The boys got together at Richie's house and put together a plan. They want to make Tyson a bit sympathetic towards a boy who has bullied him. The first part of the plan is up to Kyle and Scully. Michael and Jeremy will take over at school. Now lets follow the story through Tyson's eyes and ears ...

Chapter Seventeen

I got tired of working on the program I've been writing on my computer. I've spent most of yesterday and today on it and it's just about stretched my brain to the breaking point. Well, actually I spent a good portion of my time looking at some hunks on a gay porno site. It isn't often that Kyle is out'a the house all day and I've the opportunity to surf without fear of getting caught.

Kyle will probably be getting home from his friend's soon. He says he has a buddy with a pool at his house. So, while I still have some privacy, I've just lain down on my bed with the idea of exercising a portion of my anatomy - when I hear footsteps coming up the stairs. I quickly pull my hand out of my shorts and pick up the book sitting on my nightstand. There are voices on the stairwell - Kyle's and another young voice that must be a friend of his. I'll bet it's Jer's younger brother - the one that had the paint-ball party.

Man-o-man, was Kyle ever excited about going on that paint-ball outing. He had me drop a hint when Jer called to ask if they could use our guns. He wanted to be invited to that party in a real bad way. Now ... I know Kyle likes paint-ball and everything but ... shoot, I get the feeling that there's more to it than that. He heard me say this kid's name over the phone and he was fairly tap dancing around me, listening to what I was saying. Then later on he gets moody as all get-out until he gets a call back from Jeremy. Then he's fairly bouncing around our bedroom as he tells me that this boy is going to invite him. And he said Jeremy asked him to help the boy pass out the invitations to the other kids. I guess this kid is supposed to be really shy or something. Anyway, I've got this gut feeling that my little brother just may have the hots for another boy. Either that or it's just my own pervy nature manifesting itself.

The door to the bedroom swings open and Kyle walks in with a face practically gleaming. He's got an ear-to-ear smile. There's another kid on his heels that looks like a circus midget. Oh my God! This is a miniature version of Jeremy - black, plastic-framed glasses and all - har, har, har! The little tyke was smiling just like Kyle when he walked into the bedroom but he gets this nervous sorta look when he sees me. Now he's sorta biting at his bottom lip and looking around the room, not making eye contact.

"Hey, Ty," Kyle says to me. "This is my new friend, Scully Howe." And he puts an arm across the kid's shoulders and kinda pushes him forward for introductions.

"Hey, Scully ... s'up?" I ask him and hold up a hand for a high five. Actually Jeremy was the one that taught me that gesture. I'm not really all that up on the male bonding rituals and stuff. But then I practised it with Kyle a few times. Kyle is my total opposite. I hate sports - he loves em. I can do anything on a computer - he can write his name. He's Mr. Popular - I'm Mr. Wallflower. He's the Yin to my Yang, so to speak. But aside from that we get along pretty darn good. We've played a few tricks on each other from time to time, but it's mostly in fun.

"Hey, Ty. S'up yer own self?" the little guy answers, as he hesitantly reaches over and taps my hand.

"Har, har, har," Kyle laughs.

I think, 'Hmmm ... when did he start laughing that way? I sorta expect to hear him snorting next.'

"S'okay, Scully. Ty won't bite'cha. If he does, why I'll just bite him right back for ya," he says, grinning at his little friend.

Gawd ... this little kid is so cute. I don't know why he'd be intimidated by me. I mean, I'm no macho jock or anything. Sure, I'm a good head taller than his brother ... but then, who the hell isn't? This guy is really short, though. He only comes up to chest high on Kyle and Kyle comes up to chest high on me. That means this kid could kiss my belly-button without stooping over. Har, har!

Suddenly I get this urge to win this kid over and get him to relax a bit. I swing my legs over the bed and sit up - at the same time I reach over and grab Scully and pull him towards me. Grabbing one arm, I swing him around and then pull him down onto my lap. I wrap my arms around him and say ...

"Don't listen to him, Scully. I'm the original vampire and my bites are totally lethal."

Then I press my chin down into the kid's neck until he's squealing like a pig that just sniffed the farmer's butcher block. I've got my arms wrapped around him so he can't fight me off, but he's kicking and laughing. Kyle's grin just broadens and he leaps into the fray.

"Come on, Skull. Let's get 'im. He can't attack you and get away with it!"

The next thing you know I've got two junior sized dudes poking me in all my ticklish spots. There's no way I can hold onto either of em and cover up the more sensitive places at the same time. Soon it's me that's squealin' like a piggy.

"All right ... all right ... I give. Uncle ... uncle!" But no one seems to be listening. They know they've got the advantage and they aren't ready to quit yet. Now it's Scully who's using his chin - digging into my sides - probably my most sensitive area.

"Arrrghh!" I holler, and reach around the two of them, gathering them into me. I've got the both of them in a bear hug now but I also have two chins digging into opposite sides of my neck.

"Arrrghh ... arrrghh!" I'm hollering. I manage to swing them around so that I'm on top and then I push away from them, standing up. I back up a few feet from the bed and go into my famous kung fu stance.

"Aaaaaa ... soooo. You fellas be plen'y solly now. I go ninja on you asses - chop, chop!"

"Har, har, har ... snort, snort, snort!" Both boys are rolling around on the bed, pointing at me and laughing.

Scully says, "Okay, ninja fella. We plen'y solly already. You velly scary fella ... har, har, har!"

I'm pretty short of breath, so I just stand here looking down on two sniggering boys. Kyle has one arm wrapped around his little buddy while he's looking up at me, giggling, trying to catch his breath. Now, if there's one thing I'm pretty good at, it's reading my little brother. He's in a very comfortable pose with Jeremy junior there. So I take the opportunity to slip one in on him.

"You guys are looking pretty chummy there. Is there anything you want to tell me, Kyle?" I ask him, grinning at him.

Scully's eyebrows just shot up when I asked that question. Without moving his head, his eyes dart over towards my brother to see what Kyle's response is going to be. Kyle, still giggling, props himself up on one elbow. He'd been looking at me but he swings his head towards Scully.

"Yeah," he says, "I guess there is." And with that he bends down and gives Scully a big, wet smooch on his cheek. Scully instantly turns a bright red. Then Kyle looks back up to me with a grin still plastered on his face.

"Does that answer your question, big brother?"

"Har, har, har ... snort, snort!" I fall backwards onto the opposite bed. Poor little Scully is glowing like a neon sign. Kyle is starting to color up pretty good now too. I'm propped up on one elbow myself, looking and grinning towards the stop-light twins.

"So, what made you so sure I wasn't going to call you a scurvy little perv and toss you out the window, little brother?" Of course I ask this with as much of a loving smile on my face as I can muster.

"Well, probably because of all the Internet sites you still visit and forget to erase from the computer, big brother."

Now there are three stop lights glowing in the room. Turn off the overhead light and you could probably read by our complexions.

"Ahhemmm," I answer. "I guess I do get a little careless with that thing at times, don't I?"

"A little? If I didn't erase that stuff for ya - after checking it out of course - our Mom would probably be in her sewing room making you dresses right now! She does occasionally check things out, you know."

My face, all by itself, is probably glowing strongly enough right now to fill in as a photographer's back light. Gawd ... how can I be so thoughtless?

"Shhhh ..." Kyle says, holding a finger up to his lips. "I won't tell on your surfing habits if you don't tell about this ..." and he bends his head down and gives Scully a lip-lock like he's trying to give him resuscitation! Poor little Scully! He's stiffened up like a board. Kyle's lips have his head pinned to one spot but his eyes have swivelled over to my direction. He's probably still concentrating on my "toss the perv out the window" comment.

Chuckling, I push myself up onto my feet - Scully's eyes following my every movement. I walk the two steps over to them and settle down onto my knees. Kyle's air-lock has released its vacuum hold on Scully's face. Scully's watching me, dead-pan, for some kind of reaction. So I reach over and muss up that mop of brown hair on his head and tell him ...

"Well, Scully. I guess I'll give ya permission to date my little brother. But if you get him pregnant, you're going to have to marry him! ... har, har, har ... snort, snort!"

Kyle gives me a round-house slap to my shoulder, "whack!"

"Ty ..." he says, "we don't do that kind of stuff. Don't be gross!"

This really gets me grinning big time. I'm kind of relieved to hear it, to tell ya the truth. I mean, Kyle's only eleven for cryin'-out-loud! I hope these guys will be happy just cuddlin' each other for a least a couple more years. Chances are kinda slim though, I think. Heck, I was Kyle's age when I first started looking for sex sites on my computer. Actually, the neighbor kid, Rory, showed me a couple on his computer. He's a couple years older'n me. He's super straight, though, so I had to pretend to be all excited about the kind of porn he likes to look at. One nice thing about straight porn, though: they do have guys in them. I remembered the url he used to get into one of the sites. I pulled it up on mine and Kyle's computer and clicked on the links until it took me to some gay sites. I kinda got hooked on them after that.

I rub my shoulder, where he'd just smacked me, and, still grinning at the huggy boys, I tell 'em ...

"I can't believe you got a boyfriend before me, Kyle. Gawd ... it's soo unfair. I mean ... here I am, almost fourteen and I'm still dating my hand!"

That earns me a giggle from Scully. He's been lying there real quiet like, letting this stuff play out between me and my brother.

"Well," Scully says, "if you wait until yer bedroom light's off I guess you could call it a blind date ... har, har, har ... snort!"

Oh my gawd ... does he sound like his brother, or what? Funny little bugger too. If ya can look past his 'owl' glasses he has a really cute face. I guess I can see why Kyle's been so enthused about getting to know this kid. And that gets me to wondering ...

"Say, Kyle ..." I ask, as I get off my knees and sit on the edge of the bed with them. "I know you didn't know Scully before this weekend. I can't believe how fast this was. I mean ... a week ago you finally got him to say two words to ya at school, Saturday you went to his party and stayed the night and then what ... oh yeah, you guys spent the day at another friend's house today. So ... I guess what I'm trying to get at is ... how did you guys figure out your feelings for each other so quick?"

Kyle pushes himself up onto his butt and crosses his legs. Scully, not wanting to be the only one lying prone, skootches himself up and leans against the head board and pulls his knees up to his chest.

"Well," Kyle starts off, "it turns out that me'n Skull have both liked each other for quite awhile. But my shy boy here ..." and he pats Scully on the leg, "has a pretty hard time with introductions."

Scully's starting to blush, but he's grinning.

"Yeah," Scully says, "my head just goes into vapor-lock or something and I can't think of anything to say. I needed a script to help me talk to Kyle at school. Even then, I was ready to split ... snort, snort ... but Kyle held me by my shoulders to stop me."

They're both grinning at each other now: I guess they're remembering that first meeting. I imagine it was pretty tense.

"But it was at the party at Potter's Field that we actually started to get comfortable with each other," Kyle continues. " That's where Scully gave me my first kiss!"

That has Scully throwing his hands up across his face and giggling. "Aaand ..." the kid says, from behind his hands, "the second one too ... heheheh."

"Oh, yeah," Kyle adds, shaking Scully's leg, "that one was our first tonsil probe ... haa, haa, haa ... snort."

Scully's still giggling, peering at me from over the tops of his fingers, his face a nice wine color.

"Har, har, har! Kyle, you're snortin' just like a geek ... ya know it?" I ask him.

"Well, heck," he says, "you spend the weekend with Skull, Michael and Jeremy ... they'd have the Pope snortin' by the end of the weekend. Haa, haa, haa ... snort, snort!"

That has three boys har, harring and snorting.

I scoot up on the bed and rest my back against the wall. Kyle's bed and mine are in opposite corners of the room. There's only enough room between them for a nightstand that we share. Both beds are against a side wall and we're all sitting on my bed at present.

I pull my knees up to my chest like Scully and tell them ...

"I hope you guys were kinda circumspect at that paint-ball party. I don't have to tell ya what would happen if anyone were to see two boys kissing like that."

The guys glance at one another in a manner that has me feeling like some unspoken communication has just taken place. But then Kyle looks at me and says ...

"Give yer little brother some credit, Ty. I may only be an honorary geek, but I'm no dummy ... ya know?"

I nod at him and smile, but I can't help thinking that I may have touched on something with that comment. I turn to Scully instead and ask him ...

"So, bud, did you know that your boyfriend was going to out you in front of his big brother when he brought you home?"

I sorta expect this to color him up and get him hiding behind his hands again. But he surprises me when he says ...

"Yeah! I was pretty nervous about the whole prospect. But, Kyle says there isn't a whole lot of chance for privacy over here. He said it would be better to just get it out into the open with you."

Kyle reaches over and wraps an arm around his little buddy and sorta pulls him against himself.

"Yeah, Ty," Kyle says. "I mean, it's okay with you if we act affectionate in front of ya, ain't it?"

He's asking this like he's afraid I might say something against it. I just sigh and say ...

"Yeah, Kyle: at least one of us has someone we can be affectionate with. I guess that just means that if I ever manage to find someone then you're just gonna have ta put up with the same thing from me."

Then I sigh again and add, "but the way it's lookin', I'll be Dad's age before I find anybody."

The boys have just given each other that look again. It's like they're sending messages with their eyes or somethin'.

Kyle quickly asks me, "Isn't there anyone, Ty? I mean ... isn't there anyone at school or anything that you might have your eye on? Someone you may think is cute and you might wonder about him?"

"Heck, ya!" I respond. "There's a lot of cute guys at my school. I thought that when I got to Junior High this year that I might finally get lucky ... you know ... and find someone. I figured that guys like myself might be a little more open there ... but they're not. If anything, the fag jokes and put-downs are a lot worse there than they are at Middle School."

I just sigh again and continue, "I heard we're supposed to have like 'gaydar' or somethin', that's supposed to help us pick out other gay guys. I guess mine is broke, though. There's just no way I'm gonna approach one of those cute guys and take the chance of gettin' outed."

And as soon as I say that I feel like I've been slapped in the face with a realization. Oh my Gawd ... Scully's brother goes to my school. And now Scully knows I'm GAY!

I push my knees down onto the bed and swivel around to face the guys. My heart's in my throat and I feel a panic attack coming on.

"Look Skull, or Scully ... you're not going to say anything about me to your brother, are you? I mean, God ... if this gets out at school - I'm dead meat!"

There goes that look between the two of them again. It's like they're sending morse code with their eyeballs or something.

"Whoa, Ty! Take it easy," Kyle says. "Look ... ummm ... we've been given permission to tell you something."

Scully's nodding his head in response to Kyle's pronouncement. He's looking back and forth between Kyle and me. This may be what those looks have been all about between those two. They've been waiting for some kinda opening to tell me something ... something big, it feels like. Shit ... I can feel my heart pounding like a kettle drum. My hands are sweatin' like crazy.

"Well, go on, Kyle ... spit it out! I'm dying here, ya know?"

"Okay ... okay, here it is. Scully and I were supposed to open up to you. We were supposed to feel you out about Scully and me and see how you responded."

Kyle's looking nervous himself now. I guess he hadn't had the chance to practice whatever it is he's going to say.

"Whadda ya mean, you were supposed to open up?" I ask. "Are you saying this was some sort of a plan ... someone else's plan? Does someone else know about you two? Or ... more importantly ... have you told someone else about me? Who gave you this permission ... who ... I mean ..."

"Whoa, Ty ... relax ... just relax! It's okay ... honest it is. Just give me a chance and I'll explain everything. And it isn't bad ... honest. Now, just take a couple'a deep breaths or somethin' ... gawd, I'm afraid you're about to pass out!"

He's right. My face is way flushed. I'm breathing like there's a circus fat lady sitting on my chest. I force myself to take a couple of deep breaths.

"Good ,Ty ... good. Okay! You don't have to worry about Jeremy and Michael finding out. They're boyfriends, Ty ... Jeremy and Michael are boyfriends ... just like Scully and me."

He's stopped talking now, to let me catch up to what he just said. Jeremy and Michael ... oh my Gawd! My eyebrows must have just bounced up into the air cuz Scully starts giggling. My chin's probably laying in my lap right now, I'm so astonished! Now both the boys are giggling at me.

"Let me get this straight," I say, "you're saying that Jeremy and Michael gave you guys permission to out them to me if it turned out I was okay with you two being boyfriends?"

This gets two young heads nodding in unison.

"But, wait a minute," I add. "Why would this conversation ever even come up in the first place? So the four of you know about each other ... but how did I get dragged into the equation? And why?"

This has them sending telegraph messages again, glance to glance. I can see Kyle getting kinda tense.

"Okay ... well, I might'a had the occasion to tell the guys that ... well ...that I had an older brother who I figured was kinda lonely and could use a boyfriend too. There ... I said it. I hope you don't hate me for telling them ... but I did. But I did it for you, Ty."

My brain is just whirring, trying to digest all this information. First, I find out that my little brother is just like me ... you know - gay. And I find out because he drags his boyfriend into our bedroom and lays a lip-lock on the kid. So my brother is gay - and my brother has a boyfriend. Now ... now he tells me ... Michael and Jeremy are gay ... and they're boyfriends too! Good Gawd ... and they know about me! Ty told them he figured I was gay too!

I take this deep inhalation of air and stand up. I feel my hands going to the sides of my head while I pace around the bedroom, letting this stuff play through my mind. I can hear the blood pounding through my ears. The adrenalin is causing me to get all shaky and I know I must be growing a set of pit stains.

"Ty," Scully says, quietly, "you have friends now. You're not alone anymore. You're not the only gay guy in your school ... or in your house for that matter ... har, har!"

"But, seriously," Kyle adds, "think for a minute. This is so kool! You have people you can hang out with ... people you can let your hair down with and just be yourself. Jeremy and Michael like you, bro, they think you're a neat guy. That's why they went to bat for you with Sammy. Sammy'd never done anything to those guys ... heck, you're about the only one he picks on. But Mic and Jer got back at him for their buddy Tyson."

Wow ... ya know, I'd never reasoned that out before. I mean, I just assumed that Sammy treated those guys like shit just like he did me. I never realized they zinged him just for me. How kool is that? I've always liked those guys; they make me laugh a lot. And they've been pretty good friends to have at school. I'm pretty much grinning now as I'm looking over at the boyfriends.

But this is still all so new. It just boggles my mind. But I don't feel paranoid now. Actually, I'm not sure what I feel. I've got all kinds of emotions running through me - all kinds of thoughts as well. But at least my heart has slowed down to a normal rhythm and the fat lady's hopped off my chest. I guess of all the emotions that are playing through me, relief has to be number one. All the tension is released and I feel kinda buoyant now, to tell the truth. I feel like I've been pushing against this door all my life and my little brother just showed me that it swings inwards, not outwards.

I slowly let out the air that I have inadvertently been holding in. My grin at the boys just seems to grow broader as I take in all the implications, both explained and implied. I have gay friends now. I'm not the only gay kid in my school. "Har, har, har!" What Scully said just hit me ... I'm not even the only gay guy in my house!

The boys have identical grins on their faces as they watch me. They're giggling and looking at one another and then looking back to me. Scully has this real chuckle thing going on and he has one hand over his mouth, trying to keep a hold on himself I guess. But it gets too much for him to control and he ... "har, har, har ... snort, snort ... har, har ... heeeee ... hic!" That sends me and Kyle off the deep end with him. There are three boys deep in hysterics now and I just fall, face first, onto the bed with the boys. Three boys are holding onto their stomachs because they are just starting to ache.

It takes a few minutes for the jocularity to subside. Soon were are all just laying or sitting back with our own thoughts running through our minds. I don't know what the boys are thinking, but me ... well, I have the urge to call up one of the geeky twins and yell "yahoo" into the phone. I want to run over to Jeremy's house and throw a giant bear hug around the guy. Instead I do the next best thing. I reach a hand up and grab Jeremy's little brother by the ankle and haul him down beside me. Then I wrap my arms around him, roll onto my back and squeeze him like he's my old Winnie-the-Pooh bear. Scully's making a sound like, "Oooophhh" and Kyle gets the giggles again.

"Careful, Ty. You break him and ya gotta pay for him. Break any merchandise in this store and ya ain't shoppin' here no more ... hee - hee - hee!" That has me giggling again too and I release a little pressure ... enough so that Scully can reinflate a bit. But I'm still holding him, cuddling him actually, and I ask ...

"So whad'a ya see in my little brother anyway, Scully? Don't you know that when he finishes a ball game his feet smell like limburger cheese? He's even been know to pick his nose and eat it ... har, har, har!"

That earns me a slap from my brother and a bunch of giggles from Scully. Scully lifts his grinning head from my chest and looks over towards his friend. He says ...

"Now, now, now ... Kyley Bear. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose ... but you can't pick your friends' noses ... har, har, har!"

"Haaa ... haaa ..." from Kyle, and he reaches down and shoves his index finger right up my nose! "He ain't my friend, Skull, he's just my brother ... haa ... haaaaa!" I jerk my head back, releasing my hold on Scully and throw a hand over my violated nostril.

"Ugghhh ... gross, Kyle!" I respond. "You damn jocks are all the same. If yer not scratchin' your asses then you've got a finger stuck in some orifice or other. And now I find out it doesn't even have to be your own orifice ... ya turd!"

"Heee ... heee ..." from Scully, as he picks himself off the top of me and slides over next to limburger boy. "I think yer brother's feeling better now, Kyle" he says. I look over towards the two of them, squatting beside me, and Kyle's nodding his grinning head at Scully. He also has his index finger sticking up in the air ... like now he doesn't know what to do with it. Ha, ha! But he figures it out quick enough as he reaches down and wipes his finger on the shoulder of my tee-shirt. "I ain't eatin' it, Kyle, no matter what you say!"

I just continue grinning like the Jack-in-the-Box clown. I'm feeling way too good to care if Kyle wipes a booger on my shoulder. And then Scully glances down at his wrist-watch.

"Oh -oh, guys. I gotta be home for dinner in like ten minutes!"

"I'll run ya home on my bike," Kyle responds, sliding off the edge of the bed and standing up. Kyle slides off right behind him. Then he turns to face me.

"Well, it was nice to meet ya ... ya big HOMO!" he says to me, with a mouth full of grinning teeth.

"Har, har ... same here ... ya LITTLE homo!"

Both the boys turn and head towards the doorway. "Don't dawdle, Kyle. Mom'll have our dinner ready pretty soon, ya know."

"Ya, ya" he says, as they slip out the door. "Cheeze, Ty, yer my brother - not my mother, ya know." And with that the door closes. And I just continue staring at the closed door for awhile - with a grin on my face and a sense of ease that I haven't felt in a couple of years now.

"Yep, ya big dummy!" I tell myself, "ya pull the door, ya don't push it."

Monday morning and we are back in the hallways of Clark Junior High School. Michael and Jeremy have just met up at their locker. Jeremy takes over the narration ...

"It's just like I told ya over the phone last night, Mic, Scully says it came off without a hitch - and yes, Tyson admits that he's gay."

"I know that, Jer, it's just that way too many people are getting to know about us. I mean, think about it. Three weeks ago you and I didn't know each other were gay. Now a bunch of kids know. And now Tyson knows. I suppose I'm just being paranoid, but ... I feel like I'm going to walk into a classroom just to find all the kids staring at me and whispering behind their hands, or somethin'."

"Well, if they do - or if anyone says somethin' or threatens ya - just go tell Sammy and he'll kick the shit out of 'em," I respond.

My boy-toy's nervous look is instantly replaced by this huge grin. "Oh, yeah! I keep forgetting we've got the biggest, strongest kid in the school on our side now." And now the silly geek is doing his famous Mikey boy happy dance! Gawd ... this boy is unreal - and I'm just standing there shaking my head. Sometimes he acts like he's just leaped out of a box of Lucky Charms. I can't help but to grin at the knuckle-head though. At least he's my leprechaun!

"Hey, Mic," I whisper, "look who's walkin' this way," and I nod my head down the hall behind my dancing boy. Michael settles down and turns to look down the hallway in the direction of my nod. Tyson Samuels is heading in our direction. The grin on his face says he's either got the world's biggest case of gas or else he's happy to see his homo friends. I can't help noticing how closely Ty and his brother Kyle resemble one another. Only, where Kyle's hair is real blonde and short, Ty's is more of a strawberry blonde and longish. And unlike Kyle's green eyes, his brother's are hazel. But they both have the same facial features and slim builds.

Still grinning, Ty pulls up alongside of us and holds up both his hands. Mic and I both give him a high five. Then Ty slips his hands in his back pockets and leans against the lockers. "S'up guys?" he asks. We both just kinda jerk our shoulders, grinning back at him. I guess we're each just waiting for someone to bring up the big revelation. There's a kinda pregnant pause while everyone gets interested in people watching and acting nonchalant. I glance over and notice that both these boys are starting to color up a bit. I'm getting a flush feeling so I know I'm starting to blush as well. This is starting to get ridiculous, I'm thinking. And just as I'm about to say something, Ty clears his throat and kinda leans into us.

"Ahemm ..." he whispers, "I always did think you two made kind of a cute couple!" And he chortles.

"Oh, yeah?" I grin back at him. "Michael's said he thinks you're pretty hot yourself."

That earns me a smack in the arm by Michael.

"I did not, Jeremy! You're the one who said he's fun to look at in the shower!"

That has both Tyson and me coloring up pretty good now. When the hell am I going to learn not to tease Michael in front of someone? It always comes back to bite me in the ass. So I decide to go for broke ...

"Actually, you are a real sexy dude in the buff, Tyson."

Wow ... look at that kid's face glow! I could wave him at a train and it would come screeching to a halt! Michael's giggling up a storm. He reaches up and pats Ty on the shoulder.

"That's okay, dude. He can embarrass the doo-doo out'a ya sometimes, but you'll get used to him. Even yer little brother's learning how to put up with him."

Tyson just grins and nods back. The two of them start talking and I take the opportunity to look up and down the hallway. Part two of our plan is about to come together. There's only about ten minutes left before the five minute warning bell. Tyson's locker is on another floor so he'll have to take off as soon as he hears the bell. Where the hell is he, I wonder, as I glance around. Ah, there he is! About midway between ours and Suzanne's locker, Sammy Smith is leaning up against a set of lockers - looking our way. I give him a nod.

Sammy just casually saunters over in our direction. Next thing you know he's standing right beside the three of us with a neutral expression on his face. Now, Tyson's a pretty tall kid for thirteen, but Sammy's a pretty tall kid for fifteen - and he's built like a brick you-know-what. He's managed to scrub just about all the magic marker off his face. You really have to look hard to see it. And, actually, his eyebrows were pretty blonde to begin with so it isn't really so noticeable that they've been shaved off. Michael has his back turned to the guy but Tyson glances up and sees him standing there. Ty gets a kinda blanched look to his face. He probably figures Sammy's about to do a little more Tyson bashing. Michael sees his expression and turns around. When Mic first sees Sammy standing there he starts to get a grin on his face ... then he remembers, and he does a pretty good imitation of acting intimidated. No one has said a word for quite a few seconds now and Sammy's still standing there with this serious look on his face.

"I understand," he says, "that you three dudes are responsible for my new haircut!"

Tyson has just turned ghost white! It looks like his chin and his nipples are playing ping-pong with his adam's apple - it just keeps sliding up and down while he does this nervous swallowing thingy.

Actually, this was the part of the plan us guys put together that worried Michael and me the most. It required that we inform Sammy that we were the culprits that put the glue in his shampoo bottle. Kyle and Scully knew about it, but Sammy's brother and Richie-Rich did a double take right along with Sammy when we told him. I was expecting the guy to get really irate and do some serious damage to us. But it actually seemed to relieve him to find out that it was pay-back for the way he'd been treating Tyson. He actually said, "Good, I hope it made him feel a little better to get back at me." Pretty kool, huh?

Anyways, Tyson's looking like he could just about melt right into the floor. Then Sammy continues by looking at Ty and saying ...

"I can understand why you would want to do it, Ty. I've treated ya like shit since ya got to this school. But these guys ..." and he looks over to Michael and me, "I didn't even know you guys. Why'd ya want to do something like that?"

"Because ..." I answer, in my best dead-pan expression, "because we're Ty's friends. And ya do stuff like that for your friends."

There's a moment of silence and then Sammy responds ...

"I guess I can respect that. You guys know how to treat a friend. I obviously don't." And he looks back to Tyson again.

"We used to be good friends in Middle School, Ty, then you come over here and find that I've turned into a huge bully. Not only that, but you've suddenly become my number one victim. Your good friend from Middle School has turned into a prick in Junior High."

The whole time he's been talking to Tyson his expression has slowly changed. It isn't dead-pan anymore. He has this hurt little kid look going in his eyes. He actually seems to be tearing up a bit. You can tell this isn't just some rehearsed part he's saying by rote. He feels every word and there's terrible anguish written on his features.

"Well, I'm glad you found a way to get even. I deserved it. I probably deserve a whole lot more. But I just wanted ya to know somethin'. I'll never pick on you again, Ty, and I'm deeply sorry I did it. I can't begin to explain to ya why I did it. It's just way too embarrassing. I guess, if you're interested, your friends'll just have to explain it to ya."

He's in real danger of having the tears start falling now and so he just spins around on a heel and starts walking away from us. A few seconds later I hear Tyson let out a huge whoosh of air.

"I don't know about you guys," he says, "but I was getting ready to have my head ripped off my shoulders and turned into a bowling ball."

He has this pensive expression on his face as he watches Sammy walking down the hallway. Then he says, quietly ...

"Ya know, he talked and acted just like the Sammy Smith I knew in Middle School. He was kinda my hero back then. We did lots of stuff together even though he was two years older than me. The older guys used to tease him about having a 'little friend'. But he just told them to piss off. I was really, really nervous about coming to Junior High. About the only thing that calmed me down was knowing that Sammy was over here. I really looked forward to seeing him again. I can't begin to tell you how bad it hurt the first time he slammed me into a locker and called me a geek."

I get the impression that Tyson isn't really talking to us. We're just a couple of sounding boards and he's just reliving these memories - good and bad.

"I can't believe I just heard him apologise to me. He said he deserved what he got and probably a lot more."

Now he's looking over at us and I feel like we're part of the conversation again.

"He seemed like he really meant what he said, didn't he? I mean, I thought he was going to start bawling there for a minute. He couldn't even tell me why he's been acting so shitty - he said it was too embarrassing. Do you guys think he meant it?"

Michael - the original softy boy - has been tearing up this whole time. He's the one that responds to Ty.

"Yeah, Ty. I think he meant it. I'm sure he meant it. His hair and his looks have been super important to him. If it were the old Sammy, we would be dead right now. He said he was glad you found a way to get even - and I'm pretty sure he meant it."

Mic has a long-sleeved shirt on today and he's using the cuffs to wipe at his eyes. Ty can see that Mic has been affected by this revelation as much as he has. He just nods at him.

"What turns a good friend into a total shit and then changes him around again?" he asks.

Then his head kind of jerks back and he says ...

"Wait a minute! Sammy said if I wanted an explanation then my friends would have to give it to me!"

He has this puzzled, shocked look on his face as he's looking at us.

"Just what the hell did he mean by that? Do you guys know something about this?"

Just then the five minute warning bell sounds. I take Tyson by the arm and say ...

"Actually, Ty ... yeah, we do know somethin'. Problem is, there isn't time now to explain anything to ya. We're just going to have to wait until gym class. We'll sit in the bleachers while everyone plays basketball and I'll tell ya then. But I'm hoping you're going to find it to be good news, Ty - I'm really hoping so."

I can see the cogs whirring in Ty's head. He's chewing on his lower lip, trying to put things together, only they don't add up. He knows he doesn't have time to stick around and play twenty questions so he just nods his head. He's probably feeling like Mic and I are part of some conspiracy - which we are. He isn't smiling when he says ...

"Okay, Jeremy. I guess it'll have to wait, then. I don't know what's up here - but I'm thinking I don't like it much."

And with that he starts making his way down the hall. Mic and I watch him walking for a minute and then Mic looks at me. I can see the question forming in his eyes and I answer him.

"I don't know, Mic. I really don't know. I guess you're going to have to wait until lunch before I can tell ya. We've either pissed one friend off at us or we've maybe brought two friends back together. I just don't know."

And truthfully, things can go either way. So far this has been a fairy tale story but that doesn't mean it has to continue that way. Tyson's been hurt very deeply. It may not be something a simple apology can't fix - no matter how well meaning or well expressed. We're all responsible for our actions. There are certain things we do that can't ever be undone. Especially if the heart is involved.

I'm Paul Schroder at . Thanks for following my story. Look for the Geeks now at both and . You will find great stories at both of these fine sites. You'll find me at the bar in about ten minutes ... you buy the first round.

© 2007. No duplication without author's permission. No posting on another web-site without approval. No squatting to pee - you little girly-man.