I entered the gym only to find Thomas half dressed and struggling
to find a way to get his shirt over his face. I opened the collar
of the shirt wider and his head popped through, face a study in abuse.
His nose was swollen and bruising was evident under his eyes. Dried
blood rimmed his nostrils and a cut over his eye still wept slightly,
and his eyes flashed a stunned anger.
"I ask for help and you are going to make me a freak?" he almost roared.
"What?" I asked in a confused voice, "Thomas I was just trying to
"By calling in the national guard? Paramedics? What kind of help is
that? Police reports and then newspapers, can't you see it now? My
face is beaten to a bloody pulp, news at eleven!"
"I'm sorry, I did what I thought would get you help fastest!" I replied
"I need to get out of here," Thomas said, almost absently, and began
to totter forward. I grabbed my previously forgotten bag and placed
an arm across his upper back to help him forward. He stiffened and
then relaxed into me, placing an arm across my shoulders and allowing
me to help him from the building.
We moved quickly behind the building towards the front of the school
and my waiting friends. Oh jeez, my friends. Brian is going to flip,
I hope he isn't too mean to Thomas I thought miserably. We rounded
the building and I urged Thomas to stand up as straight as he could
before anyone really saw us, unfortunately Brian did and I could see
his eyes narrowing.
The sound of sirens approaching was filling the air and I motioned
for everyone to come towards me as I turned from them and headed down
the street towards my house, a good six blocks away. More like eight
this way, but I had to keep Thomas away from the direction the sirens
were coming from. Moments later I heard pounding feet and then they
were all around us, Brian being the first to speak, predictably.
"What the fuck, Chad?" he demanded before catching sight of Thomas's
ruined face, "Oh my god, what happened?"
"Nothing," Thomas grunted.
Stan looked about in utter confusion and Cyn took Thomas's other side
as we quickly turned the corner to avoid the approaching fire department
and assorted other services. That was big trouble, we couldn't get
caught now, there would be huge fines and even a juvenile record.
The heat was merciless and seemed to roll off the pavement in visible
waves, searing through the soles of our sneakers and baking us in
our own juices. At last we reached my block, when I stopped dead.
My parents and Matt were home, if Thomas didn't want a big deal, well
they would make it one, wouldn't they?
"Cyn, can we take him to your house? My folks are home," I looked
at her pleadingly.
"Sorry," she said shaking her head, "Mom is on vacation, planting
her garden this week," she replied. I looked at Brian desperately.
"Oh, man, Chad," he trailed off with a whine. I gave him the puppy
dog eyes and I watched my best friend crumble, nodding his assent.
We headed over to Brian's house as fast as we could hobble and got
Thomas in and on the couch.
"Ok, pretty boy, what happened?" Cyn stated flatly, her tone brooking
"Why should I tell you?" Thomas nearly spat.
"Because we went out of our way to help you? Has that crossed your
mind? I guess we must have a reason," she glanced at me before fixing
him with a look, "but isn't the fact that we helped you enough for
you to be civil and honest for ten minutes?"
The life seemed to drain from Thomas and the hard exterior crumbled
as large tears collected in his eyes.
"I'm sorry, I'm...really sorry. Leo would kill me...fuck it, he already
tried," Thomas gestured with his hands to his ruined face.
"Yeah, why don't you start there?" Cyn stated.
"Leo...well, he has a reputation, you know?" Thomas began.
"As an asshole, yeah," Brian offered.
"He is pretty rough, I'll give you that, but when Leo asks something..."
Thomas hung his head, "I gave it to him."
"I don't understand," Stan said in confusion.
"Stan, honey, let's get something to drink and let the boys handle
this," Cyn said evenly while grabbing Stan by the arm and steering
him to the kitchen.
"Thomas," I began, but words failed me. Leo had wanted something,
he had wanted Thomas. And he had gotten him, that was what made matters
worse, for me anyway. Here he was, beauty defiled, as I never could
have thought possible, a sad beauty if there ever was one.
"You know, he can be nice," Thomas said as he curled his legs up underneath
him and the tears tracked down his face slowly, "He was really nice
at first. He used to take me out, almost like a real..."
"Date?" Brian supplied. Thomas nodded in a defeated manner, giving
up the fight to stay in the closet I suppose.
"Thomas, why did you let him do this to you? You're so," I choked
on my intended words, "were so popular," I finished lamely.
"I first met Leo about a year ago, at one of the football games. I
had to go to see the coach because I had twisted my ankle a few weeks
before and I had a doctors not to go back to gym, like I wanted to
do that," he sighed with a small grin.
"Leo was in the changing room, and I had noticed him before of course,
he's built and he had the nicest eyes, probably his best feature.
He used to wear his hair in that short cut that looked awesome on
him, like he was a cop or a Marine or something," he sniffled sadly
before continuing, "I had to wait for coach and Leo talked to me for
a minute, general stuff, why I was there just before football practice.
I think he said he was late so that's why he was the last one in the
locker room. I asked him why he was late, and the dumb ass says to
me that he had math detention, cause he didn't do his homework.
"That was the beginning, he conned me into doing his homework for
him, which sucked, but he also figured out that I liked him, somehow.
He would dress really skimpy around me, come out with just a towel
on form the bathroom, all sorts of flitting stuff. I won't lie, he
was really, really built and I like that," Thomas said defensively,
"I just didn't realize that he wasn't gay. I didn't realize that he
just wanted...he just wanted to get off," Thomas finished in a defeated,
broken in the soul sounding voice.
Why did you stay with him, Thomas?" Brian asked.
"You mean besides the sex?" he said with a sad laugh, "He's very big,
much bigger than I am and he can make me do almost anything," his
eyes hardened, "He could anyway, no more. I can't take this anymore,
what did I ever do?"
"Act like King Turd of Shit Hill for starters," Brian replied sourly
as he stood and sat in a chair opposite the couch.
"You have to believe me, Leo said I had to, I wasn't allowed any other
friends," Thomas looked down in humiliation, "I was his property until
he decided he was done with me, I realize that now, now more than
"He was just using me, I don't think he ever once said he...that he
loved me," he left his eyes focused on his lap, large tears tracking
down his cheeks, "Leo was so not the person I thought he was. He was
telling me in the locker room that he was going to ..." he choked back
a sob and inhaled deeply, breath hitching before continuing, "fuck
me tonight, fuck me because he owned me."
I wanted to hug him, to soothe him and make him feel better, and I
was just about to when the iceman, Brian, wrapped his arms around
Thomas, who sagged into him in great wracking sobs.
"It's over now, you don't have to worry," Brian said quietly.
"He'll still come after me, who's going to stop him, you?" Thomas
laughed hollowly, "He'll catch me, and he'll rape me probably. He'll
do it because that's what he wants, because he owns me."
"No, he doesn't, and you stay with us, so he can't get you alone,
you have fiends now," Brian stated firmly.
"He's a lot bigger than you, Brian, what do you think you'd do to
him?" Thomas sniffed, a small smile playing about his fine features.
"I'll bitch slap him! I'll knee him in his balls!" Brian stated, puffing
out his chest comically and drawing a smile from Thomas's battered
"It's not that easy," Thomas whispered, and Brian drew him into him
again and held him as Thomas wept.
We sat in silence, save for the sound of Thomas's soft sobs, which
were heartbreaking to listen to. Finally he slowed and quieted down
and was sitting back on the couch when Cyn came back in.
"I sent the boy wonder out for some soda, best I could do," she said,
"How's our patient?"
"He's feeling better, thanks," Thomas said with a somewhat broken
smile, split lip and all.
"Well, that's good," Cyn stated with a smile as she ran a finger down
the side of his cheek, "wouldn't want such a pretty creature becoming
"Thomas, how long have you and...Leo been a ... couple," I managed to
spit out, though the idea of Leo's hands on Thomas made me physically
"Just short of a year," Thomas said in a near whisper, "I can't believe
it's all over now."
"It better be over, none of that shit where you go running back to
the bastard who abuses you," Cyn narrowed her eyes, "I'll kick your
"I just don't understand why you guys are helping me?" Thomas asked,
"I know I wasn't nice to you, and you," he looked at Brian, "If looks
could kill I'd be ten feet under."
"We have our reasons, maybe one day we'll tell you, but I think not!"
Cyn replied as she tossed herself on the couch next to Thomas.
"We can tell him, Cyn," Brian said with a devilish gleam in his eyes
and I began to panic. Hadn't he heard that Thomas all but screamed
he wouldn't be interested in me? He likes the buff footballers, the
athletes and body builders, not kids who played soccer or the occasional
"We are part of the Blond Conservation League, and we just happened
to see one in danger of becoming extinct!" he chuckled to himself
and Thomas frowned at him in amusement.
I was walking home from Brian's thinking of Thomas, but now it was
different. Before I always used to dream about him, unreachable, beautiful
and unconquered. He seemed so exotic, wild, and foreign to me. He
was my ideal, my rainbow's end, the penultimate of all the guys I
had ever fantasized about.
He was my first love. Ok, maybe my first crush, but still I saw him
differently now, violated. He wasn't ever going to kiss me as his first
boyfriend, we wouldn't be each other's first we...wouldn't ever be together,
I realized. Don't get me wrong, I was still attracted to him, unbelievably
attracted, but my feelings weren't so clear now as they had once been.
I felt awful for Thomas, this physically stunning creature who was
a train wreck inside, and I never knew it because I was so focused on
his outside. What did I know of him? Why had I thought this was love?
I felt bad for the way I had mistaken Thomas, I was no better than Brian
at judging him, and at worst Leo and I thought of him the same way,
as this beautiful object of desire.
Now I felt miserable, and what was worse is it wasn't entirely because
of Thomas's situation, I was also mourning for me. The knowledge of
what had happened to Thomas was paining me something fierce, but mixed
with it was a sense of loss for me too, a sense that I had been blind,
and if I was blind to that, what else might I have been missing? All
I saw when I looked at Thomas was this beauty that was out of reach,
when in reality he was being reached regularly and needed that, that
for all his beauty he was very insecure and alone inside himself. I
shook my head, I really knew nothing of him.
I opened my front door to find father sitting in his chair, scowling
at me, and my mother with her lips pursed sitting next to him. I knew
then I was in trouble, but not exactly what for.
"Hi," I said timidly.
"Chad, where have you been?" My father blurted with no preamble.
"I was at Brian's, Dad," I replied unsure of why this would be an
issue, after all I was normally allowed to go anywhere I pleased after
school, so long as I was home for dinner and my grades didn't suffer.
"Well, you said you were coming straight home from school!" My mother
"We changed our minds?" I said in a slightly smartass tone of voice.
"Well, I can see making a cake was for nothing, we should have gone
to the lake with Matt for some fishing like we planned!" My father
"Oh, so that's it, huh? You decide to try and make up for my birthday,
then when I don't cooperate you get pissed at me?" I demanded.
"Don't talk to us like that!" My mother admonished.
"What's the fuss?" Matt said as he descended the stairs.
"Oh, not much, Mom and Dad are pissed at me, I guess I'm just ungrateful
though as they'd like to acknowledge my birthday now, and I wasn't
here to fit their busy schedule!" I finished my voice at a crescendo.
"Hey, watch it!" Matt slapped the back of my head as he ad done the
night before, "It was a mistake, grow up!"
"They didn't forget to pick up your ass, did they? They knew what
day you came home, but they forgot I had been born that day!
Sure, why should you care, you were the son they wanted!" I finished
in Matt's face like I had never dared to be before. His hand slapped
across my face and my head snapped back with the force of his blow.
I faced him slowly as he glared at me.
"That wasn't fair," he said.
"Life, I am finding, isn't either," I replied coldly as I left my
family in the living room and ascended the stairs to my room. It was
a short-lived moment by myself however as Matt came through the door
and slammed it behind him.
"You don't know how to knock?" I snarled at him.
"What is your problem?" he hissed at me.
"What do you care?" I replied sullenly as I reclined on my bed.
"Look, they were preoccupied, that's all," he began and I cut him
"They forgot I was even here, Matt, just like they always did when
you were here. I thought it would get better, maybe they'd love me
when you left for the Navy. Maybe I wouldn't look like such a mistake
with you not here to make me into some annoyance!" I got off the bed
and began to pace slightly, my agitation growing as years of bile
stored for my older brother poured forth.
"You beat on me, and when I complained you denied it and they believed
you. You took my money for lunch and I went hungry, and they believed
that I lost it rather than think their precious Matt would ever knock
his brother down and take his money," I gritted my teeth as I rounded
to look at him, "Jesus Christ! They even kept it up when Brian's mother
called to tell them you had done it to him too! But who got grounded?
Who had to stay home while you went to the lake with them? Whose baseball
registration was forgotten, but Matt's was paid for at the end of
the season every year, to make sure he was on a team! Go ahead, Matt,
tell me how much they love me, go ahead!" I screamed.
My chest heaved in and out, and my heart raced beneath my skin. I
felt hot and at the same, time, cold in my core. I felt exhausted,
my brain seeming to flex and become tired, limbs gaining a sudden
weight as I sat down on my bed, fighting to keep any tears in that
threatened to fall.
The door closed behind me as Matt left, and all I could think was,
`there, can't deny that can you'?
I lay on my bed, trying to calm down and not succeeding all that well.
Thomas wasn't what I thought, I wasn't what my family though I should
be, apparently, and nothing was going the right way the last couple
of days. I lay on my bed for I don't know how long, thoughts swirling
and racing through my head. I was lost, the guy I wanted knocked from
his pedestal, and worse what did that say of me? I was in love with
what I thought he was, not what he was and since he wasn't what I
thought, I was no longer in love? I'll buy a vowel please? Anything
to give me some direction in this miserable little act I had in progress.
Does that make me shallow that I was attracted to him, no, obsessed
with him based on his looks? Yeah, I think it makes me shallow too,
and I hate that. I heard the parents and Matt downstairs, the murmur
of voices and then the smells of food floated up the stairs and I
realized I was pretty damn hungry, but I wasn't about to go downstairs.
Footsteps made the stairs creak and there was a soft knocking on my
"What?" I answered. The door opened and Matt poked his head in.
"Dinner's ready, Chad," He said quietly.
"I'm not hungry," I replied, rolling over and looking out my window.
"Chad, you have to eat, don't piss them off anymore," he said quietly.
"Screw them, and screw you," I replied. He sighed and closed the door
The night sky was in place when the phone rang, and I was more surprised
when I was allowed to take a call on it, as I figured I had earned
grounding by revealing my version of events.
"Hey, what's up baby?" Brian said in his sexiest voice.
"Oh, slick Bri, who you planning to try that out on?" I asked while
giggling and lying back on my bed.
"Can't you tell? I am doing my Thomas impression!" he laughed.
"Oh, please, no!" I laughed, Brian could always make me feel good.
"Wait, I got a better one," he said dropping his voice to a totally
sexy rasp, "what are you wearing?"
"Um, jeans..." I giggled.
"Anything else?" he asked, continuing to rasp.
"Well, no," I giggled a little more.
"Well, why don't you just slip those jeans right off?" he suggested,
breathing somewhat heavily into the phone, and I have to admit I was
getting the chills from his little performance.
"Dude, unless you're going to come over here and deal with the mess
your making here, you better stop!" I giggled again. I heard what
sounded like the phone being dropped, and laughed, assuming Brian
had dropped the phone like he was leaving to come over and `service
"So, your prince in shimmering cotton-polyester blend just left,"
Brian stated through his giggles after picking the phone back up.
"Oh say it isn't so, not polyester!" I laughed.
"I feel sorry for him," Brian stated suddenly.
"I...I do too," I replied a little more slowly, a little surprised at
the change of mood.
"But?" Brian pressed. I sighed, no hiding anything from Brian.
"Well, he's not what I thought he was," I stated lamely.
"Yeah, I have to agree with that assessment," he replied evenly.
"I...oh, this is stupid," I said as I felt my cheeks reddening though
Brian couldn't see me.
"Oh, this has to be good, come on Chaddie waddie, give it up to Bri!"
"Asswipe!" I replied with a laugh.
"Seriously, what's in that twisted little head of yours?" I groaned
"Bri...I duno, it has been just so fucked up the last few days...I think
I am not even sure yet what's up in my head," I sighed deeply.
"This isn't just about Thomas, is it?" he asked.
"No, my folks started again. They got pissed off cause I didn't come
straight home like I had said I would," I replied.
"Yeah, well, not like you can give them the real story, huh? That's
weird though, they never hassle about you not going home after school,"
"Well, get this, they made a cake and were pissed I wasn't here so
they could soothe their guilty conscience," I replied.
"That sucks," Brian said softly.
"Yeah, then Matt and I had it out, after he smacked me downstairs,"
"Yeah, I can see he hasn't changed that much, huh?"
"I guess not," I sighed.
"I guess it was kind of a shock for us all, finding out who the real
Thomas was anyway, huh?" he asked, resuming the former topic.
"Yeah, that's a big part of it," I conceded, and the silence began
to draw out.
"Are you still attracted to him?" Brian asked.
"Yeah, he's cute as hell, but..." I trailed off.
"Maybe not exactly what you wanted?" he asked, maybe a little hopefully.
"Well, not what I thought he should be, not what I pictured," I sighed
deeply, "No, not what I wanted, and I am not what he wanted, either."
"That's got to be tough," Brian sympathized, "being in love and not
having it returned to you."
"Yeah, well, now I don't think it was love. How could I be in love?
I didn't know a freaking thing about him, I just wanted what I though
he was," I replied with a sigh, "You have to know someone, what makes
them happy, what makes them sad, what makes them who they are before
you can really love them I think. I think you have to really know
someone first," I sighed again as I rolled onto my side and looked
out the window to the street and the lights of the house across the
"Sometimes you just have to hope they become what you need," Brian
hesitated, "or that they see you are what they need."
"I guess," I sighed again, "see you in school tomorrow?"
"I'll be there, man," he replied.
"Night, Bri," I said with a yawn.
"Good night, Chad," he replied and my head felt very heavy on the
pillow, eyes drooping, "I love you."
My eyes snapped open.
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