W.A.R. Part Six - Commencement
Chapter Twenty-One - The Dance
by Jeff Wilson
It took a lot longer than usual to get dressed and ready for the prom than I expected. I didn't think I would care so much about how I looked, but I spent at least an extra ten minutes in the bathroom making sure everything looked right. Mom had taken me to a barber earlier in the week for an honest-to-god haircut, instead of letting Dustin take a hacksaw to it. I stood there in front of the mirror looking at the young man looking back at me. Teeth were brushed, hair was combed, contacts were properly applied, Navi the insulin pump was locked and loaded, and the gold chain necklace around my neck Brett had given me shined in the bright bathroom lights. My nipple was still in recovery mode since I'd taken out the nipple ring. I figured it had been more a sign of my rebellion against my mother than anything else, and now we were getting along better than ever.
I pulled on a clean pair of underwear and slipped across the hallway to my room. I turned on my cd player and the sounds of Metallica's `Ride the Lightning' accompanied me as I tried to assemble the tuxedo mom had helped me to rent. It took a while to get it all put together on my body, and I couldn't quite get the tie to work.
There was a knock on the door and I invited mom to come in to help me become presentable. She did her magic and before long I looked as good as I could.
"Mary is going to be so happy to go to the prom with the handsomest boy in school," mom gushed. "Did you buy her some flowers with the money I gave you?"
"That was for flowers?" I asked. "I used that money for condoms."
"Billy!" mom gasped.
"Mom I'm kidding," I replied.
"Oh thank God!"
"Yeah, I never use condoms," I said. Mom just looked at me incredulously. "Of course I bought the flowers. And relax. It's not like I'm going to have sex tonight. I'm just going to this thing because everyone else is. You don't want to have a dork for a son, do you?"
"There's nothing wrong with being a `dork,' Billy," mom replied. "I know the other kids sometimes make fun of you because you're different."
"Oh god! Is this going to be one of those speeches where you tell me to just ignore all the kids who pick on me because I'm special just the way I am?" I gagged.
"It might have been going that way," mom said with a smile. "I'm sorry, sometimes I forget you're eighteen and not eight." She stood behind me and fixed my bowtie. "There you go, all straightened out."
"You wish," I said.
Mom looked me in the eyes through our reflections in the mirror. "At one time, yes, that was true. I hope you can forgive me. I needed time to mourn the son I thought I had in order to accept the son I do have. You understand what I mean?"
"Sort of. I guess I'm not the easiest person to have for a son."
"Well, we didn't always make it easy for you. Your father and I just wanted you to live up to your potential. Sometimes we had to challenge you to work harder than you wanted to. You can't coast along on talent forever."
"I'm starting to get that now. I guess I was coasting in my relationship with Brett too, only I didn't have you or dad to push me to be better."
Mom stepped back and took a look at me. "I think the haircut was a good idea. You were starting to look shaggy again and Dustin just cut your hair a few months ago. I think you're ready to go."
"Yeah. It was nice of Dave to borrow a nice car for me."
"Well, he is very fond of you."
"I don't know why. It's not like I've been the most lovable step son in the world."
"It just took a while for you to understand he wasn't trying to take your father's place. No one could do that."
Mom and I did our final preparations and before long it was time to pick up Mary. Dave pulled up to the house in a black Corvette.
"No way!" I said.
Dave parked the car in front of the house and met us at the door. "Sorry I'm late! I forgot this was a standard transmission. You ever driven a standard before, Billy?"
"Dad's truck was a standard," I said. "But it wasn't a Corvette!"
"It's the same principle. You'll have a lot more power than your mom's car."
"And if you get a ticket, you're dead," mom warned.
I found the flowers I'd bought for Mary earlier and put them in the passenger seat and then I sat in the driver's seat.
"Now Billy, I just want to remind you that while you might not think this is a big deal, it is for Mary. I know Mary's mother and Mary is very excited about tonight. You better treat her nice and show her a good time. If you hurt that wonderful girl..."
"Mom, Mary knows the deal. She's smarter than people give her credit for."
"Just be nice," mom said. "Her life has been hard enough without being dragged into any drama from you."
"When have I ever been over-dramatic?" I asked with a smile. I revved the engine of the Corvette. "Oh, I could get used to this!"
"Just have fun," Dave said. "Don't wreck the car, but have fun!"
My response was to rev the engine some more. What could I say? I loved the feel of a powerful vehicle in my hands! Mary didn't live in Donora. She lived in another part of the school district. She hadn't gone to my elementary school, but I began to notice her when we moved to the high school. I'd never had a class with her, so I didn't know her that well. But she always seemed nice.
I pulled up to her house just a few minutes before four o'clock. Her father was waiting for me at the door, so I didn't even need to knock. He invited me to sit down with him while Mary and her mom finished her preparations.
"So you're the boy we've been hearing about all week?" Mr. Caldwell said, offering me a seat in their living room.
"Yes, sir," I replied.
Mr. Caldwell looked me up and down, as if looking for the potential for evil within me.
"Mary told us you're queer," Mr. Caldwell said.
"That's true, sir," I replied.
"So what are you doing going out with my daughter?" he asked.
"Well sir," I said. "Mary is a nice girl. One of the nicest girls in school. It seemed criminal that she wasn't going to the prom. And since I couldn't go with my boyfriend, I decided to ask her."
"Funny how she'd never mentioned you before."
"Well I'm not very social, sir. I have a few close friends I hang out with and I don't like to change things very much and I'm not much for chit-chat."
"I'll just cut to the chase then. I don't want you taking advantage of my daughter. Mary's never said much about you but I've done my homework on you. You're the kid who was kissing the Reilly boy in the school. You've got a reputation for being a bit of a hothead."
"You think I smoke pot?" I asked.
"Not pothead, hothead!" Mr. Caldwell snapped. "You lose your temper a lot and you're a troublemaker. I don't know if I want my daughter associating with someone like you."
"Dad, are you giving Billy the third degree?" Mary asked as she came walking down the stairs. She looked absolutely radiant. There wasn't a thing about her that wasn't beautiful, except maybe the look she was giving her father.
"Sweetheart, you know I don't approve of this whole situation tonight!"
"Steve, let her go have fun," Mrs. Caldwell said.
"Karen, I don't trust this boy! We don't know him, and everything I've heard about him is bad news."
"I've known his mother for years," Mrs. Caldwell replied. "And he's the only boy in that school who even considered asking Mary to go tonight. Do you really want to forbid Mary from going now, after all of her hopes have been built up?"
"No, I just don't want this boy to take advantage of those hopes!"
"Dad, I want to go to the dance!" Mary insisted.
"I know, sweety, but I just don't approve of this boy taking you."
"Billy is a nice boy. He's my friend!"
"Sir, if I may," I said. "I get what you're worried about. You don't know me, and now I'm trying to take your daughter out and it's confusing because not only am I gay but I'm also known for some things that aren't very good. I just want you to know that I understand. If I were you I'd be asking the same questions. I think Mary is a great girl and I promise you that she'll have fun and she won't be hurt by me or anyone else."
Mr. Caldwell thought about it for a moment. Then he asked me to come with him outside for a minute. I followed him out the front door.
"Nice car," he said.
"Thanks, it's not mine."
"Listen to me, son. I don't mean to put you in a rough spot, but this is a very important night for my daughter. You can imagine how difficult her life has been. If I seem like an overprotective father, it's because that's what I am. I don't want my daughter to be hurt tonight. You've said all the right words, but I'm more interested in your actions. You understand me?"
"Yeah," I said. "I think Mary deserves to have fun tonight. And let's be honest, sir, she couldn't have a safer date than me. I'm not interested in anything but showing Mary a good time. I'm not going to take advantage of her in any way."
"Well, she does seem happy to be going with you. It's hard for a girl like her to get out sometimes. And it's hard for an overprotective father like me to let her run off with a strange boy, even if you are queer."
"I'll take that as a compliment," I said.
"So tell me something. Why does a young man your age still go by Billy?"
"What's wrong with that? It's my name."
"Shouldn't you be going by William or Bill by now?"
"Why would I want to change my name?" I asked.
"You just don't see a lot of adults going by Billy."
"Billy Joel, Billy Joe Armstrong, Billy Corgan, Billy Idol..."
Mr. Caldwell began to laugh. "Okay, you made your point. Let's go get Mary."
Mary was ready to go when we came back inside, but her mom insisted on pictures. Lots and lots of pictures... Once that was taken care of, we were able to finally leave, about a half hour later than I'd planned. At the car, I opened the door for her and gave her the flowers that I'd left on the seat.
"My mom told me to get them for you," I said.
"They're nice," Mary replied. "So where are we going for dinner?"
"Rush's Diner. You ever been there before?"
"Is that the one where Bobby Rush's mom works?"
"Yeah!" I said.
"Oh, I like him! He's nice."
"I doubt Bobby's mom will be there tonight, since Bobby will be going to the prom too, but they're all nice people there. They know me. I eat there all the time. Their food reminds me of my grandma's cooking."
It didn't take long to get from the Caldwell house to Rush's Diner. The place was full of couples who were having their pre-prom meals. I mean, yeah, there was going to be food at the prom, but it was that expensive crap that wouldn't fill anybody up. I preferred a good meal. Fortunately, I'd made a reservation with Mrs. Rush, so they had a small table in the corner of the place waiting for us.
Once we'd ordered our food, we talked. Fortunately, Mary had been sitting with us at lunch for the whole week, so we didn't feel awkward talking with each other.
"Sorry about my dad," she said. "He might like you if you weren't a boy."
"He just wanted to make sure you were going to be safe with me."
"I don't know why he's so worried about me. I can take care of myself."
"Well, I'm sure he's been watching out for you all his life."
"He can't protect me by keeping me home forever. It's not like I've never been called a retard at school. I know people are ignorant. I just ignore them."
"I wish I could do that. I'm always worried about what people think of me."
"Why worry about something you can't change?"
"I don't know."
"Are you ashamed to be gay?" she asked.
"Then why worry about what someone thinks about it?"
"I don't know. I guess it's just the way I was raised. We never talked about sex when I was growing up. My parents were a couple of prudes."
"I can't believe you had sex with Brett Reilly. He's always been nice to me. He defends me when other kids call me retarded."
"Yeah, I can believe that. He hates it when people use that word. Okay, I'm going to be honest with you. He hates it when I use that word."
"It's not a nice word," Mary said.
"No, it's not."
"Do you like it when people call you bad words?"
"No. I don't like it."
"Then why would you use a word that makes other people feel bad?"
"Because I'm a jerk sometimes," I replied. "I've never known anyone like you before, Mary. And I don't mean because you have Downs. I mean, you aren't afraid to speak your mind. I really respect that about you."
"Thank you. So what made you break up with Brett?"
"We just had a big fight, that's all. I lied to him about something I shouldn't have and he left me in Erie."
"Were you cheating on him?"
"Was he cheating on you?"
"Then what's the problem? Just tell him you're sorry and get back together."
"I wish it were that easy."
"It is that easy."
"No it's not. I really messed things up with him. I don't think he'd want to be with me even if I told him I'm sorry."
"Are you sorry?"
"More than you can possibly imagine."
"Do you want me to talk to him?"
I laughed. "Oh no! No... I just need to find a way to show him how I feel about him."
Our dinner arrived and we enjoyed our meal together.
"I hope you boys get back together. You're both nice, and you're both cute."
"Well thanks! You're beautiful yourself."
We both blushed. "Too bad you're not into girls," Mary laughed.
"Yeah, sorry. Still gay. It doesn't mean I can't see that a girl isn't beautiful."
"Can you tell if another boy is gay?" Mary asked.
"What? You mean like do we have some secret handshake or something?"
"No, I mean, I've heard that gay guys can tell if another guy is gay."
"You mean like `gaydar' or something? That's just a silly myth. Maybe there are some signs we pick up, but you can't just look at someone and tell if they're gay."
"I heard that some of the teachers at school are gay too."
"Well there's Miss Winston, but she retired."
"I've heard there is another gay teacher. A man."
"I don't know anything about that. No one stepped up when Miss Winston left to take on the LGBT Alliance. Everything just fell apart after she left. Nobody has had the guts to step up against all the bad people who run the school. That's why they can tell gay couples they can't come to the dance. No one is there to fight for us."
"How do you think I got so tough, Billy?" Mary asked. "If no one will stand up for you then you just have to stand up for yourself."
"Yeah, but how?" I asked.
"You just do," Mary said. "If you don't stand up, then you will never win."
"Jesus, you sound like my father..."
"You shouldn't take the Lord's name in vain," Mary said sternly.
"And now you sound like my mother," I laughed.
After dinner, we headed toward the country club where the prom was being held. I'd never been to such a fancy establishment before. We got to stand in line for pictures so the school could make money by charging us more than the tickets had cost for the precious memories. It was fun watching the photographer work his magic to get Mary and I into the frame properly since I was a foot taller than her.
With that ordeal behind us, we walked into the ballroom area. I looked around for Brett, but I didn't see him anywhere. We did find Dustin and Emily and they invited us to sit with them.
"Mary, you look amazing!" Emily gushed.
Dustin was wearing a tux with a red bowtie and vest which matched Em's dress.
"I thought you weren't going to wear a tux," I said.
"Em insisted," Dustin replied.
"Em also paid," Em added. "I wouldn't make him spend money for something so silly if he didn't need to."
Dustin blushed. "Nice haircut, by the way," he said, hoping to change the subject. "It looks good. You clean up nice."
"So do you," I replied.
"Hey, don't get too close. The homo-patrol is out in force tonight," Dustin said. He nodded toward a table where Mr. Taylor, the principal, Mr. Hartley, and Jack McKenzie were all seated and engaged in conversation.
"Wow, they brought out the big guns tonight didn't they?" I said. "All they need is Carl Stevens to have the full house."
"I even heard the superintendent is roaming around tonight," Emily said.
"Wow, all to keep a couple of guys from touching each other the wrong way," I said.
"Well, it's Sarah's big prom night, so you had to know daddy wouldn't be far away," Em said.
"Gee, do you think it's possible for the same girl to be homecoming queen, Miss Merry Christmas, and prom queen?" I asked. "God, what a bitc..." I looked at Mary, who did not look pleased. "I mean, what an amazing coincidence!"
Great, I had brought my mother to the prom...
I kept looking around the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of...
"He's not here yet," Dustin said, interrupting my search. "You can quit looking around the room like a little lost puppy."
"I'm not..." I caught Sarah Taylor sitting at a table near her father. "Hey, who's the guy with Sarah?" I asked.
Three heads turned in their direction.
"I've never seen him before," Mary said.
"I think it might be her cousin. I heard she dumped her college boyfriend," Em said.
"He's too cute to be related to her," I said.
"He's gay," Dustin said nonchalantly.
The three of us looked at him. He grinned.
"How could you possibly know that?" I asked.
Dustin just shrugged. "Gaydar," he said, pointing to his head. "Bet you five bucks I can get him to blow me by the end of the night."
I laughed, the girls didn't. Dustin and I sheepishly sat down next to each other at the table, with the girls on either side of us. Though I was happy with the conversation, I couldn't help looking to the door every few minutes, hoping to see Brett make his way into the room.
"Billy, you look like you're watching a tennis match," Em said. "He'll get here eventual... Oh my god! He didn't!" Em gasped.
"What?" I asked. Dustin and I turned to the door to see Brett make his entrance, rocking a pair of black crutches and a sweet tuxedo with a black tie and vest. And then my jaw dropped when I saw his date.
"My sister?!?!" Dustin exclaimed in shock. "Holy shit! He brought my fucking sister?!?!"
Sure enough, there was Amanda Smith, looking absolutely ravishing in a black dress. She looked like she had lost a third of her weight. Her auburn hair was done up beautifully. She was beaming with joy as she entered the room. Dustin sat there with his mouth open.
Brett scanned the room. He looked unbelievably handsome. He was clean-shaven, and his hair had been freshly cut. When he spotted us, our eyes locked for a few seconds, even all the way across the room. He smirked a little bit and then he and Amanda joined Joey and his friends at their table.
"This is outrageous!" Dustin steamed. "My sister? I can't believe this!"
"I never in a million years would have thought he'd bring her," I said. "I mean, I know they're friends but..."
"Bull fucking shit!" Dustin snapped. "He's just pissed about something that happened four goddamned years ago before you two were even together! I'm going over there."
"No you're not!" Emily said sharply. "You're going to sit here, eat your dinner, and have a good time."
Dustin just scowled. "I can't believe she didn't tell me! She had her chance to go to the prom. She dropped out! This is fucking bullshit!"
"Please stop saying bad words," Mary said.
Dustin just looked at her as if he'd forgotten she was there. "Oh shit, I'm sorry Mary," he said.
Before Dustin's head could explode, the principal welcomed us and reminded us that we were representing our school and that the discipline policies of the school would be strictly enforced. I swear he looked directly at me when he said that any `funny business' would be met with stiff penalties. Then he told us to have a good time.
The dinner was exactly what I expected. Over-priced, under-sized, and somewhat edible. I choked it down somehow. Emily tried in vain to keep the conversation going, but Dustin and I couldn't help but keep looking across the room where Brett and Amanda were merrily chatting it up with their friends. The conversation ended up being Em and Mary chatting about school and Dustin and me stewing over the swerve Brett had pulled.
"They're mocking me," Dustin stewed.
"Dustin, stop it!" Em scolded him.
"She had her chance to go to the prom two years ago. She didn't. Now she wants to ruin mine!"
"How is she ruining anything. I thought you two were getting along," Em said.
"We were, until tonight! It's the principle of the thing! It's bullshit! I don't even know why Brett's mad at me! I didn't do anything to him!"
I watched as the two of them were laughing and having a great time. Amanda was radiant. Brett had never looked happier. Then Amanda leaned over and kissed Brett on the cheek.
That was more than I could stand. I hopped up out of my chair and fled to the bathroom. I walked in and slammed the door behind me. I felt bad for whoever the poor sucker was who was sitting in one of the stalls as I paced angrily near the sinks. I wanted to punch something so badly! After a few moments, Dustin opened the door.
"Well, nice to see the mirrors are still in one piece," Dustin said.
"Shut up!" I snapped.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Do I look okay?" I asked.
"No, you look like hell, but how is that any different than usual?"
"Stop trying to make me feel better," I insisted.
"Me? No, I know better than to try that. It's a lost cause. Once you decide to be miserable I just get out of the way and try to avoid getting your blood on me."
"I just..." I couldn't find the words so I just groaned in frustration.
"Just ignore him," Dustin said. "He's not worth doing this to yourself."
"You don't understand Dustin! It's like... It's like he doesn't even care what he's doing to me! He looks even happier now than he ever has!"
"Dude... Look, do you really think that if he was over you that he would have brought my sister, of all people, to this stupid thing? This is classic Brett Reilly. He wants to push our buttons."
"But why?" I asked.
"I don't know. I just know that if he were over you he wouldn't have done something so crazy. He could have had any girl he wanted come to this thing with him. He wanted to send a message. Hell if I know what that message is."
The door opened and Sarah Taylor's handsome date walked into the bathroom.
"I shouldn't have come to this stupid thing. I'm going back to the girls," I said.
Dustin smiled. "Yeah... give me a minute and I'll be out."
I joined the girls at the table. Some of Emily's friends had joined them and they happily chatted together. After a few minutes Dustin returned.
"You owe me five bucks," Dustin said quietly.
"No way!" I gasped.
Dustin just grinned. Then he showed me a piece of paper with a name and phone number on it.
"Kenny Taylor, huh?" I laughed.
"Junior at Vanderbilt, just wanted to help his sister have a fun night, and now has a bellyful of Dustin Smith's finest," Dustin smiled. "He'll have more than that by the time he goes back home. He's staying in town until graduation. So did I miss anything?"
"They're just wrapping up dinner and getting ready for the prom stuff," I said. "They're going to announce the prom king and queen soon. The guards have been on the prowl. I haven't seen Mr. Hartley, but Mr. Taylor's been around politicking. Who'd you vote for?"
"Bobby Rush and Emily. You?"
"Oh god, you voted for Brett, didn't you?"
I just blushed. "It won't matter. They decided who would be prom queen when we were in kindergarten."
The principal took the stage and thanked us for our behavior and reminded us again that we were representing our school. He announced that they would be clearing some of the tables to make more room to form a dance floor and that he would soon announce the king and queen of the prom.
"I have counted the votes myself," he said. "And I am proud to announce the winner of our prom king is none other than our own future NFL linebacker and soon-to-be Ohio State Buckeye Bobby Rush!"
The place exploded with applause. Bobby made his way to the stage as we all chanted `Bob-by! Bob-by!' Our principal placed the crown upon his head and pronounced him as King Bobby Rush. And then Sarah Taylor was named prom queen, to a much less enthusiastic response. There seemed to be some confusion, as no one seemed to have voted for her. Her father, though, was beaming with pride as she accepted her crown.
The staff from the country club cleared out some of the tables and it was time for the dance portion of the night to begin. I offered to dance with Mary and she happily accepted. I'm sure we looked ridiculous, but we had fun. We left the dance floor when they started to play a slow song, though Dustin danced with Emily.
"Too bad Brett can't dance tonight." Mary said.
"Why is that?" I asked.
"Well, he has a broken leg," Mary replied.
"No, I mean why is that too bad?"
"Who wants to go to a dance and sit all night watching everybody else have fun."
I glanced over to where Brett was sitting all by himself poking away on his cell phone. I looked to the dance floor to find Amanda dancing with Joey. Brett looked bored out of his skull.
"You should talk to him," Mary said. "He looks lonely."
"That's not lonely, that's boredom," I told her.
"Either way, he looks like he needs some company."
"Yeah... Well, you can sit with him if you want. I'm going to get some air on the balcony for a few minutes. You want to go?"
"No, that's okay. After this slow song is over they'll play a couple of fast ones again. I want to dance some more."
"Cool. Have fun," I said.
On my way to the balcony I ran into Mr. Hartley.
"Well good evening Mr. Roberts. And where do you think you're going?"
"I just need some air," I said.
"You know this is a non-smoking facility. I would hate to have to report you for conduct unbecoming of our future valedictorian."
"I don't smoke, sir. I practically have asthma in the springtime."
"And where is your dear friend Mr. Reilly? Why, I do believe he came with Amanda Smith! Such a surprise for all of us! Especially your friend Mr. Smith."
"Can I go now, Mr. Hartley?" I asked.
"Of course, Mr. Roberts. But if I were you I would keep a closer eye on your friends. I would hate to see our best and brightest brought down by the mistakes of others."
Okay, that was creepy. Mr. Hartley moved on to torment whoever was next on his list and I went out to the balcony. It overlooked the gorgeous green grass of the 18th hole on the golf course. This would be the only time I would be able to live like the rich people did. I was glad the sound of the music had been reduced to a dull thumping instead of an overwhelming roar. Every time the door opened, the wall of sound would rush through me and then become muted as the doors closed. I leaned against the rail, looking out over the scenery. I understood the scenes of natural beauty far more than I understood the people within the ballroom. I wondered if I could get away with just hanging out on that balcony until the dance was over.
The roar of the music rose and fell, and then Dustin joined me.
"You should come back in! It's pretty crazy in there!"
"That's why I'm out here," I replied.
"Yeah, I think you lost your date. Mary's been having a great time dancing with everybody."
"That's good. I'm glad she's having a good time. That's why I invited her."
"Funny, I thought you invited her to make me jealous," Brett said from behind us.
We turned around to see him standing there on his crutches.
"You jerk!" Dustin snapped. "What do you think you're doing inviting my stupid sister to my senior prom?"
"Why does that piss you off? I like Amanda. She never got the chance to go to her prom, so I thought I'd be nice and invite her to ours. I was surprised she said yes. She knows a lot of people from our class and she's having a great time. Maybe you should go have a great time yourself instead of worrying about my date."
Dustin squinted at Brett. "You're not that noble. You're just trying to piss me off."
"Go enjoy your senior prom, Dustin," Brett said.
Dustin looked at me and then back at Brett, as if unsure what to do. I nodded to him and let him know that I agreed with Brett that he could leave us alone. Dustin slipped back into the ballroom.
"That was really nice, thinking of Amanda like that," I said.
"Nah, I just did it to piss him off," Brett joked. We both laughed. It felt good to laugh with him again for the first time in a month. Brett set his crutches aside and joined me in leaning over the railing of the balcony overlooking the lawn.
"Sure is beautiful here," he said.
"Yeah, I guess so," I said.
"Hey, I wanted to give this to you." Brett reached into his pocket and handed me some money.
"What is this?" I asked.
"It's the money I owe you for that bus trip. You said it was fifty dollars?"
"Brett you didn't have to..."
"Yes I do, Billy. I shouldn't have done that. It was impulsive and stupid. You could have gotten into all kinds of trouble over that. I wasn't thinking clearly, obviously. I apologize."
"Brett I can't take this," I said, trying to give it back to him. But Brett refused.
"Billy, if you give that back to me I'm going to throw it over the ledge. Please take it."
I slipped the money into my pocket. "I'm sorry too," I said.
"No really. I've been such an idiot for way too long."
"I know," Brett replied.
"I never meant to hurt you," I said.
"I know," Brett said.
I sighed. "So if you know all those things then why are you still mad at me? Why won't you talk to me?"
"Because your being sorry doesn't erase the hurt that you caused, Billy. You can be sorry all you want, but it doesn't change what you did. It ripped my heart out when I realized you knew about Jack and had been lying to me about it. I don't think you understand how much that hurt."
"I do understand it, Brett! I know what I did was wrong and stupid, but I never wanted to hurt you."
"Billy, you let Jack and my mother bribe you to stay quiet about what they did. I know your family has never had much, but I thought I meant more to you than money."
"Look, when that happened, it caught me off guard. I thought I was going into that hospital room to tell you the truth with Jack's support. But I choked and as soon as I did Jack swooped in with that internship crap. I didn't know what to say. I was so confused, and by the time I figured out what was going on it was already too late. I turned down the internship."
"Eventually, yeah," Brett sighed. "Look, it's not just that. This whole relationship has always had a serious lack of respect. It's not just your fault. I know you're not the smartest person when it comes to people and sometimes I just assume that because you're smart in other areas that you pick up all the same things about our relationship that I do. You were so oblivious on that road trip. I thought for sure that you would figure out that I was on to you, but you weren't pretending to not know. You really couldn't understand what was going on. And that's not the first time that's happened. I should have just told you flat out instead of making you try to figure it out. But it's more than that. I hate that you can never seem to admit that you love me when anything else is on the line. If it's a choice between me and something that you want, you always choose what's in your own interest and expect me to just pretend it doesn't hurt. Whether it's holding hands, or kissing, or just acknowledging that I'm your boyfriend... I need something more from you than sex. I need you to be my partner in everything. I would die for you, Billy. But it feels like you wouldn't even want to be mildly inconvenienced for me. That's not fair to either of us. I don't want you to have to live in fear your whole life, and I don't want to spend my life worrying about whether I can be real in public or pretend I'm something I'm not when I'm with you."
"What do you want me to say? How can I prove my love for you?"
"I don't doubt for a minute that you love me. And when it's convenient for you, you make that clear. But when life gets hard or you have something to lose, you fold every time. And it's not like I'm asking you to give up everything for me. I want you to be valedictorian as much as you do. I just want you to want me as much as you want that! I've hated this last month! I've been totally miserable. I even tried to call you but you didn't answer your cell phone."
"Shit! Why didn't you just call the house! I lost my cell phone! I haven't seen it in a month!"
"Are you shitting me?"
"No! The last time I saw it, Joey brought it over and I haven't seen it since."
Brett just laughed. "God, you're as bad as me."
"So what do we do now?"
"I don't know. I wish it were as easy as handing you fifty bucks. I just know I'm tired of being miserable and I miss you every day. I just want to go back to before all this happened."
"No. I don't want to do that."
"Wait, you don't want to get back together?" Brett asked.
"No, I want to remember how much this month has hurt. I want us to remember how miserable its been without each other so that we'll never do anything so stupid that it could ever jeopardize our relationship again."
"Can you forgive me for leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere?" Brett asked.
"I don't know. Can you forgive me for being an idiot?"
"Yeah," Brett replied. "Story of my life."
We leaned closer together. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth of Brett soft lips against mine. It felt so perfect after a month apart. When we separated, I opened my eyes to see Brett's ocean blue eyes looking back at me.
"So are we back together?" I asked.
"I never want to be apart again," Brett replied.
"Hey listen..." I said.
"The music... It's changing."
"They're going to play a slow song."
"I don't get it."
"Dance with me," I said.
Brett just laughed. "No, you can't be..."
"Come on," I said, pulling Brett away from the balcony ledge. "Dance with me."
"I can't! My leg. My crutches..."
"Leave them. Lean on me. I'll carry you if I have to."
"Billy, come on. They're watching you like a hawk. You can't. You'll lose your valedictorian. You could be expelled."
"I don't care. Take my hand."
Brett looked around. I stood there with my hand offered to him, waiting. He grinned. "You're serious!"
"Anthony Brett Reilly, may I have this dance?"
Brett put his hand in mine. Together, we walked into the ballroom holding hands. I led Brett to the dance floor, and then I put his hands around my neck and I put my hands around his waist.
And we began to dance.
I closed my eyes and held him as he leaned against me for support. I felt the eyes of a hundred people upon us, but I didn't care. We just kept on dancing, or at least holding each other and trying to move our bodies in some type of rhythmic fashion.
Brett leaned his head against my shoulder and I could feel him shaking. I leaned my head against his and nuzzled against him. I didn't dare open my eyes. I didn't want anything to disturb that moment. I don't even know what song was playing. I think it was that sappy Hoobastank "the Reason" song. I didn't care about anything going on around me. All I knew was that I loved Brett, and that I would have given my life to make that song last forever.
Finally, it ended. I opened my eyes and looked around. There was literally no one else on the dance floor, everyone had backed away so that we were the only ones dancing. I looked around at my classmates. I was trying to figure out what their faces were trying to tell me, but that shit's hard for me. Brett wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and looked around at the crowd.
"Are you guys going to dance or gawk at the queers all night?"
The place exploded with laughter and cheers.
"That's my brother! That's my brother!" Joey cried.
The DJ played a peppy song and the dance floor filled with a bunch of high school seniors as I helped Brett hobble off the floor. We were met by Mr. Taylor, the principal, and Mr. Hartley.
"Nice little display there, boys," the principal said. "You just earned yourselves a couple of suspensions, I believe."
"They should both be expelled!" Mr. Taylor said, his face betraying his glee.
"You guys should spend some time in reading class," Brett said.
"What are you talking about, Reilly?" the principal sneered.
"Read your own rules. You said no same sex couples were permitted to attend the prom, and Billy and I both have female dates. You didn't say anything about same sex couples being able to dance together!" Brett said. Oh you should have seen the looks of concern that those three idiots gave each other!
"That may technically be true, but..."
"If something is technically true, I believe that makes it... Oh, I don't know... Oh that's right! TRUE!!!!!!" Brett replied with glee. "Now if you don't mind, I want to finish this stupid dance, go home, and make love to my boyfriend!"
"This isn't over, boys. I'll see you and your parents in my office Monday morning."
"Okay!" Brett laughed. "Thanks for playing, gentlemen! See you Monday!" Brett waved at them as they turned and walked away. Then he turned and kissed me passionately. "Dude, that was the craziest fucking thing we've ever done! God I want to fuck you so bad right now!"
I just laughed and held him, kissing him again. "I think I just blew valedictorian," I said.
"And you did it for me!" Brett beamed. "That was amazing!"
Before we could make it too much further, Amanda stopped us. "Oh I see! Bring me to the prom and then dump me for a guy!" she laughed.
"You don't mind do you?" Brett asked.
"No, he's kind of cute, even if he is a dork!" she smiled. "That was really cool Billy. I didn't think you had it in you."
We were quickly joined by Dustin and Em.
"You should have seen the way the floor cleared when everybody realized what you were doing!" Em gushed.
"Dudes, you danced to `The Reason.' That's like the corniest song in history!"
"Shut up, brother!" Amanda laughed. "They did great!"
"If I'd have opened my eyes and seen what was going on I probably would have fainted!" I said.
Finally, Mary joined our group. "You guys were awesome! I knew you would make it back together!"
"You don't mind that I ditched you, do you Mary?" I asked.
"No! Thanks to you I have friends now, Billy!" Mary smiled. I gave her a hug and a big kiss on the cheek.
We didn't dance together again that night. Brett's leg wouldn't allow it. But we did find ourselves being constantly congratulated by our classmates. Well, everybody except Sarah Taylor. (Although I think I might have gotten a wink from Kenny!) I did dance with Mary and Amanda, and I don't think I've ever had so much fun looking like such a doofus in my whole life!
After the party began to wind down, we headed to the parking lot. Brett gave Amanda the keys to his car. She offered to take Mary home, but I knew her parents wouldn't have appreciated me sending her home with someone else. Brett offered to sit in the back seat so he could stretch his leg. When we got to Mary's house, I walked her to the door.
"Mary, I can't thank you enough for coming with me tonight," I said.
"It was fun," Mary replied. "I'm glad you and Brett made up. I hope you boys have a good time tonight."
I gave her a kiss on the cheek and headed back to the Corvette. Brett was leaning against the hood of the car when I returned.
"Nice girl," Brett said. "She was always in my reading class. Of course, she could read better than me! I didn't even realize you knew her."
"I didn't. Not really, anyway. I'm glad I do now."
"Yeah. You know, neither of us managed to hold on to our dates tonight. And mine made off with my car! You could leave me stranded on the side of the road if you wanted."
"Yeah, or I could just take you home."
"You want to go to my place?"
"Nope," I said.
Brett looked disappointed. "Oh... I just thought..."
"No, I want you to come home with me."
"Really?" Brett asked. "But I thought your mom didn't want me there."
"Well, I guess we'll find out in the morning. She's working the night shift."
"Is there anything fun to do at your house?"
"Just me," I replied.
Brett grinned. "Sounds fun!"
When we got back to my house, I parked the car out front. Brett and I made our way into the house and were about to start kissing when Dave walked into the room.
"Looks like it went well," Dave said when he saw us.
"Oh, hi Mr. Bland..." Brett said.
"Good to see you again Brett," Dave replied. He asked me for the key to the car. "Don't wait up for me," he said. He grabbed his jacket and left us alone.
"That did not go how I expected," Brett said. I led him to my bedroom.
"Make yourself comfortable," I said.
Brett stood by my bed, looking around my room as if he were unsure of what to do with himself. "It's been a while," he said.
"Too long," I replied. "But that's not the way it's going to be anymore." I walked up behind him, took his crutches, and leaned them against the wall. Then I got behind him and hugged him from behind. I gently kissed his neck under his ear. Brett practically purred.
"That feels really nice. I've missed you so much!"
"That's nothing. Wait until we get out of these suits."
"I don't want to wait," Brett said. "I want to be naked with you. I've wanted to get you out of that suit since I saw you in it tonight."
"I was so fucking jealous when you walked into that ballroom tonight," I said. "You looked amazing."
"So did you!" Brett replied. "Why are we still talking about getting naked and not getting naked?"
I spun him around and kissed him. Our tongues refamiliarized themselves with each other. Brett slipped his hands into my jacket and he removed it from my body. I did the same to him. His vest quickly followed and we unbuttoned each other's shirt. I tugged his shirt open, exposing his chest and to my surprise...
"You're wearing your necklace!" I said.
"So are you," he said between kisses.
"I never took it off."
"And I put it back on almost as soon as you walked out my door," Brett said, pulling my shirt off and tossing it on the floor. "What happened to your nipple ring?"
"I got tired of it. I only did it to piss off my mom."
Brett laughed. "I know. You might notice I still have mine."
I leaned down and teased that pierced nipple with my tongue. Brett melted. I dropped to my knees and undid Brett's pants. I took down his pants and boxers with one tug, exposing him completely. Before we had to go through the work of getting his pants off over his cast, I grabbed his ass for the first time in a month and worked on his stiffening dick with my mouth. I liked to get the whole thing in my mouth before it began to inflate and become too large to take entirely into my mouth. After a few minutes, Brett pulled me up from my knees and kissed me.
"I'm not going to last long," he panted.
"Not the first time..." I replied.
Brett dropped onto the bed and I worked his pants, shoes, and socks off. I was still in my pants, but I dropped on top of him and kissed him intensely as I pressed and grinded my hips against his. Brett loosened my pants and worked them off, and soon we both were naked except for our necklaces. I turned myself around and we formed a sixty-nine, each of us pleasuring the other's stiffened dick and over-filled balls. Brett abandoned my cock to work his tongue into my ass.
"Oh that's good!" I whined.
Brett laid his head back on the bed. "I'm gonna cum without even doing anything."
I slid off him and turned onto my back. I grabbed my knees and pulled them toward my chest, exposing myself to him. "Make love to me," I said. "I don't care how long it takes."
Brett flipped himself around and onto his knees. I felt him press against me, and then I felt him sink into me. Brett grabbed my foot and sucked on my big toe. He literally came in ten seconds. It was an urgent, emotional orgasm. Brett burst into tears in the midst of it. He was still crying after it was over.
"Hey, it's okay," I said.
"No, I'm not crying because it was quick. I'm crying because it hit me as I was coming how special it is that I get to make love to you. I took it for granted. Being away from you for a month just made me appreciate it all the more. I love you so much, Billy. I never want to be separated from you again. God, I want to just stay here inside you forever!"
He withdrew from me and spun himself onto his back just like I'd done for him.
"Fill me, Billy. I want your love inside me."
I got on my knees and lined myself up with Brett. I lasted a little bit longer than Brett had, but still nothing to brag about. Like Brett, when I began to come I was overwhelmed with emotions I'd never imagined I even had! And just like Brett I started bawling as I throbbed inside him.
"Now you get it?" he asked.
I couldn't even answer, I just whimpered.
"I love you so much, William Aaron."
"I... love... you... Anthony Brett!" I sobbed. "Jesus, I feel like such a dork crying like this."
"It's okay," Brett replied. "We've got all night to fuck, but I think this was the first time we really made love. This is what it means to truly be naked with each other. I never want to forget this night."
"Me too," I replied.
"Awesome," Brett smiled. "Now let's fuck like rabbits!"
I won't bore you with the details. I'll just say that we learned that night what it truly means to make love. Neither of us wanted it to end, but eventually, neither of us could have possibly continued. We fell asleep in each other's arms, holding on to each other and never wanting to let go ever again.
Thanks for reading. I hope you liked it! If you have comments you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next time: The Last Screw. (Three chapters left!)