The Move

Chapter 11

By Doug Smith

"Hey, is that anyway to greet you best friend once removed? You said you wished I was here and here I am. I told you it's a short flight from Chicago and my father has tons of frequent flier miles."

"Wow, I can't believe this. Come in. Mom!! Dad!! Look who is here!!!!"

My parents came in and saw Jason. "Jason, this is a surprise, what are you doing here?"

"I came to see my main bud here. I missed him."

They looked at him skeptically before looking at me. "Do your parents know you're here?"

"Of course," he laughed. "I used some of my dad's frequent flier miles. He wanted me to call first but I wanted to surprise Dan."

"You sure did. Come in. How long can you stay?"

"I have to fly back tomorrow. Maybe you don't have school on Mondays around here but we do in Illinois. I hope I can stay with you tonight," he smiled.

"Of course you can. I'm so glad to see you," I said pulling him into a hug.

"Hey man, I'm still straight," he laughed hugging me back.

"Thank you," I whispered in his ear holding him tight. I felt him nod against my shoulder.

"Let's go upstairs. I'll show you my room." I started pushing Jason towards the stairs. I'm sure my parents wondered why he just showed up. They knew we were friends but for him to show up without calling was unusual. I didn't care though. I was just happy to see him. I couldn't believe he jumped on a plane when he got my email.

When we got upstairs I closed my door and fell on my bed. "Oh man, I can't believe you're here. You're the best."

"Danny, (Jason was one of the few people who called me that) your email got me worried. I tried to IM you but you weren't there. You didn't answer your phone either. What's going on?"

"I'm sorry. I went to bed right after I emailed you and I taught a karate course this morning. I shouldn't have sent that email. I was tired. I didn't mean for you to worry. We could have talked on the phone but I am glad you're here. It's good to see you."

"Karate? I thought you weren't doing that any more. That sounds like you're doing good but your email made it sound like things are worse. What's going on?"

"Not here. My parents might hear. They can't know. Let's go to lunch. I'll tell you all about it. I'm not sure what you can do but I need to tell someone."

"Let's go then. You drive. I took a taxi from the airport."

"I can't believe you got on a plane to come see me. I know Chicago is a quick flight but wow, you're here," I smiled hugging him again before we opened the door. "If you weren't straight I'd kiss you right here."

"Hey, you keep this up and Andrea will get jealous," he laughed. "I had to come. You would have done the same thing and you know it."

"I know," I said. "But you did. I love you man."

He laughed. "You can keep saying that all you want, I'm still not going to sleep with you. No matter how much you want my hot bod."

I smiled but there were tears in my eyes. They were happy tears though. Jason and I used to joke like this all the time. He is as straight as they come but accepted me for who I am. He has also been there for me since Aaron died. I loved him but certainly not like 'that'.

"I guess you can use the guest room," I said faking a pout. "Let's go. I'll show you around."

We went downstairs. "Mom, Dad, ... Jason and I are going out to lunch. We'll be back later."

Mom said to have a good time but I know she was wondering what was going on. She wasn't stupid. I obviously hadn't mentioned Jason coming since I didn't know and here he was. It wasn't a normal thing for a kid to do. I'm sure she'd be asking questions later.

He climbed in the passenger side of the jeep just like old times. "This is fantastic Jay. I can't tell you how good it is to see you. I miss home. This place isn't the same."

"It can't be that bad."

"Some of it's okay. I've met a few kids, I joined a gym, and I've even been going out with a girl but just as friends. In fact we have a date tonight but it's no big deal, the three of us can do something."

He gave me a strange look when I mentioned going out with Becky.

"So what's wrong with it?"

"I don't know where to start. I really thought I was getting better. I was, wasn't I? Wasn't I doing pretty good when school started? I mean I still missed Aaron but I was dealing with it, wasn't I?"

"Dan, slow down. Start from the beginning."

"Alright, but let's wait until we get to the mall. There's a TGIF there. That okay?"

"Sure, let's go."

We got to the mall and went in to sit down. It wasn't very crowded so we got seated right away. "Okay," I said. "You know how the first day of school is for new kids, right? .. I obviously didn't know anyone. I did meet these two guys but they thought I was an asshole for something that happened before school."

"You pissed someone off before you even started school? What did you do?"

"Nothing. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have pissed off one guy but that isn't the problem. It may be a problem but not the real problem."

"What's going on then?"

"Well, at lunch I was talking to these two guys. I was explaining how they got the wrong impression of me."


"We were just talking. They realized they had jumped to conclusions and we were just talking. That's when 'he' sat down."

"What?? You're not going to tell me this is about getting with some guy are you? That isn't why I jumped on the first flight to see you is it?" He almost sounded angry.

I frowned and looked around to see if anyone heard him. "Keep it down Jay. Of course not. Besides, in this case I've kind of been there, done that."

"What are you talking about? You're not telling me you've hooked up with someone already have you. Christ Dan, Colt was after you all summer and you completely blew him off because of Aaron and you've already hooked up here?"

"Be serious Jay. You know me better than that. Besides, Colt is after anyone with a cock. It's Aaron."

"What do you mean 'it's Aaron'. What does he have to do with this?"

"You don't understand. The kid .... Aaron ... They're fucking identical."

"What are you talking about?"

"Jay, I'm serious. If you put Aaron and Josh next to each other even I would have trouble telling them apart. In fact I did."

"Come on Dan, you've got to be exaggerating?"

"No Jay. I'm serious. This kid sat down, I looked over and freaked. I couldn't believe it. At first I thought it was Aaron but I knew it couldn't be. I fucking fainted right there in the cafeteria. My first day. ... Jay, I have to see this kid every day. He's in most of my classes. I can't concentrate. I can't sleep. I don't know what to do."

"Okay Dan. Just relax. I'm here. We'll figure something out. Have you told anyone?"

"Yeah, the guidance counselor. I don't know why. She and I had talked in the morning and for some reason I told her when she found out I fainted. I guess I had to tell someone. Want to know something else weird? The guidance counselor? She's his aunt."

"Is she going to tell him?"

"She says I should talk to him but I can't. Every time I see him I can't bring myself to say anything. At first I felt like he stole something from Aaron. Now we just don't talk."

"Okay, let's skip lunch. I want to see this kid. It's not that I don't believe you Dan. I just need to see for myself."

"What? I don't know where he is today. I assume he's at his house but it's not like I can walk up to the door and introduce you."

"Do you know where he lives?"

"Yeah, but what good is that going to do if he's inside?"

"Maybe you can't walk up to the door but I can," he smiled. "Let's go."

"What are you going to do?"

"Relax Dan. I'm not going to say anything. I just want to see him. I know you think he looks like Aaron but maybe I can make you see he's not Aaron."

I frowned. "Jay, I know he's not Aaron. I'm not that much of a mental case."

He told the waitress we needed to go and then dragged me out to the jeep. I had my reservations about whether this was a good idea but drove Jay to Josh's house anyway. He told me his plan on the way. He said he was just going to pretend he had the wrong house. He had me drive down the street next to Josh's first. He said he was going to make it look like he had the wrong street.

When we got to Josh's street I parked down the road. I don't know if Josh knew my jeep or not but I didn't want to take any chances. It might look strange if he looked out and didn't see Jay's car but that was better than seeing me. Fortunately nobody seemed to be home at Danny's house either. I cautioned Jay once more to be careful. I wanted to make sure he wouldn't say anything to Josh. I also wanted to make sure he wouldn't say anything to upset him. Jay just looked at me and told me not to worry.

I watched as Jay walked up Josh's driveway before I couldn't see him any more. It seemed like he was gone longer than the three or four minutes he actually was. When he came back he quickly got into the jeep.

"Drive," he said.

"What's the matter?"

"Nothing, just drive. Man, I can't believe that. You definitely weren't exaggerating. He just sat down next to you? I can see why you freaked. You didn't hug him or anything did you?"

"No, I didn't hug him doofus."

"What did you do?"

"I told you. I fainted. It was like I was sitting with Aaron. I knew where I was but it was all wrong. The next thing I knew I was laying on the floor looking up at everyone. Nice introduction to a new school, right?"

"Don't worry Dan. We'll figure something out. What do you know about him?"

"Not much really. His aunt said something about his mother dying a few years ago. I guess it's just his father and him. She didn't seem to think much of his father. I saw him when I picked up a kid across the street this morning. He looked like a real piece of work."

"I saw his father. Asshole is more like it. It's just after lunch and I swear he's drunk already. He was yelling at Josh while he was telling me I had the wrong street. He seems like a good kid for what it's worth. I mean he was friendly. He didn't strike me as an asshole at least. I kind of felt sorry for him. If his father is like that when someone is at the door then what is he like when nobody is around?"

"His father was drunk when I picked Danny up this morning. He was standing on the front steps in his boxers yelling at Josh while he was raking leaves."

"That kid's life must really suck."

"Thanks Jason. That makes me feel much better. You've been a big help," I said sarcastically.

"Dan, we'll figure something out. Let's go back and get something to eat."

"What am I going to do? I know he's not Aaron and I kind of resent him but the more I see him the more I think he's a good kid. I also feel kind of protective of him. I've never seen anyone hassle him but if they did I'd kick the shit out of them. The problem is every time he even tries to say hello I can't even talk to him. I'm sure he thinks I'm an asshole."

My cell chirped as we were driving back to the mall. It was a text from Becky asking what time I was going to pick her up.

"It's Becky" I told Jason. "She wants to know what time I'm going to pick her up."

"I can't believe you're going out with a girl. Does she know about you?"

I explained who Becky was and how she figured out I was gay. I emphasized that she was just a friend.

"She's fun and good to talk to. Maybe we can all go out."

"Have you told her about any of this?"

"No, of course not. She's perceptive though. She picked up that I'm gay after about an hour. She also knows something is up between me and Josh. She just thinks he likes me."

"Is he gay?"

"I don't know. Becky says I have to get my gaydar fixed."

He laughed. "Can I have the rights to this story? It would make a great soap opera."

"You're a big help."

When we got back to the mall we went back to TGIF and ordered lunch. I called Becky to tell her I'd pick her up around six. We could get something to eat before the movies. I did tell her a friend of mine had flown in from Chicago and asked if it was okay if he came along.

"Yes Becky, he's good looking" ..... "No, he's straight." .... "Yes, I'm sure." ... "Because I know his girlfriend. If he cheated on her he'd never be able to have kids." .... "I know Becky, I'll see you later." .... "Bye"

"I'm going to tell Andrea you said that."

"Deny it all you want. You know it's true. You're as whipped as they come. And you enjoy it."

He laughed. "Yeah, you're right. She can whip me all she wants."

I smiled. They really did make a good couple and I was glad he was happy. After we ordered sandwiches Jason began talking.

"Dan, I want you to look at me and tell me you're not looking at this kid as some type of replacement for Aaron. You don't think he's Aaron do you?"

That thought was absurd.. I never looked at Josh as a replacement for Aaron in that way. Even if we became friends I would still think of him as Josh ... wouldn't I? "Jay, do you really think I'm that bad? That's ridiculous."

"I didn't think so. I was just making sure. That would be pretty weird."

"It wouldn't say much for my relationship with Aaron either," I said. "Do you really think he meant so little to me that I could simply replace him with someone who looks like him or that I'm so shallow I would do something like that to Josh?"

"No Dan, of course not. It's just that your lights haven't all been on the last year. I'm your friend Dan. I'm just making sure."

"I couldn't do that. I may have wondered if I could see him for himself and be able to have a relationship with him but I really don't see that happening. Besides, despite what Becky says I assume he's straight. At least I haven't seen anything that makes me think otherwise. If that's true the best that could happen is for us is to be friends and that's unlikely since I can't even talk to him."

"I know it won't be easy but I really think the only way for this to end well is for you to talk to him. Tell him what's going on. It may not mean you'll get along with him but at least things will be out in the open. Communication always helps. He seemed like a good guy so I'm sure he'll understand."

"Oh yeah, that will work. 'Hi Josh, I really can't stand looking at you because you look like my dead boyfriend' I can hear his reaction now."

"Dan, don't be an asshole. I'm trying to help."

"I know. I'm sorry Jay. I know I should talk to him but I haven't been able to."

"You don't have to tell him like that. Just tell him he looks like your best friend who died last year and that you're having trouble dealing with it. Show him a picture of Aaron. You do have one where you don't have your hands all over each other don't you?"

"Shut up asshole."

"I'm just giving you a hard time."

"I know and I know I should talk to him. I just don't know how. He comes near me and I can't think straight. You can't imagine what the past month has been like. He has to think I'm some type of asshole."

"It didn't sound like that when I talked to him."

"What do you mean? You didn't talk about me did you?"

"Of course not. We were just making conversation. I told him I had just flown in from Chicago and was looking for a friend's house. I gave him an address on the next street over. He just said there was a kid in his school who moved from Chicago. I assume he was talking about you. It didn't sound like he thought you're an asshole."

"How about this? Tell someone else who knows him. Are these guys you mentioned friends of his? Could you tell them so they could help you talk to him? How about Becky? Is that her name? Could she help? I'm sure if he knew he'd understand. Like I said, he seemed like a good guy. At least then you could talk to him. Besides, with a father like that he could probably use all the friends he can get."

"I'll think about it. That's actually not a bad idea. I probably would feel better if he knew what was going on. I'm not sure Becky is the right person. She'd help but she doesn't really know him that well. He seems closer to Chris and Ryan or another kid we both know. In fact I really don't see him talking to anyone else. One of them would probably be better."

"It'll work Dan. It's always better when you can talk it out. I know it'll be hard for you because of what Aaron meant to you. If you want to go find these guys we can do it now. I'll be there with you. You don't have to tell them everything. Just tell them Aaron was your best friend and you grew up with him. I'm sure they're good guys if you like them. They'll understand."

"I don't want to do it now. I need a break from all this."

"Promise me you'll do it though. I'm going to call every night until you tell me you've talked to him."

"Yes Mom. Can we talk about something else now? How's Andrea?"

"Alright, we can talk about something else. Just do it, okay. You're only other choice is to talk to him directly. Doing nothing like you've been doing obviously isn't working. If you don't then I'll come back here and do it."

I frowned when he said that. "I'll do it. You're right that ignoring him isn't working but can we please talk about something else?"

He smiled. "Andrea is fine. She's pissed at you because I'm here and not with her tonight but she says to say hello."

"Tell her I appreciate it. You want me to call her and tell her I didn't take advantage of you?"

"I talked to her when I got off the plane. I'm surprised she hasn't called again. I'll call her later. Tell me about this girl we're going out with tonight. Just a friend?"

"She's just a friend Jay. I think she wanted more but figured out pretty quick that she didn't have much of a chance. .... Wandering eyes," I smiled.

"I still can't get used to the idea of some guy checking me out when I walk by. It's all your fault too. I never would have even thought that if I didn't know you and Colt."

"Or Aaron," I smiled. "You can say his name you know. I can handle it."

"Or Aaron."

"Take it as a compliment. Aaron always said you have a nice ass," I laughed.

"Just as long as you look and don't touch."

"Don't worry Jay. I'm not going to hit on you. Besides, I noticed your ass has gotten a little bigger since I moved."

"Asshole ... It's only been a few weeks."

"Just think what it'll look like by Christmas. I hope we can get together then. You probably won't be able to fit through the door. You certainly won't be able to jump for many rebounds."

"You're still an asshole. You know that?"

"I know but you love me."

He smiled. "Yeah .... Yeah, I do. That's why I'm here."

"I know that too. I really miss you guys."

"We'll still get together. You think you'll be able to come around Christmas? The week between Christmas and New Years is always busy because of the Christmas Tournaments but it'll be great if you're there. I think I'm going to start this year."

"That's great. You'll have to let me know. Who knows, maybe you'll look up in the stands and I'll be there cheering you on."

He smiled. "You'd do that wouldn't you?"

I smiled. Jason was a good friend. "We should probably get going. I can show you around a little and then we can hang out until we get Becky. You sure you don't mind the three of us going out? I'm sure she'd understand if I said I wanted to make it another time."

"No, she sounds like fun. Besides, we can gang up on you."

"Okay, but if you get too bad I'm taking pictures and sending them to Andrea."

Jason and I drove around before we went back to my house. It didn't take long to show him the entire town but it was fun. Mainly we just talked like old times. When we got back to my house we spent a couple of hours shooting pool and playing Nintendo. Scott came down while we were playing pool to show me how he had practiced his katas. He was really proud of himself. It was cute.

"You're creating a monster you know," smiled Jason. "Now you're going to have to keep with it or else he'll be able to kick your ass before you know it."

I laughed. "I think I have a few years."

"I don't know. He looks pretty good."

My mother offered to make us something to eat but I told her we were going out with Becky and would get something then. She was still curious why Jason was there. I'm sure she knew it wasn't because he just felt like coming. Oh well, she could wonder all she wants.

We picked up Becky around five thirty. She definitely thought Jason was hot. "He's taken Becky," I laughed.

"Like I told you," she sighed. "All the good ones are either taken or gay."

Jason, Becky and I went to the mall to find something to eat. There was a pizza shop across the street that wasn't too bad. There were better around but it would do since it was close to the movies and we wanted to make sure we made it. Jason and Becky got along really well. They seemed to enjoy ganging up on me and giving me shit.

"So you two are friends and he's able to keep his hands off you? 'It' must have been hard Dan."

"Alright, juvenile humor, I can get into this," laughed Jason. "Dan used to hang out with the girls and rate all us guys. It was embarrassing. We'd all be talking about some girl and Dan would point out some guy walking by."

"Are you guys having fun? I could go put on my rainbow t-shirt if you want."

"You have one? Why haven't you worn it to school.?"

"I'm just joking."

"Yes, he has one or something just as bad. You should have seen some of the stuff he used to wear. He'd fit right in at a Gay Pride parade."

"Keep going guys, get it out of your systems."

Jason laughed. "Seriously Becky, Dan was pretty low key. He was just one of the guys."

"How long have you known he's gay?"

I looked at Jason. "Almost two years," he said. "I remember when I found out. I saw his parent's car at the mall and Dan was in the back seat. I wanted to surprise him so I walked up where he couldn't see me. Man, did I get a surprise."

I blushed.

"He was doing something in the car with some guy?"

"Jason, that's enough."

"Come on Dan, I want to know."

"So I was kissing a friend. What's the big deal?"

"You had a boyfriend?"

"Yes, I had a boyfriend. Haven't you had a boyfriend before?"

"Not a real one. I'm still looking. Tell me about him."

"There's not much to say. He was a friend, a good friend, but we're not together any more."

Jason frowned at me. I really didn't want to explain about Aaron. He knew that and being a friend bailed me out."

"Actually they were a cute couple if you're into that type of thing. I was surprised when I saw them but it was cool. We were all friends. We even double dated a few times. I just told them to keep their hands off me," he laughed.

I knew Becky would want to know more but she dropped it for now. Instead they went back to trying to embarrass me. Fortunately we had to leave if we wanted to make the movie.

We ended up seeing "The Proposal." Alright, it was kind of a chick flick but it wasn't that bad. It was kind of funny how they tried to hide things from the guy's family. Becky liked it. Jason and I were ambivalent but we had a good time. He and I made jokes all the way through it.

"Not enough violence," I laughed as we walked out.

We dropped Becky off around eleven thirty before going back to my house. Jason's flight wasn't until late afternoon on Sunday so we stayed up shooting pool and talking. It was like old times. He didn't mention what had been going on once. I knew he'd 'remind' me before he left but for tonight he and I just enjoyed each other's company. After playing pool we watched the end of SNL followed by a rerun of a movie we'd both seen. I don't even remember the name since we really didn't watch it. We spent most of the time talking about various people back home, what they were up to, who was going out with who and stuff like that. The one thing I realized was that I had missed a lot and I'd only been gone a month.

Jason's flight was at 4:30 Sunday afternoon. I was up around nine but he slept until ten thirty. My mother made him breakfast but was obviously still wondering why he was there. All he said was that his father had some frequent flier miles and that he wanted to surprise me. He knew I wasn't doing anything since we had talked earlier in the week. I'm not sure she was convinced but didn't ask anything else.

I drove him to the airport around three. We talked more about me coming to Chicago over the Christmas holidays. I knew it wouldn't be the same as if I was still living there but it would be a good time. Since he only had an overnight bag he didn't have anything to check plus we had already printed out his boarding pass. We went to the food court right outside the security checkpoint and had something to drink before he went through security.

"You're going to talk to those two guys, right? If you don't then I'll be back."

"Yes Jay. I'll either talk to them or try talking to Josh myself. I'm thinking that might be better."

"Whichever, just make sure you do it. I'll give you a week. If you haven't done anything by then I'll be back and drag your ass over to his house and I'll tell him. So you can either man up and do it or be a wuss, your choice," he smiled.

"I will Jason. I promise."

Fortunately the line going through security wasn't very long so we had more time to talk. Eventually he had to go however and got up to get in line.

"Thanks for coming Jay. It meant a lot." There were tears in my eyes.

He saw my tears and smiled. "You really are gay aren't you? Come on, I know you want to give me a hug. Just keep your hand off my ass."

I smiled. "You're just figuring that out?"

"Good-bye Dan," he said giving me a hug. "And this doesn't make me gay."

"I know. You know I've never thought of you like that."

"I know, that's why I let you hug me and tell me you love me."

I smiled as he picked up his bag and headed through security. It was funny how he had to take off his shoes and belt before going through the metal detector. I laughed when the guy patted him down anyway. I waited until he got on the plane before walking back to my jeep. I saw what I assumed was his plane taking off as I was leaving the parking lot.

The more I thought about it the more I thought I should just talk with Josh. I knew Jason was right and that things would be better once they were out in the open. I guess I always knew that.

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