by Victor Thomas

Chapter 5

My second day as a vampire writhing in the sunlight was only slightly less traumatic than the first. As unpleasant as it was, at least I knew what to expect. There was no dramatic scene with Laura either, although she glared at me with pure hatred whenever our paths crossed in the hallways. My balls still ached a little from when she'd kneed me the day before, a painful reminder of my actions. Of the whole mess, what I'd done to her made me feel the worst. I didn't deserve the taunts, the glares, or the discrimination, but I did deserve every bit of anger she directed at me. I was truly sorry for what I'd done to her.

A few more of my classmates spoke to me on the second day, but the number was depressingly low. Most were just too uncomfortable around me to act normal, and some obviously despised me. Not even Todd, my one-time best friend, wanted anything to do with me. Whenever we happened to see each other in the hallway, he would openly glare at me before turning away. I had thought that maybe he would be one of the few that stood with me, but apparently not. He hadn't called me a fag or anything like that, but he also hadn't said one word to me since the coach had outed me in the locker room two days ago.

I could understand the way Laura felt, but I didn't deserve the hatred of others. It was mainly the guys who were down on me, boys that I'd considered good friends just a short time before now treated me like I was some kind of traitor. It was like they had expected me to go around wearing a sign that said I was gay or something. They reminded me of a bunch of Nazis, hating anyone who was different and using them as a convenient scapegoat for all their problems.

I always knew I had to keep my sexual preference a secret, but I never expected to be treated like a convict by guys I'd considered my friends. Things changes so quickly. One day they were slapping me on the back and telling me how awesome a football player I was; the next day they treated me like I'd killed their dog or something! It was hard to believe that my 'friends' could turn on me that fast, and for so little reason. It made me appreciate the few real friends that did stick with me all the more.

Strangely, the girls were more accepting. I didn't sense any hatred from them, except Laura, of course, and a few of her friends. Hell, I'd have been pissed too if I was them. I wouldn't have appreciated someone taking advantage of one of my friends like that, either.

Mostly, the girls were curious or just looked at me like some kind of attraction at a circus. I had the feeling that most of them were just really surprised and didn't know how to handle it. Some of them had flirted with me before, and I'm sure a few of them were attracted to me. Finding out I was into guys and not girls must've been unsettling for them, but hey, we all had problems.

The girls didn't particularly make me feel at ease, but at least they weren't sneering at me and calling me 'fag' or 'fairy' as I walked past. I got tired of the name calling really quick, but there wasn't much I could do about it. My instinct was to kick anyone's ass who dared to call me 'queer' or 'homo', but there were just too many of them. I couldn't defend myself against dozens of guys at once, and I'd just get into more trouble if I got into another fight. So, I just took it. Most of the time my teammates just muttered named under their breath, or disguised them in a fake cough when I was around. But it didn't really matter how it was done. Being taunted made my life hell on earth.

I sat down alone at lunch. I dreaded it. Trying to eat while the entire world is watching you isn't exactly a picnic. I felt a little better when Mark and Ryan sat down across from me. Those guys had really taken up for me the day before at football practice. They were real friends; unlike Todd apparently. They acted as if nothing had changed. I can't describe how good that made me feel. It wasn't long before Brendan, Robert, Kolton, and Cody joined us too. That surprised me a little bit. Up to that point, none of them had said anything derogatory to me, but they'd been kind of keeping their distance. I guess it just took them a little more time. I didn't blame them for that. I never appreciated my friends more than I did at that moment.

Just when I was starting to get a little more comfortable, things got unpleasant again. I was eating a cheeseburger and talking to the guys, when I heard the familiar voice of one of my former friends behind me.

"Looking for some recruits, faggot?"

I knew who it was before I even turned around. It was Ashton. Most of the Nazis talked shit under their breath, or yelled it from a distance, but this was Hitler himself. He was bound and determined to rip into me as much as he possibly could. He delighted in my pain, and sought to be the source of it as much as possible. I turned around. His words were a direct attack, and I wasn't going to take any crap from him.

My eyes had barely met his when I heard Mark and Ryan stand up behind me. Ashton's eyes quickly turned to them and he held up his hands.

"I'm not saying anything about you guys. I know you wouldn't go queer."

"Shut the fuck up, Ashton!" yelled Ryan.

"Why are you standing up for this faggot?" asked Ashton. "For gods sake, he's fucking queer! A homo!"

"That's enough, Ashton!" yelled Mark. "You're not calling any friend of mine those names. Apologize, or I'm gonna kick your ass right now! Do it!"

Mark meant everything he said, and he was quite capable of it. Ryan was standing by his side and looked more than willing to help out, although I bet Mark wouldn't have needed it. Brendan, Robert, Kolton, and Cody didn't say a word, but the way they glared at Ashton made their position clear.

Ashton looked at the other guys, but they blew him off like he wasn't even there. I had to fight to keep a little smile from turning up the edges of my mouth.

Ashton snorted. I could tell he wanted to say something particularly nasty, but he thought better of it. He knew he was seconds away from getting his ass whipped.

"Sorry!" he said, clearly without meaning it, and beat a hasty retreat.

The scene had attracted a little crowd and all heads were turned our way.

"What are you looking at?" Ryan yelled at them. "Get a life!"

Everyone turned quickly back to their own business.

"Thanks, guys," I said quietly, going back to my burger.

"No problem," said Mark, as he sat back down. "You shouldn't have to put up with that shit. What business of theirs is your personal life anyway? I'm not saying I understand it, but you're my friend, and that's all that matters."

"Yeah!" said Ryan, jumping up once again and flexing his muscles as if he was ready to fight off an army.

I couldn't help but laugh and neither could anyone else. It was the first time I could remember laughing in a long time. Too bad all my friends couldn't have been like those guys.

I walked home by myself after practice, as I did every day now since my car had been taken away from me. I usually had to endure all kinds of stares and taunts, but what choice did I have. My real friends all offered to drive me, but I usually preferred to walk. It gave me a chance to think about how my life had changed since I had been outed. Hard to believe that It's been less than a week since everything happened. I still was able to see Brian, but not every single day as I wanted to.

I was surprised when I arrived at home and there, waiting on me, was one of the last people I expected to see. It was Andrea.

"Hi," I said, a bit hesitantly as I approached.

I didn't know what to expect from her at all.

"Scott, can we talk?"

Her tone was more or less pleasant, which surprised me to no end.

"Sure," I said, curious and just a little suspicious.

"Let's walk," she suggested.

We strolled down the street, silent for a while, then she spoke.

"I was really mad at you when you started dating Laura. You weren't really going with her until that night at the bonfire, were you?"

"No," I admitted. "I just told you I was seeing someone to get you off me." I felt like I had to explain myself to her, so I kept going. "You were kind of, uh… aggressive, and I guess you know now that I'm not interested in that kind of thing, you know."

"You mean with girls?" she asked.

"Yeah," I said quietly. "Look, Andrea, you're really great, hell, you're a knockout, and if I was into girls, I'd have been thrilled with what was going on that night, but it's just… it's not me. You understand?"

"Yeah, I think I do." She stopped and looked up, smiling at me. "I was really upset that night. I didn't understand why a good-looking guy like you wasn't interested in me. I was pretty sure you were lying about dating someone. I mean, I'd never seen you with a girl since you and Allison broke up, and I'd been watching. Then, when I saw you with Laura, it just didn't make sense. I mean, she's pretty, and nice, but a little too nice, you know. She's probably one of those girls that won't do anything before they're married."

"Pretty much," I said.

"But it all makes sense now. I just wish you'd told me the truth."

"I couldn't do that, Andrea. I'm really sorry you got hurt, but I just couldn't tell you what was really going on. I wasn't exactly lying either. I was dating someone. Brian."

She nodded.

"I understand. I know why you couldn't tell me. You could've trusted me, but you didn't know that. I'm not blind. I've seen what's been going on. You don't deserve all this bullshit."

I shook my head sadly.

"Except with Laura. I deserve that and more."

"Probably," she said quietly, and then looked away.

"I just wish everyone could understand!" I said, exasperatingly. "They have all these ideas about what gay guys are like, all these stupid stereotypes that they try to pin on me, and they just aren't true!"

I felt myself opening up to her. She was the last person in the world I ever thought I would be talking to about stuff like this, but she was an attentive listener and I guess I just needed to talk to someone about it.

She stared at me thoughtfully, as if seeing me for the first time.

"Well, I don't fully understand you myself. I mean… aren't you guys supposed to like dressing like women? I can't picture you in a dress."

"That's just it," I said angrily. "Everyone has all these stupid ideas. I'm sure some gay guys do dress like that, but I don't. Brian doesn't, and I bet most gay guys don't either. I wish everyone would get that crap out of their heads and just look at what I am! I feel like I need to explain to everyone I meet now that I don't want to be a girl. I like being a guy, I don't molest little kids, I don't want to seduce every boy I see, and all that."

She was listening to me quietly. I went on.

"I swear, Andrea, I'm the same guy I was before everyone found out about me! I love football, and running, and rock music, and hanging out with my friends. I love fast cars, skateboarding, mountain biking, cheese burgers, pizza, and action movies. The only difference between me and the people that put me down is that I'm attracted to guys! That's all. Why should that even matter to them? I could understand if I put the moves on them or something, but I haven't done shit to those guys! Why should my sexual preference be any more important than what flavor of ice cream I like, what kind of music I listen to, or what I like on my pizza? Why does it have to be such a big deal?"

I was ranting. I looked at her and immediately felt ashamed that I'd raised my voice.

"I'm sorry," I said quietly.

She took a step forward and put her hand on my shoulder.

"It's okay, Scott," she said. "I kind of understand how you feel. You aren't any different than you were. Actually, I think it's cool that you and Brian are going together. You're cute together! Sure, I'd rather you were going with me, but I understand why you can't do that."

"Thanks, Andrea." I really meant it and she could tell. "You know, I'd really like for us to be friends now that you know I can't be your boyfriend."

She smiled.

I'd really like that, Scott. I've always liked you, and I'm not just talking about the way you look without a shirt." She grinned wickedly. "Besides, as your friend, I can still look."

I laughed and we continued walking together without even thinking. I took her hand and she squeezed it tightly.

"You know, Scott," she said thoughtfully, "those guys should be glad you're gay."

"Huh?" I said, confused.

"Well, if guys as hot as you are gay, that lessens the competition. Look at me. I can't have you, so now I'll have to pick one of them. Believe me, if you weren't gay, they wouldn't have a chance."

We both laughed. She was only kidding, but what she said did make sense. We kept walking and talking. It felt good to have a friend, especially one I hadn't expected. What other surprises awaited me? It seemed that I did have a few friends, maybe not many, but at least not everyone hated me.

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