Castle Roland


by Eric Aune


Chapter 4

Published: 8 Apr 14

Chase was ecstatic as he rode home. When he got home, Chase went up to his room and flopped on the bed. As he stared up at the ceiling he felt like he was literally vibrating with happiness. He kept thinking of the hug that Ethan had given him and how he felt within his arms. This was one of the best days of his life.

He got up from the bed and grabbed the scrapbook with Ethan's pictures and newspaper clippings. He sat at his computer desk and looked through the pictures.

He put the book back and turned on his computer. When it booted up he searched through his documents until he found the folder labeled 'Ethan'. The file held all the good pictures of Ethan that he had saved. Also in the file was the letter he had written to Ethan but knew he would never send. He opened it and read it over. When he finished, he started typing, making changes to the letter, adding some things, deleting others. When he finished, he smiled and closed the file.

He heard his mom and Matt come home and went out to meet her. She was in the kitchen when he got there and he went over and hugged her for no reason other than he was happy.

She looked at him with a little surprise. "What's that for," she asked him.

He smiled and shrugged, "Nuthin, just wanted to."

She hugged him again, "I could get used to this."

He giggled and released her. He turned away to go back up to his room to get going on his homework, but stopped and turned back. "Oh yeah, Mom, Mrs. Hicks want us to come for a barbecue on Saturday. I told her I'd check with you and dad."

Mary nodded, "I'm pretty sure we're open, so I'll call Mary and let her know."

Chase smiled and went to his room.

At dinner that evening, Sandy kept giving Chase some strange looks. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something had changed in Chase. It was the way he held himself. The way he looked and talked. He was animated or something. It wasn't that he had been down or anything like that. He had seemed fine, but now it was like he was more than fine. Like he had received a prize or something like that. She decided to talk to her husband later after the boys had gone to bed.

That night when the boys were in their rooms doing their own things, Sandy brought the subject up. "Dan, did you notice anything different about Chase tonight?"

Dan looked over at her, "Like what?"

She shook her head, "I don't know really. He seemed different than he has for awhile now. More animated or something, I don't know, he just seemed different."

Dan considered what she had said. He also thought about what he'd seen at the hospital last week. He wondered if that had anything to do with it.

He glanced over at her, "He seemed like he usually does. Anyway, you know how kids are at that age, hormones jumping around all over the place. It's like, until they're in their twenties it's like their bi-polar. One day morose and not wanting to talk to anybody and the next they are jumping off the walls. It's probably that."

She shrugged, "Maybe, I guess. He just seemed different to me. Not that it's bad or anything. I guess it's nothing important."

They went back to watching TV. In the back of his mind Dan continued thinking about seeing Chase kissing Ethan when he was in the hospital bed. He had thought about it for a few days now and though concerned for Chase because of some people's attitude, he knew that if that meant that Chase was gay, then Chase was gay. It didn't matter to him and he was sure Sandy would have no problem with it, he was still their boy and they both loved him very much. He decided he would keep a closer eye on Chase and see if he could see what Sandy was talking about. If it seemed that his suspicions were correct about Chase, then he would talk to Sandy about it and tell her what he had seen. For now, he would just wait and keep an eye on his son.

The next day at school Chase had just left the cage when he saw Ethan get out of his mom's car. He trotted over to give him a hand. "Hi Ethan, need a hand."

Ethan looked up and smiled. "Yeah Chase, thanks. Can you hold the crutch until I get my pack on?"

Chase nodded and took the crutch from him while he got out of the car and settled his backpack.

He smiled his thanks and took the crutch and settled it under his arm. He grinned at Chase and received a shy smile in response as Chase ducked his head.

Ethan thought it made him look cute. ["Wait, where'd that come from? I thought he was cute?"] He shook that thought off and they walked together into the school.

Chase walked with him to his locker and helped him get the things he needed for his early classes. Ethan held out his fist to Chase and they bumped fists as they went their separate ways. "See you at lunch Chase."

Chase grinned, "I'll be there."

At lunch Chase waited for Ethan at the table that he had usually seen Ethan and his friends sitting at. When the group of them came outside, Chase waved and smiled when he saw Ethan nod back. With him was Kristi, who was carrying a tray with both of their lunches on it. When they got near, Chase scooted over a little so Ethan could sit down next to him and Kristi quickly moved forward and sat down next to Chase. She sort of scooted over a little bit causing Chase to have to scoot over a little more so that she wasn't almost sitting on top of him. She patted the seat next to her for Ethan.

Chase just shrugged and looked toward Ethan, "Hey Eth…"

Kristi interrupted, "What do want from the tray first Ethan."

Chase sat there for a moment with his mouth hanging open. He gave his head a little shake and continued eating.

A couple of times during lunch he started to say something to Ethan, but Kristi sort of turned her back to him and monopolized Ethan's attention. She had shifted herself in the seat a little so that her back was partially facing Chase.

He raised an eyebrow, but he just shrugged and ate his lunch listening to the others. When lunch was over Ethan said he would see Chase in class later.

Chase nodded.

In World History Chase sat down and waited for Ethan to come in.

When he did he smiled at Chase and took a seat next to him. "Hey Chase. How's it going?"

Chase nodded, "Good. What are you doing back here, isn't your seat up there?" he pointed.

Ethan nodded, "Yeah, but I figured it's easier to sit back here instead of trying to maneuver through the aisle to my regular seat."

Mr. Jamison came in the room and started taking roll. He looked down at his seating chart and made his notations, he noticed Ethan sitting in the back. "Ethan, why aren't you in your seat?"

Ethan looked up, "um, sorry Mr. Jamison. I'm a little gimpy right now," he pointed at his leg with a self deprecating look on his face. "And I thought it might be a little harder to make my way down the aisle to my normal seat, so I thought it might be okay if I sit back here with my friend Chase."

Mr. Jamison nodded as he made some notes, "Fair enough." Once the roll was taken he started his lecture.

After school, Chase met Ethan at his locker and helped him carry his stuff out to his mom's car. Just before he got in the car he put his arm on Chase's shoulders for balance while Chase held his crutch. He didn't really need to do that, but he wanted to and it felt nice. He smiled at Chase as Chase stepped back and waved at him as they drove off. Chase had a big smile on his face as he turned to get his bike. Standing out of clear sight, a short distance away, Kristi watched the interplay between the two boys and glared at the smaller boy as he retrieved his bike and rode away.

The rest of the week went pretty much the same for Chase. He usually waited to say hi to Ethan in the morning before going to his first class. During lunch he sat with Ethan and his friends. After the first time he ate with them Kristi always maneuvered herself in such a way that he was blocked from having more direct contact with Ethan. In World History, Ethan continued to sit next to Chase. After school Chase was there to help Ethan before he headed home.

On Saturday, once Chase was completely awake, he grinned at his reflection in the mirror as he realized that today was the day that they would be going over to Ethan's house. His family had planned to head over there in the early afternoon and Chase could hardly wait. He did his best to keep himself occupied. He did homework, watched TV, surfed on his computer and played a video game with Matt. Finally his parents told them it was time to get going. He practically jumped up from where he was sitting down and watching TV.

Dan knocked on the door when they got to Ethan's house and it was answered by Ethan, who was wearing a pair of shorts and t-shirt. Chase saw that he was wearing his walking boot for his ankle.

He smiled when he saw them and gestured with his cast for them to come in. "Hi Mr. and Mrs. Evans. It's good to see you again."

He looked at Matt, "Hey Matt, you've grown a lot since I saw you last."

He smiled at Chase which got him an answering smile, "Hi Chase, thanks for coming today." They bumped fists.

Ethan limped along in his boot, occasionally putting his good hand down on a chair or table as he passed them to help his balance. He led them out to the backyard where his parents were sitting. They stood up as the Evans family joined them. They all greeted each other and Dan and Sandy accepted the drinks that were offered to them and sat down to talk with Randy and Mary.

Ethan gestured for the others to come out into the yard. He grabbed a Frisbee off a nearby lounge chair. "Let's play some Frisbee. I can still throw I just can't run around too much yet, so be nice." Chase smiled and Matt giggled.

They arranged themselves in a triangle and started tossing the Frisbee to each other. Chase and Matt made sure that they threw the Frisbee as much toward Ethan as possible so he didn't have to do much moving to catch it.

After awhile, Ethan's leg was aching a little so when the Frisbee came to him he didn't throw it right away, "Hey, you guys want to go play some video games in my room?"

Both Chase and Matt nodded and they followed Ethan into the house.

He led them to his room and Chase looked around the room. It hadn't changed much from the last time he was here. There were some trophy's and other awards from his cross country running, and he had a new bigger bed, queen sized. Ethan got the controllers for his Xbox set up and they all sat on the edge of the bed as they started playing. They took turns playing against each other until Ethan's mom came in to tell them that the food was ready.

They shut off the game and made their way to the backyard. The food and drinks were all laid out. The boys helped themselves to the food and everyone sat together at the large picnic table. The conversation had to do with school and how it was too bad that Ethan would miss out on the upcoming cross country events. After dinner there was ice cream for dessert. Everyone helped clean everything up after they finished.

When they were done the boys went back to Ethan's room, while the adults moved into the living room to talk and visit. He suggested that they watch a movie. He turned on the TV and they saw that it was internet capable and they watched as he brought up the Netflix website through his Xbox and they started looking through the list, finally settling on Iron Man 2.

Ethan started it and then took his walking boot off with a little sigh of relief, "It gets a little uncomfortable when I wear it for a long time," he explained.

They settled on the bed to watch the movie. The three of them sat back against the headboard. Ethan sat on one side of the bed, Chase next to him and Matt next to Chase.

Ethan and Chase were sitting close enough to be touching shoulders and when one of them moved their legs or arms they would brush against each other. Chase loved it as he was sitting next to the boy he loved most.

Ethan found that he really enjoyed sitting next to Chase and he found that he was really happy that he and Chase had reconnected. He realized that he missed Chase coming over and just spending time with him like they used to when they were twelve. Some of Ethan's friends had come over before and they spent time together having fun, but none of them made him feel like this. He was just really enjoying spending the time with Chase and he didn't know why it was different with Chase. It almost felt like they had never been apart for the last three years.

The movie ended right about the time Chase and Matt's parents were telling them it was time to go home.

Matt left the room. Ethan scooted to the side of the bed and grabbed his crutches from where they were leaning against the wall nearby. He didn't bother with the boot. Chase hopped off the bed and went over to help Ethan in case he needed it. Ethan saw Chase standing there and smiled holding his hand out for Chase to grab. Chase took it gratefully and helped him get up.

Ethan looked at him, "Thanks. I really don't need the help, but it is easier when someone helps."

"Glad I could help." Chase smiled, "Why aren't you putting the boot on?"

Ethan shrugged, "It's a pain sometimes to put it on and make sure it's on right and all. With the crutches I can hobble around okay. I just have to make sure I don't put any weight on the leg, the splint protects it pretty well. C'mon, I'll walk you out."

They got to the front door just as Chase's parents were saying goodbye to Randy and Mary. They all went outside to walk them out. Ethan's parents said their goodbyes and turned back to the house.

Before he opened the door and got in the car Chase smiled at Ethan, "I had a great time today, thanks for asking me to come over."

Ethan gave him an answering smile, "I did too. Thanks again for pulling me out of the water."

Chase nodded and then he impulsively moved up to Ethan and put his arms around him to give him a hug. "I'm glad you're going to be okay." He stepped back quickly and got into the car. He looked up at Ethan from inside the car and gave a little smile and wave.

Ethan waved back and watched as they drove away. He felt kind of funny. When Chase had hugged him, it felt really nice, even if it was quick. He found himself wishing that Chase would have hugged him a little longer. Once they were out of sight, he turned and went back inside and to his bedroom. He turned on the TV and relaxed for awhile.

Chase was not home very long before his cell phone rang. He answered it and was surprised when he heard the voice on the other end.

"Hey Chase, its Ethan. I was wondering if you want to come over tomorrow, you know to hang out or something. It's kind of boring just sitting around by myself since I can't really go anywhere or do much of anything."

"Sure Ethan that'd be cool, I can ride my bike over. What time?" Chase said.

"Any time." He heard Ethan say.

"Okay, I'll be over there late in the morning about ten or eleven, okay."

"Good, see ya then, Chase." Ethan said.

"Bye Ethan."

Ethan put his new phone on the bedside table and smiled.

Chase turned to his parents, "I'm going to go over to Ethan's tomorrow morning and hang out."

His dad glanced at him, "All your homework done?"

Chase nodded, "I only have a little more that I can finish tonight, and then I'm done."

Dan nodded, "Okay, be sure you're back for dinner tomorrow."

Chase nodded and got up to go finish up his homework.

Once in his room, he had a big smile on his face. He was going to spend time with Ethan, just the two of them. He couldn't wait.

The next day Chase left for Ethan's house as soon as he could. He was smiling the whole two mile ride over there. He dropped his bike on the front lawn near the porch and knocked on the door.

Ethan's mom opened the door. "Hi Chase."

Chase smiled at her, "Hi Mrs. Hicks."

She motioned for him to come in, "Come on in. Ethan's in his room."

Chase came inside and greeted Mr. Hicks as he went by on his way to Ethan's room. He paused at the door of the room. Ethan had his back to the door and was wearing just a pair of shorts. He had a shirt in his hand. Chase stood there for a moment just looking at Ethan. A small smile came to his face. The moment was broken as Ethan pulled the shirt over his head and reached for his crutches as he turned around. He stopped when he saw Chase at the door.

A big smile broke out on his face. "Hey Chase, I'm glad you came over. Come on in."

Ethan and Chase bumped fists in greeting. "I was just heading into the kitchen to grab a snack. You want something?"

Chase nodded, "Sure."

Ethan led the way to the kitchen and directed Chase to sit at the kitchen bar while he hobbled over to the refrigerator. He reached inside and brought out a Coke can to show to Chase and Chase nodded. He handed one can to Chase and grabbed another for himself that he put it down next to Chase.

"I'm going to make some nachos. Sound cool?" he asked.

"Mmm, sounds good. Do you need any help?"

Ethan nodded, "Yeah, I'm still a bit clumsy with these things. Could you get the chips out of the cupboard over there," he directed Chase while he pulled a bag of shredded cheese out of the fridge.

Chase grabbed the chips and brought them to Ethan who had also pulled a platter out of another cupboard. He looked at Chase, "Pour a bunch in the platter."

Chase removed the bag clip holding it closed and poured chips into the platter until there was a good pile. Ethan started spreading grated cheese all over it until there was a good covering on the chips. Ethan put it in the microwave and set the timer to cook while they put everything away. He grabbed some salsa.

When the microwave was done, he put salsa on it. "Can you carry this to my room Chase,"

Chase nodded, picked it and his Coke can up and followed Ethan to his room.

Ethan made his way to the side of the bed, put his can down on the bedside table, sat down on the bed and gave out a little sigh of relief.

"Are you okay Ethan." Chase asked.

Ethan nodded, "Sometimes my leg hurts a bit when I'm on it a lot. Put the nachos down here on the bed and come on up here we can watch a movie."

Ethan leaned back against the headboard and Chase joined him. Ethan picked up the remote and turned the TV on, and found one of the Harry Potter movies being shown on cable. They had the nachos between them and made themselves comfortable as they watched the movie. They didn't say much to each other except to make comments about the movie. At the end of the movie, they got the game controllers out and played some games. While they played they talked about the things they had been doing since middle school started. Chase of course knew pretty much what Ethan had been doing, but Ethan had not known what Chase had been doing.

They continued to play for a little while longer before it got to be time for Chase to leave for home. He put the controller down and started to get up from the bed but was stopped by Ethan's hand on his arm pulling him back. He lost his balance and fell back onto the bed so that he was right next to Ethan. Ethan put his arm across Chase's shoulders and looked at him with a little bit of a sad look.

"Chase. I'm real sorry that I stopped hanging out with you. I feel bad about it. It's like I just walked away from my best friend when we started middle school," he said. "I'm sorry Chase, I should have been a better friend."

When Ethan put his arm across his shoulders, he had pulled Chase closer to him. Chase closed his eyes for a moment has he reveled in feeling the weight of Ethan's arm. He looked up at Ethan and smiled, "That's okay Ethan…."

Ethan pulled him a little closer, "No, it's not Chase. I should have been a better friend. We did everything together and I just…forgot about you without thinking. But I'm going to make it up to you. I want us to hang out together again and do some of the things we used to do. Especially once I get these damn casts off and I can move around freely again." Chase giggled a little.

Ethan thought his giggle sounded cute. That thought surprised him, but after a moment he realized it sounded right. He gave Chase a final squeeze before turning away from him to get up from the bed. "I'll hobble out with you." Chase giggled again.

He grabbed his crutches and followed Chase out to the porch.

Chase looked at him and smiled, "Thanks for inviting me Ethan. I had a good time." Chase hesitated for a moment and then he moved forward and hugged Ethan.

Before he realized what he was doing, Ethan hugged him back and again felt that sense of rightness about it.

Chase stepped back, "See you at school tomorrow Ethan."

"Yeah, see ya Chase." Chase picked his bike up off the lawn and with one final wave he headed for home.

Ethan watched him ride down the street before he turned around and hobbled back inside. Later when he went to bed, he thought about how much fun it had been to just spend time with Chase. None of his other friends from the last couple of years made him feel as comfortable. He was glad that he and Chase and reconnected.

Later that night Chase went to sleep with the remembrance that Ethan had hugged him back when he hugged him goodbye. It wasn't a long hug, but it was a hug that had been returned. Maybe there would be more in the future. He hoped he could be so lucky.

At school the next day, Ethan beat Chase to school because Chase had hit the snooze button more than twice on his alarm that morning. He had been having a great dream and didn't want to get up as he tried to recapture it, so he was a little bit behind on his normal morning schedule. He didn't care too much because he knew he would see Ethan at lunch. He got to lunch before Ethan, as usual, and waited for him to show up.

When Ethan appeared at the door, Kristi was with him. She helped him get his food. Chase got Ethan's attention and Ethan nodded his head. When they got their food, Kristi started walking over to an empty table, but Ethan pointed Chase out to her and she reluctantly headed toward him. When they got to the table, she put the tray down and positioned herself between Ethan and Chase.

Ethan leaned forward a little bit to see around Kristi, "Hey Chase, where were you this morning?"

Chase shrugged, "I hit the snooze button more than normal, so I was a bit late in leaving the house. I just didn't want to get up this morning."

Chase looked down for a moment after he said that, and Ethan noticed a little color came to Chase's cheeks, but he decided not to say anything, he didn't want to embarrass him.

More of Ethan's friends showed up and joined them and they started talking and joking around. Because of the way that Kristi was sitting, so that her back was partially to Chase, every time Ethan wanted to say something to Chase he had to lean forward a little to look at him. He didn't think about it, he just did it so he could look at Chase when he talked to them. Ethan complained to his friends how Chase took advantage of his injuries to beat him at playing video games.

"Yeah, here I am all gimpy and he's beating my butt on these games because the cast on my arm slows me down," Ethan said with a mock 'Oh woe is me' tone.

Chase laughed, "I wasn't taking pity on my crippled friend. He just sucks."

Ethan tried to lean around and punch Chase in the arm, but Chase scooted back and since Kristi was between them Ethan couldn't reach him. Chase gave him an impish grin, "Missed me. Too slow, too bad, so sad," he said while giggling.

Ethan gave him a mock frown, "Just wait bro, payback's a bitch. You're going to have to sleep with one eye open."

Chase just smiled and stuck his tongue out. The lunch bell rang and they all got up.

Kristi turned to smile at Chase, "Could you do Ethan a favor and take care of the tray?"

Chase shrugged, "I guess."

She and Ethan left together. Chase picked up both trays and dumped the trash and brought the trays to the window.

Chase saw Ethan again, but they didn't have time to talk until after class. As they were heading outside, Kristi caught up to them.

She came up between Chase and Ethan, "Hey Ethan, I'll walk you out."

Ethan smiled, "Uh, yeah okay." Chase just slipped around to the other side of Ethan, opposite Kristi while quietly gritting his teeth at how rude it was for her to slip between them like that. He didn't say anything because he still felt that his rebuilding of his friendship with Ethan may still be tenuous and he didn't want to ruin anything.

They walked out and saw that Ethan's mom wasn't there yet, so they waited near the curb. Kristi turned to Chase and smiled, "I'll stay here with Ethan and help him get his stuff in the car, if you have other things to do, or need to get home."

Chase shook his head, "Nah, it's alright. No rush, I'll wait."

Ethan smiled at him. Chase was looking at Ethan and didn't see the slight tightening of her mouth when he said that. She schooled her features before either of them noticed it. Mary drove up about that time and Kristi made sure she helped Ethan with his stuff, Chase just stood back and watched.

"Bye Ethan, see you tomorrow," Kristi said as she closed the door.

"Thank for the help Kristi, see you."

He waved to Chase and Chase started for the bike racks. Ethan and his mom started to drive away but Ethan stopped her and ignoring Kristi he leaned back out the window he yelled for Chase, "Hey Chase."

Chase stopped and turned back to the car, "Yeah?"

"I almost forgot to tell you. I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon, to see how things are healing, maybe I can get this cast off my arm and then we'll see who sucks on the Xbox."

Chase laughed, "Yeah then I won't have to give you mercy wins, so your feelings aren't hurt."

Ethan laughed and gave him a dismissive wave, "Yeah right. I call you tonight and maybe we can get together this weekend to find out."

Chase nodded, "Sounds cool. I'll be waiting for your call."

"Okay bro, talk to you later."

Chase waved, "Yeah laters."

Ethan's mom drove off and Chase made his way to the bike racks.

Kristi had stood there listening to the exchange between the two boys and was shocked that Ethan hadn't even said anything about the doctor's appointment to her all day. Her mouth formed a tight line and she glared after Chase before turning away and stalking off in anger.

She muttered to herself, "He just ignored me and didn't tell me anything. He made sure to tell the little creep and invite him over this weekend. Can't he see that I would love to visit him this weekend? I'm better company than that little creep Chase. He's just a nobody. Just because he helped Ethan when he got hurt, so what. It's probably all blown out of proportion anyway. Maybe Ethan is just saying all that stuff, to be nice to the guy. Yeah, that's probably it."

She was convinced that her version was probably the correct one. Chase had just called 911 for help and didn't really save him from drowning. Ethan's just trying to make the little creep feel good. Ethan's just so nice, he wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so he's just going along with the story. She knew that she needed to find a way to put some distance between Ethan and Chase. She didn't want them to get too close. She didn't want any interference with Ethan being with her whenever she wanted.

That afternoon just as he was sitting down to dinner, Chase got a call on his new cell phone. His dad looked at him and cocked an eyebrow. Chase smiled apologetically as he stepped away from the table for a moment to answer the phone.

"Oh, hi Ethan….really, cool…..uh, I can't talk right now. We're just sitting down to eat…..okay. I'll call you later….yeah, bye."

He ended the call and looked at his dad, "Sorry dad. That was Ethan. He had a checkup today and the doctor told him that he was healing faster than they expected. I told him, that I'd call him later."

"That's really good to hear Chase. Now sit down and let's eat," he said while smiling at Chase.

Later, after dinner, Chase went into his room to call Ethan.

"Hi Ethan…..Yeah, so you saw the doctor…..Heym that's great….How much longer, before you're all healed up…..That's pretty quick….yeah, sure, tomorrow?....I'll ask….yeah I'll tell you tomorrow….yep, see ya then….bye."

Chase went to the living room, "Mom, Dad, Ethan asked me to come over for a little while after school tomorrow. Is it okay?"

"Sure, for a couple of hours, but be home by dinner," his dad said.

Chase agreed, "Kay, thanks."

At school the next day Chase met up with Ethan at lunch. He saw him and Kristi sitting at a table and walked over to join them.

Ethan looked up as Chase neared the table, "Hey Bro, look." He held up his arm which had a splint on it, instead of the cast he had been wearing for the last three weeks.

"Hey Ethan. Hi Kristi. That's cool, no cast." Chase sat down and missed the quick scowl by Kristi. "So do you have to keep the splint on all the time?"

Ethan shook his head, "He wants me to wear it most of the time, but I can take it off at home. I have to be careful and he said I have to wear it when I go to sleep, in case I lay on it or something. He says that will protect it from re-injurying it. So can you come over today?"

Chase smiled and nodded, "For a couple of hours anyway. I have to be home by dinner."

Neither of them noticed the look of surprise that showed on Kristi's face for a moment. She recovered and gave Ethan a slight nudge to get his attention.

"I can come over and help you this afternoon Ethan," she said with a smile.

He smiled at her, "Nah, that's okay. I don't need Chase to help me with anything, we're just gonna to hang out for a couple of hours."

"Oh, okay. Well you know, if you ever need my help, I would be happy to come by your house to give you a hand." She said.

Ethan looked at her and nodded, "Sure, thanks Kristi."

Some of Ethan's other friends came and joined them. His friends commented on his splint and he repeated what he had told Chase about it. Kristi didn't say much for the rest of lunch. When the bell rang signaling the end of lunch. Ethan stood up and grabbed his tray. Chase only then noticed that he didn't have his crutches with him.

"Hey Ethan, where's your crutches?"

Ethan looked down and pointed at his leg, "The doc gave me a different boot and I can walk fine in it. I don't need crutches at all. He said I should use them if I take of the boot, like moving around the house, but this one is more comfortable and I wear it most of the time except for when I go to bed or take a shower."

"That's great news! Well, gotta go, see you later in class Ethan. Bye everyone." Chase said as he left the table.

Later in class, even though Ethan could easily make his way to the desk he had used since the beginning of the school year, he instead chose to continue to sit next to Chase. The teacher did not ask him to go back to his prior seat.

After school, Chase walked with Ethan to his locker and then they both went outside to wait for Ethan's mom. Chase got his bike from the racks and laid it down on the grass next to Chase while they waited. When his mom got there, Chase loaded the bike in the back of the SUV and got in the back seat.

At Ethan's house, Chase got his bike out of the car and leaned it against the garage door before following Ethan into the house. They got snacks and then went to his room to do the little bit of homework that they had to do. Ethan sat at his desk and Chase sat on the bed. There wasn't a lot and they were soon done.

Ethan stood up and went to set up his Playstation. Chase scooted to the edge of the bed as Ethan handed him a controller. Ethan started the game and they were soon laughing and joking together as they played the fighting game. Chase stole glances at Ethan when he thought it was safe to do so.

He tried hard to not get caught, but he didn't know that Ethan had noticed some of those looks. He saw the faint smile on Chase's face and he noticed his eyes and they way that they looked at him. He realized that the feeling he got when Chase looked at him felt really great. He was really glad that he and Chase had reconnected. It felt great to have his best friend back.

It became a routine for Ethan and Chase for Chase to get a ride with him to his house and after homework and some games Chase would ride his bike home. During lunch time, Chase always sat across from Ethan so that they could talk. Kristi continued to sit next to Ethan and did her best to get him focused on her. He was nice to her, but he didn't give her all the attention that she wanted from him. Much of the time at lunch, he talked more to Chase or his other friends rather solely with her. She found it hard to maintain her friendly face when Chase was around Ethan. She knew she had to find some way to make Chase invisible and separate him from Ethan. With Chase around Ethan paid almost no attention to her.

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