I Want to Know What Love Is

by James Matthews

Chapter 11

I Burn too Bright

Three days had passed and Steven had still yet to utter a word to me, something even Mum and Dad were finding tedious. Steven would collect food from the kitchen and head to his room. At meal times he would eat in his room as well, while I ate with Mum and Dad. His door was always closed and he avoided crossing paths with me as much as he could. It was like I was living with the version of Steven I met when I first arrived here.

"He's a stubborn mule," I yelled, down by the chicken coop with Mum, shouting back towards the house, hoping he'd hear me.

"What's going on Puppy?" Mum asked, passing me four eggs.

Of course, I knew exactly what was going on. Everyone did, Even Dad fucking did but Mum was the one person who didn't have a clue and I sure hoped to God it stayed that way.

"He's on his period!"

Mum laughed. "You know, I think that's a thing! I don't know, you boys, always falling out. Have you talked to him?"

"Going to, today."

"Where's Hunter by the way?"

"Oh he's gone to some Drag Racing event with His brother."

"You didn't want to go?"

"God mum, it's so loud, you can't hear yourself speak most of the time. I come away with a headache. I said I'd go to the next one and buy some ear plugs. Besides, It's good him and Taylor spend time together. He's always here and I think Taylor misses him."

"Ahh, that's nice. So how are you two, I hope you don't mind me asking, I heard a bit of arguing yesterday when I brought Steven's clothes up? And I noticed you've not seen so much of him these last few days?"

"Oh that. He wants to get my name tattooed on his shoulder and I said I didn't think it was a good idea, so he took that as if we weren't serious and that I didn't love him. It's not that but he already has tattoos all over the place and I said he had enough."

"How did that conversation end?"

I laughed. "I just told him, it's the tattoo or me and he shut up."


"Pretty much, I didn't really mean it, but he gets these ideas into his head that don't make sense. He had his brow pierced last month, and then he said he wanted his tongue done, and now this new tattoo. I said I didn't want him doing too much. I think too much is hideous. Not that he's hideous of course. I just think he's getting addicted to piercings and tattoos and he's going to end up with so many it's not going to be attractive."

"I agree, but remember it's his body."

"I get that Mum. I do. Recently, I just feel we're moving apart slowly. He's not the same guy I met in school when I first arrived."

"Well Puppy, a lot has happened to him and if I may say, you're not the same person he met either are you? Plus you've both grown a little… and I mean that in the emotional sense. It's natural that you're not the same people."

"I guess not. I think I just fooled myself to be honest. I mean you're so right, he's had some tough times. I just didn't realise until recently that we've both changed."

"Well, Don't think of it as growing apart, think of it as a changing dynamic. Love is a strange beast Puppy. Relationships morph and change as time goes on. It will never stay the same. Of course that first few months is exciting, it's new, and you're each finding out about each other. It's natural that things will develop in some areas and fade in others."

"Always the wise one, Mum."

"Not wise, Puppy, just experienced. Now, go, take those eggs in, while I mow this lawn. And for goodness sake, you and your brother sort things out please? It's like living in a monastery in the silence I live in. I want noise, clatter and bickering."

"Yes Ma'am."

I walked back up the garden to the house and washed the eggs before putting them in the fridge.

After sitting in the lounge for five minutes, my heart racing and feeling a bit apprehensive I marched up the stairs and went straight to Steven's room, opening the door.

"Call me Gatecrasher again, call me anything, but can we sort… Oh shit sorry! Whoops!"

"Fuck Puppy, can you knock?!"

"Well, I didn't know you'd be doing that did I?"

"Fuck sake, I was about to bust then!"

Steven pulled his shorts up and pinged them over his erection, his modesty now restored.

"What do you want?"

"To talk, I'm fed up with living like this."

"Well all you had to do is come and see me, you didn't have to wait this long."

"Steven, you haven't spoken to me for over three days, I took that as a signal that you didn't want to talk, and… and it's not as if you've come to see me. Even when Hunter's been out or staying at Taylors you never came to see me in my room."

"Fair play, but I'm not sure what there is to discuss."

"Maybe everything, maybe nothing, but there must be a reason you're not talking to me?"

Steven sat up and got off his bed, walking over to his window and shutting it.

"Fucking noise of that mower!" he barked. "So, talk!"

"No you talk. I'm not letting you do your thing where it's always my move. I'm wise to that shit now."

"Wow, the Puppy is now a dog with big balls, perhaps we need to take you to the vet and have those removed now,"

"Very good… well?"

"Sit, there's a good dog." Steven said, patting his bed. I went and sat on it.

"I never thought I'd say this to anyone, let alone you, but you really fucked me up. I actually rolled over and over in my mind whether I could actually like you in a way more than I should."

"And what did you discover."

"Not much. I still like hot chicks, and I like boning them, but you seemed to really do a number on my emotions and I now know you got off on that. I think it was really skilful and well played. If it wasn't me who was feeling mixed up, I probably would have said well done to you for having the power to do that to someone. But..." Steven shook his head. "But me… Puppy? I think I actually fell for you. And every inch of me says that is fucking crazy."

"I didn't mean to. I was going through a tough time after Hunter's suicide attempt and school was weird with all those people saying things, good and bad. I needed you and you were there and I guess I just sort of got too close to you… as in more close than that boundary of Brother stops and a lust for someone else begins."

"All that may be true, apart from the bit where you said you didn't mean to. Thats a fucking lie! You dick!"

"Maybe, I guess."

"Come here," Steven asked, taking hold of my shoulder. I pulled back.

"What are you doing."

"Getting something out of my system."

Steven grabbed my neck and pulled me into a kiss. I tried to keep my lips closed but he forced his tongue inside, and shockingly to myself I slowly let him. At first I remained frozen where I was, but the tension that had built for so long just seemed to melt away and I responded, moving my tongue against his, raising my hand to take hold of his neck.

We both started to breath heavily through our noses with soft whimpers escaping every so often. The kiss got more intense as we pulled in each other's neck more passionately as each second passed.

"Uhhh….hur… fuuuck," he cried out muffled by our embrace. I pulled away and looked down seeing he had slowly finished himself off, without me seeing.

"You fucking shot over my legs!" I said, shocked, looking at the white substance, soaking into the hairs on my thighs.

Steven put his now deflating penis back inside his shorts and got up from his bed.

"Funny, I thought I would feel regret over that, but strangely I don't," he announced to my shocked face.

"You used me?"

"Yep, just like you used me! How does it feel?"

I reeled my neck in. "Well, Nothing really. Should I?"

"Well when you're being fucked from behind by your boyfriend, let me know how many times my face comes into your head as your face is buried in a pillow."

"You spiteful bastard," I barked. I got up and slapped him across the face. He just stood there and laughed.

I stormed out of his room and into the bathroom, slamming the door. Jumping into the shower I scrubbed off the remains of his semen from my legs and gave myself a quick once over. Guilt now invaded my mind as I fully thought about Hunter for the first time since we kissed. Should I tell him, should I keep it a secret? Will Steven tell him to punish me?

"For Fuck sake!" I yelled under the shower at myself.

At dinner Steven came down and into the dining room with his plate, plonking it down and taking a seat.

"Well this is a surprise," Dad said looking up over his fork full of food.

"What can I say Dad, Puppy sorted things out for me," he said, looking over at me and smiling, quite sarcastically. "We're friends again now aren't we little Brother?"

Mum chuckled, really not getting his sickly tone. "Not so little anymore are we Button? A little late growth spurt coming to an end."

"The spurt seems to have gone to your legs Puppy, wouldn't you say?" Steven said, before diving into his food.

I just sat there silently, trying to find his leg under the table to kick him. This was typical fucking Steven, pushing it to the line and nearly always going over it.

"Just shut up Steven, and eat your dinner," I growled.

"Hunter still not arrived back then?" Dad asked.

"He texted earlier, they are leaving shortly, he's coming here if that's ok?"

"Sure Button," Mum said. Sorry I didn't save any food, I didn't know he would be coming back tonight, but I can make up a sandwich?"

"I'm sure he would have eaten, thanks Mum." I said quietly, watching as Steven with his head stopped low, watched me, grinning like some evil snake!

I burst into Steven's room and closed the door. "What the fuck are you playing at?"

"Who me?" He asked, pointing at his chest, putting on his best surprised face. "You accuse ME of playing?"

"You are impossible. You know I really thought when I came up here before we could sort stuff out and go back to being how things used to be and you start pulling stunts like that round the dinner table. Why do I fucking bother?"

I went to leave for the door again and head back to my room. As I turned the handle to pull it open someone was pushing from the other side almost making me fall over backwards.

"What's all the shouting about?" Hunter asked, standing in the doorway.

"Your boyfriend is having a tantrum, I think you need to calm him down."

"Hunter lets just go," I said, pulling on his arm to get him out of Steven's room.

"You need to grow up Steven, start acting like a brother to Puppy instead of punishing him. And yes, I know all about your stuff."

"My stuff?" Steven said, coming towards us.

"Hunter, leave it! My room, now."

"No hang on Puppy, I wanna know what Hunter means," Steven said, getting in Hunter's face.

"BOYS!" Mum shouted, appearing at the top of the stairs. "Whatever is going on needs to stop. None of you behave like hooligans in this house."

"Well he start…"

"I don't want to know. But let me say this. Whatever is going on has been for days now and your father and I are sick of it. You either sort it out or we'll have you round that table until it is sorted, and you'll do it in front of us; do I make myself clear?"

We all nodded and Steven slammed his door in our faces. Mum just let out a loud huff and went downstairs. I went to my room, leaving Hunter standing where he was. He soon followed.


"So what Hunter? He's a dick! How was the race?"

"The race was fine, I think Taylor met a new girl as well. They had a couple of drinks together, and hit it off straight away."

"Wow, who'd have thought at a place where you can't hear yourself think," I said grinning.

"Yeah, anyway, I hope they exchanged numbers."

"What, he didn't tell you?"

"Nah, he's been all cagy about it. I think he's been single for so long he's embarrassed to talk about it."

"Well it's nice if he's met someone, at least."

"Yeah. So anyway, what's the latest with the Sulk Monster?"

"Oh nothing, I tried to sort stuff out with him and we didn't really get anywhere."

"Why, I thought if you told him I knew what had been happening, and that we were cool then everything would be sorted."

I looked at the floor. "He admitted that he'd fallen for me."

"He WHAT?"


"Puppy, he's a straight Jock with an attitude problem who talks nothing but girls and bullshit, how did someone like him even admit to that."

"Well the conversation started off ok, that's when he told me."

"So what made it get heated?"

I got up and paced the room, before going over to my window. I looked back at Hunter who was just standing there looking at me. He looked expectant, even a little suspicious. Could I lie? Could I keep this from him? Steven would eventually leak it. Even if not to him, but to someone, I just knew it.

"We kissed," I blurted, instantly regretting it.


"We, uh…"

"You mean he kissed you right?"

"Well yeah, at the start, and then…"

"Oh fuck this Puppy, I really… for fuck sake!"

"I'm sorry, it just happened!"

"Yeah… yeah it KEEPS happening. I feel like I'm living in a fucking love triangle. I think I better go, I… I fucking cant deal with this shit anymore."

"Hunter, I'm sorry. I wanted to just be honest. There really isn't anything in this."

"What so you both just wanted to get it out your fucking systems. You already had an episode before and now one when we're supposed to be a couple. I mean, do you think this is normal?"

I sat on my bed, gently rubbing my hands together, resting on my knees. "I dunno, Hunter. I dunno what normal is anymore."

"I need a cigarette,"

Hunter walked out and closed the door behind him. I sat there on my bed. I wanted to follow him but I didn't for some reason. Part of me felt almost devoid of any emotion. Did I love him? I think I did.

Hunter had not returned after the normal time I imagined in my head it would take him to smoke. I looked out of my window to the driveway to see if he was sitting on the wall where he normally had his smoke. He wasn't there.

I went back to my bed and threw myself on it with a big sigh. The pressure since my birthday had been playing heavy on me. Yeah I was to blame but I'd done my best to sort things out. Or had I? Had I made it worse by letting Steven kiss me? Of course I had. And to make it worse I kissed him back. How did I expect Hunter to react? Should I have been more clear on my feelings?

So many thoughts to deal with, it made me wrench with guilt and emptiness. Yet a small part of me didn't care, and that's what scared me the most.

Everything seemed at a crossroads. The passion I had for Hunter was fading. Maybe I didn't want to admit it, or maybe I did for his sake. I felt no excitement anymore, and it was that newness that I kept craving. There were still flashes of it With Steven, but that was, and is an impossible path to take and not one I wanted anyway.

Love for me had been an accident. Like some box you are given with no instructions. It gives you pleasure, but what is that pleasure for. What do we do with any pleasure that love gives us? It makes us renew ourselves for a while and then as it fades you realise nothing has really changed.

I felt used, but I had used; I felt love, but did not understand what it was I was supposed to do with it. I'd said to someone I loved them. But what did that mean?

As before in so many points in my life, I was here, on my bed, alone and asking for the answer to the same question since discovering I liked boys…

I want to know what love is!

"This is fucking ridiculous," I muttered to myself. I got up off my bed and marched across the hallway to Steven's room, and knocked.

"If You're looking for an…"

I went in, seeing him laying on his bed flicking through something on his tablet.

"Ok this is my last try. I'm sorry ok, I'm so sorry. I know you're hurting, mixed up and angry. I know it's because of me and I know I have been actively causing the way you feel. You are a fucking dick, but I love you. You have probably destroyed my relationship with Hunter, but I love you. You used me, treated me like dirt, hit me, and fucked my head up, but I love you. So can we please, please put an end to this?!"

I went over, feeling exhausted at my statement and sat on the edge of his bed. He looked at me, expressionless for a while and then a warm, subtle smile came to his face. I tried to read it for any signs of forgiveness.

"Im… I'm sorry too," he said, softly. Sitting up and pulling me into a hug.

I sat there, with his arms around me, not returning the hug. "You said sorry?"

"Yeah, I said sorry." he replied, rubbing my back.

"Brothers?" I asked, looking at him.

"It's all we have, ain't it?"

"I guess."

"Where did he go?"

"Dunno, he went out for a smoke and never came back."

"It's been known by a few people to do that." Steven said, monotone, still hugging me. "You gonna look for him?"

I looked at Steven immediately after he asked me that question, because it was one I think I had an answer to, after thinking about it.

"To be honest, I think the magic died when he did what he did. I changed after that day and so did he. I thought I was strong enough, but it wasn't the strength I needed. It was the power to push the guilt away, that's what I needed."

"You mean you stayed with Hunter out of guilt?"

"At the time I didn't think of it like that. Taylor was giving me these pep talks and I still thought of him as that boy I met in class, but these past few days… argh, I dunno."

"Tough huh?" Steven said letting go of me. He moved to the edge of the bed so we were sitting side by side. "You know, I hated seeing you with him?"

"I know," I said, putting a hand on his leg.

"I've been trying to figure out stuff… you know in my head."

"Find out anything useful?" I asked, a slight grin forming on my face.

"I actually think… God this is deep for me. Anyway I actually think I was not in love with you, but I was in love with who you were. And...and when you got with him, those months of just you and him, when it used to be you and me, I just got jealous. Not because you were with someone, but because we had lost something that I was in love with."

"I think I get you."

"You're special Puppy. Everyone tells you that, and yet you don't realise the impact you have on dudes lives. You smash your personality into people and they can't help loving you."

"Is that good?"

"For some people. For others, sometimes it can be agony."

"You mean you?"

"And Dave," he said, raising a brow. "I think he saw it before any of us. You were like a magnet to him. Pulling so hard."

"I just don't think I know how to love someone," I said, looking at the floor.

"Because you've never had to," I heard Dad's voice say. I looked up, seeing him standing in the doorway.

"How much of that did you…"

"Enough, Puppy, but it's a good conversation you were having, boys. Puppy, Did I tell you about the massive stars that burn in space. Big massive stars, thousands of times bigger than our little Sun out there. They burn hot, aggressively, using up their fuel quickly. They also burn bright, and if you imagine their Helium and hydrogen fuel as love, they burn it up quickly and eagerly and then they…"

"Go bang?" I cut in, softly.

"Their love dies quickly, and without purpose and context," Dad finished. "Son, I think coming from Greenstone into this big wide world has put an enormous amount of self expectation on you. But as your Dad you'd expect me to be honest yeah?"

"Of course Dad," I said nodding.

"Well, I think rather than finding your own place in the world you have tried to imitate what you think people expected you to be to fit in. You wanted love to happen quickly because you thought that was expected. I don't doubt that Hunter is important to you. I also don't doubt that you may have loved him. But was it on your terms, or what you thought was expected?"

I shrugged, "Maybe both?"

"The thing is Puppy, you don't have to be in love with anyone. More importantly you don't have to understand love. You just have to let love take you to the person it chooses. And when it does you'll know."

"How will I know?"

"Because if you were really in love, no question would be needed for you to answer. No doubt would be in your mind. You would just be in that moment. And our small Sun, which matures it's love slowly and with purpose, will carry on burning long after those big stars are dead and gone."

"Your point Dad?" Steven asked, seeming almost interested.

"My point, boys, is, you can't see or look for love. Real love is invisible, and it will seek YOU out, not the other way round. And like I say, when it does, it will hit you like a sledgehammer and there will be no confusion as to who you like." Dad smiled. "Dinner in five guys!"

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