by -{BM}-

Chapter 9: Michael's Heart

18th May 2004

The characters and plot in this story are copyrighted by the author. However the concept of 'The World' is not. I take no credit for this; the credit belongs to Bandai Entertainment who used the concept in the animation series .Hack//Sign, .Hack//Dusk and .Hack//Liminality. (Pronounced Dot Hack)

Yeah, I know I know. sorry about the amount of time this chapter has taken. Real life is pretty intense at the moment. I have also rewritten chapter 1 and sent it in to nifty so give that a look as well :) I'd like to thank those that have emailed me about this story, I was going to originally finish the story at Chapter 6 but thanks to the huge amount of emails I am recieving I decided to keep it going. I've also started two other stories, 'Tears of Blood' is in the Sci-Fi section and 'The Unwanted Thirst' is in the Fan-Fic section so check those out if you want :)


I walked back to the chaos gate near the top of Lava Mountain with tears in my eyes as I thought about the pain Michael would be experiencing right now. What made it even worse was the nagging thought in the back of my head that was telling me that he would be hurting because of me and my actions a few moments ago.

"You will never be able to protect him outside of this game,"

Michael's sister's words rang through my head as I walked, jeering at me for having all of this strength and power inside this game and yet having no chance at all of saving Michael from all of his pain in the real world. I sighed deeply to myself as I approached the gate, if only I could help him. A voice coming from behind me whisked me from my depressing thoughts,

"Sounds like you're having a few problems." I turned around to see Cam and Romero standing behind me. I guessed that they had traveled here to level up against the strong monsters that were around.

"How did you know?" I asked and they both smiled,

"That sigh," replied Romero. "It screams out `I have a lot of bad problems, oh my God what am I going to do?' to anyone that hears it."

"Well, you're both right anyway," I sobbed as tears welled in my eyes as I thought of Michael, "Things just haven't gone my way today."

"Let's get out of this place," said Cam as he walked up to me and put a comforting arm around me and they both took me towards the chaos gate.


"...And so that's why we were beaten," finished Dave as he filled his group in on what Mr. C had told him earlier. They were all sitting in a group near the chaos gate in Lut Kalen.

"Elysium?" One of the twins said in disbelief.

"That just sounds like another world for queerville," the other twin added and they both began to giggle.

"Shut up you two, this is no time for your stupid jokes," Dave said, barely able to suppress his smile, well, it was true, it was filled with queers and queer-lovers. But right now there are more important things to discuss...

"So what do we do about it?" Asked Adam, the smallest boy of the group as he unsheathed his sword, looking like he was ready to fight them all right now.

"Hold up my young friend," Dave said, smiling at the boy's enthusiasm. "Normally we wouldn't be able to acess Elysium because we don't meet the requirements or some shit but thanks to Mr. C we now have a way. However it will take a couple of days to prepare and we need to make sure that the queer group doesn't find out what we're doing."

"We understand," replied Adam eagerly. "So what do we do?"

"Come with me and I'll explain everything," Dave said as he got up and began to walk towards the chaos gate. The whole group followed him, except for Peter who was still sitting there with a worried expression on his face. "You coming Peter?" Yelled Dave as he walked.

"Uh, yeah," Peter replied as he hopped up and ran over to his friends. Silently cursing himself for not having the guts to say no to any of them.


"And that's what happened," I finished as the tears now poured freely from my eyes. Cam and Romero had taken me to Windmill Plains before they would let me talk and we were sitting on a platform that was situated at the top of one of the hills that overlooked the entire area. We could see hundreds of players roaming the fields as they fought monsters and each other from where we were sitting. If I wasn't so depressed I would have definitely enjoyed this place, it really had quite a spectacular view.

It was weird, but unloading all of my feelings of helplessness and fear onto other people really did make me feel a little better. That little stabbing feeling in my heart when I thought about Michael's pain was still there but I felt like a heavy load was just lifted from my shoulders. I guess that after being isolated from other people by my Dad always made me deal with my own problems which never really helped me to solve anything. For the hundredth time since I first entered `The World', I thanked God or whoever was up there for giving me the chance to finally make some friends, friends that are like me and can understand what I'm feeling right now.

"So... It seems that Michael has it bad in the real world, just as I suspected," Cam said as he looked out at the view. "And you say that the lightning sorceress that you protected Michael from during the big fight earlier was his sister?"

I nodded as I wiped my face with my robe, trying to ignore the looks I drew from passers by. "Yep, and it's not just her that hurts him. She says she gets her friends to join in as well and she knows a guy at Michael's school and she instructs him to make Michael's life a living hell while he's at school."

"Bastards," Romero muttered as gripped his halberd tightly in one hand and stood up and began to walk away.

"Where are you going?" Cam yelled as he got up.

"I'm going to find those sadists and teach them a lesson, that's where I'm going," he answered, never turning around to look at us as he talked.

"Wait!" Yelled Cam and I got up as Romero stopped and turned around to look at us.

"What?" He said as he swung his halberd at the ground, the impact shaking the earth beneath us and making a huge hole where it had struck. "You're going to let them get away with this?" He asked, his voice now rising. "Michael is probably one of the nicest guys I've ever met! He wouldn't hurt a fly, and yet he has to live in a house where he is never allowed to be happy. No fuck this, I don't care if I see that bitch in town, I'm gonna cut her in two," he said as he turned around again and continued to walk away from us.

"No wait! Shit!" Cam muttered as he began to run after him with me following close behind. We managed to catch up to up at the bottom of the hill that we were sitting on and Cam stood in front of him, causing Romero to stop and glare at him.

"Don't do it Romero," Cam said as he matched Romero's glare.

"Give me one good reason," Romero replied, still clutching his halberd like he was ready to fight.

"I can think of two," Cam said. "One if she is in a town and you kill her you will most certainly be seen by the knights and they will ban you from the game for a few weeks."

"So what? This isn't about me this is about helping Mic...

"Second reason!" Interrupted Cam forcefully. "As Jim said before, we can avenge and protect him all we want here in `The World' but in the real world we have no means of doing so. Also any annoyance that we cause her in here will give her more incentive to harm Michael once she logs off."

"So you're saying we should do nothing and sit back and let all of this happen?" Spat Romero as his facial expression changed from anger to disgust as he looked at Cam. For one fleeting moment I thought they were going to fight right here right now and I started to feel bad for causing a rift between both of them.

"I never said that," answered Cam. "We are going to help Michael, it's our duty as friends and Jim's duty as his boyfriend but we mustn't do anything that would end up making his situation worse in the long run. Also we need to talk to Michael first and find out everything. I have a suspicion that there may be more stuff to know that what his sister told Jim."

Romero kept his attacking pose for a few moments but thankfully, he eventually lowered his weapon and sighed, "You're right Cam. Sometimes my temper flares out of control and I always end up doing something stupid."

"You don't have to tell me," Cam said as he laughed.

His laughter caused all of the tension in the air to disappear and Romero began to laugh as well and I smiled as I watched them from a few meters away. I was glad that Romero hadn't gone and done something stupid, especially if it was because of something I had told him. I walked over to them both and they both smiled at me,

"So what do we do now?" I asked. Glad that they were not gonna kill each other over this.

"First up, let's keep this just between ourselves," said Cam who from the expression on his face was doing some quick thinking. "Actually I'll tell Bill tonight, he might be able to help us, is that alright Jim?" He asked.

"Sure," I answered. "The more people we have to help Michael the better."

"I won't tell anybody else, not even Hugh or Ian. That's for Michael's sake, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want any of this to make it into the gossip circles in Elysium," said Cam.

"Yep, I'd agree with that," I replied, agreeing because of my own situation. If all of the people in my real life found out about my Dad I would just crawl into a hole and die, especially if people who were close to me like Aunt May found out.

"Well I'm going to bed and I think you two should do the same," Cam answered. "We'll talk to Michael and decide what to do tomorrow. Also there is someone else I would like you to talk to Jim, about your meeting with the Creator and your problems with Michael's situation."

"Who?" I asked.

"I'll tell you tomorrow but for now I've gotta log out, I have a big assignment due at school this week, Bill's working on it right now and will chew my head off if I don't go over and work with him on it"

"Okay, let's log out then," said Romero who was smiling again, and we began to walk towards the chaos gate with me feeling considerably better, but still not happy about what my love must be going through right now.


As I lay in my bed that night my mind couldn't help but dwell on the things that Michael's sister and school bully had told me. His life was worse than mine, much worse. If you had told me a week ago that there was someone in this city who was more worse off than me I probably would have laughed and would have probably tried to hurt you. But I guess this teaches me a lesson, no matter how bad things are, there's always somebody who is more worse off than you are. I sighed to myself as I looked at my computer on the desk in the corner of my room. It really is an amazing machine, it can create a world that you can enter and forget about your problems. My last thought as I drifted into the dreamscape was an ardent wish that `The World' was the real world, then I could protect my love from anything...


I awoke the next morning as I felt a kiss on my forehead.

I kept my eyes shut and smiled to myself, hoping for some crazy miracle, or maybe this was one of those wet dreams when you wake up to find the person you love most in bed with you... Fingers crossed! "Michael?" I whispered before I opened my eyes.

"So is that the name of the special boy that has captured the heart of my nephew," my Aunt May said with a laugh, causing me to open my eyes immediately and look around my room in a panic. Good, I sighed in relief as I realized that my Dad wasn't in the room, if he was you may as well have gone coffin shopping for me. If he ever found out that I had a boyfriend he would just snap. Sigh, why could I have one of those fathers off the commercials or TV shows that actually shows concern for their sons and always loves them no matter what?

"It's alright Jim," Aunt May said as she laughed at my panicked reaction, probably thinking that I was going `over the top' in worrying about my Dad finding out about my social life, if only she knew...

"Your father has gone out drinking with his friends today so there's no need to worry about him. I know that he still doesn't really accept your sexuality yet but just give him time. I know that deep down he loves you."

"Yeah," was the only thing I could think to say to a comment like that on short notice. The fake smile on my face was now starting to hurt and if she talked anymore about how my Dad `loves me' I was pretty sure that I was gonna be sick.

"So tell me about Michael," she said.

"Michael?" I said to myself as I began to picture his beauty in my head, the mention of his name immediately making me feel a lot better.

"Yes," she replied. "I'm interested to hear about this boy that has made you so much happier since my last visit."

"Well..." I started, trying to find a way to transfer my feelings for Michael into words. "I just can't really put how much he mean into words, if you know what I mean Aunt May."

"So it is true love then!" She exclaimed with an excited smile and she hugged me excitedly.

"How did you know?" I asked as I couldn't help but smile at her almost child-like actions. Well she was allowed to celebrate as she was basically my counselor on whom I used to drop all of my sob stories about how messed up it was being gay in this world and how I would never find true love.

"The way that your eyes light up whenever his name is mentioned and a big smile covers your face that is almost infectious," she explained. "Also the fact that you are overwhelmed with so much joy and appreciation when I asked you about him was also a strong indicator. Jim, I can honestly say that I've never seen a look that expressed so much love for someone else before, and I've been to a lot of weddings where the bride and groom show their love for each other almost non-stop."

I giggled as I thought of Michael and me getting married. Maybe we could escape this country with its homophobic president and move to Canada. Ahhh... that would be a fairy tale ending. But that is thinking a bit far ahead, I mean I haven't even met him in real life yet. But no matter what he looks like, I'll still love him.

"You see?" She said out of nowhere, stopping my fairy tale daydream. "Just a short discussion about your love for him and you're already away with the fairies."

We both laughed at that comment and after a few moments of silence where I found myself thinking about and longing for my love, Aunt May offered to go downstairs and cook me a big breakfast in celebration. After we had both finished she told me that she had to go because of all of the work that she had to do. As I watched her drive away through a window at the front of our house, (I didn't want to break Dad's no outside the house except for school rule) I found myself longing for her return only a few minutes later. I was really dreading my Dad's return as well, if what Aunt May said was true and my Dad was drinking with his friends then I'd better watch myself. He is always way more violent when he's drunk, if you can imagine that to be possible.

As I went to the bathroom before logging back into `The World' another fact hit me that made me feel even more depressed. The weekend was nearly over and school was on tomorrow. Sigh, I wish that we had a three or four day weekend instead of two, it would make my life just a tad more bearable. I logged into `The World', hoping that I would soon find answers to all of my questions and solutions to all of my problems.


When I found myself standing in Lut Kalen I immediately made my way to the town's chaos gate and teleported myself to Midge Village so I could access Elysium. As I walked through the always busy shop-lined streets of Midge Village I spotted a party who I immediately recognized as trouble. It was Dave and his group of thugs and they were walking my way but they hadn't seen me yet. Dave was talking excitedly to everybody in the group and a few of them seemed to be laughing, which made me wonder what they were talking about. Dave finally spotted me when I was a few meters away from them and the whole group stopped and glared at me. I kept walking towards them, refusing to be intimidated. I knew that they wouldn't start anything in this town and even if they did, I knew that I could handle them all with no problems.

"Well Fagicus, how are we doing today?" He said as the rest of the group giggled at his stupid joke. All except for Peter who began to walk the other way as soon as Dave started to talk to me. Dave noticed this too,

"What's wrong Peter?" He yelled after Peter's retreating form, "You feeling sorry for the fags now?"

His remark at Peter made my insides boil, this kid really was a complete prick. "You leave him alone Dave," I threatened.

"Ha! You've got some nerve Fagicus," he retorted as he spun around and looked me in the eyes.

"Oh well done Dave, Fagicus. Did you come up with that name all by yourself or did your cronies help you?" I replied as a smile crossed my face when I saw his face scrunch up in anger. He walked up to me and stuck his face right next to mine as he hissed,

"You just watch it fagboy! Mark my words, you and your whole cocksucking group are fucking going down."

"What just like yesterday Dave?" I replied, my voice shaking with anger. "As I remember I took you and your whole group of `friends' down."

"I'll admit you got lucky," he hissed. "But next time it will be different and the first one I'm gonna take down will be your nancy little boyfriend and you won't be able to do a fucking thing about it."

His comment about Michael nearly made me summon Iorori right there but I decided to leave before I lost my temper and do anything that could get me into trouble with the knights. As I continued to walk past Dave and his group they all began to yell out insults at me and it didn't stop until I had turned the corner near the end of the street into the alley that led to the shop with the portal to Elysium.

I said the password to the shopkeeper and walked into the portal in the wall and a few seconds later I found myself standing in the main street in Elysium. As I made my way to Cam's house I couldn't help but notice that I was drawing a few looks from the groups of people that were standing in the street talking. My paranoia increased as I heard them whispering to each other as they followed me with their eyes. As I walked past a group that was close I could make out one sentence,

`It's him. He's the one that defeated nearly sixty players at once all by himself.'

I began to blush and increased my pace so I wouldn't get too embarrassed by the whole thing. Wow! Someone must have seen my fight with Dave and the other and must have spread it all around this place.

I finally made it to Cam's house and cautiously opened the front door and peered inside to check if anyone was inside. I sighed in relief when I saw Bill, Hugh, Ian and Michael sitting in a group. Bill had a small item that looked like a pocket watch in his hand and was talking excitedly to the rest of the group while Hugh sat in a chair opposite him with Ian on his lap and Michael sat on a chair by himself as he looked at the item with a look of boredom on his face. My heart fluttered as admired him from a far until I decided a few seconds later that it was time to say hello!

I approached them and smiled at Michael whose face lit up as he noticed me.

"Hi everyone," I said as I walked right up and took a seat on Michael's lap before he could get up, which caused him to blush. The whole group said hello to me as I sat down and Michael wrapped his arms around my waist and whispered in my ear as Bill continued to talk about the item in his hand,

"Hi Jim," he whispered excitedly. "You forgot to email me," he said and I realized he was talking about the conversation we had yesterday when I promised to email him as soon as I was in `The World.'

"I thought I might surprise you," I replied as I began to wiggle on his lap and giggled to myself as I felt his erection form underneath me. I continued to rub myself against his hardness as I felt his body shiver with delight and he began to breathe heavily. I continued to giggle to myself as I teased him like this until I realized that Bill had stopped talking and was looking at us along with Ian and Hugh. I thought Bill may have been offended that we were ignoring him when he was talking but these thoughts were thrown from my mind when I saw him smile.

"Geez you two sure don't waste anytime," he said as he laughed. As he said this Hugh jumped up off Ian's lap and took his hand and they both made their way towards the stairs.

"Look, you've got those two in the mood now," he laughed. "I've gotta go and find Cam anyways, I'll see you two later," and with that he hopped up, failing miserably to hide his tenting erection underneath his trousers and made is way to the door leaving Michael and I there by ourselves. As I sat there on his lap, feeling his erection I found myself getting a bit hot and hopped up.

"Want to go upstairs?" I asked as I helped him up out of the chair.

"You bet!" He answered. And we both made our way upstairs into an empty room.

Ten seconds later we were both naked admiring each other. I walked up to Michael and began to kiss him with passion as I slowly stroked his hardness with my left hand with my other hand wrapped around his waist. He began to whimper with delight as I moved my right hand downwards and lightly stroked his ass as he began to fondle my nut sack with one of his hands. We both moved in unison over to the bed and I lay down on the crisp sheets with him on top of me, our rock hand cocks rubbed together forming a slick layer of pre-cum between us as we grinded our bodies together, causing is to both whimper and moan in delight.

"I love you so much Jim," Michael whimpered between kisses. "Please don't ever leave me."

"I'll never leave you Michael," I somehow managed to reply; "I love you."

I felt myself coming closer and closer to my climax and was now grinding into Michael with unrelenting passion. Suddenly there was a knock on the door,

"Ah! Y-yes?" I managed to say, my voice sounded very raspy, almost like a croak. I knew that no-one would knock on the door unless it was very important and sure enough...

"Jim? This is Cam, sorry man but I need you to come downstairs as soon as possible."

"Be... Ah! Down in a minute," I said as Michael continued to grind into me.

"Okay," Cam replied and I heard him laugh to himself as he walked away. Michael suddenly stopped grinding into my body and spun his body around and swallowed my penis in one gulp.

"Uhhhh..." I groaned before I took Michael's penis that was right above my face into my mouth. I began to suck on his rock hard shaft when his penis inflated and he began to shoot hot spurts of his teen nectar into my mouth. With Michael's penis in my mouth, all I could do was moan as I felt my orgasm come to the surface and I began to ejaculate into his hot, wet, willing mouth. As I let his deflating penis slide out of my mouth I sighed to myself, I love him so much!


Five minutes later we were both cleaned up and dressed again and were sitting in a group with Cam, Bill and a girl that looked to be around sixteen. Before I had come down I had quickly filled Michael in on my meeting with his sister, I didn't tell him all of the things she had told me but the way that Michael's eyes never left the ground made me think he probably already knew what she had told me. I could only hug him as a stray tear ran down the side of his face. The expression of pure joy and love that was on his face five minutes ago was now replaced with an expression of embarrassment and shame. It was heartbreaking to see him change from happy to sad.

"Jim, this is Lucy. She's another one of the moderators in Elysium," Cam said as the girl smiled at me.

"So this is Jim, I've heard so much about you it really is a pleasure to finally meet you," she said. She was around the same height as me and was armed with two wrist blades that looked just like Bill's. She wore small light looking amour that seemed to show off her well developed chest and had long brown hair and hazel eyes.

"Uhhh... thanks. Sorry we took so long in coming down," I said as I felt myself blush.

"That's okay," she replied with a small laugh. I looked over at Michael who was still staring at the ground with a terrified look on his face. I looked back at Lucy who was also looking at him with an expression of concern on her face.

"Michael," she whispered as if she was afraid that her words could break him in half. "Michael, we need to talk to you about a few things."

"I know," he replied at a tone barely above a whisper. "Jim told me a few things upstairs."

"We're all here to help you Michael," she purred. "Your sister told Jim some pretty disturbing things yester..."

"Could we not talk about this please?" Michael interrupted. I was shocked at the tone of his voice. It was probably the loudest I've heard him speak yet.

"But Michael," we need to know if the things she's saying are true. Otherwise we can't help you," Lucy continued.

"Please..." Michael said, beginning to cry and rock forwards and backwards in his chair. I immediately moved over next to him and began to whisper in his ear, trying to calm him down.

"No Jim!" He suddenly yelled as he jumped up out of his chair, startling us and the group of other players that were sitting and talking in the chairs that were right near the door.

"Michael we're only trying to help," Bill said calmly.

"Don't help me, I'm not worth it!" He yelled as the tears poured down his cheeks. He turned to me with a pleading look in his eyes, "Please Jim, I don't want you to know about my real life."

It was at this point that I noticed that tears were now streaming down my face as well as I saw the distress that my love was in,

"Michael, I love you. I want to help you, I can't bear to see you like this," I sobbed.

He collapsed into my arms and began to sob heavily as he buried his face in my robes. All I could do was kiss the top of his head and rub his back but I could only understand a faction of the pain that he must be going through right now. Sure my Dad was a violent homophobe and my school life was hell, but I had it easy when I compare my life to Michael's.

We stayed like that for a few minutes, just me holding and comforting Michael as he soaked my robes with his tears. Lucy, Bill and Cam sat there with worried looks on their faces. I saw a stray tear streak down Cam's face as he watched Michael cry. After a few more moments Michael stopped crying and looked into my eyes, his beauty hypnotizing me.

"You, I'll only tell you Jim," he whispered. "But," he continued as he began to tear up again, "I'm warning you you'll never want to be near me again after I tell you."

I ran my hand through his hair as I kissed his forehead, "Michael, I love you. And nothing you say will ever change that."

Lucy and the others stood up and began to walk to the door,

"You two take your time," she said she opened the door. "We'll be back later."

Cam walked up to Michael, who was still in my arms,

"Michael, you don't have to tell us about your real life. But know that we will always be here to help you," he said and after he said that he walked out the door followed by Bill and Lucy.

I moved over to one of the empty chairs and sat down with Michael sitting in my lap, facing away from me.

"I'm going to tell you about my life Jim, please don't hate me after this, and please, PLEASE don't tell anybody else this" he said as he began to rock forwards and backwards again.

"I won't Michael, I promise."


"I wonder what Michael's telling Jim right now?" Bill wondered out loud as he, Cam and Lucy walked down the main street of Elysium with worried looks on their faces.

"That's for them to know, not us," replied Lucy. "Michael can only tell those who he wants to tell. It's not our place to force him to tell, even if that would help us to help him."

All three of them stopped in unison as they all heard a small tone.

"An email," Cam said. "And it looks like it's from the creator."

"That means either something really good, or really bad is about to happen," Bill said as they all opened their email screens and began to read.


"I'm woken up each morning by my step dad flicking his cigarette butts at me. He orders me to go and make breakfast for everyone. My mum used to stand up for me but... but, she doesn't anymore. Not after he started to hit her. My real Dad left when I was young so she puts up with my step dad because he's the only way we can survive."

My tears soaked into the back of Michael's robe as I held him on my lap and squeezed him close to me. Trying to transfer some of his pain to me, trying or do anything to help my love. The helplessness that I felt in not being able to help him was nearly driving me insane.

"I make breakfast and get ready for school. I have a twenty minute bus ride to my school. I always sit up the front of the bus and my step sister, Sharon, sits down the back of the bus. She's with the `cool' crowd in school and was the first to throw stuff at me while I sit up the front. It's getting worse, it used to be just bits of paper but now they're beginning to use heavier things. The bus driver ignores it, he... he knows about me from all of the rumors that are going around. There's no point in trying to fight back, there's just too many of them. Some of the kids aren't mean to me but they ignore me for fear of the older kids. Every morning I feel so worthless, they all hate me and the only people that recognize that I exist are those that want to torment me."

"When the bus reaches the school I always sprint off it and try to make it through the yard before I meet any bullies. I never make it though..." he sobbed. He had his back to me but his body was shaking with each heart wrenching sob that was emitted from his tortured soul. "They're always waiting for me. They rough me up first and then... play with me," I tensed, not sure what he meant. Did he mean? "No Jim," he said quickly, obviously noticing my change in posture. "They don't play with me in that way, they do other stuff. One time they held me down and wrote `cocksucker' on my head. Another time they... they... made me eat dog shit."

I hugged him from behind, soaking the back of his robes with tears of anguish. I felt like I was going to throw up, how could they? How could they relentlessly torment such a beautiful soul? No answers came as I pondered the reasons of these... sadists.

"When the bell rings they always hit me a few more times for good measure and then go to class. Of course if any teachers saw this they would get in trouble but they always have half the group concentrating on me and the other half distracting the teachers. I think that some of the teachers ignore the bullying on purpose because they know what I am. During class I'm continually bombarded with spit-balls and anything else they can think to use. If I sit down the back of the class then they turn around and hit me when the teacher isn't looking, they don't care if I see them. If I have gym class no matter what sport we're doing I always seem to get injured. One time we played football, it was horrible."

I tried to get him to turn around and look into my eyes so I could comfort him but he refused,

"No Jim! I can't look into your eyes while I'm saying this. Please!" He insisted so I stayed where I was as he continued his tale.

"Lunch is the only time of day where I can be at peace. I immediately make my way to the library and hide there. My afternoon classes are the same as my morning ones. When school is over I run to my bus so I can get on before the bullies get out of class. If they catch me they normally hold me down and I miss the bus. They then beat me up so every step on the walk home hurts. The bus ride on the way home is the same as the one in the morning. When I get home I usually have a few hours to myself where I lock my door and access `The World.' When my step dad gets home he and my step sister call me names and slap me around whenever they see me. If I stay in my room then they'll come in whenever they are bored. I'm not allowed to lock my door when my step dad is home or else I get beaten. I hardly ever talk to my mum anymore, I think she's too guilty about not being able to help me, or she's too drunk. The weekends aren't so bad because the house is usually empty and I just stay on `The World' all day. If it wasn't for this game I would have killed myself by now, it's my escape."

As Michael finished his speech I just sat there, unable to say anything. Anger, disgust, helplessness, sorrow were just some of the emotions that were swirling around my body. Michael stood up and turned around and looked at me with his eyes that were now swollen from all of his crying.

"I know, you don't have to say anything Jim. I'm like some sort of disease, everybody always ends up hating me."

He looked at me for a few moments but I was unable to respond. My chest felt like it weighed an extra 500kg and the tears just wouldn't stop.

"Goodbye Jim," he said as he walked towards the door. "For what it's worth you were the only thing that mattered to me in my fucked up existence."

The door closed and I just sat there, his story still soaking in. Suddenly his last sentence rang in my head and I hopped up and bolted out the door. I caught up to him down the street, he was crying so hard I didn't think he knew where he was going.

"Michael stop!" I yelled, he didn't stop however and walked towards the logout point. I caught up to him and walked beside him,

"Michael where are you going?" I asked frantically.

"I'm going to log out of this game, and then... I'm going to end it all," he replied between sobs.

"No!" I screamed as Cam, Bill and Lucy ran forward from the crowd and grabbed Michael after they heard what he was going to do.

"Let me go! I want to finish it all now!" He screamed as he began to struggle against them.

"Michael, please don't. I love you," I said as I began to cry again.

"HOW CAN YOU LOVE THIS!?" He screamed as he pointed at himself. "I'm so pathetic, so worthless, you don't love me Jim! You don't know what the fuck you are talking about."

His words cut through me like steel and before I could respond he collapsed on the ground and curled up in a ball. He lay there crying out, "I'm not worth it, not worth it, not worth it..."

I lay down on the ground next to him as Cam, Bill, Lucy and now Ian and Hugh who had joined us were shooing away onlookers. I noticed that some of them were crying as they saw Michael wailing to himself on the ground.

We sat there for a few minutes, waiting for Michael to stop. When he finally stopped crying I kissed him on the lips and began to speak to him,

"Look Michael, I love you. Do you hear me? I love you and nothing you tell me will ever change that. Those people, your sister, your step dad, the kids at school they do all of that stuff to you because there's something wrong with them, not you."

"You're just saying that," he replied as he still lay curled up in a ball.

"No, no I'm not. I love you Michael, I love you with every cell in my body. Before you said I was the only thing that mattered to you, well you're the only thing that matters to me. My Dad is a complete prick as well and my school life is nothing to boast about either. You've brought light into my dark and painful existence. Killing yourself isn't the answer. Cam, Bill, Lucy, Ian, Hugh, we're all here to help you through this and no matter what happens, I will never stop loving you."

As I finished I heard a few sniffles from Cam and the others. I heart leapt with joy was Michael slowly uncurled his body and sat up and looked into my eyes,

"Do you really mean that?" he asked with a look of hope on his face.

"With all of my heart," I replied and I kissed him on the lips. It was just a peck, just like our first kiss and we just sat there, on the street kissing. Now, the healing can begin.


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