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4,326 You Wish You Were Me

About Dabeagle

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    Avid gamer and voracious reader. A VW junkie and sports fan.

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  1. Dabeagle

    Chapter 6

    You have no idea.
  2. Dabeagle

    How much affection is fine in public?

    The problem is there is no real consensus. One person thinks a good make out can happen anywhere whilst others do not. Some think breast feeding in public is just as reasonable and some think it's akin to porn. My philosophy is that it isn't hurting anyone. And besides, if a kid saw it and wondered about putting ones tongue in another's mouth, how much of a hypocrite will we be that day and say 'we don't do that!' I know, I know, time and place - but who gets to decide that? And who is given the authority to go tell someone 'Hey, you can't kiss like that here!' No, no thank you.
  3. Dabeagle

    How much affection is fine in public?

    I don't understand why others get so offended by a couple kissing, even if deeply. It's not for me, but if they have clothes on and aren't groping then what's the harm? I mean, really?
  4. Dabeagle

    Part 2 - Things We Found

    Things We Found By Dabeagle email “Fine!” I yelled as I slammed the door, but it was kind of open to interpretation, I guess. Fine I'd cooperate? Fine I wouldn't call her a bitch? I didn't have the answer. I didn't have any answers to anything. I ran down the stairs two at a time, ignoring the sound of Beth calling me back, muted behind the closed door. I quickly crossed the sales floor of the bookstore I lived over and, with annoyance, paused to lock the door behind me. Then, for the first time that week, I was free. I grew up on these streets, I know their names and their histories. I know which ones are safe and which ones you only go to if you have to and which ones you never go to. I know which ones I can disappear on and more than anything I wanted to disappear. Going back to school, I realized, had been a mistake. It was patently stupid to think I could go from a life where I was in charge of myself to completely handing myself over to someone else's control—strangers. People who hadn't earned a lick of trust, people who seemed to think their rules had the strength of divine law. 'Go to the office!' was said with the same conviction as the devout telling you to go to hell, but with more enthusiasm. After walking aimlessly I found myself in a place I didn't recognize. For a moment, I felt disoriented as if waking from a dream that had felt quite real until just a few seconds ago. Then other things began to slide into place, even though they didn't seem to belong. A manhole cover with green paint, a stop sign missing its bottom bolt that allowed it to bang in fierce wind, a small patch of dead grass with red bricks scattered throughout. I'd often wondered if there had been a decorative patch of brick there at one time and the grass had simply swallowed it up. With a feeling of unexpected loss, a sense of wrongness, I saw my former home was gone. I began to circle the rubble, walking around the cyclone fence meant to keep the stupid, the adventurous and the stupidly adventurous out, and spotted the area I'd have used to climb up and onto the roof to gain access to my safe space. It was all gone, just a pile of rubble waiting to be taken away. I put my hands in my pockets and shivered, though the temperature was pleasant. My eyes roamed the remains of the building and I wondered, for just a second, if they'd taken Smokey's body out before they dropped the walls in. Did he merit enough to get taken out of there or did this mess become a temporary tomb for him? I guessed they took him. Smokey. After all, his body was on the police reports and it was probably part of the case against Carson, the man who's 'employee' had killed Smokey. Carson also had run a local crime group and tried to kill me. Would have killed me, except for a timely intervention by the police. That intervention was because of Tris and Piper, of course, looking for me. Mournfully I thought back to that time where I made my own choices on a daily basis—when to get up, what I was doing to earn a living for the day, where I would go or if I'd simply stay where I was and read. I felt a pang of longing for my cooler and the books I'd had, ones I hadn't finished reading or been able to return to the bookstore, my own personal lending library. I was suddenly seized by a nameless energy and launched myself at the fence, climbing it like a drunk monkey as it swayed with my weight. Once over the fence I looked around, trying to get an idea of where my old home had been and then I picked my way over the rubble, nearly falling more than once as I searched. After a few minutes of ranging about, I began to pull up bricks and chunks of mortar and toss them aside as I tried to unearth my old space. It was sort of like digging a hole in sand as pulling up a few bricks was usually followed by a few others falling in to take their place. Tears began to build in my eyes as I pulled bricks faster, only to have my frantic efforts stalled by larger chunks of brick and mortar that hadn't broken into single bricks tumbling down to fill the space I'd created. I grabbed onto a section and strained to lift it, pulling backward with all my might. My feet slipped and I scrabbled for purchase, resetting my grip and pulling again. With a dry crumbling noise the edge of the brick let go, scraping the skin on my hands as I lost my grip and landed painfully on the protruding bricks beneath me. Though the pain to my hands was minimal, a mournful cry broke from my mouth and I began to sob. The entire week had been one mess after another and I just didn't know what to do about it. ~One Month Prior~ After Tris had parted with me that morning, giving me his hoodie and his scent as armor, I felt like I could take on the world. After all the bullshit of Carson and that whole mess I felt clean and strong. The feeling of invincibility lasted for two periods and the thing that broke it was having to use the bathroom. Of all the stupid ways to lose your perception of reality, or maybe have reality forced on you, it was because your bladder was full. I had just gotten done with my second period class and I needed to pee. So I looked at the map on the back of my schedule, found my next class and the bathroom nearest it. As I walked I grumbled to myself that this whole business of being where people wanted me to be on their schedule was wearing thin pretty quickly. I didn't exactly enjoy getting up at a certain time, getting ready at a hurried pace and then marching from one stifling box of a room to another. I paused at my classroom, dropped my bag into a vacant seat, and turned for the door as the bell rang. “Take your seats, people,” the lady at the front of the room stated. I quickened my step toward the door, but there was really no question in my mind when she sharply called out, “I said take your seat, Mr...who is that?” I turned, still walking but backward now, and replied, “Ehren Robertson. I have to use the bathroom.” “Well, you should have done that on your time. This is my time. Have a seat.” She had that irritable tone of someone who was used to telling people what she wanted done, even though it should be obvious to them. I considered doing what she'd said but decided that my business wouldn't wait so I continued on to the bathroom. I heard the clack of her shoes in the room behind me, a smattering of 'oh's' echoing from the room nearly drowning out the sharp taps. I didn't care. I was old enough to know when I needed to use the bathroom and no one was going to tell me I couldn't. I located the bathroom and took care of my problem. As I washed my hands I thought about what sort of person enjoys making people hold their water. I'll bet some people become teachers for the same reason some people become cops: they get to tell people what to do. Exiting the room I found a man in an ill-fitting suit waiting in the hallway. “Mm, Ehren Robertson? Come with me, Mm.” “I have class right now,” I said, wondering who this fellow was but deciding it wasn't any of my business. Not yet, anyway. He had been turning from me, expecting me to follow his instruction, and he fixed his watery eyes on me. “Mm, you walked out of class. We'll have your backpack sent down.” “No,” I replied and struck out for the classroom. “No one touches my things.” Was he an idiot? It had been near madness to leave my things in the classroom to begin with, but it was getting heavy already with new books and all the things I'd been required to bring with me for my first day. I should have been able to store some of it securely in my locker, but the dial was missing and I hadn't even had a chance to tell whoever might take care of things like that. Behind me he made some protests, adding in a threat or two, but I was ignoring him. You don't leave your stuff behind or someone will take it. I pushed the door open to the classroom, ignored the squawk of protest from the teacher and retrieved my bag. Then, and only then, did I walk to the office with whomever this fellow was. He grumped along the way and told me all about how this wasn't the way to start a new school year but I recognized it for what it was; an attempt to force me to see this his way. He talked all the way down the stairs before trailing off and muttering to himself. I tuned it out. I didn't really care what he thought or what anyone thought, except Tris. He wasn't going to be happy with me. Once in the office, I was directed to a chair. I sat and pulled a paperback out of my bag and lost myself in my book, shutting out the world and my impending trouble. Beth had tried to get me into some things she liked, but I couldn't lose myself in science fiction. I felt like it was just a step beyond reality and I couldn't quite buy into it. It was one thing to be imaginative, but another entirely to enter the world of fantasy and the impossible. Emily recognized that and handed me a set of Raymond Chandler novels and I easily slipped into that world. I could understand the prejudice, the grit and the solitary nature of the protagonist. I'd seen a lot of it before, maybe even lived it. I'm not sure how long I sat there, I'm still not very good with time. Besides, when I read I tend to shut the world out, which is sort of the point. So I was a little startled when the mumbly fellow called my name rather loudly, as if it weren't the first time, and hooked his finger in a 'come with me' gesture. I marked my spot in the book, replaced it in the bag deliberately and then stood to follow him. One problem I had with the world Tris and Piper lived in was that I didn't know the rules. Frequently, especially in social situations, I was floundering. When it came to officials like CPS or the school I had no real fear because I could disappear anytime I wanted to. Granted, Tris was largely what was holding me in place—Emily and Beth deserve some credit or blame, depending on your point of view, and while I was grateful to them I knew I could give up the things they had given me: clothes, backpack, a room. Those things could be replaced, even though it went against my grain to admit it. Tris, though, couldn't. Mumbly seated himself behind a desk and I glanced around the smallish room, skimming his diplomas without actually reading them and glancing at the pictures scattered here and there. He cleared his throat and I turned my head where he was affixing a glare that I'm sure intimidated some. I realized then that he was a fellow used to getting his way because of who he was in the system here at the school. He expected to be obeyed by most, except for the few hard cases who'd rebel openly, that was my guess. Idly I wondered if my behavior or attitude was considered openly rebellious? “Mm have a seat,” he said, pointing to one of the two chairs in front of his desk. I sat, placing my bookbag in front of me and between my feet. “So, Mrs. Perkins says you left her class without permission.” I sat quietly given that his words a statement rather than a question. He tented his hands, joining them at the fingertips. “Is that true?” “Yes.” He hummed in that odd way he started so many sentences and then leaned back in his chair. “Why did you do that?” “I had to pee.” “You can't leave a classroom without permission. No student can just wander the halls between classes.” He leaned forward, placing his hands on the desktop flat as if in prayer but fingertips pointing toward me. “We have liability and responsibility for you while you are in the building. We have to know where you are at all times.” “I told her I had to go to the bathroom and she told me to go on my own time, that I was on hers,” I replied, as if explaining things to a stoner who was currently sky high. “I've been going to the bathroom—in fact, knowing I when I have to go—for at least fourteen of my sixteen years. If I have to go, I'm going to go. Also, by your logic, it would be known where I was.” His began to tap his fingertips together in a rhythmic motion as his lips moved, not quite ready to push words out. A knock came from the door and, at a loud grunt from him, opened to admit a middle aged woman in a pantsuit with hair that had been, somehow, arranged to poof around her head as if on wires. I was reasonably convinced that small insects could have flown between the strands of hair as they looped and curved about her head. In her hand was a leather case that was open to reveal a pad of paper for writing notes. “Sorry I'm late,” she said as she took the seat next to me. “I got stuck on the phone. You must be Ehren!” “Excellent deduction,” I replied. I decided not to ask her name; I wasn't all that interested. In fact my mind conjured up an image of Tris frowning at me and that was far more important. I guess I needed to wrap up whatever this was. “Eileen Belcher, school social worker. I'll be meeting with you a few times a week to help you settle into this new environment,” she said with a smile. “We were supposed to meet later today, but it seems there is something pressing now?” This last was directed at Mumbles and he nodded his head once in sharp agreement. “Mr. Robertson walked out of Mrs. Perkins class to use the restroom without first obtaining permission, Mm.” An icy trickle had run up my spine at the words 'social worker'. The urge to bolt from my seat and, shortly afterward, the building was strong. Thinking of Tris I ducked my head down and took courage from his scent on the hoodie I'd borrowed from him that morning. “Oh, well that seems easy to address, right Ehren? I'm sure you're not used to asking permission to do a lot of things, given how independent you must have become, is that right?” I turned to face her and said, as calmly as I could, “I know how to go to the bathroom and when I need to do it. I also didn't agree to meet with you.” “Oh, I see,” she said, her tone losing some of it's perkiness and settling into something that I wasn't familiar with, but that I didn't trust. “Well, I can understand why you might feel that way, I do. Unfortunately, you have a lot of work to do and you're going to need some help to understand what the rules are, right? Around here, that's kind of my job.” “Look, I don't know how to be clearer,” I said firmly. “If I have to go to the bathroom, I'm going. I'm not talking to you.” She leaned back and let a hurt expression come across her face. “You seem very upset, Ehren. I don't understand why you're mad at me, though. What have I done?” I glanced at Mumbles, who was staying quiet, and then back to her. I felt nearly certain that she was faking having her feelings hurt, but I decided I had to dial back on my attitude a touch, even if I had no intention of cooperating with these inane demands. I studied her for a moment, taking in her make-up and too-bright lipstick, the way her smile didn't reach her eyes and her ramrod straight posture. Given my recent reading it was easy to pause and think like Philip Marlowe and I realized that I was getting the 'good cop, bad cop' treatment. I frowned. “You're in here trying to manipulate my emotions,” I said calmly. “I don't like social workers, it's because of a social worker I ended up living with meth addicts until they nearly killed me and then ended up on the streets. I don't like you people.” “Oh. Oh, yes, I can see your point of view,” she said, and her voice became gentle. “Did a lot of social workers take advantage of you on the street?” “What?” I asked, my frustration creeping into my tone. “No. What kind of question is that?” “Well,” she said, shifting forward subtly, “I'm just trying to get a feel for how many other social workers have treated you poorly. I can understand that you got burned and feel mistrust, goodness knows I do. But...well, how is the new county social worker you have?” Monica Dublin, my social worker, popped into my head. Being fair, she was okay, but I still didn't trust her as far as I could throw her. I decided not to answer, though, as I didn't want to give this woman any more information. “I'm guessing Monica isn't too bad, right? So would you say that that maybe that means not all social workers are bad?” I clamped my jaw tightly and stared hard at her. Plainly people were passing information on me without my knowledge. Exactly when had I become an object of interest and speculation? “I see, I see,” she said and leaned back again. “That puts us all in a hard place, Ehren. I'm not trying to make your life difficult, I'm surely not. But—can I just give you some information? You don't have to talk to me, right now, okay?” Even though I had no intention of talking to her later, I nodded just to move this little drama along. “Okay, so, when kids grow up in difficult circumstances they learn different ways to deal with the world. Coping skills we call them,” she said, nodding her head as if she were imparting positive news. “Sometimes those coping skills don't work very well with society in general, does that make sense when I say that? Maybe an example would help?” I shrugged. “So, we had this boy a few counties over. His parents, like yours, were into illegal substances and they would lock the kids out of the bathroom while they...shot up. “Well, with the kids unable to access the bathroom, they'd go wherever they could. But this particular child, the only thing he really had control of in his life was being able to go to the bathroom. So, when he got stressed out, he'd hold it and hold it until he couldn't physically do it anymore and then he'd go, wherever he was.” I wrinkled my nose with distaste and wondered what point she was trying to make. “Now, as you can imagine, that wasn't going to work out. Other kids could be very mean, even some adults didn't do very well with this poor young man. Now, you're probably wondering what this has to do with you—clear as mud, right? Here it is, kiddo: walking out of a classroom the way you did is a coping mechanism. This went from needing to go to the bathroom to someone telling you no. On the street, you didn't have to hear no very much—in the real world, it happens all the time.” My frown deepened and, despite my reticence, I opened my mouth. “I had to go, she said—her words implied strongly that she owned me for a set length of time and my needs didn't matter. That won't work.” “Mm, well that—” “If I may?” she interrupted Mumbles and turned to me. “Teachers have a tough job, Ehren. They have a lot of kids to teach and a lot of information to get through in a set amount of time. There are a lot of teachers who don't like a child to miss any of that, but at the same time you may have gotten a better result had you asked to use the bathroom rather than simply leaving.” I turned that over in my mind. I could see her point, but I didn't think it invalidated mine, not completely. I also wasn't thrilled about considering the teacher's perspective; her bladder hadn't been full, after all, mine had. “Now, I can speak with Mrs. Perkins on your behalf to get you a fresh start for tomorrow's class and you can put this thing behind you. We can chalk it up to first day misunderstandings. How would that be?” I weighed this in my mind. Mumbles hadn't implied any kind of consequence yet, however if he did and I refused to comply, the issue would be compounded. How far did I want to take this right now? How upset with me would Tris be if I stick to my guns, or would he understand? The last thing I wanted to do was have Tris upset with me. The very last thing. “Ehren?” she asked. “What do you say?” “Okay.” She smiled. “Well, that's good then. There's going to be a lot of these things to work through and I can explain them all for you. We're supposed to meet during your sixth period study hall—” “I don't want to talk to you, I have nothing to say.” Her face fell in disappointment. Or, apparent disappointment. “May I ask why?” I debated a moment, my eyes flitting between the two of them. Giving her information was like handing her a weapon to use against me. Social workers must learn that on their first day in social worker school. On the other hand, I had a feeling that this woman wasn't going to go away and I was going to have to figure out a way to deal with her. I leaned forward. “You have a file on me. You think you know me. That file? That's personal. None of you have any right to it. None of you have any right to me. That's why.” “Oh, I understand your concerns, I sure do!” she said in a tone that almost made her sound relieved. “But I can assure you all I know came from the news articles after that man was arrested and a few conversations with Monica Dublin on the phone. In fact, how about if I show you the file I have? I certainly don't want you to feel like I'm spying on you.” I stared at her, stolidly refusing to be drawn into any further discussion. Suddenly she chuckled and that threw me for a moment and I tilted my head in curiosity, my hard boiled Marlowe persona sliding off like a mask. “Listen, Ehren,” she said as she chuckled. “My office is on your schedule. Like just about anything else in life, time with me is a tool you can choose to use or not. Getting any benefit from seeing me is up to you—so I'll see you this afternoon and we can talk, or not. Your choice.” I wasn't quite sure where her amusement was coming from and once more I felt like there was some social standard I was misinterpreting as well as some continued form of manipulation. The bell rang, muted here in this office, and Mumbles pulled a pad close to him and, clicking his ball point pen, scribbled on the paper. “Did you find your locker this morning?” she asked in an offhand way, clearly just trying to clear the silence that had descended on the room. “It's broken,” I replied. “Oh? What's wrong with it?” I shrugged. “The dial is snapped off. Can't lock it. Can't open it.” “What's the number? I'll pass it on to maintenance.” “298.” “Okay, got it!” she said, back to her perky self. I let out a deep breath as Mumbles pulled the paper off the pad and held it out to me. “Time for your next class. I don't want to see you in here again today, got it?” I bit back a reply about him not dragging me in here and simply nodded. I left the office, not acknowledging Eileen Belcher and her 'See you sixth period!'. Instead I wondered if Tris would somehow know I'd been in trouble with the rules of his world. I wondered how disappointed he'd be with me. I wondered how long I could bear his disappointment. I admit, right then, I felt pretty bleak—something like the way Commissario Brunetti did as he and his wife, Paola, contemplated corruption in their government or the corruption inherent in human nature. When lunch came I found a table that was unoccupied and sat down with my food. Beth had made lasagna the night before and I had been thrilled to see it being placed in my lunch bag this morning. As I took my first bite I glanced around the room and tried to spot Tris. I saw few familiar faces; most of the ones I recognized were other kids that Piper and Tris worked with but with whom I wasn't well acquainted. “Hey. Ehren, right?” I glanced to my left at the boy who'd suddenly appeared. I didn't recognize him, but that wasn't saying much. I nodded toward him in greeting as he sat with his tray and assessed him. He was dressed nicely in khakis and a polo shirt that was somewhere between pink and purple. His face was clear and his brown eyes were laced with curiosity. Although more difficult to be sure, since I'd been sitting as he approached, he seemed to be about average height with straight brown hair. “That was pretty epic, what you did to Perkins this morning.” He chuckled and took a bite of whatever was on his tray. I searched my memory for a moment and then recalled the teacher who had refused to let me go to the bathroom. I didn't reply, but that didn't seem to bother him. “Did you get detention or anything? They usually don't do that the first day.” He looked at me with curiosity. Not breaking eye contact he lifted more food to his mouth while I chewed my food and wondered what about him I didn't quite trust. It was a gut feeling, something deep in my intestines that kind of sloshed around, almost like when you had too much grease and will need a toilet or new pants. “No,” I replied finally. “I figured,” he replied and finally glanced away. My vague discomfort lingered as he fell into eating his food wholeheartedly and grew by leaps and bounds when a slightly fleshy girl with long curly brown hair and pretty, sparkling eyes placed her hands on the table and gushed at me. In fact, gushed is the only word that could describe the verbal onslaught that poured forth. “Hi, I'm Allison. Allison Wilson and I have to tell you how much I love your hair. Did you color it? It's not a straight bleach job, right? I mean, you had to go through a process, right? I saw this video on You Tube where this guy put in this silver hair coloring, but first you had to do this other thing and it made his hair sort of violet for a short time—which looked great, by the way!” She finally paused and, amazingly, it seemed as though there was a response she expected to elicit—something beyond my staring at her. “Allie, was there a question or something in there? 'Cause that was a whole lot of words,” the guy said. Her face colored and it suited her. Abashed she said, “I was just wondering if your hair was natural.” “It is,” I replied. “I love it!” she squealed. She hopped a little on her feet, bouncing really, and then stopped dead as if she were some sort of automaton and her battery had simply quit. “Oh, um, before I forget...my friend wants to know if you're single.” I tilted my head at her in curiosity. It seemed odd to be so forward to start with, especially with a complete stranger. Odder still to be asking personal questions. I realized that, harmless as she might be, she was something of a loose cannon and that presented its own sort of danger. “He's taken, Allie,” my lunch mate said, chuckling. “Seriously, Tim?” she said in an exasperated tone. “First day and you hooked him?” As I opened my mouth to reply, sick of both her questions and this fellow's company, Brandon's voice cut through everything like a car accident breaks up a quiet morning. “Ehren, what the fuck are you sitting with him for?” he demanded, slapping his tray down. Melody trailed behind him with a chagrined look on her lovely face. “Easy, tough guy. He was here when I got here,” Tim replied. “I wasn't talking to you, douche,” Brandon growled and fixed his gaze on me. Given that he'd been damn near friendly to me only that morning, I was very concerned with his attitude. Because of that concern, I decided to ignore the shitty attitude he was throwing and simply answer him. “It's like he said,” I replied, gesturing toward Tim. “I was sitting alone, he just dropped in. Why?” Brandon fixed me with an unreadable look as Melody moved past him and sat beside me. She placed a hand on my forearm and, with a tilt of her head toward Tim, said, “That's Tim. Tristan's ex.” I turned my head so fast an audible pop could be heard. I looked at the interloper with new eyes, ones who no longer saw him as just some random, semi-nosy kid. Now, I figured he had some sort of motive, some game he was running. But how would he know who I was to Tris? In order for him to be as nefarious as I suddenly felt he was being, he'd need to know that. Right? And he had; he'd told her I was taken. Tim, for his part, flashed a sick smile and stood up. Glancing at Brandon he said, “I saw him on Tris's Instagram. I just wondered about my replacement, that's all.” “He's not a replacement,” Brandon said, his voice completely unwelcoming. “He's an upgrade.” Tim glanced down at me and a thoughtful look settled on his handsome features. “Yeah, maybe you're right.” With that he picked up his tray and departed. Brandon watched him go, a scornful look on his face before sitting down and giving me a mistrustful look. “So, you're not dating Tim then?” Allie suddenly piped up. Odd as it may seem, with the almost violently sudden turn of events when Brandon arrived and Tim departed, I'd forgotten about the girl. “He's dating Tristan Malone, Allie,” Melody supplied in a kind tone. Allie's mouth scrunched off to one side for a moment and then whatever troubled her passed. “He's adorable, isn't he? Tris I mean? Well, I better go—but I really do love your hair!” With a wave she bounced off, disappearing into the room that was nearly full of people sitting, talking and eating. “She's harmless,” Melody said to me with a smile. “Really friendly, but you do realize she was hitting on you. Right?” I lifted an eyebrow in her direction and resumed eating. I thought about my experience with Allie and tried to put together where she may have been hitting on me. She'd complimented my hair, sort of, but had been far more interested in how I'd achieved the color than paying it — me — compliments. She'd inquired about my dating status for her friend...ah, perhaps that was it. “Was she not asking if I was single for a friend of hers?” I asked Melody. As she smiled in response and opened her mouth to reply, Brandon grunted. “So, you did know. You better not be flirting back!” I glanced at Brandon, his angular face marred by one of his frequent frowns, and then I dismissed him and turned my attention back to Melody. She, too, had spared a glance at her boyfriend, but one of tried patience. Brandon wasn't entirely oblivious and demanded to know why she was looking at him like that. “Because, Bran, Ehren didn't do anything wrong. I know you love Tris, but—” “Whoa!” he protested. “But,” she said firmly, speaking over him, “you have to accept that Tris is in a relationship. If you keep treating Ehren like he's cheating every time you turn around, Tris might get a little upset with you. You might want to remember that.” Brandon's mouth closed and he glanced at me and then back to Melody. “Tris doesn't get angry with me.” “You've never accused his boyfriend of cheating before, Bran. Look,” she said, speaking as if it were just she and he at the table. “Would it kill you to give Ehren the benefit of the doubt? I don't think he wants to see Tris hurt, either, so cut him some slack. Okay?” He glanced at me and I kept my expression neutral and continued to eat. He sighed and said in a low, clear voice, “I'm sorry.” “Apology accepted, Mon Ami,” I replied, doing my best Hercule Poirot. “What did you call me?” he asked, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. Melody giggled, “It means 'my friend' in French, silly.” “Nice benefit of the doubt, Brandon,” I snickered and went back to my lunch while Brandon scowled once before a slightly embarrassed look crossed his face and he remembered his lunch.
  5. Dabeagle

    Love, Simon- A Coming Out Movie

    I disagree, to a point. Martin was a cesspool of angst and handled himself badly both in the movie and the book. One of the difficult things with 'villain's' is making them sympathetic, reflecting the shades of gray that are part of our reality. Martin couldn't see the damage he was doing because of his focus on Simon's friend, with whom he thought he was in love. The focus of the story wasn't Martin and his development and that this wasn't tied up with a bow by having him prosecuted or something similar didn't detract from the story for me. In telling the story, would it have been relevant to tack on a scene with a police officer visiting and leading Martin off in cuffs? Setting aside whether or not the character did wring (he did), how did it advance the central plot which was Simon and Blue? I think it would have been an unnecessary extension of the story that would have provided little in value to the overall work. Instead we see some contrition, in the movie, of him offering up his final ticket to extend Simon's opportunity for one more revolution on the wheel. Perhaps one of use would have 'headbutted and denied', but who knows what anyone would really do in a given situation? I think the hope that we'd do the right thing is universal, and some may even be convinced that they would do what they think is right rather than lock up or be manipulated by the situation. People will react differently to different situations, and this was how Simon reacted as a scared, closeted person who didn't rationally examine things, but reacted with emotion and fear. I think it was a good story that examined how things get out of control - from Martin and his blackmail to Simon's interpretation/response to Blue's fear of being found out and how he reacted as well. Adults have often inexplicable reactions; to see a high school kid do so is far more normal, in my opinion.
  6. Dabeagle

    Chapter 5

    Wild Heart By Dabeagle email We only had two days of school, Monday and Tuesday, and then we were off for the Thanksgiving break. The only real thing due was the English paper, and I felt pretty confident about my grade on that one. Travis continued to gain confidence in us, and Parker was just Parker - which is to say the best friend I ever had. Tuesday night my mom wasn't working. Even though I hadn't seen much of her I'd not really missed her. We hadn't spent much time with each other since she'd gone to nights, and now I had Parker and Travis. So, really, I didn't miss what I hadn't had for a while anyway. My father had been the big figure at home, so I didn't feel compelled to spend time with my mother because she was home. She had other plans. "So, Shane, we should probably talk and do some planning," she said as she sat curled on the couch. I sat in the chair beside her, hoping to make this talk short. "Talk about what?" "A couple of things," she said and ran her palm along the top of her pants. "First thing is that I'm putting the house on the market. It kind of brings me to my second thing." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "I don't know how to say all of this so... Cliff's wife used to work the same shift with me." "Okay," I said, wishing she'd get to the point. "She'd gotten sick, and she passed away about nine months ago. During that time Cliff and I...we got close, Shane," she said and looked at me steadily. I blinked a few times. "You were cheating?" I asked. The conversation Parker and I had had with my father flashed through my mind. Parker had asked his opinion on stealing someone's partner, and my father had reacted with a cold blooded statement about murdering whomever that might be. It had been sobering and chilling, as we'd just been debating as a lark. She coughed slightly and ran a hand through her hair. "It just kind of developed. Things with your father had cooled to the point of, well, me taking a job to get way from him." She looked down and rubbed one hand over the other nervously. "Cliff and I have a good thing. He's a good man. I was thinking that we could spend Thanksgiving at his place and give you a chance to get to know him, and if things go well, maybe we could move in with him." "Move in? With Cliff?" I asked, a little dumbfounded. "Yes. Why are you saying it like that?" she asked in a hurt tone. I lifted my hands in the air and blinked my eyes in surprise at her. "You know, Mom, I know dad was an asshole. I had a front row seat. I don't really care that you cheated because, hey, the guy was emotionally absent from anything but his guns." I licked my lips and forced myself to go on. "Maybe you forgot, but I watched him put one of those things Cliff calls a tool to his head and blow bits of brain and skull out into the clear morning air. I watched it. Couldn't avoid it. Got blood on me." She pushed her lips together and her eyes grew wet. "And now you are telling me you want me to live with another gun freak? You expect me to live in a house with tools in it? No. No fucking way." I stood up and looked down on her. "You can live with him, sleep overnight or whatever arrangement you want to make. But I will never live in the same house with a gun again. Ever." I turned and headed for the front door, ignoring her telling me to wait. It was harder to do when she screamed my name and caught up to me, spinning me around to face her. Her face had gone splotchy and her eyes were wet. "I know you suffered, but damn it Shane, so have I! It's like my life has been on hold while I was married to that asshole, and I was going to leave him! I was! But I had to think about you!" she said, her voice loud, rising and falling unsteadily. "So this is my fault?" I asked, frowning as rage built up in me. "You thought about me? When did you do that? When you took a night job and left me alone with him? Or how about when you let him take me off with his nut job buddies for a weekend of fun playing kill animals or going hungry? Huh? Were you thinking of me then?" I leaned forward. "Your life's been on hold? I was afraid of the world. I had no friends. No contact with others in case, somehow, they reported back to some huge ass conspiracy that was out to take his stupid fucking guns!" She was crying, now. I did feel some guilt. I can't see someone cry and not feel some empathy - it's just how I'm built. But I was also broken inside. Just bringing up my father shooting himself brought the horrible memory to the fore. It was a horrible scene, like a bad video on loop. I couldn't handle it anymore, so I left. I felt brittle, like one more thing would break me irretrievably. I wanted my anchors - my boyfriend and my best friend. I headed for Travis's house and worked the entire way to get myself under control. His grandparents had left that afternoon for an overnight at some pot growers convention. They thought it was funny that pot had come far enough along to have open conventions like other businesses. I knocked on the door and turned the knob. "Travis?" I called out. "In my room," he called out. I strode through the house with the enormous desire to grab up Travis and just hold him to me until I didn't hurt so much. He was sitting on the floor, hair askew and playing Zelda again. He paused as I entered the room and frowned in concern. "What's wrong?" he asked as he stood up. My eyes started to leak and I dropped my coat on his floor, kicked off my shoes and then pulled my shirt off before crossing the short distance between us. I pulled at his shirt and he fought me, trying to grab my hands. "Shane. Shane! What's wrong! Why are you trying to - I don't think sex is the answer to whatever this is!" I let my arms fall limply to my side and I sat heavily on the edge of his bed. He sat tentatively beside me, but the miserable feelings inside me just began to fester. "I'm not...after sex," I said haltingly. "Then why are you trying to get us naked?" he asked and leaned forward, trying to look at my face. I turned to meet his gaze, sure I looked like I'd been crying ugly - and I guess I had. "I want a Travis blanket," I told him. He gave me a puzzled look and I pressed forward. "After we get done I like to pull you on top of me. To feel all of you connected to me. Warm and alive. It's very peaceful. I just want you to...lay there with me for a while. Is...that okay?" He stood and pulled his shirt off and unbuttoned his pants. "Of course it is," he told me as he pushed his pants and underwear down and then each sock. He pulled on my hands to get me to stand and then he undressed me the rest of the way, even pushing me back so he could remove my socks. I slipped under his covers and he joined me, his head resting on my chest and the rest of him draped over me. I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him to me. He wiggled his arms under me and I sighed, kissing the top of his head. "I love you." "I love you, too, Shane," he said quietly. I felt warmed by his body and his gentle breathing on my chest. It was an odd way, I guess, to find peace. Normally one might think I'd be all over him because we were both naked, but this wasn't about that. I guess in a way it was about trust and acceptance. It's a little strange to get naked with someone, wondering how they'll judge what they see. Although Travis has a litany of things he feels are shortcomings, he doesn't realize that I have my own hangups, I guess. Or maybe he does and they just don't matter to him. Yet this, feeling his thin frame sprawled across my own and the warmth from his body and the gentle rise and fall of his chest calmed my frayed nerves. It was more than a half hour lying like we did, with some minor adjustments. He withdrew his arms and began to caress me gently. Not sexually, just comforting. "Are you feeling any better?" he asked gently. "Yes. Thank you," I replied in a whisper. "I'm glad you came to me," he said, his voice clear and stronger. I turned that over for just a moment. Why would he say that? It took me a full minute to make the connection. He thought I'd go elsewhere, maybe to Parker. "I needed this," I said and squeezed him lightly. "Only you can do this. I do want us to go to Parker's, though. I'm feeling like I need everything I can get tonight." "I can hear your heart," he said quietly. "It was really fast when you got here, but now it sounds like you're calm. Calmer." "I am," I replied and ran a hand up and down his back. "A Travis blanket, huh?" he asked and chuckled. "Yeah. My version of a security blanket, I guess," I told him. "Makes me feel safe." He snorted. "Not something I ever expected to hear but...I'm glad I could help. Um, what happened?" Haltingly I told him about the conversation with my mother. I was okay talking about her cheating and, I guess, falling for some guy. It got harder when I talked about the moving in and the guns. Then it was very hard to speak at all when I told him about how easily I can replay the carnage of my father's death. He stayed on me, keeping me grounded and warm as I poured out my pain to him. I cried again and he wiped them away. "I'm going to text my grandparents that we're going to stay at Parker's, okay?" he asked. I nodded and wiped my eyes. "My phone is in the kitchen - we have a charging station out there. Will you be okay for a few minutes?" "Hurry back, okay?" "I will." He slipped from under the covers and exited the room. I yawned and stretched lightly, already missing the feel of him. What was I going to do? If she moved in with him would I end up begging for couch space at Parker's or Travis's? I know she feels like she's been waiting and she wants to move on with her life, but doesn't she have a responsibility to me? I felt like I'd fulfilled mine to her - I'd never been any real trouble before. I think I was pretty respectful, and I got good grades. My parents had always said school is my job. The thoughts swirled in my head and I felt tired. I wondered what was taking Travis so long and was about to go in search of him when he re-entered the room. He slipped underneath the covers and pressed himself against me. He placed a soft kiss against my shoulder. "Doing okay?" "Better, now," I told him. "I called Parker and gave him a heads up. He cleared it with his parents for us to stay over. That's assuming you want me to come." "Of course I do," I replied. "I need you." "Okay. He's ready for us whenever. You want me to be your blanket for a while longer?" "Please," I whispered. He settled back in, and I breathed deeply and tried to get back to the way I'd felt before he'd left the room and left me with my thoughts. ~WH~ We hung out in Parker's room and, maybe because two of the biggest supports in my life were with me, I felt okay to collapse. I didn't have my blanket to keep things at bay, and I really couldn't keep Travis naked and in bed with me at all times. Even though I'd told Travis how I felt, in front of Parker I turned into a sobbing mess. I was loud enough that his mother noticed and she listened to the story with what seemed like a lot of concern. Parker had crammed all three of us in his bed, me sandwiched between him and my boyfriend. It was what I'd hoped for, and thank goodness Travis is so damn good to me as to not tell me he thought this was weird or anything. I felt safe to cuddle him and, in turn, have Parker cuddling me from behind. In the morning I hung around with them for a little while until I got a shock - my mother showing up at Parker's front door. "Boys," Mrs. Reid said to Parker and Travis. "Maybe you can give me a hand while Shane and his mom talk?" They both reluctantly followed her into the kitchen while I sat in the living room with my mother. It felt tense. While I'm not sure comfortable would be a term I'd have applied to being with my father, it had been what passed for normal. This, though, felt as if the very air had gained weight and were pressing down on me. My breath felt labored and my lungs heavy. "So Parker's mom called to tell me where you were. You left your phone at home and I was worried," she said, her tone bordering on bitter. "I'll try to remember it the next time we fight," I told her sullenly. She sighed and pushed her fingers across the top of her hand. "Okay, probably not the best starting point." She sighed and lifted her gaze to mine. "Shane, it's my fault we're practically strangers. You don't deserve that. I didn't talk to you enough to know you hated going with your father on those weekends. I don't know if I could have stopped him, but if I had known, I could have tried." She pursed her lips and looked down, and my stance toward her softened. "I guess I could have told you, but I figured you knew and didn't say anything. I mean, you knew he was taking me so...I guess I just figured you were okay with it." I shifted my hands restlessly. I felt a niggling feeling of doubt. Was there something I should have done? She folded her hands together. "No. But why would you think of saying something to me? I wasn't there for you. I suppose I thought your dad was molding you into a copy of himself, and I, mistakenly, thought you were happy with that. Of course," she said with a sigh, "I couldn't have been more wrong." I sat uncomfortably. I didn't know what to say next. It was true and yet it wasn't a pleasant truth. There was no relief that the gauzy uncertainty of what we'd allowed to pass as truth had been ripped away. She was, essentially, letting me go because she thought I was going to be a copy of a man she had fallen out of love with and was intending to leave. No doubt she'd have left me behind as well. "So. What now? You had a future planned, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't included. With Dad dead...." I left the thought hanging, unfinished. She leaned back a little in her chair, back bent forward. It was almost like she wanted to relax but her spine didn't get the message. "Well, there are a few options, and I think we should lay them out and talk about them." She hesitated and then said, "First I want you to know Cliff understands how you feel, and he's willing to make adjustments for your peace of mind." I lifted an eyebrow. "What adjustments?" "Well, this is down the road, but if we were to move in he said he'd keep anything he uses for defense at home in a bio-metric safe. In his bedroom so you'd never be confronted with it. I know it's not exactly what you stated," she said quickly, holding a hand up, "but hear me out." I ground my teeth together and nodded at her, not trusting myself to speak. "For the short term I think we should get an apartment. This will give you a chance to get to know Cliff, over time and without us all being in one house. Less pressure," she said with a little nod as if agreeing with herself. "I hope you'll come to appreciate Cliff and, maybe in a year or so, we can reassess." "And if it's not enough? What if I can't handle the idea of that weapon in the house with me?" She cocked her head to one side and looked past me. "Then we'll stay in the apartment until you're ready to leave for school or move into your own place. I won't make you move in where you'll feel so much stress, not as long as we can afford it. But I also think you need to get into counseling." I could swear I heard Travis say "Thank you" from the other room. Little spy. I could picture Parker and Travis doing their best to listen in and I smiled to myself. "Okay. What about tomorrow?" I asked, since it was Thanksgiving day and this is what had sparked the whole argument. "Cliff agreed it would be a bad idea to have it at his place. So we'll have him come over to our house. Maybe you'd like to have your friends come over later for pie." My friends. Funny. It was true, in the most basic sense. But maybe, with them listening in from the other room, maybe I should tell my mother who they were. I mean who they really were. "My boyfriend would love pie. He loves berry pies - strawberry, blueberry, raspberry - he probably likes that one that sounds made up. You remember?" I asked her. She nodded her head with a smile. "I remember. I brought it home just because it sounded funny." "Yumberry," we said together and let out a little laugh. "Parker is more than a friend, too, Mom," I told her. "He's the closest thing to... he's my brother. I love him and Travis and you're going to see a lot of them." "It's a good thing we have a lot of pies. Cliff likes to bake, and he's been pretty busy gathering everything he needs. I'll tell him about the hungry boys who will be stopping in for dessert," she said and reached for me tentatively. I stood and reached out for her and she followed through on her reach for me. It was a good hug, but odd. I don't recall my mother ever being the hugging sort. I don't know if she felt it, too, but it wasn't a long hug. She stepped back and looked at me, and I noticed how tired she looked. "I have some prep to take care of for tomorrow. Why don't you come give me a hand?" "Okay," I said. "Is it okay if I meet you at home?" "Yes. I have to stop by the store for a few things, and I should call Cliff." She paused and looked at me compassionately. "He's a good man, Shane. I hope you'll give him a chance." I took a breath. "I'll try." She nodded and touched my shoulder briefly. "That's all I ask." Parker and Travis entered the room and my mom went in to thank Mrs. Reid for letting us have our talk in her living room. I was kind of surprised when Parker hugged me. He leaned back and gave me a crooked grin. "I'm not calling you Bro. It's so lame. Maybe I should call you Ther?" "What?" I asked in confusion. "Everyone uses Bro. How about we use the part of the word no one uses?" he asked as if he were serious. Shit. I think he's serious. "Parker, no." He put an arm around my shoulder and looked at Travis. "Trav, meet my Ther - Shane Reid." "Park - what?" I looked at him, sort of forgetting the stupid 'Ther' thing of a moment. Parker glanced at me and put on his crooked smile again. "Blankenship is a lot to say. Besides, I'm pretty sure I don't like your dad. So you can have my last name. Can you imagine the fun we can have fucking with people?" "Parker! Language!" his mother said as she reentered the room with my mother. "What? I'm not supposed to say fun anymore?" Parker asked. "Your room is overdue for cleaning," his mother said with a slight edge to her voice. "Today's the day. Especially if you think you're gorging yourself on pie tomorrow." "But nobody sees my room! Why do I have to clean it?" Parker whined. "Aren't you embarrassed to have your brother and his boyfriend see it?" "Nah. They get me. Right guys?" He paused and glanced at us. "Guys?" "Um, it did kind of smell," I said tentatively and looked at Travis. "I almost tripped over a jockstrap," Travis deadpanned. "I don't own a jockstrap!" Parker stated. "That's the troubling part," Travis told him, and I burst out laughing at him teasing Parker. "You two," he said, pointing at us in turn. "I provided a valuable cuddle last night and this is what I get?" "True," I said with a grin. "I'll give you a hand." "That's kind of you - brotherly love, I'm sure," Mrs. Reid said. "But your brother has to learn his lesson so...he'll see you tomorrow." I winced. "Ouch. Text me later?" "If the Commandant lets me," he snorted and lifted the corner of his mouth up in amusement. "I'll see if I can get time off for decent behavior." "Isn't it supposed to be good behavior?" Travis asked. "We take what we can get," Mrs. Reid said with a chuckle. My mom headed out and I walked Travis home. We had our coat sleeves inside the other, again, so we could hold hands. "Sorry you had to hear all that," I told him. "Don't be. I want to know everything," he said and then paused and bit his lip for a micro-second. He glanced at me. "Sorry. I was just about to blurt out a bunch of crap. I was just putting the brakes on." I smiled at him. "You can ask or say anything, Travis. More than anything, I wish you'd relax and just let us figure this relationship out without relying on what Angie or Clint told you." He frowned lightly. "It's not entirely that. I mean, yes, I could probably embarrass myself and say a bunch of true but over-the-top things. They were right about not placing people on pedestals. I can see, in retrospect, how that wasn't going to work." He glanced up at me. "It's hard for me to accept this reality. You're so handsome," he said and blushed but plunged onward. "You're everything you said you'd be, right from that awkward way you asked me out." "That was a slick asking out. Don't you tell anyone otherwise," I told him seriously and then laughed as he smiled back. "I mean you've been honest. At first I worried this was some kind of joke. But now I'm kind of overwhelmed, because I feel so much for you and you...give it right back to me. It's hard to accept, in some ways, that there really is someone who can look at me and love me and...want me." "I do, though. I have for a while. I have to say, by the way, the extra pounds are looking good on you," I said and bumped him gently. He smiled and blushed a bit. "I'm glad your mom is getting you counseling. I was going to ask you, after we talked before, but it didn't seem like a good time." I sighed, my breath pluming before me. "Yeah. She'd brought it up before, but nothing came of it. You think I'm fucked up enough to need that? What if they think I'm nuts or want to medicate me?" He shook his head. "You're not fucked up. I mean, maybe a little. Who could see what you did and not come out with some stuff to fix? You don't have a chemical imbalance in your brain, so long term, drugs won't be the answer. I think you just need some help to cope with that whole thing." "I think a Travis blanket is a huge help," I told him. He blushed again and tightened his grip. "I'm glad to do my part." He pulled up and looked around us. "This isn't my neighborhood. It's yours." "I was hoping you'd come spend some time with me and my mom. I want her to get to know you." He hesitated. "Don't you think she's trying to spend time with you?" "She had time before and didn't. She'll have more time. Right now, if she wants to know who I am, she could learn a lot by being around the people I love." He eyed me for a moment and then sighed. "I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I'd do just about anything for you when you say you love me." I leaned down and gave him a chaste kiss. "I'll try not to abuse it the way you do your lip bite." "I don't...yeah, okay, fine," he said with a roll of his eyes and a grin. We spent the afternoon working with my mom. If she was irritated at it not being just she and I, she didn't show it. We worked on our traditional cranberry salad, the jello salad and ambrosia that adorned our table each year. As we did my mom got to know my boyfriend and got to see just how smart he was. I'm pretty sure she was impressed. Eventually he did go home, however. I texted with him and Parker that night. Parker was investigating other languages for less douchey ways to call me his brother. It was funny and endearing and totally Parker. ~WH~ Cliff showed up around one and I helped him bring in a stupid number of pies and one enormous fucking turkey. He seemed cheerful and not at all put out about dragging everything over to my house. In my mind I was ready to have some sort of disagreement with him, but he didn't go there at all. He seemed to genuinely look at my mom with affection, and I had to admit she seemed happy. It looked different on her. Good. I wasn't sure I'd ever really seen her look that way. We ate and Cliff asked after my friends. So I described Parker to him, referring to him as my brother, and Travis as my boyfriend. He said he was looking forward to meeting them, and I kind of believed him. My mom shooed us out into the living room while she finished loading the dishwasher. Cliff smiled at me somewhat ruefully as he sat. "So, obvious attempt for us to talk one-on-one," he said gently. I nodded. "Yeah. Subtle isn't what I'd call it." He nodded slightly and wove his fingers together. "Shane, I'd like to tell you a family story. Maybe give you some perspective. My goal, of course, is to try and build something between us. I'll tell you now I love your mom, and I've waited for her for a while. I'll keep doing that, so however you and I end up, that isn't going to change." He paused. "I think we can both agree that things would be more pleasant all around if you and I could find some middle ground." "Yeah, that's true," I agreed. "So here's my story," he said as he shifted on the couch to look at me better. "My grandfather fought in World War Two. He didn't like to talk about it very much, but I'd like to tell you what he told me the day he taught me to fire his pistol." He paused and waited to see if I'd protest, I guess. My muscles tensed and I was mentally prepared to fight whatever he might be trying to sell me, but I let him go forward without a fight. Yet. "When he taught me to use it it was the last time he ever fired it. He'd told me it had been put away for years, locked in the attic or something." He shook his head and looked away for a moment before returning his gaze to me. "I was all gung-ho about guns and the military and talking about how my grandpa was a war hero. He sat me down in his back yard and started to clean the gun while he explained things to me." Cliff ran a hand over his neatly cropped beard and let out a small sigh. "He told me he'd killed men. He said it gave him nightmares he could never let go of. He told me he hadn't slept without seeing the faces of the dead for the last fifty-ish years. He told me a gun is not a toy. Then he told me that the people he'd killed...they didn't know each other. They'd not had a personal dispute. His blood wasn't boiling mad with hatred for the enemy. By the end of the war, he said, his unit was marching on German units that were made up of children." He looked down and flexed his fingers. "He told me he hoped I'd never fire a weapon in anger or in war. He said he'd teach me to use it to defend myself, but that to shoot someone would forever change me, as it had him." Cliff looked up at me, his eyes shifting slightly as he took in my face. "If I'd gone through what you did, I might well feel as you do. I don't blame you. I respect you for identifying something you cannot be around and having the strength to make your needs known. It would be so much worse if you'd said nothing and moved in to make your mom happy and all the while be suffering and in fear." I swallowed hard. I didn't think it was brave at all to lose my shit and tell my mom I wouldn't live with a weapon in the same house. I thought I was just afraid. "One thing above all is you have to take care of yourself. You can't help anyone else if you're broken. I think you'd have a hard time being a good brother or boyfriend if you were in fear in your own home and having nightmares about things that provide me a sense of protection." He sighed. "My grandfather would have understood your pain in a way I can't. But because I loved him and I listened and learned from him how to respect a gun, I can empathize with how you feel. I know there are a lot of conflicting ideas about firearms in our country, and I wanted to tell you what I believe." I cleared my throat. "Okay." "I do believe in the right to bear arms, but I also believe in safety. I believe in licensing and practical uses like hunting or self defense. I don't believe in people having the power at their fingertips to assault schools or places of business. I think there is a reasonable ground to be found where the spirit of the second amendment and the rational will of people who don't want to be around firearms can be found." He locked his gaze to me. "People are more important than guns, and your mom is more important to me than guns." I nodded slowly. "That all sounds good, I guess. I'm not sure what you expect me to say, though." He smiled and placed his hands on his thighs. "Nothing, really. I just wanted you to know where I stood and to try and find out who you were. I'm not going to try and be a dad to you, but I would like us to be able to respect each other and be friendly. I think it's a reasonable goal. Would you agree?" I turned it over in my head. "Yeah. It's a reasonable goal." A knock came at the door and I excused myself to answer. I was a little surprised to find Parker, Travis and a tired looking Zane Thompson at my door. I'd expected Parker and Travis, of course, but Zane was a surprise. "I'm sorry to show up uninvited," Zane said apologetically. "But I have to say, Travis forced me." Noting the dark smudges under Zane's eyes, I smiled. "He can be tough when he wants to. Come in," I said as I stood aside and let them come in. I made introductions and we retreated to my room, since pie wasn't on offer yet. "So I was telling Zane how we were trying to figure out what super hero he'd be with his cane. A sword cane, something cool like that," Parker said as he flopped onto my bed. Zane sat in the desk chair and I pulled Travis against me on the other side of the bed. "He'd need a good name. What about the Canemaster?" I asked. "That makes me sound a little geriatric," Zane said with a little smile. "What do I fight? Orderlies for my nightly pudding?" "Zane would be the guy who they don't see coming. They'd discount him and then, with a quick move," Parker said as he leapt to his feet and did a funny little pirouette thing where he ended up pointing a fake sword back at us, "and quickly slice a jugular. Or something." Zane's lip quirked in amusement and some of his fatigue seemed to slide from his face. "What about you, Parker? What role would you play?" "I'd be like Spiderman. Quick with a line and a pretty girl on the hook." "Speaking of Angela, did you call her?" I asked. He rolled his eyes. "Yes, Mom," he said and flopped back onto the bed, making Travis and me bounce. "We said we missed each other and then sexted for a while." The room fell silent and Parker started to laugh. "Okay, I'm joking We just sexted." I shook my head while he laughed. "Like sister, like brother," Zane said quietly and we all laughed. "She's tough. I mean, at least sexting means I won't get a bruise. Did you know she is talking about joining a hockey team?" Parker asked us. "I think Clint mentioned something," Zane commented. "Team sports. Eww," Travis said and laughed. "She better be careful with you," I told him teasingly. "No more pain than you actually want." "Eh." Parker blushed just slightly and my jaw dropped at the sight. "She changed after the talk the other day. Before, a make out was like a battle. She showed me something different before she left, after dinner." Parker glanced at Travis. "Trav, you cool if I talk about her?" Travis waved a hand. "I'm over it." Parker nodded. "Okay. Yeah, so, she flipped a switch, man. Instead of whatever that used to be, it was like she really wanted me to know she liked me. I have to admit, I got the message." "Communication with a Fjeldsted can be confusing, but I find it very rewarding," Zane said, and he, too, had a little blush. "Trav,"I whined. "How come they are the only ones who get to say they're getting some, huh? Why can't I tell them?" "I never said you couldn't - what?" Travis asked as he craned round to look at me. "Whoa, whoa," Parker said. "Shane, not cool. You're supposed to give me details behind his back. If that's how it is, Trav," he said, looking at my bewildered boyfriend. "Was he any good? Be honest." Travis leaned back against me. "He knows he's perfect for me." I grinned at Parker and he groaned. "Trav! Come on, man! How can we bust his nuts if you go all mushy and honest, huh?" "So what would I be? I mean in this crime fighting thing?" Travis asked as he looked up at me, red faced and ignoring Parker's jibe. "Safely at home," I told him. "Nah," Parker jumped in. "He'd be the guy with the big computer, telling us where to go and to watch out for the huge army just around the corner. He'd be the brains." Travis lifted an eyebrow at me and smiled. "I like Parker." "Who doesn't?" I chuckled. "Okay, Parks, what about me? What's my role?" Parker looked at Zane and smiled. Grinned. And Zane grinned back. I became suspicious. Together they said, "Sidekick." I tilted my head. "Seriously? Sidekick? Pft!" We talked animatedly for a while, coming up with identities and setting up imaginary missions. We kept it up over pie and I barely noticed if my mom and Cliff were amused or annoyed with us. At one point Zane started to make some notes and we teased him, asking if he was going to write a book. My mother interrupted our fun by breaking out a board game and we had a spirited competition. It was actually the best Thanksgiving I could remember. The evening grew late, though, and Zane said he had to get going. I walked him to the door and Parker offered to walk with him. "I can walk myself, thanks, though," Zane said. "Zane. I gotta know the details of this book," Parker told him. "Oh, Ulterior motive? I'll tell you the plot," Zane said and leaned in. "Everyone dies in the end." "Okay, see? I have to give you a better story than that," Parker said firmly. Zane laughed a little, indulging Parker I guess. He turned to me and smiled a little wider. "It's kind of stunk with Clint all the way out in New York. I know it wasn't planned, but thank you for including me." "You're always welcome, Zane," I told him. "I had fun. I gotta keep tabs on you now, anyway. If you write a book I have to make sure I'm not a damn sidekick!" "Sidekicks are a necessity, Shane," he replied and shook his finger at me. "Seriously, though," I told him. "You looked pretty tired when you got here. You doing okay?" Zane froze for a moment, his mind perhaps racing to decide what or how much to say. His eyes looked a tad shiny and he turned his gaze to regard me. "It's been hard. Home isn't a comfortable place right now. With Clint gone this week...well, I was grateful for Travis's insistence." "Well, I can be insistent too. See you tomorrow?" I asked and held my hand out to him. His upper lip shook as if a raw nerve were jumping and he took my hand. "Tomorrow, then." Parker and Zane departed with my brother animatedly gesticulating as they headed down the sidewalk. I shook my head and smiled at them. "Travis? Are you staying the night?" My mom asked. He glanced at me. "Um. I have permission if Shane wants," he said. "I want," I told him and playfully squeezed and lifted him. "Stop. Put me down, nerd!" he said with a laugh. "Okay," my mother said and make an odd choking laugh. "Well, don't stay up all night. Cliff? I'm going to open that bottle of wine. Would you like a glass?" "Oh, I'm driving," he said with a wince. "No, you're not," she said and I cringed. "Trav, come on. I do not want to watch my mom flirt." I led him back into my room and closed the door. "Shane, I have to ask you something," he said. "Sure. What is it?" I asked as I sat on the bed. He stood nearby and looked down at me. "That whole...Travis blanket thing. Is it real? Does that really make you feel safe?" I smiled and let out a breath. "It's the most relaxing, comfortable thing I know. I wish I'd known before. I wish I tried to date you before." Tension flowed out of his form with my answer and he looked at me, I think, fondly. "I didn't really...deal with being bisexual until a few months ago. I'm not sure it'd have worked like it is now." He paused and looked at me shyly. "I like lying with you, too. I like hearing your heartbeat." I tilted my head. "Trav. If you want to lay down, just say so. Do you seriously think I'd say no?" He smiled tightly and shook his head. "No. But...I love you, Shane." I melted a little. "And I love you, Travis." "I was afraid this would leak so I stashed it under your pillow," he said as he climbed onto the bed and sat on me. He bent over and kissed me lightly and my heart fluttered. "Stashed what?" I asked a little breathlessly. He stretched past me and reached under my pillow. He paused and kissed me again and I stopped caring about what he'd stashed as I pulled him down and spent a good few minutes kissing the heck out of my boyfriend. He sat up and smiled, pressing his palm down on my pants and feeling my erection. "I guess you really are attracted to me," he said demurely. "I'm glad I brought this. I mean, if you want to." He lifted his hand and showed me a small bottle of clear lube. My eyes widened and I looked up at him. "Trav...are you sure?" He bit his lip. Oh boy. The End
  7. Dabeagle

    Chapter 4

    Wild Heart By Dabeagle email Thirty minutes later we walked much as we had before, the sleeves of our coats tucked together so we could hold hands in warmth. I chuckled to myself and Travis asked what I was laughing at. "You know I tell Parker just about everything. So when he was busting my nuts yesterday he first told me that Angie had given him a blowjob. But later he stopped by and told me, at the end of his visit, that it hadn't been true. He didn't want to tell me that he'd done things he hadn't just because he didn't want us to be competing over things like that." I squeezed Travis's hand. "I understand the wisdom of that, now. I'm so glad we did things our way instead of because of some imagined pressure from someone else." "Well, yours wasn't, maybe. I just wanted to be...I don't know how to say it." He paused and then stopped walking. I turned to face him, and slowly, as if feeling his way forward, he said, "When we went to bed last night we did things that were new to me but not to you. I wanted to be first with you. To have that...experience of doing something meaningful with you before anyone else did." "Do you feel like you got what you wanted?" I asked him and studied his face. He nodded and smiled, once more not a shy smile nor forced, not anything but happy. "I did. I'm good." "I'll say," I said and snickered. He bumped me and we laughed. Parker greeted us like long lost friends and we were soon outside with him trying to teach me to skateboard again. It was mostly a flop. The real fun got started when Parker suggested that Travis learn. The twinkle in his eye was too much to resist. "Um, I don't know," Travis said uncertainly. "Don't worry," Parker reassured him. "I'll hold on to one arm and Shane will have the other. You can't fall." Travis twisted his lips, clearly trying not to bite his lip. I held a hand out to him in invitation, and he sighed before giving us each a firm look. "You won't drop me?" "As if," Parker snorted. We took Travis in hand, each with a hand locked around his forearm and he gripping us identically. He balanced on the board and we walked slowly, letting him get used to it. Parker had me let go and he took Travis's other arm and turned Travis to face him. "Put your hands on my shoulders," he instructed. Travis complied and the slight wiggle of the board steadied. "Now the trick to this is balance. Bend your knees a little and, when you're ready, let go of me. If you feel like you might fall, grab me." I couldn't see Travis's face, but I could see Parker give him a nod of encouragement and Travis let go. He wobbled a little and reached for Parker but didn't actually grab him. A moment later he was pretty steady. "Okay. Trav, we're going to take your arms again. I want you to bend your knees and turn at the waist so you're facing the front of the board, mostly. Okay?" Once Travis had complied and Parker and I had a grip on him, we started to move, taking him to the end of the block and negotiating turning him back the other way. Then Parker grinned at me. His stride picked up and I matched him. Our pace picked up to a trot, and I checked on Travis, who looked concerned yet gamely riding on. We picked up a bit more and the cold wind whipped around us, turning Travis's pale cheeks red, and no one was more surprised than me when a smile bloomed on his face. We slowed to turn at the end of the block. Once we were headed straight Parker and I took off in a race. Travis called out in excitement as he flew along between us to the end of the block, where Parker and I pulled up, chests heaving like bellows. "That was so fun!" Travis bubbled as he stepped off the board and we released him. Parker and I both placed our hands on our knees as we recovered our breath. "It's freaking cold. Want to go back to my house?" Parker asked. I glanced at Travis, who nodded, and we headed back to crash at Parker's. "So what have you guys been up to?" Parker asked. "Parks!" I said with a smile and lifted a finger in warning. "Not that. Jesus," he snickered and rolled his eyes. "You guys have been hanging out. You can't screw twenty-four seven." Travis looked at me. "Is he right? I thought we could." I burst out laughing and Parker shot Travis an assessing look laced with humor. "You're a little different, Travis. I like it. But seriously, what do you guys do?" "Movies," I told him. "Godfather movies rock. Have you seen them?" "He's into the gangster movies right now," Travis said like an indulgent parent speaking of a child who was chasing a new activity. "Oh?" Parker asked, perking up. "Have you watched Goodfellas?" "I'm funny like a clown? I'm here to amuse you?" Travis asked in a weird voice, and Parker burst out laughing. "Have you seen it, Shane?" Parker asked. I shook my head and followed him into his house. "Okay. Shane, you're on popcorn. I'll get the blanket. Travis, make yourself comfortable on the couch and we'll bring everything to you - only 'cause it's your first time. After that, you're on your own." "Are you taking over the house?" Parker's mom asked as she entered the room from the kitchen. Her eyes settled on Travis and she asked, "And who is this?" "Mrs. Reid, this is my boyfriend, Travis Beauford." I stood beside him smiling widely. "Boyfriend? Well then," she said coming over and taking Travis's hand and leading him to the couch to sit by her. "You must be a remarkable young man to have tamed our Shane. We're kind of fond of him over here, you know." Travis gave her a smile and titled his head to one side. "You have a really nice home, Mrs. Reid." "Thank you, Travis. It would be cleaner but, well, Parker lives here." She grinned at him and turned as Parker whined upon reentering the room with a blanket. "Mom! I can't take over if you're keeping them from their jobs. Seriously, you're holding things up," he told her and dumped the blanket on the bed. He'd taken the opportunity to change into shorts now that we were inside and discarded his socks and shoes. "Shane is supposed to be making popcorn and Travis is supposed to be getting comfortable on the couch, but that can't happen because you're talking to Travis." She arched an eyebrow at him. "Continue." He smiled and rolled his eyes, warming to her challenge. "Shane is hovering, making sure he's here to support his boyfriend instead of making popcorn. He has to do that because I got the blanket and Travis doesn't know his way around our kitchen." "And I do?" I asked. He held a finger out to me, "If I want any crap from you, I'll squeeze your head." Looking back at his mom he said, "So now you met the boyfriend. You can see they love each other, and it's sort of disgusting and sort of cool, depending. Now we're going to watch a gangster movie before dad comes home and sits on the couch in his underwear, which makes no one want to sit on the couch anymore." His mother's lips were twitching like she wanted to laugh at her weirdo son. Instead she turned to Travis. "If you want I can block him while you get out the front door. After that, you're on your own." Travis laughed. "I'm good, Mrs. Reid. Thank you, though." "Okay, fine," she said as she stood. "I'll pump Shane for details. Come on, Shane, let's take care of the popcorn." "Crap," Parker muttered as his mom grabbed my elbow and steered me into the kitchen. She lowered her voice. "He is so cute! Where did you find him?" "Target. They had a sale," I told her. Arching an eyebrow at me she said, "You have been hanging out with Parker too much." I chuckled as I pulled out the popcorn jar and got to work on that. "We met at school. He was dating Angie, Parker's girlfriend." "Tell me about Angie," she said as she slid into a chair at her kitchen table. "Is she nice?" I thought for a second. "She's smart. I think she's nice sometimes, but she's tough. Like black-belt tough, literally. She liked Parker's quick mind - sort of a popular feature of his." "Oh, yeah," she said sarcastically. "I know I love it. Really, Shane - is he happy with her?" I started the microwave and turned to face her. "I think he's learning. And he's doing pretty well, I think. But that's all I'm going to say to my best friend's mom about his relationship." "Relationship? Is it that serious?" "Mrs. Reid!" I said and laughed. "Okay, fine," she said and threw her hands up in mock surrender. "How long have you and Travis been an item?" "Three-ish weeks. We started dating right about when Parker and Angie started." "They've been dating three weeks?" She turned her head toward the living room. "That little skunk." I poured the popcorn into the bowl. "Don't worry, Mrs. Reid. We've all had sex-ed." She turned back to face me with narrowed eyes. "You were so sweet before Parker ruined you, Shane. Go on, get out of here, you scalawag." I grinned and headed out into the living room with the bowl. "Finally! Take your pants off," Parker said. "What?" I asked as I barked out incredulous laughter. "I put on shorts. You and Trav have jeans. It's bad cuddle material - you know this. Take your pants off so Trav will, get in the middle, and we can get this started." "Get what started?" I asked while laughing at his idiocy. Travis was looking bemused but didn't look worried in the least. "Seriously. I've told my dad about sitting here in his underwear. I want to see what he says when I tell him we all sat out here on his couch in our underwear and see if it doesn't freak him out the slightest bit, you know?" "But you're wearing shorts!" I blurted and then felt stupid. "Christ. Do I have to lead you into everything? Do you have no motivation, Shane?" he demanded comically and stood, pulling his shorts off, and pulling the blanket over himself again. "Now come on, lose the pants - wait! Popcorn," he said, palm up and flipping his fingers in a 'hand it over' motion. I rolled my eyes and handed him the bowl. "This is stupid," I said as I unbuckled my pants. Travis stood, perhaps because I was, and we dumped our pants on top of Parker's shorts. "Parks, where is Angie and why aren't you trying to get into her pants instead of mine?" "I heard that!" Mrs. Reid called from the kitchen. "She's not in town," Travis said as I slipped under the blanket between him and Parker. "Clint and his family - his dad and Angie - flew out to New York this afternoon." "She did? They did?" I asked, looking between them. "Yeah. They went to see some relations out in this little town. Springy something." Parker shrugged and started working the remote to cue up the move. "Sanitaria Springs," Travis supplied. "Oh, man. She won't be here for the whole Thanksgiving break then?" I asked. "Nope. But she cooked a freaking feast last night, let me tell you!" Parker said and swooned onto my shoulder. "Brother-mine, that woman can cook like nobody's business. I'm serious. It was something French, and the girl has won my stomach." "Isn't it supposed to be heart? Win your heart?" Travis asked. "Same thing with Parker," I told him. "Shut up, Shane," he said and bumped me. He started up the movie and I was sandwiched between them, which was pretty fucking cool. I can say that in my head; it won't offend Travis. The movie was pretty great and I think Travis was right - I like gangster flicks. We were sitting on the couch about fifteen minutes after it ended, talking about the movie and specific lines that we thought were cool when his dad walked in from work. His dad is a nurse and was wearing scrubs under his jacket. Before he'd completed turning around from hanging his jacket Parker whipped the blanket off of us and stood. "Hi, Dad. How was work?" His dad took one look and fixed Parker with a stare. "Why are you all in your underwear on my couch? You think I want your skid marks rubbing off your shorts and onto my couch?" "Eh, you won't be able to tell between ours and yours. Kinda gross though, I'll give you that," Parker replied, grinning at his dad who grabbed him and started to rub his knuckles into his hair. "Punk. Like that, huh? Brat," he said as he and Parker tussled and laughed. While that went on, Travis and I went ahead and pulled our pants on. When Travis and his dad were done, Parker looked at us and his face fell. "What? You guys are leaving?" "I have to finish off that English paper for tomorrow. It's the only thing I didn't do before break," Travis said. "Mine's done," I said as I turned to Travis. "Maybe you want to look it over? See what you think?" "Perfect! Let's grab my lap top and you guys can help me write mine." Parker looked back and forth between us hopefully. "Parks," I groaned. "Really? You didn't do it?" "I started it. I got the title down pat. In my head." It was too stupid, we just laughed at him. We hung out in his room for a few hours. Naturally he wasn't that far behind - he loves to gently jerk people around. We all read each other's work, though, and made suggestions and improvements. Travis was clearly in his element dealing with academics, and I was impressed with some of the suggestions he made. Eventually we stopped that, though, and started making short videos on our phones where we reenacted scenes from the movies. It was hilarious, as we couldn't keep straight faces or stay in character, so we'd end up laughing or making someone else blow their line. Eventually, though, it was time to go. It was a school night, after all, and Parker's family had to sit down for dinner, and I'm sure Travis's grandparents were expecting him as well. We walked slowly through the cold, quiet streets. I was grateful the wind had died down so it didn't feel quite so bad. "So what do you think of my best friend?" I asked him. "Hmm. He's nuts. The good kind, though," he said and chuckled. "I had fun. Thanks for including me." "Anytime. I'm pretty sure Parker liked you a lot," I told him and walked closer, bumping our shoulders together. "I'm thinking you'd think everyone likes me," he said and laughed. "Naturally," I agreed. We walked up to his stoop, and I turned him around and hugged him close. "I love you," I told him. "I..." he leaned back and looked at me. "I didn't say it before. I wanted a perfect moment but you seem to get all those. I love you, too, Shane." The corner of my mouth lifted in a smile. I stroked his face and said, "Saying that made it a perfect moment, Trav." The kisses were gentle and sweet, nothing to scare the neighbors. Of course, I was kissing Trav and that had inevitable results. "Trav?" I grumbled, still planting small kisses on his lips. "What?" he managed. I leaned back slightly and grinned. "Would it be weird if I gave you a goodnight kiss on your dick back in your room?" We looked at one another for a moment and then burst out laughing.
  8. Dabeagle

    When to Critique

    This has been on my mind off and on for a while. There are writers of all stripes and there is an entire spectrum of ways to offer criticism and a matching spectrum of ways to deal with receiving criticism. Probably the first one many writers get has to do with punctuation. I remember well the first time someone said 'neat story, but you need an editor.' My first thought? Screw you! Which I guess brings me to my first point - being polite. Every single work of mine has issues and I know it. Every time I re-read something, I find something new. I'm often amazed at the number of eyes that go over a story and something still slips by. I'm convinced there are typo gremlins that adjust files before posting. Being told 'You need an editor' may be very true, but kind of rotten to say on its own. As time has passed I may ask if the author has thought of using beta readers or editors because I find my work improves so much with the extra input. Next, though more subjective, is the substance of a story. Given I write gay fiction there is a good chance that the characters I write about most will get together. This doesn't surprise folks. As someone I just exchanged messages with pointed out, it's more about the journey. That journey can have a lot of things happen between the first and last page and, for me, this is where beta readers come in. For me a good beta reader points out things (hey, he was Steve three lines ago, now you're calling him Simon) that you may have missed or changed by accident. I write along, looking at my keyboard as I go (don't judge!) and I have the scene playing out in my head and try to transfer it to the screen before I forget something. Like having another person in the room I didn't name or something that sort of ruins the whole thing. So with a beta reader, I try to knock down some of the criticism that would occur when reading something, especially items an alert reader might read and have them get jerked right out of the story. That also brings me to editors, which fill that role in my head of telling you where that comma ought to go instead of where you put it. No, not there. I had an editor who I shall not mention here because I'm going to try and get her to edit for me again, one day. But in my earlier work I'd write something like: "Says something," He coughed. If you're scratching your head, it's been pounded into me since that action, like the cough, is punctuated differently than 'he said'. To whit: "Says something." He coughed vs. "Said something," he said, and coughed. If your editor is pointing out the same mistake over and over, you may lose your editor if you don't at least make an effort to get better at fixing your own work. As a reader, especially with the lessons I've gotten from my editors, bad spelling or grammar will take away from my enjoying the story. That brings me to 'Look past that and just see the great story in there!' No. I'm sorry, it really doesn't (normally) work that way. Think of the last great movie you saw. Do you have any idea how much it could have been mangled by a poor editor? Or better still, the credit that film editor deserves for getting that great movie experience to you? It works very similarly in writing. If things are poorly punctuated it can change the meaning of sentences or paragraphs, leave you wondering who was speaking or acting in a given situation as a couple of for instances. This also brings me to the idea of listening to others. Not to the point you change who you are or your style, perhaps, but one of the great things that comes from a large writing community is the ideas people present. If you, as a writer, say 'I took a writing class and they said what you're saying is wrong' then you're kind of locking yourself in. There are tons of writing styles and no one, single right way exists for all people (except spelling and punctuation, folks) so be open to the ideas even if, ultimately, you don't use them. So that kind of brings us to - when do I critique something? That's a toughie. If I offer my thoughts, I choose to do it privately. Not because I know better, but because they are impressions. Recently someone said something to me that I can agree with, and I paraphrase - if you post online, you're asking for feedback. Good, bad or in-between. I love reading comments - especially speculation, but one comment sticks out for me: Well, I knew this was coming. I knew deep down Sean was just an asshole that was using Asher. Say what u will, but that's the truth. I think that Sean deserves way worse than just an STD. The fact that Asher forgave him was heartbreaking. To think that Asher thinks a lowlife piece of shit like Sean is all he can get. He deserves so much more. The end with he and Asher back together was pretty disappointing. As a writer, I loved the passion. Also as the writer, I was disappointed with myself because I didn't get the message across of who the character was and hadn't made him someone the reader could identify with. Not all readers can identify with a character, it's just not possible, yet that's the goal, isn't it? So, when do we critique? I think errors, feedback about confusing paragraphs should be done in private. If you're going to critique the whole thing, might be good to have some sort of rapport with the author (I break this one and never learn). If you see a spot where the story could have gone two ways, get on the message board. Start a discussion. No matter how many roads an author has envisioned, he can't see every possibility. Maybe what you say gets stored and used at a later date. A critique is like a good chat, a nice discussion over tea or coffee or beer. It's not personal.
  9. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    It's kind of amazing, really. One of the more widely accepted heartthrobs of recent memory was Zach Efron. He was wildly popular for a while, though I'm sure some would appreciate him more in his twinkier days that his more current muscular days. I read an interview once where he said something like his family kept him grounded, reminding him that he was another brown haired, blue eyed guy. I think it's easy to be blinded or unduly influenced by what we perceive as attractive. In Shane's case, it wasn't all about being pale or being athletic or any single aesthetic. He had things he liked about each individual. He likes Travis's bony frame because it belongs to Travis. Cynus laid out for me that the grandparents were former hippies who'd straightened up just enough to get jobs, more or less. That tells me their attitudes haven't changed and they are open to learning from their interactions regardless of the age or other potential limiting factors.
  10. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    Total of...lol
  11. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    There are five chapters.
  12. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    Wild Heart By Dabeagle email The clock read 3:24. It was the only real light in the room. I don't know what woke me. Probably just being in a new place. I shifted over against Travis and enjoyed the warmth of us pressed close. "Hmm?" he grumbled in his sleep. "It's just me. Go back to sleep," I told him. He didn't respond, just went on with whatever he might be dreaming. He felt different against me compared to Parker. When Parker and I had messed around he'd kind of been in charge. Things were more even between Travis and I. I was just as nervous as he was, anxious that he enjoy it as much as I did. Seeing his thin, pale frame laid bare was more exciting than I had imagined. I loved the feel of him in my hand, the curve of his dick as it arched back toward his stomach, so different from my own. I loved the softness of his skin and the way he'd let himself go once we'd started. His growing confidence that his passion was returned. Feeling his grip on me, his frantic groping only added fuel to our fire. Even cuddled together it was different, his thin body all angles and yet folded delightfully against me. The end wasn't really the end because the point, the goal hadn't been to just get off. Having him sprawled atop me, lazily tracing each other with our fingertips and slowly mapping out one another's bodies was so far above simply getting off. Even if it did happen more than once. Idly I stroked his skin, letting my fingertips run down his side and to his hip. Fooling around with Travis had its awkward moments, too. Like when he tried to roll on top of me and kneed me in the balls by accident. Even in the electric green light of his clock I felt myself grow emotional as I looked at his hair, askew. His face, peaceful and unworried in sleep. I leaned over and nibbled on his neck and he stirred. "Shane?" he asked sleepily. "What are you doing?" "I can't sleep. And," I said nibbling again, "You're cute and naked right next to me." "I'm tired. In the morning, okay?" he asked, his voice adorably thick with sleep. "Okay, Trav. In the morning," I agreed. I slipped an arm under him and held him close and, breathing his hair, sleep eventually claimed me. ~WH~ My mind struggled into wakefulness in pleasure and mild confusion. I opened my eyes blearily and became aware of a gentle stroking of my dick. "Morning," Travis whispered. I turned and looked at him and smiled. "Good morning to you," I replied and slowly moved to grab him, my arms still struggling to wake. Afterward we lay tangled and sticky. He wanted to clean up and I didn't care to let him go. He laughed lightly. "I was afraid you'd change your mind after seeing me naked once," he said, growing red-faced. "Are you kidding? I've been day-dreaming about what you might look like under those clothes." I nuzzled him for punctuation. "You're perfect," he blurted and then cussed under his breath. I snorted. "Hardly. Why are you grumbling?" I pulled back to look down at his face. His gaze was off to one side and rather than answer me he asked a question. "Did you ask Parker for advice about...us?" "Yeah," I replied in confusion. "I told you I did, remember? He called me a pussy?" "Oh, right, you did say that," he replied and let out a sigh. Still not looking at me he said, "I asked Angie what went wrong with our relationship and she said I seemed to want to worship her instead of date. Clint told me not to, you know, throw myself at you. He also told me to lay off on the...putting people on pedestals. I keep fighting that because you're so perfect for me and...I don't want to drive you away," he finished softly. "Well, first I'm going to kick Clint's ass, because you can throw yourself at me anytime you feel the urge," I said firmly and grinned at him. He smiled tightly. "Angie did tell me why you guys broke up and, honestly, I think you deserve to be on a pedestal. I hate that you put yourself down, and I know you have baggage and reasons why you do that, but...I used to just think you were cute and kind. Now that I know you I just...." He turned his head to face me. "What?" he asked quietly. Do I dare? I am about to cross a line into romantic silliness that I can never tell Parker about because I'd combust with embarrassment. Looking down into his eyes, though, it was the right thing to do. The right time. Hell, Travis was the right everything. "Travis, I have this theory that all hearts are born wild. Some get tamed because they fall in love. It creates bonds, you know?" "Okay. I think I can see what you mean." Feeling a little stupid and overly emotional to the point that I wanted to burst into tears I said, "I will find any way to your wild heart." He swallowed and stared up at me. "Does that mean....?" "I love you, Travis," I said steadily. I don't know if he actually started to cry before I did. I maintain it was the sight of him crying that made me cry, but in the end we were both a wet mess. Of course, Travis was convinced no one would ever fall for him. I told him I was afraid he'd stay with me for the wrong reasons or do things because I wanted to and not that he did. He dispelled that. So it was that Janet walked in on two naked, crying boys. "Jesus. Did you guys not use lube?" ~WH~ Somewhat sheepishly I sat at the dining room table while Janet put some eggs on a plate for me. Her husband sat across from me with a half finished plate in front of him. Travis had gone to take a shower not long after his grandmother had walked in on us. I'd dressed slowly, stalling for him to come back so we could 'come eat' as she'd admonished us to do. Travis was taking a suspiciously long time, though, so I ended up out there on my own. I mean, I could have stayed in his room until he got back but I have a feeling his grandmother would have come to get me, eventually. "Smells good," I said. "She's a fine cook," he said. "Work up an appetite, did you?" I flushed and looked away. "Um." "First time is always special," his grandmother said as she put a plate in front of me. "He's had enough crappy things between his mother, half-siblings and those neighbors of ours." "Why do you let her be so mean to him?" I hadn't intended to let the thought cross my lips. It was a burr to me, though, when they had done so much to care for Travis and yet left him exposed to her. Janet sighed as she sat down and took a sip of her tea. She glanced at me and said, "Parenting is sort of a crap shoot. You understand that, right?" "Well, he's never been a parent," her husband said reasonably. "No," she said agreeably while still looking at me. "But he's smart." I thought for a moment. "I can see what you mean from my perspective. You don't know what you're going to get for a parent or if they'll be any good at it." "There, you see?" she asked and he nodded. Turning back to me she said, "The same is true of children. Take a look at us. We're not violent. Sure, we do a little weed to relax and have the occasional glass of wine but outside of that, we don't go with the drug crowd. I know most people don't talk to their children enough about their bodies and the fact that every one else out there has one, too. They make such a big deal of covering their boobs or their balls," she said and paused to sip her tea before continuing. "I understand some folks want to be modest or feel others will judge them. I could care less about me, especially now. I've got the flabby, wrinkled balloons, and if I want to air them out and someone doesn't like it " too bad." "What does that have to do with Travis and his mom?" I asked warily. "Nothing," she said. "Except that it illustrates a bit of who I am and how I think. My daughter made different choices. Despite the example we set, she didn't turn out the way we did. It's a mistake parents make, thinking that because they want them to or because they set a certain example, their children will agree and adhere to their wishes." "Exactly," her husband agreed. "Gloria has three children from three different men. That in itself isn't such a big deal, you make children with whomever you want. But she didn't set out to get pregnant, and those men left her high and dry every time." "But-" "I know," she said with a hand in the air. "We do try to moderate her, and I know it hurts him. I do." She sighed and cradled her cup. "One day he has to make the choice to tell her to go shit in her hat, pull it over her head and see how she looks in brown curls. Until then, she can visit here." I shook my head at her. "What? You don't agree?" I looked back and forth between them. "Unless I'm crazy, and that's kind of debatable these days, there is no way Travis would ever ask you to throw your own daughter out of your home for his comfort." "But it's his home, too," she said with a puzzled tone. "Yes. One day he'll move out and then it'll be just yours again. But he can retreat to his room or go elsewhere to let you visit in the comfort of your own living room. Because that's who Travis is." He leaned back and looked at me with wide eyes. "Well, damn. He makes sense, hon." She pursed her lips. "Damn if he doesn't. Listen here, why are you out with us old folks arguing about his mother when you could be in the shower with him?" I blinked at her. "Because it feels weird to be in the shower with him and know that you know I'm in the shower with him?" In truth the thought hadn't occurred to me. He'd said the stuff dried to him was a little disgusting, and truth be told, I was ready for a shower too. I just hadn't felt the need, I guess. "Better get right over that," he said with a snort and chuckled. "Let me tell you, your pecker has a shelf life. If you're in love, don't pass up the opportunities." "For Christ's sake," Janet snorted. "He's got a brain." She glanced at me, "Teenage boys are usually little more than ambulatory boners. You seem to have enough blood to run your brain and get an erection at the same time." I sat and stared at her. She smiled. "Your eggs will get cold." "Morning," Travis said as he sat down. He was squeaky clean and looking more edible than the eggs. "What did I miss?" "Your grandparents think I should have conserved water and showered with you," I deadpanned. He looked at me steadily and, with the tiniest of devilish smiles said, "I waited as long as I could." "Are you serious?" I asked, well, seriously. "Your grandmother has noted he has a brain as well as a boner. I guess you'll have to do better than simply assume he'll follow his dick, Travis," his grandfather said and burst out in gravelly laughter. "I was kidding," Travis said to me somewhat contritely. "You're lucky you're cute," I told him and addressed my food. "So, Travis?" Janet asked as she slid a plate in front of him before resuming her seat. He looked at her in puzzlement. "What?" His grandfather bopped him on the shoulder. "Do you feel different?" Oh. My. God. They wanted details. "Really?" he asked and then let out an embarrassed chuckle, his cheeks red. "We didn't go that far." He paused and glanced at me and, I swear, it was a really loving look. "We went far enough, though. And it was good." "Hot damn!" his grandfather said and slapped a palm on the table. "This is so weird," I mumbled. Even though I felt embarrassed I think their honesty about near everything was infecting me. I looked at Travis and said, "We bring our own lube. If some of theirs goes missing, they'll ask more questions." Travis bubbled out embarrassed laughter, his face red. His grandparents laughed as well, and I was hard pressed not to smile too much. "You guys heading out today?" "I need to go home and get cleaned up," I said. "What do you want to do after?" "Oh. Uh, I assumed you'd hang out with Parker," he replied. "Well, probably. But you can hang with us, can't you?" I asked in confusion. "Um, yeah," he replied, seeming to be unsure. "We've been doing basically what I want " watching all the movies. Why don't you pick something?" Even though his grandparents were permissive in the most extreme sense, I still couldn't voice the thought that, were we doing as I wanted, he'd be naked all day. Not just for that, either. We could watch movies or play games as long as we were pressed together. Shit, we could nap and I wouldn't care much. "Well, Parker is trying to get me to ride a skateboard. Want to watch me fall on my butt?" I asked and grinned at him. "I can film it," he replied promptly. "Hey, we could film quotes from the movies." He looked at me brightly and I smiled at him. Affecting a bad accent I said, "It means Luca Brasi swims with the fishes." "Sleeps! Not swims!" he said and laughed in delight. "We filmed once upon a time. Didn't we?" his grandfather said to his wife, looking at her wistfully. Oh. Oh, they mean. I glanced at Travis and his cheeks were red. Oh. But to be able to look at him like that at any point. I liked that. The day was cold. We put the cuffs of our coats one inside the other and held hands as we walked. "Do you like any sports?" I asked. "God, no," Travis replied and wrinkled his nose. "Good," I said and laughed. "Do you? I'm guessing not by your answer." "I don't care much one way or another about sports. You know how it is when someone is really into them, though." "Annoying. Like I can be with my movies?" "I sense a trap," I said and rubbed my chin as if in thought. Travis bumped me with his shoulder and I chuckled. "I mean more how they yell and scream at the TV or get all excited at the idea of hurting someone else. Just...weird." "Yeah. Jocks. I don't understand them," Travis replied. "What do you like to do, though? You've totally bent over backwards watching movies with me, what do you like?" "I'm easy, I think," I told him and he snorted. "Not like that, punk." "I don't know," he replied in a teasing tone. He'd changed overnight, practically. I liked it. "Okay, for you, yes. I'm easy." "You were easy for Parker, too," he said and laughed. "No. He had to work for it. It was the opposite here; I had to work for you." I poked him and he squirmed away. "You were playing hard to get." We walked a few more blocks like that and arrived at my house. I was a little surprised not to find my mom's car. I checked my phone as we entered the house. I had set it to silent the night before and didn't see her text. I frowned as I read she'd gone to visit at Cliff's after work. Oh well, she wasn't home. Something for later. We entered, and I left him in my room as I went to shower. I was standing under the hot spray trying to scrub the dried spend from my stomach when Travis's voice startled me. "Hey, Shane?" I slid the frosted glass door open slightly to look, but he wasn't in the room. "Yeah?" Motion caught my eye just outside the open door. His foot as it swung back and forth. He must have been seated with his back to the wall in the hallway. "You said you and Parker fooled around?" "Yeah. Like you said you and Clint had a thing," I said, wondering where he was headed. I closed the door and resumed cleaning. "How far did you guys, you know, go?" His voice had a slight warble. Not as confident away from the permissive grandparents, maybe. "Kissing. Jerked each other off. Parker made a huge mess. Why? How far did you and Clint go?" I was curious as to why he was asking, and of course thinking of these things was making me plump up. "N...not as far as you did. We were going to fool around and then...." I didn't hear anything else and I wondered if his voice was just drowned out from the spray or if he'd stopped talking. "What? You were going to fool around and then what?" I heard the hollow sound of him sitting down on the toilet lid. I opened the door a tad, trying not to get water everywhere and still see what was going on. He wasn't trying to look at me, and I wasn't sure if I should be offended or not. A closer inspection showed a crease on his forehead and pursed lips. I decided to get my shower done with despite the sudden urge to invite him to join me. I liked fooling around with Travis, but I also wanted to get him to Parker's and just hang out with them. After rinsing my hair and trying not to be too self-conscious while I'd had my eyes closed, I shut the water off and grabbed my towel. We have a tile floor in the bathroom. It can be cold in the winter, like now, and I have a habit of doing a lot of drying in the tub. Once out, though, my bravery vanished and I felt a little silly. I wrapped the towel around my waist and squatted before Travis, who seemed frozen. His eyes tracked me, though, and he glanced away for a moment. "Clint and I didn't really do anything," he said. "Good. He missed his chance. Fucker's already in the " what? What's wrong?" He waved a hand at me. "Nothing, really." "Travis," I said in a warning tone and tipped forward to kneel before him. "Let's not start out by thinking there are things we can't tell each other. Huh?" A small smile flashed across his face. "I know. I'm weird." "You're mine. Whatever your problem right now is, that's mine, too. So give." He let out a tiny sigh and closed his eyes. "It's not a big deal. I don't like swearing. You don't swear much, but that one caught me off guard and it was about my best friend." I felt a little sheepish. "I was only fooling, Trav. I mean, he is on my list for telling you not to throw yourself at me. I want you to do that," I told him and chuckled. He smiled thinly. "Really, I didn't know it would bother you. I'm sorry." "That's small," he said and leaned back a touch and finally meeting my eyes. "When I mentioned that Clint and I...I may have misled you, a bit." I frowned lightly. I wasn't sure why he'd have not told me the truth, but I wasn't really sure what it changed at this point. It appeared he wanted to set things straight, so..... "Okay. Well, what's the whole truth?" He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "We didn't really, um. It wasn't so much fooling around as, kind of, a failed attempt." I tilted my head to one side. "Okay. Why is this an issue?" He grimaced slightly. "Well, we were going to. Only I said I'd experiment with him, and he wanted his first time to be more than satisfying someone's curiosity." "Understandable. Surprising for someone who had you in front of them, but okay. What's the big deal?" He twisted his hands together nervously. "When we went to bed he rolled over and he...poked me. I told him he was and he stopped. I'm pretty sure he went in the bathroom and, you know, took care of his situation." "Okay. I'm still not seeing the problem, Trav. Help me out here." He sighed and met my gaze. "I know you don't like me being self-deprecating. You have to understand that, for me, it feels like I'm being honest. I'm a pale, skinny nerd, and up until last night....I had no experience." I looked at him with what must have been a perplexed expression and shivered as a cool drop of water raced down my back from my hair. "I still don't understand why you're upset. I've already told you I love you as you are." He looked at me like he was going to cry, which made the back of my throat tickle with a threat to join him. "I had no idea what I was doing last night. I might have given you the idea that I have some experience but I'm...a total virgin. A loser." "No. No, no, no," I said firmly and stood, quickly wrestling my towel into place as it came loose. I pulled him up to a standing position and cupped his face in my hands. "There is nothing wrong with you. I'm glad I don't have to compete with someone else you've been with in your mind. I'm totally happy to explore all this with you " can't wait, in fact. When are you going to get that I love you, I think you're sexy and...I mean, that's kind of the whole thing right there." "But...what we did...you'd already done with Parker." "And?" He looked at me steadily. "I want to be who you've gone farthest with. I don't want to compete with Parker " I want to...to...." "There is no competition. You're my boyfriend. I'll tell you that a million times until it starts to sink in." He bit his lip. Oh, I'm fucked. Whatever is coming next, he's getting his way and he knows it. "Can I dry your hair?" Okay, not something I'd have guessed, even though I wasn't sure where his mind had been headed. "Uh, yeah, sure. If you want." I turned to reach for a towel, trying to adjust the one around my waist. You really can't move as a guy in a towel and have it stay. How do women do that boob tuck thing and have it work out? Was it the sponginess of a breast or something? That thought process ended abruptly when I lost the towel from my waist. I turned quickly, one hand slapping down to try and catch it, but Travis had it in his hands. He lifted it tentatively and, feeling a little silly, I tilted my head down so he could more easily reach. He started to dry my hair, but not as I usually did which was to rub it quickly. "You should pat your hair dry. It causes it to frizz if you don't," he said quietly. "Angie told me that. It's true." "Oh, okay," I said. He started wiping my neck, leaving my head covered. He jostled me slightly, hands falling away, and I adjusted my footing " and then nearly fell down as my dick was suddenly wrapped in a warm, wet embrace. "Oh my....holy....Travis!" I grunted and started to move a little, but the feelings were beyond my ability to process. My knees felt a little weak and I leaned back slightly and made contact with the sink which I was grateful for " at least I wouldn't collapse to the floor. It took almost no time for me to be completely hard and then to completely empty my balls. I mean, for the rest of my life, empty. My mind whirled and tried to grasp the whys and what just happeneds. My dick felt sensitive and my body so, so relaxed and then Travis pulled the towel off my head. His expression was determined. Resolute. Perhaps slightly nervous. "Now it's just me. I've-" I grabbed him, picking him up and kissing him hard. He wanted to feel confident that he was at the top of the pecking order or whatever screwed up little thing was going on in his head? I'm fucking game. I started backing him out of the room, pulling at his clothes as I went. He retreated steadily under my assault, initially protesting that I didn't have to do anything but I was beyond pretty words and declarations. Travis had opened a door and I was going to walk through it. Just the idea had me standing up at attention again. I pushed him back onto my bed and he looked at me a little dazed and with puffy lips. I grabbed his shoes and yanked them off unceremoniously before grabbing for his belt. The buckle seemed too much for me, for some reason, as my fingers just fumbled so I grabbed his pants at the waist and just pulled. "Shane! Let me...okay!" He hollered and began to fight with his buckle. His words didn't make any sense, and unless I heard stop or no I was probably a little deaf. The pants slid down his legs, dragging his underwear in their wake, hanging cockeyed around his knees. Only for a moment, though. With a final double yank his socks joined everything else on the floor, and I climbed onto the bed after my boyfriend. He backed up a little on the bed, maybe to make room for me, maybe as a tentative retreat " I'll never know. I had one thing in mind and for once it wasn't kissing him or even building up from his neck to his nipples. He'd been pushing his heels in to back up so his legs were already open to me - I nudged his legs a little for more access and dropped my face on his groin. "Ohmigod!" Travis burst out. Oh my God was right. The bend in his dick was pronounced and I felt every bit of that curve as I pushed my face down until I had every bit of him in me. Travis has a penis that was in proportion with his body " no tiny guy with an enormous dong. I liked that, especially right then, because I pulled back and dropped my face down again to engulf every bit of his manhood. "Holy...crap," he groaned as he wiggled under me. "Uh. Oh, Shane this...you didn't...." His litany went on and the excitement in his voice, the breathlessness, only urged me on. I'd do this again, slower, try doing different things to make him feel good, but right now this was about making this boy feel like who he was " number one. "I'm close!" he said, his voice straining. I pushed down and reached beneath him, gripping his butt and pushing him up. He released and I could feel the head of his dick twitching and pulsing against the back of my mouth. I stayed in place, sucking slightly just because saliva was running from me like I was starved or something. When I did lift my head I looked up at him. He was staring down at me, eyes wide and mouth slightly open. "I didn't mean you had to do it back," he said, voice zonked. "Don't you get it?" I asked as I crawled up his body until I could look directly in his eyes. "I want to. I want you." He smiled. It wasn't shy, not sly. Not scared and not worried. Happiness. "I'm yours, then." I pulled him over on top of me, right how I liked him " sprawled across me like a Travis blanket. I held him loosely while trailing my fingers up and down his skin. I felt incredibly sated and comfortable. I loved the fooling around, but the moments afterward were a close second. There was a peace, a relaxation with him in my arms, flopped on top of me and the toes of his feet resting on my shins, that went beyond being horny or whatever. I think, maybe, it's where love lives, in those tender moments after the heavy breathing and wet sounds have faded away. As I held him I reflected that wild hearts weren't like horses, who had to be broken in order to be ridden. Wild hearts were simply looking for the territory that would let them roam free, yet have a place to call home. A sense of responsibility, of love and protectiveness swept through me as I realized Travis's heart would call mine home. That was enormous. More than my mind could process and I wasn't sure I'd really understood that until that very moment. I would rise to that challenge " I'd found my way into his wild heart.
  13. Dabeagle

    Chapter 2

    I only really liked one thing by them, and of course I can't remember it.
  14. Dabeagle

    Chapter 2

    I recognize some of the band names, but only only song that I can be sure of. Terminally uncool, just as my kids!
  15. Dabeagle

    Chapter 2

    I'll ask the same thing I did on my own board - what songs make you emotional?

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