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craftingmom last won the day on November 24 2014

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About craftingmom

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    Bisexual, leaning male
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  1. craftingmom

    May CSR Discussion Day: Lie of the Serpent by Craftingmom

    Thanks everyone for reading and the comments! I can't guarantee a story for Eddie yet, so I won't make any promises. I'm desperately trying to finish Ripped, then have thoughts on the third Neko installment. I'd also like to finish The Line shorts in the anthologies (hopefully for the fall one).
  2. craftingmom

    May CSR Discussion Day: Lie of the Serpent by Craftingmom

    Well, of course there's always the possibility that some readers will have a harder time reading it than others. And while I often get brutally real, I also always try to lead my characters to a happy ending where they can at least begin healing. Most of my characters are still healing well after the end of the story. I try to be blunt with the fact that a story contains some kind of abuse, and I think by now readers understand how much hardship and pain many of my characters go though, and hopefully trust me to bring them out on the other side. I guess while my readers have to trust me to some extent to give them hope, I also have to trust that my readers will know what they can handle and choose not to read a story that's too much for them. I know some won't read my stories until they are completely posted for similar reasons, and I totally get that. I know my stories are tough to read and are definitelynot for everyone. That being said, there was a tiny moment when I debated letting Wyatt succumb, and then focusing on the aftermath for Bryan. But as much as I put my characters through, I have a very hard time killing them off. I've only done it once or twice, and those were in my early, young adult work.
  3. craftingmom

    Chapter 24

    Actually, I have the weird schedule. I head upstairs "to bed" at like 8-9, but then watch TV, read, etc. And when he comes up to bed at 11ish, that's when I (at least used to) get up to go write. For some reason, I write best in the middle of the night around midnight to 3am, which he knows, so he PLAYFULLY shoves at me to go write. It's a bit of a joke in our house because he keeps 'advocating' for my readers to make me write. I sleep until about 11am if I'm up that late as do daycare for my nephew who I pick up at 2:00 in Charlestown, WVA and bring back to my house until his dad can pick him up. So yeah, I'm the odd one with the 'night job' so to speak. (plus, for some reason, I think I sleep best from 7-11 am--maybe because I do have the bed to myself ).
  4. craftingmom

    Chapter 24

    Thanks everyone! keep on nudging! I'm getting there. Next chapter is looking to be much longer (already 3k+). My husband is doing a good bit of shoving me out of bed when he comes up to sleep to go write lately, so I'm making more progress...
  5. craftingmom

    May CSR Feature: Lie of the Serpent by Craftingmom

    Thanks for the comments! Just finished the interview questions and sent them to Cia for Monday! (and yes, I'm still working on Ripped--this next chapter is getting rather long)
  6. craftingmom

    Chapter 24

    Hope so!!
  7. craftingmom

    Chapter 24

    Chapter 24 --Bailey— Bailey wriggled under the heavy blanket covering him, wanting to burrow even farther into the bed. Morning was trying to make itself known by casting its warm glow across the room, hitting the wall in front of him. Although, strangely, his alarm hadn't gone off. At the moment, he didn't care. For the first time in months, he felt at peace... safe... whole. Maybe he should bury himself in a ton of blankets every night. Then he remembered why he didn't do that. The heat. God, he was hot. And how many damn blankets had his mom thrown on him in the middle of the night? Bailey wriggled a little more—and... the blankets... tightened around him? Bailey fought to pull himself from sleep. White walls, not dark cream. Navy blue sheets, not his green. Where—? Oh, god. That's right. He'd stayed over in the dorms, in Declan's room. In Declan's bed. He froze at the moan from behind him... and the large body pressed up against him. Shifting. A hard length nudging him. A thick arm wrapped around his chest. The heavier weight blanketing his body. Declan. "...ailey... nhnn..." a breathy whisper tickled his neck. Bailey felt his own body respond instantly, and he gasped, driving his own hips forward into the mattress. He wriggled again as Declan's throaty moans shot straight through his core. "Mmmmm... Declan..." he groaned. Declan stilled instantly. Bailey gasped out a surprised breath at the sudden lack of movement. "W-what...?" Declan's confused voice huffed next to Bailey's ear. Bailey wriggled in Declan's hold, but that only seemed to snap Declan out of his haze of sleep even faster. "Oh, shit." Declan jerked back, attempting to pull his arm off of Bailey. "Oh, my God... Bailey... I... I'm so—" "You say that alot." Bailey smiled briefly into the pillow at Declan's adorable embarrassment, but he grabbed the thick arm as it tried to retreat. He could feel Declan trying to squirm his body away from where he'd been pressing Bailey into the bed. "Don't." Declan stilled with just that one word, stopped trying to pull away. "Bailey, I didn't mean—" Declan's voice was hoarse, rough with sleep. "I would never—" "I know." Bailey rolled under Declan's arm until he was on his back facing up at Declan who was at his side staring down at him. He allowed Declan's arm to loosen but not to retreat completely. "I meant to go back, you know, to Evan's bed after you fell back asleep, but I guess I fell asleep too. And I usually wrap around a pillow... but because you were there instead... I must have... you know..." He flopped the hand Bailey was holding, trying to make his point clear. Bailey squeezed Declan's wrist to stop his rambling, dropping his own eyes. "I had a nightmare, didn't I?" Declan just nodded, and Bailey swallowed thickly. "I'm sorry. Was it bad?" Declan shrugged. "I don't know what 'bad' is for you, but you got a little rough with the wall. Logan came in wondering what was going on." "Oh, God," Bailey groaned, hiding his face behind his hands. He felt Declan tug one hand away gently. "Hey, it's okay. It happens. Don't worry about it. I'm sorry you have them, you know, about your dad." "Thanks." Bailey patted Declan's arm lying across his belly. Silence hung between them for several moments, the air thick with unspoken words. Declan's fingers had started rubbing across Bailey's ribs where the shirt had ridden up in his sleep, probably an unconscious nervous movement Declan wasn't even aware he was doing. Bailey lifted his head slightly, enough to brush a kiss across Declan's pink lips. As he fell back, Declan followed, pressing for more. Bailey felt the tip of Declan's tongue teasing along his bottom lip, and he opened, allowing the tentative kiss to deepen. Declan's kiss was hesitant and unsure at first, much like it had been the first time. But it didn't take long for Declan to get over his uncertainty, and Bailey moaned at the delicious assault on his mouth. Declan eventually pulled back, panting. He looked almost pained, and Bailey realized how still Declan was trying to hold himself. "God, Bailey... I don't know... I'm sorry I—" "Hey, hey, it's okay," Bailey whispered softly. "I'm not exactly immune to you either." Declan lifted his head slightly, following Bailey's line of sight to the lower half of the bed. His eyes widened slightly. Bailey could tell that his admission eased some of Declan's embarrassment. Declan ducked his head, trying to look anywhere by into Bailey's eyes. The tinge of pink on his cheeks still very prominent. "Yeah, um, maybe I'll just head to the bathroom for a moment..." Declan mumbled, trying to extricate himself from the covers without touching Bailey any more than he already had. "Geez, Declan, lighten up," Bailey smacked at Declan's chest. "You act like you've never fooled around before." Declan froze, wide uncertain eyes staring at Bailey. "Ohhh..." Bailey abruptly realized why Declan looked so nervous and insecure. Declan probably hadn't ever fooled around before, because he'd barely admitted even being gay until just recently—whereas Bailey had had a boyfriend at his last school, and yeah, they had fooled around some, exchanging mutual hand jobs a couple of times. Declan, this big macho tough guy, was scared and uncertain, even as he obviously desired more. Bailey lifted his free hand and cupped Declan's cheek, the slight stubble rough under his fingers. "Hey, it's okay. This is new to both of us." Declan cleared his throat, his finger absently tracing a pattern over Bailey's belly. "Have you ever... you know?" Bailey quirked an eyebrow at him. "What? Had sex?" Of course his bluntness caused Declan to turn beet red, so Bailey took pity on him and didn't wait for him to respond. "No, not really." Declan's hand stilled. His fingers wrapping around Bailey's hip possessively, and Bailey smiled, certain Declan wasn't even aware of what his hand was doing. "What do you mean 'not really'?" Declan growled. Bailey's hand brushed Declan's jaw before stroking down his neck soothingly. "I mean, just a little making out, a hand job or two. I did have a boyfriend at my old school." "Oh, yeah. The one that outted you to your team." "I was already out. I just hadn't advertised it. It wasn't his fault my old team was a bunch of homophobes," Bailey said as the rough pad of Declan's thumb teased at his hipbone. "You didn't ever go on a date? Kiss someone? A girl, maybe?" --Declan— Declan sighed, relaxing a little bit more against Bailey's smaller body. This really wasn't what he wanted to talk about—his previous sex life or lack thereof. But it had helped distract his dick, which was slowly deflating—thank God. How fucking embarrassing was that! Waking up to find himself attempting to bury himself in Bailey. And then to see that Bailey had been turned on as well... Declan was sure his face couldn't have flamed any redder. Yet, Bailey didn't seem to mind, easily helping to deflect Declan's embarrassment over the whole thing. And that kiss. Oh, hell, that kiss. Yeah, he wanted more of that. And even of this... just lying next to Bailey, being this close to another guy he was interested in, practically cuddling. As his fingers stroked over taut muscles and sharp bones, he was amazed that he could actually touch someone like this without feeling guilty or ostracized for his desires—his thumb teasing at the edge of Bailey's sleep pants. It was freeing, really, to finally be able to give in to his yearning, one that Bailey had fully awakened in him. Maybe they could just lay here all day... "Declan?" Bailey's sleep rough voice brought him back to the present. What were they talking about again? Oh, yeah... his previous sex life. "Yeah of course, I've been on dates, kissed a few times, made out a little. But they were girls. Kissing them... well, they expected like romance and fireworks or something. And making out... well... Girls are different than—" Declan paused, staring down at Bailey. "Well, different than a guy. They're all soft and squishy. I realized a while ago I preferred more hard planes and rough edges." "Really?" Bailey teased. Declan smirked back, his eyes going darker. "Yeah really. Like broad shoulders and hips... like this." He ran his thumb over Bailey's sharp hipbone, sliding slightly lower. "And kissing you just now... so different. I don't feel like I'm going to break you, even though you are smaller like a—" Declan broke off, grimacing at what he'd been about to say. Comparing Bailey to a girl probably wasn't the best idea. Bailey chuckled. "Trust me. I've been called much worse than a girl." "You're nothing like a girl," Declan growled, dropping his head to kiss Bailey again. It was rough and possessive, nothing like he would ever consider doing with a girl. Bailey opened to him, and Declan felt Bailey's hand slip into his short hair, tugging him closer, accepting the grinding of their lips eagerly. Declan's grip on Bailey's hip tightened, his thumb scraping over the jutting hip bone. One part of his brain registered thicker raised lines under his thumb and wondered absently what they were? Did Bailey have some sort of cut or wound or something on his hip, like the one he'd seen earlier this week on his chest? But lost in the heat of the kiss—and his blood trying to rush south again—Declan couldn't focus on them. He should ask later... Bailey's hand drifted down, cupping Declan's neck before scraping over Declan's muscular chest. Declan hissed his approval into their kiss. Odd scar lines forgotten, Declan slid his hand around Bailey's back, intending to draw him closer. "—you guys coming or—? Oh, holy hell!" Micah's voice was like a bucket of cold water being dashed over them. Neither Bailey or Declan had heard the door to the suite bathroom opening. "Are you guys having sex?" Logan asked. Declan dropped his head to the pillow next to Bailey's, trying to hide his embarrassment. "Don't you guys ever knock?" "Don't you ever lock the door?" Logan shot back. "We always come over to get you for breakfast and you insisted nothing was going on between you two." Declan finally rolled over, sitting up on the side of the bed, while Bailey propped himself on one elbow. He saw Micah's smug grin as he leaned in the doorway. "What?" Declan groaned, knowing the guy was dying to say something. "I guess 'not yet' came sooner than you thought," Micah sang. Declan dropped his flushing face into his hands, trying to hide his embarrassment, when he heard soft giggling next to him. He lifted one hand and arched an eye at Bailey, who didn't seem nearly as disconcerted at being caught by Declan's suitemates. "Screw you," Declan finally snapped at Micah. "Bailey had a nightmare... and... and... I just fell asleep next to him after he fell back asleep." Micah pointed at the bed. "That was not just sleeping. It was kinda hot actually." Micah cocked his head, grinning. "Can you do it again?" Declan glared as Logan burst out laughing at Micah's antics at riling Declan up. Declan instantly reach over, grabbed a pillow and flung it at Micah. It hit him square in the chest. "Hey!" Bailey piped up. "We were using that." Micah held it out with two fingers. "Should I be afraid to touch...?" "Oh fucking hell!" Declan yelled, stomping across the room and snatching the pillow from Micah's hands. "You really are an ass." He forcibly turned and shoved Micah and Logan back through the bathroom door, starting to close it behind the two. "We'll be ready in ten minutes if you want to wait. Otherwise, go on without us." Micah poked his head back in. "Ten minutes? Is that enough time? Or did you already... you know... finish?" "GET OUT!" Declan roared, plastering his huge hand on Micah's face and shoving him back enough to close the door—and lock it. Loud hysterical laughter could be heard on the other side of the door. Declan slumped against it. God, he was so fucking embarrassed by Micah's ridiculousness joking around. He finally got himself together enough to face Bailey again. "Sorry about him." Bailey's face was flushed slightly, apparently not totally immune to Micah's insinuations, but he didn't look upset or angry, just amused. "Hey, that was actually the nicest reaction I've ever had when other guys have caught me kissing someone. At least he wasn't ready to beat the hell out of me, accusing me of corrupting his 'straight' friend." Bailey was crawling out of the bed, and Declan took in his swollen lips and the thin strip of skin peeking out between his t-shirt and where his sleep pants had slipped lower on his hip from when Declan had been rubbing it. Declan vaguely registered the harsh lines peeking out from under the waistband before Bailey absently hitched them up. What were those marks...? Fuck, did I scratch—? He froze as Bailey's words sunk in. Wait, what did Bailey just say? He'd been beat up for kissing a guy? Declan popped his head up. "Jeez, Bailey, has that actually happened?" Bailey shrugged. "Once." He grabbed his backpack as he stepped closer to Declan. Declan could feel the frown creasing his face, his hands tightening to fists. "Don't," Bailey said simply, laying a soothing hand on Declan's chest. He petted Declan, like he was attempting to calm a Doberman. "It was a while ago, far far away. Just think about it. Micah's teasing shows his acceptance. That's actually pretty awesome. Most of the guys here seem to be like that, which makes Heritage a pretty safe place to be, with a few exceptions—*coughs* Chris." Declan caught Bailey's hand, smiling down at him. "Yeah. Yeah, I guess you're right. I'm just not used to it being directed at me yet." "Get used to it. That's what guys will do. Harass each other, joke around. You guys seem like really good friends. You know he's not trying to be mean, and it's something new, so of course he's going to be all over it." Declan rolled his eyes. "Oh, yeah. Just wait until Evan hears about this." Bailey grinned coyly up at him. "Just hope that Justin and my team don't hear about it. They'll accuse you of taking advantage of little 'ole me." Declan sputtered, flushing again. "Oh, jeez..." Bailey just laughed, patting him again. "Oh, calm down. I'm just kidding." He turned to the bathroom. "I'm going to pee and change. You get ready to go too. I'm hungry, and you promised to help me with yard work today." And just like that Bailey had eased Declan's anxiety, causing him to perk up, excited to spend the rest of the day hanging around Bailey.
  8. craftingmom


    I know, I've been soooo bad about writing. But I have just sent ch. 24 to be looked over; It's been mostly written for a couple months and I just kept going back and tweaking it. But I've played with it long enough... so you should have the next chapter in a day or so. So sorry this is taking me a long time to finish--- and I'm so close to the end too!
  9. Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  

    1. Valkyrie


      I did :)  I hope you did too :hug:  

    2. Caz Pedroso

      Caz Pedroso

      We did :hug: hope you and your family did too :heart: 

  10. craftingmom

    Chapter 23

    Chapter 23 --Bailey— "Woohoo! Go! Go! Go!" Cameron practically yelled in his ear as the Heritage receiver took off down the field. Bailey had no idea who it was. He only remembered that Lachlan was the quarterback, and Declan was number 24. He hadn't had a chance to learn everyone's numbers or what position they played. "Jeez, Cam, you just about broke my ear drum," Luke complained, rubbing his finger in his ear. Bailey chuckled as he yanked a few times at the collar of his shirt, trying to cool down in the unusually warm humid air, made worse by the crush of people around him. The receiver had made it to the six yard line, so now everyone was chanting for a touchdown. Bailey's eyes were on the broad back of number 24, as it had most of the game. Yeah, he enjoyed watching the three touchdowns and two field goals Heritage had made, but he was focused on Declan—who had helped hold the Lancers to only two field goals. At the beginning of the game, he'd felt a little pang of longing, wistfully wanting to be the one chasing down the Lancer's receiver. His team had been shocked when they'd learned he was going to the game and staying in the dorm. In the past, Justin and the guys had boycotted the football games on general 'Chris' principle, but tonight was different. Things had changed. The animosity between the teams had begun to dissipate when Declan had stood up for Bailey against Chris. And the fact that several of the guys had shown up to their gymnastics meet had solidified the tentative peace. So his team had joined him at the game, although Bailey suspected Justin had already been considering going after his connection with Ben on the bus. While Bailey had received several greetings from fellow classmates when he'd arrived at the game—many, again, of surprise—he didn't really know any them, he wasn't friends with them. His team—they were his only friends. And now Declan. He'd been so alone since coming to Heritage, not wanting to let anyone in, shying away from everyone. Justin, Luke, Mateo, Cameron and Owen hadn't given up on him, even though he'd given them every reason to. But it had taken Declan—the huge, obnoxious linebacker—to break his barriers down. Now there was only a few minutes left in the game, and Bailey was anxious for it to be over. The crowd around him surged to their feet in an uproar, and Bailey realized he'd missed the play that had earned them another touchdown. He absently clapped as they kicked the extra point. The last few minutes wound down on the clock as the Lancers struggled valiantly to score before time ran out. Declan and the defensive line didn't let them. As the last cheers of victory died out, Bailey watched Declan whip off his helmet. He couldn't help the smile that came when he realized Declan was searching the stands, his hand raising when he spotted Bailey. Bailey rose with the rest of the crowd, hefting up his school backpack that he'd filled with a change of clothes instead of books, and slinging it over his shoulder before following Justin down to the field. Spectators filtered out the gates, several heading to their cars, others towards the dorms. Several students descended on the football team, offering their congratulations. Bailey watched Justin find Ben as he himself hovered on the outskirts of the congratulatory crowd. Nick was praising Lachlan on his awesome first game as lead quarterback. Several others that Bailey recognized—Jose, Alex, Jaime—were also thumping the younger teen on the back. "Hey." Bailey jumped, startled to find Declan next to him, looking even bigger in his shoulder pads and uniform. Sweat dripped down his temples, and Bailey thought he shouldn't find that so alluring. "Hey. Great game." Bailey smiled up at Declan, who just grinned back. "Yeah, Lachlan did a great job." "You all did a great job," Bailey corrected. Declan laughed. "Yeah, it was definitely a different atmosphere in the locker room before the game tonight. There was nervousness, of course, especially for Lachlan, but really... it was just more relaxed. Nick is an awesome captain." Bailey nodded shyly, unsure of what else to say. "So," Declan finally broke the silence, "we have to head back to the locker room, of course. You know, to shower and change and listen to coach for a bit. You can just come with me and wait until we're done." Bailey wrinkled his nose. "Yeah, no, I don't think so. I'll just wait outside the locker room." Declan laughed. "Yeah, okay—" A whistle cut the air, and they turned to see Coach Reed waving for the team to head in. "Gotta go. See you in a few." When Declan leaned in and hugged him, Bailey nearly flinched back, shock and surprise stunning him to silence. Declan was halfway across the field before Bailey even fully realized what had happened. Bailey lifted his hand to his cheek, feeling the dampness of where Declan's head had brushed the side of his face. It was a little gross, to be enamored of Declan's sweat clinging to him, but Bailey still felt a tiny smile forming as he wiped his jaw dry. *** "What the hell are you doing out here?" a voice jerked his attention from the game Bailey had been playing on his phone. Eddie had shoved his way out of the locker room along with his sidekick, Tripp. They were the first to emerge while Bailey sat waiting outside the locker room for Declan. Neither one had showered, apparently just planning on heading to their dorm room first. "Come to gloat about Chris and Eric being gone?" Tripp added. Bailey pushed himself to his feet from where he'd been sitting against the wall, not wanting to be caught at the significant disadvantage of being on the ground should the two become physically aggressive. "No, don't see that I'd need to do that. I think the team showed it's obvious they don't need Chris and his lapdog to rock it. You guys can win just fine without him. You had an awesome game." Eddie opened and closed his mouth as if searching for some retort, but there really wasn't anything he could say to that. The team had done just fine without Chris Vasser leading it, and Bailey made sure to include Eddie and Tripp in his compliment—knowing it would catch them off guard. Before they could come up with anything else to say, the locker room door opened again and several team members spilled out into the hall, laughing and joking, still high from the win. "Hey! Bailey!" Bailey tore his eyes from Eddie at Jose's call. "What a day, huh, man? Two wins for Heritage! Woohoo!" "Two?" someone asked, but Bailey wasn't sure who. Jose grinned and wrapped an arm around Bailey's shoulders. "Yeah. The gymnastics team crushed it today. You guys should have seen it." "You crushed it," Bailey countered with a grin. "Ben told me about that," someone else said. "I wish I'd known we could go." "Next time," Jose promised. A shout erupted, and Bailey turned to the doors as Lachlan emerged. "Oh! And here's the man of the hour!" "Lachlan! Lachlan! Lachlan!" a chant went up. The new quarterback flushed, ducking his head as his team cheered again. The guy was practically being shoved with pats on the back toward the exit. Bailey noticed in the crush of football players streaming from the locker room, Eddie and Tripp had made their escape. Alec and Jaime stopped next to him as well. "We're going to the student union. The coach had pizza delivered. You want to come?" Alec asked. "Maybe. I'm, uh, waiting for Declan," Bailey explained. "I'm not sure if he's planning on going." Jaime chuckled. "Oh, he's planning on going. That guy can put away some pizza." "Then I guess I'll be there." The flow of students from the locker room slowed to a trickle after the huge rush. He watched through the window as they made their way over to the student union for an after-game pizza party. With the dining hall closed, he supposed it made sense that the school would need to feed the team after a game. "Hey, sorry I took so long." Bailey turned to see Declan striding towards him, and Bailey smiled up at him. "No problem. I'm not going anywhere." "You okay if we stop by the student union? They have some—" "Pizza. I know." Bailey laughed, picking up his backpack. "I'm sure you're a little hungry." Declan grinned. "I could use a slice or two." *** --Declan— "Okay, maybe I should have grabbed another slice," Declan grumbled. Bailey rolled his eyes as he took the towel Declan handed him. "I told you we could have stayed longer. You didn't have to just grab a couple slices and run." Declan flopped on his bed. He'd finished his real shower, having only done a quick rinse in the locker room, and he'd asked Bailey if he wanted to shower after spending the evening in the unusually warm air watching the game. Bailey was about to take him up on the offer and had pulled his pajamas and toothbrush from his backpack. "I know, but I'm tired. And I just wanted to get back here and hang out, you know. Watch a movie or something." "Yeah, yeah." "Yo! Dec!" a voice sounded from the other side of the bathroom. "You done in here?" Micah peeked his head in the room. Declan yawned. "Bailey was going to take a shower." Declan's suitemate looked Bailey up and down briefly. "Evan went home, huh?" "Yeah. Bailey's gonna hang out. His mom didn't want him walking back home in the dark, so I offered him Evan's bed." "Evan's bed, right..." Micah winked with an evil grin. Declan flushed bright red, noticing that Bailey had bitten his lip and turned away to hide his own scarlet cheeks. "You ass..." Declan snapped, throwing a pillow across the room that Micah easily dodged. Micah just laughed before nudging Bailey's shoulder playfully. "Don't let him fool you. After all his mooning over you... Bailey this and Bailey that... you could totally join him and he wouldn't mind. You know, if you get cold or something." Bailey ducked his head and stifled a laugh. "I'll keep that in mind." "Micah!" Declan roared, diving across the room to tackle his suitemate, but the little golfer had already darted back through the bathroom to his own room, slamming the door on the other side. Declan could hear him and Logan laughing hysterically. "Bastards." Declan stepped back into his own room, evading Bailey's gaze. "Hey, sorry about him, you know, just..." Bailey's hand landed on his forearm. "It's okay. He's just joking around." "Yeah, yeah, he's, well..." Declan was still stammering from embarrassment. Bailey squeezed harder on Declan's arm. "Hey. How about I get that shower, then we watch the movie. Maybe you can even invite Micah and Logan over to join us." Declan nodded, grateful Bailey had swept away the tension threatening to stifle their night. As much as Declan liked Bailey, he hadn't wanted Bailey to think that's why he wanted him to stay over. And now that Micah had opened his stupid mouth... well, he couldn't get that image out of his mind. After Bailey stepped into the shower cubicle of the bathroom, Declan made his way to Logan and Micah's room. Surprisingly, Micah hadn't actually locked it to keep Declan from storming through. "Hey guys..." He knocked once before opening it. Declan saw Micah duck behind his much larger roommate, causing Logan to teeter as Micah grabbed him. "You." Declan pointed at Micah, who just erupted into peals of laughter. Logan crossed his arms, trying to look stern and not laugh, but wasn't being very successful. "You're an ass," Declan declared. "Oh, we already know that," Logan agreed. They all heard the water turn on in the bathroom. Declan's attention flickered briefly to the open bathroom door before he let his shoulders sag. Damn he was tired. He didn't even have the energy to continue berating Micah. "So Bailey's staying overnight, I hear," Logan said. "Yeah." Declan raised his hand defensively. "Purely platonic. So he could enjoy the game and not have to walk home so late." The quirked eyebrows and pursed lips on his suitemates told him they didn't believe him. "Whatever." He waved a dismissive hand at them. They'd tease and joke no matter what he told them. "We do want to get to know each other and spend time together, but..." He shrugged. "No like that yet." Of course, Micah picked up on the 'yet.' "Yet, huh? So soon?" Declan only had the energy to flick him off. "So we're going to watch Age of Ultron in a few minutes. Did you guys want to join us?" Declan finally offered. "Oooh, well, wouldn't we be intruding on your cuddle time?" Micah apparently just couldn't let up. Declan rolled his eyes, ignoring him as he stepped back towards the bathroom. "I guess that's a no." "No! No! I want to see it!" Micah burst out from behind Logan. "I'm just teasin'." "You're just an ass," Declan retorted. "I think we've already covered that," Logan chuckled. "Knock when you're ready to start. We'll bring some popcorn." Declan perked up at the mention of the snack. "Popcorn?" "Yeah, my mom sent the good stuff in her last care package," Logan said, already digging around in a crate under his bed. "Great. Thanks." Declan stepped back through the bathroom. Hearing Bailey in the shower brought indecent images to his mind that he had to stamp down before his cock decided to show Bailey just how interested he was. Imagining the water and soapy bubbles sluicing down Bailey's firm muscles was not helping. He looked down at the knee-length athletic shorts he had on for bed. Already he could see a bulge trying to thicken in his underwear. Normally, he wouldn't have even bothered with the underwear, but he knew Bailey's presence might incite a physical response and hoped the boxer briefs would help contain the evidence. Damn things weren't doing a very good job. "Grandma. Church. The president. Stinky sweat socks," he mumbled to himself, trying to come up with other images to keep his libido under control. The bed. He could make up Evan's bed for Bailey, that might help. Declan headed to his closet to pull down an extra set of sheets. For some reason, his mom thought he needed three sets—two regular and one flannel—for when it got cold, she said. He thought Bailey might like the softer blue flannel, so he pulled that set down. The process of putting the bed together helped get his mind off other things. He finished about the time he heard Bailey turn off the water. A few minutes later, Bailey leaned out of the bathroom doorway. "Hey, do you have some toothpaste I can use?" Declan turned. "Uh, yeah sure." He moved into the bathroom to dig out his tube from his basket of toiletries, ignoring the fall of Bailey's sleep pants over his hips, glad that Bailey had decided to wear a t-shirt to bed. As he handed over the toothpaste, his stomach let out a loud rumble. For a second they both just stared at Declan's stomach like an alien was about to claw its way out. Then they burst in to laughter. Declan rubbed his belly. "Sorry about that." Still laughing, Bailey pointed at his book bag on the floor by Declan's desk. "I have a couple protein bars in the front pocket of my bag. Why don't you eat those?" Declan's brows shot up into his hairline. "Really? Thanks. Logan said he'd bring over some popcorn, but a protein bar would be even better." As he lifted the backpack and put it on the desk, it occurred to him that he should have prepared better for company and bought some extra snacks. As it was, all he had was a bunch of bottles of water and three orange juice bottles in their tiny fridge. There were actually three pockets on the front of the backpack, so he started with the smallest. After unzipping it, digging his hand in and scooping out the contents, it was obvious that wasn't the right pocket. The handful of school supplies—pens, pencils, a six-inch ruler, a tiny stapler, a protractor, a compass, erasers, even a tiny tape roll—got dumped on the desk. "Damn, man, how many pens and pencils to you need?" Declan chuckled as he sorted through the different colors. He got a grunt from Bailey, who had a toothbrush in his mouth. "...frong focket," came Bailey's mumbled response. "And what the hell is this?" Declan held up the object, examining it. It had a slide lever on the side and he pushed it. As a sharp blade slid free of its casing, a memory tugged at his brain... another razor... somewhere... recently... "Wrong pocket," Bailey repeated. "Don't think any of that would taste very good." Bailey had finished rinsing and was staring at Declan from the bathroom doorway. For a second, Declan was sure he saw a flash of fear in Bailey's soft gray eyes. "Why do you need this in your backpack?" Declan held it up, genuinely curious, even as something nagged at the back of his brain. The look in Bailey's eyes disappeared almost instantly as he shrugged and smiled. "It came as part of the set of supplies my mom got, along with the compass, ruler, tape, stapler and stuff. I just dumped it all in there. Never know what you might need. Can't say I've ever needed the tape either." "Huh." Declan huffed as Bailey came over and started repacking his school supplies. After they were put away, he unzipped the medium size pocket and pulled out five protein bars. "Geez, what are you, a boy scout? Always be prepared?" Declan laughed at the number of bars Bailey held, different flavors too. Bailey cocked a thin hip. "Fine, don't take 'em..." He started to drop them back in the bag. "No! No, no," Declan cried out, dropping to his knees in front of Bailey, hands clasped together. "Please, sir, may I have more to eat?" Bailey laughed, shaking his head at Declan's antics. He dropped all five bars on the desk, leaving them there for Declan to pick at them as he wanted. The pizza at the student union had been enough for him, since he'd also grabbed a hot dog during the game. Declan climbed to his feet, laughing as well, before tearing into one of the protein bars—mint chocolate chip. Declan tore off a bite with his teeth before offering Bailey some water or juice from the fridge. Bailey took a bottle of water since he'd already brushed. They could smell the popcorn being prepared in the other room. "I guess I should have told you about Logan and the popcorn before you brushed. You could just brush again, if you want some..." Bailey waved the bottle of water. "This is fine. I'm not really hungry. A little tired is all." As Declan fiddled with the TV and DVD player, he noticed Bailey eyeing the two beds, wringing his water bottle in his hands. After he had the DVD ready, he turned to Bailey, wondering what was wrong. "You okay?" "Yeah... it's just..." Bailey trailed off with another look at Evan's bed. "Are you sure he said it was okay? I feel weird him not knowing I'm taking over his bed." "Yeah, he'd be fine with it. But if it bothers you that much, you can take mine, and I'll sleep in Evan's," Declan suggested. Bailey visibly relaxed. It was obvious he'd been nervous imposing on Evan's things without hearing Evan's express permission himself. "Yeah. That... that might be good. Thanks." "No problem." Declan grinned. "Let me just..." he trailed off as he moved to yank the sheets off his own bed. He was suddenly glad to have that extra set of sheets waiting in the closet. Thank you, mom. Bailey helped him, and as they finished making the bed, Logan and Micah tromped through the bathroom, wafting the buttery smell of popcorn with them. "Movie ready?" Logan asked, tossing popcorn into his mouth. "Yeah, just a min." Declan finished tucking the comforter in before grabbing the pillows from Evan's bed and propping all the pillows up against the wall. "It'll be easier to see the screen from here," Declan told Bailey, indicating for him to climb on to the make-shift couch. Micah was lugging a leather gaming chair into the room, placing it in front of Declan's bed and settling himself down on it. Logan just took Declan's desk chair and flipped it around, leaning on the back of it like he always did. "Okay, here we go." Declan settled on the bed with Bailey and pressed play on the remote. There was over a foot of distance between them, but it wasn't awkward either—like they were trying to keep their distance. It was just how each had settled against the pillows. The movie was more than half over before Declan realized that Bailey had moved. Bailey had shifted, curling his legs and leaning more to the side on the pillows—closer to Declan. Declan could almost feel wisps of Bailey's hair tickling his arm. He looked down to see Bailey's eyes drifting closed, like he was fighting to stay awake. Declan smiled to himself before carefully pulling a pillow free and laying it over his leg. Then he wrapped an arm around Bailey, tugging, startling him for a moment, before indicating for Bailey to lay down. Bailey hesitated for only a moment before resting his head on Declan's thigh. Bailey wriggled a little, his hand tucking up to land on Declan's knee. Declan sucked in a breath at the touch, so innocent and yet... not. He dropped his own hand to Bailey's shoulder, rubbing up and down. He leaned down, whispering. "Is this okay?" "Mmmhmm." Bailey's response was muffled as Declan suspected he was drifting off to sleep already. Sitting back, he grinned as a giddy warm spread through his body. His body and mind buzzed with excitement, fear, contentment, and trepidation, all vying for supremacy. As the movie wore on, Declan wasn't sure what was happening anymore. His thoughts strayed to one thing: did he now have a boyfriend and how did he feel about it? While he wasn't certain about the answer to the first question, he was coming to realize that giddy happiness was beginning to trample his fear of being more out at school. His fingers trailed over Bailey's soft skin. And it was because of Bailey. **** Declan jerked awake, unsure of what had awoken him. He stared around in the dark, confused by the different angle of the room. Then he remembered—he was in Evan's bed, and Bailey was nestled in his. The bang and yell had him shooting upright. "No! No, stop! Don't go!" Bailey was scrabbling blinding at the wall with his hands, sometimes hitting it hard enough to cause a resounding thump on the wall. Declan jumped out of the bed, calling Bailey's name softly and shaking his shoulder, hoping to wake him before the loud knocks woke up Micah or Logan on the other side of the wall. "Bailey, man, come on. Wake up. You're having a nightmare," Declan urged. Unfortunately, Declan's touch only caused Bailey to get more violent and insistent about pounding through the wall. A couple more loud punches, and Declan instinctively threw himself around Bailey, pulling the thrashing arms into his body. Declan was practically spooned behind the smaller teen, holding him tight while offering shushing noises of comfort. It belatedly occurred to him that restraining someone in the throes of a nightmare could put him in danger of being hit himself, but Bailey was a lot smaller than he was so maybe it would be okay, as long as he didn't freak Bailey out. "It's okay, Bailey. You're safe..." "...nnnuh... nnuh... no! Dad!...no... no," Bailey's voice trailed off, becoming more of a sob as his struggles lessened. "What the hell is going on?" Logan's sleepy voice asked from the bathroom door way. "You guys... you guys aren't having sex, are you?" he stammered as he apparently took in Declan laying next to Bailey. "If you thought we were having sex, why the hell did you come in here?" Declan snapped irritably, glaring over his shoulder at his suitemate while Bailey's body slowly sagged under his. Logan stared at him for a long moment, obviously not quite awake, before shrugging. "Good point. I guess I heard the banging... didn't know what was going on. And well... " He shrugged again, too tired to put more coherent thought into it. "Anyway, you guys okay?" Declan sighed. "Yeah. Bailey was just having a nightmare. I was trying to hold him to keep him from continuing to hit the wall, get him to calm down." Declan felt Bailey shudder, and moved a hand to stroke over Bailey's hand. "We're good now, I think," he told Logan without looking at him. "Sorry it woke you." Logan waved away the apology. "No problem. It happens. Just making sure everything was okay." "Thanks. 'Night." Declan heard Logan leave, closing the connecting bathroom door behind him. Declan focused on Bailey. "Bailey..." he whispered, loosening his grip now that Bailey was calmer, but Bailey didn't move, didn't fight to be free. "Bailey... are you okay? Are you awake?" Slowly, Bailey's hand came out from where Declan hand tucked it against his body, and Declan felt Bailey's tentative touch on his forearm. "Declan?" "Yeah," he sighed, relieved that Bailey was free of the wrath of his nightmare. "It's me. You... you were having a nightmare, banging on the walls. I... I wasn't sure what to do, so I kinda just held you to keep you from hurting yourself—and waking up the guys next door." Bailey groaned, turning to bury his face in the pillow. "Oh God. I'm so sorry. Did I wake them? Did I hurt you?" "No," Declan lied, started to pull away and give Bailey some room. "No, don't." Bailey's hand caught his arm. Declan froze, unsure of what Bailey meant. Don't what? Bailey sniffled, and Declan realized he'd been crying. Based on what Declan had heard, he could guess Bailey's nightmare had to do with his father. And Declan could only imagine what Bailey must be feeling. Declan had never lost anyone close to him yet, so he had no idea what kind of pain Bailey must be dealing with every day, or how he even dealt with it to be so functional. Declan knew if he lost one of his parents he'd be devastated. "Bailey?" The unasked question lingered tenuously between them. "Don't go." Bailey's response was so soft Declan almost didn't hear him, but Bailey curled himself into the bed, dragging Declan's arm around him as he did. "Please. I need to feel something... other than... other than the ache of..." "Shhhh...." Declan soothed, wrapping his arms tighter around the smaller body. If holding Bailey helped him to sleep, to feel something other than the deep void his father's loss had created, then Declan would do his best to absorb as much of Bailey pain as he could by holding him in his arm. Bailey snuffled again, apparently trying to chase away the last visages of the nightmare, and settled into Declan's arms. Bailey wriggled a little, burrowing himself closer, seeking as much contact as possible. Declan felt Bailey's body slowly relaxing, evidently taking comfort in Declan's nearness. "Thank you," Bailey whispered. "I... I hope it's... it's not too much to—" "Shush." Declan hushed him, drawing the blanket Bailey had thrashed off to the side over both of them and settling himself down. "I'm exactly where I want to be. With you." Bailey's fingers tightened on the hand that Bailey had pulled to his chest. "Me too."
  11. Ch. 23 is with the editors... so soon.... :)

    1. Caz Pedroso

      Caz Pedroso

      You'll have it back tomorrow :) 

    2. craftingmom
    3. spikey582


      Some of us are pretty excited for more

  12. craftingmom

    Writing Tip: Keep in Mind

    Thank you all for your comments. I hope they help!
  13. Yay!  Finally halfway through the next chapter.  think I broke through the part I was struggling so badly with... hope to finish it this week.  *cross fingers and prays to muse to not take off again*

    1. BlindAmbition
    2. ancientrichard


      I hope the muses hear your prayers, and don't forget to uncross those fingers before you resume typing :-)

  14. craftingmom

    Chapter 22

    Chapter 22 The day felt surreal. Bailey had left early that morning to meet up with his team for the trip to the gymnastics meet. Coach Richards was already waiting by the activity bus, even though Bailey thought he was early. What surprised him was the appearance of another adult, Mr. Kirkland, looking a little tired and holding a large cup of coffee. The sight of his English teacher triggered a bout of panic. Had he finished grading the essays? Would he say anything about it? How badly had Bailey fucked up the essay? Was he here to tell Coach Richards how he was failing English? The two men were talking and laughing quietly. They both glanced in his direction, nodding a greeting before returning back to their easy conversation. Bailey sighed, feeling stupid for thinking his English teacher would show up here to berate him for a poor essay. He wondered why the other teacher was there though. Maybe he'd just been out walking and stopped to talk to Coach Richards. Bailey glanced around. A few students were around; Bailey suspected most were still in the dining hall or their rooms. A few moments later, he saw Owen and Cameron making their way across the lawn from the Rotunda where they'd probably just finished breakfast. As he approached the bus, the doors to the residential hall across the parking lot opened. Justin and Mateo appeared among a few other students spilling out into bright sunlight. Bailey dropped his bag beside him, leaning against the side of the bus. He glanced at his phone. There was a text from his mom telling him 'they'd see him at the meet'. They. Daniel Kirsch. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. The guy did sound interested in coming, and Bailey felt a tiny craving to show off for the guy. Yet that felt like betraying his father's memory as well, allowing someone else to nudge his way into his life. His phone vibrated in his hand, and he looked down to see another message. Declan: <Ready for your meet?> Bailey: <Yeah, just waiting by the bus. You ready for your game tonight?> Declan: <Yeah. But I'm heading out to ogle a hot guy for a few hours first> Bailey froze, fingers hovering over the phone's mini keyboard. A frown creased his brow, his heart cracking in his chest. He blinked several times, re-reading the text, just in case he'd misread it. Fuck. He'd thought... Damn. How could he be so stupid to think Declan might only be interested in him? "Where's Luke?" Bailey heard Coach Richards call out. "He's coming. Just ran back to the bathroom," Owen answered. "All right. As soon as he's here, we'll load up." Bailey ignored all the voices gathering in the parking lot. The team sounded louder and more gregarious than usual, but Bailey couldn't tear his eyes from his phone. He started to just ignore it. Surely, Declan didn't expect a response to that. Finally, he just typed a simple text back. Bailey: <have a good game> He sensed someone approaching. Justin always tried to drag him into the team's conversations. Bailey wasn't in the mood right now. He snapped his head up, ready to tell Justin to back off, but stopped abruptly, his mouth just hung open. "Is that all you have to say? Have a good game?" Declan smirked down at him, looming into his space, blocking out the sun. Bailey could only stare, dumbfounded. "What--?" His eyes flitted past Declan, noticing for the first time the larger crowd of teens. Ben, Alex, Jose, Ian... and more. "I don't—. You said—" He tried a couple times to get out some sort of coherent sentence. "That I was going to check out a hot guy?" Declan supplied, a cocky grin on his face at Bailey's confusion. "Well, Justin is pretty good looking, but we don't exactly see eye-to-eye." Bailey still couldn't fathom what was going on. "What—what are you doing here?" Declan chuckled, smiling wider. "Told you. I'm going to ogle a hot guy for a few hours." He leaned in closer, his mouth right next to Bailey's ear, and Bailey held his breath. "You." "I'm coming!" a shout rang out across the lawn as Luke raced toward the bus. "Not in public! Do that in your room!" Mateo shouted back, causing a mass of hoots and laughter. Luke just flipped him off as he stopped near the coach. Coach Richards shifted, and as if by silent command, everyone quieted. "As you can see, we have a few extra students riding with us." Bailey looked around again, noticing that while some of the guys were part of the football team, not all of them were. "A couple students asked if they could come along as spectators, so Mr. Kirkland here agreed to come along to help chaperone, since obviously I'll be on the floor with the team." He paused to glance at the twelve extra teens. "Obviously, a few more decided to join us." Laughter rumbled through the group. Coach Richards quickly checked off everyone on the clipboard, adding the names of the additional students as everyone filed onto the bus. With their numbers tripled, the noise on the bus was significantly higher. Bailey smiled shyly at Declan as he settled his huge body next to him. Strangely, rather than feeling confined and restricted squished against cool metal, a sense of calm and security washed over him. "Can I sit here?" he heard a voice ask. Bailey looked up to see Ben hovering next to the seat where Justin had settled. The team captain looked up in surprise. "Uh, sure." Justin quickly swept his bag from the seat to the floor at his feet. Bailey felt Declan lean closer. "Ben's kinda had a crush on Justin for a while." Bailey's eyes shot wide open. "Really?" "Yeah, he's really shy though. And with Chris being such a jerk about things, he wouldn't have dared approach Justin before. Now though..." Declan shrugged, letting the thought hang in the air. Bailey could just barely see Ben wiping his hands nervously on his pants as Justin started jabbering away. He smiled. It was probably a good thing that Justin could talk enough for the both of them. "I'm surprised Coach Reed didn't decide to chaperone," Bailey commented. "It seems like half his team is here. Are you sure he's okay with you all coming?" "He has stuff to prepare for the game, but, yes, I asked him if it'd be all right if I came. A few of the guys heard me ask last night after practice and wanted to tag along too. Then my suitemates joined, and Ian, and well..." He gestured around with his hands. "Here we are. Evan would have come too, if he wasn't going home for the weekend." "Maybe you'll enjoy the quiet, with your room all to yourself." Declan shrugged. "I guess. I'd catch up on school work, except I don't have any." "I have to do the yard tomorrow," Bailey grumbled. Declan's eyes lit up. "Maybe I can come help." Bailey cast him a dubious look. "You want to mow and weed?" Declan just grinned, nudging him with his shoulder. "If I get to hang out with you." Bailey couldn't help the flush that ran up his neck to his cheeks. It looked a lot like the one Ben wore as Justin leaned into him, gesturing and grinning wildly. Bailey cleared his throat. "Um, yeah, that would be great then." --Declan— Declan had to admit, the gymnastics meet was nothing like he'd expected. There were actually several competitions happening at the same time. The huge convention center was divided into three competition areas—two were set up for girls and one was arranged for the boys' gymnastics. One of the girls' competitions was just finishing as they came in, the other had girls competing on all the equipment at the same time. Waiting for the boys' competition to start, many of the guys watched the girls. Declan suspected several would continue to watch them, even after the guys' competition started. He was a little disappointed to realize that people would be competing at the same time on each of the apparatus. From what little he'd seen, namely the Olympics on TV, he'd somehow thought each person would compete individually, one event at a time. Of course, he realized now that would be ridiculous. The competition would take forever. He just had to keep an eye on the Heritage team and follow them to each event. It was hard because he often found his eyes drifting to other competitors, wondering how their routines stacked up to Bailey's. After the anthem, the teams were able to do a short warm-up before competing. Declan watched the Heritage team as they moved to the parallel bars first. However, other gymnasts were lined up to compete first, while Bailey and his team lingered to the side adjusting their grips and chalking their hands before watching their competitors. His eyes drifted over all the events, finding it hard to stick to watching one even when the Heritage team was competing. Declan also found his eyes flicking to the electronic scoreboard, unable to help himself. Scores started flowing in from all the apparatus—high eights and nines, a couple sixes and sevens, but really Declan was surprised at how high they were, someone even had a 9.8. His eyes returned back to the parallel bars where Mateo was preparing to start. He was the first of the team to compete. Declan nudged Ben before calling out to the others. "Hey, guys, our team's getting ready to go." "Cool," Ian answered distractedly, his eyes still watching the girl competing on the floor across the center. Declan rolled his eyes. He really couldn't really blame them for looking. "What the hell?" Jaime suddenly exclaimed, pulling Declan's attention. The others looked over at him, then to where he was pointing. "How the hell did someone get an 11.4 on the vault?" Declan frowned at the scoreboard. "Maybe it's a mistake?" Just then a 10.7 popped up on the board for a ring score. "What..." Mr. Kirkland leaned down towards them from where he was sitting on the bleachers behind them. "Guess you guys haven't watched too many gymnastics meets lately, huh? The scoring isn't based on a simple ten-point scale anymore. There's extra points for the difficulty of the skills as well. Scores for perfect routines could be as high as fifteen or sixteen, especially at the higher levels. Here, most scores average between high eights to twelvish." Declan, as well as several of the others, stared at him for a long moment. "Huh. Well, learn something new..." "See?" Mr. Kirkland pointed at the scoreboard. "Mateo just got an 11.2 on the parallel bars." "Wow," someone whispered from behind him, probably Jaime. "And I thought the guy who got the 9.8 was doing good." Mr. Kirkland leaned in conspiratorially. "I suspect most of our guys will score at least in the tens and elevens. I've come to their meets before, and they tend to average pretty well." And then Bailey mounted the bars, and Declan tuned everyone out. He still couldn't get over the fluid way Bailey's body moved up and around the bars, twisting and flipping, holding rigid poses that made his small body look even longer and leaner. On the dismount, Bailey took a small step before he turned and saluted at the judges with a smile before walking over to his team who was jumping and high-fiving him. Chalk dust clouds were erupting around them. Coach Richards seemed immune to it as he waded right in to pat Bailey on the back, leaning in to whisper something. Justin stepped from the cluster quickly to compete next, and Declan saw Ben straighten up a little, his hands clenched nervously. Declan had to grin at his friend. Ben and Justin would be an odd couple, total opposites in personality, yet would probably complement each other very well. Ben's quiet unassuming nature would blend with Justin's boisterous gregariousness. "Holy cow..." Alex whispered next to him, along with collective murmur from a good portion of the crowd. "What?" Declan looked around, wondering what he'd seen. "Bailey's score. Look." Declan noticed several others around him pointing and whispering frantically too at the scoreboard. Declan glanced up. A 13.1. "That's good, right?" "Oh, yeah," Mr. Kirkland agreed, his voice awed. "It's very good. It might end up being the highest score of the meet." Declan grinned. "You haven't seen him on the rings yet." Mr. Kirkland gave him an amused smile. "Maybe. Then again, scoring at this level tends to be lower than that." "Well, you said it was based on difficulty, right? So, if Bailey can do more difficult skills, wouldn't that mean he'd score higher than most?" "Assuming his execution is perfect as well, no faults or falls..." Declan just grinned and nodded, knowing that Mr. Kirkland hadn't seen what Bailey could do yet. Declan had. The whole football team had. And now that he was here watching him and the rest of the gymnastics team competing, he had an even better appreciation of just how skilled they were. Justin, Mateo, Cameron, Luke, Owen, and Bailey were showing themselves to be the top. "Man, I wish that Heritage team hadn't come." Declan caught someone saying, and turned to glare at the mom who'd said it. "Maybe then Mitch would have a chance. And now they have some new kid that just scored a freaking thirteen! Can you believe that?" Her companions nodded sagely in agreement, and Declan had to hide his satisfied smirk. Guess Heritage Gymnastics had a better reputation than they'd realized. **** They'd been there over two hours, and Heritage Academy had completed rotations on the parallel bars, horizontal bar, floor, and pommel horse. There were only two events left, and Declan kept finding his eyes darting from the competitors to the scoreboard, trying to make sense of how they were faring. Bailey had consistently earned scores in the twelves for the other three events. Even Justin and the others averaged high elevens most of the time. He'd seen a few elevens and twelves from other teams mixing in there as well, but many seemed to average in the nines and tens. Damn, he'd never felt so tense, except before his first game. "Go Bailey!" someone shouted from nearby. Declan whipped his head around to see Bailey's mom and that guy—Daniel somebody—sitting a few rows back and to the left. He wasn't sure how he missed them before. The guy was the one who had yelled and was currently grinning and pumping his fist, while Bailey's mom clutched anxiously at his arm, eyes glued forward. Declan turned to see Bailey waiting to mount the still rings, his body rigid. This was Bailey's event. Coach Richards stood off to his side. As soon as the judges lifted a flag, Bailey saluted and stepped up under the rings. The Coach grabbed Bailey's waist, helping him up, as Bailey made a small jump to grab the rings. He levered himself up, making it look like he was just floating on air. His muscles bulged as he held himself still in a cross, before dropping and swinging up to a handstand, his body practically snapping to a stop even with ring straps. The routine was the same one he'd done for the football team that day of the mixed practices. While Declan and the team had been impressed by it then, he hadn't realized just how incredible it really was in comparison. When Bailey dropped into his Maltese cross, the collective gasps and whispers around him, told him that skill was not something usually done here. As Bailey landed a solid dismount, cheers erupted around him. "Damn," Mr. Kirkland whispered in awe. Declan and Ben turned amused stares back at him. "Mr. Kirkland! Such language!" they teased, considering the English teacher chastised them endlessly for murdering the English language. The man just pursed his lips and cocked a brow at them. Declan turned to watch for Bailey's score—everyone seemed to be doing the same thing, even as eyes tried to focus on their own teams' events, they couldn't help straying to the scoreboard. The judges were conferring, something they didn't usually do, and that made Declan nervous. Others were commenting on the oddity as well. And poor Owen had to follow Bailey on the rings, so he stood there waiting for the judges to be ready for him. Finally, the judges finished, passed a card over to the person entering scores, and waved a little flag for Owen to start. Owen was mid-routine when Bailey's score popped up. And Declan knew it because cheers and exclamations of shock erupted around him. "Oh, my god." "Do you see that?" "I've never seen a score like that a high school meet." Declan looked. 14.0. "Yeah!" Declan shot his fist in the air. "Way to go, Bailey!" he yelled, even though he knew he wouldn't be heard amid the rest of the noise. Then, of course, he felt bad for Owen and hoped it didn't mess him up. Watching the rest of the redhead's routine, Declan was sure it hadn't. Apparently, gymnasts had a way of tuning everything out when they competed. After that, the rest of the meet seemed uneventful. Heritage Academy finished on the vault, earning fairly average scores. In fact, it was Bailey's lowest at 11.8. The awards ceremony followed quickly after the last gymnast finished on the floor. The organizers of the meet simply dragged out five wooden podium stands of increasing heights, numbered one to five and arranged them on the floor. All the gymnasts sat on the floor in front of it, as they waited for scores to be finalized. It wasn't very surprising when the name Bailey McIntyre was called for first place on most of the apparatus. He actually took third place on vault behind Cameron in first and a guy from Jackson High in second. All of the Heritage guys placed in the top five at one point or another. For the final all-around scores though, Heritage took the top two spots: Bailey in first, Justin in second. The others helped round out the top ten. No one was shocked when Heritage took first place in the team awards. Now Declan understood the comment by the mom about not wanting Heritage Academy at the meet. They guys were a force to be reckoned with. As soon as the awards were over, everyone was up and milling around, trying to reach their gymnasts, offering congratulations and "good-jobs." Coach Richards herded the team to the side as Mr. Kirkland guided the rest of the guys towards them. "Man, you can certainly hear you guys from a mile away," Alex joked as the team's medals clanked with every move. "Congratulations, boys," Mr. Kirkland said. It was funny to watch Justin and the others' faces as Declan and the guys mobbed them. They were stunned at first, but then their grins were stretched so wide Declan was sure their cheeks must hurt. They were reveling in the praise, and Declan realized suddenly that they usually didn't get all this. No one usually came to the meets with them. No one but their own teammates and Coach usually congratulated them. Maybe a teacher here or there might come—Mr. Kirkland indicated he'd attended one or two in the past. Maybe if a parent was in town visiting; however, most of the Heritage Academy residents didn't have family nearby, so it wouldn't be often. And certainly none of their fellow students had come. Declan felt a sudden wash of guilt at how much this team had been deprived of the recognition, and hell, just the camaraderie of celebrating with your fellow students. He knew what it felt like—felt it after every game, reveled in the cheers and excitement of the fans watching him play, the adrenaline rush their frenzied enthusiasm would give him. And now these guys got to enjoy it too, for once. Maybe forever, because Declan sure as hell was planning on making a point to go again if he could to support the team. Hell, these guys came to their football games all the time. He'd been to other team's games of course—like baseball and basketball and lacrosse, and even track, and once a swim meet. But gymnastics... golf... it never even occurred to him before, to none of them. Maybe it would now. Declan wrapped an arm around Bailey in a guy-clench. "Great job! That was awesome! You all were," he enthused, his voice mixing in with everyone else shouting their accolades. They were just one big jumble of congratulatory hugs, fist bumps and high fives. Coach Richards and Mr. Kirkland watched with widely amused expression from the side. "Bailey! Bailey, honey!" Declan turned with Bailey at the voice. Bailey's mom was finally making her way through the crowd over to them. Bailey stepped away from the muddle of Academy students towards her and into her outstretched arms. "Oh, honey, I'm so proud of you! You did great!" she gushed. Bailey's cheeks pinked. "Thanks, mom. I'm really glad you came," he added softly as he finished hugging her. "It really was impressive," Daniel Kirsch agreed once Bailey had stepped out of his mother's arms. "You're an excellent gymnast, Bailey. Congratulations." The man held out his hand. For a second, Bailey only stared at offered hand. He finally reached out and accepted Mr. Kirsch's hand with a small smile. "Thank you." Declan knew it was hard for Bailey to accept the man's presence here. It probably reminded him more of his father's absence in his life. Having a new man, standing here, where his father should be, would have been if he hadn't been killed... had to be more than difficult. Declan stepped closer to offer his support, yet ready to back away if Bailey gave any indication he didn't want it. Instead, Bailey turned slightly toward him, inviting him closer. "I saw you guys had your own little cheering section," Daniel laughed. Bailey ducked his head shyly. "Yeah, Declan and a few of the guys from school decided to come along this time. It was pretty cool, especially since most of them have a game tonight." "Oh?" his mom lifted a brow. "Football?" Declan nodded. "Yes, ma'am. The game isn't until seven, so we had the morning free to come here." "That's so nice. I'm so glad you all were able to come." She smiled sincerely before turning to Bailey again. "How about we go out to dinner tonight to celebrate? You get to pick the restaurant." Declan froze. What? Wait. Bailey wasn't coming to his game? He'd just assumed... "Actually, mom, some of the team was talking about going to the game, and... well, I'd like to go with them. I can eat at the dining hall before the game—" "Oh, Bailey, I don't know about that." Bailey mom frowned, biting her bottom lip. "It'll be so late when the game lets out, and I don't want you walking home in the dark that late. Especially after what happened with that Chris boy." Bailey rolled his eyes. "Chris is basically locked up, and Eric isn't even in town anymore." "I could walk him home," Declan piped up eagerly, earning himself a raised brow from Bailey. Bailey's mom exchanged looks with Daniel, neither one of them appearing to like that idea any better. "Then you'll be walking back alone in the dark," she retorted. "No, I can't allow that, and I'm not sure the dean would either." "Maybe we could just pick him up after the game?" Daniel finally suggested. "He could just call as the game is ending..." Declan frowned. Then he wouldn't get to see much of Bailey at all if he had to leave before Declan got changed out. Then it hit him. "Could he just stay overnight?" All three looked at him. "What?" Bailey croaked out. Declan practically ignored him as he pleaded his case to Bailey's mother. "My roommate is out of town. Bailey could just sleep in the dorm for the night. Evan wouldn't mind if Bailey used his bed. That way he could come hang out after the game and celebrate with the rest of us... you know, socialize and stuff... without having to worry about walking home in the dark." "I don't know..." Mrs. McIntyre hummed, eyeing Declan narrowly. "Or maybe he could bunk with Justin or one of the other guys too... " Declan suggested, guessing that she might be worried about Bailey being alone with Declan. Mrs. McIntyre still looked hesitant. "Maybe you, uh, maybe you and Mr. Kirsch can have a night out together," Bailey haltingly suggested, his eyes pleading, and Declan could see her softening. Daniel Kirsch's lips twitched into a small smile as Bailey's mom lit up at the idea. "Really? You'd think that was okay?" Bailey bit his lip but nodded. "Yeah. That might be okay." Declan squeezed Bailey's shoulder, silently offering comfort, knowing how hard it was for Bailey to make that gesture. Mrs. McIntyre's eyes started to mist as she glanced between Bailey and Daniel. She finally nodded. "Okay. Just... just..." She pointed at Bailey then Declan. "Separate beds, okay?" "Mom!" Bailey cried out, burying his face in his hands, mortified at her insinuation. Declan felt his own face flush as well. Daniel Kirsch was trying to hide his laughter behind his hand. Mrs. McIntyre held up her hands. "Just saying. You know, it's a mom thing." Bailey rolled his eyes. "We'll just be hanging with the guys, then maybe watch some TV before crashing. After the game, we'll both be beat." Declan announced, trying to break the embarrassed tension. "It'll be a good night. I promise."
  15. Okay, so it's a little later than I hoped, but chapter 22 is with the editors.  So posting probably around Tuesday/ Wednesday...

    1. 1brokNangel


      Your stories are ALWAYS worth the wait. 

    2. craftingmom


      Thank you very much. :)


    3. Lux Apollo

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