Nifty Disclaimer - This story is a work of fiction and contains scenes including sexual relations between people of the same gender. If this isn't your cup of tea, or is illegal where you live, please do not read. Any relation between fictional characters and real people is purely coincidental.


Do Over

Chapter 16


"This emergency meeting of the Modesto City School's Governing Board is hereby called to order." Dr. Richard Sears, a thin, older man with silver hair said in an officious tone, gaveling the board three times. Around him at the horseshoe shaped table sat three more men and three women. A side table held the Principals of the four high schools in the district and there was an open table in the front. The visitor's gallery at the front end of the room was full of people, with as many standing along the back and sides as were sitting.

Dad was sitting in the front row on the left side, with Dr. Darnell and Dr. Mills (who was wearing a splint on his nose). Several other members of the Modesto clergy were sitting there as well. Brian and I were sitting in the front row on the right side, flanked by our parents with Cynthia Martin and Mary Lou on Mom's other side. Most of the football team stood in the back and along the sides, all wearing their uniform jerseys. About forty of the fifty-one members were there, far more than I had expected and Reynolds had greeted us warmly when we arrived. It had been they who'd saved the front row seats for us.

Before leaving the restaurant, Brian and I had changed into the suits that his parents had brought, so we looked damn good. Dad and the preachers were all dressed in suits as well, and he'd been glaring at Mom and I ever since we entered. Trevor's parents had taken Jenny and Brandon's sister home with them, while Trevor came with Brandon's parents. Most of the people sitting on the left side of the room were obviously supports of the preachers, because they held placards with sayings like "No AIDS in Our Schools" and "AIDS: God's Judgment Day". I tried not to glare at them angrily, but it was tough.

"I would like to thank so many members of the public, and so many students for being here tonight." Dr. Sears continued. "However, the board will be meeting in private session. I hate to disappoint you all, but thank you for coming."

"Point of order, Mr. Chair." Neil Gavrisom, the middle-aged board member to Sears's right said quickly.

"Yes, Mr. Gravrisom?" Mr. Sears tiredly.

"Sir, this is an emergency meeting of the board and under the law it cannot be held in closed session." Mr. Gravrisom said. "We can only meet in emergency session to discuss vital matters of impending health or safety risks for our students. Such matters must also be discussed in open session unless we are discussing specific cases involving specific students or staff members. In the meeting notice you emphasized that this was not a matter involving any specific students. Further, I believe a regulation this sweeping in its nature must receive public input before being enacted."

"Well, the regulation we're reviewing doesn't involve any specific student." Dr. Sears said officiously. "But, the discussion may involve certain students at one of our schools and out of respect for their privacy we should hold it in closed session."

"I see." Mr. Gravrisom said sternly. He was one of the 'undecided' board members and I had a feeling I was going to like him. "Well, certainly if we're talking about specific students and actions regarding them we should meet in closed session, but this policy affects all of our schools, not just two students. I wonder, are the students here by chance, as well as their legal guardians?"

"They are, Mr. Gravrisom." Mr. Borsch said from where he sat. "I have spoken with the parents of both boys involved in this matter and none of them have expressed any reservation about their names or situations being mentioned in public."

"Excuse me, that's a lie." Dad said, standing from the front row. "My boy is one of them and I don't want him involved in any public discussion. I told you that earlier, Dr. Sears."

Jeez, Dad could be really stupid at times.

"Mr. Chair." Cynthia Martins said, standing as well. "My name is Cynthia Martins. I am the Northern California Director of the American Civil Liberties Union and have been retained by the legal guardians of both Brian Breckenridge and Davey Jones. Mr. Jones Sr. over there is correct in that he is Davey's father, but his legal rights as Davey's father have been suspended by court order. Davey's mother, who has full legal custody at this time, has expressed no objections. While his father is free to express his opinions, he does not speak for Davey and his opinion carries no legal weight."

"What is a lawyer from the ACLU doing here?" Mr. Sears asked, probably meaning it to be under his breath, but it was very audible. There was a murmur of whispered outrage from the left side of the room as well and my dad was shooting death glares at Mom.

"I am here at the requests of the legal parents of these two young men." Cynthia retorted calmly. "This board is considering an action that will remove these two boys from their football team, and from their school. That is an infringement of their civil rights, and thus a concern for ACLU as well as them."

"We are not focusing on these two boys." Dr. Sears retorted hotly.

"The actions of you and two other members of this board contradict that statement, sir." Cynthia said. "As do the actions of dozens of members of this community. You have made several attempts to influence their principal to remove them from their sports team and the school, and when those actions failed you scheduled an emergency board meeting to take action directly."

"That's enough, we will meet in closed session now." Dr. Sears stormed, hitting his gavel on the board again.

"I think we should put this to a vote." Mr. Gravrisom said softly. "I didn't want this meeting to even take place. We should have done it at our meeting next month, but you insisted we do it now because you said these two boys at Downey posed an immediate health risk to our schools. How many of us are in favor of meeting in closed session?"

Dr. Sears, another man and one woman raised their hands immediately and glared at their fellow board members while Cynthia sat down with a wry smile. The three glared at their fellow members until it became clear no one was going to join them.

"Very well, we'll do this in public." Dr. Sears said and a cheer went up from the football team, earning them a harsh glare. "I want to advise our audience members that there will be no outbursts or disruptions during this meeting. If there are, you will be told to leave immediately. Now, Mrs. Harper, I believe you have a motion to make."

"Yes, thank you Dr. Sears." The frumpy woman who'd raised her hand to close the meeting said. She cleared her throat and nervously shuffled a single piece of paper in front of her, glancing in our direction for a brief second before reading. "I move that we adopt Emergency Resolution 83-04, regarding the Safe Disposition of Students Infected with, or at Risk of Acquiring the Disease known as HIV or AIDS.

"I second the motion." The other man who'd raised his hands said immediately.

"The motion is now on the floor." Dr. Sears said gravely and paused briefly as he glanced at the preachers sitting in the front row before continuing. "I think this issue is an important one to our students. AIDS is lethal to anyone who catches it, and we must protect our students while providing for humane treatment of those infected with the disease. I believe we have some expert testimony arranged so we can hear just what the danger is to our students. Will Doctor Haroldson please step up to our witness table and speak?"

"I'd be pleased to, Dr. Sears." A portly gentleman in his fifties said. He was in the first row right next to Dr. Mills and smiled gently as he made his way to the empty table and sat down after setting his briefcase on the chair next to him. He took out several papers and handed them to the board's clerk who began to distribute them to the board members while the doctor cleared his throat.

"I'm sorry I didn't bring enough for everyone here." Dr. Haroldson said as soon as the papers were distributed. "What I'm giving you are the latest pamphlets I have on this terrible disease that is running rampant through the homosexual population in this country. What's really sad about this disease is that it could easily be stopped if not for the wanton nature of homosexuals."

"What do you mean by that?" Dr. Sears said in a staged question.

"I know we have many young people in the audience, so I'll try to keep my answer from being too descriptive." Dr. Haroldson said sternly. "Homosexuals are mentally sick people who are incapable of normal sexual activity. As you'll see in the information provided to you, the average homosexual has over 1,500 sexual partners during their lifetime, some as many as two hundred per year. Their sexual activity, especially anal intercourse is harmful to the body, and is the easiest way AIDS is spread. That is why of the eighty-six thousand cases of AIDS in this country, all but a few hundred are among homosexuals."

"But what does this have to do with the motion we are considering?" Mr. Gravrisom asked, interrupting Haroldson just as he was getting going.

"It was my understanding that you have had problems with students who have recently admitted their deviant lifestyle." Dr. Haroldson answered. "I'm trying to explain why such students are at high risk for AIDS and should be quarantined away from the rest of the student body for the sake of the students at large."

"So this proposal is really about separating out gay students from the straight ones?" Mr. Gravrisom said with some anger.

"No, no that's not it at all." Dr. Sears retorted angrily. "Let the good doctor continue."

"Thank you, Dr. Sears." Haroldson said with a nod of his head. "As I was about to say, AIDS is primarily transmitted through homosexual activity, but it can be transmitted in other ways, and that's where the danger comes in for your students. If an infected person develops a nosebleed, they could infect other students or staff members. There's even been evidence that the virus is present in saliva or mucus, so a sneeze could potentially spread the disease. A person at risk for the disease could thus infect an untold number of students with one sneeze or one nosebleed. Involvement in high-contact sports like football only makes the risk of infection even greater. With their promiscuity, homosexuals are at high risk for being infected, and thus infecting others."

"Thank you, Doctor." Dr. Sears said and he looked around the board. "Does anyone have any questions?"

"I do." Another board member said, leaning forward. His nameplate said he was Ben Hollingsworth. "I was wondering if visiting people with the disease was risky?"

"Well, it's always a risk when you go around sick people." Doctor Haroldson said primly. "Certainly most of the non-homosexual cases of this disease are from medical professionals who were infected in the line of duty. Many brave men and women have doomed themselves to death in their efforts to care for these sick people. Continual contact with infected people definitely does put someone at risk."

"So, let's say a student has a mother who's a nurse and the mother gets infected." Mr. Hollingsworth asked. "You're saying we should take the child out of the school because they are now high risk?"

"Well, ah, I wouldn't go that far." Dr. Haroldson said uncomfortably. "The parent, as a medical professional should be able to minimize the risk of infecting their child and it shouldn't be necessary to remove the child."

"But you just said that being around people with AIDS puts someone at high risk." Mr. Gravrisom pounced on the doctor.

"I'm, ah, just trying to say that it should be handled on a case by case basis." Dr. Haroldson said with a little verbal stumble. "That's why your proposal is so well-written. It allows the Superintendent to make the decision in each case. Casual contact in the scenario just presented is far less dangerous than engaging in homosexual behavior or in visiting AIDS patients in the hospital."

"Any more questions?" Dr. Sears asked. "Very well, thank you for your valuable time, Dr. Haroldson. Now, I believe we'll open the floor up for public comment. I wish to remind everyone that because of so many people present, you will need to limit your comments to one minute or less, and if you're a student, you must have your parents permission to speak. I would ask that you form in two lines, one on the left and one on the right, with those in support of the regulation on the left."

"If I may interrupt for a moment please?" Mr. Gravrisom said. He'd just been handed a note from Mary Lou, through the board clerk. While he spoke a television crew arrived and began to film, the light from their camera casting shadows wherever it didn't shine directly. Dr. Sears paled slightly, but didn't protest since they did have a right be there.

"I've just been informed that we have a Dr. Grayson in the audience." Mr. Gravrisom continued as if he hadn't seen the camera crew arriving. "Dr. Grayson is the leading immunologist specializing in the treatment of the AIDS virus. According to this he's been recognized by the White House as the leading Doctor in the fight against this disease, and he's just been nominated for a Nobel Prize for his work. I don't think we've ever had someone with his credentials to speak before us before and I'd like to hear what he has to say."

"He's not a recognized expert for this meeting." Dr. Sears countered with a frown. "We've already heard from one expert on this disease."

"I think we've heard from one doctor, but we have the man who is this country's leading physician on this disease here." Gravrisom argued. "How can we say we gave this a fair hearing if we refuse to listen to him when we have no idea what he's going to say?"

"Very well, but we can only give him five minutes." Dr. Sears said, and Dr. Grayson moved forward, setting his own briefcase on the table and pulling out several stacks of papers.

"Thank you for letting me speak, ladies and gentlemen." He said wryly. "I do have some papers here for you, papers that should help you understand this disease very well. I also have enough for the entire audience so I'm going to ask my personal friends Brian and Davey to distribute them while I begin."

Brian and I rose quickly, suppressing the smiles we felt like wearing and grabbed two stacks. Wisely, Brian took the left side of the room while I took the right. The way I was feeling, I'd have probably been tempted to hit Dad. While we were passing them out to the audience, Doctor Grayson continued speaking.

"I would like to thank Mr. Gravrisom for his kind introduction." Dr. Grayson said with hint of humor. "I myself have been astounded that the Nobel committee would consider me for the work I've been doing. I feel I've only been doing what any other doctor would do if faced with what I have seen over the last few years.

"I saw my first AIDS patient in 1980. We didn't know what the disease was at the time, we didn't know how it was transmitted, how it worked, or how to combat it, and even today some of those questions are not fully answered. Since that first patient, I have personally watched more than eighteen thousand men and women die from this disease. I have watched it snuff their lives out despite the best efforts of me and my colleagues. Only recently have we seen any sign of hope, and even that is not for a cure, but a method of keeping our patients alive longer.

"In December of 1981, a wonderful young man named Rich Nielson became one of my patients. Unlike other patients I'd seen waste away, and die, alone, without companions, friends or family to comfort them in their final days, Rich was visited by his family. His sister, her husband, their son, and their son's friend came to the hospital and they turned it upside down with their brave embrace of their loved ones. Since that time, they have been regular fixtures at our hospital, bringing with them hope and love to those who are dying without either.

"In 1981, even the medical community was terrified of this new disease we were seeing." Doctor Grayson continued after a short pause. Now as he spoke, his voice reflected hints of horrors from the past. "In our fear, we wrapped ourselves in bio-hazard suits, warding us away from our patients through layers of rubber, plastic, and cloth. Our patients died devoid of human touch because we were so scared that we weren't thinking clearly, analyzing what we knew and didn't know. Then, we had a visitor to our ward who changed that.

"Twelve year old Davey Jones came into my ward and began asking me questions with a clarity only a young man of his age can sometimes achieve. I talked to him, expecting to do more comforting for him as he struggled to understand what was happening to his friend's uncle, and instead walked away with new ideas, new thoughts that have progressed our fight against AIDS by leaps and bounds. In the comments for my nomination for the Nobel Prize, it was stated that the work I've done has saved the lives of countless millions, thanks to prevention, and has the potential to turn the corner in the fight to keep those infected alive. If I had a choice, it would be Davey Jones's name on that Nobel nomination, not mine, because it was he who gave me the clarity of vision to do the work I've accomplished in the last few years.

"So, here we have a young man, who has helped to save countless lives, who has given comfort and love to the dying and unloved. Here we have a young man whose every action epitomizes every quality we claim to desire in our young people. He is intelligent, compassionate, and loving. He has been in a loving relationship with one person for two years now, and shows every sign of continuing that relationship for the foreseeable future. Instead of lauding his achievements, you sit here trying to harm his future under the guise of protecting people when no danger truly exists.

"Unlike Dr. Haroldson I'm not going to use misleading tactics about describing how homosexuals behave and use them to justify making someone a pariah. I'll let the Medical Ethics Board decide if such things are acceptable after I file my complaint. Instead I'm going to tell you some truths here. First, an infected person can stand in front of you and sneeze on you all day, and you will not get AIDS easily. If you have a deep, open wound that is bleeding, and he sneezes right into it, there's a very slight chance you might become infected. This is because we know HIV dies on contact with air. Most accidental infections happen when a nurse sticks herself with a needle after using it on an infected patient. If you have an open wound on your hand, and you come into contact with fresh infected blood, as from a bleeding wound on an infected person, there is a good chance you will be infected. If you use a dirty needle, you will get infected. If you have sex with someone who is infected and trade body fluids where they can enter the blood stream, you will get infected.

Let me say beyond a shadow of a doubt, Davey Jones and Brian Breckenridge are not infected with HIV, they do not have AIDS, and they are about as likely to get it as most of the people in this room. When they visit patients infected with the disease, they don't mess with needles, they don't clean up the patient's wastes, they hold their hands, and they occasionally give them a hug. They don't swap spit with them and they don't engage in any sexual activities as at least one of your local pastors hinted at recently. Their activities are at all times monitored by adults, and quite frankly I wish we had more young men like them doing what they do."

"But they're homosexuals; that makes them high risk." Dr. Sears asserted, forgetting it wasn't supposed to be about us, and playing to the camera.

"No, being gay doesn't automatically put you at high risk for AIDS." Dr. Grayson countered very calmly. "Having multiple partners, having sex without proper use of a condom, engaging in certain types of activities with people you don't know are all high risk behaviors. Engaging in sexual activity with the same person, who has never engaged in activity with anyone else is not high-risk behavior, and it doesn't matter if it's two boys or a boy and a girl. Both of them have never been with another person, they've only had what contact they do have with each other. That makes them less at risk than a heterosexual boy who has sex with four or five girls.

"In the last six months, five percent of all new AIDS cases in this country were by transmission from normal heterosexual sex. In all of 1982, they were only two percent of the cases. From that indication, in this country the number of cases among heterosexuals is more than doubling, possibly quadrupling, and will continue to grow. Worldwide, the majority of new AIDS cases being reported are now among heterosexuals, not homosexuals. That is why at their next meeting, the American Medical Association is considering the redefinition of high-risk behavior to include all unprotected sexual intercourse, regardless of the gender of the participants, when at least one partner has had sexual intercourse with another partner. Under that definition, by the latest studies, almost twenty-four percent of your student populations at your high schools would be removed from campus and sent to alternative education."

"You're not serious." Ben Hollingsworth said sharply, his eyes wide.

"Absolutely serious, and I'll stake my professional reputation on every statement I've made here tonight." Doctor Grayson said gravely and even Dr. Sears blinked.

"If current trends hold up, in ten years, there will be over two million people in this country alone infected with AIDS. Most of them will be the children in the halls of your schools and in schools all across this nation right now. A large number of those infected, and maybe even a majority, will be heterosexual boys and girls. This school board is absolutely right in that AIDS is an epidemic endangering our children. I have four kids at home and I think about them and this disease every day. What this school board is wrong in is that closing kids out of our halls just because they are infected, or are at risk of being infected will save the others. In fact, it will save no one anything except your staff members from having to teach hundreds of kids.

"If you want to save your kids from AIDS, you must teach them about it. You must teach them that the only way to be absolutely sure they are safe from the disease is to abstain from sex until they are ready to enter into a monogamous relationship with another person who also has not had sexual intercourse with anyone else. You must teach them that if they do engage in sexual intercourse with anyone who does not meet these conditions, then they must use a latex condom, and even then there is still a risk of transmission. To do otherwise is to doom some of them to death at the hands of AIDS, whether they are gay or straight. I thank you for your time."

"Thank you, Doctor Grayson." Dr. Sears said a little weakly, his gaze going once more to the camera. "At this time we'd like to invite members of the public to speak if they still wish to do so."

No one moved. For several long minutes people looked at each other from across the aisle, as if seeing if the other side would move first. Dr. Mills stared at me with a huge frown, looked back at the camera and then turned his gaze forward. Most of the room shifted uncomfortably in their seats or shifted restlessly where they stood, but no one moved. If anyone had, there'd probably have been a stampede to be the next to speak, but no one moved and Dr. Grayson smiled a smile of victory as he returned to his seat, clasping my shoulder briefly and slapping Brian's outstretched hand with another smile.

"Um, seeing as how there are no more comments from the public, would any board members like to continue discussion on this issue?" Dr. Sears asked. None of them spoke either. "Very well, all those in favor of the motion please say aye."

There were no aye votes. Everyone but the two who had made the motion and Dr. Sears voted no, and those three abstained from the vote. Not even the woman who'd made the motion voted in support of it after Grayson's speech. The room erupted into cheers when Dr. Sears closed the meeting, and he escaped out a side door with most of the other board members at a very quick pace. Mr. Gravrisom came down and headed straight for Dr. Grayson, and I could hear him asking the doctor about the possibility of setting up some seminars on the high school campuses. The football team surrounded Brian and I quickly, slapping us on the back and shouting loudly while Dad and those he'd come with slinked out the door, trying not to get caught by the camera.

The female reporter with the crew led them straight towards us, and met Cynthia in some quiet, but terse conversation. The camera crew went outside then, and Cynthia managed to drag us away from the team with minimal fuss, making sure our smiling parents came with us. Cynthia was smiling as well, and I had a heady rush of victory coursing through my system. Doctor Grayson joined us, but told us briefly he'd received a page and he had to get back to the city.

"Well, they wanted to speak to him too, but they'll live." Cynthia said with a frown as he left, and then turned back to us. "Okay, tonight was good. They weren't ready for Doctor Grayson and he blew them out of the water, but don't think this is over by a long shot. This is the second battle, and you've won both of them, but don't think for a second it's the last one or the end of the war."

"No, the war will probably be going on long after we're dead." I said with certainty and she nodded.

"As much as some people don't like comparing gay rights to the black civil rights movement, it is much the same fight." Cynthia said. "The first fighters in that campaign for equality have been dead for hundreds of years. Those who won the first major battle, the ending of slavery, have been dead for over a hundred years. The ones who fought and won the second major battle, the Civil Rights movement of the sixties, are dead or growing older, and will be dying off in a few dozen years. What you're in right now is just the first major round in the fight for gay civil rights. Some of the first leaders, like Harvey Milk were shot, while others are among the first casualties of AIDS. You two just made yourselves the next set of leaders and it's probably too late to back out now."

"You really know how to make a parent feel safe about their kids." Mom told her sarcastically and several of us laughed. "All the people you're comparing them to get shot or killed in some other way."

"It's a rough world we live in." I said with a shrug.

"I'll just have to remember to duck." Brian joked, but I could hear the fear deep down in his voice. It was my turn to wrap my arm around his shoulder, hold him tight and give him strength. He leaned into me with such weight that I knew he was really scared.

"Okay, the news crew is setting up to do a shot of the group of you filing out of here." Cynthia continued. "I'll walk down with the boys, and if the parents and friends can line up behind them, that'd be great. Get as many of those teammates of yours that are still here to make it look like a good size crowd. We'll stop right in front of Helen, the reporter. She'll start out by asking me a question or two, and then she'll ask Davey and Brian a question or two. Just answer her naturally. It's being taped so if you flub it bad, just ask her to ask it again and then answer. They'll edit out the flub. Make sure you don't cuss or say anything too explicit. Remember, you're going to be on regular television so keep it clean. Davey, Brian, if you want to hold hands, or do what you're doing now, that's fine, but don't do any deep kisses or stuff like that. You'll just alienate too many people. Now, Helen may ask the parents some questions. If she does, remember to keep your answers as short as possible. If it's over ten seconds, it most likely won't get on the air."

"Okay, they're coming." Brandon said. He'd gone off to grab Reynolds and the others before they left, and soon the entire team that had shown up were standing behind us in a big group.

"Oh man, I'm so not ready for this." Brian whispered as we moved to just hold hands. He was on my right and I couldn't help but smile.

"It's no big deal." I said as nonchalantly as I could.

"Yeah, you've done this before." He whispered into my ear and I had to grin. Truth be told, my stomach was roiling as it always did when I was about to go in front of a news camera, not that it had happened more then ten times.

"Just keep the answers very short and to the point." I whispered back. Mom and the other ladies returned from wherever they'd gone to do their make-up. They all looked good, but Mom was practically glowing, and I realized something. Mom had never really had close female friends when I was younger, nor had she had them in my first lifetime. I fervently hoped that these events would change that; maybe they could keep her from turning to alcohol.

"Okay, we ready?" Cynthia asked and everyone nodded or murmured yes while Reynolds let out a whoop, as did most of the team. Cynthia just smiled at that and started us walking, with her on the other side of Brian. We exited the building and walked right into the blinding camera light.

"Don't go into the light." I said, quoting the movie Poltergeist, and Brian tried to stifle a laugh while we stopped next to the reporter, Helen. She was a beautiful woman in her late twenties, with long blond hair of course, and a typical reporter smile.

"This is Helen Cantrell, reporting from Modesto tonight where an emergency meeting of the City School Board has just ended. The board was meeting to discuss a proposal to force students with AIDS or at risk of AIDS from their schools. It's been reported that the cause of the emergency meeting was two high school football players who recently revealed that they were gay and in a relationship together. They are here with me now along with their attorney, their parents, and their teammates." Helen said into the camera before turning to the lawyer, sticking her microphone out after speaking. "So Cynthia, what happened here tonight?"

"I believe we witnessed the power of truth over hysteria and misinformation." Cynthia replied with a brilliant smile. "Dr. Grayson's eloquent speech helped the school board make the right decision."

"I take it that these two young gentlemen are the football players?" Helen asked Cynthia who nodded as she continued smiling and turned slightly to introduce us.

"Yes, here on my left is Brian and his boyfriend, Davey." Cynthia said and I had to keep from wincing at the identification as Brian's 'boyfriend'. Not because I was ashamed of it, but because it was now out there, in the public eye for everyone to see. The first time I'd been on camera was during the debate on adding sexual orientation to the community college's discrimination clause. Later that evening, I'd gone into a local gay bar and was recognized by at least ten people I'd never met before. I knew this was going to happen to both of us now, and it was a little unsettling.

"Davey, you were mentioned by Doctor Grayson as being instrumental in his development of new treatments in the fight against AIDS." Helen said to me first and I focused on her, not the camera. "How does his praise make you feel?"

"Humble." I answered firmly. "Doctor Grayson is the man who has done all the work. I just had a few questions and ideas. He's the one who turned them into treatments that are saving lives."

"He's not here anymore." Helen said, pulling the microphone back to her and away from me. "Did he have to leave?"

"Yes." I answered calmly. "He has several patients that are responding well to some new treatments and he was needed. I'm extremely grateful that he would take time out of his hectic schedule to come down here and speak on our behalf."

"Davey, I've heard that you've had a rough few weeks, can you tell our viewers what started all this?" Helen asked and I tried to figure out how to say it succinctly enough that it wouldn't be deleted.

"About a week ago a young man at our school was outed by his church and family." I said after taking a second to gather my thoughts. "Brian and I stuck up for him, and my family reacted badly to that. In the process of dealing with that, they found out that I was in a relationship with Brian and things got worse. I was placed under foster care. Yesterday, for political reasons I was removed from the temporary foster family I'd been staying with and placed in a foster home that was homophobic. Those foster parents tried to frame me for drug possession, but were unable to convince the police officer, and I took a drug test to prove my innocence. I passed of course, because I'm fourteen, and in fourteen years I've never once touched an illegal drug."

"Have things settled down for you at all?" Helen asked with a worried expression that would look good on camera.

"Yes, my mother and I have reconciled and things should be much more stable from now on." I answered with a smile for Mom, who seemed to relax at that.

"Brian, how long have you two been together?" Helen asked my boyfriend next.

"We've been together for two years now." Brian said with a smug smile. His next phrase was met with laughs from our family and groans from the football team. "He's mine."

"Why all the groans?" Helen asked the football team with a wide smile on her face.

"Lady, those two are so thick you can't come between them with a knife." Reynolds shouted out from behind us. "Brian's always saying that to make sure everyone knows not to even look at Davey the wrong way."

"So, you're a jealous young man?" Helen asked Brian with a gleaming grin.

"He's mine and I don't share." Brian said simply and even Helen had to chuckle that time.

"Some people would say fourteen is too young to know that you're gay, much less twelve and most people would say you're far too young to be in a serious relationship." Helen continued after her chuckle. "How would you respond to that?"

"We've been a couple for two years and I plan on never letting him get away." Brian said with a shrug. "Some of us are just lucky to meet that special person when we're young."

"You tell 'em BB!" Reynolds shouted, getting more laughs and catcalls for us from our teammates.

"How about one of you guys coming around here?" Helen asked and Reynolds scooted around so that he stood on my left side.

"So, you play football with these two?" Helen asked and put the microphone into Reynolds's face.

"More like they let me play football with them." He said with a wide grin. "They kick butt on the field."

"How did you react when you found out they were gay and a couple?" She asked him.

"It freaked me out at first." Reynolds answered honestly. "Then, we all saw they were the same guys we'd known all along, we just knew something more about them. It's like finding out a buddy has two brothers instead of just one. It's just another part of them. They're the same guys we've always known otherwise."

"I would expect you'd be worried about showering with gay guys and having them on your team." Helen stated and Reynolds grinned.

"Naw, the only time we have to be nervous is if one of us looks at Davey too long and Brian thinks we're trying to horn in on him." Reynolds said and that got several more laughs.

"Well, thank you all for your time." Helen said and turned back to the camera. "This has been Helen Cantrell reporting from Modesto for KCRA Channel 3."

"Okay, we got it." The cameraman said and Helen turned around smiling at us.

"Okay, I need to get everyone's names down right, and we need to get the parents to sign permission forms." She said in a businesslike manner. Reynolds had to go find his parents, who had not yet left. I'd never met them before and was kind of worried as they approached. Reynolds's father was a big man, and he didn't look totally happy as he talked to Helen and signed the form she gave him. He turned to me as he finished though and looked me up and down several times.

"Yep, my boy was right, you don't look gay." He said in a deep bass and I nearly jumped. He smiled though, and I could see where his son got his smile. "You keep the fight going, boy, you here me? I was in Selma in '55 and '56, and this ain't no different no matter what folks say."

"Thank you sir." I said, and took the hand he held out.

"Get the boys lined up for the ride home." He told his son and turned back to me. "We had to organize a convoy to get them all here. Reminded me of the bus boycott. Damn good times. You need more help, you tell my son and we'll be there."

"Yes sir, and thank you again." Brian said while I just nodded. My throat was tight and I couldn't speak, the man's words had caught me so off guard.

"Well, let's get you back to Trevor's." Mom said gently and I nodded, giving Brian a hug before we left.

"I love you." I told him in his ear and he pulled me tight.

"I love me too." He joked before letting me go and running for his life as I chased him across the parking lot.


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