Castle Roland

Who Is He

by Eric Aune


Chapter 6

Posted: N/A

On Monday at school, Travis and Chris saw Jerry. He had two black eyes and his nose was bandaged. He met their eyes and glared at them as he went into his class. Chris had a small bandage on his forehead from his accident. Bryce saw the look Jerry gave them and glared back.

"He's lucky I wasn't there, I would have kicked his ass," Bryce said as he returned Jerry's glare.

"Forget it Bryce. Besides you would have gotten in trouble as well," Chris told him.

Bryce shrugged, "Maybe, but I still would have enjoyed it," he smiled at Chris.

Chris punched him on the shoulder, "C'mon let's get to class."

They headed to their homeroom class. Later in the morning, after break, Chris had to pee so he stopped in the bathroom before continuing to his art class. He was just zipping up, when he felt someone grab a handful of his hair and another arm snaked around his neck. He was pushed forward roughly against the wall and he dropped his pack to the ground. His chest was pushed against the flush handle and pipes above the urinal.

A low menacing voice growled in his ear, "You little freshman faggot. The cops came to my place the other day because of your big mouth and my dad grounded me for two weeks. I can't go anywhere, fucker, until then. Lucky for you, I can't participate in PE because of my nose for a few days, but I assure you, I can't wait until I can play again. Watch your back you little faggot, you and your faggoty friends. You fuck with me and I'll fuck you up. You tell anyone about this, and I will catch you somewhere and seriously fuck you up, then I'll fuck up your friends too. Even the one who thinks he's tough, Bryce. He may think he's tough, but I'll get some friends of mine and he won't be so tough when we're done with him. Understand me?"

Chris was scared and he could feel tears in his eyes, partially from being scared and partially from the pipes digging into his chest. He could barely nod his head.

Jerry pushed him harder against the urinal and pressed the side of Chris' face against the tiles above it. He could feel the spit from Jerry's mouth near his ear when he spoke, "I said, do…you…understand."

Chris nodded and answered, "Yeesss."

Jerry pushed his head against the tile once again before he let Chris go. Chris staggered a little as the pressure was released. He turned around to look at Jerry as he left.

Jerry was backing away from him glaring all the while, "Remember what I said dickhead. Talk and you're dead meat, got it, dead. You and your other faggot friends."

When Jerry got to the door, he turned and left just as the first bell rang. Chris went over to the sink and washed his face. When he looked in the mirror above the sink, he could see that the side of his face was red and had some faint lines on it where the pattern of the tiles had been pressed into his face, luckily it was starting to fade. After cleaning up, he went and picked his bag up. He left the restroom just as the second bell rang.

Mrs. Stephens was just taking roll as he walked in the room. She glanced at him, "Glad you could make it, Mr. Elkins," she said.

"Sorry Ms. Stephens," he said sheepishly.

She pointed her pencil to where he usually sat, "Please take your seat Chris."

He nodded and went to his seat.

She returned to calling the roll while he sat down. Once finished she looked up and smiled at everyone, "Good morning. Today, we're going to start working on charcoal drawing, and since today is a nice day we are going outside, so grab your sketchbooks, and your art boxes. I hope everyone has heeded the class instructions and included charcoal in their art supplies. However, if you have not, I have some charcoal sticks that you can use over there in the shelves, please help yourselves, but remember to get some of your own as soon as you can. Let's go everyone and enjoy the day and let's see what inspires you."

They grabbed their books and art boxes and followed her outside the back door of the classroom. A few had to borrow some of the charcoal sticks from the shelves. They walked to the central area where the performing arts building was located.

When they got to the open area, the teacher turned to her class, "This is a good place to sketch. Look around, there are trees, bushes, buildings, many things to choose from, so find a place to sit and choose your subjects. If you finish with your subject, please choose another and sketch more. I will walk around and give you some tips. Tomorrow we will talk about charcoal sketching techniques and then the rest of the week we will come out here to practice what we have learned. Have fun and enjoy yourself."

Chris walked around until he found a small group of trees, shrubs and flowers with some benches near them. He sat down and opened his sketchbook and art box. He looked at the scene for a few moments before he chose a charcoal stick and started sketching. He had finished the trunk of one tree and started on another, when a shadow passed over him and someone sat down beside him. He looked over and saw that it was Alex, the guy he had seen dancing with another boy at the dance.

Alex gave him a tentative smile, "Mind if I sit down?" he asked.

Chris glanced at him and nodded, "Yeah, uh, I mean, no I don't mind. Have a seat," he replied.

"Thanks," Alex said.

"No prob," Chris answered.

Alex sat down and craned his neck a little to see what Chris was doing before looking at him. "I know we haven't been formally introduced, but I'm Alex Donaldson," he said.

"Chris Elkins," Chris said.

He held out his hand and Chris went to shake Alex's hand, until he realized that he had charcoal all over it. Both boys smiled and shrugged, "Sorry Chris I forgot about that. Anyway nice to meet you."

"You too Alex," Chris answered.

Alex nodded at his drawing, "You're pretty good," he said.

"Thanks," Chris answered.

"How long have you been drawing?" Alex asked.

"For a few years now. I started when I was about ten. My ther…um, I mean I, uh, liked to draw, so my parents got me some drawing supplies and I found that I liked it and I've just kept doing it," Chris replied.

"Well, you're pretty good," Alex said.

"Thanks," Chris said.

Chris blushed a little at the praise as Mrs. Stephens walked up, "Good morning boys. How are we doing?"

Chris and Alex looked up, "Okay, Mrs. Stephens."

"May I see what you've done so far?" she asked.

"Sure," Chris said

Chris turned his sketchbook, so that she could see. She studied it for a moment before looking back at him with a smile, "Very nice start Chris, you draw well. What we talk about in class tomorrow will help you become an even better artist. I can't wait to see what you have done for your assignment," she said before turning to Alex, "Alex, may I see what you have?"

"I guess, I didn't find anything until just now, so I don't have much yet," he said.

She smiled, "Very well then I will leave you guys alone to work on your art." She walked off to another student.

The boys worked for a little while longer before Alex spoke up again, "Chris, could I ask you something?" Alex asked.

"Sure, I guess," Chris shrugged.

"Maybe this isn't my business and if you don't want to answer that's okay, but did something happen to you earlier?" he paused, "You know that made you late to class?" he asked.

Chris looked quickly over to look at Alex, "No, uh, Why? Why would you think that?" he stammered.

"Cuz I noticed that the side of your face and your eyes were a little red when you came in the class and you had kind of a worried look on your face," Alex continued.

Chris put his hand up to his face to cover it. "No…no one did anything. I,I…had just sneezed before I came in the room, that was probably why my eyes were red," he stammered once again.

"Oh okay. Sorry I was just wondering," Alex said.

"That's alright," Chris said.

They went back to their work. Alex glanced at Chris from time to time as they worked. Chris was focused on his drawing and did not notice the glances. Twenty minutes later, Mrs. Stephens gathered everyone up and led them back to class. When class was over he and Alex said goodbye and went their separate ways.

At lunch, he and his friends sat together as usual. Cheryl was there with Bryce and Wendy was sitting next to Travis. Jeannie was not there which was fine with Chris. They talked about the dance. Chris would frown a little and look down whenever he saw Wendy sort of snuggle up to Travis.

A few minutes before lunch was over, Wendy nudged Travis and he looked at her, "Walk with me to my locker Travis?" Wendy said.

He shrugged and smiled, "Sure, I guess," he agreed.

"See you guys," Wendy said as she stood up as Travis did.

"See you Wendy, call me later," said Cheryl.

"Okay Cheryl, see ya," Wendy answered.

They got up from the table and left. Chris watched them get up and leave the table. His eyes followed them as they left the room. Cheryl turned back in time to catch the look on Chris' face before he looked down and started gathering his stuff together. He got up and looked at Bryce and Cheryl. "I'm going to head off too. I gotta get something from my locker for class, see ya," he said.

"Sure bye bud," Bryce said.

Cheryl watched Chris walk away for a few moments, a thoughtful look crossed her face. Soon lunch was over and it was time for class again. In PE, they were playing soccer now. The three friends saw Jerry sitting on some benches along the field.

Bryce elbowed Travis and nodded toward Jerry, "He looks like a raccoon."

Travis looked over at Jerry, "Yeah. I wish I could meet whoever clocked him to thank him. He got what he deserved."

"Forget about him guys," Chris said.

"Well he did hurt you Chris," Travis turned to Chris.

"Allegedly. No one saw him actually trip me," Chris replied.

"Allegedly my ass. You know he did it. He's got some kind of grudge against you just because you are faster and quicker on your feet than him," Bryce said.

"Just forget it, okay?" Chris asked.

"Okay, but if he tries anything, I'll bust his nose all over again," Bryce warned.

"Chill Bryce, he is bigger than any of us, even you," Chris said.

"Maybe, but he ain't that much bigger and no one messes with my friends, so he needs to chill too," Bryce replied.

They were interrupted by the coach gathering everyone together to play. During the period, Chris would get a prickly feeling at the back of his neck and when he glanced in Jerry's direction he would see him glaring at him. Chris just shook his head and tried to ignore him.

Things continued on in the same vein. Alex and Chris became friends and would often sit together in art class. Cheryl and Wendy continued to join them at lunch, Jeannie did not join them. When Chris would see her in the halls, she ignored him and he ignored her. Jerry's nose eventually healed up and he was allowed to dress out again. He continued to be a pain in the ass to Chris. He was always aggressive, but he put a little more into it when there was a chance to trip Chris up. He was successful every once in a while. Sometimes Bryce was nearby and he pushed back a bit. Jerry would normally just give them a malicious grin and then rejoin his team. He was always careful not to be too blatant about it, so that the coaches couldn't call him on it. Chris would just keep on Bryce to forget it and they would continue playing.

At lunch a couple of weeks later, the three friends were having lunch when Alex walked up to their table. With him was another guy with light brown hair and brown eyes. "Hi Chris, do you mind if we join you for lunch?" he asked.

"Naw have a seat. Guys this is Alex, you remember we saw them at the dance?" Chris introduced him to the others.

Bryce and Travis looked at the two boys for a moment and then smiled at Alex, "Sure, yeah, now I remember you guys," Travis said.

"Alex is in art with me, that's how I know him," Chris explained.

"Oh, well have a seat," said Bryce.

"Thanks," Alex smiled as he sat down.

The two boys sat down and Chris made the introductions, "Like I said this is Alex and…dang it, I forgot your b…,your..friend's name, I know you told me and I forgot, sorry."

Alex waved off his apology as Vince spoke, "It's Vince and its okay you can say it, Alex is my boyfriend."

"Okay, sorry, uh, these guys are my two very best friends, Bryce and Travis," Chris said.

"Hi, good to meet you," said Bryce.

"So you guys are…uh together huh?" asked Travis.

"Yep for a little more than a year now," Vince answered.

"Do you get hassled much?" Chris asked.

Alex looked at Vince and they both shrugged, "The usual, but we just try to ignore it. Being a member of the GSA helps and Dave….you know Dave Basem right?" Alex asked..

"Yeah, he has PE with us," Chris replied.

"Oh, cool. Well he's president of the GSA and he's helped us deal with it. He's pretty cool, he and Loren," Alex said.

"What's GSA?" Travis asked.

"Oh, Gay Straight Alliance, it's one of the clubs here on campus. We joined this year. It's nice to be able to meet and talk to others like us. It helps us to not feel so isolated and…" Alex replied.

"Hi guys," They looked up and saw Cheryl, Wendy and Jeannie walking up with their lunches.

Bryce smiled and Cheryl sat down next to him. Wendy went to sit with Travis and Jeannie sat next to Chris. Cheryl gave Bryce a peck on the cheek after she sat down, causing him to blush. Wendy gave Travis' arm a friendly hug and he smiled at her. Jeannie gave Chris an apologetic smile.

Cheryl looked at Alex and Vince, "So who are these guys?" she asked.

"Oh yeah, Cheryl, this is Alex and Vince. Alex is in art class with me and they asked if we minded that they join us for lunch. Guys, this is Cheryl, that's Wendy and this is…Jeannie," introduced Chris.

They exchanged greetings and talked while they ate. Everything was fine until Vince placed his hand on Alex's as they laughed at something he had just said. Chris heard the sharp intake of breath from Jeannie sitting next to him. He looked at her and she had a look on her face like she smelled something bad.

"That's gross," she said with disgust in her voice.

Everybody looked at Jeannie and saw she was looking at the joined hands of the two boys. They quickly let go of each other's hand and blushed.

"Ewww. How could you stand to sit with those people?" she asked them.

Chris' eyes narrowed as he looked at her and he gritted his teeth, "Those people?" he said, "Alex is my friend and so is Vince, if you don't like it… leave!" he glared at her.

"I remember them now, they were at the dance together, and they're fags," she accused.

Cheryl reached across the table, "Jeannie, chill out, they're just two guys," she said.

"Well you can stay here if you want Cheryl, but I'm leaving," she sniffed.

"Good," Chris muttered.

She turned to look at him with anger and shock on her face, "What?" she asked.

Chris looked at her, "I said good, okay. I didn't like what you said at the dance and I don't like what you're saying now, so since you're gonna leave, just leave. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."

Jeannie glared at Chris who was glaring right back at her. They matched glares for a few moments, "Fine. You're probably a fag too or at least a fag lover. I don't know why I wasted my time with you," she said with a slightly raised voice.

She grabbed her bag as she got up and left the table. They watched as she walked away with angry strides. Chris was red faced and glared after her until he felt a hand on the back of his neck giving it a comfortable squeeze. He turned back and saw Travis looking at him. His touch calmed Chris down and made him smile, "Forget about it Chris."

He looked at Travis and smiled, "Forget about what?" he asked his friend. "Thanks, bro," he said.

A faint smile touched Cheryl's lips before she spoke, "I'm sorry about that Chris…Alex, Vince, guys," she said.

"Yeah us too. We didn't mean to mess up your lunch," said Vince.

"You guys didn't do anything wrong, she's the bigot," Chris protested.

"I know, but sorry anyway. We're kinda used to it, sorry to drag you guys into it as well," Cheryl apologized.

"No problem. It's her problem," answered Chris.

"Well I guess we'll get going, see you in class Chris," said Alex.

"Sure see you tomorrow. Don't forget to join us for lunch again," Chris offered.

"You sure?" he asked.

"Yeah…yeah I am, see you in class," Chris nodded.

Alex and Vince gathered their trash and other things and left.

Cheryl looked a little embarrassed, "Sorry about that. I didn't realize who Alex and Vince were. I remember them from the dance now. They came in with those older gay guys," she apologized.

"Yeah Dave and Loren," Chris supplied.

Cheryl nodded "If I'd remembered them, I wouldn't have brought Jeannie over to sit with us. I remember last year when the gay marriage thing was on the news. She was always talking about how she and her family were helping at their church to get the word out so that the fags, her words, couldn't get married. She's Mormon and they are kinda intolerant about gays."

"Yeah, I'd say so, although intolerant isn't the word I'd use. I don't get the big deal with it. So two guys like each other, big deal. It doesn't affect me so why should it bother me. Besides, it leaves more for the rest of us. Owwww!" Bryce rubbed his side and scowled at Cheryl who had just pinched him.

"Okay, so that leaves more for the rest of them," he modified what he said.

She smiled at him, "Better."

They laughed at that. Cheryl noticed the smile on Chris' face. It looked to her like the tension had drained out of his face when he heard what Bryce had just said. She smiled to herself. They finished lunch and went on to class when lunch was over.

The next week on Friday, the art assignments that had been assigned a few weeks ago were due. On that Friday, Chris was a little nervous, because of what his subject was. Mrs. Stephens had wanted them to do the work on larger paper stock or even canvas if they wished. He had gotten a large piece of high quality paper for the picture. So far no one had seen it. He was carrying it in a large portfolio. When he got to the room, he saw that others had done the same thing.

Mrs. Stephens had set the room up with easels all over the room. She was smiling as she called them to order. Once she had taken roll she stepped up to the front of the room and got their attention, "Good morning everyone. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of your work. I hope that you have put a lot of thought and creativity into what you have done. As you can see there are easels all over the room for you to set your artwork on. So for the next few minutes choose an easel and place your picture facing away, so that the picture cannot be seen. What I would like to do is have everyone bring your picture up to the front for us to view. Okay?"

Chris was a little nervous about being the center of attention to show his picture rather than it being more anonymous by it just being displayed in the room.

Mrs. Stephens continued, "Now I'm sure that some of you will be a little nervous about showcasing your art this way, but when you get older and are having your gallery showings…that I expect to be invited to by the way, you will be the center of attention and this is just my way of getting you used to that aspect of art. After you have shown your art, then please move it to another part of the room, but don't put it away. So let's start."

She started calling students names. There were twenty in the class. The pictures that were shown were pictures of homes, outdoor settings, pets and of course people. Most of the pictures were pretty good. Mrs. Stephens made comments on them, all positive, even if it was constructive criticism.

"Alex you're next," she called after checking her list.

Alex brought his picture to the front and turned it around. It was a picture of Vince, sitting by a pool, with a hamburger in one hand and a coke in the other. He was smiling out from the picture. It was a nicely done picture. He was in shorts and a t shirt. Vince was detailed but the picture of the pool area in the background was less pronounced like it was slightly out of focus, making Vince the focus of the picture.

"Very nice Alex. I like the lack of focus in the background, it softens it. Is this a friend or relative?" she asked.

"Vince is a friend of mine," Alex replied.

"You mean your boyfriend."

Alex looked at the girl who had said that, she had a smug look on her face and he smiled as he blushed. "Yeah, he's my boyfriend," Alex admitted.

Mrs. Stephens smiled and placed her hand on his shoulder, "Well good for you Alex. He is good looking. Thank you Alex," she said.

While Alex moved his picture out of the way. She checked her list and looked around the room.

"Chris, your turn," she announced.

Chris nodded and nervously came forward with the picture and easel. He made sure the easel legs were in place and then turned the picture around. The room was silent for a few moments while they all looked at it.

The picture was of the inside of a mostly bare room. There were two figures in it. One of the figures was a young boy who was looking out from behind another taller person. You could only see the torso of the younger boy and he wasn't wearing a shirt. He looked scared and his hands were around the other person's waist hugging the older figure, as he looked around him. The young boy had dark hair and blue eyes. The other person looked like he was probably an older teenager at least from his clothes. He was wearing jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt. His face wasn't very clear as it was mostly in the shadow of the hood. The features that you could see looked like an older teenager, but they were not clear enough to get much detail except for the eyes. They were a bright blue and they looked almost like they were glowing from under the hood. The figure was slightly turned toward the young boy and had one of his arms around the younger boy as if protecting him, but the face was turned toward the front and you could see anger in the set of the eyes.

"Oh…my, Chris. That is very well done. What is the basis of the picture?" she asked him.

"It…it is based on someone I know," he answered.

"Oh. Well…" The bell rang interrupting them.

She stood up, "Well very good everyone. You put good effort in the assignment and I'm proud of you. Well done everyone. Everyone please leave your assignments on the easels. I wish to study them closer so that I can give you a good critique. On Monday I will go over them with you and give you some advice on how to improve. Have a good weekend," she said as they gathered their things up.

Chris and the other students started putting their work away. He felt someone tap his shoulder and he saw Alex behind him, "Nice job Chris. Who was that?" he asked.

"I…I can't tell you, cuz I don't know really," he shrugged.

"But what's it about? You said it was someone you know," he pushed.

"Yeah, well maybe not someone I know so much, but someone I, uh…met once a few years ago," he said.

"Oh, okay. Well it was good. Probably the best in the class. See ya," Alex said.

Chris finished gathering his things and turned to leave. When he turned around, Mrs. Stephens was leaning against her desk and watching him, "Chris, could you stay for a minute," she asked.

He shrugged, put his stuff down and waited for her to speak.

"You are a very good artist. You have a fine eye. I expect to see more good work from you. This picture you said was someone you know. There is a darkness to it. I sense a story behind it," she left the comment hanging waiting for him to elaborate.

"I guess," he answered quietly.

"I have an idea about it, but I expect you don't plan on saying anything about it," she continued.

"N…no. I'd rather not," he said.

"Very well. Once again excellent job Chris. Have a good weekend," she said.

Chris nodded and left the room to join his friends at lunch. Bryce, Travis, Wendy and Cheryl were already seated when he joined them. Alex and Vince joined them soon after he sat down.

"Hi everyone. Did Chris tell you about his picture yet?" Alex asked.

"What picture?" Travis asked.

"Oh I guess not. We had an assignment that was due today. We had to draw something from our life. I drew a picture of Vince," he said.

"Was the picture any good?" Vince asked.

"Well you were in it, so I think so. What did you think Chris?" Alex said with a smile for Vince.

Chris nodded, "Yeah it was good. I liked it," Chris agreed.

"So bro, what's this about your drawing? Is this the one you were working on a few weeks ago?" Travis asked around a mouthful of food.

"Yeah it was that one. It wasn't a big deal, I had this idea for the assignment and it came out good," Chris admitted.

"Good? Naw, more like great. It was like a superhero picture," Alex said.

"You're nuts Alex," Chris said.

Alex shook his head, "No…I'm not. Wait until you see it," he stated emphatically.

Travis cocked an eyebrow as he looked across the table at Chris, "Now I'm curious. What is it about?" he said.

"I'll show it to you when I get it back next week," Chris said.

Travis wanted to say more, but he saw the pleading in Chris' eyes and nodded, "Cool, I can't wait to see it."

They continued with their lunch conversation. A few minutes before the bell rang Alex reached into his pack and took out a stack of 4" X 6" pieces of paper and started handing them to everyone.

"Hey guys, I wanted to hand these out to you about a Christmas dance that the GSA is putting on. You guys are invited if you want to go. Those of us in the club are inviting people who are not members that we know who are accepting of us. You don't have to have a date to go and there is no pressure or anything and if you can't make it that's cool. It's just an invite if you guys want."

They all looked at the papers he handed them for a few moments, the date was the Saturday before Christmas. Travis looked up from the paper and smiled, "It sounds like fun. We'll see if we can go."

Alex and Vince both smiled, "Great, I hope you can. It should be fun," Vince said.

The bell rang and they went off to their classes.

That weekend Chris and his friends were at the arcade. Chris was playing DDR. He had just finished a particularly hard section when he heard a voice behind him, "That's pretty good. You want some competition?"

Chris turned to see the person who spoke. Standing by the side of the arcade game was an older teenager with spiked bleached blond hair and brown eyes smiling at him. He was a little taller than Chris was and a couple of years older. He was dressed in a gray hooded sweat shirt with the hood down and black jeans. Chris smiled back and nodded, "Sure, that'd be cool."

The older teenager smiled and got up on the platform next to Chris. He held out his hand. "Jack," he said as he introduced himself.

Chris shook his hand, "Hi Jack, I'm Chris," he said.

"Nice to meet you Chris," Jack answered.

Jack put some money into the machine for both of them, "I figured that since I was the challenger that I should pay. I'll take it easy on you to start," he said.

"Yeah right," Chris said.

They smiled at each other as they started making their choices and got ready to play. The music and the game started. They followed the pattern easily and finished the sequence. Jack looked at Chris.

"You wanna make it interesting?" he asked.

"Give it your best shot," Chris challenged.

They both smiled and chose expert level. The game started and they were soon moving quickly through the sequences. As the moves got more complicated, Chris had to grab the bar behind him a couple of times to keep his balance as he went through the steps of the sequences. Jack had no trouble and did not need to hold the bar. As it got harder Chris started missing a few steps. Finally the game ended and the scores showed Jack as the winner, but not by much. When they stopped, Chris leaned back against the bar and he was sweating. Jack hardly looked winded.

"Man, you're good Jack. Do you have this at home or something?" he asked.

"Nah, I've just played it a lot. Thanks for the game. You're pretty good yourself. I gotta go, but it's been nice to meet you. I'll see you another time," Jack said.

"Yeah, you too, bye," they shook hands.

Chris smiled as the older boy walked away. When he reached the door, Jack turned and waved. Chris raised his hand and Jack smiled as he put on some sunglasses he took out of the pocket of the sweatshirt. He looked back once more and raised the hood of the sweatshirt as he went outside. Chris stepped down off of the platform as Bryce and Travis joined him. They saw his raised hand.

"Who're you waving at?" Travis asked.

"Some guy named Jack. He just beat me on DDR," Chris answered.

They looked and saw the back of the older boy as he walked out of sight of the window. Chris lifted the bottom of his t shirt to wipe the sweat from his face, "He was really good."

"You know who he is?" Travis asked.

"Nah, never saw him before. He's prolly like a junior or senior. He looked like he was 16 or 17," Chris admitted.

"I'm starved, anyone else hungry?" Bryce asked.

"Yeah me too. Let's go to In and Out," Travis said.

They left the arcade to go get something to eat and then they headed home after eating. That evening at home, Travis came over to Chris' house and he, Chris, Tyler and Jessie played Monopoly for a couple of hours. When they finished, Travis and Chris went to his room to play video games. They did their usual trash talking as they played.

"Chris, could I ask you something?" Travis asked.

"Sure, you know you can," Chris said.

"Well it's about that GSA dance," Travis said.

"What about it?" Chris asked.

"Well, are you going to go?" Travis asked.

"Yeah I think it would be fun?" Chris said.

"Well, I asked because you know, since Jeannie turned out to be like she is, you don't have a date," Travis said.

"So," Chris said.

"But won't you feel weird going to a gay dance without a date, you know, alone." Travis said.

"I'm going with you guys, so I wouldn't call that alone." Chris stated.

"You know what I mean. You won't have anyone to dance with and what if one of the gay guys asks you to dance because you aren't there with a date," Travis asked.

Chris paused a moment before answering. "I didn't think about that." He continued, "But so what. I guess I could tell them that you asked me first."

Travis quickly grabbed a pillow and pelted Chris, causing him to drop his controller as he started laughing before he grabbed the other pillow and soon they were embroiled in a pillow fight. Laughing and smiling at each other the whole time. They collapsed on the bed when they got tired and lay there for a few moments catching their breath. They looked at each other and smiled.

"You're a dick, Chris," Travis said.

Chris giggled a little before he said anything. "Well I'd rather have you for a date than Jeannie anytime," he said.

"Well, young sir, as long as you realize, I don't kiss on the first date," was said with a bad southern belle accent.

"Of course, I know you're not that kind of boy. I have nothing but respect for you. Perhaps the second date then?" Chris said mischievously.

They started giggling again. Chris rolled up on his side and looked at Travis as they laughed together. Chris grabbed Travis' hand and held it to his heart and pretended to swoon as he rolled onto his back putting his hand over his eyes, "Ah, think suh, Ah'm gettin' the vapors. You make me swoon."

That started another round of giggles. Chris felt Travis move his hand entwining their fingers together and leaving it resting on Chris' chest as they calmed down. Once they caught their breath, Chris looked at Travis as he rolled up on his side, their hands still clasped together. They smiled at each other in silence for a few moments.

"I'm glad we're neighbors Chris. We've had a fun life so far," Travis said.

"Yeah I agree. It has been a great fourteen years with you as a neighbor. Lucky it was you, not someone like Jerry the asshole," he said with disgust.

"Yeah. So you're sure you don't mind going without a date to the dance?" Travis asked.

"I'll be with you guys, so I won't be alone. I'll be with my best friends and that's all I need. Besides, I'll have four people to dance with," Chris stated. "Four?" Travis asked.

"Yeah, Cheryl, Wendy, Bryce and you," Chris said.

"Dickhead. Maybe I don't want to dance with you. I mean that Alex guy is pretty cute, don't you think. When you look as good as me, I expect my dance card to be full with all the good looking guys asking me to dance. You will have to get an appointment. Have your people call my people and I'll see what I can do," Travis said.

"Fuck you," Chris said.

"Now now, you know I'm not that kind of boy," Travis answered back.

They giggled some more. Chris felt the weight of the joined hands resting on his chest. There was a call from downstairs, "Travis, your mom called to tell you to come home."

Travis yelled back, "Kay Ms. Hale."

Travis looked over at Chris and then giving their joined hands a squeeze he started to get up. They slowly let their hands drop and got up from the bed.

Chris followed him to the door of the bedroom.

Travis turned for a minute and looked like he was going to say something but he didn't, instead he stepped forward and gave Chris a quick hug, "Thanks again for being my best friend," he said.

"Same to you," Chris' heart beat faster as he returned the hug.

Travis smiled when he stepped back, "See ya tomorrow," he said.

Chris nodded, "Uh, yeah, see you."

Travis hurried down the stairs and Chris turned to clean up the room with a smile on his face, still able to feel Travis' arms around him.

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