by Victor Thomas

Chapter 12

Our nights alone weren't enough. I was always in higher spirits when Brian was with me, but we couldn't be together all the time. If only we could! I wracked my brain to find some way we could be together. The only thing I could come up with was getting away from everything, all the stares, taunts, and insults people spoke under their breath. Fall break was just a few days away and it would be the perfect opportunity for me to get away. That was it! Him and I would take a vacation from the cruel world.

For all the trouble it took, you'd have thought I was organizing an expedition to the moon. I was still more or less under house arrest. The only way I could get away was to talk my Aunt Sandra into covering for me. I'd always been her favorite, and she was the one person I could count on. She was the only relative that didn't freak over my being gay. Mom and dad tried to keep my sexual orientation from the family, but word got out, of course. Aunt Sandra called me when she heard the news, and we had a long talk. She actually said she was happy for me and proud of me. She was the only member of the family that knew I still had a relationship with Brian. It made me happy that she approved of it.

My aunt was always cool. What's more, I knew she didn't approve of the way my parents were treating me. She'd visited once since I was outed, and I could tell she didn't like how things were, not one bit.

I was nervous when I called her and explained my plans. I told her about what was going on and how I was worried about what might happen. Thankfully, she agreed to go along with it. Good old Aunt Sandra.

I went downstairs to the kitchen and just a few minutes later, she called. My parents had a speaker phone and I could hear everything. She asked if I could stay with her during fall break. She told my parents that she thought I might want to get out of Chouteau and that she could use a little help installing her new kitchen range and painting the barn. The last part was a nice touch. Aunt Sandra lived alone, and my parents weren't likely to deny her my visit if they thought she needed help. I was right, I had my vacation.

The next step was to free up Brian. I called him and explained everything. Then I called Mark for phase two of the plan. Brian would be spending a few days with Mark. In reality, he would be at Aunt Sandra's with me, and Mark would cover for him. The plan seemed foolproof, but I began to worry. When did my life become so complicated?

We had Wednesday after school through Sunday for fall break. Unfortunately, Brian could only stay from Wednesday night until Saturday, but I wasn't about to complain about that. Three whole days with him was more than I'd ever had.

Aunt Sandra lived in western Kansas, near Dodge City, so mom drove me out on Wednesday, just after school. I suggested that I drive myself, as it was a five-hour drive, one way. My parents wouldn't hear of it, however. I was still denied the use of a car. They were terrified that I'd try to see Brian. Little did they know that I was going to be spending three whole days with him!

When we arrived, mom started chatting with Aunt Sandra and showed no sign of leaving anytime soon. The longer they talked, the more nervous I became. I glanced over at the kitchen clock. Mark and Brian were supposed to show up around nine thirty, and the minutes were ticking away. What was I going to do if mom was still there when they arrived? Or even worse, what if she wanted to stay the night, or even the whole weekend. My three days with Brian would be over before they started. I'd get Aunt Sandra in trouble, too. As I learned with my fake girlfriend, I wasn't good at the whole dishonesty thing; it took too much planning. I hadn't considered that mom would stick around after we got there, although I should've known she would. Aunt Sandra was her sister, after all, and they didn't see each other all that often.

At last, mom departed for home and I heaved a sigh of relief. When she'd gone, Aunt Sandra looked at me. She caressed my bruised cheek with her hand.

"Just look what they've done to you," she said sadly.

She seemed on the verge of tears, but was quickly back to her old self.

"Can I get you anything, Scott? Aspirin?"

"I'm okay. I look a lot worse than I feel," I said, trying to smile.

That wasn't entirely true, but I didn't want her worrying.

Mark showed up with Brian about twenty minutes after mom had gone. Aunt Sandra invited him to stay for supper and he gratefully accepted. My aunt makes the world's finest fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and the whole world seemed to know it.

My aunt really did have a new kitchen range still sitting in it's packing crate. The three of us had the old range pulled out and the new one set in place in no time at all. While she fixed supper, the three of us carried the old range out and dumped it in the gully, the final resting place for many old appliances. We spent some time exploring the old junkyard with flashlights. It was filled with rusting hulks from long ago. By the time we returned and washed up, supper was ready.

I was smiling, even laughing now and then. Both Aunt Sandra and Mark knew how depressed I'd been and why. Mark witnessed it first hand and I'd filled her in on the rest of the details over the phone. She was the one person I could talk to about stuff like that. They both seemed as happy as I was. I think seeing me smiling made Brian happier than anything ever had. The chicken and mashed potatoes didn't hurt my mood, either.

I couldn't get over Aunt Sandra. I knew she was pretty accepting of the relationship between Brian and myself, but she actually spoke openly about it like no one in the world would've thought anything of it.

"Aren't they cute together?" she asked Mark.

Brian turned bright red, and I have a feeling I did, too. I could feel my face getting all flushed, totally embarrassed that my aunt would say that out loud. Mark wasn't fazed a bit, however.

"Yeah," he laughed. "Maybe I should go out and get myself a boyfriend. They do look good together. Of course, Scott looks especially nice."

"Hands off!" Brian said, grinning. "Scott's spoken for, right Scott?"

"Well, let me think about this…" I said, pretending to look Mark over.

Everyone laughed at that. It was wonderful to kid around, and it was so cool to be in a place where being gay was okay.

"Ha, like Mark could ever give up girls!" I said.

He was a major babe hound. He was born thinking about girls.

"Well, I am kind of seeing someone. I'm going with Andrea now."

"Andrea!" I said pointedly.

Now that was interesting, especially after what had happened between me and her during the hay ride. No wonder he was so happy. Andrea was the kind of girl every guy wanted, attractive, sexy, fun to be around, and willing. I was sure those two had been screwing each other's brains out. No wonder Mark looked so relaxed. He was totally girl crazy and Andrea was boy crazy. They were a perfect match. I looked at him knowingly and he grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. He knew exactly what I was thinking.

We continued talking long after the mashed potatoes had disappeared and the last chicken leg was gone. This was what life was supposed to be like. It was a little after eleven before we pushed our chairs away from the table.

"Mark, dear, are you sure you won't spend the night?" asked Aunt Sandra.

She'd asked him before, but he wanted to get back.

"Well…" he began.

"It'll be four a.m. or later when you get home. You shouldn't be driving late at night like that. I'd hate to see you get hurt."

He thought for a moment.

"I guess I could stay, then leave first thing in the morning. But I'd better phone home and tell my parents that I'm going to spend the night."

"Good," she said. "It's settled. I'll rest easier knowing you aren't out on the road getting yourself killed."

The three of us washed the dishes. Aunt Sandra protested that we were guests, but I know she appreciated it. When we were done, she was sitting in the living room.

"Let me show you boys up to your rooms."

We grabbed out things and followed her up the stairs. She slept on the ground floor, but she took us to the big, second floor bedroom at the end of the house. It was huge and had a big queen size bed right in the middle.

"Scott, you and Brian can use this room. You boys settle in. I'll show Mark to his room down the hall. Then I'm going to read a little and go to bed. Don't worry about making too much noise. I won't be able to hear a thing downstairs. You can do whatever you want in this house."

Wow, I thought, she really was open minded! Mark winked at me while I was hugging her. I smiled.

"Thanks, Aunt Sandra," I said, giving her a big hug.

She had to be the greatest aunt in the world.

Brian gave her a hug, too. She kissed him on the cheek and mussed his blond hair.

"I can see why Scott feels the way he does about you," she told him.

If anyone else had said something like that, I'd have been shocked, but she was a very special person. Her words sure made me feel good. I loved Brian and it made me happy to see someone else appreciate him.

"Good night, boys," she said, stepping out into the hallway.

"Good night, Aunt Sandra."

"Night guys," said Mark.

"Night, Mark."

She closed the door behind her, escorting him to his own room. I had a warm glow inside. We had three entire days together! Mark would come back for Brian on Saturday night, and then mom would pick me up late Sunday evening. Three whole days together seemed like an eternity. All my troubles would be waiting for me when I returned, but for a few hours at least, we could be happy together.

I gazed at Brian. Every time I looked at him, it was just like the very first time I set eyes on him. He was beautiful, an angel sent from heaven, just for me. I was more calm and content than I had been in a long time, and yet all was not well. I knew he could see the trouble in my eyes, my slightly slumped shoulders, and the tension in my body. No one could go through what I had experienced and remain unchanged. I was tired, but it was a weariness of the soul, rather than of the body.

From the very beginning of this whole mess, I was determined to tough it out, make it through, but I wasn't so sure anymore. All the hateful stares, verbal abuse, and finally, physical abuse was wearing me down. I felt like I was being crushed by a great weight, every moment of every day. I was confident and strong by nature. Even though I'd never cared much about what others thought about me, I was being slowly beaten down.

Todd's smirking face appeared in my mind. It aroused my anger and renewed my determination. I was just tired, that's all. I just needed a break. I could make it. Hell, I'd made it this far. How could things get any worse? It would only be a few more months before I finished high school, then I'd go away, somewhere where no one would bother me. I was determined to go on. I wouldn't let them win. I wouldn't give Ashton and his Nazis the satisfaction. I'd tough it out; I just wasn't sure how.

Why did the world have to be so cruel and unjust? Why did everyone turn on me, just because I dared to love another boy?

I was in higher spirits than I had been in many days, but I was far from being the bright eyed, happy boy I had been not so very long ago. I was determined to get back to being that boy again. No matter what it took, I'd find a way. I knew my troubles were far from over, but my weekend with Brian would be a calm, peaceful island in a stormy sea. If we could travel from island to island, maybe we could handle the rough voyage in between.

He took me in his arms and held me like he'd hold a frightened puppy. I hugged him tight, seeking out the comfort and security of his embrace. He nuzzled against my cheek and his lips sought out mine. His kiss was sweet, tender, and loving. All those who put us down, disapproved, or hated us, didn't know what they were missing. I almost felt sorry for them, because they'd never have what we had. If only they could've stood where we were standing, they would've understood that loving someone was a very special thing. What did it matter if the one loved was male or female? So long as there was someone to love and to love in return, it didn't matter at all. I loved him with all my heart, and he loved me. There could be nothing more precious in all the world.

A few minutes later, our clothes lie in a pile on the floor, and we were wrapped in each other's arms on the bed. His body was so strong, so firm, and yet soft and yielding. I pulled him to me, seeking out his warmth and the physical contact that made me feel as if we were one. Neither of us had been with another. I had long and desperately craved sex with another guy, but I was glad the chance hadn't come until I met him. With him I had more than mere sex; I had love. Everything we did with each other was an act of love, a physical manifestation of what we felt for each other.

That night, we made slow, passionate love for hours on end. We held nothing back and gave in to all our desires. With him, each time was like the first. Neither the pleasure, nor the love diminished. It was as if each moment was a new and wonderful sensation that we experienced together. It was almost beyond comprehension that two souls could give each other that much pleasure. Whatever might come later, we'd have this brief time together, one beautiful unforgettable night, and perhaps more.

When we were finally done, he quickly fell asleep, completely exhausted. I smiled because I knew why. I lay there, holding him in my arms, gently tracing along his chest and stomach with my fingertips. I was glad to be away from Chouteau, and that I didn't have to worry about getting beat up again. I loved him so much, so unconditionally. I worried that something bad would happen to him, but so far word hadn't spread to his school about the two of us. I'm thankful for that.

I lay there thinking of a time long ago, a time before I knew I was different. I wasn't quite sure when I realized I was attracted to boys instead of girls, but I think I knew it by the time I was twelve. Before that, I'd been totally innocent, and the world seemed a wonderful place.

Even when I discovered that I didn't share my friend's interest in girls, I was still happy. As long as they didn't know my secret, there was nothing to fear. When you're twelve, and know inside that you're gay, it's not difficult to hide. It's just a matter of not staring, and not saying certain things. I never made a conscious effort to hide that part of myself. I just became so accustomed to suppressing it that it came naturally, like a super hero hiding his secret identity. Over the last few weeks, Brian and I had long discussions about such things and his experience had been different from mine. He's always worn the mask of a straight boy, since he'd always felt like someone with something to hide. He put on an act for those around him.

I thought about him. If we hadn't started dating, things would've been a lot different. If we hadn't fallen in love, then I wouldn't be in such a mess. If only I could've kept my secret safe until I finished high school! I could've walked the hallways unmolested. I could've played football, gone out with my friends, and had fun… everything would've been different.

But would I really have been happy? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I had it all to do over, I wouldn't change a thing. I wanted him. I needed him. He was just what I'd been missing in my life. It wasn't he that was the source of my troubles, but those around us who couldn't understand. As horrible as my life had become, it was worth it, just for being with Brian. If I could erase all my pain by leaving him, I wouldn't even consider it. He was my world, my sole reason for living. We were meant to be together. I loved him with all my heart, and it would always be so.

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