Castle Roland

Everything Will Turn Out Alright

by Cy-Kun


Chapter 10

Posted: N/A

"Captain!" Lieutenant Commander Vicky's voice came over the intercom. "Our shields are down to 25 percent! We can't take another direct hit!"

"We won't!" I said confidently. "Divert all power from shields to the phasers!"

"But Captain-" Vicky started.

"Just do it Commander! We're gonna make these bastards sorry they ever messed with us!" Ok so maybe that was breaking the calm, rational front that every Starfleet captain was supposed to have but I was never one to stick to the rules. Besides, I just couldn't force myself to be so stiff and formal with Commander Vicky. Especially not after that night in the Holodeck.....I shook that thought from my head. Now wasn't the time and these skintight Starfleet uniforms were less than useless at hiding any signs of arousal.

The phasers fired on full power and my crazy plan, like so many others in the past, worked perfectly. We smashed through our enemies shields and struck a mortal blow to their warp core.

"Captain!" Lt Jason grinned up at me from his duty station. "We got em! Sensors show they can't eject their core and it'll explode in less than two minutes......" He trailed off. "Incoming message from the enemy ship, sir!"

"On screen!" I ordered.

Just then the face of my mortal enemy appeared on the viewscreen. I should have known. This was one of the hardest fights of my life and we almost lost the ship more than once, there was no way anyone else could have gotten the better of me like that. I glared into the face of pure evil and flashed a very un-Captain like grin of victory.

"Well Mom, it looks like you failed yet again and this time there's no escape."

The woman on screen, the evil space Empress known across the galaxy only as "Mom" snarled at me but didn't respond.

"What? No comebacks? No threats? No embarrassing questions?" I'm not sure why I threw that last one out there, it just seemed right for some reason.

She opened her mouth to speak and I savored the moment. I had been fighting against the forces of Mom almost my entire career and now, finally, she was defeated. I held my breath as she spoke her last words.

"Nate! Get up! You have to get ready for school!"

What the hell? Suddenly I heard a pounding, as if someone was banging against the outside of the ship? Could this be some secret, last minute doomsday weapon? And what did her words mean?

"Nate!" she spoke again and the pounding got louder. "Get your ass out of bed! You've gotta be at school in less than 40 minutes!"

School? "What?" I said out loud.

My eyes shot open and I instantly closed them again. I remembered to close the blinds last night but it was still too damn bright in my room. I needed to get some curtains or something. My mind tried to hold onto the dream that I was having but I could feel it slipping away with every pound of my mom's fist on my I shook my head.

"I'm up!" I croaked tiredly. The pounding stopped.

"Ok, get showered and dressed breakfast will be ready in 20 minutes!" I could hear her footsteps walking away.

I lay there for a minute or two trying desperately to wake myself up. I thought about my dream, or what I could remember from it anyway. It wasn't exactly the Vicky dream I had in mind when I went to bed last night, less torrid sex and more space battles, but it was.....interesting. Vicky would love to hear about it at lunch. Shit!



Thoughts of my dream vanished as I remembered, well, everything. I groaned. I was so not ready to face the day. I turned over on my side, with my back to my window and tried opening my eyes again. No blinding pain this time so I kept them open and let them focus on my......nightstand.

My heart froze as I saw something there that I didn't notice last night. In addition to my small bottle of lube there was the box on condoms that my mom has bought yesterday and the larger bottle of lube. I shuddered as I noticed another note. Will this never end!?

I picked it up and read it.

'Nate, I really am sorry for getting carried away earlier. I want you to know that I do trust you but I still want you to have these. Just in case. I love you. Mom. PS: Set your alarm tonight so I don't have to pound on your door to get you up for school, ok?'

I put the note down and sighed. Ok, at least this one wasn't as bad as the last one. Still, if she suddenly 'trusts me' (yeah, right) then she should get rid of the condoms because I'm never gonna need them. I'm only ever gonna be with Vicky. The lube though....that would come in handy. I smiled to myself. At least I won't have to go steal another bottle from CVS.

I glanced at the clock. "Shit" I mumbled. I was gonna be late. I opened the drawer on my nightstand and swept the lube and condoms into it before slamming it shut and getting out of bed. I had no need to hide that stuff anymore I guess but it was so not the first thing I wanted to see every morning when I woke up.

I stretched and yawned after getting out of bed. Man I was tired, but it was that weird tired that you get when you slept too much instead of too little. It was like my body shut itself off too long and I turned it back on too quick. There was a term for that. It was on the tip of, brain. It had something to do with cars......

"Nate!" my mom called from downstairs. "I don't hear a shower!"

Screw it. I yawned again, opened my door and walked to the bathroom. I turned the shower on and got undressed. As I slipped out of my clothes my mind turned back to thinking about what was going to happen today at school. Or, rather, one of a million scenarios of what could happen. Everything from showing up and having the entire student body cheer me for being so courageous to showing up and being hung from a tree while banjo music played over the PA system went through my mind. Ok so maybe I was being a bit dramatic but, damn it, I can't turn my imagination off. Trust me, I've been trying for years.

I stepped in the shower and immediately leaped back out.

"Fuck! Cold!" I cursed to myself.

Dammit day, I know the rest of you is going to suck but you can't even give me a decent morning?

The day responded with a very loud "Fuck you, Nate!" when I stepped back into the shower and and to leap right back out again.

"Ow! Hot!" I yelled.

I glared at the shower. It seemed like it was mocking me somehow. Like it was alive and wanted to be the first to make my day miserable. Maybe this was revenge for all the times I jerked off in it? Maybe-

My eyes narrowed and my face started to heat up as I noticed that the hot water knob was turned fully up but for some reason the cold water knob was still in the 'off' position. Ok so maybe, just maybe, I might be a bit distracted this morning. Plus I just woke up so you can't blame me for thinking my shower was alive and out to get me.....

Just....shut up.....

I reached in, careful to avoid the scalding water, and turned the cold knob on and the hot knob down a little bit. After a few minutes of experimenting, with my hand this time instead of my entire body, I finally got it more or less tolerable. I didn't know how much time I had and I didn't want my mom to to do anything insane to get me out of the shower so I was quick. I guess I should be thankful though. She doesn't walk into the bathroom, pull back the shower curtain and turn off the water anymore. I got her to stop that when I was 11. Now all she does is flush the toilet in the downstairs bathroom until the freezing water drives me out of the shower. A few minutes of freezing cold and a near heart attack vs my mom walking in on me naked and possibly, um, in hand? The cold and potential heart attack win every time. That goes triple after yesterday.

Even though I was trying to be fast in the shower I found myself slowing down once I shut the water off and got out. I took twice as long as usual to dry myself off and spent about three minutes just staring at the toothpaste on my brush before putting it in my mouth. I knew why I was doing it. I was nervous about facing my mom. Again.

I knew we had kinda, sorta patched things up yesterday but I never knew what to expect from my mom. Especially recently. I could go down there and she could be completely normal or she could start in with round two of the Sexual Inquisition.

Then there was school.

I thought I'd put most of my issues behind me but seeing how my mom and Vicky's dad acted made me realize that I really had no idea how people would act. No, it was more than that. It seemed like I was always thinking the wrong thing recently and I was seriously doubting my ability to understand even the most basic situations anymore. I couldn't prepare for anything if I didn't know what was going to happen. I truly did believe that I could handle anything as long as Vicky was by my side but I'd been wrong about so much these days that what if I was wrong about that too? What if by holding onto him I was only dragging him down with me?

No. I closed my eyes really hard and forced that thought out of me head. There was no way I was ever going to start thinking about something like that ever again. That, at least, was an area I did have experience in and I knew that even if I let go Vicky would still hold on. Just like I would have held on to him. I felt a smile creep across my lips as thought of Vicky filled my head. His smell, his laugh, that low, velvety way his voice sounded when he says that he loves me. I sighed happily and tried not to think about anything else. I wanted to hold onto this feeling for as long as possible.

I managed to finish up in the bathroom and get back to my room before my mom could yell at me to hurry up again. I stood in front of my open closet naked for several minutes trying to decide what to wear. Good or bad today was going to be an important day in my life and for some reason I didn't think that my normal T-shirt and cargo pants would be appropriate. I felt that I needed to wear something special.

My eyes fell on an old pair of jeans and my face lit up with a wicked grin. I'd gotten them for my birthday when I was 12 and they were basically a normal pair of black jeans except for one small thing. They were tight as all hell. I'm talking a few millimeters away from being formfitting tight here. I'd only worn them once before and the very first thing Jason said when he saw me in them was "Dude those pants make you look so gay." He meant it as a joke but at the time I was going through one of my very short, infrequent self-doubt sessions so I stupidly thought that if anyone saw me wearing them they'd know instantly that I was gay. The second I got home that day I changed and never wore them again. Even after I got over my little mood I never bothered to wear them. Now that everyone knew about me, though, I had to reason to keep the "gay pants" in the closet. The second that thought popped into my head I started cracking up.

Oh yeah, these were DEFINITELY the right pants to wear today.

After putting on my tightest boxer briefs (ever try wearing loose underwear with tight pants? Not fun, trust me) I took the pants out of the, ahem, closet and pulled them on. I looked at myself in the mirror and frowned. They looked and felt exactly the same as they did the last time I wore them. Have I seriously not grown at all since I was 12? Damn. Well, they WERE a bit tighter in the crotch I suppose. That should make me feel better but having a metal zipper and a denim seam digging into my junk all day didn't seem too appealing. Oh well. I was wearing them anyway.

Now all I needed to do was find the proper shirt. Sadly I didn't have any shirts with a cool little story to make them meaningful so I ended up settling on a slightly smaller than I usually wear dark blue 'vintage' Star Trek T-shirt in honor of my weird little dream. I looked at myself in the mirror. Eh, tight shirt, tight jeans, long hair, dark colors, I looked a bit too emo for my tastes but hopefully the bright blond hair would keep anyone else from thinking that. Other than that I looked good. Damn good if I do say so myself. Maybe I'd have to start paying more attention to what I wear from now on instead of just throwing on whatever is at the top in my drawer.

After spending three minutes finding both of my sneakers I grabbed my bag and headed downstairs. When I got to the kitchen my mom glanced at me and, I kid you not, did an actual double take. I didn't think people actually did that. She gave me an appraising look.

"Well, you look unusually put together today." she said.

Was that a compliment? Ugh, sometimes it's hard to tell with her. I decided to play it safe, no need to start an argument or anything right now. "Um, thanks." I said.

She smiled and went back to making my breakfast. Well, no comment about yesterday so I guess we're in "let's forget about it and act normal mode" today. That was fine with me. In fact that was the best thing that could happen. Today was all about getting through school and I didn't need any other distractions.

It wasn't long before I had a steaming egg and soft, chewy bacon placed in front of me. I took a bite of the egg, closed my eyes slightly and sighed. So good. Before Vicky had pointed out how amazing my moms eggs were I never really noticed but ever since that day they just seemed to get tastier and tastier.

My mom laughed. "Good huh?"

"Mmm hmm." I said with a full mouth.

"Good." she smiled at me and left the room.

Why couldn't she be this normal all the time?

Things got a bit rushed after breakfast. My mom noticed that it was about 10 minutes after we usually left so she grabbed me, pulled me out to the car and started to drive to school. Five minutes later we pulled back into the driveway, I got out, ran into the house and came back with my bookbag. Then we were off. Again.

My mom kept up a pretty inventive stream of swear words during the entire 20 minute drive to school. I was actually kind of impressed, I don't think she repeated herself once.

When we finally pulled up in front of the school my mom stopped cursing and put her hand on my shoulder when I went to get out.

"Nathan," she said seriously. "If anything happens today, or if even if you just think you need to come home, I want you to go the office and tell the principal that I told you to call me, I'll come get you no matter what I'm doing, ok?"

My eyes widened in shock. Something you may not know about my mom is that she is VERY serious about school. She always expects me to get at least a 85% grade in every class and if I get even a tenth of a percent lower than that she gives me an hour long lecture about the importance of an education and how I'm "wasting my potential". She's even made me go to school a few times while I was sick and throwing up so I wouldn't miss an important test. For her to pretty much say that I could just call her up and leave whenever I wanted was a huge deal. She must have really been worried about what would happen today.

Of course I had very conflicted feelings about this. Shocker there right?

One one hand I was amazed and confused at how she could go from being the queen of evil one day to being caring, loving and incredibly supportive the next. It was like there was this switch in her head that would randomly flip back and forth from "bat shit crazy" to "best mom ever". It really drained me sometimes. On the other hand the fact that she was worried enough to even offer to let me come home from school made me even more nervous about what might happen today. Did she think of something that I didn't? Did she KNOW something that I didn't? I didn't know how to feel so I tried my hardest not to feel anything. Guess how well that worked?

Still.....this was a safety net I didn't have before and it was really awesome of her to offer, even if I would never take her up on it.

"Thanks." I swallowed, although whether it was from nervousness or a sudden intense feeling of love for my mom I couldn't tell you. "That really means a lot." But I'd never leave Vicky here alone if things got that bad, I silently added. I wouldn't tell her that though, that might just flip the switch back and, promise or not, I didn't wanna find out what she would do if she was in a crazy mood.

My mom smiled at me and then dragged me over to her for an embarrassing kiss on the forehead. Right in front of the school. As if I didn't have enough possible problems today.

"Now try to have a good day today Nathan. I'll see you after school." she said after letting me go. The second she let me go I wiped the wetness of her kiss from my head and she gave me an amused smile.

"Bye mom." I said and I got out of the car. I waved to her, she waved back and I watched her drive away. I took a deep breath, tried to calm myself and turned around.

It was time to go to school.

Normally there would be a lot of kids hanging around outside on the lawn in front of the school but since I was a bit late today and the homeroom bell was about to ring it was almost completely deserted. There were a few people still hanging around though and I tried to read their expressions as I walked into the building. The results were actually kind of encouraging. A few broke off their conversations to look at me but there weren't any hostile looks, just a few curious glances. I smiled to myself. Maybe today wouldn't be too bad after all.

That feeling lasted right up until I actually entered the school.

The second, the very SECOND, I walked into the building every single pair of eyes locked on me and there was a noticeable lull in the conversation. I stopped short as if the sheer weight of all the eyes on me was like an invisible brick wall. Even the kids who weren't in my grade were staring! Wasn't homeroom about to start? Shouldn't these damn kids be in class or something? Great, now I sound like my mother....

Calling up every single reserve of willpower I had I forced myself not to look away. I would not even hint at how intimidated I was right then. If I showed weakness then it would be over. I briefly scanned the crowd to try and determine the mood.

There were several glares that, if I was being generous, could be called extremely hostile but they were surprisingly in the minority. There were a few less hostile, but not exactly friendly, looks from some of the guys but for the most part what I saw was curiosity. With two notable exceptions. The first exception was a guy who I'm pretty sure was in my grade but I couldn't remember if I had any classes with him or not. He was a little taller than me, big surprise there, with short, messy brown hair and a slender frame. None of that was what made me notice him though. No, what made me notice him was the look in his eyes.

I'd heard of people joke about being "eye raped" before but this was the first time I actually experienced it. His eyes just penetrated....ok bad choice of words there....his eyes ripped into me....dammit that isn't much better.....let's just say it was very uncomfortable and leave it at that, ok? I made the mistake of holding eye contact with him a bit too long and he started to lick his lips slowly. Oh god, that was way too much, I quickly looked away and made a silent vow to try and stay as far away from that kid as possible.

The second exception was Skip Williams. Skip wasn't his real name of course, his real name was, wait for it, wait for it.......Robin. Yeah. I know. It's obvious why he had a nickname but what no one could figure out was why it was 'Skip'. I'd heard that there was some story behind it, something that happened before I moved here, but if anyone knew exactly what it was they either weren't talking or forgot. Personally I thought it was because he is literally the last person in school that would ever get to skip a grade but according to the rumor mill he chose it for himself and he would need a sense of humor about himself for that to be the reason. Not mention an understanding of irony.

Skip was the pretty much the stereotypical 'school bully'. He was tall, stocky, barely passed his classes and would get into a fight at the drop of a hat. I'd never had as much of a problem with him as some kids did but he had a reputation for being pretty damn cruel. So much so that even his friends could barely stand him. He was the one I was expecting the most harassment from so there really shouldn't be anything surprising about him giving me a hostile look but I never expected the intensity of it. He was glaring at me with such a personal hatred that I actually took a half step back. He also had a wicked black eye. I'd hate to see what happened to the guy that dared to hit him.

I very quickly broke eye contact with him. Today was not going to be good. Luckily he was only in two of my classes so I wouldn't have to spend too much of the day avoiding him.

It must have been less than thirty seconds since I walked in but it felt like time had stopped. I steeled myself, tried my hardest to keep my face neutral, and started walking. The second I moved time came crashing back and most of the kids turned back to their conversations, which I'm sure were now about me. Did this happen to Vicky when he came in today? I hadn't seen Vicky yet but that wasn't surprising. We usually didn't see each other until homeroom unless we got dropped off at the same time but if this same thing happened to him then I really wish I could have been there for him. Or that he could have been here for me.

I tried to lose myself in the crowd and avoid Skip and the eye rape kid as I made my way to my locker. I got there without incident, which kinda surprised me. I could FEEL people staring at me but no one said or did anything. Not a single greeting, insult, joke or even an anonymous shove into a locker. It was actually starting to freak me out a bit. I very quickly put away the books I wouldn't need for my first few classes and walked into homeroom with a few minutes to spare before the bell.

I pushed my worries away and I started to grin as I saw Vicky sitting in his usual seat behind mine talking to Jason like he did everyday. I let out a breath I wasn't aware I had been holding. He seemed fine. Good. He noticed me out of the corner of his eye as I walked to my seat and, for the second time today, I saw a real live double take. His eyes widened and he stared at me with a mix of surprise and lust. Unlike the kid in the hall it didn't bother me at all coming from Vicky. My grin widened as I sat down with my body facing right towards Jason's desk and my right arm resting on Vicky's.

"Wow, you look so hot in those pants." Vicky said softly.

Before I could say anything Jason let out a short, loud laugh. "I still think they make you look gay." He looked me up and down. "The shirts not helping either."

I narrowed my eyes as Vicky let out a giggle. "How the hell do you remember these pants? I wore them once like a year ago."

"Once you've seen them, you can't forget them." Jason replied with a smirk.

"He does have a point." Vicky added. "They are...." he trailed off, leaned over his desk and stared down at my lap. "Memorable." he finished and flashed me a grin.

I giggled and decided to drop it. "Alright, alright." My expression got serious. "So did anything happen?"

Vicky shook his head. "No, but it was weird. I got a lot of strange looks but no one said anything to me. They all just stared or ignored me."

"Yeah, same thing happened to me too...." I trailed off.

Like Vicky said this whole thing was weird. I may not have known what to expect when I got to school today but I expected SOMETHING to happen. Cooper isn't exactly the excitement capital of the world. Hell, me and Vicky getting publicly outed in the lunchroom was probably the most exciting and gossip worthy thing to happen since I moved here so people should have been saying something to at least one of us. Just then a new thought popped into my head.

"Hey, did either one of you see any of the fangirls today?" I asked.

"Fangirls?" Jason asked. Vicky looked confused for a second then his face lit up with recognition and an amused smile. Oh, yeah. I never actually told them that I named the girls that. Heh.

"Yeah, remember those girls that cornered Vicky after school? The ones you were so eager to kick the crap out of?" I asked him with a sly grin.

"You wanted to beat up a bunch of girls?" Vicky asked before Jason could answer. He shook his head sadly. "I thought you were better than that, man."

"Oh shut up. I didn't know they were girls when I said that ok?" Jason turned back to me. "And no I haven't talked to any girls today. I usually don't until I see Jen later on."

"I haven't seen them either." Vicky said. "Not that I was really looking. I was kinda trying to not be noticed."

"Well, maybe one of them knows what's going on." I said. "Ask Jen when you see her ok Jason? Girls are always into that gossip stuff."

He rolled his eyes. "You know I'd take offense at you talking about my girlfriend that way if it wasn't so true." His eyes narrowed at me. "And speaking of Jen.....I had a really interesting conversation with my mom today...." he trailed off and I looked away sheepishly. With everything else that's been going on I kinda forgot about telling Jason's mom he had a secret girlfriend.

"Uh, what did she say?" I asked lamely.

"Not much, she just grilled me about the 'mystery girl' you told her I was dating. Who she was, how we met, how I feel about her..."his eyes narrowed even more and he glared at me. "How FAR we've gotten....."

I couldn't help myself, I burst out laughing. I could hear the buzz of conversation stop as everyone turned to look at me but I didn't care. This was just too damn funny. He was so pissed at me because his mom asked a simple question, knowing her most likely a joke question, when I had just gone through so much worse after getting caught NAKED with my BOYFRIEND. Ok so maybe you had to be there but trust me it was hilarious.

"It's not funny dude." Jason said after I finished laughing.

"Yes it is." I said and Vicky giggled.

Jason was about to say more when the homeroom bell rang and Mrs Phillips entered the room. Someday I was going to figure out how she always managed to get in the room the second the bell rang. It was starting to bother me.

As the room quieted down and Mrs Philips started taking attendance my mind started to wander again. I thought about everything that had happened so far today to both me and Vicky. It still didn't seem right that no one had said anything to us yet and I was still bothered by both the hate filled look Skip gave me and that other weird kid who licked his lips at me. Not to mention all the other stares I'd gotten from people in the halls. Something had to happen soon, right?

It turns out that I was right. It didn't even take long.

I was still thinking about everything but at the same time I was listening to the attendance call. I'd learned to do that pretty quickly after that first day in school. Mrs Philips was one of the oldest and strictest teachers in the school and I didn't wanna risk my next "punishment" for not paying attention actually being a real punishment. So I heard very clearly when she said "Victor Clarke" and as a side effect of listening to the roll call I also heard very clearly when the kid sitting next to me muttered "fucking fag."

I was out of my seat before the last word was out of his mouth. I was operating purely on instinct, not thinking at all about what I was doing. In fact it seemed almost like I was watching myself instead of actually doing anything. I grabbed his shirt collar, pulled him towards me and yelled "What the fuck did you say you piece of shit!?" Then I cocked my fist back, took aim at his startled face and-

"MR ELLIS!" Mrs Philips whipcrack-like scream echoed off the walls.

-froze. The feeling of watching myself ended in an instant and I had control over my actions again. And my thoughts, which went a little something like this: oh fuck oh fuck I'm so screwed I almost hit a kid oh crap I'm getting suspended oh god she's gonna kill me why am I still holding his shirt if I'm already in trouble I should just hit him anyway for what he said no one says that about my Vicky maybe I should apologize and see if she goes easy on me no fuck that I'll kick this kids ass then apologize for not killing him no that's stupid I should just-

"Mr Ellis kindly let go of Mr Flynn. Now." she said with the hardest voice I'd ever heard anyone, let alone an old lady, use. I instantly let go and sat down. "You will see me after homeroom."

I caught the kid next to me, Shawn Flynn was his name I just remembered, give a little satisfied smirk. Before I could say, or do, anything else stupid Mrs Philips spoke again.

"And you Mr Flynn." I didn't think it was possible but her voice got even icier. "Get out of my classroom and report to the office."

"What?!" he yelled. "I'm the one this psycho almost hit! Why do I have to leave?!"

"I do not tolerate bigotry of ANY kind in my classroom Mr Flynn." his eyes opened with shock and even I was surprised. I barely heard what he said and I was sitting right net to him. "You will leave right now and tell the principal exactly why I made you leave." Her eyes narrowed. "And if you even think of not showing up and being completely truthful about why you are there I will personally make sure that not only are your parents informed but that you will stay after school for a month cleaning this room until it is spotless. Do I make myself clear?"

Shawn just sat there open mouthed for a few seconds before silently getting up and walking out of the room. Mrs Philips went to her desk, picked up the phone, punched in two numbers and spoke softly into the phone for a few seconds. The only words I could hear were "student", "office", "remark" and "5 minutes". I assumed she was talking to the office telling them that Shawn was on his way and why. I didn't hear anything that sounded like she was talking about me though and that surprised me as much as her super hearing.

After she hung up she told the class to remain quiet until the bell rang and sat down behind her desk after giving me an indecipherable look. I was in so much trouble. Even though I didn't hit the kid this school had a zero tolerance policy for fighting and I was looking at at least getting sent home for the rest of the day. Normally that alone would scare the shit out of me because my mom would, probably literally, tear me a new one but after what she said in the car today I didn't think she'd mind too much. No, today all my fears boiled down to one simple fact: If I got sent home Vicky would have to deal with anything that happened today alone and that was something I couldn't deal with.

I jumped, startled as the bell rang, and everyone got up to leave. Jason gave me a quick, reassuring pat on the shoulder as he walked by. Vicky crouched down by my desk and gave me a worried smile.

"Thanks." he said. I tried my hardest to give him a reassuring smile in return but I was still too worried about getting sent home to make it convincing. He saw right through it and, in true Vicky fashion, knew exactly what was bothering me. "Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. I'll-"

"Victor, I would like to talk to Mr Ellis alone if you don't mind. I also believe you have a class to be getting along to, yes?" Mrs Philips interrupted with her typical annoyed sarcasm. I looked around to see that everyone else had already left and we were the only two students still in the room. With a quick smile and an "I'll see you later" Vicky quickly left the room. Mrs Philips closed the door after him, pulled out a key ring and locked it.

That wasn't a hopeful sign.

She sat down behind her desk and motioned to me to stand in front of it. I swallowed nervously and with an icy ball of fear in my gut made my way up. I stood in front of her desk for almost an entire minute while she studied me before she said anything.

"Are you wearing anything under that shirt of yours?" she asked me.

Wait, what? "Um....." I didn't even know how to begin answering.

"A spandex shirt maybe?" she continued. "Something with a monogrammed logo of some sort on the chest perhaps?"

She waited for an answer this time. Normally I tried to say whatever a teacher wanted to hear when I was getting a 'talking to' but I had no idea what the hell she wanted me to say so I just answered with a hesitant "No?"

A look of mock surprised crossed her face. "No? So you aren't some kind of superhero then? You don't go around righting all the injustices of the world in your spare time?" Her face lit up with a look of understanding. "Ahhh I see, so you must have a police badge somewhere in those absurd pants then correct?"

"Um....what?" This was seriously throwing me off and is it wrong that the thing that was bothering me the most was that pants crack?

"You don't have one of those either?" she adopted her fake surprised look again. "So you aren't an undercover police officer?" She gave me a suspicious look. "Do you mean to tell me that you are nothing more than a thirteen year old student enrolled in this school?"

"Um....yes?" It seemed like she was leading up to something but I still had no idea what that was.

Her face got hard again and this time I didn't think she was faking. "Well then would you like to explain to me why you felt the need to jump out of your seat and try to hit one of your fellow students?"

"You heard what he said!" It was out of my mouth before I could even think. Her question brought back my my rage at hearing my Vicky being called a fag. For a second or five I really, REALLY wished she hadn't stopped me from hitting him.

"Yes I did." she said. "And if you had waited at all before automatically resorting to physical violence I would have dealt with him because unlike you I am not a student and I have the authority to punish students when they break the rules. Is that clear?"

So many arguments flooded my mind. How was I supposed to know she heard him? Even if I did know how would I know that she would even do anything about it? Vicky was MINE to protect and anyone who tried to hurt him had to deal with me. I didn't say any of that though. I slipped automatically into my 'say what they want to hear' mode.

"Yes." I said simply.

She gave me a hard look and then said, "Very well then. Now that you have hopefully grasped the concept that you do not need to police the entire school let's talk about your punishment for almost striking a student."

Great. Here it comes. If by some miracle I wasn't getting sent home I promised myself I'd take whatever she gave and be happy about it, even if it was staying after school for the rest of the year, but if she tried to send me home I'd use every single argument I could to stay. I didn't care if Vicky thought he'd be ok there was no way I was leaving him alone today. If I had to sneak back into school and secretly follow him around I would.

"You know that this school has a zero tolerance policy for fighting." she stated. "And you know that anyone who starts a fight is sent home with an automatic three day suspension." It still wasn't a question but I opened my mouth to answer anyway.

"Yeah bu-" I was going to start in with every argument I had but she cut me off.

"But," she said sharply. "Since you came to your senses, exercised self control and stopped yourself I will let you off with a warning and one day of after school detention."

Ok, now I was confused again. "But you stopped-"

"You stopped yourself." she said, slowly and with meaning.

My confusion dissolved only to be very quickly replaced with a different kind of confusion. Mrs Philips, the strictest, most intimidating teacher in the entire school, was covering for me. I knew the school policy, every student was required to read this stupid little student handbook over the summer and have it sent back before the first day with a parents signature. I should be getting sent home right now because I would have hit that kid if she hadn't stopped me. By saying that I stopped myself she could get around the rules and go easy on me, claiming that even though I went to hit the kid I had enough self control to pull back at the last second. I got all that. I just didn't know why. Not that I was complaining but I tend to get suspicious when people do nice things for me out of the blue like this.

"Why?" I asked.

"Why what?" she answered. "You need to be more specific if you want me to answer you. Just saying 'why' could mean many different things."

If I didn't know better I would have sworn that I saw a brief look of amusement on her face.

"Why aren't you sending me home? You know I would have-"

"Stop." she held up her hand. "If you complete that thought I will be forced to send you home." Her features softened just a bit before she said anything else. "I know all about the situation with you and Victor." she began but this time I cut her off.

"What?! You mean the teachers know?! How? What's that mean?" I was panicking. Again. I didn't live in Hicksville, Alabama but West Virginia wasn't exactly Massachusetts. There were a lot of people here who, for whatever reason, didn't like gays in the least. It was bad enough having to deal with kids like that but teachers could seriously mess up my life. Not to mention Vicky's. Thoughts of extra assignments, harsh grading, punishment for breaking minor rules and other little horrors that people with authority over my school life could inflict on me and Vicky filled my head.

"Calm down." Mrs Philips said in her usual no nonsense tone. "I never said anyone else knows. I actually have no idea what anyone else has heard. I only said that I know."

I let out a small sigh of relief. At least that was one thing I didn't need to worry too much about yet. How the hell did she find out though?

"I have a granddaughter who goes to school here." she said suddenly, answering my unasked question. "I don't usually ask her about the personal lives of students but sometimes I overhear things. You and Victor were all she and her friends talked about this weekend." She gave me a slight smile, the first I'd ever seen on her face. "You were standing up for somebody you care for and I despise bigotry. That is why I'm letting you off lightly." Her face and voice got hard again. "This will not happen again. If you ever go to hit another student in front of me again I will make sure you get at least a weeks suspension and your mother WILL be called. Are we clear?"

I nodded quickly. "Yes."

"Good. Now we both have classes starting soon so you should get going." She opened a drawer on her desk, took out a small piece of paper and wrote something on it before handing it to me. "Here's a pass in case you're late for your next class. Oh and Mr Ellis?"

"Yes?" I asked nervously.

"You may want to take a close look at page fifteen of your student handbook." she said with a slight smirk.

With that she got up, walked to her door and unlocked it. I opened it and saw that there were at least 10 kids waiting to get in. They all stared at me as I left. Great. I really wished I could go back to being invisible.

I was halfway to my next class when the bell rang so of course when I finally got there everyone stared at me again. This stare I could take. It wasn't a "oh look it's the gay kid" stare or a "ooooo you got in troooooouble" stare it was just a normal "late kid" stare. Actually being stared at for something normal was kind of soothing.

I handed the teacher the pass and he barely glanced at it before telling me to take my seat. Vicky sat in the front of my row and I flashed him a quick, reassuring smile in response to his questioning look. Hopefully he knew this one was genuine.

Class was.....well, class. I don't think I need to go into detail about it do you? After the bell rang I met Vicky out in the hall and told him about what happened while we walked to our next class.

The rest of the day until gym was pretty normal. I went to class, talked to Vicky when I could and tried to pass the time by drawing or writing dirty limericks or anything that wasn't paying attention to the boring teachers. I long ago learned the trick to acing every class in a public school. Teachers here tend to teach straight from the book with little to no innovation on their part. Every lesson is basically them trying to explain what the book says in a way that the average student can understand long enough to pass the test. If you're like me and can understand school things pretty easily all you need to do is know where you are in the book and read it in your free time. It takes about 10 minutes per chapter in almost every class so you can easily get an entire weeks worth of "teaching" over with in one night. That frees up your school day for interesting things like drawing and dirty poems. I wish Vicky sat near me so I could pass him notes though.

During class I rummaged through my binder and managed to fish out my bent and slightly torn copy of the student handbook and turned to page 15. 'Rules for Public Display's of Affection.' I read and blushed slightly. I was going to close it right away but I was bored so I read on. It was all pretty standard stuff, no kissing, no touching of private areas, no sex of any kind, blah, blah, blah. What almost made me laugh was a small part towards the end.

'Students of the opposite gender are discouraged (manual talk for forbidden) from embracing, especially but not limited to, full upper body contact embraces. However students of the same gender are allowed to embrace, either in friendship or for emotional comfort. If a student is emotionally distraught students of the same gender are allowed to request the use of a guidance counselors office or unoccupied detention room for a short private consolation not to exceed ten minutes.'

I looked in the front and saw that the publication date was 1979. They really should update those rules because they basically give me permission to take Vicky into a private room and have my way with him for ten minutes. I seriously doubt that's what Mrs Philips had in mind when she told me to read this but I silently thanked her anyway.

During the rest of the day we did get more of the same mixture of hostile and curious looks but still no one said anything. Even the fangirls were surprisingly absent as a group. We did run into a few individual fangirls but they just kinda stared at us and looked away shyly if we noticed them. I guess they're more of a pack animal. What also surprised me was the absence of Michelle and Erica. They were in a few of our classes but they didn't show up for any of them. Oh well, one more thing to add to this weird day.

Things started to change once we got to gym though. And by things I mean both the events of the day and every one in the locker room. Those two changes are linked by the way.

We walked into the locker room talking and joking around like we usually do. It wasn't until we stopped talking to open our lockers that I realized the entire locker room was completely silent. I glanced around after getting my locker open and noticed that every single guy who hadn't changed by the time we got there was just standing around looking anywhere but over at us. There couldn't have been more than ten or twelve people out of our whole class so I assumed that everyone else had changed quickly and left before we came in.

It was strange though. I guess I could understand a little awkwardness about changing in front of the gay boys but everyone there was completely avoiding even looking in our direction. Well, that wasn't completely true. I stopped getting my gym clothes out of my locker and took a closer look at everyone. Most of the guys were looking at the floor or their own lockers but there were two who seemed to be keeping their eyes on everyone else. I knew those two were on some sports team because I'd seen them in their uniforms or jerseys or whatever they're called before. If I had to guess I'd say they played football because that's pretty much all anyone seems to talk about around here but we did have a whole crap load of sports teams and I really didn't know anything about any of them so I could be wrong. It doesn't matter though. What was really interesting was what happened next.

One of the floor lookers glanced up, caught me looking and then quickly looked away. That wasn't the interesting part. The interesting part was that after he looked away he didn't look back to the floor, he looked at one of the football (?) players, got a narrow-eyed look in return and then looked back down at the floor.

Like I said, interesting.

I was starting to put a few things together in my head when Vicky suddenly stopped what he was doing, turned around and noticed what was going on. His reaction was a bit different that my silent contemplation though.

"Oh for..." Vicky shook his head and let out an exasperated sigh. "You know we didn't just turn gay last week. If we wanted to look at you trust me, we already have. So stop being a bunch of girls about it and just get changed. Christ!" With that he turned his back on everyone and started to change.

Everyone, including me, just stared open mouthed at Vicky. You've gotta remember, with the exception of me, Jason, my mom and Vicky's dad the only side of Vicky that anyone else knew was the cheerful, sweet and innocent boy. Hell, even as well as I knew him I didn't expect an outburst like that.

A short, choking sound broke through the silence and every head but Vicky's turned towards one of the (oh hell I'll just call them football players for now) football players who had his hand over his mouth and was trying to hold in his laughter. That kinda broke the tension and everyone else slowly started to get changed. I thought about being a dick and staring at them but Vicky was already finished and I wanted to talk to him before the coach started class.

Can I just ask why the hell every gym teacher needs to be called coach? It's not like they're actually coaching us in anything. Hell most of the time they teach us the basics of a sport and then start up a fake game and stand around watching. Is it an ego thing? A failed athlete thing? I didn't know but sometimes it bothered me.

Moving on.

I got changed quickly, or as quickly as I could when I had to literally peel off my all but skintight pants, and went to find Vicky. I didn't have to look long though. He was waiting for me right outside the locker room. God he looked sexy in his gym clothes. He is seriously the only person that can make loose shorts and a loose white T shirt mouth watering. Even his slightly annoyed expression was turning me on.

"Are you ok?" I asked, pushing my arousal to the side and focusing only on how he was feeling.

He let out a frustrated growl. "It just pisses me off. We've never even looked at anyone else changing before and now because everyone knows we're gay it's like they think we're gonna rape them if they show a little skin! It's so damn stupid and I'm getting sick of being stared at. If people have something to say I wish they'd just say it! Fuck!"

I guess Vicky wasn't taking this as well as I thought. I don't think I'd ever seen him this mad before. Actually come to think of it I'm not sure I'd ever seen him mad before. I'd seen him upset, frustrated, nervous, scared and sad but never angry. I could completely understand why he was mad but I needed to try to get him to calm down.

"I know, it's total bullshit." I said. "But I think there's a reason and I might even know why."

His angry expression fled and he immediately looked interested. "Really? Why?"

Just then I saw one of the football players exit the locker room. I grinned at Vicky. "Let me go find out." Without waiting for a response I walked quickly over to the jock. Maybe I was imagining things but it seemed like those two guys were in some way watching out for me and Vicky. If they weren't the only ones doing that then it would explain why everyone else seemed scared to talk to us. Like I said before there are a lot of sports teams

"Hey." I said cheerfully.

He stopped and got a nervous yet slightly irritated look on his face. "Look, um, no offense but could you please not talk to me?"

I frowned as, without another word, he walked away. Oooooook. Maybe I was wrong. I sighed with frustration. My theory fit what was going on but his actions didn't fit the theory. If he was part of some massive schoolwide protection detail he wouldn't act like he didn't wanna be seen talking to me right?

Time for a new theory.

I did have one more thing I needed to know however. Something that had been bothering me almost since I walked into the locker room. Someone else walked out of the locker room just then and I saw my chance to get an answer.

"Hey!" I walked up to the kid. I really needed to start paying attention to who these people were so I could call one or two of them by name every once and a while.

"Um, yeah?" the kid answered.

"Hey, what sport does that guy play?" I asked.

"Uh, you mean Brian?"

How the fuck should I know? Didn't I just monologue about how I needed to remember names?

"If the guy that just walked into the gym is Brian then yeah." I answered.

"He's on the basketball team." the kid answered and then walked away. That didn't annoy me this time though. I might have just had another piece of the puzzle.

I made my way back over to Vicky who was waiting with an impatient expression on his face.

"So are you gonna tell me what's going on now" he asked.

"Well," I quickly decided not to tell him about my original failed theory and go straight into my new one. No sense living in the past right? "Did you notice those two guys in the locker room that were kinda watching everyone else?"

Vicky gave me a puzzled look and shook his head no so I quickly explained what I'd seen.

"So, you think these guys were, like, looking out for us?" Vicky asked skeptically. "Why would they? They don't know us."

I grinned. "They're on the basketball team."

Vicky just stared at me not getting it. "So?"

"Who else do we know that's on the basketball team?" I asked slyly.

"Um, no one?" Vicky said and shot me a puzzled look.

I sighed. "No! Jason!"

"Since when does Jason play basketball?"

"That's what I said when-" I shook my head. "It doesn't matter! Look all these jocky sports guys stick together right? So what if Jason asked his teammates to watch out for us?"

Vicky just looked at me for a few seconds. "So, you're saying that the reason the entire school won't talk to us and barely looks at us is.......because the basketball team is telling them not to?" By the look he gave me I could tell he wasn't buying it.

"Look, ok, maybe not the entire school but everyone in the locker room was definitely being intimidated by those basketball guys." I knew I was right. Even if it didn't make much sense it was the only thing that fit.

Vicky sighed. "Ok, maybe, that still doesn't tell us why the whole school is doing it but whatever the reason is it's not because of a secret bodyguard clan or something."

Now it was my turn to sigh. "Ok, maybe not but there is a reason and we need to find out why."

"Why? I mean, it's really annoying and I wish someone would just talk to us but really does the reason matter?" Vicky asked.

"Yes." I said simply.

"Well, why?" he asked again.

"Because if there really is something going on that's keeping everyone from kicking our ass then we need to know if and when it's gonna stop."

Vicky let out another frustrated sigh. "Dammit."

"I know." I looked around, made sure we were alone and pulled Vicky in for a hug. "It'll be ok." I said with conviction I didn't really feel. If he sensed that I was being less than honest he never let on, he just hugged me back. We let go and he gave me a smile.

"Let's not worry about it now." I said. "We can ask the girls if they know anything at lunch."

"Ok." We started to talk towards the gym then Vicky stopped and let out a short laugh.

"What?" I asked.

He looked at me with an amused glint in his eyes. "You can at least find out if your basketball protection theory is right."

"How?" I asked eagerly.

Vicky rolled his eyes. "Who else do we know that has gym at the same time as us?"

"Um...." I was confused. We didn't know anyone else in gym except....Oh god I'm so stupid sometimes. "Jason!" I exclaimed.

Vicky giggled. "Yep. You know, I love you, but you can be a bit dense sometimes."

I shot him a mock angry glare. "See if you ever get sex again." I grumbled.

Vicky grinned wickedly and moved closer to me. "I bet I can get you to beg me for it." He said in his sexiest, most seductive voice.

Ok that was too much. I was lifting my hands to push him against the nearest wall and take him up on that challenge when a voice echoed through the hall.

"Ellis! Clarke! If your butts aren't in this gym before the bell rings you're spending the period running laps!" the coach yelled from down the hall.

We jumped apart and blushed furiously. Good thing he wasn't close enough to see. Not that he would have because once he said what he came out to say he stormed back into the gym. Probably to yell at some other kid for not showing enough "hustle" or something equally jocky.

Neither one of us wanted to run laps though so we showed some hustle of our own and walk-ran down the hall and went into the gym seconds before the bell sounded.

The first thing I noticed was that the entire class was separated into two groups and each group was standing at opposite sides of the gym with a line of soft, yellow balls in between them. That could only mean one thing: dodgeball. Normally I'd have been thrilled. As far as I'm concerned the only thing gym class is for is watching guys change (hey, I may not have been watching any guys change this year bit I used to be a pretty big perv remember?) and playing dodgeball. Today though I was annoyed. The coach pointed at us and then at the team he wanted us on.

It wasn't Jason's team.

Dammit, I really wanted to find out of my theory was right. I sighed internally. Oh well, I could ask him after class.

Dodgeball was.....interesting. It didn't take us long to realize that no one on the opposing team, except for Jason, was trying to hit us. In fact it was pretty obvious that everyone was avoiding us. Not that I was complaining. Once I realized what was going on I looked at Vicky to see if he'd picked up on it and he flashed me a grin. I returned it. This was gonna be fun.

We took full advantage of our 'untouchable' status as we stayed right at the line separating the two teams and picked people off at our leisure. The rest of our team picked up on what was going on almost as fast as we did and used us as shields, running up behind either me or Vicky to throw a ball and then running back. The first game ended with only five of our teammates eliminated.

The second game didn't go as well.

We tried the same strategy again but this time the other team seemed to realize that catching our thrown balls didn't violate whatever set of rules everyone was following concerning us and we were eliminated pretty quickly. They took out their frustrations from the last game on our team and the game ended quickly with a loss for us.

The third game also didn't go very well but for different reasons.

We tried a new strategy of both of us throwing our ball at the same time at the same target. It worked for a while and we single-handedly eliminated almost half their team. That strategy flew out the window when Jason threw a ball that hit me square in the face and knocked me on my ass. He let out a triumphant yell that echoed in the sudden silence. Everyone stared at him like he'd just whipped his cock out and started waving it around. Then, after several moments of silence, they turned almost as one to face Vicky.

Now, like I said it was pretty obvious that everyone was trying their hardest not to hit us. I didn't for a second think that had to do with anyone wanting to keep us from harm. I knew that there was something, some outside factor, that was, for the moment, protecting us. After Jason nearly collapsed my face (oh he'd get it later for that trust me) it was like the floodgates were opened. I don't know if they didn't realize Jason was a friend or if they just wanted an excuse but after that they all seemed to decide as one that dodgeball was no longer part of the off limits thing.

Before I even got up every single dodgeball that was being held by the opposing team connected with Vicky almost at the same time and knocked him on his ass next to me. I felt the same rage I had in homeroom come flooding back but it didn't last long enough for me to do anything stupid. The second I heard hysterical laughter pour from Vicky's mouth the rage lessened to just normal anger. I glared at the other team and helped Vicky up.

That game was closer than the last one but still a loss for us.

For the rest of the games we were always the first to be eliminated. After three more games of everyone trying their hardest to hit us it got old and we kinda just hung back and talked while the rest of the team played. It sucked, I loved dodgeball, but it was better than constantly getting hit in the face with balls.

Don't you dare even think of making a joke.

When the bell rang me and Vicky started walking to the door. We were going to wait outside the locker room so I could ask Jason about the basketball team theory, I could tell he still didn't believe me and I'm not completely sure he wasn't going to wait with me just to say "I told you so", but the coach's gruff, way-too-manly-to-be-genuine voice cut through the gym.

"Ellis! Clarke! Since you were the last ones here and didn't get to help set up you can put everything away before you leave!" he shouted.

Son of a bitch. Is the entire world conspiring to keep me from finding out one simple little thing? It probably is. Stupid world.

I walked slowly over to the ball nearest me, which just happened to be near the door, and spent my time picking it up. There was only one door that opened anywhere near the hall to the locker room so I knew Jason had to walk by me. Even if I couldn't stop and talk to him I could tell him to wait for us after class. I'll get my answer yet.

"Ellis! Stop slacking off and get cleaning! I'm not writing you a late pass!" the coach yelled.

Goddammit. I couldn't just stand there. Even though Mrs Philips didn't report me to the office I seriously doubt Shawn kept his mouth shut about about the whole me trying to put my fist through his face thing when he got sent to the principal. It was a good sign that I didn't get called down to the office yet but if I showed up late to class without a pass I'd get sent there for sure and I wanted to avoid the principal as much as possible today. I'm not good at lying to authority figures and if he asked me about it I'd most likely not only end up getting sent home and suspended but Mrs Philips might get in trouble too.

I sighed and started picking up the rest of the balls. Of course, none of rest were anywhere near the door. I didn't even look back to see Jason leave.

Even though I knew it was pointless I rushed through cleaning up and ran down to the locker room hoping to catch Jason. Do I even need to say that he wasn't there? Vicky came in shortly after me and the first thing he did, after looking at everyone pretty much doing what they did before and sighing, was burst into a fit of cute but annoying giggles as he watched me try to struggle back into my pants.

It wasn't funny.

No, seriously. It wasn't funny, like, at all.

Not even when I finally got them on and realized they were backwards.

Just.....let's move on.

Because of my.....issues with my pants we barely made it to our next class before the bell. It kinda pissed me off because this was the first class I had with either Erica or Michelle today where one of them actually showed up. It was Michelle and I kinda wanted to talk to her about what might be going on. If she knew anything the last thing she would do is keep quiet about it.

I was getting sick of not being able to talk to anyone who might have some clue to this little mystery so I decided to corner Michelle after class and not let her leave until I got some answers. Fortunately I didn't have to bother because she cornered me.

Unfortunately the conversation went like this.


"Hey, Michelle, can I-"

"Oh my god! I haven't seen you in like, forever! I missed you so much this morning! Those pants are so totally sexy by the way. Jen told me you and Vicky had a date! At the movies!" She squeaed. "That is just, like, soooooo super adorable! Did you guys like hold hands and kiss and stuff? Oh I bet you did! Oh I bet it was hot too right?" More squealing. "What did you see? Was it that sweet romantic movie with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long? I bet it was! That's soooo romantic! Did you guys cry and stuff? Was it good? I bet Vicky held you when you cried. Oh! Or maybe HE was the one who cried? Ohmigawd!" Another squeal. "He would look so cute crying! Not that I want either of you to cry or anything. You guys are way too hot to be sad. Was the movie super funny? Of course it was it had DREW BARRYMORE in it after all. Don't you think Justin Long is incredibly hot? I do. Not as hot as Ryan Renyolds though. OH. MY. GOD. Did you see that movie with him and Sandra Bullock where he was NAKED?! That was sooooooo sexy! Not as sexy as you and Vicky though. You guys should, like, totally get naked for me! Haha I'm just kidding. But if you wanted to I'd be TOTALLY cool with it! Oh, that reminds me! Darn, dropped my book."

I was shocked when bending down to pick up her book actually caused her to stop talking. I carpe diem'd the hell out of that opportunity and pounced.

"I need to ask you-"

"There we go." she said after standing back up. "So guess what?"

"I don't want-"

"I have a surprise for you!" she was grinning so wide that I seriously thought I was watching her mind finally snap. "Buuuuuuuut you gotta wait until lunch ok? Oh this is gonna be so awesome! Oh, hell, I need to get to class! Oh, wait, we have the same class don't we? Wanna walk together. Oh, wait, I see Vicky waiting for you. That's so totally ok. I completely get it. You guys should really hold hands now. Like, everyone knows so you should touch, like, a lot. God if I were you I would just eat him up right here in the hall. Don't worry though, I'll stay away! Haha. See you in class lover boy!" And with another laugh she skipped, literally skipped, down the hall.

It took almost half a minute for my brain to reset and realize that, once again, I didn't get any answers, including why she and Erica weren't in any of their classes this morning. I thought about running after her, but what was the point? I'd never get a full sentence in anyway. Alright, I give up. Apparently some force more powerful than me wants me to wait until lunch to get any answers. I'm done fighting it.

I walked over to Vicky who gave me an understanding smile. How the hell did he get through almost an entire week of that without going completely and totally insane? My respect for him instantly tripled. I returned his smile.

One thing that Michelle said did stick with me though. Everyone already knew we were gay and together so we could have held hands. I just never even considered it. In fact now that I thought back on the entire day we had been unconsciously avoiding each other every time we were close. A week ago we could barely force ourselves not to touch and now today we had been keeping several inches of space between us at all times. Well, except for that hug outside the locker room but I made damn sure we were alone before doing that. Why?

I knew part of it was not wanting teachers to know. I still thought that would be a bad idea but if you thought about it rationally they were gonna find out at some point. If for no other reason than the second this calm breaks and we get in our first fight the principal will find out and he'll most likely tell all the teachers so they can be on the lookout for any 'hate crimes' or whatever. Or he'll be a total homophobe and tell all the other homophobes about it which will be the same result anyway. So really if you thought about it there was no reason not to do a little hand holding.

That was only part of the reason though. As I thought about it I realized that the other part, really most, of the reason was because I didn't want to do anything that might break this confusing little truce and get us in a different kind of trouble. I replayed the events of the day in my head and I was now 100% sure that whatever was causing this wasn't anything we were doing. It was definitely an outside influence so holding hands probably wasn't gonna be the cue for the mob to grab it's pitchforks and torches and drag us to the hanging tree. Still, I worried. What if that just antagonized people and caused them to hate us more? That hate could overrule whatever was keeping us safe.

Grrrrr! Fuck it. I'm not living my life like that. We held hands at the movies and nothing happened so nothing was gonna happen here. I forced that thought to stay at the front of my mind as I reached over and took Vicky's hand in mine. His eyes widened with surprise and I thought he was going to pull away. Instead of doing that though his face lit up with this huge "kid on Christmas morning" grin and that blew away most of my remaining doubts and fears.

We walked to our next class hand in hand and as close as we could get without being in each others way. It felt right, like this was how everything was supposed to be and the universe was in balance again, but I couldn't help but notice we were getting more stares than we had been all day.

I hoped this didn't end up being a mistake.

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