Biology, my first class, was great. Well, for me it was; we were dissecting starfish today. I had to do all the cutting because Mark turned green and started to gag. He was not kidding that first day, when he told me that he wasn't good with this stuff. In a very stereotypical way, the guys were all laughing and having a great time, Mark excluded, and the girls were making disgusted sounds. It makes me wonder what is going to happen when we move on to frogs, and then in Biology II when we do the pig fetus. In all reality, we don't even have to dissect anything anymore with all the high-end virtual models available - we could use them instead. Nevertheless, I still like the hands-on method myself. Mark's weak stomach works in my favor. I do the lab work; he writes the reports. I hate writing - love to read, hate to write.
The class ends all too soon for me, and I'm off to English. Unfortunately, I have it with Mrs. Peacock. She has assigned us to do a report on an influential person. I am writing mine on Harvey Milk. Lucky for me she did not ask what the subject was going to be, or else I would have gotten an ear full from her. Lucky for me, I won't have her next term. After a torturous 45 minutes with the bitch, I move on to math. I have class with Ms. Starkweather - a good thing to be sure. The first term is all concept stuff; next term we move on to skills and practicality. These two classes always seem to move too slowly for me. Not because of the subjects, although I don't like writing, but because Mark is not in these classes with me. We're going over Quadratic Equations today. So maybe I jumped the gun when I said it wasn't the subject. What I should have said was, it is not Ms. Starkweather's fault. Although, I do feel free to blame Mrs. Peacock. Finally the bell rings just as I start to consider going to sleep. Thank God, Angela and Mark are good at math; they can help me later.
As I make my way to lunch, I can't help but wonder how Derrek's day has gone so far. He is our school's only openly gay student at present; we had one a few years ago, but none now. After talking it over with the family, Derrek decided to just be out and deal with whatever may come. I have to admire him for it. It takes a lot of guts to walk the halls of high school as an openly gay teen. It makes me wonder if I would have the ability to come out and still act normally. He joined the swim team even though the season is all but over. Some of the guys started to give him a hard time about being gay. The swimming coach shit a brick when he found out. He made it very clear that if anyone gives a member of the team a hard time for anything other than poor performance, they would be off the team. I was really shocked to see that Tim and Rich had also stood up for him. Today is his first day in school with us, even if he has been going to practice since Thursday of last week.
"Whatcha thinking about, Alex?." Mark asks once we get to the lunch room. I must have been zoning out on the way over here.
"About Derrek: him being out, the swim team, and hoping he's OK. I'm thinking about us coming out, too. What do you think about that?"
"Maybe after the holidays, but not 'til my mom is out of the picture."
We are in line to get food now, so we stop talking. I didn't bring anything today because it's pizza day. I figured the school could not fuck up something they did not make themselves. After we leave the line we start talking again.
"Do you really not care if you never see your mom again?" I ask.
"She killed my dad! Of course I never want to see her again." Mark says. I stop dead in my tracks.
"What do you mean 'she killed your dad'? You never told me that." He seems to cringe a little.
"I wasn't supposed to tell you that." He says back to me.
He moves forward and hurries to the table, sits down and starts talking to the others. I see Derrek come over and wave him over to our table.
"So how is your day going so far?" I ask.
"Not so bad. I've been getting a few weird glances, but, I think it's going better than we hoped." Derrek tells me.
"How're the teachers bein'?"
"For the most part they've been treating me normally. Ms. Starkweather and Mr. Hilton have been overly nice. They both offered to let me talk to them if I ever needed any help. They seem to be the most supportive of all the teachers. I'm soo glad I didn't get Peacock. Every time I pass her I get glared at. I passed Coach O'Neal in the hall, and he acted the same way as Ms. Starkweather and Mr. Hilton."
Little does he know that the reason they were all so supportive is because they're all gay. The three of them were the ones that Ms. Barkley said she would talk to. They all came up to me last Friday and told me about themselves. It seems that Mr. Hilton and Coach O'Neal are partners; as are Ms. Starkweather and Ms. Barkley. This explains why Mrs. Peacock bad mouths them all the time. I also found out that Coach Waltz, the swimming coach and Athletic Director, has a gay brother. That is probably why he flipped out when he heard of the team giving Derrek a hard time.
"Kewl, I'm glad you're doing well, and if I were you, I would avoid Mrs. Peacock."
Now that I stop to think about it; except for a few people, this town and school seem to be a large gay magnet. Gay people and their families are attracted to this place. I wonder how much that has to do with my dad's company, as well as the school's policies. They go out of the way to help out their gay workers. Nevertheless, things have become harder for the gay community around here ever since that new church went up. They brought with them their hate-filled message, and now we have tensions where there never used to be. Picketers and Lobbyists have been trying to get the school's policies changed and they have been picketing in front of Mt. Olympus. That's not going to do them a lot of good.
I see Matt has joined us; I told him before lunch to sit next to Derrek, so he does. They seem to get along well now: if only I could figure out how to get them out on a date. The rest of the lunchtime is spent eating, talking about the day, and the break coming up. We decide to have a Thanksgiving party/dinner on the 28th, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I notice that the whole time during lunch, Mark is avoiding talking to me or making eye contact. I'm sure it is because of what he let slip. The bell rings, telling us lunch is over.
Mark and I make our way to Ancient World History. As we are walking, I try to talk to him.
"I want to talk about what you said before lunch." I say.
"No." Mark replies as he looks away from me.
"Why not? I think that is something that we should talk about."
"No. It's not, Alex. Once she is out of my life, I will talk to you about it; for now - drop it, please."
"Fine, but once things calm down, we will be talking about it." We stay silent for the rest of the way to class.
We walk in just as the bell rings and we take our seats. We made no attempt to talk during class. Our next class is Graphic Design; which, in itself, is not a bad class; but I'm only taking it to get to Web design. This is one of my easy A classes. So that class breezes by. Then there is Spanish. I took all the Spanish classes in middle school as well. This is another class I think is a waste of time. I wish there was a placement test for high school classes. I would have tested out of Spanish I & II and most likely III as well. Dad has had us all tutored in Spanish, French, and German since we were six. Next term, Angela and I are taking Latin just so we can learn a new language. My sister can speak Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Italian and all of them almost fluently. Did I ever mention she is an over-achiever? We have this class with her. She does not even bother to pretend to pay attention. The teacher does not pretend to care either. Mr. Flores learned the first quarter that we were above this level of Spanish, and he also learned that Angela was better then he is at speaking Spanish. So a pattern developed: Angela would ignore everything he said and he in turn would pretend that she was not there. I, at least, pretend to pay attention. Mark struggles with foreign languages, unless it is computer code, so I help him in Spanish and he helps me in math. Angela helps us both in writing. It is a good system. Between us, Angela has definitely got a larger portion of the brains. As Mr. Flores drones on about conjugations, I nearly fall asleep. Luckily for me Mark kicks my foot and I wake back up. I looked over at Angela, and she is drawing in her art book. Usually she works on homework instead of drawing.
The bell rings and we head over to gym class. We are learning badminton for the next 2 weeks. It's not a bad sport, but I think that some of my peers like to make the birdie a projectile weapon more, rather than playing the game. After we're done, we all shower. This school learned that if they expected the students to take showers after the PE classes, that then they needed to put gym last on our schedules, or have a study hall right after to allow time to shower. For us it worked out, because we have practice right after school. Gym is the one class that my whole family and all my friends have together; well minus the twins. Most of us play a sport; so with the fall sports ending, or already ended, not many of us have to practice now any more. Matt and Christian have basketball practice. Their first game is next month. So they head back out to the gym. Derrek, Tim, Rich, and I head to the pool; I will be just be sitting in the bleachers again. John, Mark, Cody, and Dylan no longer have practice, since the football season is over for high school. So they head home after showering. Angela heads off to student council.
Practice goes well. Everyone seems to have gotten over the fact that they have an openly gay team mate now. The shit Derrek got must just have been from shock. Half-way through practice, Angela comes in and joins Anthony and I in the stands. I feel kind of bad for Anthony; he is stuck following me around all the time. Angela's meetings never last as long as the practices. When the team is sent to the shower I follow them in. I can see that they're still acting weird around Derrek in the shower. That is kind of funny to watch. A few of them look confused, like they are not sure which side they're willing to sacrifice to Derrek's gaze.
As we're walking out of the school I start talking to Derrek.
"Are you willing to go on a blind double date with me and Mark tomorrow?" I ask him.
"That depends and who with and where." He asks.
"Well, if I told you who - then it would not be a blind date, now, would it? Don't worry, you will like this guy. As for where, I was thinking of Neptune. Our family has a permanently reserved table there. Most of the staff there knows us as well, so we should get good service. If we go to any other place, they will just see a bunch of kids and treat us like shit." I respond. I hate that people always judge us on our age without taking the time to watch and listen.
"OK. I'll go, but if this goes bad or if my date turns out to be an ass, I'm blaming you Alex." I just grinned at him. I can't wait to see his face when his date turns out to be Matt. I hope they get along.
"No problem, Derrek, I can promise you he is not an ass, but I don't know if it will go well. It should - but you never know." He gets into his car, and I get in with Angela and Anthony, then we head home. On the way home I called Matt, and to make tentative plans for the date.
When we got home, no-one was around.
"CLAIR, where are John, Derrek, Scott, Jacob, and my dad?"
"John, Derrek, Scott, and Jacob are in the rainforest. Isaac has privacy enabled. Last known location was 2nd floor."
"Thank you CLAIR." Angela and I head down to the Gardens while Anthony heads back out. He said earlier that he has a date tonight. When I get down to the Climate Controlled Rainforest Biome, I see Mark, Shawn, and Liam there as well. They're all looking down at the indoor stream and waterfall. I go creep up behind Mark, wrap my arms around his hips and hug him to me. I give him a little kiss on the cheek.
"Hey babe, whatcha doing here? Not that I'm complaining."
"We're staying with Uncle Liam 'til Thanksgiving." He says with clear excitement in his voice. "He's showing us the way young men should be." At that he starts laughing.
"So I have to spend tonight, and tomorrow night, and the next with you?" I try to sound put out but fail miserably. I start smiling like a drunken fool.
"Yup, you're stuck with me. I wonder what we'll do. I'll be so bored," he says. I turn him around and kiss him, not caring that most of my family and his are watching us.
"This is so kewl! Now I don't have to come up with a cover story for our date tomorrow."
"What date?" He asks.
"The double date we have with Derrek's mystery man."
"You mean Ma-," I elbow him in the ribs before he can give it all away.
"Quiet, don't ruin the surprise."
"Mark, do you know who we're going out with tomorrow?" Derrek asks.
"No. I have no clue. Why would you think that?" He tries to sound natural and fails.
"Yeah, like I believe that," Derrek snorts back.
"Yeah, he does but my completely clueless boyfriend is not going to say anything at all." I say. I get elbowed in the side.
"That reminds me; I need you to drive us there since you're the only one that has a full license." I say to Derrek.
"Sure no problem. Should we take my car?"
"If you don't mind; otherwise we can use one of Dad's cars; or even better, we can take a limo and get a driver, but that might make your date feel out of place. It's bad enough we're going to the Platinum Section of Neptune. Oh yeah, by the way, dress up."
"That's an expensive place and section to eat in Alex, how can we afford that? I don't want Isaac paying for my dates too."
"Don't worry about it. I've got the dinner covered." By covered, I meant that everything is on the house. The benefits of being the owner's son. Not that I'm telling Derrek that until Dad lets him in on the secret. Which will probably be soon!
"Household page from George." CLAIR announces.
"Dinner will be ready in one hour." I hear George on the house Intercom.
"George, can we have it in the Rainforest atrium tonight?"
"I don't see why not Alex. I will ask your Father and make sure it is alright."
"Thanks George." I don't bother to ask the others; I know they love to eat in the atrium as much as I do.
While we are were walking through the gardens I start to think about everything, idly reflecting on my life. I wish things could just be normal. All I want is to have a calm and peaceful life with the people I love and care for. Instead, I have a crazed teen trying to kill me, assuming he's still alive; a nut case girl who is bent on making my life miserable; a guard that follows me around like a shadow; a teacher that would rather see me burned at the stake than teach me; and last but not least, a woman who; if she knew what is happening between me and her son, would kill me and strap the guy I love to a chair for electroshock treatment. I have been putting on this brave and strong face for everyone, but sometimes I think I'm about to break down. I still haven't come to terms with being gay; even if I pretend to have it all together. The truth is, that if not for the fact that I don't want to be without Mark, I would probably still be denying who and what I am. Hell, I probably would have fucked Nicole just to prove to myself that I'm not gay. Knowing her I would either have some a STD, or be a father by now. That idea makes me cringe; Mark must have felt my reaction. Cause he pulls me into him, holding me around the waist. I love the fact that we can be so open with my family and part of Mark's. It feels good not to have to hide who we are.
We arrive in the atrium and sit down at one of the tables. We still have about 15 minutes until dinner is ready.
"So, you all know the story behind my being here. I was wondering if any of you would be willing to share your story with me." Derrek says once we're all seated.
"Well, Dad is the only one that knows 100 percent of each of our backgrounds. We were all very young when we came here, I was the oldest at 5 and I am the only one that still remembers life with my birth family, but we know enough to tell you the basics." John says.
"So who wants to go first" Derrek asks. No one makes a move to start, so I do.
"I will then, since no one else seems to want to. Angela and I were adopted as babies, at the age of 6 months. Our birth mother was a drug addict and a prostitute. She left us at her home alone when she went out to get drugs or sell herself. No one knows who our father is. As far as we know, he was just one of her customers. From what the police were able to figure out, she went out one night and overdosed on Heroin. A neighbor heard us crying and after a few hours called the police. They found our mother dead a few blocks away. We were brought here by Nancy and were adopted by our Dad that week. Our story is probably the least traumatic one of all of them." This is the first time Mark and Shawn have heard my story of how I was adopted. Mark is looking at me with sad eyes and holds me a little closer to comfort me.
"Well, I'll go next." John says. "I was 5 when I was brought here by Nancy also. I was removed from my home after my father almost beat me to death with his belt buckle. He was a drunk and would beat me and my mother just about every day. She ran away and disappeared. That was the night he nearly killed me. I still have the scars on my back from his belt buckle. A UPS driver was delivering a package nearby when he saw me lying on the floor bleeding; he called 911 and the rest is history. I was placed here as a foster child. Dad adopted me that year." As hard as it is to listen to John's tale, the twins' is probably the hardest. Besides maybe Derrek's.
"Scott, Jake did do you want to tell your story or did do you want one of us to tell it for you?" John asks them. He is always worried that remembering this part of their lives will make them upset or something.
"We can tell it. It's OK." They say said in unison.
"We were three when Nancy rescued us from our home." Jake says.
"Our older brother, Nick, was 16 when he came out to our mother and father." Scoot says.
"We only know this much because of the statement the police got from our mother." Jake continues. "From what we know our father acted real calm. He got up hugged Nick then went into his room and brought back a gun. He shot Nick in front of us all."
"I still remember what Nick said just before he died. He asked 'Why Dad?' Our father said. 'My son is already dead, all that is left is an evil creature. I am freeing your spirit so your soul can be at rest.' After that, I remember our mother screaming and police running around the house." Scott says.
"Our father was sent to jail where he was killed in a riot. Our mother tried to get us back, but Dad fought it and in the end was able to adopt us both. We were 5 when we were adopted. It would have been sooner, but our mother tried to get in the way." Jake says.
"If we would have gone back to live with our birth mother we probably would have ended up dead too. She thought that what our father did was the right thing." Scoot finishes off.
"Not one of us came from good homes. We all consider ourselves extremely lucky that we have ended up were we did. That is why the "spoiled rich brat" comments bother us so much. I know I act like a little princess sometimes. But I am extremely grateful for what I have. I don't mean the money either. Dad is the best parent anyone could ask for. We could be all living in cardboard boxes, and he would think it was the greatest thing in the world as long as we were together, happy, and healthy. If we asked him to, he would sell everything he owns and give everything away, just to make us happy. I don't think he could love us anymore if we were his own flesh and blood," Angela comments.
"Wow, I had no idea that all of us came from messed up homes. It helps me put my life in perspective, that's for sure. At least I know I'm not alone in the baggage department." Derrek finally says after everyone is quiet. I realize that Mark and Shawn stay quiet. I know that after what Mark let slip, that they are probably thinking they fit right in with the rest of us.
"You are absolutely right that I could never love you all more if you were my own flesh and blood. Also, you're right that I would give everything up if that is what it takes to make you all happy. Objects are just things and hold no real value. You all are my real treasures. I can live without a single thing to my name, but I would die of heartache if I lost you guys." We all jump 10 feet in the air when Dad starts talking. It seems no-one had noticed that he was there. "Enough of the depressing memories. Let's eat." I see that Uncle Charles is with him.
"Are Aunt Ella and Rex eating with us too?" I ask. I know that they're not really related to Dad, but they are very close family friends so we all just call them Aunt and Uncle.
"Yes, they should be here soon. They seem to be running late. I was in a meeting with your Dad, that's why I was already here." Charles says. For some reason he stammers of over the meeting part, and blushes and quickly glances at my dad. I don't think anyone else caught it; nor do I think he noticed that I did.
A few minutes later Ella and Rex, Ella's and Charles's 13 year old son, come in followed by Evan, George, and Dolores who are carrying the food. We all eat and I tell dad my plans for tomorrow night. He agrees that the limo might be a bit overkill but thinks that the date idea is a good thing. He also says that because we will be at Neptune, I don't have to take Anthony with me. Thank God, I think I would have died of embarrassment if I had to have my guard with me on a date. Then it hits me that this is not just a setup to get Derrek and Matt together; it is Mark's and my first date outside of the house and hospital. How could I have been so forgetful? I will have to make this up to Mark some how.
After dinner, the adults head off to the parlor and the rest of us head to our rooms. I found out that Ella, Charles, and Rex are were all staying the night. Rex sort of has his own room for when he stays over. It's still a guest room but it is more personalized then the others. I also notice that Shawn is sleeping with Jacob instead of in a guest room. No one says anything about it.
Once Mark and I are were in our room, I call Matt and to confirm the plans. I tell him to dress up and meet us at Neptune. Then I talk to Mark.
"I am so sorry; I totally forgot that this is our first real date too. I was so fixated on planning this for Derrek and Matt that I forgot about us." I say to him. He gets a dopey look on his face, then smiles.
"The fact that you are thinking about it now is enough." He leans in and kisses me. "I promise that once everything is set with my mom I will come clean about what I let slip today. I know you have been worrying about it. So don't worry; it's under control."
"OK, I will trust you. But please, don't let her take you away from me. You are the only thing holding me in one piece right now. I love you too much to lose you. I can't think of what it would be like if you were not around. When I try to think about it, I shudder at the idea. It makes me sick and light headed." He leans in and kisses me again. It's not a horny kiss but one filled with all the love he has. I can feel my tension melt away as it is replaced by contentment. Just having him here with me in my arms is enough to chase the shadows away for one more night. I swear, I will kill his mother and anyone else that comes between us. That idea disturbs me: the fact that I am willing to go that far worries me more then than all the rest of my problems put together.
I pulled away and tell him that we need to get some homework done before bed. We spent the next 3 hours working and then watched a little T.V. before going to sleep. His head was resting on my chest with my arms around him. For the first time in a few days, I sleep well without waking up in a cold sweat.