The Move

Chapter 7

By Doug Smith

I got out a notebook and my History book while tossing my book bag in my locker. I hadn't gone to first period Monday so I didn't have anything for English. I decided to use the restroom near my locker since I had a protein shake for breakfast. I really didn't want to sit through class having to take a piss. I was standing at the urinal when Tim came in.

"Morning Dan. You doing okay this morning?"

"Yeah, hopefully today will go better than yesterday. Things didn't go quite as I planned but I guess people will know who I am. How about you? Abby let you off the leash to come in and take a piss?"

"You're just jealous. Abby is a great girl and fun to be with."

"I'm just giving you a hard time. I think it's great. Good friends are important. Someone as good looking as she is doesn't hurt either. At least one of you is good looking, better her than you," I smiled.

"She is that," he laughed. "I'm not that bad either you know."

I laughed. I had to agree with him but of course didn't say anything. He had left an empty urinal between us so I couldn't glance over to see what he had between his legs. I often made a game of checking out guys when I could. I'd make sure I looked forward but would quickly peek out of the corner of my eye. One thing for sure, cocks come in all sizes and shapes. I'm sure Abby knew the size and shape of Tim's very well.

"I have to get to class. Will I see you at lunch?" I didn't remember Tim from my other classes although I guess he could have been there.

"Actually, I'll see you in Health class. I'm in your Phys Ed class. They let us common folk mingle with you smart kids for Phys Ed, lunch and a few classes but other than that they keep us pretty well segregated," he laughed.

I liked Tim. He had a good sense of humor. "Later," I said as I washed my hands and headed for English.

When I got there I gave my admission slip to the teacher and took a seat next to Chris. He was talking with Ryan and Becky who smiled when I sat down.

"Morning Dan. You going to faint today?"

"I'm not planning on it although it's one way to get people to remember me. I'm sure I made quite an impression yesterday."

The four of us were talking for a couple minutes when I sensed someone standing beside me. When I turned I saw Josh beside my desk. My eyes first landed on his crotch which was just about eye level since I was sitting down. I quickly looked up to see him staring at me.

"What?" I asked a little abruptly. I felt guilty as soon as I said it.

I must have surprised him because he flinched and stepped back. Becky said I was in his seat when he didn't say anything.

I figured I could either be an asshole and tell him to sit somewhere else or I could move. I may not know how to deal with him but in general I don't consider myself an asshole so I decided to move.

"Oh, .... sorry," I said as I started to stand up. "Is that one taken?" I asked pointing to a desk a row back and to the left. Becky said I could stay where I was but I got up and moved. I tried looking at him and smiling an apology but I don't think it came out that way. It was more of a blank stare.

It turned out he was in most of my other classes as well. Evidently he had been out Monday morning. I kind of regretted telling Ms. Washington I wanted the honors courses. I knew that was stupid but it was difficult being in classes with him. I found myself staring at him more than paying attention. It was amazing how much he was like Aaron. He obviously didn't have the same personality. Actually, it was tough to tell his personality since he didn't talk much. He did have some of the same mannerisms. Once in a while he'd do something that reminded me of something Aaron would do.

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at lunch. I really didn't know anyone else so it would be awkward if I didn't sit with Chris and Ryan. The problem was I knew Josh would be there. Maybe I was just self-conscious but I didn't think I could be myself when he was around, I was distracted. It wasn't his fault but I really didn't think it was fair that he had Aaron's looks. It didn't seem right. He didn't have the right.

I ended up sitting at the same table but as far away as possible. Fortunately he sat down before me so I just sat at the other end of the table next to Becky. Chris and Ryan seemed surprised she was at our table. Everyone else was there too.

Becky was really friendly as well as good looking. I was surprised she didn't have a boyfriend hanging around. We had a good time talking to each other. She was funny as well as smart. She didn't seem the type who was only into jocks. If that was the case why would she have sat down with us? We spent most of lunch talking to each other even though I kept looking at Josh.

He actually seemed kind of quiet. He talked to Randy, Chris and Ryan but not much with anyone else. Tanya and Debbie mostly talked with Tim and Abby. He did have the same smile as Aaron even though he didn't use it much. When he did his eyes seemed to light up the same way.

He did seem close to Randy. He gave me dirty looks every time he saw me looking so I assumed Josh told him I was an asshole.

Nothing much happened the rest of the day. After my last class I grabbed my book bag and headed for the door. Hopefully my jeep would be there when I got home. I didn't like having to rely on people for rides or worse having to walk. I saw Chris's car but neither he nor Ryan were around. I assumed they were involved in some after school thing so I wouldn't be getting a ride from them. As I started walking across the parking lot Becky pulled up next to me.

"Hi Dan. You need a ride?"

"I could use one. My jeep still isn't here. Hopefully it'll be there when I get home," I sighed.

"Hop in. Do you have to go right home or do you want me to show you around town? It's not like that will take very long," she laughed.

"I'm not in any hurry. My parents are at work and my brother stays after school so I'd just be hanging around. All I've seen is the road near my house where Mike and I run in the morning so you can show me all the hot spots."

After about five seconds she laughed. "Seen enough?"

I laughed. "Not too much I take it."

"It's not that bad. There's a mall with a movie theater, a few restaurants, and a bowling alley. If we want much else we have to go to Manchester. There's more there including a Civic Center and some theaters. You want to go to the mall? I have to pick up something for my sister's birthday. She's turning nine this weekend."

"That sounds good. Maybe I'll see something for my brother. He's turning eight."

"Does he like older women?" she asked laughing.

"Last night he said girls are yucky." I didn't tell her I had agreed with him. I wouldn't exactly call Becky 'yucky' but I knew she'd never be more than a friend.

We walked around the mall for about an hour stopping in a bookstore and a department store. It seemed like a lot of kids hung out there after school. Becky bought her sister a couple of books and a necklace. I didn't have any idea what I was going to get Scott. Books would be okay but I didn't think he'd want a necklace. I ended up not buying anything and deciding to come back another time.

After Becky bought her presents we went by food court to get a drink. We sat at a table near the main walkway which gave me a good view of everyone walking around. Becky and I talked about how I liked the area, the school and stuff like that. She said she had lived here all her life but was planning on going away for college. She was fun to be with.

We stopped talking when her cell phone rang. It was her mother asking what time she was going to be home. While she was talking I watched people going by. I had to admit there were some good looking guys walking around. I watched this one group of four guys walking towards a fast food counter. As they passed I turned to watch as they walked away. I kept watching when they stood at the counter waiting to order.

Becky put her phone away and turned to see what I was watching. I hadn't noticed her watching me.

"I don't stand much of a chance with you do I?"

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

"It's okay Dan. I've been watching you all afternoon. You've checked out pretty much every guy we've seen. I wouldn't have noticed but I've got a cousin who is gay. He looks at guys the same way."

I was shocked. I never thought I was that obvious. I really didn't want Becky to know but I wasn't going to lie either.

"I'm sorry Becky. I wasn't trying to deceive you but I won't lie either. I didn't think I was that obvious but yeah, you're right. I'm gay or at least 99% sure that I am. Are you going to tell people?"

"No Dan. I like you. I was hoping we might be more than friends at some point but I guess it's like they say, the good ones are either taken or gay. Besides, you said 99%, maybe I can straighten you out. Maybe you're just confused," she laughed.

"You sound like my father. My mother is okay with it but my father doesn't want to believe it."

"I'm surprised they know."

"It was sort of by accident," I said turning red.

She laughed. "Sounds like a good story there. Do you have a boyfriend?"

"No. Not any more. I did but we're not together any more." I didn't see any reason to explain any more. At least not yet.

"Anyone you interested in here?"

I laughed. "I've only been in school for two days. It's not like I go around with a sign around my neck. At least I didn't think I did."

"You don't. I just noticed because you're just like my cousin. His eyes linger a while too. I can introduce you if you want. There is also Chris and Ryan."

"That's okay, thanks anyway. I'm not looking for anyone. What do you know about Chris and Ryan? Do you know for sure or are you just assuming?"

"Honestly, I wouldn't tell you if I did unless they were okay with it. Just like I won't tell anyone about you. In this case I really don't know. They've never said anything but I'd bet yes. There was a rumor about Ryan when he first moved here. Something that happened at his old school. He got picked on quite a bit from what I remember. What I heard was that Ron tried to do something to him after school one day and Chris stopped him. They've been friends ever since."

"So you're not mad?"

"I'm disappointed. I was hoping we might be more than friends but having you as a friend will be good too."

"Thanks Becky. I like you too. It just wouldn't be fair."

"Oh well," she sighed. "C'est La Vie. ... We should really get going. I told my mother I'd be home soon."

"Okay," I smiled.

"You're a good guy Dan. I meant it when I said I want to be friends. Since you're not with anyone and I'm not either how about we go to a movie this weekend? As friends."

I smiled. "Alright, as long as it's not a chick flick."

She laughed. "You shouldn't set yourself up like that. It's way too easy."

I laughed. "I guess I'll have to watch what I say. ... You ready?"

It turned out Becky lived in my neighborhood. When we got to my house the first thing I saw was my jeep sitting in the driveway.

"Oh wow," I shouted. "It's here. Come see Becky. I've been waiting for this."

I got out of Becky's car and ran to my jeep. I put my hands on it and looked it over closely making sure there wasn't any damage. "I love this jeep," I said. "My parents gave it to me when I turned sixteen."

"It's kind of manly for you isn't it?" she said smiling.

"Becky!! Are you going to make jokes like that in school too?"

"Of course not. I'm just trying to be funny. I'm sorry if I upset you."

"I'm not upset. It's just that you're stereotyping me. I'm gay. Not all gay guys fit the stereotype. In fact most don't. If you must know I have a black belt in karate but I'd appreciate you not letting that get around. I've kind of given it up."

"No wonder you're not scared of Phil. You must have liked it. Why did you give it up?"

"It's complicated. My parents want me to take it up again. I've been thinking about it but haven't decided yet."

Before I said anything else my mother came out of the house. "Dan, it came about a half hour ago. Do you want the key back?" she smiled handing it to me.

I unlocked the door and climbed in. I had to adjust the seat. Someone had obviously driven it while it was being shipped but the mileage looked about the same so it must not have been too far.

"Who is this?" my mother asked.

"Oh, sorry. Mom, this is Becky. Becky, this is my mother. Becky is a friend from school. She and I went to the mall after school."

"It's nice to meet you Becky."

"Same here Mrs. Johnson. Dan looks like he'll be happy now."

"At least he'll stop looking out the window every five minutes to see if it's here. I should write a paper on why boys like their cars so much."

"It's probably something sexual Mrs. Johnson. ... Dan, I didn't notice. Does it have a stick? Is that why you like it so much?"

I just shook my head. "I thought you said your mother is expecting you home."

She laughed. "She is. I can take a hint. Second place again. I guess I should get used to it. It was nice meeting you Mrs. Johnson." Before she left she gave me a kiss on the cheek. "See you tomorrow Dan."

"I take it she knows," my mother said after Becky left.

"She knows," I said. "She figured it out at the mall."

"Are you okay with that?"

"Sure, you know I don't deny it. Not much I can do about it anyway. I wasn't going to lie. She asked me and I told her. I didn't think I was that obvious. She says she wants to be friends anyway. We're even going to the movies this weekend."

"You know I don't have a problem with you being gay. I just hope she doesn't say anything at school. It's hard enough to get settled in a new school."

"It'll be fine Mom. Hopefully she won't make too many jokes that people hear."

"I hope so too. ... For your sake."

Mike walked over when he saw us standing there. "I guess you won't need a ride any more," he said. "This is nice."

"Thanks, I love it. You want to go for a ride?"

"How about after supper? My mother said it was almost ready."

"We're going to eat soon too Dan. Your father will be home any time."

"Alright, how about around 6:30. I have some homework but I want to feel this baby again. We'll go for a quick ride."

Mike went home and my mother and I went into the house. Scott came running upstairs and showed me a math paper he did in school. He didn't get grades but he did have a gold star on the top of the paper. It was funny seeing him so excited. I picked him up and gave him a hug.

"That's great bud. You want to do my math homework for me?"

He laughed. "I can't do that."

"Well, you keep this up and you'll be able to soon." He laughed and ran upstairs.

"He's a good kid," I said to my mother. "Is he doing okay here?"

"He's doing fine Dan. How are you doing?"

"Okay I guess. Not much I can do about it anyway," I said going upstairs before she could ask for details.

Mike came over after supper and we went for a ride. He told me which way to go since I still didn't know my way around. He asked if I wanted to go to a party Saturday night but I told him I was going to the movies with Becky.

"Ohhh? You've been here two days and you have a date with her already? Do you know how many guys she turns down?"

"I guess she just knows beauty when she sees it," I laughed. "Actually, we're just friends. She's in a lot of my classes. She gave me a ride home."

"I saw her in your driveway. Things must be going pretty good."

"Pretty good. I've met quite a few people. Most are okay. Some are assholes," I said with emphasis and a smile. He knew who I meant. "I miss my friends back home but I'll survive. How's football? You going to win this weekend?"

"And break our streak? Why would we want to do that? Besides, you'd probably like seeing us lose given how you feel about Phil."

I didn't know if he was serious or not.

"Mike .... I admit I think Phil is a jerk but I don't have anything against other guys on the team, at least yet. Most of them seem okay, especially you. I wouldn't want to see you lose. Part of me might want to see Phil fuck up but I don't really care about him either. He's a jerk but as long as he doesn't bother me I don't care one way or another what happens to him."

"Fair enough," he said. "I'm not sure Phil will leave you alone though. He's still talking about you. He definitely doesn't like you. He says you must be a fag for hanging around with Chris and Ryan. Wait until he finds out you're going out with Becky," he laughed.

"Mike!! I told him this and I'll tell you. I don't like that word. A couple of my best friends back home are gay and they're great guys. There are enough problems in the world, it shouldn't matter who someone loves. That isn't something we can even agree to disagree on. I'm not friends with bigots ... period. Besides, I don't even know if Chris and Ryan are gay or not."

"Alright, alright, I'm sorry. Get off your soapbox will you. I'm not like that. I don't really care whether someone is gay or not. I guess I just call them f.., ah, that because everyone else does."

"Well, you shouldn't. I know my friends got really hurt when people called them that. Fortunately most people were cool. This area seems pretty conservative though. I saw some church when I was riding with Becky that had a sign telling people to read Leviticus if they want to know what God thinks of gay marriage. What's up with that?"

"They want to repeal the law that was passed last year. They're pretty weird. I know some kids whose families go there."

"Hopefully not many."

"I don't know."

We drove around a while longer. Mike showed me where various people lived. He showed me where the party is Saturday night if I changed my mind. He said there would be beer and that I could bring Becky. He gave me a funny look when I said I didn't drink and didn't really like parties where that was the main form of entertainment.

"You're definitely different from other people I know," he laughed.

"Different in a good way?" I smiled.

"Not in a bad way. The jury is still out on whether it's a good way," he smiled.

We got back around eight. I told him I wouldn't be running in the morning since I would be up late doing homework. We said good night but I couldn't help wonder what type of friend he'd really be as I pulled out of his driveway and into mine. Other than running we really didn't seem to have much in common. At least we got along. It would suck if I lived across the street from someone like Phil Clayton.

I talked to my parents for a couple minutes before going upstairs to do homework. I really had quite a bit to do. Some was new and some was catch-up work the teachers wanted me to do. I worked until a little after eleven thirty before I had enough and gave up. Around nine Scott came in to say good-night. He and I talked for a few minutes but other than that I did a good three hours worth of work. I still had some more to do but could do that over the next few days.

Before going to bed I went online. My father had hooked up the wireless network so I was able to check my email. I had a few messages from kids back home. Jason, my second best friend after Aaron, had sent me three or four. He seemed pretty pissed I hadn't responded. Jason was a great guy, straight as they come, but a great guy anyway. He really tried to help after Aaron died.

He was on MSN when I logged in so I was able to talk with him there. He seemed pissed that he hadn't heard from me but calmed down when I said the cable just got hooked up. He was probably talking to Andrea, his girlfriend, too but we were able to chat. I told him things were going okay, the school was different, and that I had met a few people. We just talked about basic stuff. He said people said to say hello. He also talked about getting together some weekend since it was such a short flight to Chicago. I thought that was a great idea and said I'd talk to my parents. Hopefully they would let me go visit.

We talked for about half an hour before I said I had to go. He tried to say it was early but I pointed out there was an hour time difference. I didn't really want to sign off but ended up saying good-night and getting ready for bed.

I got into bed around 12:30. My parents had already gone to bed. Just like the past few nights I laid there for what seemed like hours before I could get to sleep. 'I really have to get some sleep,' I thought. 'I can't be tired in class. It's hard enough paying attention.' One thing I realized is that it is hard to go to sleep when you're thinking you have to go to sleep. Eventually I must have however since the next thing I remember was my mother knocking on my door telling me I was going to be late.

Hi, it's Josh again. Today wasn't any better. It looks like Dan is in most of my classes. That makes sense since we go to a small school. I was out yesterday morning because I didn't get any sleep Sunday night. My father was drunk again and kept me up all night. I don't want to go into the details. Just know it wasn't pleasant.

This morning he was in my seat when I walked into class. He was talking with Chris and Becky. I knew he didn't know it is my seat so I just stood there waiting for him to notice me. He acted annoyed when he saw me. He asked what I wanted but the tone in his voice sent a chill through my spine. I didn't know what to say. He did apologize when Becky said he was in my seat but I'm not sure he meant it.

Our eyes met for a second when he stood up but he quickly looked away. Some people say they can see things in people's eyes but I couldn't read what was there. All I saw was confusion and perhaps sadness. He does have nice eyes. They're a deep shade of blue surrounded by long, dark eyelashes. Sitting here I can picture them when I close my eyes.

I know I have to stop thinking about him. I just caught myself thinking about him while I was jerking off. I tried not to but I couldn't help it. I started out thinking of other things but ended up picturing him laying on the cafeteria floor with me looking into those eyes. It felt good at the time but now I feel empty. He obviously doesn't like me and what bothers me is I don't know why.

It's not that I expected us to be best friends or anything but I don't understand what his problem is. He seems to like Chris and Ryan. They're my friends. Perhaps my only friends. Well, them and Randy. My father drove all my other friends away. I hate that man. Those three are the only guys who stuck with me. Chris and Ryan don't hang out at my house any more since my father thinks they're gay and lets them know it. If only he knew the three of us really are gay. I wonder what he'd say then. Actually I know what he'd say so it's better he doesn't know. We do hang out but usually just at school.

Randy still comes over once in a while. My father doesn't really bother him. That's because he knows Randy is dating Karen. He's seen them together a few times. They've been going out for about a year even though she's a year behind us in school.

Oh well, if that's the way he wants to be then fuck him. I didn't need him before he moved here and I don't need him now. I just wish I knew what his problem is.

Wednesday Morning ...

I was excited about driving to school on Wednesday morning. I got there early in order to get a parking sticker. I skipped breakfast thinking I could get something in the cafeteria. At first the secretary wasn't going to give me one since I hadn't registered the jeep in New Hampshire yet. It was only after Ms. Washington stopped by and told the secretary to give me one that she relented. She made a point of telling me I had to come back and give them my new registration number when I got it. I guess there is bureaucracy everywhere.

I walked back out to the parking lot to put the sticker on the jeep. Chris and Ryan pulled up just as I got there.

"Nice jeep Dan. Did it come yesterday?"

"Yeah, it was there when Becky dropped me off."

Chris and Ryan looked at each other but didn't say anything. "Sorry we couldn't give you a ride. We had a math club meeting after school."

I smiled.

"You're not going to make any geek jokes are you?"

I laughed. "No, that's cool. I was on the math team back home. Sorry, I meant in Illinois. I guess I have to stop referring to it as home. Does it meet on Tuesdays? Maybe I'll join."

"That would be fun. There's a competition next week. I don't know if you could go to that or not. You should talk to Mr. Williams. If not that one the next one isn't for a month so it shouldn't be a problem."

Becky drove up as we were talking. "Morning Dan. The shift work on the jeep?"

I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "Inside joke," I said when Chris and Ryan gave me a confused look. "I'll catch you guys inside okay? I need to talk to Becky for a minute," I said giving her a dirty look.

They looked at us and nodded. After they left I turned to Becky. "Are you going to make jokes like that all the time?"

"Don't worry Dan. I'll be good. I promise. It was only Chris and Ryan and they didn't have a clue what I was talking about."

"I know. I'm just worried you'll slip up."

"Relax, I'll be careful."

"It's okay and for the record my shift works just fine not that you have a need to know."

"Alright Dan, that's too much information but I guess I deserved it. Let's go stud," she said putting her arm around mine leading me towards the school. Phil glared at me when he saw us walking in. I just smiled and nodded at Mike. Not that I cared but it didn't hurt for them to see me with Becky.

"Thanks," I said as we went inside.

"For what?" she smiled knowingly. "I'll see you in class."

I went to my locker to get my notebook and headed to class. Unfortunately I didn't have time to go by the cafeteria. Becky came up behind me and grabbed my arm just as I got to the door. We walked in together which caused Chris and Ryan to stare. Becky just smiled and sat down in her chair. I took my seat which was in back and to the left of Josh. He and I didn't acknowledge each other but I did notice he had on a nice pair of jeans. They not only showed his legs but also showed off other things when he leaned forward. It was small and tight, just like Aaron. It was difficult not to stare during class. Hopefully nobody noticed the bulge between my legs although Becky gave me a smirk.

I felt bad when I thought about it. Why did I get hard looking at him? Was it because of him or was it because of Aaron? Maybe it was just because I was a teenager, a gay teenager, and he had been sitting like that. It gave me something else to think about.

A few interesting things happened during gym class as well. Josh was there of course. We played volleyball. Volleyball is an interesting game. Most anyone can do something regardless of how non-athletic they are. It isn't like basketball where certain kids hog the ball and everyone else just runs back and forth. Fortunately I was fairly athletic. It's not like the games meant anything but I'm glad I could hold my own.

I had rotated to the front line and Josh was directly across me on the other side of the net. I tried not to look but really couldn't help it. One, he brought back memories and, two, he looked good. He really didn't seem into the game. I felt he was watching me. When Tim set me up I went up to spike the ball. I could have really drilled it but something made me hold back. I just hit it back so he had a chance to get it. Tim looked at me wondering why I hadn't spiked it. I just shrugged and Aaron's face flashed in my mind.

Josh was able to get the ball and set up someone else on his line. The ball went back and forth a few times before his team won the point. He glanced over before we set up for the next point. Our eyes met for a second but then we both looked the other way.

Another thing that happened was in the locker room. Locker rooms are an interesting place. Especially when you're gay. All that male flesh walking around in various states of nudity. It doesn't matter that most of the kids are straight. There are still a lot of nice bodies. Some not so nice ones too.

It really hadn't occurred to me that one of those bodies would be Josh's. He was walking back to his locker when I noticed him. There were two things I noticed. One, he had the same birthmark on his lower back that Aaron did. That was really weird. Two, while he was about the same size as Aaron he was circumcised, Aaron wasn't. I guess that was one way to tell them apart.

Another naked body I got to see was Phil Clayton's not that it had any appeal to me. It was bad enough seeing him with his clothes on. Seeing him walk around naked was kind of nauseating. If I had as little between my legs as he did I wouldn't be walking around quite so proudly either. For a big guy he certainly had a little dick. It was all I could do not to laugh.

Fortunately I was able to take my shower and get dressed without getting hard. I had lots of practice discreetly checking out guys in locker rooms. At my old school my friends knew I was gay and didn't really care. They'd even make jokes about it. Here I still wanted to be careful so I got dressed quickly. Even though I had been kind of asexual the last year things still worked. There was no sense taking chances.

At lunch I saw Josh talking with Chris, Ryan, and Randy. It didn't look like Becky was around. That gave me an option. Sit down with Chris and Ryan forcing myself to interact with Josh or go somewhere else. I opted for the latter and went to see if I could sign up for the talent show. It was as good excuse as any. I grabbed a couple granola bars and waved to Chris as I walked out the door.

"What do you think of him?" asked Josh.

"Who? Dan? He's okay. Ryan and I went over to his house the other day. We had a good time. Why?"

"I don't think he likes me."

"Come on Josh. He's only been here three days. Give him a break. It's tough being the new kid."

"He hasn't said two words to me. Every time I'm around he goes somewhere else. Look what just happened."

"Josh you're being paranoid. He's probably going to meet Becky. They seem to be hitting it off pretty well. Didn't you see them walk into class this morning? Besides, he didn't leave yesterday."

"I guess but he sat as far away as he could."

"He sat next to Becky!!"

"You think they're together?"

"Why do you care? You jealous?" Chris laughed. "Of her or of him?"

"Shut up asshole."

"You are jealous. Josh, I don't think he's gay. I can see why you like him. He is kind of hot. I hear he runs a lot. It definitely shows. He has a nice ass."

"I don't like him. At least not like that."

"Yeah, right. Don't lie Sullivan. Tell the truth did you think of him when you jerked off last night?"

"Will you shut up," Josh said turning red.

"You did!!! Shit Josh, he's straight."

"Alright, yes I did but it isn't like that. I didn't mean to. It's just that he's always looking at me and I can't get his eyes out of my head. I just wonder why he doesn't like me."

"Yeah, right, I'm sure you were thinking about his eyes, the one-eyed beast between his legs maybe."

"Will you shut up? Someone will hear you."

"Alright Josh, we're just teasing but if you don't think he likes you then why don't you talk to him? Tell him you're gay and have the hots for him. See what he says."

"Yeah, okay. I'm sure that will work. Even if I did, you said it yourself he's straight. He likes Becky. .... Did you tell him you're gay? ..... I didn't think so, so shut up."

"No, we didn't but I don't think it would matter. He said he had a couple of gay friends in Illinois and was fine with it. But you're right, we didn't tell him. It's not like we're that close, at least not yet. But Josh, if you do have the hots for him then you better get it under control. You see him and Becky together. He's not on our team. You'll find someone to appreciate you someday. I just don't think he's the one."

"I told you, it isn't like that. It's just the way he looks at me. I can't describe it. As far as finding someone; that isn't going to happen any time soon. Not while I'm stuck with my father. You know that."

"Josh, I'm sorry. I wish we could make your life better. We're just teasing you. You know you can hang out at my house any time you want."

"Thanks, but the only thing that will make it better is when I graduate high school and get the hell out. Once I do that I'm never coming back."

"You know we'll help if we can. Dan doesn't bother you does he?"

"No, he just ignores me. It's strange. I feel like he's watching me but when I look he turns away. I can't figure it out. I know it's stupid but it bothers me."

"Give it time Josh," said Ryan. "He seems okay but if he gives you trouble then let us know. We'll kick his ass for you."

"It's not like that. It's just weird. Like today in gym, we were playing volleyball and he could have spiked the ball but he didn't. He saw I wasn't paying attention and just tapped the ball over so I could get it. He could easily have drilled the ball at my face."

"He's in your gym class? You got to see him naked? What does he look like? Is he big? He looks it."

"Hey," said Ryan. "You're showing a little too much interest in him."

"I'm just curious. Spill it Josh. What's he got?"

"I don't know. I didn't look. The last thing I need is getting caught checking out other guys. Phil and his friends would have a lot of fun if they knew I really am gay. I only told you because you are too. ... When are you going to tell him about you?"

"Maybe sometime but not yet. I don't think it would be an issue but we'd like to be friends with him first. Maybe that's not being honest but we don't want to take chances."

"Oh well, it doesn't look like he and I are going to be friends. The way he looked at me his first day. He didn't want anything to do with me. Did you see the look on his face when he saw my house? You know how things are at home."

"Josh, he isn't like that. He really got on our case when he thought we were saying we weren't as good as him because his parents are rich. He made it clear he didn't care about any of that stuff. But you have to tell us if things don't get better. We'll help you talk to him."

"I don't know what I'd say. I'd probably come off as a jerk."

"You're not a jerk. If he can't see that then he's the jerk. Just remember, you were our friend first. He'll have to deal with that."

"Thanks," said Josh. "I'm probably overreacting. It's just strange. Maybe I do have a little crush on him. He is hot."

"A little?" they asked laughing.

"Shut up. I need to get to class. Unfortunately he'll be there too."

"We're here for you bud. If he hurts you we'll take care of him."

"Thanks, but it's not worth it."

I found the music teacher in his office. After introducing myself I told him I wanted to sign up for the talent show. We had the usual talk about what I wanted to do and he told me he wanted to hear me play before he put the program together. He said anyone could participate but he tried to keep serious performers together. He said some kids simply wanted to fool around and entertain their friends. I told him I had taken guitar lessons for five years and enjoyed playing. I said how I'd never been in a talent show but had been in a few music competitions.

I had pre-calc right after lunch and was already sitting down when Josh came in. "Hi," he said as he sat down. I was surprised. It was the first time he spoke to me since Monday.. I didn't want to be rude but I also didn't want to get into a conversation either. I assumed he was an okay guy but that didn't mean I wanted to be friends.

"Hi," I kind of grunted as I continued to look through the textbook. He just turned around and stopped talking. Seeing the look on his face really made me feel like a jerk. I thought about apologizing but Mr. Williams started class. That was probably better but it didn't make me feel any better. All class I watched the back of his head. Mr. Williams knew I wasn't paying attention. Thankfully he didn't call on me.

After my last class I had yet another difference of opinion with Phil Clayton. I was standing at my locker when he came up behind me and shoved me into my locker.

"We have some unfinished business faggot."

"What the fuck Clayton? Is that how you fight? Sneak up on someone from behind?"

"Fuck you Johnson. I told you we aren't done."

"And I told you we are. You're just going have to live with it. You're not worth getting suspended for. I have better things to do."

"I'm going to teach you a lesson faggot. If you don't want to fight then fine. You're going to get beat either way."

I smiled. "You don't want to do that Phil. You will regret it," I said moving closer to him and staring into his eyes. "If you want to fight then fine. We'll go find some place off school grounds. Just you and me, nobody else... I promise you that you'll regret it. You won't be walking away."

I was staring into his eyes but was ready for him to do something stupid. I thought he might but I also knew he was basically chicken if someone stood up too him. In this case I saw doubt. He didn't know if I could back up my talk or not. There were other people around watching and waiting to see what was going to happen.

"What's it going to be Clayton? You going to stand there all day or are we going to go finish this?"

"Fuck it ... We'll do this another time. We still aren't done," he said starting to walk away.

"You keep saying that. Get over it Clayton."

"Fuck off Johnson. We'll wait until football season is over. Then I won't care if I get suspended."

I hadn't seen Becky standing there until she said something.

"You saw?" I asked.

"I saw. A lot of people saw. ... He won't drop this Dan. I know him. Be careful okay? I know you can take care of yourself but he won't fight fair. There are rumors he put a kid in the hospital last year although nothing could be proven. The kid either couldn't or wouldn't say who did it. They ended up moving."

"I'll be careful Becky but I'm not going to let him push me around. I won't let him push my friends around either," I said looking at Chris and Ryan who had just walked up.

"Alright Dan. I have to go to work. We still on for this weekend?"

"Sure. You know what you want to see yet?"

"We'll find something. See you tomorrow."

"Hi," said Chris. "I see Clayton is still bothering you."

I laughed. "He's an asshole. It'll be okay. He doesn't worry me. I just don't want to get kicked out of school. Him I'm not scared of. My parents are another story."

"Yeah, my parents would kill me if I got kicked out of school," he laughed.

"Mine too. I don't think using the excuse 'I was just defending myself' would get me very far either. They think there are other ways to deal with things. Fighting should be a last resort."

"I'm not sure Clayton understands much else."

"We'll see. I need you guys to tell me if he bothers you because of me though. If he does then I'll take care of it. Okay?"

"Sure Dan but we'll be okay. He usually just talks big."

"I've noticed but if that changes then let me know. ... What are you up to? Want to hang out?"

"Sure, want to go get something to eat?"

"Sounds like a plan. I'll follow you. I'm still learning my way around here."

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