No Means No

by Rob Warr

Chapter 2

Confiding in a new friend

I was as nervous as I'd ever been as I changed shirts for the third time that afternoon in preparation for my 'date' with Rick. I kept telling myself it was no big deal, that it was just two pals going to see a movie, but I couldn't help but think about our conversation that afternoon about it being a date.

I'd heard that even straight boys sometimes get crushes on other boys, but I didn't want to get my hopes up too high. Anyway, I wasn't sure I was ready for anything more than friendship after what had happened with Brian. That brought up another issue, if I did find a boyfriend, Rick or someone else, should I tell them about what happened to me? Did they have the right to know I was spoiled goods, no longer a virgin, even if not by choice? Well, I decided, I was being silly. I was just going to see a movie, not getting engaged.

I finally chose a shirt, oddly enough, the first one I'd tried on, then slipped on my jeans. On my feet I wore black ankle high socks and a pair of powder blue Nikes. I didn't like skinny jeans so the ones I wore were just regular fit, but they fit in all the right places and I thought made my butt look especially good.

I frowned at that. I was conflicted having such feelings. I'd been raped, and here I was trying to flaunt that part of me that had been violated. But...I finally decided, it wasn't the sex that had been traumatic, it was the fact that I'd been forced. If Brian and I had been boyfriends and it had been by mutual consent, that would have been a different story.

"Danny, honey...are you ready yet?" mom called, saving me any further thought, "be sure to grab a jacket or hoodie, it's pretty chilly outside."

Grabbing my favorite black hoodie, I slipped it on and joined mom in the living room. Dad was in the garage puttering around, but the roll up door was open and he came out to say goodbye.

"Do you need more money, son?" dad asked wiping his hands on a rag and reaching for his wallet.

"No, sir, I have plenty, mom gave me 20 dollars and I already had 20, and Rick has his own money," I added, then blushed. Of course he has his own money, this wasn't a date where one boy paid for everything.

"All right, well, have fun, son. Tell Rick I said hi," he said going back to the garage.

"I should've taken the money," I laughed as we got in the car, "what was I thinking?"

"You know all you have to do is ask, if it's for a reasonable cause," mom reminded me, "but, yes...never refuse money when it's offered," she chuckled.

At Rick's house, we got out long enough for our moms to have a pow wow, and reaffirm the pick up arrangements. Since my mom was dropping us off, Rick's mom would pick us up, and I would be coming back to Rick's house to have dinner and spend the evening. Then, when it was time to go home, I would call my mom, and she or dad would pick me up.

Eventually, we arrived at the mall, and since we had some time to kill before the movie started we hit the arcade by the food court and wasted a few dollars there. I saw a couple kids I knew from school, but luckily Brian wasn't one of them. However, I couldn't help but think about all the times he and I had come to this very mall, played these games, and even gone to a movie at the Cineplex together, as pals.

"What's wrong?" Rick said noticing my funk.

"Nuttin' honey," I joked.

"Oh, we're using pet names now, Sweetheart," he teased.

I smiled, my mood immediately lightened, "I didn't know you cared."

"Why? I've told you enough times, or at least hinted at it," Rick said looking serious.

"Huh, what do you mean?" I said, hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.

"Nothing, let's go get our tickets now and we can hang out in the lobby till time to get our snacks. I don't want to miss a minute of the movie," he said, starting off and forcing me to follow.

"Rick," I said grabbing his arm, "slow down. Let's talk," I said pulling him aside where no one could overhear our conversation, "did I say something wrong? I was kidding, I know you like me, and I like you too. We're pals, right?"

Rick nodded, "Yeah, but..."

"But what?"

"I don't know, maybe I like you a little more than you like me, is that okay?" he said, his eyes pleading.

I smiled and laid my hand on his shoulder, "I think that's just fine, but how do you know you like me more than I like you? I haven't told you how I feel."

"Whaaa...oh, well..."

"Maybe later, at your house, we can discuss this further, okay?" I suggested, "that will give us time to think about things."

"Yeah, okay...yeah, that'd be great," he said smiling again.

Returning his smile, I steered him to the theater and we got our tickets and went into the lobby. It was still early, so we took a seat on a couch in the waiting area and talked about everything but what was really on our minds.

As it got closer to time to enter the theater we decided to get in the line for the snack bar, and as luck would have it, our timing was perfect. Fortunately, there wasn't a mad rush to this theater, and we found decent seats about midway and in the center, my favorite place to sit, and apparently, Rick's too.

We'd gotten a huge bucket of popcorn each, which came with free refills, sodas, and some overpriced boxes of candy. Well, truthfully, everything was overpriced, but that was just how it was these days, and we expected it.

The previews started and we saw a couple movies we wanted to see, but eventually it was time for the main feature and everyone settled down as it started. The theater had comfortable spacious reclining seats, plenty of cup holders, and arm rests for each patron.

The theater was only about half full, mostly kids or teens, with a few adults and families scattered here and there. I saw a lot of boy/girl couples, but there were just as many boy/boy couples, which was typical for this kind of movie.

I love popcorn, but enough is enough, and I was only about halfway through the tub when I tired of it. I sat the tub on the empty seat next to me, then opened my candy and shared it with Rick, as he did with his when mine was gone.

Neither of us took them up on the free refill of the popcorn, and in fact we still had some popcorn left over in our tubs as the movie ended, almost two hours later. Being a neatnick, as Rick called me, I gathered up my trash and Rick followed my lead.

We waited till most of the crowd had left, then headed out, depositing our trash in the trash bin by the exit. If only everyone would do that, I thought, the people who worked there wouldn't have to work nearly as hard to keep the place clean. Unfortunately, most people are slobs who think the world is their trash can.

Once back in the mall, we decided to look around a bit since it was only about 4 p.m. by then. We visited the gaming store first and checked out the new games, but neither of us was really that much into video games. Sure, we both had systems and played occasionally, but we weren't addicted like some kids our age. I liked to read almost as much as I liked to game, and I'd actually rather surf the web, than play games all day.

We strolled the mall then, mostly window shopping, and that was when I saw him. Him, being Brian. He was with Neil Kingston and Tommy Evans, both jocks, and they appeared to be deep in conversation as they approached. I was tempted to pull Rick into a store to avoid them, but the closest one was a ladies' store and it was too late to turn and go the other way.

Our eyes met then and it was all I could do not to take off running. His look was cold, his face featureless, and he looked nothing like the boy I had once called friend.

Neither of us spoke, but the other two acknowledged us with a grunted hey, as if it was required. I didn't know the two very well, but Rick and I both had a class with Tommy.

"Stuck up much?" Rick laughed once the three were out of earshot.

"Jocks," I said, hoping to explain away the look Brian had given me.

"That one boy, Brian...he looked angry or something..."

"I'd rather not talk about him," I said, trying to be as gentle as possible.

"Sure, no problem. Should I call mom now, it's almost 5:30?"

"Yeah, let's get out of here. We can wait outside, there are some benches by the pickup drive."

"Sure, lead the way," Rick said, not being as familiar with the mall as I was.

We waited about twenty minutes for Rick's mom to pick us up and she asked us how the movie was and we gave her a brief overview on the way to their house. After a few minutes she said it wasn't exactly her kind of movie and changed the subject to what we were having for dinner.

"Since this is your first time over, I've made my famous stuffed meatballs in marinara sauce which will be served over pasta. There is also a nice salad and bread sticks, just like at Olive Garden, only better," she chuckled.

"She's not kidding, her meatballs are awesome. I could make a meal out of just those. They make epic subs too."

We still had a little time till dinner, so we went up to Rick's room, but we still weren't quite ready to begin the discussion we'd alluded to earlier. Instead I looked through his collection of CDs and books and discovered our taste in music and books were similar.

Finally, it was time for dinner, and though a little nervous to be eating with a new family, I soon relaxed as Rick's folks pulled me into the conversation and treated me as if I were an old friend. Rick was right, they were funny and fun people, just like my own folks, and I soon felt right at home. The stuffed meatballs were out of this world, and I kept praising them as I gobbled down at least six of them.

Rick offered to help do cleanup, but his mom said she was giving him the night off and that we could go back to my room to visit, since we only had an hour or so to do so.

Once in Rick's room, I panicked a little when Rick closed the door. I know my face must've shown my discomfort and my heart had sped up and my breathing became a little labored.

"I thought we could talk now," Rick said as way of explaining the closed door, "you know? about what we discussed earlier, at the mall."

"Yeah, okay," I said sinking down on his bed, my eyes on the door as if I was planning a quick escape if things went wrong.

"Why are you so nervous? I'm not gonna bite you," he teased, and I did manage to relax a little then.

"Sorry, I know. It's just...well, I'm not used to sharing my feelings like this."

"Well, let me start. I should probably begin by saying, I'm gay. I hope that's okay, because I'd hate to lose you as a friend. I really like you, and that's one reason I needed to tell you this. I wanted to be honest with you and let you decide where we went from here. If it's just as friends, that's fine, if there's more, then that's great. That is, assuming you're not ready to jump up and run away after hearing my confession," he said looking very vulnerable and anxious.

"Do your folks know, that you're gay?" was all I could manage at the moment.

"Yeah," he nodded, "I came out last year. I came out to my brother first, and he was so accepting that it made me want to tell my folks too. I didn't want there to be any secrets between us because we were so close and all. They took it even better than I expected, and my mom said she's suspected I liked boys for a while now."

"Yeah, moms know stuff," I agreed, and he gave me a curious look, prompting me to go on. I sighed deeply, "I only told my folks a while back, but they took it well, and yeah, my mom said she'd suspected for a while now that I liked boys."

"So, you're gay too?" Rick said grinning, "so...I assume that means you're not going to run away, and that we can still be friends."

"Of course," I said easily, "but even if I wasn't gay, I would still have wanted to be your friend. I'm not prejudiced in any way or form."

"Good, that's a relief," Rick said sitting down beside me then, " you think we could ever be...more than just friends?" he asked nervously.

I frowned, "I...I don't know, Rick. It's not you," I added quickly, "it's me. Something happened a while back and I'm still trying to get over it."

"This something, did it involve that boy, Brian?" Rick asked looking anxious, as if I might tear his head off for bringing Brian into the conversation.

"Is it that obvious?" I said burying my face in my hands.

"Well, it's just that you get a certain look around him and today at the mall, the way he looked at you was...almost scary. Like he hated you or something."

"I can't really go into any details, but let's just say that Brian expected more of me than I could give him and we aren't friends any more because of it."

"Okay, I won't pry, but like I've said before, if you ever need to talk, I'm your man."

"Man, huh?" I joked, trying to lighten the mood, "you look like a boy to me."

"Same thing, same equipment," he teased, "just not as big."

I blushed then, "TMI," I giggled, but at least I felt better now.

"So...from what I gathered from our conversation so far, we are agreed that we like each other, maybe I like you a little more, and...that maybe we might be more than friends given time, does that sound right to you?"

"Yeah, but we can't rush things. I still have some...some thinking to do."

"No problem," Rick assured me, "I'm satisfied with just being friends...for now, but I hope we'll get closer as we get to know each other better and spend more time together. I won't press you, but I won't apologize for my feelings. You are very special to me and I've never felt this way about anyone before."

"Thanks," I said humbly, "in another place and another time I'd probably jump at the chance to get with a nice boy like you, but right now: things are complicated and I need some time to figure things out."

"No problem," Rick said hopping up, "so, want to play a game or watch some TV?"

"Huh, oh...well...whatever you want is fine," I said, completely taken off guard.

We wound up watching an episode of Futurama on Comedy Central, and by then it was getting close to time for me to go.

"I don't suppose you'd like to spend the night?" Rick said looking hopeful.

"Well, I don't think that's a good idea right now. Especially since I haven't discussed it with my folks or anything, maybe next time," I said, hoping to let him down easy.

"Yeah, well...maybe next time," he said seemingly okay with my answer, "or maybe I could sleep over at your house...sometime."

"Yeah, sure...we'll work something out. I'm gonna call my mom now, but she won't be here for about 20 minutes..."

We hung out in his room while we waited, but I managed to evade any hot topics, Brian or my sleeping over. When mom arrived she texted me and I grabbed my hoodie and Rick walked me to the front door.

"What are you doing tomorrow?" Rick asked as he walked me to mom's SUV.

"Nuttin much, church at 11, but we're home by one, unless we go out to eat."

"I might call ya, if that's okay,"he said as I opened the passenger door.

"Hello, Rick," mom said.

"Hi, Mrs. Graham," Rick said giving her a little wave and a big smile, "thanks for letting Danny come over, and for taking us to the movie."

"You're welcome, hon," then to me, "you ready to go, bud?"

"Yeah, well...see ya, Rick. I had a great time," I said sincerely.

"Me too," he said giving me a killer smile, "I'll talk to ya tomorrow, okay?"

"Sure, soon," I said, then closed the door and we were off.

"Such a nice boy, how are his folks?"

"It was like being at home, really," I said sincerely, "I think you and dad would like Rick's folks...a lot."

"Well, maybe we can have them all over for dinner some night. And...if we hit it off with his folks, maybe your father and I will have found some new friends too."

As nice as that would be, I worried about the prospect of our families getting too close. What if Rick and I did become boyfriends, then we broke up for some reason? It would be awkward seeing him every time our folks decided to get together. Then I actually laughed out loud at my self. I was definitely overthinking things, as usual, and I needed to chill a bit. Baby steps, I reminded myself, baby steps.

Sunday at church I was reminded of just how awkward things could become when I was selected as one of two boys selected to be usher and pass around the collection plate, and guess who the other boy was? Yeah, Brian. Well, at least we were on different sides of the aisle, but it was still uncomfortable for me, though I couldn't tell what Brian was thinking, since he was wearing that same cold look he had at the mall.

I made it through that ordeal without too much trouble, but nevertheless I was shaking a little as I took my seat by dad after we'd returned the plates to the altar. Dad gave me a curious look, but didn't speak, and I tried to concentrate on what the preacher was saying for the next few minutes.

The sermon was short and sweet, but I don't think I heard more than four words. I had so much on my mind, and Brian was the least of my worries at the moment. I was actually looking forward to Rick calling later, and if he was willing and able, I really wanted to get together and talk some more. Talking to him seemed to help, even if I couldn't go into detail. There was just something very soothing about his voice, and it was obvious he really cared about me. I cared about him too, maybe more than I was willing to confess to him, but I was convinced I needed to take it slow and heal a little before getting serious about Rick.

On the drive home, dad finally asked me about my experience passing the collection plate.

"You seemed a little upset at seeing Brian at church," he began, "he's not been spreading rumors about you or bullying you, has he?"

"No sir," I said quickly, "we never speak, and he mostly ignores me at school."

"I just don't understand that boy," my father said sounding upset, "I thought he was such a nice young man. I can't imagine where he gets that attitude, his dad doesn't strike me as the homophobic type."

"I don't know, sir," I said, hoping my dad would drop it if I didn't offer any fuel for his fire.

"What about this new boy, Rick...does he know?" Dad said, not elaborating, but we all knew what he meant.

Should I tell him the truth, that we'd both came out as gay to each other, or dance around it for now? The answer was obvious, one lie was enough to hide from my folks, and I decided that the truth would be easier in this case.

"Yes sir, he knows, and...he's like me," I said, for some reason unable to use the word, gay.

"Oh," my dad said, and I could hear the smile I couldn't see, "well, that's just fine, just fine. So are you and he...?"

"Dad, we're just friends," I blurted out, "we like each other, but just as friends. I don't know if we'll be more than that, but it's nice to know someone who has the same kind of feelings that I do."

"Well, he's a sweet boy, and I'm glad you two have found each other," mom said, looking back to give me a smile and a wink, as if she was a co-conspirator, in what I didn't know.

"Mom, we're not boyfriends," yet, I didn't add.

"I didn't mean to imply that you were, I'm just saying...if you were looking for a boyfriend, Rick would be a good choice."

I sighed, "I give up. I knew I should've kept my mouth shut," I laughed.

"You can always be honest with us, son," Dad chuckled, "we may give you shit about stuff, but we've always got your back."

"Thanks, I guess," I said shaking my head, "now, can we talk about something else?"

"Like lunch maybe," mom suggested, "why don't we go out for lunch, how about that buffet you like so much, dear?"

It was almost 2 o'clock by the time we got home, and I still hadn't heard from Rick. I figured maybe he and his folks were doing something, so I didn't sweat it, but I was still tempted to call him first just to satisfy my mind.

However, just as I had finished changing out of my church clothes into jeans and a tee, I was alerted to a message on my phone. It was Rick, and he wanted to know if I could meet him in the park that was near our school.

I told him yes, then made sure it was okay with my folks, slipped on my hoodie, and rode the short distance on my bike. Rick was already there, and looked like he had been for a while.

"Hey, were you here when you texted me?" I said rolling up next to him.

"Yeah, I had some thinking to do and I like it here, it's usually not crowded and pretty quiet."

"Thinking, huh? About what, about us?" I blurted out.

He nodded, "But I get it, that you don't feel the same way about me...not yet anyway."

"I...I don't know exactly how I feel," I said, sitting down beside him on the park bench he occupied, "I do know that I like you, a lot, and that I miss you when we're not together, but there's this sort of mental block I have about getting too close to anyone right now."

"Because of him," he stated, and I nodded.

"Danny, what did he do to you?"

" you mean?" I said, getting a bit panicky. Had Brian been spreading rumors, or was Rick just guessing.

"Well, obviously something happened. I can see it in the way you behave around him, and the looks you two give each other. Something happened, something bad, and I think you need to tell someone and get it off your chest."

I knew Rick was right, that I needed to tell someone what had happened, and that I would never be free of it till I did, but not Rick. I was afraid if Rick found out what had happened, that he, like so many others, would assume it was my fault. That somehow I'd enticed Brian into doing it, and that I was the bad person, not him. I know, that's crazy thinking, and now I know it's the way a lot of victims of sexual abuse think. It doesn't help that the public perpetrates that type of thinking by saying things like, well, she shouldn't have been wearing that tight sweater or short skirt, or he shouldn't be wearing those tight jeans that show off his ass, stuff like that.

"I can't," I said, suddenly finding myself with tears in my eyes, "you'll hate me," I sobbed.

"Hate you? No, no way. I don't care what it is, I could never hate you. Besides, it seems to me that you're more a victim here than Brian is, so if I'm going to hate anyone, it'll be him. But hate is a strong word, and I try to give everyone the benefit of a, no, I'm definitely not gonna hate you."

"It's bad, really bad," I sobbed, "I didn't want him to do it, but he...he forced me. You know how much bigger he is than me," I said, trying to justify my lack of resistance, "I woke up and my shorts were gone..."

"Oh, man," Rick said taking my hand and squeezing it gently, "he stripped off your shorts while you were asleep?"

"Yeah," I sniffed, "and...and he put his..."

"You don't have to go on, I can figure it out from here," Rick said looking angry now, "Danny, you have to tell your folks. He raped you, didn't he?"

I nodded, unable to speak any more words. I was drained, but somehow there was a sort of relief washing over me too. Like I'd been freed from a spider's web and wasn't going to be eaten by a giant spider after all.

"I'll go with you," he offered, "I'll be right there for you to support you. Your folks will know what to do. He can't get away with this. What if he does it to someone else, another boy, or a girl. Rapists don't quit after one, it's not even about sex, it's about power. He's big and he's strong, and if he gets away with it once, he'll see that as being a sign that he could do it again."

"I can't, Rick. It's just my word against his, and I don't want anyone else to ever know about this. It would ruin both our lives. My folks would be supportive, but they'd still always wonder, did I bring this upon myself, did I cause it by being gay?"

"That's not fair to your parents, or to your friends, but...I get what you mean. Unfortunately, the victim often suffers as much as the rapist in the minds of others. So...what do you want to do?" Rick said, giving me a serious look.

"I...I don't know. I've never thought that far ahead. I never thought I'd ever tell anyone about what happened, and now that you know, I don't know if I feel better or worse."

"Danny, trust me. I'm on your side. I don't feel any different about you than I did before, except now I want to hold you and protect you. If I was bigger I might go gunning for the SOB, but we both know violence isn't the answer. However, sometimes the truth can be a big deterrent to idiots like Brian."

"What do you mean?" I said, wiping at my tears.

"What if I had a little talk with him? What if I told him I knew what he'd done, and if he ever tried any shit like that again, with anyone, that we'd both go to the cops?"

"No, I don't want him to know you know?" I protested.

"Why? Right now he thinks he got away with it. He's pretty sure you won't tell anyone out of fear of being exposed, but if he knew someone else knew, then that might just stop him from acting out again."

"What are you, a psychologist?" I asked, managing a sad smile.

"No, but when my brother was sick, well...I did see a counselor for a while, and I did learn a few things. I just think if someone confronted Brian he'd think twice before trying this shit again."

"I'll think about it, but first...I need to tell you the whole story, everything that happened that night."

"I'm ready," Rick said taking both my hands in his, "and no matter what, I'm still on your side..."

Somehow, I managed to get the story out without breaking down, but I could see by Rick's face that it wasn't easy for him to hear. At times he looked angry, outraged, and finally embarrassed, but he let me tell it my way without interruption.

"I always wondered, if I'd know, gave him a beejay, would things have been okay, and none of this would have happened?" I said, sighing deeply.

"That's not fair to yourself. He had no right to press you to do anything. If he had asked and you'd been willing, well...that would have been different, but you made it clear you weren't interested, and that should have been the end of it. Instead, he took it even further, and took something very precious from you."

"I know, and now I'm spoiled goods," I said eying him for his reaction.

"No, you're not. Your spirit might have been damaged a little by what he did, but you're still a wonderful boy and nothing can change that."

"You mean, you'd get with me even knowing I'm not a virgin?"

"Well, if we're being honest here, neither am I," Rick said blushing, "so...that really doesn't bother me at all. What does bother me is how you lost your virginity, but I don't blame you, I blame him, and he needs to know he can't get away with that crap ever again, and that he's lucky his ass isn't going to jail."

"You're a lot tougher than I guessed," I chuckled, "would you really beat him up if you were bigger?"

"I'd whip his ass and kick him in the balls...for you," he said grinning.

"I'll think about it, I confronting him. It's a lot to ask, but I think you're right, we need to make sure he doesn't do this again. I'd feel awful if he did, and I could have stopped him."

"Okay, but don't think too long. It's going to be hard for me looking at his ugly face in class knowing what he is deep down inside."

"Rick, thanks," I said sincerely, "for caring, and for not hating me or blaming me."

"You're welcome, but it's only what you deserve. I meant it when I said I have very deep feelings for you, maybe even deeper now that I know what you've been going through. But, it's not just pity, I do care, and I...I think, no, I know, that I love you. I know you probably don't feel that way too, but I can hope, can't I?"

I gazed into his eyes for a moment and I saw that love he'd just expressed, and our lips were suddenly touching, and nothing had ever seemed so right in my life. The kiss only lasted a few seconds, but when we pulled apart, both of us were blushing and looking around to make sure no one had witnessed our first kiss.

"Wow, that was amazing," Rick said at last, "thank you."

"You're welcome," I giggled, "you're pretty amazing too."

"So are you."

I giggled again, "We're each other's biggest fans now."

"Damn straight," Rick giggled, "or...damn gay, I mean."

That got us both laughing, and for a moment we forgot all the drama and bullshit and just enjoyed the moment. But...too soon, reality set back in.

"I guess we could try, confronting Brian, I mean," I decided, even though the thought of it made my stomach knot up.

"You sure?" Rick said looking deeply into my eyes.

"Yeah, but not at school. He's home alone most afternoons, maybe we could drop by after school."

"That's perfect, he can't run and he can't hide there. Worst he can do is ask us to leave. I don't care how big he is, there's two of us, and one of us has a can of whoop ass ready for him if he doesn't behave."

"You're such a bad ass," I teased, "how did I not know that till now?"

"Well, I'm a lot of things, but mostly I'm just a nice guy who cares about people, and I really care about you."

"Thanks, so...want to take a walk along the trail? It's pretty private back there, and we could probably even hold hands."

We locked our bikes together, then to the park bench, and as soon as we out of sight of the main park we joined hands. I had to admit holding hands with Rick was almost as exciting as kissing him had been. His hand was soft and warm and as we walked along he'd occasionally give my hand a little squeeze, which sent tingles through my body.

After traveling a good quarter mile or so, and still not encountering anyone else, Rick pulled me to a stop and spun around to face me. Taking both my hands in his now, he scooted a bit closer, studying my face for my approval as he did so, then leaned in to kiss me.

This time we took our times and parted our lips a bit, though neither of us used our tongue. His breath was fresh and minty as if he'd prepared for this moment, and I was glad I had brushed my teeth after lunch.

The kiss lasted only a minute or so, but by the time we broke it off, I was tingling from head to toe.

"Wow, that was even better than the first time," I said breathlessly.

"You taste nice," he said, then blushed, "I mean, your lips."

I laughed, "You're so cute when you're embarrassed.

"You're always cute," he said grinning.

We resumed our walk, but still hadn't met anyone else on the trail by the time we decided to head back. We talked softly about this and that, but we steered clear of the subject of Brian and what we were planning to do tomorrow. I just hoped I could find the courage to go through with it, but fortunately, Rick wasn't about to back down.

We finally arrived back at the bikes and agreed it was time we headed home. We both had a lot to think about, and some time apart would help us both deal with our feelings.

Monday was torture. In one of the classes that I shared with Brian, I caught him staring at me and I felt like jumping up and running away. Then I remembered something Rick had said, about not letting Brian ruin my life or control my thinking. "Don't let him into your head," he'd said, and I realized that was exactly what I was doing at the moment. Turning boldly to Brian then, I gave him my best 'go to hell' look, and to my complete pleasure he seemed to wilt under my gaze.

In PE class, which we both shared with Brian, I told Rick about what had happened in class and he gave me a pat on the back.

"Good boy, don't let him get to you. Today, we're going to take him down a notch, and I bet he won't be staring at you any more, unless it's to make sure you're not about to slap him silly," he joked.

In the showers, I noticed Brian kept his distance, which was fine by me, but I couldn't help but sneak a peek at his body when he passed by. Despite the trauma he'd inflicted upon me, I couldn't help but admire his muscular body. Even though it was a little uncomfortable to think that he'd forced himself upon me, a part of me, deep down inside, found it arousing. Was I wrong about what had happened? I wondered, had I actually subconsciously wanted Brian to make a move on me. Would it have been so bad if I had just performed oral sex on him? He'd even offered to masturbate me, saying he didn't suck, or...would he have demanded more until he ultimately took it from me?

Nah, I decided. I was right. I said no, and no means no, end of story. Everything that happened after that was on Brian, and today he would find out that his secret wasn't a secret any longer.

Last period dragged on forever, but eventually the final bell rang and I met Rick at his locker and we headed out on foot to Brian's house. We'd both told our moms that we were going to the library to work on a project after school and didn't need a ride. I hated lying to my mom, but the 'big lie' I kept from her and dad was a thousand times worse than that one, and I hoped after today that lie would lose some of it's control over me.

"Are you sure he'll be home?" Rick asked once again.

"He usually is, and I have no reason to think he won't be, but if not, we'll try again tomorrow."

"Okay, you know him best," Rick said, sounding nervous for the first time since we'd agreed to this.

We walked on in silence, and eventually we rounded the block, and there was Brian's house, red brick and yellow siding, and the driveway was empty, meaning at least that his dad wasn't home. Now, to find out if Brian was there.

Remembering from earlier, happier times that the backdoor was never locked, I steered rick around the side of the house and into the backyard. Their yard wasn't fenced and they didn't have any pets, so there was no one to announce our arrival at the backdoor.

Sliding the patio door open quietly, I discovered I needn't have bothered. A surprised and frightened boy met my gaze as soon as I stepped inside.

"Whaaa, what are you doing here?" Brian yelped , almost dropping the bottle of Gatorade he was holding.

"We came to have a talk," I said, my stomach churning, but my resolve to see this through stronger than ever.

"About what?" he said, seeming to regain some of his composure now. He now had that fight or flee look in his eyes, and I wondered which it would be.

"You know about what," I said closing the door behind me as Rick stepped up beside me.

"What's he got to do with this?" Brian said looking panicky now.

"He knows, he knows everything," I said smugly.

"What do you want?" Brian growled, looking defeated and scared.

"I told you, to talk," I offered, "Rick here has a few things to say."

"It's not what you think..." Brian began, but Rick cut him off.

"Not what I think? What do you mean? When you force someone to have sex against their will, that's rape. What else could it be?"

"It wasn't like that. We were friends..." Brian said stupidly.

"Oh, I see, because you were friends, that means you can do whatever you want to him and it's okay?" Rick smirked, "well, let me tell you something, you jerk. If it wasn't for Danny begging me not to, I'd rip your stupid head off and cram it up your ass."

Rick let that soak in a bit, but I could tell Brian wasn't really worried about that happening. He was bigger and stronger, and could have put Rick down fast, of course, there was two of us, and he might be considering that as well.

"I'm not fighting you guys," he huffed, "get out or I'll call the cops."

"Okay, call them," Rick said calling his bluff, "I'm sure they'd be happy to hear why we're here, and what you did to Danny."

Brian went white then, and I looked at his hand, the one holding the Gatorade, and it was shaking.

"I didn't mean for it to happen," he said, the tears finally coming, "I told you I was sorry, but you wouldn't accept my apology. You just quit being my friend, just like that..." he sobbed, "I really like you, and I didn't care that you were gay. I just..."

"You just thought I'd be your private fuck toy after I came out to you, right?" I spat out.

"No, it wasn't like that. I just, I just get so horny, and you were right there, and you looked so good..."

"You're disgusting," Rick said shaking his head, "pathetic really. I feel sorry for you. You won't even admit responsibility for what you did. You blame it on being horny, on hormones, on puberty. What's next? Are you gonna use that excuse the next time it happens, and who's your next victim, a girl, a boy, some little kid?"

"I'd never do that..." Brian said, but the look on his face said the thought had crossed his mind.

"Not now you won't," Rick said, "cause you know that I know, and if anything like that ever happens again, your sorry ass will go to jail where you belong. Oh, in case you don't know, kids who are rapists are very popular in juvie. New meat is always welcome, and everyone will get a shot at your cute ass."

"Shut up, I don't do that," Brian cried.

"Neither did Danny, till you made him," Rick said, and I felt my face flush bright red.

"Just go," Brian sobbed, totally broken now, "I won't ever do anything like that again, I swear. I like girls, and I got a girlfriend, but all we do is hold hands and kiss, I swear."

"Well, keep it that way, unless she wants more," Rick warned, "and stay away from us. And if you're thinking of starting any rumors about us or getting even, just remember, we know your dirty little secret, and before we tell the adults, we'll make sure everyone at school hears it first. Maybe even on social media, you could go viral in a few hours," Rick said nastily.

"I know," Brian said shaking like a leaf, "I know. Just go, leave me alone, please," he sobbed, "I just want to die right now."

"Brian," I said, worried that we might've gone too far, "no one needs to die. Just learn from this, okay. We used to be the best of friends, and we shared everything. I miss that, but I can't pretend what happened didn't happen. I don't know why you did it, but when it happened, a little part of me died, and our friendship died too. Don't harm yourself, just get better. Think about what you did, and try to see it from my viewpoint. Think about if it had been you it happened to, how would you feel? Brian, look at me, promise me you won't do anything stupid, like harming yourself or running away, do you promise?"

He nodded, and I relaxed a little. Despite his saying he wanted to die, I think it was just a knee jerk reaction and not serious. Thankfully, I was right.

"We're gonna go now, are you going to be okay?" Rick asked, surprising both of us. After all the fury he'd thrown Brian's way it was refreshing to see his true gentle spirit come shining through.

"Yeah, I'm good. Thanks," Brian said, and I think at that moment he and I both began to heal.

We left then, leaving Brian still standing there holding that bottle of Gatorade, both of us wondering if we'd done the right thing, but relieved it was over.

We wandered toward home, coming to Rick's house first, and though he invited me in, I declined. I had a lot to think about, and so did he. And behind us, one scared, lonely, 13-year-old had even more to think about.

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