The following story is for adults and contains descriptions of sexual contact between teenage males. If you are a minor it is illegal for you to read, or if you find the subject objectionable, read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my over-active imagination. I hope you like it. Mail me or if literary analysis interests you visit Eliot's Space.

Turbulence

 

by eliot moore

Chapter Twenty

Breaking through the Ice

 

Run with me, Wednesday, April 13th

A herd of ninth graders crawled past mopping the floor with wet gym clothes. Two bored seniors trailed after them. Clearly they were fresh from Freshie Court and working off some meaningless infraction. Daniel stayed out of their way and thought about the long months left till he was free of all the shit.

Laine watched Daniel eating lunch by himself again at one of the benches by the window. He had not actually spoken to the Daniel since Halloween. He thought about the small wave at the mall. It had started something between them. Could Arlo be telling the truth? Daniel occasionally sat with a group of friends, but Laine had not sensed anything happening between the blond boy and any of the others. Laine was dancing around his problems and he needed to get off his ass and deal with both of them. Laine wanted to break the ice with Daniel. He needed to see if there was a chance they might be friends. Laine was also concerned about Arlo. He saw him in with this Donald freak of his and he did not like what he saw. Laine watched Daniel's lips purse around a straw and he smiled slightly despite the turmoil he was feeling. Even after all the other boys he had made out with and his fixation on Daniel, Laine could not get his first love out of his mind. Maybe Daniel was the key. Maybe Arlo would listen to his best friend. Maybe Arlo's best friend would still be open to Laine too.

"Laine, are you going to come over to Hank's after school? Peter and Evan have a freshie court detention and we think we should cheer them up when they are done."

"I'll think about it dude." Watching Daniel made Laine horny. A dumpy girl who looked familiar stopped to speak to him. Laine saw Daniel's face light up for a moment when the girl said something. "Catch you later." Laine watched the girl move off and Laine knew if he was going to get this guy's help he had to talk to him. He moved over to the bench and Daniel stopped stuffing the sandwich into his mouth. He looked up at Laine with a question in his eyes. "Hey, do you remember me? I'm Laine, mind if I sit down?" Daniel had eyes to swim in and lips he would be glad to have touched his skin. Laine tried to get back on track. Daniel sat with his back up against the brick wall of the alcove eating his sandwich and sucking on a juice box waiting patiently for him to get to the point. Laine put his feet up on the bench and leaned back against the other wall. Will you be my friend? I'm gay. Is that okay with you? I'm lonely and I've been hurt. I need someone I can trust. I think there is something going on between us. Am I wrong? You are so damn beautiful and I want to hold you. "Will you help me with Arlo?" Daniel kept eating his sandwich and he did not look comfortable.

"I don't hang with the dude these days." Daniel bagged his garbage and looked back at Laine; "I thought you were through with Arlo." Laine did not know how to answer that. He had walked away from Arlo but he was still connected to the guy. Besides, the truth was he was here about Daniel not Arlo. Why did it have to be so complicated? Laine took a deep breath. Try again, keep him talking for a while, and don't break the connection yet.

"Arlo's okay. I can't let him go on like this. Do you know what he is doing to himself?" Laine knew he was getting upset. He did not have any friends he could turn to. Hank's pose had turned against Arlo. Arlo had told him Daniel was his best friend, was that just another line he had spun for Laine's benefit?

Daniel looked at Laine. They had danced around each other for too long. Daniel shook off the thought. Laine had broken the ice between them and Daniel was not going to let that opportunity slip away. Laine apparently still cared about Arlo. That was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps all these weeks Laine had simply been looking for a way to get Daniel to help him with his ex-boyfriend. Daniel thought about Mandy and how he would feel if she was self destructing like Arlo. Simon had stepped in to help him when he thought Daniel was falling apart. Daniel knew he should put his feelings aside and help Laine and he knew he should help Arlo. Laine looked very good up close. It was hard to remember that Laine was thinking about Arlo. Daniel wanted to connect with Denver before classes started. "This is a bad time to talk Laine. Do you want to hook up with me after school? You can tell me all about it then."

"Yeh that would be cool" contact! Laine got up feeling better.

"Oh hey man, I'm sorry; I forgot I have to run after school today. Do you mind meeting me at five?" Daniel didn't know why he'd suggested that.

"I suppose I could. I don't know if I want to hang out here that long. You know what its like."

"Well we could connect somewhere or, hey, you want to come running with me?" Laine was lonely. Daniel's simple offer was the first one he'd had since he broke up with Arlo. High School was bleak when you were openly gay and the guys you would like to be friends with give you a hard time. Running with Daniel sounded very good at the moment.

"I'll give it a try." Daniel told him where to meet and they drifted away from each other with a mixture of reluctance and relief that they had reached the point where they could talk.

* ** *

Laine turned out to be a good runner. He started jogging with Daniel and then closed the distance with Simon and the rest of the leaders. Daniel had been keeping it up for the exercise and companionship with the older boys. Denver had laughed when he confided that he hated it. On the way back Laine dropped back to talk again. He had been enjoying the run so much he had momentarily forgotten his primary objective. The path was wide enough for Laine and Daniel to jog together. "This is cool. The guys told me I should join." Laine did not even seem winded. Daniel was in condition now, but he jogged with grim determination and little pleasure.

"I wish you joy," he did not like to talk when he ran.

"Were you serious about having dinner with me?" Daniel missed a step and fell behind for a few strides. Laine paused to let him catch up. He wondered if he had misunderstood Daniel. Shit, he did not want to screw this up. It had been awesome just being part of a group of people who did not know you were gay. He was running again. It felt so good.

"Sure."

"Good because I told my parents I was going over to your house for supper." Daniel grunted. He had been planning to talk with Laine somewhere close to the school before he went home; maybe over a Coke or something. Find out if he was as interesting as he was attractive. Now he was bringing a boy home to meet his mother.

 

A Thrill's a Thrill, Wednesday afternoon

Daniel phoned his mom to warn her while Laine was still in the shower. They caught the up-town bus. It was crowded so after a while they had to stand.

Laine couldn't stop his attraction to Daniel. Having a shower together had given Laine a little too much to think about. An old woman was sitting near them. She looked at the boy's with frank curiosity. Laine had given his seat up for her. As the two teenagers rocked back and forth with the swaying of the bus the woman spoke to Laine. "Thank you sweet heart for giving me your seat, you and your brother are very courteous." Laine and Daniel glanced at each other self consciously. Nick had been right that day in the mall, they were similar.

"You're shorter and you run well." Daniel looked away from him and his neck got red. Laine looked at Daniel and replied silently, and you are taller and hotter; and I wish we could make out. The woman's eyes a bare meter from his crotch were barely enough to restrain the erection growing in his jeans. Laine and Daniel kept the game of eye-tag going as the bus lurched down the street. A pair of girls from some elementary school sat watching them. Laine was sure it was Daniel who had their attention. They giggled together quietly. One girl slipped a cell phone from her jacket and snapped a picture of the two boys bumping shoulders together. They giggled over the results. Daniel had not seemed conscious of the girls' attention. He surprised Laine when he leaned close and commented on them in a low voice. "I think you have a fan club Laine. It must be the sexy hair." Laine stared at him blankly and Daniel blushed before turning away. Laine thought the universe had a tendency to become Daniel-centric. How could Daniel imagine the orbiting girls would notice Laine's dark planet when the heat from Daniel's corona was boiling his blood?

Daniel's apartment was much as Arlo had enthusiastically described it. Laine was impressed with the view. He and Nick would have been very comfortable in Daniel's room almost as comfortable as Laine would have been sharing the room with Daniel. Daniel's pleasant mother told them to just settle in while she finished cooking. She warned Daniel she had to go out to a late meeting this was her life and Daniel was used to it. The boys sat uncomfortably in Daniel's room with the door closed. You work to get to this point and then you find it is still not an easy thing. Daniel sat on the chair backward and leaned on the back looking at Laine. Laine sat on the bed looking back. Daniel didn't know where to begin. Daniel felt the silence stretch out painfully. Laine broke the silence. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have come. You must think I'm a looser bugging you like this."

"It's okay, you were right; I should do something about Arlo. I've been treating him shitty this year."

"Thanks for including me in with your friends." Daniel looked at Laine with an intensity that set the now familiar flight of dragonflies frantically hammering against his chest.

"You seem to think I have lots of friends at Riverview." Daniel got up and sat next to Laine on the bed. "I guess I had friends in grade eight. I lost most of them this year. It's hard to make friends right now; you know?" Daniel found himself staring at Laine as he silently nodded back. "I hang with a few people, but I'm short on friends Laine and I'm looking for volunteers." he nudged Laine in the side. "Don't be so uptight guy." He was about to get serious when the phone rang.

The interruption served to cool them both off slightly. Laine amused himself with an unrestricted view of Daniel's butt. "Hey Mandy" Daniel glanced at Laine who pointed to the door. Daniel shook his head and Laine settled back. "I got Laine over here. Yeh, Arlo's friend" Daniel turned away for a moment. "No I don't have him over for that. Just remember that was your idea last time." Daniel laughed but his face was burning. Hide in plain view. Make a joke out of the truth and people will believe your completely straight, Daniel reassured him self. "Are you going to come over and have one with me? I've got the soap... Sure." Daniel cut the call short and turned back to Laine. "Sorry about that. My friend wants to meet me later tonight. We were in the same class last year with Arlo. You want to come with me? Mom can drop us off and your folks could pick you up there afterward."

Laine jumped at the idea. Daniel seemed as happy to have him over as he was to be there. "Arlo" he said. Daniel sat back down on the bed.

"Yes, Arlo; I don't know what to say man." What did a fourteen-year old know about talking to a friend about sex? "He's had some rough experiences this year. I don't think I'm the right guy to tell him what to do."

"Arlo said you are his first boy friend." Daniel shifted uncomfortably next to Laine. Laine was gay, but he did not know how far he wanted to trust him. He looked at Laine's face and tried to push the attraction away. It was apparently not going to happen. Daniel eyed the dragonfly poster he had acquired in the mountains after his summer at camp. He counted the insects quickly to see if any had escaped and accidentally found their way into his chest.

"It wasn't really that way. I don't want to talk about it." He looked down. "Let's say I didn't help the problem."

"Well the first time I met Arlo things were pretty bad. The guy doesn't know what a good time is." Laine was not ready to tell Daniel about sex with Arlo: the pain and abuse. Laine got off the bed and took his turn on the chair. The moment in the mall came back to Laine and he suddenly had to know where he stood with Daniel. "Daniel are you gay or bi or what?"

Daniel rolled onto his back on the bed. Laine found it painfully erotic. "I don't know. What does it matter?" Because I want to jump your bones, thought Laine looking at the outline of Daniel's penis through the soft denim. Laine wanted to know how close Daniel and Arlo had been.

"Because Arlo thinks he can get you back," Laine admitted wistfully.

"That's not going to happen Laine. He should go back to you."

"I broke it off with him, not the other way around."

The dragonflies were frantic now. The boys shared a moment of silence as they weighed the significance of their words. Daniel retreated from the moment slightly. "Arlo and I were tight Laine, but it cannot be like that with us." They started to share their recent experiences with Arlo skirting the conversation they really wanted to have. Laine finally found he was giving Daniel hints about Arlo's aggressive sex. It was hard for him to share. Arlo was the only boy he had trusted, the person who had taken his virginity. He talked for a while and found Daniel such a good listener that he even stopped worrying about what he was thinking. It was a confession and Daniel was his priest. When he stopped finally he looked at Daniel to see how he had taken the story. He saw no contempt or embarrassment.

"Did he ever tell you about his first time?" Laine shook his head. Laine listened to the story of the rape by the river and it made him angry. It was hard to respond to it. How did Arlo get from that to asking Laine to hit him with a belt? Laine knew more about Arlo's habits than Daniel did. Arlo went looking for trouble. Laine shared that thought with Daniel. The talk was drawing them together like a magnet. Daniel had got up and walked over to the book shelf where he was fingering a bar of soap while they talked. Laine followed him over. He felt the heat of the other boy begin to sear him. "What's with the soap?" Daniel turned suddenly and looked into his eyes.

"I have a girl friend." Laine felt the blood burning through him.

"It doesn't have to mean anything Daniel. There aren't any strings attached."

"Just a thrill?" Daniel asked centimeters from Laine.

"Oh yeh" Daniel reached a practice hand out and drew Laine's head forward for a kiss. Heat and motion; the dragonflies burst through the walls of their hard chests and mingled about them in the incandescent air. Small wings trailed glowing sparks through the passion clouding their eyes. Daniel pulled Laine up against the door to provide some extra security. It was what they both wanted and thought was lost in the ferocity of that first connection. Daniel laced his fingers through Laine's hair and their lips bruised painfully and their teeth collided as they learned to accommodate each other. It was unpracticed and it was glorious.

They were interrupted minutes later by Daniel's mom who called through the door to say supper would be ready in ten minutes. Daniel broke the kiss to let her know he had heard. The cloud cleared enough for Daniel to realize he was pulling on Laine's hair. Liquid soap and a fresh effusion of Laine's sweaty musk filled his nostrils and he gave Laine's lips another try. Laine's fingers frantically tore at Daniel's shirt tail and found the small of his back.

The boys were breathing hard and they felt each other's heat and the hardness of their cocks when they broke a second time. Laine flicked his eyes down to Daniel's waist. It was all moving very quickly now. Daniel breathed quietly "Oh yeh." Laine dropped down and jerked Daniel's fly open. It was all too quick that first time. It was all done in a desperate silence. Daniel wheezed as he burst into Laine's warm mouth and Laine whimpered as he tried to contain the flow. When Daniel was done Daniel dropped to his knees and kissed Laine hard before pushing him back onto the plush carpet. Laine swiped at an errant trail of saliva and semen as Daniel fumbled at Laine's heavy belt. Daniel gave up and fell to yanking the loose-fitting pants down past Laine's hips. Laine's cock sprang free and Daniel curled over Laine's straining cock to take him into his mouth. Laine closed his eyes. Daniel's mom called them to dinner as he exploded in Daniel's mouth.

"You should have offered Laine something before dinner Daniel. That was a long wait." The boys looked at each other then went back to eating. Laine supplied the dinner conversation.

 

Eddie's advice, Wednesday evening

Daniel paused outside the old restaurant to warn Laine. "I enjoyed that Laine. I am glad you came over and I would like to hang out with you again; but that's my girl in there and you have to understand nothing can come between me and her. No hard feelings? Did we make a mistake?"

Laine stood with his hands in his pocket. He smiled at Daniel. He could fall for the sexy blond, maybe something would happen between them later, but he was relieved to hear Daniel's words. He still needed his space. That kind of fire burned deep scars. Even a moment with Daniel had ignited something Laine needed to learn to control. He took a deep breath. "Don't worry man; I don't want to marry you. I get it; you and her are tight, but your not quite there yet; or maybe you just can't resist doing it with your brother."

Daniel thought about Denver. He grinned and nudged Laine before he went through the door. "Maybe a little of both dude."

Daniel kissed Mandy without feeling too much guilt and reintroduced her to Laine. Mandy told him that Denver was in the back so Daniel headed back to say hello.

Mark and Daniel eyed each other. "What do you say Soda?" Daniel greeted Denver's boyfriend. The sense of rivalry had not quite vanished between them.

"I guess that makes me your brother doesn't it Ponyboy?" He gave Daniel a hug. They needed to relax around each other. "So is Denver still Darry?"

"Yes"

"Why can't I be Dally? He was the cool one. Darry was just work work work." The younger boys looked at him.

"Because you have to be our brother dumb ass" Daniel explained.

"And we don't want you to get shot at the end. And Daniel how do you expect me to get a girl pregnant? Isn't that your kind of thing?"

Mandy ignored that last remark as she came into the kitchen to see Mark, she wanted to get Mark to come out and meet Laine. He promised to join her. "This sounds like a set-up to me." He knew about her success with Claire and suspected she was now allied to Beth in some way.

"The girl does have good taste Mark." commented Denver. Mark went out to meet Laine and Denver asked Daniel if he was going to help him in the kitchen. Daniel explained about the conference. Daniel had brought his book bag to work on after Laine had left. He went back to join the others.

They bought snacks and drinks so they would feel comfortable taking up the alcove by the fire place. Laine divided his time between watching Daniel and Mandy and trying to decide why he had been introduced to Mark. Daniel and Mandy seemed really happy together. Daniel had told the truth to him; she would come first. Laine remembered them as Romeo and Juliet. He'd tried out the relationship thing with Arlo. It had seemed like the high school thing to do. It took him a while to get over the break-up. He still felt tied to Arlo and now he was dealing with feelings for Daniel. He did not need the emotional baggage.

The whole idea of talking about Arlo didn't really work. Laine had gotten mad at Arlo, told him to stop letting people use him, he needed to respect himself. Arlo didn't want to hear it. Having Mandy be part of the conversation didn't help. Daniel and Laine didn't feel comfortable getting into details around her. Their own recent activities added to the confusion. The boys gave up and the conversation shifted. Things ended when Laine saw his dad's car pull up.

Mark chose that moment to leave too. Mandy watched them talk together briefly through the window, and then turned back with satisfaction. "Don't expect much Mandy. I don't think either of them is looking for a new boy friend. You are the one who told me Mark and Denver are still together and Beth is out of the picture." Daniel cleaned up the coffee table while Mandy carried their bags to the back. They spread out on a table and worked together for a while.

Later, when Daniel was helping Denver and Eddie close up he asked them what they thought he should do about Arlo. It was Eddie who had the advice. "Wa mek yu galaan so? You tell the chi-chi man how you stand. You tell him how his goings on is bring you down. You say mi dun dweet. You tell him you there for him when he done with the foolishness, then you step away man. You step away 'cause nothing changes a junkie but his-self. Junkie has to want to save his own ass." Eddie looked at the inexperienced teenagers. "Dey nuh odda way. You try to grab onto him, he gonna drag you down with him." Daniel looked at Denver. He shrugged back.

"The man makes sense to me." On the way home Denver told Daniel he was worried about Karl. "He isn't putting as much time into the restaurant right now. It's putting a strain on me. I need to be able to put the time into classes. The place can really afford more staff at the moment. It's not my job to hire."

"Things are better at school for me. I'm on top of my classes again. I could come in more often."

"You really mean that? I mean about things being better?" The weather was breaking so after parking the car they took a walk around the streets.

"I haven't been bothered by anyone for a week or so." It was true. Jake was off his back and the truth was no one else noticed him much. He could almost relax in the hallways.

"We are all thinking about getting out." Denver put an arm around his young companion. "I hope the next few years are great ones Daniel, but God I am so ready to leave that place." Daniel knew Denver was going to move on. He suddenly realized he might loose all contact with him. That didn't feel good.

"Do you know what you are going to do?" Daniel already felt abandoned.

"I have been accepted a number of places." That silenced Daniel for a while. He sat suddenly on a bench and Denver walked a couple of paces further and turned to look back. Daniel watched the late night traffic flow by. Denver came back and sat down with him.

"I'm being stupid" Daniel glanced at Denver. "Don't worry about it." Denver knew he had created the situation. He had created a bond over the last nine months and he was now telling the kid it was going to be over in about nine weeks. It was harsh.

"Do you think I'm going to vanish in two months?"

"No, but you will be out of school. I won't see you much after this."

"You're going to be busy too Daniel. What does a grade ten need from a guy in University besides someone to pull beer?"

A guy in grade ten needs a brother. A guy to turn to when your dad is an asshole who pretends you are not his son. A guy in grade ten needed someone to be like. "Yes, I guess so." Denver got up and started walking again. Daniel watched him go then caught up to him before Denver reached the corner. Denver continued to talk about his uncertainty about the future. Daniel didn't follow the confusing array of choices Denver was talking about. Life after high school was a little unreal to him; kind of like thinking about being a parent. He barely knew what his mother did at her office night and day.

 

Casting seed on rocky soil, Friday April 15th

Arlo shifted uncomfortably on the bench and watched the last stragglers leaving the school. Arlo scanned the traffic looking for the car. They had forgotten him last Friday and he had gone home instead. They said they were going to pick him up this time.

Donald had included Arlo in his gang for the last couple of months. Arlo enjoyed listening to the boys talk. They shared weed with him and made him feel like part of the older high school crowd. Sometimes they took him to a movie. He kept hoping they would let him come to one of their parties. Mostly they dropped him off early. The other guys were not as friendly as Donald. Donald still liked to fuck. The others let him blow them sometimes, but he couldn't get them to pay attention anymore. They use to get turned on by him and that felt good. At the start they all wanted a piece of his ass. He'd go home satisfied. It was getting late and the guys hadn't come.

Arlo's attention was distracted by the movement of Daniel sitting down next to him. Daniel had been a little friendlier over the last few days. "What are you up to Arlo?"

"Waiting for some friends" Arlo turned back to watch the street.

"Why are you doing this man? Why do you want them to use you?" Arlo turned back to look at his friend. Daniel stared back him.

"They are my friends. What do you mean? They like me. We have a good time together." Arlo sounded defensive. He played with the zipper. "What do you care anyway? You don't want to hang out with me anymore." Daniel looked down trying to think of something to say. He knew he had been avoiding his friend.

"You are letting them gang bang you. Doesn't that bother you?" Daniel felt exasperated. "We spend all our time at school trying to avoid these guys and you go looking for them." Daniel put his hand on Arlo's shoulder. "I had to let you know it bothers me to see you hurting yourself like this."

"I'm fine. You should stop worrying about me. Just take care of yourself." Arlo look back at the street. His heart lighted when he saw Donald's car pulling up to the entrance of the school. He started to leave the bench without saying goodbye to his friend.

Daniel called out after him, but he didn't listen. Daniel ran down the steps to catch up to his friend. He caught him by the arm and turned him around. "Arlo call me some time we can hang out together."

Arlo looked at him anxious to get away and replied "yes, maybe." Daniel looked inside the car. He saw three boys in the back and three in the front. The driver must have been Donald, because he looked like a twelfth grader. But the other boys all looked younger. They looked like they might be tenth graders. The driver got out when Arlo came to the door.

"You have to get in here man." Daniel watched Arlo squeeze in the back seat with the three boys. The twelfth grader turned back and looked at Daniel watching nearby. "Hey freshie, maybe you should get in too." Daniel shook his head and took a step back. "No I said you should get in with your friend." Daniel felt Denver standing beside him.

Denver put to a hand on Daniel's shoulder and told the senior "He is with me. Take your friends and go." Donald shrugged and returned to the car. Daniel and Denver watched the car pull away. "You did what you could. He knows you're thinking about him. Maybe he will think about it and decide to call you up." Denver knew his young friend was not happy with how things had gone. "You know Eddie was right you can't change him."

 

Ain't nobody gonna keep me down, Tuesday April 26th

Ms. Canon sat at her desk taking a rare break from checking the students. The students were working on their essays or sleeping with their eyes open. April brought the first real break in the weather and the ninth graders had come in from lunch fidgeting. Daniel sat doodling ideas for the essay on his paper. He wished he had his laptop. He did not write well on paper any more. Ms. Canon had challenged his doodles until he came back after school one day to show her how he did it. She made him try other ways to write, but he still preferred his webs.

The silence in the room was broken by Simon asking to go to the washroom. He stopped by Daniel's desk on his way out. "Grab you purse Daniel we are going to powder our noses." Daniel dropped his pencil and followed Simon out of the room. Ms. Canon did not comment. She was used to her ninth graders traveling in packs.

Daniel leaned against a wall reading graffiti while Simon did his business. He resumed their old game. "Wash your hands Simon; didn't you learn anything in Kindergarten?"

"Yeh, I learned not to piss on my hands." they did not make it to the door. They both backed up as Nolan came in with Chris.

"Look at this Chris a pair of bum-buddies holding each others cocks while they piss." Daniel felt Simon tense next to him. "Back up girls" Daniel and Simon backed away cautiously. "What do you think Chris? What should we make these faggots do?" Daniel looked at Chris as the ninth grader leaned on a sink.

"Simon there should suck Daniel's dick." Daniel grabbed Simon as he surged forward.

"You are so going down Chris." Simon yelled as he pointed a finger at their old classmate. Daniel dragged him back toward the wall and grabbed Simon by his shirt. He knew Simon was getting irrational. He put his face in Simon's and hissed at him.

"Cool it; this guy is huge." Simon grabbed his shirt in turn and growled back through clenched teeth.

"I need to take this prick out Daniel." Simon would not stop pushing toward Chris and Nolan. They grappled with each other for a second while the other two watched with amusement.

"I told you to wash your hands; now I have your piss all over my shirt!" They really did not know what they were doing anymore.

"I told you I was careful, let it go." They twisted into a stall door and bounced back off.

Nolan interrupted them. "Why don't you ladies just bitch slap each other until you both cream your jeans?" Daniel and Simon froze looking at each other. It was April now and Daniel was just tired of it all.

"I promised Mandy I would stay out of trouble." he warned Simon.

"You promised me there would be no more of this shit."

"I'm sorry Simon. I love her more."

"My heart will never heal from your heartless rejection. She can blame me." Simon concluded. The two ninth graders launched themselves at the solid senior. It was a grim time after that. Chris backed into a corner to protect himself. Nolan was too big. Simon couldn't hold his headlock on his thick neck and Daniel cracked his head on a sink trying to trip him over. When they finally toppled the tower there was already a lot of blood. Daniel felt his left wrist pop when Nolan crushed him then had a moment's relief when Simon slammed a foot into Nolan's side. Simon collapsed after that retching on the floor holding his groin. Nolan ignored Daniel's right hooks while he choked him on the floor. For a brief moment Nolan was distracted by Simon and turned to kick him away. Daniel's fist connected with Nolan's ear and Nolan grunted in pain before turning his attention back to the flea that bit him. Daniel bared his blood-stained lips as Nolan drove the air out of his lungs. The three teenagers were hurting badly when Mr. Tallon opened the door and bellowed at them; all three flopped back gasping, glad to have an excuse to stop.

Daniel got to his feet painfully. He couldn't draw a breath as he leaned against the wall. Simon was vomiting in the toilet. Daniel was still frightened of Nolan, but the senior was ignoring the younger boys while he washed his face off in a sink. Daniel felt nauseated when Nolan blew the blood out of his nose. Nolan glanced at Daniel and saw his reaction. "Give it a try kid. It helps." Daniel came over to the sink farthest away from Nolan, gave him a glance and tried blowing his nose. It did seem to help. When the vice principal appeared with a security guard the four boys walked quietly down to the office. Ms. Canon looked out her door silently as the blood covered boys trooped past. When she turned around she bumped into Mandy trying to see past her. She didn't try to stop the girl when she left the room.

In the office the three boys sat quietly while Chris went into the office. Nolan sat with his arms folded looking off into space. It was like the two ninth graders were not even there. Chris came out and glanced at Nolan with a smile before leaving the office. Nolan looked at the wall above Simon and Daniel's head, "Fucking pussy." Nolan was called in next. He didn't stay in the office very long.

While they were alone Simon and Daniel talked quietly together; "Hey Daniel I hope you are not mad about the cock sucking thing. You know it's not my thing. But, I mean you've been really cool to me this year and I don't want to screw that up. Are we okay still?" Simon's words meant a lot to Daniel. It took some of the hurt away.

He looked at Simon through his good eye and confessed. "I know that man; it's been cool hanging with you too. It was the piss on your hands Simon. It freaked me out." Daniel picked at his shirt like he was going to vomit. "I'll never get this shirt clean. I don't know if I can ever hang with you again."

"Fuck off Daniel." Simon closed his eyes and started laughing weakly. "Oh man my balls hurt." he paused and looked tragically at Daniel. "I may not be able to do Melissa tonight." They sat there in painful companionship until Nolan came out of the office. The Freshies tensed up when the senior stopped and looked down at them.

"You boys did okay back there." he held out a meaty paw to Simon who flinched away. "Peace?" Simon took his hand and shook it gingerly. He held it out to Daniel and Daniel winced as the senior squeezed his hand hard. Nolan left without another word. The boys glanced at each other and then they went into the vice principal's office with a pride in their limps.

John looked at the two ninth graders in front of him. He was tired of dealing with the fighting. Every year it was the same thing. There were always a certain number of ninth graders who had to push their weight around and test the limits of the school's rules. Either they were fighting with each other or they tried to take on some senior. By June the trouble seemed to die down. John looked at the boys sitting before him. He remembered defending Daniel in the hallway. Now he was not so sure the boy had deserved his assistance. "Well Chris told me you boys started the fight. Nolan said he started it. What do you boys say?" The boys looked at each other.

"We started it." Simon replied. John sighed.

"Well not that it really matters to me, but why did you try to take on a senior who weighs more than both of you together?"

"He told me to suck Daniel's... You know." Simon sputtered.

"I hear filth like that everyday around this school. You two probably talk to each other that way too. What makes you think you can answer these petty insults with violence." John was angry at the smug little trouble makers. "Chris didn't have to fight. He seems to understand we have a code of respect and non-violence at this school." The boys glanced at each other then looked down. John hoped he had got through to them. This was the first time Murrell had been brought to his office. Marks seemed like a different story. He remembered dealing with him recently: a suspension for attacking an older boy. "Frankly I would be ashamed if my friends learned I had ganged up on another student the way you did on poor Nolan." John stood up to show the interview was over. "You are both suspended for three school days. And you Marks, I'll have you out of this school if this ever happens again. Think about what I said and don't ever come back here like this." John went to the door and opened it. "You stay here till your parents come for you. I'm sure they will not be pleased with your behavior today." The boys made no comment as they sat waiting.

 

Being Denver, Thursday April 28th

Daniel lay on his bed as he heard his mom take off for work. He didn't feel good. His mom had taken one look at him and then marched into the vice principal's office for a conference. It was very quiet so Daniel and Simon could not hear what was said. Daniel was embarrassed to have his mom there. She stalked back out of the office and Daniel trailed after her. She did not ask him what had caused the fight. She just took him to a clinic then home. The worst part of the evening was dealing with Denver and Mandy. He had expected Mandy's reaction. She was upset that he had got hurt and wanted to see him. Denver listened to the story over the phone and left Daniel uncertain about whether his senior thought he had done the right thing. Denver was upset with Nolan but calmed down when Daniel told him what Nolan said in the office.

His mother had saved her comments for the morning. She sat him down and made him tell her the truth. It was his first indication that she knew more about what was going on in his life than he had realized. He sat and listened to his mom struggle. "Daniel; I really hoped that things had changed in fifteen years. It was just as bad for me when I was fourteen. I guess I was dreaming." She reached out and touched his bruised face. "I'm not really mad at you for fighting Daniel. Sometimes you can get backed into a corner in grade nine." She hugged him tight. "I need you to be careful kid. I would be lost without you." He had made some promise to her. While she hugged him he suddenly remembered she had been in ninth grade when he was conceived. It made him think of Mandy.

Daniel realized he was genuinely hurt because he dozed most of the day. Mandy showed up after school. She had a hard time dealing with it and burst into tears. He eventually had to sit and hold her while he reassured her he would be okay. He would be careful next time. He would stay out of trouble. It could not have been a very reassuring message to her when his left hand was wrapped in a tensor bandage and his eye was swollen closed.

Daniel was bored by the second morning. He talked briefly with Simon but there wasn't much to say after they had reviewed the sequence of events and compared wounds. Simon's brother, Vance had talked to Nolan and reported back that the bully thought the boys had been cool and he had called his dogs off them. Chris was suffering though. Nolan was making him pay for failing to watch his back. Daniel did not feel much sympathy for Chris. Bored with the apartment, he drifted down to the Brass Lantern and tried to help Karl out. For Karl it was like an ugly flash-back. The battered boy upset him. In the quiet after lunch he let Eddie handle things and sat with the boy. Daniel found he was telling Karl about his fight and why it had happened. Karl told him about the many times Denver had come into the restaurant battered and limping. Daniel was secretly proud to be compared with Denver. Daniel realized he missed talking with an older man. Denver felt like a big brother to him and there was the added tension between them that came from their night together. Karl responded to him like he had been there and gone on. Daniel told him a little about his grandfather and listened to his plans for the restaurant. The old man was not ready to retire.

Daniel was trying to help in the kitchen with his one good hand when Denver came in. Denver felt that everything was crashing down on him. He had not seen Daniel and was not prepared for his battered face. It was just one more thing he did not think he could face anymore. He could not get Karl to go home and rest. His dad was away again. He needed to focus on his school work and his two dependents were not cooperating. Mark was fretting that he might be convinced to go to Yale after all. Everything was going out from him and nothing was coming back. After a futile half hour trying to pry Karl away from the restaurant he had a small melt-down in the kitchen. "You're going to kill yourself if you don't slow down." He snapped at his old friend.

"Don't worry yourself so much Denver." Denver finished what he was doing and stalked off to Eddie's small room and gave himself a time out. Daniel found him sitting on the futon with his head buried in his arms. The colored light from the stained glass patterned his body. He sat down next to Denver and leaned his head against his shoulder. Daniel whispered he was sorry. Denver put his arm around the boy's shoulder and gave him a little hug. The contact felt good to him.

"It's not your fault Daniel." He wanted to kiss the purple bruise on Daniel's cheek or sooth his cut lip. "Are you okay Daniel?" The boy nodded but his eyes glistened in the dark room.

"Don't get so worried. I can handle this." Daniel wrapped an arm around Denver's bent leg and rested his chin on Denver's knee. Denver absently scratched his back. Daniel looked into his face and they shared a long look and some memories. " Denver ; don't worry about Karl. He's happy. My grandpa hated being sick in bed. It was hard to wait." Denver looked at Daniel with respect.

"That's pretty wise for a little kid."

"Not really, my grandpa told me that." Daniel was silent after that. He let Denver ruffle his hair and touch his face and back for a while. Daniel was right. They drew strength from each other.

 

Great Face, Monday May 3rd

When Daniel and Simon got back to school they found their friends protected them. They kept close in the lunch room and wandered down the halls. Daniel was more use to being popular. Having the grade tens seek him out was not unusual, but he noticed that Simon was deeply moved by the attention. The two boys kept a low profile until they decided nobody was going to try to get back at them.

Karen was angry all over again when Simon walked into her classroom. Mandy gave him a little hug and Karen wished she could have given him another. She did not fuss over him. It would have broken the fragile truce between them. She worried about Daniel until he arrived at the door with a couple of older students. His face was worse than Simon's. They both looked a little too smug to her so she quickly deflated them by dropping three day's worth of work on each of their desks.

She had seen the logic in the suspensions; she had known when she saw the bloody trio pass her classroom door that John would have to suspend the boys. It did not stop her from having an argument with John over dinner. "Karen those boys may be nice kids but they acted immaturely. They should have just walked away when the older boy teased them." He had taken a cheep shot at her as well. "You know better than to let two fourteen-year old boys out of the room at the same time."

"Jesus Christ John, how many times do I have to tell you these boys are being intimidated into sexual and physical abuse all the time? They were not being teased, John, they were being told to perform." John ate silently for a while. The mentoring program was the only thing they disagreed on. Unfortunately it ran all year long. He tried another tactic on her.

"Did you hear about the girl we found over dosed in the little change room? We think we found the dealer." She paused with a fork full half way to her mouth.

"Yes John. I get your point. It's a powerful argument, but it doesn't excuse what's happening here. These boys have enough to worry about dodging your drugs and gangs without the school setting them up as targets. I didn't even know a twelfth grader in high school." Karen knew she was getting unpopular in the staff room. The principal had even called her to her office and told her that the subject was closed. Only about ten of the staff agreed with her.

Teaching grade nine was not a prestige load at Riverview High. Her colleagues just thought she was too narrowed minded to think about the larger school. A colleague who taught grade twelve tried to shut her down by telling her the students called her a bitch for barging in on their fun and babying the ninth graders. Her colleagues did not like having ninth graders complain in their classes that she never let the seniors pull them out. Karen was heartened by this. She had not realized she was making an impact.

 

Night Moves, Monday night

They left their English binders open on the kitchen table where they had been working before Mandy's mom had left. Daniel had made a big dent in the pile of homework accumulated during his suspension. As soon as Ms. Cole had stepped through the door his concentration slipped away and he found himself drawn to her like a magnet. He fiddled with his pen and watched her for a moment. Her head was bent as she carefully labeled a map of the Middle East. She had pulled her hair back into a loose pony tail and he could see the seductive curves of her jaw and ears where they met her slender neck. Her lips were soft and moist. He could imagine the moist air as her lips came close to his. She had washed her face when she brought him home but she still had on the heavy sweater. She brushed a stray wisp away from her forehead and noticed him watching. Liquid eyes stared into his. "What?"

"Nothing" but he could not stop looking. He had to remember to breath once and a while. He sat back in his chair to stretch his legs and give his cock some room. She flushed a pretty rose and returned to her map. Daniel looked down at his answers and read back over what he had written. He leaned back forward and added a few more words before he heard Mandy sigh. When he looked up she was pulling the sweater off. Her V-neck emphasized her breasts. His eyes traveled down her arms to the flash of silver around her wrist. It was an unwelcome reminder of Greg and disturbed Daniel's pleasure. She saw him looking at it and touched it briefly.

"When I was going to give it back to him he told me you picked it out." Their eyes met. So many wasted months thought Daniel. He felt the blush cover his face. The old house seemed suddenly hot and stuffy.

Mandy was glad she had told him. Greg had just been trying to be cool about the break up. The presents she was returning were not a big deal to him. She had loved the simple bracelet. It was a symbol of how special she was to Greg and wearing it was a painful reminder of his betrayal of her. Don't worry about it, Greg had said when she pressed it on him, it was no big deal. It had all been Daniel's idea; Greg hadn't even paid for it, Daniel had loaned him the money. After that she had kept it close.

She finished her map and glanced at Daniel. He was not really working anymore. She wanted to get out of the uncomfortable clothes and put something on for him. "I'm going to change" she told him abruptly. He rewarded her with his little smile.

"Do you want any help?" When she stood up she could see the hard outline of his penis demanding her attention. He was so beautiful stretched out in the chair with his shirt open enough to reveal the band of his underwear. It was not hard for her to picture him naked. She ignored the yellow bruise on his face and admired him a moment.

"I'll be fine. You just finish your work." She was conscious of his eyes on her as she went back to her room. Claire said boys were too dense to understand what girls wanted. They expected things to be obvious. Daniel really wanted to have sex. Every time they had a moment together he was practically begging for it. She stepped out of her skirt and pulled the cotton top over her head. After she had taken her bra off, she studied the affect in her mirror. Her breasts were too small. He saw how Daniel admired Beth. Guys liked breasts. Her hips and butt were getting too fat. She should exercise or run like Daniel. Mandy sighed to herself. She was just not going to be that pretty. She slipped the bracelet off and hung it around Daniel-bear's head before getting dressed.

Daniel's hard-on returned with a vengeance when Mandy came back out wearing her short terry cloth shorts and a loose T-shirt. Her nipples were hard and her long legs invited handling. She came around and held her hand out in invitation. He stood and followed her to the couch. When he sat she pulled his shirt off. It was an invitation to explore so he slid his hand up her shirt as she sat across his lap. Her breast and hard nipple galvanized him into a series of intense kisses. He let his sore wrist rest lightly on her thigh. Occasionally his fingers would curl to touch the fabric of her panties in an unconscious effort to reach the warm softness of her sex. Her thigh enveloped his cock as it strained upward looking for an escape and her hands held his head. They whispered meaningless phrases to each other in the darkness of the living room.

 

My Brother's Keeper Thursday, May 5th

Daniel knew he was doing it again and he did not like why he kept coming back. He sat on the windowsill and looked across at the low office. What did he expect? Was his dad going to walk casually by and notice him sitting there? Start talking to him? Then what would he do; would he really have the guts to say "Hi, I'm your son Daniel"? Daniel slid sideways on the broad sill and put a foot up. What did it matter anyway? The man had shown no interest in him. Hi I'm your son Daniel... no you're not kid, go away. Daniel knew it was futile so he decided to head back home. He was distracted by the screech of a car's breaks and a boy jaywalking across the street. He was a little kid but he ran right through the busy traffic and up onto the side walk half a block away. Daniel turned his attention back to the office and his bitter thoughts. For a long time he sat and thought about the man across the street and the woman who had loved him all his life; why did he think he needed something more? Daniel turned his face away. There was nothing of value for him there. He knew the only things he should care about were already on his side of the busy street. Daniel started walking to the bus stop. It was too far to walk home. He was walking past the alley when he heard a boy cry out. He stopped and glanced down the alley and paused. He saw some figures down in the shadows, but he could not figure out what was happening. He hated alleys. He was sure he would meet his end in an alley... or a restroom. That thought made him smile. The people walking by either did not hear or did not care. Daniel turned down the alley drawn to the kid's crying and the harsh voices of older boys. Since his moment in the washroom with Simon he had been trying to master his fear of the seniors. The game was over; he was not a Freshie anymore.

He was not sure how to handle what he saw. Some senior had a boy bent over a box in the corner of a dirty brick wall and another senior had some ninth grader Daniel did not know by the shirt collar. He looked like he was trying to force him over to the boy. Daniel felt a wave of nausea and swallowed the bile in his mouth. His face was still bruised and his wrist was weak. He would not fair well in a second fight.

"Let the kid go guys. This is just wrong." He said it so simply that he seemed to get every one's attention. The senior holding the kid let go of him and the boy skittered away from him. Daniel kept his eyes on the senior. "Get out of here kid; run." The boy took off down the alley and the two seniors closed in on Daniel slowly. Daniel got ready for them as best he could. He glanced at the other ninth grader and realized he would be no help. Someone jabbed a finger into chest and pushed him back.

"You are one of the little assholes Nolan beat up aren't you?" He gave the senior a little shrug.

"Nolan said to leave them alone Kris." The other offered. The first one grabbed Daniel by his shirt and drilled him in the stomach. Daniel dropped to the ground desperately trying to draw air back into his lungs. He felt the dirt on the side of his face as he tried not to curl up. It had happened more quickly than he had thought and he had not had time to defend himself.

"Fuck Nolan" he heard the twelfth grader say and Daniel felt the kick in his back. He winced and tears started rolling down his face. He lay there as the seniors walked away from him down the alley. Why did it always end with him lying on the ground in pain? This was going to be hard to keep up he thought to himself. He lay there on his side waiting for the muscles to relax and the sweet air to begin to fill his lungs. The asphalt felt cool and comforting against his cheek. He felt it would be nice to lay there a bit before trying to move. He hoped a truck wouldn't come down the alley and run him over. Maybe that would feel good too.

Daniel jumped when he felt someone touch his shoulder. "Are you okay? Should I go get my dad?" Daniel rolled over on his back and took a deep breath. He glanced at the boy and then closed his eyes for a minute.

"No, I'll be okay in a minute." He tried to sit up and felt suddenly dizzy. He bent over with his head between his knees and gagged a little. When he looked over at the boy he found him sitting cross legged next to him. He was dark and small. He reminded him a little of what Mark must have looked like in elementary school. He had on a plain white shirt and his jeans looked a little too tight. Mama picked his clothes. He should have been long gone by now. Daniel thought the little guy had guts coming back into the alley.

"I'm Garrett Jennet, what's your name?" Jennet, Daniel rolled over onto the asphalt again and thought, oh shit. His life was like that. When would it start cutting him a break? "Are you hurt? Do you need anything?" The boy sounded frightened and Daniel didn't want him getting anybody so he pulled himself together and answered him.

"Nice to meet you Garrett; I'm Daniel, Daniel Murrell." He took a deep breath before continuing. "I'll be okay in a minute." He sat up again with the boy's help. "Help me up Garrett Jennet." Garrett got to his feet and held out a small hand. Daniel took it and almost pulled the little kid over as he rose to his feet. He leaned a second on his half-brother's shoulder. "Let's get out of here." He felt better as they walked down toward the sidewalk. He kept a hand on the boy's shoulder to steady himself. The senior had taken away whatever strength he had built up since the fight. He didn't know how the guys did it in the movies. He felt like Bruce Willis at the end of, well almost all of his movies. "You shouldn't jay walk Garrett. Where were you going?"

"I was going for a burger. You want to come with me?"

"What about your dad?" Daniel didn't want to meet him, but he was drawn to the boy.

"He's too busy so he told me to go get myself something. You want to come?" Daniel looked down at him and he seemed to be as interested in Daniel as Daniel was in him. He nodded silently. "Let's go to Dairy Queen." Garrett started off quickly and then realized Daniel was moving slowly still. He stopped to wait while Daniel caught up. The boy looked serious for a minute. "Hey, that was really cool what you did back there. I was shitting bricks when those guys grabbed me. What did they want?" Daniel rested his hands on his knees a moment then straightened up again. It's like football; you just have to walk it off.

"Don't worry about it. They were just fooling around with you." Garrett looked at him shrewdly. Daniel did not think the boy believed him. They walked down the street together while Garrett chatted about himself. Daniel barely had to say a word. Garrett's dad was supposed to eat with him. Garrett's dad was taking him to a movie. Did Daniel like science fiction? Garrett's mom was going to be pissed when she saw his dirty shirt. Was Daniel's mom going to get mad about the grease on his pants? How did Daniel get the shiner? Garrett's mom would ground him for a month if he came home looking like that. Did Daniel have his own computer? Garrett's mom wouldn't let him surf the net. She said there was filth on it. She was talking about porno because Garrett's friend Tim had shown him some gross stuff. Did Daniel like looking at porno?

Garrett bought himself lunch and Daniel let him buy him an ice tea. He did not think he could eat anything yet. They sat together while Garrett ate. Daniel felt old next to him and he still felt rattled from the fresh assault.

"I'm in grade six, what grade are you in?"

"Nine"

"I go to Emma Wallace Elementary School. What school do you go to?"

"Riverview High"

"That's near where I live. Where do you live? Do you want a fry?" Daniel took a fry and nibbled at it while Garrett devoured the burger. Garrett seemed really excited to be talking to him. Maybe it was boring in his dad's office.

"Down town; didn't your mom tell you not to talk to strangers?" Daniel watched the little boy in fascination. Nobody would take them for brothers. Garrett paused to swallow a lump of burger.

"You're not a stranger." He reached for his shake and took a sip "I thought they were homo peds. They told that kid to screw me." He went back to eating while he watched Daniel for a reaction. When Daniel did not say anything he added quietly "but you knew that didn't you?" Daniel wondered how the kid could be so matter of fact about it. He probably did not understand what he was talking about. "You're a freshie huh?"

"What do you know about that?" Daniel did not want to talk about it with him. Garrett silently offered him another fry and Daniel took it. Garrett shrugged like it was not that important.

"My friend Nathan has a sister in grade nine at Riverview High. She says the grade twelve boys and girls are really gross." He looked at Daniel as if for confirmation while he sucked the shake.

"Yes it can be rough at times. A lot stupid stuff happens." He finished the drink and sat back. The restaurant bustled around them.

"My dad says I don't have to worry because the boy's get left alone. It's the girls who have a bad time." Daniel crushed the cup in his hands. The bastard would think that. Still it was hard to take out his anger on the young boy. "My dad is an accountant. What does your dad do?"

"He's dead. He was a university professor." Daniel thought about his grandfather a moment.

"Oh man, I'm sorry Daniel." Garrett looked embarrassed. He stopped eating for a moment out of respect for Daniel's loss.

"Thanks Garrett." Daniel felt his phone vibrate. He reached for it. "Excuse me a moment." Garrett watched him answer the phone with envy. Daniel was so used to the phone he didn't think about it anymore. It was Denver checking up on him. He was cruising toward the Brass Lantern. Daniel asked him to swing over and pick him up across from his father's office. He snapped the phone shut and looked at Garrett. "I have a friend picking me up in a few minutes. Let's walk back to your dad's office." Garrett stuffed the last of his fries in his mouth and got up. He watched while Daniel gathered up the trash. "Clean up after yourself guy."

Garrett looked up at the big grade nine. Nobody like him had ever paid him any attention. He looked so bad with his bruised face and the black T-shirt under the brightly colored shirt. He liked Daniel's jeans. He seemed so laid back to Garrett. Garrett tried to copy his walk a little. It was kind of loose and easy. The guy probably played sports. "Do you play any sports in school?" The boy glanced down at him before answering.

"Not much; I played football this year. I might try to swim next year." The athletic guys did not think much of Garrett. He knew his dad was disappointed in him. Daniel would probably laugh if he saw him throw a football. Daniel looked back "Do you play sports?" Garrett thought about lying to the big ninth grader, but he decided to tell the truth. He looked down at the ground.

"No, I'm pretty much a klutz." When he glanced at Daniel he could not read his reaction. "I wish I was better."

"So what do you like to do?" Garrett told him about the games he had and then hesitantly admitted he liked to play the guitar, read and that he had a part in the school play. "Sounds kind'a gay to you I guess?" He wished he was cooler.

"No, my girl friend likes that stuff." Daniel would have a girl friend too. She would be hot. Daniel would do stuff with her. "I have friends who do drama and play guitar." Daniel gave Garrett a little nudge that sent him sideways. "I was in a play last fall." Garrett looked back at him. Daniel had a way of making Garrett feet better about himself.

"Yes, but you play football too." Garrett thought he would try harder at football. Daniel laughed at him, or maybe laughed at himself, Garrett was not sure.

"It's the only team I could get on Garrett. Don't feel bad." Garrett was enjoying Daniel's company. It was like having an older brother. He tried to think of a way to keep the conversation going. He thought of something he had not asked Daniel.

"Do you have any brothers or sisters?" Daniel did not answer for a moment and Garrett thought he might not have heard him. He was about to repeat the question when Daniel stopped. They had reached the block his dad's office was on.

"No I don't. Do you?"

"I have a little sister." Garrett did not give her much thought most of the time.

"What is her name?" Daniel seemed interested.

"Susan" Garrett knew the time had come to say goodbye, but when Daniel sat down on a window ledge he sat down next to him and kept talking. He wished Daniel was his friend. If he had an older friend like Daniel who was not afraid of the big guys it would be awesome. "What's your girlfriend's name?" He wanted to keep the high school student talking to him. Daniel was looking at the traffic as if he wanted someone to come along. Garrett had been seriously bored hanging out at his father's office and he did not want to go back yet.

"Mandy"

"Do you have a picture?" Daniel smiled at him and shook his head. An Echo pulled up to the curb and a young man waved at Daniel. Daniel waved back and the young man got out. He was really big and Garrett would have taken him for Daniel's brother if he had not already known he did not have one. Garrett only came up to Daniel's shoulder and Daniel barely cleared the other guy's shoulder. The guy was not impressed with the way Daniel looked.

"Denver this is Garrett Jennet. Garrett this is Denver Hawk." Garrett stared up at the man.

"Gennet?" Denver raised an eyebrow and glanced across the street.

"Yes, Gennet. We just bumped into each other. Garrett, Denver is one of my guitar playing friends." Denver smiled at Garrett then glanced back at his car. Daniel seemed in a hurry to go now and it made Garrett feel sad. "We have to go now. Thanks for buying me a drink." Garrett watched the older boy start to walk away and he tried to keep the connection a little longer.

"Hey Daniel" The older boy turned around with an expression Garrett could not read. "Do you think I could call you sometime?" He watched the older boy consider it for a second.

"Maybe that wouldn't be a good idea right now. I don't think your dad would like you hanging around with me." Garrett was not sure why his dad would mind. Maybe he would not like him picking up an older friend off the street. His mom was the one who always worried about bad influences. Garrett understood. He was just a grade six asking to hang out with a high school student. Of course Daniel would blow him off.

"Yeh I guess you might be right." He stood with his hands in his pockets watching Daniel walk away. Daniel stopped at the car and seemed to lean against it in thought for a moment. His friend was waiting for him. Garrett watched him knock on the window and ask for something. Garrett smiled at Daniel when he came back up to him.

"Do you have a piece of paper?" Garrett did not have one so Daniel wrote his phone number and e-mail address on Garrett's arm. "If your dad tells you not to phone me then you listen to him okay?" Garrett was not going to give his mom or dad the chance to say no.

"Thanks Daniel. Thanks for helping me before too. I'm sorry you got hurt." He hoped the bigger boy would not be sorry he gave him his number.

"Any time Bro." Daniel whispered back to him. He watched the boy walk away a second time and glanced down to make sure the phone number was on his arm. He'd try not to bug Daniel too much. He didn't want him to think he was a pesky little kid getting in the way like Susan always got in his way when his friends came over. He watched the Echo pull away and started to cross the street. He stopped when he remembered what Daniel had said about jaywalking. He turned and headed for the cross walk. He glanced down the alley. That had been a bad moment. He was sure that high school kid had planned to pull his pants down like some pervert. But then there had been Daniel cool as ice facing down those two bullies.

What was it he had said? "This is just wrong."

 

 

(to be continued)

 

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