Lost in the Dark

by Sam the Ham

Chapter 8

Ryder was sure his parents must have known he was high. When they got home, he had been curled up on the couch staring at the TV. One of them had told him to go to bed so it must've been late, but Ryder's memory was a little fuzzy. He couldn't even remember if you put away their secret little stash or not. Not that he cared.

He stumbled into the kitchen grabbing a glass bottle full of green tea and downing it. Yesterday was a little fuzzy in his head. He didn't think it was all because of the pot. He remembered Brendan and going back to Xander's place, but everything else seemed unreal like he had been watching it rather than doing anything.

Ryder couldn't deny that he screwed Xander over. He regretted that, but it was best that their relationship was over. He didn't deserve it. It had been fun. Ryder had liked he could make Xander laugh and hanging out with his other friends had been fun sometimes. He had never fit. He was like a comet coming in from outside of the deep cold space blazing briefly and then leaving. He didn't deserve friends. He definitely didn't deserve Xander.

Glancing up at the clock he saw it was late, so he went back to his room and changed before grabbing some money and starting to walk to the convenience store. He felt weird. He didn't know if he should be happy or sad or something else. What did you feel like when you broke up? According to TV, he should feel sad, but really he just felt numb.

At the convenience store, he just bought a candy bar and decided to eat it on the way home. He was maybe a quarter of the way home and only on his second bite when he heard his name called.


He flinched at the sound of his name recognizing the voice. His first temptation was to break into a run, but he had this coming. Bracing himself, he turned around getting ready to get hit.

Xander was sprinting towards him. The other boy only slowed in his last few steps. Bending over to catch his breath. When he did Xander looked back up at him. "I've been on the lookout for you all morning. How are you doing?"

Ryder stared at the taller boy having difficulty forming words. "Um… Fine."

"Good. You had us worried. My parents even called yours."

Ryder's stomach clenched. Well, eventually they were going to find out he was a little cock sucker. It's not like they would do anything about it. "Yeah."

Xander smiled. "Can we go to your place or mine to finish this conversation? Preferably yours?"


"Because I don't want to talk about the stuff where anyone can hear."

His mind tried to work around that. "Aren't you angry?"

Xander's face twisted into a grimace. "I just want to talk. Please."

Ryder considered but figured you that the Xander. "My parents are still home, but we can talk in the backyard."

"Fine," Xander said trying to walk toward Ryder's house.

Ryder followed silently no longer sure of what was going to happen. He finishes the candy bar and put the wrapper into his pocket wondering why he was hiding it from his parents. When they got home, he led Xander to the backyard. It was nothing special with the main feature being a stump from a tree that was cut down from before they were there. Not knowing what else to do Ryder made his way there and sat down Xander sitting next to him.

"Okay," Xander said as he sat down. "Are you really feeling okay?"

Ryder was about to lie by saying yes, but something changed his mind. "I don't. I am sorry."

Xander let out a little snort. "Yeah, well it wasn't exactly how I pictured coming out to my parents. Can't do anything about that now though."

Ryder winced feeling the words like a blow. "Are you in a lot of trouble?"

"No." Xander let out a long sigh. "They were a little angry at first, but then it got more embarrassing. Turns out my dad's bisexual. He wants to talk to you."

"What? Why?"

"Because if we're going to be boyfriends, there are some rules we need to go over. Among other things."

Ryder jumped to his feet. "We are not boyfriends!"

"Why? Just because we had a little fight? I fight with my friends all the time."

Ryder squeezed his eyes shut gritting his teeth. "We're not boyfriends."

Xander didn't say anything. Time passed at a snail's pace before Ryder forced himself to open his eyes. Xander was just staring at him.

"Why?" Xander finally said.

Ryder felt a tightness in his chest. He knew he couldn't hide it anymore. "Because you're normal. You have nice parents. They care about you. I'm messed up, broken, lost."

"No you're not," Xander said interrupting him and coming closer.

Ryder pushed him away and set up. "What do you know! You don't know me! You want to know me? Did you know my parents bring home pot and I steal it? I was high last night. I bet you didn't know that? You want to know what. I didn't do just that. Brendan and Kevin, I used to suck their cock all the time and then we would all get a little blessed. You weren't my first. You weren't even the biggest. I liked it when they used to boss me around. I liked it!" He slapped his fist against his chest emphasizing his point.

Ryder turned away after a second not being able to watch Xander look at him anymore. Walking over to the fence he put his arms up and rested his head against them. He could hear Xander stand up.

"Were we ever dating?"

He wanted to make this easy on Xander. He tried to say no I was just using you, but he couldn't say that. "It was a mistake."

"Because I deserve someone better than you," Xander said.

Ryder winced. Those words hit him in a place he didn't even know he had. He thought that, but hearing them from Xander was different. He slowly sunk to the ground fighting back the tears.

Xander took a few steps closer and Ryder could hear him right behind him. Then he felt Xander's hand on his back. "I didn't mean that, but you're thinking something like that right?"

Ryder nodded.

The other boy let out a sigh. "Would you please come back to my place. My parents like you and are worried about you. They wanted me to tell you that you're not in trouble with them. My dad does want to talk to you though and then maybe your parents. He would prefer to talk to you first though."

Ryder took a deep breath and exhaled. He didn't know what to do. Xander was telling him though or that was what it felt like and he could do that. "Okay."

Xander sat on the kitchen counter staring out into the backyard. Ryder and his dad were out back sitting in two lawn chairs, backs trying to him. He couldn't make out what they were talking about, but he knew some of it already.

"Get off the counter dear."

Xander's head twisted around to see his mother coming into the kitchen and he hopped off the counter. "Sorry." He looked down his face turning a little red still embarrassed about last night. After Ryder had run out his parents had first come to the door to see if Ryder was still there and looked at him. His mother, in particular, seemed to give him that you're in trouble look. Surprisingly the hammer had not fallen right away. They had just been as confused as he was. Being sent to his room is probably the worst thing that could happen at that moment. He wanted to go after Ryder, but at the same time, he wasn't sure if it was to punch him in the face or make sure he was okay.

Later both of his parents had come up and grilled him. If he'd had more time to think about it, he might've tried to minimize the amount of stuff they had done. At that time he was so confused that the truth was just easier. He knew his parents had discussed that later, but then their attention had turned towards Ryder. He still couldn't figure out what had happened, but his dad had suggested it had been a panic attack. Somehow knowing that Ryder hadn't meant to out him to his parents made him feel better.

Then he had felt very uncomfortable as his mom left in his dad had sat down next to him to talk about sex. Knowing that his dad had a boyfriend a long time had not been comforting. As was the safe sex talk that followed.

"I heard your phone going off when I was upstairs. Here." His mother said placing the phone next to him on the counter.

"Thanks," Xander said picking up is for the distraction. He smiled at the message that popped up. "Jessie's asking if I want a one-on-one game loser buys milkshakes." On any other day of the week, he would've taken her up on that offer pretty quickly texted back family stuff today.

"Jessie, that the girl who was here right?" His mother asked and she started to put away some dishes.

"Yeah, she's pretty good at basketball," Xander said moving over to help his mother.

"And has she tried to get you along before?" His mother asked.

Xander had to think for a moment. "I guess. Why?"

His mother let out a sigh. "Xander, did it ever occur to you that she might have a crush on you?"

He let out a little laugh as he took a few dishes from her. "No way."

"Mmm, well keep it in mind. Jessie doesn't know she doesn't have the necessary equipment to interest you."

Xander nearly dropped plates and shot a look at his mother who was smiled back wickedly. "It's not like that."

His mother shrugged. "I'm not surprised that people like you. You're a very handsome boy."

Xander felt himself starting to blush. "Mom please."

"All right, all right. I'm just saying."

Xander opened the cupboard and put the dishes away, but his I fell again on Ryder in the yard. "Is he going to be okay?"

"I don't know for sure. We'll try our best." His mom said coming up next to him and wrapping her arms around him. He melted into the hug like he hadn't for a very long time.

"I like him." He knew those words had a lot more meaning now.

"I know. You got him here and I think that was good."

The stayed like that for a few seconds, but when Xander saw his dad stand up and make his way towards the house, he ran towards the back door and waited there. When his father came in Xander immediately blurted. "Well?"

His father gave him a weak smile. "Why don't you go talk to Ryder."

Without another word, Xander was out the door, but instead of running right up to the chair he stopped a few feet away making sure Ryder would notice him first. Ryder was slumped in the chair leaning to one side and staring at the ground. It seemed to take him a while to realize someone was standing there but when he looked up his eyes were red like he had been crying.

"I have problems."

Xander bit his lip and nodded. "Okay."

Then Ryder smiled weakly. "Your dad's good at this. I think I know what a father-son chat is now."

Xander felt himself smiling as he dropped into the chair. "Yeah, he is."

There was a long pause that felt like a minute or more before Ryder spoke again. "I'm really sorry. I mean I'm really sorry about everything."

Inhaling deeply he slowly let out a breath. "It's okay. I wish my parents had found out a different way, but I don't know it's kind of a relief." He waited a few seconds before adding. "So what about us?"

Ryder shifted. "I definitely want to be your friend… If you want. Anything more… My head hurts. Can I get back to you?"

"Yeah." He thought of adding more to that, but Xander decided to pull it back. He had never known talking could take so much out of someone. "So now what?"

"Your parents are going to call mine, and they're going to talk. I don't know really. Your dad suggested some things, but I don't know." Ryder slowly straightened in the chair. "I didn't lie earlier you know. All that stuff I told you it was true."

Xander shifted and looked at the far fence. "It's fine." He had actually tried not to think too much about that. It was weird.

"Brendan said if I didn't start doing it again, he would tell everyone what I did."

A flash of anger shot through Xander and for a second he probably could've killed Brendan. "He's an asshole."

"Yeah, but probably not lying."

Xander wasn't sure what to say, so he nodded. "Fine."

Ryder sank down into the chair curling up into a ball. "I'm tired."

"You can lay down in my room if you want."

"Thanks, but they should be here soon," Ryder said sleepily.

Xander nodded, but he didn't say anything. He was pretty sure Ryder was asleep in a few minutes, but it was a good hour before his parents showed up or at least until they came out to the backyard. Xander made himself scarce. His interactions with Ryder's parents had been limited.

They woke Ryder up and talked for a bit. Xander waited with his parents who were also out of earshot. Finally, Ryder's family started towards them. Ryder was staring down at the ground but when they stopped and her dad shared some words with each other Ryder looked up and waved at him. Xander waved back.

He watched them go and he felt his dad's hand on his shoulder. Xander looked up. "What's going on?"

His dad smiled down at him and pulled him into a hug. "Well, about a year ago a contract to help rewrite some descriptions on the website. It was for a hospital… A mental one."

Xander felt his stomach clench. "Ryder's not crazy."

"No, no he isn't." Ryder's dad said kneeling down a little to look at him at eye level. "He does need help. He will also need friends when he gets out. The hospital had an opening today so there can take him right away."

"He will be okay though, right?"

His dad nodded. "I talked to some of the staff when I was rewriting their stuff. They all seemed very nice and they seem to care about their patients. It's supposed to be really good. So yeah I think he'll be okay."

Xander nodded.

"Good now let's have lunch."

Xander couldn't believe that everything that had happened was before lunch. He ate without noticing much. His thoughts were on Ryder and Brendan. It wasn't hard to see that everything had gone wrong after the basketball game. He wouldn't have even known that was Brendan except for he had asked everybody when he had seen him talking to Ryder. If he had known, he would've interrupted earlier.

He didn't know if Brendan would say anything about Ryder or not. He couldn't mention the marijuana stuff, but maybe the other thing. His first thought of threatening to beat up the teenager didn't seem like it would actually work. Perhaps he could offer to take Ryder's place, but the idea turned his stomach.

Then an idea occurred to him. It was crazy, but he wanted to do something. He let his mind sleep on it, but in the morning it still seems like a good idea. As lunch approached the idea seemed a little less like a good idea, but Ryder's absence made it easier. He waited until the lunch line was empty and then he excused himself from his group and made his way towards the end of the table where there were a few empty seats. Waiting to make sure the lunch monitors were far enough away he stood up on the bench and raised his voice. "Quiet! Quiet please!"

For possibly the first time in lunchroom history, he didn't have to repeat himself. Maybe because it was coming from a fellow student rather than a teacher, but enough people looked over his way that others did too. This must be what a deafening silence sounded like. Trying to moderate his voice, so he didn't lose it he continued. "My name is Xander. I'm in the sixth grade. I'm gay. If anyone here has a problem with that, please feel free to see me after school to have their butt kicked by me. That is all."

He jumped down and sat on the seat he had stood on his legs feeling like rubber. That was the beginning of the weirdest week in his life.

As it turned out disrupting the entire cafeteria was a reason to see the principal. That was actually a first for him. The fact that he didn't get detention out of it was also surprising even if he couldn't explain why he felt the need to tell everyone at once. He ended up missing only half of recess. A couple of his friends came over to him when they saw him. Jessie and RJ among them. They seemed more interested in his possible detention than anything else. As they made their way to the tag field, Jessie made his mom right.

"I'm kind of glad. I was beginning to think you didn't like me."

The bizarre stuff started at home. Around 4 o'clock that night he received a phone call and not just a text. It was Ryder. Apparently, he was allowed to call out of the hospital but only to numbers his parents had approved, and Xander was one. Xander didn't tell him about his little stunt in the cafeteria and instead, they just talked about small things. The next day he received a similar call that went along the same lines. It was weird but good just to hear his voice. It wasn't until the fourth day that Ryder actually addressed the hospital he was in.

"So there's this boy here name Keith. He's had a lot of bad stuff happened to him. I told him I felt bad because my thing didn't seem like much compared to him and he flipped out. You know why he flipped out Xander?"

"I can't guess," Xander answered.

"He said despite everything he's been through at least he can tolerate people being nice to him."

Xander was silent. After a few seconds, he finally said. "Okay."

Ryder took a deep breath. "Xander, I always thought there was a reason you were being nice to me. That you wanted something from me. I couldn't think of it any other way. Your parents aren't like that though and neither are you. I'm sorry."

"It's okay Ryder," Xander said his eyes weirdly becoming blurry.

To Xander's complete surprise by the time Saturday rolled around when Ryder called he said he was being released the next day. It seemed like a short visit, but Ryder did sound better at least to Xander's ears. Good enough to be an outpatient at least. As things worked out though he got home so late Sunday that the first day Xander saw Ryder was Monday. Precisely one week after he had outed himself.

Xander sat at his desk wondering if Ryder was gonna make it in that day. The fact that he had come out a week ago was now old news hardly worth mentioning. So he casually talked to the who kid sat across from him but kept an eye on the door.

Ryder came in walking fast and came right up to his desk. "You came out to the entire school?" Ryder announced loudly staring at him with something in his eyes Xander hadn't seen before.

Xander shifted surprisingly nervous. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

"Yeah, well now that we're going to be dating. I have to come out too!"

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