Castle Roland

Trials and Tribulations

by Billy


Chapter 9

Published: 8 Apr 14

Trials and Tribulations

By Billy

His Knight

"Uh, Roger, umm, this isn't what it looks like. Uh…" I managed to stutter out, looking like a bank robber with money falling out of his money stuffed pockets and asking the cop that stopped him, 'What money?' I blushed furiously, while I tried to think of a quick cover story.

"Okay, Andy," began Roger, as he raised his eye brows, and leaned against the door frame. "What doesn't it look like to me?" Roger simply folded his arms across his chest, and stood, watching us on the bed.

"Uh, wait." I was confused by Roger's comment and attitude. I looked at him, while my stomach did flip flops. "What did you just ask me?" As much as I loved Roger, there was no way I was going to get trapped into something, saying the wrong thing. I mean, I didn't want to admit to something I wasn't even asked about. God, I'm confused. I sat there, with my mouth open, trying to figure out exactly what to say.

Before I could make a bigger fool of myself, a grin split Roger's face from ear to ear. I swear to God, he just fell rolling on the floor, tears streaming from his eyes, while he laughed his ass off at us. Now, I know that when people type ROFLMAO, it really is possible. Who knew?

I looked at Joey; he looked at me, then back at Roger, and shrugged. Here was my best friend, curled up laughing like a hyena, tears streaming from his eyes. He was gasping for breath. I looked at Roger as I got up off the bed, and walked over to where he lay, gasping, on the floor.

"Uh, Roger, what's up bud?" I wasn't as concerned as I had been, because, I felt that if this was the reaction I was going to get from Roger, then it was a good thing, or at least, I hoped it was.

It took a while for Roger to regain control of himself. He finally leaned back against the door frame, and pulled his legs beneath him, Indian style. Then he sat looking back and forth between Joey and me, still chuckling. His face was as red as Rudolph's nose, that flying reindeer of Santa's.

"Roger?" I was concerned, and trying to get something, anything, out of him.

"Oh my God," Roger gasped, looking back and forth between us. "I have never seen ANYONE look like you two did when you realized I was here." He paused, and patted the floor beside him. So, I sat down along beside him. Looking him in the face, I raised a questioning eyebrow at him, as Joey got up and joined us on the floor.

"This morning, when dad called mom, he told us some stuff about Joey's Dad and why he needed somewhere to stay." He quickly added, "I mean live. Going back over the last few days in my head," Roger paused, and looked at me, before he continued, "I remember how much you kept talking about Joey. You also seemed overly concerned about him not being at school. Especially, considering you had just met him the day before." The joking slowly subsided as Roger's voice got serious. I moved nervously, sitting beside him.

Roger took a good look at Joey before he spoke again. "When Andy was cleaning you up that day JT hit you, I noticed the way you were looking at him. You were looking at him the same way Tonya Marshall looks at me, when she doesn't know I'm watching. That look only got magnified when Andy told me you were his friend." Joey nodded, and blushed. I tried not to smile as I realized I hadn't been the only one to be feeling something that day. My attention focused on Roger, though, when he turned to look at me again.

"Then when you were on the phone with your Dad's secretary this morning, you had that same look while you were talking to Margie. Also, when we were moving stuff around in Joey's room, both of you were stealing looks at the other." There was a pause as Roger looked at me. It was one of those looks best friends have when they have to tell you something they don't really want to. If it had been anyone else, I probably would have wanted to run, but instead I wanted to know what Roger knew. "Andy, I've known you my whole life. Not once have you ever had a crush on any girl. Never have you said to me, 'wow, so and so is hot.' There isn't one poster in that box over there, or on your wall, that has a single girl on them." Roger began pointing at the box of posters and then motioning around the room at the walls.

"I'm kinda sorry I scared you both, but not totally." Sighing, he looked down at the floor. "Andy, I'm really hurt you didn't trust me enough to be honest with me. Joey, I can understand, but not you." His face showed the hurt and then he frowned. "Have I ever given you a reason to think I would care if you were gay or not?" His voice held the pain. There was no denying that I had hurt him, and I really never have kept anything from him before. Even when I was in the depths of depression, he was my safe harbor, my best friend; no matter what was going on around me.

"Roger, I'm sorry." I had a hard time looking him in the eyes. I felt bad for trying to hide this from him, but I also felt exposed. Finally, I looked at him, trying to make him understand, and hoped he would forgive me. "I really am. But, you also have to remember, I've only had to confront it the last couple of days. Until I met Joey, there was no way of knowing for sure. Joey is the first boy I've ever had these feelings for." My throat felt dry, and my hands were sweaty, but one look at Joey, and I knew I could finally tell Roger everything. "But, to be totally honest with you, I don't know when I would have told you. I was, and still am, scared. You saw what happened to Joey at school, before anyone even knew the truth. You know how this town is." I paused, and looked Roger square in the eyes, "But, you know as well as I do, if we're both honest about it, I would have told you at some point."

"Fine, you're right." I relaxed a bit as I realized my best friend was still my friend. "This town sucks about this type of stuff. You're also right in that I know deep down, you would have told me, given the chance." He paused, and with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, "But, my God, it was awesome catching you two!"

Both Joey and I hit his shoulders at the same time.

"Ouch" he cried with a chuckle. I leaned over and pulled him into a hug.

"I love you, bro." I told him with tears in my eyes realizing that Roger accepted me and Joey for who we were.

"So, are you two like an item or something?" Roger watched as I slowly sat back down after the hug. He tilted his head and waited for me to answer him.

I looked over at Joey, and he nodded. "Yeah, I asked him to be my boyfriend before you scared the shit out of us, and he said yes." I paused, and looked at Roger, "Roger, we have to keep this quiet, for now anyway. Joey and I have agreed not to tell anyone we don't both agree on. So, will you please let us decide who and when?"

"Sure, no problem there. Who knows you guys are gay and about the two of you?"

Leave it to Roger to ask the hard questions right away. I looked at Joey, who just nodded, letting me field the question. I thought about it a moment before I answered.

"My dad knows, but I didn't actually confirm it to him, at least not in so many words. I guess from what you said, your family knows Joey is gay. But only you know for sure we're boyfriends."

"Well, since I'm the first and only one so far, I guess it's my job to keep you both on your toes and safe. Seeing how Joey is my new little brother," Roger playfully smacked Joey's shoulder, before turning to look at me, "my best friend just became my future brother-in-law. But guys, I really don't wanna see any sex stuff between you two." Roger made a face and shook his head. "A little kissing I think I can handle, however, I think double dating is probably out of the question for now, too." He smiled and winked at me. Joey sat watching us. Up till now there had been worry and fear all over his face, but I could almost watch the tension melt from his body as he looked at Roger.

Joey smiled and spoke for the first time since Roger caught us, "Roger, you're like the brother I always wanted. I can't believe you're saying all this." Pausing, and with a hopeful look, he asked, "Do you really mean it?"

"You bet your ass I do. I saw what your old man did to you." Roger looked sympathetically at Joey, "No one deserves that crap short of murder." Then looking deadly serious, "As for JT, if he gives you anymore trouble, I'll be right there with you and Andy." He reached out his right hand between us, I placed my right hand on top of Roger's, and Joey placed his on top of mine. Then Roger said, "One for all," then all three of us said at the same time, "and all for one!"

Uncle Steve's loud truck horn broke up our little brotherhood moment. Roger laughed and Joey smiled. It was nice to know we had Roger to count on. As we got up to head over to Joey's old house, I walked over and grabbed the box of posters. Handing the box to Joey, I followed them downstairs

"Joey, you can put this in your room while I lock up the house. Hey Roger, tell Uncle Steve I'll be right there."

They took off and I went about locking the back door, closing the main door, and locking up the front door. By the time I was done, they were waiting on me. Roger was smiling at me as I rounded the front of the truck, because he had taken the front passage seat, leaving Joey and me in the back. I smiled at Joey as I climbed in and fastened my seatbelt. I'm not sure why we buckled up since we were just going down the street, but it was second nature to us and safety first.

"You boys ready?" Uncle Steve looked around to make sure we were set before starting up the truck. "Alright, let's get this over with." Uncle Steve backed out of the driveway.

I put my hand over in the middle of the back seat with my palm up and looked up at Joey. He smiled as he reached over and took my hand in his. I squeezed it reassuringly. I knew this wasn't going to be easy on him, and I wanted to show all the support I could.

When I glanced back towards the front, I noticed Uncle Steve looking at me in the rear view mirror. I blushed. Damn it, I blushed like a fool every time I get caught with Joey. What's up with that? I never used to blush. Thankfully, I was saved by the fact we had arrived at Joey's house.

When we got there, I noticed Deputy Bob and Mr. Bennett were waiting for us. After we got out and were heading towards the door, Mr. Bennett came over to Joey and asked, "Joey, do you have a key for the house?"

"Yes sir, I do." Joey nodded, pulling out a key to show him.

"Great." Mr. Bennett paused, putting a hand on Joey's shoulder, "Son, you take your time. There's no reason to rush. No one will be interrupting you as you get your things. Let me explain to you what the court order says." He smiled, trying to put Joey at ease. "Anything that was bought for you, or was given to you, as a gift, is yours; and you may take them with you. That includes all your school books and school supplies, all your clothes, bike, any electronic devices and accessories, like a DVD player, music player, or a watch for that matter, and anything else bought for you or given to you as a gift. If you aren't sure about something, I'm here to answer any of your questions." Mr. Bennett paused and looked Joey in the eyes. "Do you have any questions so far?"

"No Sir. I really don't have that much anyway, mostly clothes and even that isn't much." Joey's voice was soft, but suddenly he looked up smiling. "I do have a bike though. It's out in the shed."

"Okay boys, let's get started." Uncle Steve seemed like he was ready to get this show on the road. Then he reached over and ruffled Joey's hair, "Why don't you go ahead and unlock the house, then you guys can get started in your bedroom. After that, we can work our way out from there?"

We nodded and took off for the front door.

Uncle Steve and Mr. Bennett stopped in the yard to talk, but Deputy Bob came with us. After Joey opened the front door, he started to take his shoes off, but Bob stopped him, telling us we didn't really have time to do that every trip in and out of the house. Listening to him explain, I could understand, I mean, he was a deputy and this was just part of his job today. I was just grateful it was someone Joey had seen before.

The first thing I noticed was all the religious stuff on the walls, crosses and pictures mostly. As I looked around the living room, something seemed to be missing. I knew Joey's dad was a preacher, there was no surprise with what was there, but as I looked around, I knew something was missing; however, I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was. I shook it off and followed Joey and Roger down the hallway to Joey's bedroom.

"This is it." Joey walked into his room and over to his closet. He told the truth about his situation, especially when it came to clothes. There were four sets of clothes hanging in his closet, along with a suit. He gathered them all together taking the hangers off the crossbar, laying his clothes on his bed. His whole wardrobe would fit into the school bag of most little kids. Joey stood there looking miserable.

"I'll take those on out to the truck for you as you go through your drawers. Do you have something like a bag, box, or suitcase to put your underwear, shirts, and socks in?" I was feeling a little nervous for Joey, because he was looking embarrassed again. I just didn't want him feeling like this was his fault. I was trying hard to get him to think about what we were doing and not how things looked.

Joey nodded and started getting the rest of his stuff together as I headed out to the truck. On my way out, I noticed the pictures lining the hallway walls. There were a lot of pictures of different churches, with I guess, church members standing out in front of them and religious scenes, like Jesus on the cross and Mary holding Jesus as a baby. I hurried past them, wanting to get back to Joey as quickly as possible.

When I got to the truck, I carefully laid Joey's clothes on the back seat. I stood there, just staring at what little Joey owned. But more than that, I had an itch I couldn't scratch. Something was still nagging at me and was starting to bug the crap out of me.

On my way back in, I met Roger coming out with a single small bag containing all of Joey's underwear and socks.

"Andy, he really doesn't have much." Roger looking sadly at the bag he was carrying.

"You're right; I'm going to talk to your dad about it. Could you help Joey finish up?" I asked feeling frustrated.

"No problem, it won't take us but a couple more minutes." Roger stood, shaking his head, looking as frustrated as I felt. "Andy, I really feel sorry for Joey." He paused, trying to find the words to express what he was feeling. I could see his face turn red, but whether it was from anger or embarrassment, I wasn't sure. "When we're done inside, I'll go out to the shed with him to get his bike and we can put it in the bed of the truck." Roger's voice held the sadness he was feeling about Joey. I was grateful to know I wasn't the only one upset by how my boyfriend had been living.

I put a hand on his shoulder and looked him in the eye. "Thanks, Roger." He nodded and headed on to the truck.

I walked over to Uncle Steve and Mr. Bennett. "Uncle Steve, can I talk to you for a minute in private?"

"Sure, Andy," Uncle Steve put an arm around my shoulder, and led me towards the side of the house, "what's on your mind son?" Uncle Steve faced me and waited for me to let him know what had me so worried.

"Uncle Steve, did dad say when he would be home?" I asked, trying to give myself time. I wasn't sure how I was going to ask the question that was really on my mind.

"He talked like he would be home after he took care of some other business unrelated to Joey, maybe a couple of hours. Why do you ask?" Uncle Steve knew very well. He was waiting for me to ask him the real question. I shook my head. He was as hard to hide things from as dad was.

"Uncle Steve, Joey doesn't have anything. I don't mean he doesn't have big and fancy stuff, I mean he only has five sets of clothes. And those…" I paused, chocking back the anger building inside of me. "Uncle Steve, I'm going to call Dad and tell him I plan on calling Mr. Day to release some funds to me so I can buy Joey everything he should have. But, we'll need a ride. Can you take Joey and me," I couldn't help but laugh at what I was fixing to ask him, "shopping?"

He chuckled, knowing how much I hated shopping. "Sure Andy, I'd be glad too. Alice and I had planned on it anyway. If your dad agrees, you can buy Joey some clothes. Alice and I had already planned on taking Joey to Wal-Mart this evening to look for a computer desk and maybe a laptop."

I called Dad, and I had to do some fast talking, to explain why I wanted to help Joey without coming out and saying that he was my boyfriend. But Dad agreed to allow me to call Mr. Day, my fund manager, that's not really his title, but it works for me, to transfer an extra five thousand to my debit card account at the local bank. By the time I got finished with my phone calls, everyone was ready to head home.

As much as I hated shopping, (especially for clothes), there was only one place we could go for it all …the mall. Joey couldn't keep going to school with the same five outfits, especially knowing that one of them was totally ruined with the blood from his beating. Hell, I had more than five changes of clothes when I was an infant. Uncle Steve would take us to the mall in Pikeville; for shopping, both for clothes, and the computer for Joey.

I didn't want Joey getting cheated. I mean we all had things from Wal-Mart. It was fine for underwear and just plain tee shirts, but Joey was living with Uncle Steve and he was my boyfriend. Besides, he was cute as hell and deserved to be spoiled, especially after what his father had done to him. I was never going to forgive that man.

"So, are you boys up for a trip to Wal-Mart?"

"Can we go to the mall, too, Uncle Steve? I think Joey is going to need more than tee shirts and underwear. We can go into a few different stores so he can see what he likes, if we hit the mall?"

God, I can't believe I was asking to go there. I hated the mall. There was no way people weren't going to understand that this was more than a friend.

"Sure, we can go to the mall, Andy. Then we can check the prices on the computers there and see if they beat the ones at Wal-Mart."

That was Uncle Steve for you. He was always willing to check things out.

Everything went smoothly at the mall. It went a lot better than I thought it would. Okay, I actually had a great time. Seeing Joey try on different clothes was, actually, kinda hot. I have to admit, there was a time or two, when he tried on some of those low cut tight jeans that showed off his cute butt, my jeans got really tight on me because little Mikey was trying to stand up and get out to play. I talked him into letting me buy him one of those new Samsung Focus S cell phones. I wanted to get the Samsung Galaxy Nexus for him, but when he saw the price, he turned to me and said not only 'no', but 'hell no'. I agreed, as long as he let me get him a cheap Sony Walkman for tunes. So by the time we got home, at ten that night, we had six bags of clothes he liked, a new laptop, a cell phone, an mp3 player, a new bedroom ensemble, and a desk for his room.

I was going to help Joey change his bandages, but Aunt Alice told me she and Uncle Steve would take care of it tonight. Dad had called, and wanted me home when we were back. So, I said an awkward good night to Joey, with everyone watching us, and went home.

After I woke up the next day, I went through my morning routine. But this time, there was only one image in my mind while I was in the shower, and that was of Joey. Of course, he was in varying stages of dress, starting in those new low cut jeans he got; because he knew I loved them on him. Before I knew it, the water was once again washing down the drain all the evidence of my naughtiness.

As I was getting dressed, I remembered that Roger, Joey and I had agreed to get a ride to school with dad this morning. So I rushed downstairs to make sure I caught him before he left for work. Dad was sitting at the table, drinking his coffee, and still reading the newspaper.

"Good morning, Dad." I called out as I walked over and got myself a bowl of cereal.

"Good morning, Andy. Did Joey find everything he needed last night?"

"Yes sir, for now. Oh, we also need a ride this morning, if that's okay?"

"No problem son. You guys be ready in ten." Dad got up and rinsed out his cup.

"Thanks Dad." I finished off my cereal, then called Roger to tell him and Joey to come on over.

The ride to school was uneventful. Roger sat up front, with Joey and me in the back. I did catch Dad stealing glances at me, but nothing was said. The conversation was mostly about school and Dad inquiring if Joey liked the stuff he had gotten the night before at the mall. I could tell Joey was a little overwhelmed by it, but thankful for everyone's help. He really looked hot in the new jeans, and the blue shirt he was wearing went great with his blue eyes and blond hair. It was then I realized he was going to have all the girls after him, and that could cause unintended problems with those girls' boyfriends, but it was only a small problem. One I could handle, since the guy in question was Joey, and he was my hot boyfriend.

When we got to school, Joey and I went straight to our homeroom, since we had left our books in there the day before. Roger took off for his locker. It was hard, no pun intended, not holding hands as we walked to Mr. Ison's room, but we didn't.

After the jury had taken their seats, everyone else took theirs. Judge Collins looked around the courtroom as he waited for everyone to settle down.

"The first order of business this morning is my ruling on the defense hearsay objection. Citing Rule 801a of Hearsay exceptions, defense objection is overruled. The State may continue" Judge Collins stated with authority.

The commonwealth attorney rose, and walked over to where the witness was already seated in the witness chair. "Mr. McCray, what did Mr. Brown say to you the night in question concerning his intentions towards you?"

Turning to look at the jury, Mr. McCray answered. "He said that if I didn't pay him ten thousand dollars, he would kill me and my family."

"Why was he asking for ten thousand dollars? Did you owe him that amount of money?"

He hadn't expected that question and it left him squirming in his chair; but with his voice barely above a whisper, he answered. "No, I didn't owe him any money."

"Then why, sir, was he demanding money from you?"

"I don't know."

"Mr. McCray, I remind you that you are under oath. Once again, I ask you, why was he demanding ten thousand dollars from you?"

Mr. McCray looked nervously around the room, but didn't answer.

The Commonwealth Attorney looked up at Judge Collins, "Judge?"

"The witness will answer the question or will be found in contempt of court." Judge Collins said sternly.

After looking at the judge, Mr. McCray looked back at the Commonwealth Attorney and said, "He caught me with his wife, while I was at their house to work on the plumbing."

The morning was going well, until third period. It's not like I hated math. I could see its uses later on in life, but I knew I would never be a mathematician, or a statistician. I mean, come on, a mathematician is like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat, which isn't there, and a statistician is someone who is good with numbers, but lacks the personality to be an accountant.

I was pulled from my philosophical thoughts by Mrs. Robinson telling me to report to the principal's office. I was kinda concerned for a second; but then I remembered Uncle Steve had called and let the school know what was going on yesterday.

"Hi, Mrs. Perry," I said, as I walked into the office. "Mrs. Robinson said I needed to come by."

"Oh, hi Andy," she smiled and picked up a piece of paper and handed it to me. "Mr. Horn wanted me to give you an excuse for your missed classes yesterday."

"Thank you, Mrs. Perry. I hope you have an awesome day." I turned to leave and bumped into a smiling Joey. "Hey," my day just shines brighter every time I see him. "Did you get called to the office too?"

"Yep. I don't know why though." The urge to hug him, hold him, kiss him was so freakin' strong, I had to look back at Mrs. Perry to get control of myself. When I looked back, even his eyes were smiling at me. I was so falling for this boy.

"It's for," I paused. "Uh, what was the question again?" I couldn't even think straight. Oops. I had to chuckle to myself. Of course I couldn't think straight, I'm gay after all.

He laughed, "There wasn't a question." Then he lightly punched me on the arm.

"Oh, yeah," I said rubbing my arm. "It's for an excused absence for yesterday."

He got his excuse from Mrs. Perry as I waited on him in the hall. When he met me in the hall, we both looked around, seeing no one, he leaned back against the wall by the lockers and smiled. I leaned into him for a quick kiss as we held hands. After we broke apart, we both looked around to make sure we hadn't been seen and quickly dropped our hands to our sides.

"I'm sorry Joey; I just had to have a kiss."

He smiled, "Me too, Andy. I thought you were going to kiss me in the principal's office." Turning serious, "But, we do need to be more careful. If we get outed here at school, I don't know what we'd do."

"Yeah, you're right. This is going to be harder than I thought." Joey had me thinking, and a frown crossed my face. "We better head back to class. Hey, I want you to look for me at lunch and you can sit with me." I smiled raising my eye brows. "It'll give you a chance to meet my other friends." I was trying to lighten the mood and give us something to look forward to. He smiled, and nodded, as we bumped fists.

I back tracked my morning classes, showed my first, and second period teachers my excuse, before I headed back to math. By the time I got back, the end of class bell rung as I was showing Mrs. Robinson my excuse. I quickly grabbed my stuff and headed to lunch.

Gary and Roger were ahead of me in line, and I noticed Joey was a couple of people behind me. I let the two girls between us go in front of me so I could be with Joey.

"This will be your first taste of our friendly chow line, huh?" I teased Joey.

"Yeah, I didn't get a chance to eat the first day, thanks to JT." He rolled his eyes and smiled. I swear, even rolling his eyes made him look adorable.

"I wouldn't recommend the Italian Surprise." I said straight-faced. "However, the hotdogs and fries are safe. It's kinda hard to mess those up." Smiling, I elbowed him in the side.

When we sat down at the table, Roger, Gary, Debbie and Timmy were already there.

"Hey guys, this is Joey." I wasn't sure how much to say about Joey, living with Roger now, or why it happened. This wasn't going to be easy, and these were my friends. I figured I'd let Roger and Joey decide how much to say.

Everyone was friendly to him, and asked the normal questions, like where are you from, but strangely, no one asked where he lived. I'm guessing Roger had talked to everyone. I watched everyone interact with him and they seemed to like him. Even Timmy was nice to him. I still hadn't figured out why he had given me such strange looks on Monday. I guess whatever it was, he worked it out.

I still had to write that assignment for Mr. Ison, which was due tomorrow. So I spent forty minutes on it in study hall, during sixth period. On the ride home Roger let Joey and I sit together on the bus and he sat in the seat in front of us, like Joey had on Monday. Joey seemed, to me anyway, to be less tense than he had been the last few days. Even though I wanted to spend time with him, I knew I had to get my homework done before I did anything.

"Joey, I hope you don't mind, but I need to get my government class paper finished for tomorrow and some other homework." I was hoping he would understand.

"Andy, it's cool. I have the same paper, and I haven't finished it either. Plus, I have a lot more homework, too." He looked around to see if anyone could see us before he took my hand in his. "I wanted to ask you if it would be okay if I spent some time with Roger and his family, so we could get to know each other. Maybe after supper, I could come over to see you or you could come over to our house?"

I smiled, as I realized he was trying to fit into his new home. I was happy to hear it. "That sounds like a plan to me. Why don't I call after supper and see what's up?"

We split up when we got to their house and I went on home. I walked in, closed the door, pulled off my shoes, went into the living room, and sat down on the couch. I closed my eyes and thought of Joey. Things were better for him, and having a boyfriend was a lot easier than I expected. I couldn't help but smile when I thought of Joey and us being boyfriends.

My thoughts drifted to my mom and wondered what she would think of me being gay. How would she feel about me having a boyfriend? What would she think of Joey? I got up and walked over to the fireplace and looked at our family pictures. I looked at one dad had taken, of mom and me looking at each other smiling, with our foreheads touching. I really missed her. I took the picture off the mantle and hugged it as if I was hugging her.

That is when it finally hit me. Now I knew what had been bugging me the whole time I had been at Joey's house. I didn't see one picture, in the whole house, with Joey in it! I mean, one look in my living room, and you could see pictures of me with my parents' at all different ages. Damn his parents, they didn't even love him enough to have a picture of him up anywhere in the house. That is going to change tonight. I grabbed my backpack before running upstairs to my room. I got my camera out to make sure the batteries were charged and I had enough memory left on the card to take a bunch of pictures. Finding everything I needed, I smiled as I thought of Joey. Then I got to work on my paper and the rest of my homework.

After supper, I still hadn't finished my homework, so I called Joey and Roger. They still had homework left too. So we decided they would meet me here in the morning for a ride to school and to just wait until tomorrow afternoon to get together before the ball game. Besides, I thought, it was good they had some bonding time. We also agreed everyone was spending the night at my house after the game. I guess taking some pictures of Joey, was going to have to wait until tomorrow night after the game. With all the excitement of the last few days I was exhausted. It wasn't five minutes after I finished the paper that I was sound asleep, dreaming of my beautiful Joey.

After school, Joey, Roger, and I hung out at my house playing some Madden football and Major League Baseball 2K10, on the Wii. It was awesome watching Joey play against Roger. He had the cutest facial expressions, and the way he would actually moved, like he was dodging the tackle he had his man doing in the game, was almost comical. It brought a huge smile to my face, but once I thought about it, I guess I probably looked like a dork playing. I tried to imagine what I looked like when I played and cringed. So, I figured I wouldn't mention anything about it.

About four thirty, we decided to call it quits, so we could get Joey's bandages changed before we headed to the game.

Aunt Alice took Joey and I to the game around five forty-five. Roger decided he would come later, because he didn't want to hang out there for an hour and a half with nothing to do.

"Boys, give me a call when you're ready to come home and someone will come and pick you up, okay?" Aunt Alice asked as we were getting out of her Park Avenue. She smiled at Joey as he stood alongside me.

"I will, and tell Roger to look for us when he gets here." Nodding, I closed the door and waved.

We watched her drive away and turned to walk to the entrance of the football field.

Joey was quiet beside me. Finally, he looked at me and asked, "What do you think Mr. Horn will have us doing?"

Every time I looked into his eyes, it was like looking into my past, future, and present. I could see my life in them. Time would stop and nothing else mattered. I sort of got lost every time I looked into his eyes.

"Andy? Hello? Are you with me?" Joey stopped, and grinned at me. I was staring at him, lost in his eyes, and didn't honestly hear a word he had said.

"Uh, umm, yeah, what's the question?" I stammered, and went into full blush mode.

"Hello boys. You're early. I like that." Mr. Horn was getting a card table out of the storage building by the entrance. One thing about Mr. Horn was he was efficient. He quickly looked us both over and smiled. He turned to Joey first. "Son, why don't you head over to the concession stand and help with popping the popcorn and setting up the cups for the drinks. Susan will show you what to do, okay?"

"Yes sir." Joey turned to me and smiled. I could tell he wasn't comfortable with the idea of us being separated.

"Mr. Horn, Joey and I aren't going to be working together?" I wanted to know before Joey could leave. Joey stood frozen in place, anxiously waiting for Mr. Horn's answer. Mr. Horn finished setting up the card table before he turned to look at us.

"Andy, I need you to help me here at the gate taking in the money and handing out the ticket stubs." I think Mr. Horn could tell we weren't thrilled with this idea, because he added, "Since most everyone that's coming will be here by mid-way in the first quarter, we usually stop making people pay then and close up shop." He paused, and smiled at us both. "When we're through here, you can go get Joey and watch the rest of the game. How's that boys?"

I looked over at Joey; he nodded and smiled at me. Knowing we wouldn't be separated for long made this a lot easier to deal with.

"That's awesome Mr. Horn, thanks." Joey and I bumped fists and he took off for the concession stand. Oh my god, his butt looked so hot in those new tight ass jeans he was wearing. Instantly, I started to feel a stirring from little Mikey. The naughty thoughts I got from looking at him would definitely get an xxx rating. However, now was not the time to out myself to the town, so I turned back to help Mr. Horn.

I helped Mr. Horn get everything set up the way he wanted it, and in no time, people started arriving for the game. I took my spot at the table smiling, and greeted everyone, as I handed them a ticket stub after tearing it in two and putting my half in a bag. This was the school's way of tracking how many people attended, and so they could check the money against stubs. Mr. Horn was taking the money, so I didn't have to worry about that part.

I had gotten into a routine and was barely noticing who I was greeting. Finally, I looked up and Roger was standing there with his hand out waiting for his ticket stub.

"Hey Roger," I started as I handed him his stub. "Save Joey and me a seat. We'll catch up with you about half way through the first quarter."

"No problem. Just bring me a drink and some popcorn with you." He smiled.

"Deal," I agreed. We bumped fists before he headed in.

The crowd outside slowed down once it got near game time. People around here take their football very seriously. You tried to never be late for a game.

As if I couldn't tell from the noise of the crowd, I could see the scoreboard from where I was sitting. We were up fourteen to nothing in the first four minutes of the game. The number of people wanting in slowed to just a trickle. I started to look around and daydream. I was dreaming of what life with Joey might be like when I heard the yelling and it wasn't about the scores by the teams either. Confused? How you think I felt when I realized who was doing the yelling.

"What do you mean he can't go to the game? He served his five day suspension." JT's Dad was yelling at Mr. Horn.

"Mr. McCray, his suspension doesn't end until Monday morning. While he is on suspension, he isn't allowed on school grounds." Mr. Horn stood up and faced Mr. McCray's anger.

JT, standing by his dad, noticed me sitting by Mr. Horn. "Dad, that's the punk that sucker punched me!"

Okay, I could see this was going to end badly, no matter what was said. So, I decided to just sit there, stay quiet, and let Mr. Horn handle it. After all, he is big enough to be a defensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers.

"Why is that son-of-a-bitch allowed here and my son isn't?" Mr. McCray asked, pointing at me with his eyes full of hate.

"Mr. McCray, I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I won't allow any adult to verbally attack, or otherwise abuse, one of my students. If you won't leave on your own, I'll have a law enforcement officer remove you from school grounds." Mr. Horn walked around the little card table and stood between Mr. McCray and me.

By this time, with all the noise and shouting, people had started to gather around to see what was up. I was starting to feel penned in, even with Mr. Horn there.

JT looked at me with fire in his eyes, he pointed his finger at me and with venom dripping off every word he yelled. "I'm going to kick your fag boyfriend's ass, and when I'm done with him, you're next."

I jumped up at that. I hadn't wanted to get in Mr. Horn's way, but there was no way I was going to stay quiet after that threat. No one was going to threaten Joey, not after what he has been through. I looked at JT and saw red.

With every muscle in my body tensing up, ready to strike, I bellowed back at him, "JT, if you ever lay a finger on Joey again, I swear to God, I'll kill you!"

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