I Want to Know What Love Is

by James Matthews

Chapter 9


"Hey, you guys coming tonight right?" Steven asked, loudly, bursting into my room.

"Huh?" I replied groggily, opening my eyes. "What time is it?"

Steven looked at me as if I had grown another head. "How the fuck have you fallen asleep on your fourth most important birthday? I mean I would be out, my top off, going to the park, smoking some ganja and bopping away with a BT soundbar and you two fucks decide to lay on your bed with the blind half closed. Anyway it's half four."

I looked up at him, my head creased. "Steven, what are you talking about. What was it...I mean. Can you calm down, you're making me dizzy."

"What did he say, I didn't really listen?" Hunter asked, waking up and rolling onto his back, and squinting at a frantic Steven.

"Get up then, C'mon!" Steven yelled, throwing his arms in the air.

"Steven why don't you fuck off and go masturbate or chew some grass."

Steven frowned at Hunter. "Uh, hello guest, in my house. Why don't you fuck off?"

"This is my boyfriend's house too so I'm not moving, go roll a joint!"

Steven fell against the door frame. "We're leaving at five thirty for Cutters Farm. Bring tent, gas light and loads of weed. If you ain't on the driveway by then we're going without you."

Hunter put his middle finger up at Steven, closed his eyes and rolled over. I got up off the bed. "Who's we, and how are we getting there."

"Fucking hell Puppy, we've been talking about this for weeks, where have you been? Actually I know. Balls deep in him. Listen. It's you, me, Hunter, Dave, Jessie, Aldo and Billy. Get it now, Cutters Farm, camp fire, smoke weed, say Happy Birthday."

"Yeah yeah, how we getting there will all this gear and… who the fuck is Aldo?"

"We're all climbing into the back of Dad's van."

"Aldo?" I repeated.

Hunter opened his eyes. "Aldo, as in boxer Aldo. Since when have you been friends with him?"

"Since he gets me weed for a third less than your brother charges, and working at Taco on Sundays I need all the discounts I can get. Now get moving"

Steven stormed off to his room and closed the door. Hunter and I were just left looking at each other.

"Aldo coming?" Hunter muttered.

I was still bemused. "Aldo?"

"We better get sorted. Suck me off first?"

"No, I need a shower! I said, giving him a disgusted look.

"Good I need a shower too. Suck me off then?" He bounced his brows, grinning. I rolled my eyes and went to the bathroom.

Everyone had arrived and when Me and Hunter stepped outside the front door. I saw that Dad had everyone in a circle.

"Puppy, Hunter, come over here."

"Where's Mum," I asked as we joined the circle of people, looking like we were at gym practise waiting for tips from the coach.

"She's gone to a darts meeting. Now, guys. Listen up. Take out your phones. Everyone dug into various pockets and bags and eventually had their phones grasped in one hand. Anyone who has not already, create a new contact and put Max in it and save this number."

"Dad, most of us have your number already, is this necessary?" Steven asked, frowning.

"Shhhh!" Dad replied. Steven just banged his temples with his hands.

Dad called out his phone number to them, which for some reason I felt slightly embarrassed to be seeing him in this authoritarian mode, probably scaring the shit out of my friends… and Aldo, whoever the fuck he was. Cute though.

"Ok, the rules…"

"Ahh, Dad, really?" Steven whined, going a shade of red. I think I followed along with Aldo.

"Rules or you find your own way there, Now. Fire to be controlled sensibly, that does not mean burning anything you decide can burn. Use a few small bits of wood and build a pit, don't just dump everything you find on the ground as it could spread. No Class A drugs. Weed is permitted, but if you grass me up to my wife I will hunt you down and cut you into bits and bury you in a forest. You look after each other and you behave like adults. No damaging trees and no leaving your rubbish. There is a roll of black bags in the van, take a couple. I have also left you all 2 crates of low alcohol bottled beer."

"Dad, everyone is really grateful but can we sort of go now?" Steven asked, now pacing around the circle of our friends.

"All get in and hold on to each other." Dad finally said with a flick of his head to the left. "Puppy, can I have a word?"

"Sure Dad."

"Come inside."

I followed Dad back into the house, leaving Hunter to join the rest. I looked back seeing everyone clamber into the back of Dad's Mercedes Sprinter, leaving the door open for me.

Dad pushed the door slightly so we were out of view.

"Whats up?" I asked,

"I'm gonna just say this because I care not because I'm judging."

I nodded as we maintained eye contact. "Sure, what is it?"

"Hunter, weed, lager and probably questions from the others about how his scar is doing. Good combination?"

"Dad, the scar is small, Hunter doesn't really like beer and he seems in a good place at the moment. Look thanks, I'll keep an eye on him. I think as it's my birthday he'll make an effort to… well you know, be level."

"As long as you got this. Call me right… any of you, if anything goes wrong."

"Of course, so shall we go?"

"Oh and Puppy?"

"Yes Dad, what??" I sighed.

"Please watch where you're treading yeah?"

"If that is your idea of a joke then i'm…"

"There is a little bit of seriousness to that request. Anyway come on let's get you all to your little shindig."

I walked out into the warm evening air and climbed into the back of Dad's van finding all the guys spread out around a pile of camping gear and food. I found Hunter with his legs set apart, smiling at me. I knew where I was sitting.

After being thrown around a bit towards the end of the fifteen minute drive I felt the van pull up on a gravel surface knowing this is where we got out. This way took us alongside the slow moving river where the grass was now tall due to the summer heat and odd shower.

I heard Dad switch off the engine and his footsteps walking through the gravel and then light flooded the van and we all bundled out, people grabbing bits of gear and equipment.

"Wow guys, stick a cami set on you and people would think you were going on an army training expedition. Anyway remember, you all have my number. Any issues, call. I'll be here.

Everyone said thanks and Steven and me gave Dad a hug before we jogged up to catch the others. Hunter seemed fine which was good and everyone but Dave were taking turns with a fat doobie as Steven called them. The smell was invading but not all that bad. That, added to the lowing sun causing a slight humidity as we walked along the river gave me a warming content feeling.

"So how was your birthday in the end?" Steven asked as we both walked a few paces behind the rest. I watched as Hunter spoke with the others. He seemed content himself which made me relax.

"Sorry what?"

"He's fine, leave him be. Anyway, I said how was your birthday?"

"Good yeah, and anyway it ain't over yet, I was looking forward to this," I announced looking at Steven and smiling.

The Sun lit up his face in a golden hue and his dark, side parted hair tonight looked silky smooth, with one side just above his eye. "What are you looking at, You're making me nervous."

"I was uh… You erm, you look nice tonight."

Steven fiddled with his ear and turned away for a moment. "We uh, better catch up with them don't you think?"

"You're in charge," I replied, dismissively. "And don't do that!"

"Do what?" he hissed, frowning.

"You're doing it now, look at the way you're talking to me, I only said you looked nice."

"I'm catching up with the rest, you coming?"

"Whatever!" I grunted.

We arrived at Cutters Farm with Billy and Jessie both bolting to the old wooden jetty to set out their fishing rods.

"Hey guys? If we catch anything, anyone like fish?" Billy called as everyone else began finding spots to lay their gear down. Most looked round and nodded, including Hunter, who I was monitoring like a fucking hawk, wishing so bad I wasn't having to.

I looked up at Steven who was in his element. He clapped his hands and got everyones attention. "Ok guys listen up", he called, popping out his phone from his khaki shorts. "So it's gonna be a cool night, about sixteen degrees. Uh, so Jessie and Billy, you'll be in charge of getting us some bonus food. "Hunter?"

Hunter looked up at Steven, laying on a grass patch on his elbows. "Uh huh?"

"You'll be on rolling duty, as you roll a mean joint." Aldo and Dave, if you can put the four manner up, Me and Puppy will put the five manner up and then, uh… Oh we need a fire pit dug out and some rocks collected."

"Oh I can do that, won't take long, Boss man," Hunter volunteered, getting up on his feet.

"Cool, and thanks mate, and then uh… hmm, wood. Ok so Me and Puppy will wander off and hunt for wood for the fire. We all agreed and know what we're doing?"

Everyone either yelled out a yes or stuck their thumb up. Steven grinned, before grabbing my arm.

"C'mon shithead, we got a clan to keep warm."

Steven and I started walking towards a small canopy of trees hoping there would be nice bits of dead sticks and twigs on the forest floor.

"Come, this way," Steven announced, sounding like he'd found something. As I followed there were indeed lots of bits of old dry sticks and even a large branch that had fallen off a poorly looking tree. "Wow, we could burn all night, look at all this," he said excitedly.

"Out with it," I said, grabbing his arm this time.


"Why me? Why did you bring me, it's obvious you want to talk."

"Fuck off Puppy, I had to give everyone a job and since you're only good for picking up wood thats why I brought you!"

"And yourself," I replied, folding my arms.


"Don't what?"

"Don't look at me like that! That way you look at me, it's not fucking right."

"Oh so now there's an issue with the way I look at you?" I said, almost chuckling. "I need you to say it."


"Why not?"

Steven turned fully towards me and grabbed my t-shirt and put his face right in mine. "Listen, you came from that kid prison, a shy broken little boy! I built you up and helped get you more confidence. I helped make you, remember that! That don't mean for one second you can use that to play fucking mind games with me Jensen," He let go and pushed me backwards.

"Well that was constructive," I retorted, brushing down my top.

"You fucking know what you're doing and you think you're better than me BROTHER! You think you can play your little job as prick tease BROTHER?"

"I don't have the issue, and I've never played any games, It's all in your head. I'm with Hunter, I have been for the last year or so."

"Yeah and don't I fucking know it?"

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just fuck off ok, I'm not doing this, just collect wood and lets get back."

"Fine, with me. Thanks for the outburst, it was very you," I said. As we both went in different directions picking up wood and kindle.

He came back towards me. "You know, I was in a great mood tonight! Things were running smoothly and you started acting up about this and about that, why can't you just leave things alone. The last few months I've got this out of…" Steven paused, just shaking his head. "Just collect the fucking wood and lets go back. Hopefully I can salvage my fucking mood when we get back with the guys."

"All I did was said you looked nice, and you end up going crazy."

Steven patted his chest. "Games, Puppy, games!"

I waved my hand down at hime and walked away, huffing. I mean What the fuck! I picked up enough wood as I could and called back to Steven who was still collecting.

"You done?" He called back, grumpily.

"I got as much as I can, you?" I replied, trying to be civil.

"Almost, just a few more bits,"

I waited for him to finish. Luckily what I had was a lot, but fortunately it was light. "Oh and get that big branch… the one over there," I tried to point with my head and elbow.

He found it.

"Hang on, I'm coming," he called, arms full of dead bits of tree.

I waited while he caught up to where I was and we slowly walked back to the guys.

"Got over your little tantrum?"

"Don't push me Jensen. We get back, we drop the wood we go for more."

"What? Surely this will be enough."

"I said we go back for more, ok?"

I looked at him and smirked. "So you do wanna talk?"

He didn't say anything but I was willing to go ahead with his request. Something very odd had been brewing for months. Small changes in his behaviour, the things he said. He seemed more aggressive at times, Sometimes we went days without speaking. He even stopped having dinner at the table with us some nights preferring to eat in the lounge on his own. Mum and Dad had asked me what was going on, but the truth was, I didn't have an answer. This evening though, something had shifted in his attitude towards me and it all seemed to start when I said he looked nice.

"This all seemed to start when I said you looked nice," I said, trying to get a reaction or an explanation.

"Yeah we did that bit."

Again there was nothing explained, so I guessed I'd have to wait.

We got back to the guys and Hunter had dug a nice put for the fire and planted a circle of rocks and stones around the edge to make a kind of cradle for the wood.

"We're going back for more."

"Huh? But surely this is enough, Dave said, hammering the last peg into one of the tent supports. Aldo looked at all the wood we had. "Chase, I think we have enough."

Steven looked at Aldo like he wanted to hit him. "I say we need more and you all agreed I was the leader of setting this up!" Aldo shrugged, and Dave knew better than to say anything.

"You ok Steven?" Hunter asked, looking a bit stoned, but his tone relaxed.

"Fine Hunter, good job on the fire, save me some yeah?"

"Sure thing Boss."

"Puppy, let's go."

Steven walked off at speed and I followed him under the watchful eye of Hunter who I looked back at and shrugged. We soon reached the small forest and disappeared out of view of the camp site. Steven collapsed against a tree and slid down it. I stood just in front of him looking down, expectant.

"You fucking kill sometimes, and… and I really didn't wanna do this tonight."

"A cryptic way to start a conversation. Go on." I said, tilting my head.

"What is it with you, are you playing games because we never had sex or something?"

"Steven, play nice, and don't twist things, this is not about me it's about you. All these things you think I say, or do...or that I'm playing games, it's all bullshit."

Steven looked at the floor. "We were close once and now we're not, and… and I…"

"You think I owe you, is that it?"

"Of course not, it's just since you and Hunter got together it;s like I don't exist."

"He's had it hard Steven, we all know that."

"And us?"


"Work it out!"

"What do you want me to say?"

Steven got up, helped by dragging his back up the tree, wincing as he did. I could almost swear he enjoyed the pain, which kind of freaked me out a little.

"That kiss, what you did to me."

"It was ages ago Steven and you said you didn't ever want to speak about it again… you said that!"

He came toward me, and put his hands on my chest. "Tell me what that was?"

"What do you mean what it was? It was what it was." he pushed me back again, a little harder.

"Fun for you was it?"

"Fun, oh that's rich. No it was fucking serious for me, I had feelings for you!"

"And do you?"

"What?" Another push, a tear escaping Steven's eye.

"Do you have feelings for me?"

"Why… I mean, no. I mean I love you, yeah, you're really important to me."

"So what about me in all this, did you ever think about me. What that would all do to me." He growled, punching me on the shoulder.

"Oh, so I'm to blame here am I?" I replied, feeling angry he was treating me like this, becoming physical.

"I need to know the truth! Why you did what you did, how you can just switch it off."

"You fucking let it happen Steven, don't lay this on me. What is it, the big Alpha male's head's fucked up. Fucked up because despite all the girls he has or hasn't shagged… and no one knows because it's always a different number. What is it Steven? A little bit curious about the boys are we? But that's ok because I get the blame you can't work things out in your confused head?"

"You fucking asshole," he shouted, punching me square on the jaw, making me fall to the ground. He grabbed me and we rolled around on the ground. I got a punch in on his left temple, but he got me pinned to the ground and landed two punches on my nose and jaw.

"What the FUCK is going on," I heard, dazed. Hunter came running over. Seeing me on the forest floor. He grabbed hold of Steven and threw him off me.

"Fucking FUCK!" Steven shouted, rubbing his jaw. Staring at me checking my nose. I looked up at Hunter, he looked enraged.

"You hit him?"

"What's it to you? It was a family dispute. Stay out of it!

"Hunter I'm fine," I said, getting to my feet and moving my jaw about before rubbing it, also no blood from the nose. I was surprised! "Please calm down!"

Hunter glared at Steven, his fists clenched. "YOU! I don't care who you are, you don't fucking hit my Boyfriend. What the fuck has gotten into you?"

"Oh the mighty Hunter to the rescue, Puppy's knight in shining armour comes to butt in! And anyway, he can handle himself."

"I'm happy not to Butt in Steven but I draw a fucking line when you start hitting people."

"Hunter, It's fine, go back to the camp, we're sorting it out, right Steven?"

"Steven said nothing, and my choice of words just opened another can of worms, judging by the look on Hunter's face.

"Sorting what out?"

I cleared my throat. "Uh, well, erm....it's really complicated."

"Jensen, shut the fuck up!" Steven said, looking at me fiercely.

Hunter just stood there looking between us both every few seconds, like waiting for the next move on a chess board to take place.

"Oh my fuck!" Hunter suddenly said. "Oh my fucking God, I mean seriously?"

Steven turned away, and walked towards a random tree. I stood still watching Hunter take a few paces back.

"Hunter?" I started.

"I… I'm just, I mean... all this time? But, how does that even work. What the fuck!"

"It's not what you think?"

"What do you mea…. Of course it's what I think it is. I mean YOU TWO?" he bellowed.

"No!" I quickly said, walking over to him, trying to grab his hand.

"Don't fucking touch me, Puppy, just… just don't touch me. You two, brothers, all that time, how could I have been so stupid?"

"Nothing had happ,,,"

"How long?" Hunter asked, calling to Steven. "C'mon, how long?"

"Guys, look we can talk about this another time, maybe later. Hunter it's really not what you think, it's more complicated. But look, we have guys we're camping with tonight and It's my birthday, please don't let me remember it like this."

Hunter shook his head and walked off, back towards the camp. I began to go after him.

"Leave him, let him cool off," Steven said walking back towards me.

"You fucking caused this, look what you've done!"

"If he'd fucking left us to talk none of this would have happened."

I looked at Steven puzzled and angry. "You never ever take any fucking responsibility for the problems you cause do you. You throw bombs and stand back and then blame someone else."

"I fucked up ok, I wanted to talk to you about… about stuff!"

"I'm going back for him… I'm fucking going back for him. Whatever you have to say can fucking wait! Just so you know, No I didn't!"

"DIdn't what?"

"Have a nice birthday, you asked. Well whatever I said, I've changed my mind.

"Puppy, wait!"

I got back to the camp where the guys had gathered round into some sort of huddle. Both tents were up, there was a small fire popping and sizzling away and above it was a metal kettle hanging by its handle across a metal stand.

"Where's Hunter?" I asked, probably frantic looking. Dave came over to me.

"He said he was going back to your house to get his things and then he was going to his brother's house. He said to stay with us and try and enjoy the camp."

"What? No, I mean… what the fuck, he left?" I looked at everyone. They looked a bit deflated and nodded in unison. I looked back and saw Steven walking towards us.

"He's gone! He's gone and it's all your fault. And ironically the message came from you Dave!"

"Hey Puppy, don't be like that, I was just closest when he told everyone. I'm just relaying what he said."

I placed a hand on Dave's shoulder. "I'm sorry, I know. I'm just… I'm just angry. Ignore my shitty comment."

"He's angry at me guys ok?"

"What for Stevie?" Jessie asked. "What's going on? Why has the camp-out gone pear shaped?"

Steven Took a deep breath. "It's complicated guys, I...look I've been a bit of a dick lately. Just just have a good time. Hunter is fine, he's going back to his brother's, he needs some space. There's been a bit of an argument, but that will be cleared up. Let's just try and have a good time. Right Puppy?"

I just stood there, baffled, perplexed, What?

"I'll be back in a minute," was all I said heading off to the edge of the river. I pulled my phone out and called hunter. There were a few rings in my ear before it connected.

"What?" came the first word.

"It's me," I said. Rolling my eyes.

"Yes, I gathered seeing as your name comes up, although I'm thinking of changing it."

"Come back?"

"What's there to come back for? In fact, what's there to ever come back for?"

"Don't be like this, you haven't even heard me out, you don't even know anything!"

"It's pretty fucking obvious, wouldn't you say?"

I paused. "Look, It's my birthday, I've had a really nice day. Would you come back so at least the memory of it isn't… this?"

There was silence on my phone for what felt like ages. "I'll be there in a bit, I just need to think."

"Where are you?"

"Almost where your dad dropped us off, I called Taylor to come get me, but I'll call him back ok? Just give me time to get to you."

"Please give me a chance to…"

He'd hung up. Maybe rightly so, I didn't know. Right now my thoughts turned to Steven who had single handedly probably ruined the night for everyone and smashed up my relationship with Hunter. I put my phone back in my pocket, took a deep breath and dropped my shoulders walking back over to the guys.

Back at the camp it seemed kind of ok. Everyone was back either talking or keeping warm by the fire. Steven was talking to Aldo, who actually I felt the most sorry for. He must have wondered why he'd bothered coming.

I walked down to the old wooden jetty where Jessie and Billy were, trying hard to miss the gaps in the decaying structure and twisting an ankle.

"Hey, caught anything yet?" I asked, coming to a stop behind them.

"Well, Jessie had reeled in a ten year old Fanta can," Billy said chuckling, his rosy cheeks redder than ever.

"Well, i'm sure we won't starve if you keep bringing up crap."

Jessie rested his rod down and turned to me. "Jensen, what's gotten into Steven, is he… well you know?"

"Gay?" I put on a fakish laugh. "No of course not, he likes the girls don't he?"

It was a question I both asked Jessie, and partly said it for myself, and an absent Hunter.

"So why the shit fit, something was going on between you guys, we heard some of it he was shouting quite loudly at times, Dave said."

I winced. "How would Dave know?"

"I think he went to see where you guys had got to. Anyway he came back and said he heard shouting. But couldn't be sure anyone else was in the woods so came back. But said he…"

"Jess!" Billy interrupted, looking at Jessie and shaking his head. "Lets just leave it, yeah? If Steven wants to talk, we're here for him. Lets just fish!"

"I'll erm...I'll go see how the others are doing," I announced smiling.

I walked back down the jetty, zig-zagging my way with skill and jumped the last few planks on to the bank. Steven came over to me, looking calmer.

"Where did you go?"

"To phone Hunter. Steven, why tonight, why did you have to do this here, it's really unsettled everyone and now we both look like guilty sheep. Not to mention Hunter is pissed."

"He'll come round," Steven said shrugging. "And the guys will be fine."

I reeled my neck in and frowned. "What, that's it? Hunter will come round and the guys will be ok? No…"

"Apology? Pfft, have you ever heard one from escape my lips?"

"You're unreal. You throw the mother of all tantrums, get caught out, fucking hit me, and then try and act as if nothings happened?"

Steven pushed his finger into my chest, looking angry again. "Look we got two fucking options here. Either we try and have a good time, and if that means a bit of acting then so be it, you wanted a good time. Or we can pack this shit up and go home and then people will really be pissed won't they?"


"I've already said I will handle this, ok? You just deal with your boyfriend yeah and live in bliss!"

"He's coming back you know?!"

"Good, dunno why he stormed off in the first place, bit immature if you ask me."

And with that Steven walked off, back to Aldo and Dave who were roasting marshmallows on the fire as I followed Steven with my eyes back to the shimmering flame.

I switched my view back up along the river and saw Hunter way off in the distance walking slowly back, no urgency in his pace. I knew right now he'd be thinking about what to say when he got here, as much as I was now thinking what to say now I'd seen him returning. Maybe this bomb that had gone off could be defused by some weed and a few stories round the fire?

Fuck, who was I kidding!

Hunter arrived back at Cutters Farm looking somewhat calmer. His eyes were fixed on Steven right up until he got to me who had walked over to meet him just out of earshot from the others.

"Hey," I said, taking his little finger in my hand.

"Can we go somewhere?" He asked, looking up at the old farm house which dominated our small camping site.

"Hmm, maybe we should go for a walk yeah?" My suggestion, on purpose due to now prying eyes, and in Dave's case prying ears.

"Sure, whatever you want," he huffed, gesturing a hand to lead on somewhere.

Be back soon guys," I announced, tone as normal as I could manage it, even though my heart was now racing.

Hunter and I walked around the small bulge in the river that sat by the farm house and then off towards some overgrown fields, our route only guided by dry mud tracks from previous walkers. We came to an old disused set of Tractor wheels and Hunter plonked himself down on one of them, pulling out a cigarette.

"It'll be sundown soon," he said, looking up into the sky, making the first icebreaking words of our soon to be deeper conversation.

"Yeah, look listen, I…"

"You never answered my question, by the way," Hunter cut in.

"Which one?"

"I asked you how long… How long has it or had been going on?"

I crouched down in front of him, resting my arms on his knees, as he looked down at me like I was his submissive almost.

"I tried to, but you were in no mood for sticking around. It was once, and it weren't even a thing!" I pleaded.

Hunter shook his head, "Nah...nah this is something else, more than once, more than a past thing, this is something now!"

I moved off him, and stood up to gather my thoughts. "Look, Hunter. Steven and I, we got close, like real close for a time, and things got blurry between us… well for me more, but this was not some kind of affair or…"

"Fuck, Puppy, he's your brother, and you talk like it's something that happened between two people who met at school."

"Technically he's not my brother, we are not related," I barked back at him, thinking it needed clarification.

"So what then, this close thing, how does that go?" He backed off.

"Well, we were living together and I was sort of new to life I guess and he taught me loads of stuff and maybe he saw me as his… I dunno what the word is, but we got close, ok? And I sort of liked him when I first met him, and…"

"You liked him, as in fancied him?"

"Yeah I guess, I mean I hated him for a while in that sense, you know when I first moved in with my Dad, but yeah I thought he was… damn Hunter he is good looking, even you can see that."

Hunter looked away from me briefly. "He's ok,"

"Well then, so yeah it was a build up of stuff for us… me, Jesus I keep saying, us!"

"So you instigated this… whatever this was, or is?"

"I kissed him, once!"

"Is that it?"

I put my hands in my pockets and puffed out some air through my lips. "And I jerked him off!"


"Hunter, for fuck sake, it was a one time thing, it was a mistake, I realise that now… then. Just don't cut me down because of a stupid thing that happened ages ago."

"I just can't get the image out of my head, I mean YOU, and HIM, and… what the fuck happened to him being straight, and this girl and that girl that bullshit?"

"Well he is straight, ain't he?"

"Well not from where I'm sitting he ain't, something's going on, still, which by the way you haven't explained."

"Look, I'm being really honest here, ok? I'm trying to explain the best I can. He's been different, not me. He puts it down to you and me causing me and him to be distant, and not like things were before. I dunno, I think he's confused."

"So he was straight THEN, but you liked him and he let you jerk him off and kiss him, or whatever the fuck you two did, and now he's just a bit straight? Is that what we're saying? I mean how do I know stuff ain't going on when I'm spending time back at home with Tay?

Hunter threw his hand out, waiting for me to answer, but I didn't have answers. Not ones I felt I could tell him. Steven should have been the one to be giving the answers, they were in his head. I just felt like a passenger, or did I?

Was I to blame?

I looked at Hunter square in the eyes. "Nothing… I repeat NOTHING is going on. Nor has it been, ok? But, I do know something has been brewing for a while and I've known about it."


"Yeah, brewing, like a tension between us, and…" I paused, letting my head fall back.

"And what?"

"And maybe I let it." I replied quietly.

Hunter got up and wandered over and stood facing me. "You led him on didn't you?"

"It's complicated."

"Don't do that it's fucking complicated thing. I wanna know if you lead him on, on purpose."

"Yes, ok, I think I led him on, and I probably got a kick out of it! I was fucking lonely ok? Caught half way between you getting better and being on my own, but not waiting to cheat on you!"

Hunter threw his used cigarette away, blowing the last of the smoke out. "And there it is!"

"What?" I asked, confused.

"The bottom of this!"

"So what does that mean, are you dumping me?"

"No." was all he said, starting to pace. "Should I?"

"I dunno, no I guess."

"But whatever this is… whatever he thinks, or feels. This shit needs to stop."

"You know, up until just now I didn't realise there was any shit that needed stopping," I said, half to myself.

"Steven needs to sort his own fucking identity crises out, this is his issue, not ours, and if he ever hits you again, I wont be responsible for my actions, just so we're clear on that."

"He won't."

"Yeah well, I'm just saying!"

"Shall we go back?"

Hunter shrugged. "It's your birthday still. Shame to waste it on any more drama!"

"C'mon, let's walk back."

As I said that, something had changed in me. It was like a door I'd walked through and was now locked behind me. I just couldn't put my finger on what it was, but I felt that a little bit of love I had for Hunter had spilled out onto the floor. I even felt a little bit resentful. I'd been there through his healing, his moods, his rage. I'd stood by him and during those times I put myself on hold, and him telling me I didn't have a right to feel anything for anyone, or have an outlet… which is basically how I interpreted it. Well it sucked!

But, as usual, for the sake of others, I again, put myself on hold.

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