No Means No

by Rob Warr

Chapter 1

This story is the property of the author, Rob Warr, and should not be reproduced or re-posted without his consent. ©Rob Warr 2023.

Note: This story may be disturbing for some readers since it deals with sexual abuse of one boy by another. However, that part of the story is rather brief and the rest of the story is about healing and moving forward, and yes, young gay romance.

Losing a friend

We'd been friends since sixth grade, and I guess that's what was so hard to understand about what had happened. That evening started out just like all the others we'd shared, but from the start I could tell Brian had something on his mind. He was different somehow, but I chalked it up to the fact that I'd just come out to him a few days ago and that he was still getting used to it.

Oh, he'd taken it well enough, even going so far as to say that he'd kind of figured I liked boys a while back. He'd even asked if I ever thought of him while I was jerking off, and with a blush, I had to admit that I had. But, and I thought I made this abundantly clear, I did not think of him as anything but a good friend.

He quizzed me about other boys I might like, but since there was no one in particular, I shut that line of questioning down rather quickly. He continued to throw questions at me though, Did I also like girls? Had I ever done anything with a boy...or girl? and on and on. I finally got tired of his questions and managed to change the subject. Fortunately, my mom, our ride home from school, pulled up about then and I was saved further discussion about my love life, or lack of it.

That was Thursday, and Friday at school Brian seemed his usual sunny self, joking with the other guys about this and that, and swapping tall tales about his exploits with Brenda Macy, his latest crush.

I was sort of relieved that he wasn't giving me the third degree and I thought, well, he's accepted my being gay and it's not going to be a big issue. What I didn't know was that Brian was thinking about the situation in a whole different way.

Friday came and went, and nothing was said about my being gay, not even a sly joke or a passing comment. It was almost spooky in a way, like I'd never come out to him, but I was grateful in a way that I didn't have to talk about it, because truthfully, I was still getting used to being gay myself.

Then Saturday rolled around and Brian called me right after breakfast and asked if I wanted to spend the night. Sleepovers weren't uncommon for us, even at age 13, we still managed an occasional sleepover, and had even camped out in our backyard in the summer. Sometimes we'd invite other friends to join us, but usually it was just Brian and me.

After clearing it with my folks, I put my stuff in my old backpack and rode my bike the six blocks to Brian's house. There was no car in the drive, but I figured his dad might be working, or the car was in the garage. Brian's mom had died when he was a little kid, and now it was just him and his dad and an older brother, who was now away at college.

That was one thing I liked about staying over at Brian's, no bratty brothers or sisters to bother us, not to mention his dad was super cool and didn't bug us much. They had a nice house, with four bedrooms and a huge backyard, and for two guys living together they did a pretty good job of keeping it neat and clean. I often suspected that Mr. Hale hired a cleaning service, but I never asked.

I rolled my bike around to the back patio, like always, and didn't even bother to knock since I knew Brian was expecting me. I figured his dad would be the first person I encountered, but when I entered and saw no one I began to wonder if Brian and his dad had gone somewhere and the goofball had forgot to text me.

"Hey," Brian said, suddenly appearing from the stairway off the foyer.

"Oh, hey, for a minute I thought no one was home."

"Dad got a call and had to go to the store, but I'm here," Brian said grinning, "bring your stuff up, I have the Nintendo set up."

So, for a couple hours we played video games, but still Brian's dad didn't return. When I began to question him about it, Brian just shrugged and said it was no big deal, we were old enough to take care of ourselves.

At seven, Mr. Hale still hadn't returned, so Brian ordered pizza delivery. Seeing Brian take a 20 dollar bill from a clip on the refrigerator, I began to wonder if this wasn't all planned. Maybe his dad knew I was coming and left the money just in case he didn't get back in time, or...maybe he wasn't coming back tonight. We'd never been alone at either of our houses before, but I soon relaxed. Brian was right, we were old enough to take care of ourselves.

Pizza came and we ate it in the family room in front of the big screen watching The Simpsons, our favorite animated show. We laughed and cut up, and managed to make a big dent in the pizza, but even two hungry teens couldn't eat all of that gigantic pie. After stowing the leftover pizza in the fridge, Brian grabbed us another soda and we headed back to his room, where he said he had some candy bars stashed.

In his room, we ate M&Ms and talked about this and that, and suddenly, Brian brought up the gay thing again.

"So, I been thinking," Brian said munching on a mouthful of M&Ms before continuing, "since I have a best friend who is,, shouldn't I like have some special benefits?" he was blushing, but he looked serious.

"What do you mean, benefits?" I managed to stammer out.

"You know..." he said, pointing toward his mouth with his index finger.

"NO! Why would you think that?" I almost yelled, "that would be weird. You're my best friend."

"Yeah, I know, so who better to do stuff with then? Don't you think I'm sexy enough? I know I'm not ugly, and my dick isn't tiny or gross or anything," he spat out as if he'd been thinking about this for quite some time.

"Look, dude, you look just fine. You're sexy, and though I've only seen your dick in the shower a few times, it looks fine too, but...I'm not ready for that stuff yet. I want to find someone I really like and start slow and get to know them first before we do any of that stuff," I said, my face beet red now.

"Hmm..." he said crossing his arms, " already know me and we care about each other, so why wouldn't I be a good person to start with?" he added, and the way he put it almost made sense, almost.

"I don't think of you that way for one thing," I said trying to get my thoughts organized, "You're my best friend, and I only told you about my being gay because I didn't want you to find out from someone else, and be hurt that I didn't confide in you."

"Yeah, and I appreciate that," he mumbled, "but how long have you known?"

"I dunno, not that long. You know? At our age it's confusing, but just this last few months I've begun go through the changes and start to have these feelings for other boys."

"But not me?" he huffed.

"Brian, I love you like a brother. You're the most important person in my life," I offered.

"But not important enough to help out with needs."

I almost laughed, "Your needs? We're 13 years old, our needs can be taken care of with our hand at this point."

"Doesn't have to be," he fumed, "we could have fun. I don't suck dick, but I could jerk you off."

I was beginning to get a little angry now and Brian could see it and he backed off immediately.

"Sorry, was just a thought. Anyway, I'm gonna go take a shower. I'll use the shower in dad's room, so you can use the bathroom in the hall...if you want."

"Sure, okay," I said, still a little flustered from his earlier behavior.

"Meet ya back here," he said grabbing some boxer shorts and heading out the door.

I grabbed my sleeping shorts and a tee and made my way to the bath off the hall that Brian usually used, and tried to forget Brian's weird and disturbing request as I showered. I wasn't really dirty, but I had started to sweat lately, and was even using deodorant my mom bought me. I liked to use a little Axe Body Spray now and then, though I couldn't really say why I thought it was important to smell nice. It just seemed like part of growing up.

I showered, dried, got dressed, brushed my teeth, and just barely beat Brian back to his room. He was wearing only the boxers he'd selected earlier, but that was nothing unusual. Sometimes in the winter he'd wear a tee as well, but most of the time it was just his underwear, sometimes boxers and sometimes boxer briefs.

I'd always sort of envied Brian's body. He was a couple inches taller than me and more buff from playing sports, and he was strong, yet wiry. The few times we'd wrestled around, he'd always pinned me easily, but it was all good-natured fun. No one ever got hurt, and we usually wound up in a pile on the floor laughing our asses off.

"You gonna sleep in all those clothes?" Brian said as if it was something new.

"I always do," I sort of chuckled, "it's how I sleep at home, you should know that by now."

"Yeah, just...well, I just thought maybe you'd want to try something different tonight."

"Different, like how?" I asked, totally confused.

"You know? sleep naked," he said quickly, then added before I could respond, "I sometimes do that, and it's really cool. So much more comfortable than wearing clothes that get all bunched up."

"Good for you," I said, trying to make a joke of it.

"So...what do you think?"

"About what?" I said, acting dumb.

"About sleeping naked, duh," he said shaking his head.

"Do what you want, but I'm fine," I said shrugging.

"Chicken," he laughed, "Pok...pok...pok," he teased, making chicken sounds.

"You just want to see me naked," I spit out, "you'd think you were the gay one, not me," I said rolling my eyes.

"I'm not gay," he said frowning, "but I'm a normal, horny 13-year-old, and I wouldn't mind some relief. A dick doesn't know who's mouth is doing the sucking," he said grinning.

"No, but the mouth that is doing the sucking is connected to a brain that does know," I reminded him.

"So, that's a no?"

"A no to sleeping naked, and a no to sucking your dick," I said angrily, "maybe I should just head on home. If your dad isn't going to be home my folks might get upset if they find out we're here alone."

"Calm down, calm down. Dad will be home a little later. He texted me earlier and he got hung up at work, but they close at ten, so he'll be here after that."

"Okay, about if we watch a movie till we're sleepy?" I said, trying to get his mind off sex.

"Sure, we can watch it in bed, and if we fall asleep we won't have to get up and move."

I nodded and Brian grabbed the remote, and we finally found a movie we both agreed on. I tried to get into the movie, but all I could think about was what Brian had suggested, and how determined he seemed to make something happen. A small part of me was flattered, another a little excited, but I was also offended and a little put off. Who did he think I was, his personal sex toy? Just because I liked guys didn't mean I went around having sex with every guy I met. Okay, well...Brian wasn't just any guy, he was my best friend, but for some reason that made it even weirder for me.

Sure, Brian was a nice guy and I liked him a lot, and he did have a great body, but I had never really thought of him as boyfriend material. Maybe I'd spanked it a few times thinking about him, but I reasoned that was probably because he was the only boy I'd ever seen naked. He was familiar and available for my fantasies, but I'd never even once considered actually doing anything with him.

We hadn't even fooled around as little kids. I knew some kids did that, but Brian hadn't come along till we were 11, and by then we'd both passed that stage. I mean, I assumed Brian had done that with his old friends, because I had with mine, but we never did anything together. We sometimes talked about sex, but mostly in an abstract way, about which girls we thought were hot, and concerning major milestones, like hair in our pits and coming wet.

But those were just things best buds talked about. What Brian was suggesting was crossing the line as far as I was concerned, and I didn't want to think about the implications if something like that ever took place. It would make our friendship weird and uncomfortable, and knowing Brian as I did, I was afraid he would demand way more than I would ever be comfortable with.

It wasn't the act itself that had me worried. Heck, I'd been wanting to try doing that with a boy for a while now, but it was the aftermath I feared. I was afraid it would wreck a great friendship...and unfortunately, I was right.

I must've fell asleep sometime after the movie started, for the next thing I knew it was dark in the room, the TV was off and Brian was laying beside me staring at me.

"Hi," he whispered, "don't worry, dad got home about an hour ago."

I nodded and stretched a little, "K," I said sleepily.

"I hope it's okay," he said grinning, "but I'm naked."

"What?" I said, rousing a little now, "Oh, okay. Well, it's your room, your bed."

"Yeah, you should try it. It's awesome. Only problem is: it causes my dick to get hard."

"TMI, dude," I said shaking my head.

"Give me your hand," Brian said grinning

"No way, I know what you're going to do," I said pulling my arms into my body.

"Come on, just a handy. Is that too much to ask from a gay pal?" he pleaded.

"Brian, what's gotten into you? You're never like this?"

"Well, I didn't know I had a gay pal before this," he said simply.

"So, you think just because I'm gay I you out?" I said gruffly.

"Well, sure. If it was me who was gay, I'd help you out."

I laughed, "How do you know you'd do that, you're not gay...or...are you?"

"Nah, not gay, just horny," he sighed, "I'd rather be with Amy Lewis, but you're pretty cute too," he giggled, softening my heart a little.

"Good luck finding a girl who'll give you a blowjob, or a handy for that matter."

"Yeah, I know. That's why guys need to help each other out. Come on, let's help each other out."

"What you really mean is: for me to help you out, right? You want me to do something for you, but not the other way around."

"I told you I'd jerk you. Come on, we can at least jerk each other, but just think how nice it would be to give your first beejay to your best pal."

"You're disgusting," I snorted, "and so full of it. Jerk off and go to sleep," I spat out, pulling the covers up around me and rolling over to face the wall.

"Damn," Brian huffed, but he didn't say anything more.

I'm a pretty sound sleeper, but later I woke to an odd sensation, and as I came up out of sleep I realized my sleep shorts were gone and my bottom half was naked. As I became more aware of my surroundings, I could feel something slick and hard poking at my crack, and I realized Brian was spooned up to me and trying to enter me.

"Brian, what the hell!" I cried out, trying to pull away, but Brian had a death grip on me, and being much stronger and bulkier than me, he kept me from escaping.

"Shhh, you'll wake dad. You don't want him to catch us do you? Come on, I know you want it. I'll be your first, and neither of us will be virgins after tonight."

"No, Brian, stop!" I cried, "it hurts. Stop or I'll scream!"

"No, you won't," he said placing a hand over my mouth, "cause if you do and my dad comes, I'll say you started it, and that you're gay and have been coming on to me for a long time."

"Bry....why?" I said as the tears came, "you can't just make someone do this stuff..."

"I know you'll like it once I get it in. I'm even using lube. My dad bought me a tube to jerk with. Yeah, he's cool. He knows what boys our age need," Brian said as he continued his assault.

I knew I should try to resist harder, pull away and run, or kick him in the balls, anything, but I couldn't. I was beaten, crushed, destroyed, and suddenly as pain ripped through my body, I was violated.

Whimpering and shaking as if I'd been dipped in a frozen lake, I lay there for what seemed like forever as Brian raped me. Fortunately for me, he didn't last long, and with one final thrust he cried out and began to come inside me.

"Awwww...fuuuuck, that was good. Did you like it?" he whispered in my ear.

"Nnnnoooo," I sobbed, " me, Brian, and I will never forgive you for that," I cried, collapsing into myself as he slowly deflated and pulled out of me, leaving a sticky trail.

"Hey, I thought you'd like it," he said, suddenly realizing what he'd just done, "I'm so sorry. I don't know what got into me. Come on, it's me, Brian. You gotta forgive me. I promise I won't ever do it again."

I just lay there crying, rolled up in the fetal position while Brian paced the floor and swore softly to himself. At some point he left, and when he came back I felt something wet and soft touch my crack. I jerked away at first, but when I realized he was trying to clean me up back there I relaxed a little. He dried me then and helped me put my shorts back on, but no further words were spoken between us.

I used the bathroom next, and though I still hurt a little, I was happy to see there was no blood. I knew Brian's penis wasn't all that big, but then my ass had never had anything bigger than a finger in it before.

"I washed my face and considered what to do next. No way was I going to go back to bed with a rapist, but it was the middle of the night, and I certainly didn't want to wake Brian's dad. Though we'd always gotten along fairly well, after what Brian had done, I'd begun to wonder if I really knew those two at all.

I knew Brian would probably come looking for me, but I went to the living room anyway and sat down on the couch so I could think. Sure enough, about ten minutes later Brian showed up, now dressed in shorts and a tee as well. As if dressing would erase what he'd done to me. Maybe he thought wearing clothes would be less threatening for me.

"Hey, come on back to bed, why doncha? I promise I won't bother ya. I'm really sorry about...about what I did."

I stared straight into his eyes then, the eyes of someone I thought I knew, and what I saw was a stranger. I knew then there was no going back, Brian and I were done. The question was: did I tell someone what happened to me, or suffer it alone?"

Did I want to send Brian to juvie or worse, or was I more likely to be the one in trouble. After all, I was the pervert, the gay boy. Brian could say I begged him to do it and that I liked it. He could even say he didn't want to do it, but that being such a good friend he'd agreed. Ha, a good friend.

"Fuck off!" I said, but there wasn't much fire in my voice. In fact, it was more of a whimper.

"Awww, Danny, please....he begged. I'm really sorry," he said as tears finally filled his eyes.

How dare you cry? I thought, how dare you try to make me feel bad because you raped me when I told you no, over and over.

"You bastard!" I said with all the fury I could muster, "Leave me the hell alone! As soon as it's daylight I'm going home and I never want to see you again, is that clear?"

"Danny...please," he begged, his tears coming in a steady downpour now.

"Shut up and leave me alone," I said giving him a searing look.

"Okay, but if you want to come back to bed..." he started, then trailed off.

He left then, and I didn't see him the rest of the night. I stayed awake the whole time, a first for me, but by morning I was ready to drop. However, that didn't stop me from grabbing my clothes, getting dressed, and escaping.

It was 7:30 when I rode up to our garage and punched in the code and stowed my bike before going inside. Mom was already up and when she saw me she gave me a quizzical look.

"My, you're home early, what's up with that. You two boys have a spat?"

"Nah, I wasn't feeling well," I said. And boy, was that an understatement.

"You look like heck, son," she said feeling my forehead, "why don't you go on up and lay down? I'll come check on you in a bit."

I suppose she did check on me, probably more than once, but for the next six hours I was out like a light. I awoke to the sound of voices in the hallway and immediately recognized them as belonging to my parents. I could hear the concern in their voices, and for one horrible moment I thought, they know, and my life will never be the same.

Fortunately, they were just concerned that I might be ill. Which I was, inside, but for now my misery was my own.

I was starved when I awoke, and mom considered that a good sign, and after a hearty lunch I was pronounced cured. Little did my parents know the sickness I had would plague me for a long time to come.

I played with my dog, Bones, for a while in the backyard, sitting in the afternoon sun and thinking about how horribly wrong my life had just gone. I couldn't help but think if I'd kept my mouth shut and not come out to Brian none of this would have happened. Later, I would learn that a lot of victims think that way after they're violated, but I was only 13, and I had no one to talk to about what had happened to me.

The hardest part for me to believe was that it was my best friend in the whole world who had done this horrible thing to me. If it had been someone else, anyone else, it would have been a whole lot easier to believe. No less painful, no less degrading, but at least I wouldn't have lost my virginity and my best friend at the same time.

My virginity, I thought, Brian had said we'd both lost our virginity. Ha, what a crock. He'd taken mine to lose his own, and no one was happy about it, not even him, now that he'd realized the cost.

The sun felt good on my face and there was a cool breeze blowing, but I couldn't enjoy it. Even Bones sensed something was wrong with his master and he was especially attentive to me that day. As he lay his head in my lap, soaking up my love, and enjoying his ears being scratched, I thought about all the times Brian played in my backyard, Bones chasing us around or catching the Frisbee.

"Danny, honey, your phone was going off," my mom said opening the patio door and handing me my phone, "It was Brian, but he hung up before I could get to it."

"Thanks, mom," I said taking the phone.

As soon as she was gone, I texted him: Leave me it????

Hey, he typed back: Sorry...I'll leave you alone...for now, but I'll see ya at school, right?

I didn't even bother to reply, I just turned off my phone and stuck it in my pocket. Damn him, doesn't he understand we're done?

The rest of the day went by quickly, and despite having slept six hours earlier I was ready to crash by my 9 p.m. bedtime. I lay awake for a little while, reliving the horror of the previous night, but eventually exhaustion overtook me, and thankfully I slept through the night.

The next morning as I dressed for school, I thought about what it would be like going forward. No hanging out at school, sitting at the same lunch table, or spending weekends together. Then I began to see major problems. What would I tell my mom when Brian didn't ride home with us? It wasn't like he couldn't walk home, but maybe he'd need to start riding the bus. There were so many details to work out, and I wasn't sure I was ready to handle them. Maybe Brian could handle his end of the breakup. Breakup, I thought bitterly, like we were a couple or something. In a way we were, but I guess I never really knew Brian before Saturday night. I was still angry, but most of all, I was hurt. Hurt, hurt that anyone who professed to be my best friend and closer than a brother, could knowingly hurt me like that and take something precious from me. A rapist, Brian was a rapist, and I couldn't help but wonder, would he do it again to someone else, maybe a girl next time?

As it turned out, Monday wasn't a problem, nor was Tuesday, or Wednesday, simply because Brian didn't show up for school. I was relieved on Monday, mildly concerned on Tuesday, and down right scared on Wednesday. Had he done something foolish, like, dare I think it, commit suicide? As upset as I was, I didn't want any harm to come to him. In a way I still loved him, I just didn't trust him anymore.

I tried finding out where Brian was from some of his other friends, but no one knew anything. By Thursday he was back though, looking a bit pale and listless, so I guessed he must've been sick. I could certainly relate to that, though my own illness was a bit different.

However, there was no need to do any formal breaking off of our friendship, because after that day, Brian never acknowledged I existed. I don't know what he told his dad, but whatever it was, it must've satisfied him, because he never called my folks about the breakup.

However, my parents were not so easily convinced nothing was wrong between Brian and me. It was then that I finally decided to come out to my folks. I decided I could kill two birds with one stone that way. I could finally let my folks know they'd raised a fruit, and use that as an excuse for Brian dumping me. For all I knew, that was what Brian had done as well, and if it was good enough for his dad, it should be good enough for my folks.

They took it better than I had expected, but they did express a great deal of disappointment in Brian. My mom said she'd always thought of him as a good boy, and a good friend, and she was shocked to learn he was homophobic. Dad didn't say much, but I could tell he wasn't pleased with Brian's supposed attitude either. Of course, I couldn't tell them the real truth, so from now on my life would be based on a lie.

Days passed and turned into weeks. Thanksgiving came, but even one of my favorite holidays couldn't soothe my broken heart. I remembered the last couple of Thanksgivings with me going to Brian's, or him coming to my house, and how we'd usually spend most of the time off from school together.

This year it was just me and my folks, since we'd opted not to go to my grandparents as we often did. That was fine by me, the fewer people to deal with the better, as far as I was concerned. Since Brian had raped me and we'd split as friends, I'd become a bit of a recluse. I was afraid to make another friend for fear they'd hurt me as Brian did, even though looking back I know that was foolish. Not everyone was bad, not everyone was a rapist, but something inside me had been broken when Brian had violated me.

As we sat around the dining room table that day I tried to put my pain and hurt aside, but when my dad said grace and thanked God for his family and friends, I lost it.

Tears came quickly, and unable to stop them, I jumped up and ran to my room. As I lay across my bed sobbing, I was suddenly aware of my mom and dad in the doorway. They took one look at me and rushed to my side, my mom cradling me in her arms as my dad smoothed back my hair and looked at me with concern.

"Danny, honey, what's wrong? Is this about Brian? Do you miss your friend?" mom cooed.

What could I say? It was about Brian, and I did miss him, but the Brian I missed didn't exist anymore as far as I was concerned. The Brian I knew was just a sham, and the real Brian was a rapist.

"I'll be okay," I managed to say after a while, "I just, I don't know...lately I feel kind of sad."

"Oh, honey," my mom said, sounding near tears herself, "you know you can talk to us anytime, about anything, right?"

I nodded as the tears still fell, "I'm sorry I ruined Thanksgiving dinner," I sniffled.

"Hey, Tiger, you didn't ruin anything," my dad said sitting down on the bed beside mom, "you take all the time you need, and we can heat things up if we need to."

"Yes, there anything you want to talk to us about?" my mom said giving me a sad smile.

"Not right now," I said, finally managing to get the waterworks under control, "I'm kinda hungry now. Can we go eat?"

"If that's what you want, son," Dad said patting my back, "how would you like to try your hand at carving the turkey this year?"

So...that was the year I lost my virginity, and learned that carving a turkey isn't as easy as it looks. I did feel better after my attempt though, if for no other reason than it took my mind off my misery. I even managed to keep up my end of the conversation as we ate, and by the time dinner was over I was as stuffed as the turkey had been.

I spent the day watching football with dad in the family room and finally went outside to play with Bones and soak up some of the late afternoon sun. My life was a whole lot different these days, but I was thankful I had my folks, and my dog, and somehow I'd make it work.

Back at school, I quickly immersed myself in my studies again, and all but forgot about Brian. Sure, we had a couple classes together, and I often saw him in the halls or in the cafeteria, but neither of us spoke or even made eye contact. Since I had no other close friends, the few students who noticed our estrangement kept quiet, at least as far as I was concerned. Brian had a few other friends, mostly those on the football team, but I don't know what he told them. At least no one was looking at me weird or calling me fag, so I'm assuming he didn't rat me out for being gay.

Shortly after our return to school from the Thanksgiving break, a new kid enrolled at our school and I was asked to be his guide and show him around. Why me? I wondered, but it seemed that because of my good grades and exemplary attitude I was selected by my home room teacher for this thankless job.

Oh well, it was no big deal, I thought, but from the first moment I laid eyes on Rick, the new kid, I knew my assessment had been wrong. It was a big deal, because Rick was drop dead gorgeous and one of the nicest boys I'd ever met.

Despite the fact that I'd been guarding my emotions and staying to myself since Brian attacked me, I suddenly found myself crushing on this new boy. I knew it was probably a waste of time, no way was this boy gay, but he seemed almost as interested in me as I did in him, and that gave me hope. At least we could be good friends, I decided, only this time I wouldn't out myself and put myself in jeopardy.

By the middle of December, Rick and I had become good friends, and I finally got up the courage to invite him over to my house. I was encouraged by how quickly he accepted my offer, and we made plans for him to ride home with me the following day.

I was nervous all that day, but excited as well. Even though my mom would be home, I still worried about being totally alone with a boy again. I knew that was silly, that not all boys were going to attack me, but once you've gone through something like I had, your whole outlook on life is changed.

Rick was polite as always as I introduced him to my mom, and we both chatted with her as we rode the short distance, side by side, in the back of her SUV. Once inside my house, I was immediately gripped with panic. I knew the obvious thing to do was show him my room, but the thought of being alone with him brought back unpleasant memories of the last time I was alone with a boy.

You boys dump your backpacks in Danny's room and come back down and I'll have a snack ready for you. Rick, do you have any allergies or special food requirements?"

"No ma'am, I can eat anything, except I don't like seafood much," he said grinning.

"Oh darn, so the stuffed crab puffs with shrimp sauce are out," she teased, and even as nervous as I was, I had to laugh.

"She's kidding," I said noting the look on Rick's face, and suddenly I wasn't nervous anymore, "Come on, my room is this way."

Our house was a single story, but the master bedroom was on one side, and the other two bedrooms were on the other side. The two bedrooms shared a common bath with doors leading into it from both bedrooms as well as the hallway. My bedroom was at the far end of the hall and had windows on two sides, while the other bedroom only had windows facing the backyard.

"It's nice," Rick said looking around as we dropped our backpacks on the bed, "I'm not surprised it's so neat and clean, you strike me as a very organized person."

"Well...I did pick it up a little since I knew I was having company, but yeah...I do try to keep it orderly. I can't stand a mess," then before I could stop myself I said, "my friend Brian's room was..." I stopped in mid-sentence, horrified that I'd brought him up, and stammered to find the words to finish, "I mean, not everyone is as neat as me, but that's okay."

"Yeah," Rick said, seemingly unfazed by my slip of the tongue, "I'm somewhere in the middle, I guess, not a slob, but not always as neat as you."

"Come on, let's see what mom has for snacks," I said, relieved that awkward moment had passed.

"You're in luck, boys," mom said as we entered the kitchen, "I have fresh chocolate chip cookies and milk or juice for you."

We both chose milk, and as we scooted up to the breakfast bar, mom poured us tall glasses of cold moo juice.

"Mmm, Mrs. Graham, these cookies are awesome," Rick said, his eyes growing big as he took a big bite.

"Thank you, Rick. It's just a mix, but I use butter instead of oil and it makes them moister and adds flavor."

I laughed, "Mom, he doesn't need the recipe."

"Too bad, I was about to scribble it out for him," mom said grinning, and causing Rick to laugh as well.

"You two are fun," Rick said sincerely, "I like it here. I feel right at home. My folks are fun loving too."

"That's important, don't you think?" mom said, "that a family has fun together and gets along well?"

"Yes, ma'am. I know some kids who don't have that at home, and they're not very happy. Some of them turn to bullying or getting into trouble. My folks make sure they know what's going on with me at all times, and we have an honest and open relationship."

Wow, Rick certainly was mature in his thinking and speech, but I understood what he was saying. My folks and I sort of had that kind of relationship too, all except for the one big secret I couldn't share with them.

We finished our snack and I suggested we go outside while I fed and watered Bones. Bones is a very good judge of character and he took to Rick right away and the feeling was obviously mutual. I learned that Rick also had a dog, a collie named Ruff, and a cat named...Mr. Kitty.

I laughed when he told me about his cat, "Mr. Kitty, like in South Park?"

"Yeah, I used to watch that show until my folks found out how offensive it was," he laughed, "but I still sneak around once in a while and watch episodes online."

"You outlaw," I chuckled, "Bad boy, bad boy, what ya gonna do," I sang.

"I'm not bad, just curious," Rick said as he continued to pet Bones as we sat on the steps of the patio.

"Did you have many friends...back at your old school?" I asked then. Friends were something we hadn't really discussed, for obvious reasons.

"Nah, not many, a few. No one really close...not till..." he blushed then, and I noticed the change in his demeanor right away, "not till...not till you. There, I said it."

" think of me that way?" I sputtered.

"As a good friend, yeah," he said quickly.

"Me too," I assured him, but..."

"What?" he said looking at me curiously.

"Well, I can't really go into it, but I had a friend, see, and well...he sort of let me down, and it's taken me some time to get over it, so...I'm kind of nervous about getting too close to someone again."

"That's cool, I'm not pushing. Heck, it's not like we're dating or anything," he joked, but I had to admit I felt a little tingle in the pit of my stomach at the thought of that.

"Have you? Ever dated anyone?" I asked, leaving the gender open just to see what he would say.

"No, like I said, I've never really been that close to anyone before."

"No girlfriend back there?"

"Nah, you?"

"Nah, girls are weird," I chuckled.

"Yeah, tell me about it. My cousins are all girls and they are a mess, no fun at all."

"Eww, at least I have some boy cousins, but I don't see them much. They mostly live out of state."

"What should we do now?" Rick said standing and offering a hand up for me.

I took his small soft hand in mine and allowed him to pull me up, once again feeling that tingle in my stomach that I'd felt earlier.

"Well, we can go to my room and play video games, or watch some TV."

"Can we just talk some more, in your room?" he asked almost shyly.

"Well, sure," I said, reasoning we could keep the door open and I'd feel safe. Then I mentally chastised myself, why was I thinking things like that? Rick wasn't a danger to me. He was just a nice boy trying to get to know me better.

"Is your friend staying for dinner?" Mom asked as we came through the dining room.

"Can you?" I asked hopefully.

"Not this time, but I'd love to sometime," Rick said, "my mom is fixing my favorite tonight, lasagna, and I don't want to miss that."

"All right dear, some other time then."

"We're going to my room, mom," then to Rick I said, "what time do you have to be home?"

"Six," Rick said as we headed down the hall.

"My mom can take you home, so we'll only have to leave about 15 minutes early."

In my room, I offered Rick a seat on the bed and I perched in my desk chair at my computer. At first it was awkward for me, but Rick seemed completely at ease and started things off. We talked about our past experiences in school, our favorite movies, music, etc, but there was no mention of friendships, since we'd pretty much already covered that.

I assumed Rick was an only child, as was I, since he'd never mentioned any brothers or sisters, but suddenly he began talking about his brother Matthew and I was totally confused.

"Wait, wait, you have a brother?" I interrupted.

"Yeah, well...I did, he died," he said sadly, "that's one reason we moved. Matt had cancer and we spent a lot of time at the hospital, there in our old town, and it had a lot of, well...bad memories. So, when dad was offered a transfer here, he took it."

"Oh, man, I am so sorry," I said getting up and coming to sit beside Rick. I hesitated only a second before placing my arm around his shoulders and when I did he burst into tears.

"I'm sorry," he sobbed, "just...when you put your arm around me it reminded me of Matt, he was the best big brother ever, and he was always hugging me or throwing an arm around me."

"How old was he?" I said, thinking that talking about his bro might help him to get some closure.

"He would have been sixteen, September 2nd. He was hoping to get his license and be able to drive, but he died two days before his birthday."

"Oh man, that must've been awful. I never had a brother, but I've always wished I did. I don't know how you stand it, man, I'd be so sad I couldn't function if it was me."

"It was really hard, at first. I missed a lot of school and had to make it up, but the principal and teachers understood and helped me a lot. Mom and dad got hit the worst, he was their first born child, after all, and I was afraid they were going to lose their minds at first. It really scared me to see them so sad and emotional. But slowly, little by little, we learned to live with it, and then the chance to move came along, and, we are."

"I'm sorry about your brother, but I'm happy you wound up here," I said giving him a smile.

"Thanks, I'm glad too," he wiped at his eyes then and he seemed to recover a bit, and soon we were talking about more pleasant subjects.

We talked till it was time for him to go, and as we rode in the back of the SUV on the way to his house, we made plans for me to visit him Friday. Since mom was right there I got her approval to ride home with Rick, though she did ask for his mom's number so she could clear my visit with her.

I was happy for the first time in a long time as I rode home, this time in the front seat with Mom, and when we got home we had a nice family dinner. I spent some quality time with my folks before excusing myself to do my homework, and not once did I think about Brian or what he'd done to me. I guessed it was true, you could heal if you just gave yourself time.

Rick and I had become inseparable at school and I guess Brian finally noticed. One day at lunch I noticed him and some of his jock buddies whispering and pointing at our table and I saw red. WTF, I thought. What is he telling those morons, and why now? Up until now, Brian hadn't even acknowledged I was alive, now suddenly I was on his radar again. Was it because of Rick? Was he jealous, and perhaps spreading rumors about us? Had he told his buddies I was gay, was that what was going on?

"Who's that boy you been staring at?" Rick asked suddenly.

"Huh, oh, no one. Just some air head jock."

"Isn't his name, Brian?" Rick said then, "he's in third period with me, but we've never spoken."

"Yeah, Brian..." I confirmed, "but he's no one."

"Wait, you once mentioned someone named Brian, was that the boy, your friend?"

"Look, I don't want to talk about him, okay?" I said harshly, then immediately regretting my tone, I apologized, "I'm sorry, it's just sort of a sore spot for me," I said, then regretted those words as well. Sore spot indeed, two actually, my butt, and my heart.

"Sorry, not my business, but if you need to talk, or ever need anyone to back you up, I'm your man."

"Thanks, that means a lot. Come on, I'm done, let's go outside and get some fresh air before next period."

The next day, Brian sat at a different table with his latest girlfriend, Debby Smith, and he didn't seem to notice me or Rick at all, which was fine by me. Sometimes I wished Brian would move away, but I knew that was unlikely since his dad owned a store here. Maybe some big chain would buy him out, I thought, and the two could move to Timbuktu or somewhere.

By Friday, I was nervous and a little excited about going to Rick's house, but as soon as I met his mom, I immediately relaxed. Just like Rick had said, his mom was a lot like mine, friendly and fun, and joked around a lot.

Rick's house was a two story with four bedrooms, and spacious backyard with an above ground pool that I hoped I'd get to enjoy come summer. Rick's mom served us fruit and juice, and afterwards, Rick took me to his room upstairs.

As he'd warned, he wasn't quite as much a neat-nick as I was, but at least there weren't any clothes on the floor. His room just had a lived-in look and smelled fresh and clean, despite the overall unkempt look.

"Sit down, want to play some video games, or watch TV?" Rick said, sounding nervous.

"Nah, I'd rather just hang out, if that's okay."

"Sure, mind if I sit by ya?"

"Well, I don't know, do you have anything catching?" I teased.

"Just cooties, but they're not fatal," he teased back.

"Well, okay, I've had my cooties vaccine, so I guess it's okay."

"We're so much alike we could be brothers," Rick said next, then a sad look crossed his face.

"I'm prettier," I teased to get his mind off his dead brother.

"What?" No way, I'm a fox," Rick laughed, "all the girls say so, and...even some of the guys," he said winking.

What did that wink mean? Was he hinting that he liked boys, or feeling around to see if I did?

"'re so modest," I quipped.

"If you got it, flaunt it," he said winking again.

"You're scaring me," I teased.

"Sorry," he said, "Sometimes I try too hard."

"No, I was kidding," I said quickly, "I don't think you try too hard. I think it's just right. I love how you are, really."

"You do?" he said smiling again, "I love how you are too."

"Well, now that we've admitted that we love each other," I teased, "what next? Do we start dating," I said breaking out laughing.

"I thought this was a date," Rick said, laughing as well.

"Then it would be our second date, cause you came over last time."

"Yeah, hmm, where shall we go on our third date?" he said, not backing down a bit.

"How about a movie? My mom could drop us off at the mall Cineplex and pick us up, maybe tomorrow," I said before I could chicken out.

"Really? That would be awesome. I haven't been to a movie in a long time. What's playing?"

So, we spent the next half hour checking out the movie listings for the Cineplex, and finally settled on a new X-Men movie. It had all happened so fast, but I had no doubt my mom and dad would agree to my going, and that mom would be our chauffeur. As for Rick, he insisted on going down and asking his mom about our movie date right then while I was still there.

"Well, sure...I don't see why not," Rick's mom said, "of course, I'll need to talk to your mom, Danny. But assuming she's okay with it, then I have no problem with it. I can even pick you guys up if she wants to drop you off, or visa versa."

"Yaay!" Rick said, a bit more excited than I thought the situation called for, but I was excited too, even if it was just two friends going to a movie, and not a real date.

At home later, mom buttonholed me about the 'date', and about Rick.

"Honey, I don't mean to pry, but are you and Rick becoming more than friends?"

"What? No, of course not. We're just two pals going to the movies. Just like me and...well, my other friends used to. I just couldn't say Brian's name, no matter how much I wanted to think I was over him and what had happened.

"I'm not saying it's anything bad, honey," she said, not ready to give it up quite yet, "I think he's a wonderful boy, and very sweet. two would make a nice looking couple."

"Oh,, we're not a couple. We barely know each other, but if we do ever get closer, I'll tell you, okay?"

"All right dear, just know that your father and I support you, no matter what. And if you have feelings for this boy, or any boy, you'll have our blessings."

Well, after that embarrassing, but enlightening conversation, it was no wonder I began to analyze my true feelings for Rick, again. Yes, he was cute, yes, he was nice, yes, he was funny, yes, he, yes, he would make an excellent boyfriend, but...the problem was: I didn't even know if he was gay, or just a sweet boy who liked to joke around.

How to find out, I wondered? I'd have to do some thinking about that one.

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