggling all of his hockey equipment, deliberately late for practice just to spend a few more minutes with him. Those blue eyes that sparkled whenever they looked at him. The nervous kisses and timid way he said I love you. The way he parted his hair just off from the centre. The way he stuck his hands in his pockets and sauntered.
Will blushed, "Yeah I think I do..."
Lisa beamed, "Good, because you deserve to be happy, and you look good too."
"I'm da schiznit." He said with a smirk.
She winced turning up her nose at his attempt to be American Ghetto, "Don't do that again, it sounds so wrong when you say it."
He nodded sobering up slightly, "Do you think I'm gay?" he said, startling her.
She took his hand and felt him cling to it for a while waiting for her to reply, eventually she just shook her head, "I think you are in love Will, and really that's all that matters. You're just luck enough to have him feel the same way. Just enjoy it and see where it takes you."
Brody's truck rumbled to a stop at the curb and they both reluctantly got up, and out of instinct Lisa threw her arms around Will and hugged him. He stood there looking down at her quizzically, stiff and uncomfortable with the sudden display of affection. She rubbed his back once and stepped back. "One of these day's Carter, you are going to actually hug me back."
"Yes," he said thoughtfully as he walked to the truck and opened it to let her in.
He was sitting in the library with the Scrapbook open on the table in front of him. It was a biography on Hollywood stars of the fifties. He sat there quietly studying the pages rereading the section on Dean's life.
James Dean had been little more than a boy when he died, killed at twenty-four on the highway near Paso Robles, California, on September 30, 1955, while on his way to a sports car meet. At the time of his death, Dean had completed three movies, East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, and Giant, only the first of which had been released.
Just like that, one man died and an icon had been born. It didn't affect Will in a profound way; it wasn't a sudden turning point for his life. If anything it sounded anticlimactic. A young man that had been such a symbol for teenage rebellion but what did catch his eye was the theory that Dean had been gay. Nothing founded in fact, everyone who would know was either dead or flatly refused to admit to anything, but the theory was enough for Will to take a closer look.
The more he read, the more he felt he understood, Dean was the phenomenon that he had been painted to be, he had been another screwed up person who had tried to deal with life in his own way. Seeming to get everything he could possibly want only to ultimately loose everything.
He closed the book with a snap and returned it to the shelf. He was thinking a lot about the future and what exactly he wanted from life. Hard things for a sixteen year old kid to decide, but reading about Dean just hit his own situation home.
He found himself standing in the great bay windows at the far end of the library, hands knotted at the small of his back staring out at the white covered world. His eyes travelled over the trees, and up to the horizon. The school commanded an impressive view of Merrickville; it sat up on a small hill above the small town and so sat slightly apart from it.
He had choices to make, and in a moment of clarity like that, he knew he had to make them. He couldn't just drift, he was suddenly in charge of his own life for the first time and that meant the only one who made the choices was him. It was as much thrilling as it was terrifying.
He knew he wanted University, which was a road he had been guided towards much of his life. His father had been grooming him for an eventual career in the military, but that was his dream not Will's. Will felt he owed his father nothing at that moment, and with good reason.
He knew he didn't want to stay in the Ottawa Valley; there was Dalhousie University that he had always wanted to attend. Go there and... and what? Be another carbon copy Ikea boy, mass-produced for living in Canadian society?
He could choose a school in England; his Grandmother would be ecstatic about that. Her little boy coming home. But then he would have to work harder to get there, the entrance requirements for foreign students; even ones that were citizens would be higher than a school in Canada.
There was always college, not much of an option for him. He was an academic and he knew books. As much as he missed playing cricket, he just couldn't make a living in Canada knowing how to play a sport everyone dismissed as a joke. Even if he did go back to England, he was so far out of practice...
He was actually angry with his father. He had made such a monumental decision to uproot his entire family to start again in Canada. He had dragged Will away from his friends, his family; even his dreams just to abandon him in this place. He had been cast away like a piece of rubbish just because gay men had no place in the Major's army.
He looked at his friends, and the parents they had. Lisa had a doting mom who seemed to look after everyone. Jared had stable parents that encouraged him; hell they even allowed him to throw parties when they were away.
Even Brody had parents that cared. Although he seemed distant from them, he still maintained a connection to them. Will supposed it had something to do with when Brody's Grandmother had become ill. He had moved in to care for her, no small commitment for someone so young. Watching someone he cared for slowly loosing a battle to cancer had hardened Brody, to the point that when she had passed away he had stayed in that house.
Parents were an important part of a teenager's life, that love and guidance that sent them down the path that would eventually lead them to their own lives. But that had all changed, in a single heart beat. One single kiss in the snow and everything had changed. But he wasn't complaining, he couldn't miss what he had never had.
If anything, he felt he should thank his father. The lessons he had learned were how to survive, the endless repetition of discipline till it was as much a part of him as the air he breathed. The only difference was now he was master of his own ship, that now he had to steer his own course and see where it took him.
University it would be, but he would enter the courses he wanted to enter. He would study the history he loved and maybe one day he would bury himself in some dark and musty library somewhere, happily deciphering languages that no one had spoken in millennia. Or maybe he would go on to Journalism school and see where his writing would take him. The choice really was his alone.
He felt rather than heard Andrew's approach, and he inclined his head slightly to confirm it. There was that all too familiar flush of warmth he felt whenever Andrew was near him and he turned with a full smile on his face.
"What are you staring at?" Andrew asked, bouncing on the balls of his feet with his hands in his pockets staring out of the windows at the white world beyond.
"Just thinking," Will confessed, "About the future."
Andrew nodded, "That's cool," he cast a look back over his shoulder and seeing no one watching him he casually bounced against Will. A playful gesture that was perfectly safe, and wasn't going to earn Will any more lectures from Mister Greenwood.
Andrew stopped bouncing a moment and leaned in closer to Will, "I want to take you out tonight, on a date."
Will nodded it was a Friday night. Hard for him to believe only a week had gone by since he had been at Jared's party. The last few days since Greenwood had caught them had passed in almost a blur. Andrew had made every effort to find Will at the end of each lunch hour, and again after class they would walk out to Andrew's car together. Fleeting moments, but it was all they could afford.
"Is that a yes?" Andrew asked bouncing again. He was nervous, Will could never get that. Andrew always seemed so outwardly calm about everything, and yet a simple thing like asking him could make him sweat.
At least Will wasn't the only one intimidated by the prospect of going out on a date. But there was an almost earnest way about Andrew asking, like he was hoping Will would say yes even though he was uncertain about the whole gay thing.
"Yes," Will replied with a shy smile, his cheeks flushing again.
"Good," Andrew said relaxing noticeably, "I'll pick you up at seven thirty..." he stopped, "Oh and dress up, I want this to be perfect."
Will glanced at him, "Perfect huh?"
Andrew grinned walked away, a spring in every other step. From Will's perspective it was like the Captain of the Condors hockey team was skipping. He shook his head in amusement, what had he just agreed to? What was he going to wear?