Just Hit 'Send' - The High School Years

by Grasshopper

Ch. 6

Jordan walked around the corner and leaned heavily against the wall. Danny was in a wheelchair. Danny couldn't walk. Oh, God! And here he'd come, all bouncy, carrying 2 skateboards. His mind whirling, just trying to wrap itself around the fact that his friend, the boy he had been dying to meet, was a .........he couldn't say that word. It didn't fit Danny. It would never fit him.

Jordan lifted himself off the wall, his eyes brimming with tears, and a feeling that his heart was about to burst........burst from pride that Danny had done this, taken this step, made this move towards him.......on faith, a faith born late at night through a computer screen. Gripping the skateboards tightly, Jordan walked back through the open doors and toward the boy in the shiny black wheelchair.

His head bowed, Danny felt so alone. He'd been alone for three years; one more day wouldn't matter. Why did it hurt so much? As he reached up to wipe his eyes, he felt a hand on the back of his neck, fingers softly rubbing away the pain. "Hey Dan," he heard a quiet voice murmur. Unable to answer, Danny sniffled and kept his head lowered. "I've come all this way and you're not gonna talk to me?" Danny felt Jordan squat down beside him and reach for his face. "Talk to me, Danny. It's me, Jordan. You know who I am."

Danny finally turned his face and looked into the eyes he'd wanted to see for all these weeks. Eye level, the two boys just stared. Danny, seeing the green eyes, the crooked smile, the dimples..........Jordan. Jordan, seeing the most beautiful steel blue eyes with ghosts, that bottom lip he so wanted to touch and those curls.........Danny. Unable to stop his hand, Jordan reached out hesitantly and ran his finger over Danny's bottom lip. As his finger touched, Danny bit down on his lip and Jordan's finger rubbed across his teeth.

"You're beautiful, Dan," he whispered.

"You're just saying that because I'm like this," Danny sobbed.

"No, actually I'm saying it because it's true," Jordan grinned. "I don't go up to every boy in a wheelchair and tell them they're beautiful. What kinda perv do you take me for?"

Danny felt a giggle in the back of his throat. "Stop it, Jordy. I'm trying to be miserable here."

"And you're doing a mighty fine job of it, my man," Jordan laughed. "I'm gonna sell tickets in a minute or maybe I should just throw you in the shark tank and be done with it. Can we get out of here into the sunshine? I've got so much to tell you and, I think, you have a few things to tell me too." He stood up, stretched his back to let the cricks out and reached for the handle bars.

"No, Jordan. I wheel myself," Danny said sternly through the sniffs. "Let me turn around and we'll go outside, K?" Jordan watched as Danny expertly maneuvered the sleek chair through the group of people near the doorway.

He followed Danny out the main doors and they found the gates that led to the boardwalk. Jordan resisted the almost uncontrollable urge to grab those handlebars and help.

Finally stopping at a quiet spot farther away from the crowds, Danny pulled on the brake and placed his hands in his lap. "Okay, let me have it. I know I deserve everything you're gonna say. I was wrong. I should have told you. I tricked you and I'm so sorry. I just...........," he choked, "I just wanted to be with you so bad, Jordy."

"Yeah, you should have told me," Jordan agreed. "It doesn't change anything but you should have. I kind of....." he sat down beside the wheel and absently ran his fingers over the spokes, " I kind of fell way in.....in more than like with a boy I had never seen, a face I had never touched, a voice I had never heard. I didn't fall for you physically cause I didn't see you. It was the Danny inside that I wanted. It's that Danny I want now. Did you really think I wouldn't still care because you can't walk?" He looked at the sun bleached wood of the boardwalk and then out at the Atlantic.

"Jordan.......Jordy.....Hey, look at me," Danny sighed. Jordan turned his face. "I just wanted to feel, for a little while, like I was like you....like I wasn't different. Like I could be the way I used to be, riding my bike, running laps, swimming. All the things you take for granted. The things that make you Jordan, the boy that everyone loves. I guess I just wanted a little bit of your sunshine before you found out and took it away."

Jordan came up on his knees. "Danny, listen to me. I'm not sunshine, I'm not the boy that everyone loves. I'm just Jordan, a boy who cares about you, who wants to know you better.........a lot better, if you want me to. I want to know everything...........how this happened. I care, Dan. I want to........." he started to say 'help' but that sounded like pity. He didn't feel that anymore. He just wanted to be where Danny was. "I want to care, if you'll let me."

"Yeah," Danny half-smiled. "I need to tell you. I haven't ever told anyone the whole story, just how I was hurt, but never why. I've wanted to tell you for such a long time. But, for right now, can we let it go? I just want to know that you're here and that maybe, if I'm lucky, you'll stay."

"Lucky? Dude, you're stuck with me!" Jordan laughed. "How do you get to the sand?"

Danny sucked in a deep breath. "I can "walk" there but it's really hard." He reached to the side of the chair and pulled out the two metal walker braces with arm cuffs and hand bars. Jordan watched, dying to help, instinctively knowing how embarrassed this was making Danny but knowing he didn't dare, as Danny struggled to situate himself and rise from the seat propped up by the braces.

"Dang, Dan, that'll take forever," Jordan grinned, hoping his smile would do its job. "Let me try something." He took the braces away and squatted down in front of Danny, offering his back. "You're smaller than me. Hop on."

Danny hesitated. "You sure?" and then broke into a giggle as Jordan made neighing sounds and snorted. "Pretend I'm Jolene," he laughed, reminding Danny that he had a horse. Danny slid his arms around Jordan's neck and they struggled to stand up, laughter almost toppling them over. Jordan looped his arms under Danny's knees. "Does that hurt or anything?" he asked quickly.

"No. Am I hurting you?" Danny asked.

"Nope. I kind of like feeling you on me," Jordan teased. "Cept you're way back there." He felt Danny's arms tighten and he smiled. Success!!

"Ready?" he asked. "Let's try to make it to the water. I may have to throw you down though if you don't take that gun out of your pocket."

"What?" Danny asked, flustered. "I don't have a ....................JORDAN!!"

Jordan giggled and started for the steps, acting as if he did this every day and yet knowing that he was carrying a very precious cargo; one that had to trust him. Danny was heavy but Jordan was so excited he was running on pure adrenalin and didn't even know it. He probably could have, right at this moment, carried Jolene too.

Making it almost to the water's edge, Jordan stopped. "I'm going down. Next stop the sand," and he lowered himself til his knees hit the ground. Danny slipped off his back and onto the warm sand. Jordan scrambled to sit beside him taking a place on Danny's right side. "I'm left handed," he tried to explain innocently, then cracking a smile as Danny peeped at him from under long lashes. "Well, I just thought it might be good to establish that fact right now. It might come in um........handy sometime." He was rewarded with another soft giggle.

"Jeez, wait. Let me run get the chair and the boards," he said as he jumped back up.

"Undo the underneath brace and fold the chair," Danny told him. "It's easy to carry that way." He rested himself on one arm and watched Jordan run effortlessly up the sand. Danny sighed. Was he doing the right thing? Look at him. He was perfect, all tan and strong. Was this even fair? Was he going to be able to tell whether what Jordan felt was um...love or pity? He felt the tears burning and opened his eyes real wide to dry them quickly. NO, he wouldn't start that.......not today. Maybe later, but he wanted today so bad he could taste it.

"There. All secured," Jordan called, as he hurried back and laid the chair carefully down.

"Great boards," Danny said.

"Yeah, well, maybe we'll get you on my other one," Jordan said softly, hoping to get some answers.

"I was hit by a car," Danny said suddenly. "I wasn't looking where I was running. It was my fault, totally. I've had four operations and the doctors at Shands in Gainesville have done all they can. I can feel my left leg enough to put it down and get around. The right one is invisible." He slammed his hand into his right thigh to emphasize what he was saying.

Jordan bit back the tears. So, that was that. He looked Danny up and down. He really was handsome, slender but not skinny, his face and arms tanned. Sitting here, no one would even know that he couldn't walk. Jordan schooched himself over until his shoulder and his hip just grazed Danny's. "Getting comfortable," he mumbled.

"Danny, what um.........what can't you feel?" he asked, not knowing if the other boy would understand.

Danny sighed. "You mean, what we were doing at night? Was I faking? No. It's only my legs that don't work. The rest of me.........works just fine."

"Whew," Jordan smiled. "That's a huge plus. You know, Dan, I kind a wish we were by ourselves right now. I think I need to hug you really bad."

Danny felt a shiver run down his spine. "I want that too. I need to hold on to you to know you're really here." He thought for a minute. "Jordy, think you can lift me one more time?"

"Sure, where are we going?" Jordan asked.

"To the water. I think the water will surprise you," Danny grinned.

Jordan's answer was to pull his blue t-shirt off over his head, unself-consciously baring his chest. Danny's eyes drank in the sight of the boy from his fantasy. Tugging his sneaks and socks off, Jordan stood up to pull off his shorts, revealing red plaid boxers. "Okay brat! Your horse awaits," Jordan said, "Get those clothes off unless you want to get all wet." Jordan knew this was going to be hard for Danny, but he didn't realize quite how hard.

Danny, his eyes lowered, reached for the hem of his t-shirt and slowly pulled it off. Jordan saw a broad chest and muscled arms. He guessed that wheeling had to build those muscles. He saw a long jagged scar, running from Danny's left nipple down toward his belly. Several smaller scars, the tiny stitch dots visible, patchworked his chest and one red puckered line swept crossed his belly and disappeared into the top of his jeans. He watched Danny bend and pull off one shoe, then the other. All that was left was a pair of tan cargo pants. Without asking, Jordan knelt down and grabbed the bottoms. "Unzip, so I can get these off."

"No!" Danny said loudly. "No, please. Not here. Not yet. No, Jordan." His face

was a blend of anxiety and fear, scaring Jordan enough to jerk his hands away.

"Just let me go in the water like this. It's what I always do," Danny pleaded.

"Sure ,Dan," Jordan smiled. "I understand."

"You probably don't, but it's all I can do right now," Danny mumbled.

After much huffing and snorting, cause getting him up from the ground was a damn sight harder than from the chair, Jordan staggered toward the water's edge. "God,Dan! You eat rocks for breakfast?" If anyone watched, all they saw were two boys, acting silly, giggling and horsing around.

The water was cool, feeling good after sitting in the hot sun. "Just walk out," Danny commanded softly. As Jordan got up to his waist, then his chest, he felt Danny slide off his back and just hold onto his shoulders. Turning, he found he had a bundle of wet boy in his arms. "Ahhh," he sighed. "I see."

Standing very still, Jordan supported Danny a little but the water buoyed him and he was able to just float peacefully in Jordan's easy embrace. A wide grin replaced the frown that he had been wearing and Dan Trainor glowed.

"I just wanted to be on an even level with you for a little while," he said softly. 'We can pretend, can't we?"

"Shhh. Stop talking," Jordan murmured, his emotions sparkling out in every direction. He wanted to pull Danny close; hold him tight.

"I want............," he started.

"I know. Me too," Danny smiled. "Here, hold my hand." He found Jordan's hand under the water and gripped it tightly.

Jordan opened his other hand and pressed it against Danny's chest right above his heart. "I can feel your heart beating, Dan," he whispered.

"If you keep touching me, it's going to burst," Danny answered. Jordan went to move his hand. "No, leave it right there. It warms me," and he put his hand on top of Jordan's. The water moved them closer together until Jordan knew he could lean in and do what he had wanted since the first minute he'd spoken to Danny.

"Will you think I'm weird if I say I want to kiss you right now?" Jordan asked, his eyes questioning.

"No," Danny said, his eyes riveted on Jordan's mouth.

Just as Jordan leaned forward, their hands clasped and their hearts pounding, a bunch of kids raced into the water and surged around them.

Sadly, Danny squeezed Jordan's hand. "So much for that."

Jordan grinned that crooked grin and flipped Danny's heart over when he answered, "You owe me one, Dan. I always collect. Later, gater." He turned his back and, in what seemed an old familiar move, carried Danny piggyback up to the boardwalk edge, settling him down on the ledge.

Chair set, Danny dressed and settled, as settled as a boy can be in wet pants, Jordan pulled on his shirt and sneaks. "Man, you're gonna have to get over the shy thing, cause you're gonna have one hell of an itchy butt, my man."

They giggled, they ate corn dogs and chips and laughed at all the funny people. They talked about nothing and everything. Jordan and Danny found that they were the same two people, nothing had changed.

"Jordy, show me that flip trick that you do," Danny asked, "Like in the picture."

"Sure," Jordan grinned. He pulled his Kicker out of the back pocket of Danny's chair. "Stay put," he winked. Rolling down about 500 yards, he turned and faced Danny. "Okay..........for you." He pushed off and built up his speed. About halfway, he urged the board up and, as it left the ground, he sprung his body up in the air. When neither the board nor Jordan was touching the ground, he did a 180 straight up in the air, fingertips grazing the board. Curving back into the flip, his feet landed back on the board and he rolled to a stop at his friend's feet. At that moment, laughing, eyes dancing, his tongue peeking out between his teeth, he was beautiful and Danny fell in love with Jordan Lawrence.

"Well, what did ya think?" Jordan asked, kneeling down close to Danny's feet.

Danny wasn't sure what to think. He had known it was coming; had probably been there for awhile, but it hit him full force. He loved a boy ! This boy !

"Was great, Jordy," he laughed. "You're awesome !"

"Yeah, I am, aren't I," Jordan teased. "But, not as awesome as you." His eyes darkened and he put his hand on Danny's knee. "I mean it. This has been the best day. I want to be with you more. I'd like to be with you......with a few less than 2000 people around next time. Maybe next Saturday, we could go to the movies or something? K?"

"You sure?" Danny asked, hesitantly.

"No, I always say stuff I don't mean," Jordan twisted his face up comically.

"I just babble nonsense all the time."

"Stop it !" Danny laughed. "Okay, if you're sure."

"Good God, Dan. I want to be with you more than anything. Get it through your head," Jordan argued, shaking his head. He reached up to thump Danny on the forehead and then gently trailed his fingers down the side of his face, touching his mouth as he went.

"Bet those wet pants are feeling reeeeaally gross about now," Jordan giggled, "If you're anywhere near as um....happy as I am." Danny had been trying to ignore the fact that he was hard and the cold clammy cotton felt icky. Giggling, he wriggled around in the chair and tried, without success, to rearrange himself.

"Need help with that?" Jordan grinned.

"God, Jordy. I think you love torturing me," Danny groaned.

"Well, next time we go swimming, I'm pulling those pants off, like it or not," Jordan laughed wickedly.

"Everything you're saying is killing me," Danny said, closing his eyes for a second, trying to get his breath. "I think I'm safer with you on the computer."

"You're not safe from me anywhere now, mister," Jordan said, his voice softening and going down a notch.

It was quarter til 5. Jordan convinced Danny to call his mom and let Griff drive him home. "Then I'll know the way to your house," Jordan said, "And we can just pick you up next week."

At 10 after 5, Griff roared up, his old drop top Mustang kicking up the dirt. Jumping out of the car, he circled the back and slowed to a stop in front of Jordan, who was perched on the ledge, his feet on the back of Danny's chair.

"Hey dudes," he laughed. "Ready to go?" His eyes caught Jordan's and they exchanged a flash of something and then it was gone. Griff stuck his hand out.

"Hey, man. I'm Griff.....the bodyguard. You must be the famous "If you don't take me to Daytona, I'm gonna die" Danny. Glad to finally meet you," he said, as only Griffin Langley could do. No one was a stranger to Griff.

Danny couldn't help but grin back and shake his outstretched hand. "Hey, Griff. Glad to meet you too."

Danny wheeled over to the car, and no one moved to help him as he levered himself up and in the front seat. Jordan folded the chair and threw it in the trunk and then jumped into the back seat. Leaning forward, he said, "Hold on to your teeth. Griff drives like a crazy person."

"And that from the man who can walk home if he wants," Griff fired back.

Danny felt the closeness these two shared. He wondered where he would fit; if he would fit at all.

"Give me directions, Dan," Griff asked.

They got Danny home. They both met his mom, a very nice lady who looked very concerned about two strange boys with her son, but yet so happy he was with kids his own age.

"See ya, Dan," Jordan said, touching Danny's shoulder.

"See ya, Jordy," Danny said, watching with big eyes as they walked toward the door.

"Tonight. 9:00. Be there," Jordan grinned. He winked at Danny and walked to the car.

Halfway home, Griff finally spoke. He reached over and turned the music down. "You okay with this?"

"Yeah, I was kind of overwhelmed at first but he's still Danny. It doesn't change him," Jordan said seriously.

"He needs you more than you realized, doesn't he?" Griff said carefully. "But you've got enough to go around, Bud. Just take it easy." He reached over and punched Jordan on the arm. That was as close to a hug as they ever got.

That night, at 9:00, both boys were warm and sleepy from the sun, and the words just tumbled out.

Danny says: Thank you for coming.........and for staying
Jordan says: Thank you for being there
Danny says: I wanted that kiss, Jordy
Jordan says: You'll get it. I always collect my bets
Danny says: Maybe you could just come to my house next Saturday. We could watch tv and stuff
Jordan says: and stuff????????????????
Danny says: ::giggle:: you know what I mean
Jordan says: I hope so
Danny says: Jordy.........can we???????
Jordan says: I thought you'd never ask :) :) :) :) :) :)

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