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Into the Lion's Den

A story by e

© 2002 SunShine DayDreamers UnLimited

DISCLAIMER: This story contains descriptions of sexual encounters between minors that are homosexual in nature. If offended by such things or if you are not of legal age in the country where you live, then read no further. The characters and events depicted in this story are completely fictional and any resemblance to any real persons, places, or events is purely coincidental. This story may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the author.

Chapter 5

It reminded me of a travel brochure, three days and two nights in the luxurious Lakeview Hospital and another day laying in bed at home, all meals included. I was about to go stir crazy. I'd had visits from Joey, my aunt, uncle, cousins, and Andrea (who had wanting to nurse me back to health by assisting me with using the bedpan). I even had a visit from Joe Kirshner. My mother called and I'd gotten to speak with my brother David for a couple of minutes until I heard my dad yelling at them to get him off the phone. But not a word from Chris.

Joey said Chris had been hurt when I yelled at him. He thought I hated him because he was scared. That my refusal to send Chris any kind of message just confirmed that.

To me it was a matter of loyalty, of courage. You stick up for your friends, especially your boyfriend. Chris hadn't. He'd whined and cried until I sent him away. He'd run away from the first fight with Recob. Even when he'd seen me kissing Andrea, what did he do? He told me it was ok. He hugged her. He didn't even get jealous. I wasn't worth fighting for.

Maybe I was expecting too much. Did I have the right to expect him to fight for me? To expect him to put himself in harm's way? Fuck! I don't know. I picked up my pen and started scribbling.

If you love somebody,
What would you do,
If he gets scared and runs away
When you need him to stand up for you?
Though standing would mean
That he would die, it is true.

What did I want from Chris? How should he have acted. He wanted to leave, I'd given him permission. I'd sent him away.

If you love somebody,
Then how should he act
When faced with grave danger,
When his lover's attacked?
Would you send him to safety,
If it were courage he lacked?

He had wanted to leave. I'd told him to go. Would he have stayed if I hadn't. Could he run away and leave me like that and still love me?

If you love somebody,
Then how should you feel,
If he left when you sent him?
Would his love be less real?
Does it mean he can't love you
If he won't share your ordeal?

I'd do anything for Chris, even face Recob alone. Hell Recob and Kirshner for all I knew at the time. Did I even want him to stay?

If you love somebody,
What would you do,
If you had the courage to die for him,
But he wouldn't die for you?
Would you, Should you, Could you
Even want him to?

This is getting you nowhere, Mike. Fuck! I have too many questions and not enough answers.

I needed to get back to school, but I didn't want to see Chris. I was angry with him. I was just as angry with myself. I expected Chris to stand up for me. To show some loyalty, some courage. But I knew that if he had, he would certainly have been hurt, perhaps as bad as I had been, maybe worse. I sure as hell didn't want that. Should I be mad at Chris or should I be mad at me for being mad at Chris?

I wasn't capable of carrying a full book bag, even to the bus stop so my aunt drove me to school. My chest hurt, my jaw hurt. James rode along with us and he helped carry my books to my locker. Funny thing about James, he'd kind of stayed away since I had moved in. He hadn't been unfriendly, just distant.

"Thanksh, man."

"No problem, cuz. See ya after school. What time do you want me to pick you up?"

"Lasht pewiod ends at 2:50."

"Alright, I'll meet you outside the gym."

I nodded as he walked off.

"Omigod, Mike!" Andrea came running towards me. I had to step back as she tried to give me a hug.

"No hugs pwease. It hurtsh too much."

"Oh, sorry." She gave me a peck on the cheek instead. "Here, let me carry those." She took the books from my hand. We started walking to class.

"I can't believe what happened. It must have been awful."

"Stiwl is. Hurtsh wike hell." I know she wanted to talk about the fight. I wanted to avoid it.

"Joey said that Kirshner took you to the hospital?" It was more of a question than statement.

I nodded.

"Wow! Then it's true, he stepped in front of Recob."

"I think so. It's hard to wememba." We had arrived at Mr. Prather's room.

"You've got to tell me all about it after class."

It seemed I wasn't going to be able to avoid talking about it. At least three others wanted to know what had happened before class started. I managed to put them off by claiming my jaw hurt. The same excuse worked until lunch time.

I had brought my lunch so I didn't have to stand in line. It was a couple bottles of juice and some milk. Nothing solid could get past the wiring and I couldn't have chewed anything even if it could.

I looked around the room and saw a couple of girls at Andrea's table. Chris and Joey weren't there yet. I walked over and took a seat.

"Hi Tonya, Susan."

"Hi Mike. We heard you'd gotten the shit kicked out of you." Tonya was Andrea's best friend. I didn't like her very much.

"Nish to see you too." The thick sarcasm somehow managed to get through my wired jaw.

"Oh c'mon Mike, I didn't mean it like that."

"Of coursh you did. But thatsh ok. I did get the shit kicked out of me." I smiled at the bitch.

"Hi guys." Andrea to the rescue. "You're here early." She was looking at me.

"No waiting in wine today. Bwought mine." I pulled a bottle of juice out of my bag.

"Apple juice, that's it? Yuck." She stuck her tongue out and made a funny face. I started to grin, seeing her tongue had reminded me of having had it in my mouth.

"Nope. Got shome OJ, too." I smiled. Andrea sure could brighten up a place.

"So you gonna tell us what happened?" Tonya wanted all the gory details.

"Not much to tell, weally. Wecob hit me. I fell down." There really wasn't much more and I really didn't want to talk about it.

"C'mon Mike, it had to be more exciting than that."

"Sowwy to dishappoint you, but I weally didn't wast vewy wong." As I spoke I noticed Joey and Chris sitting at a table about two rows over. Chris looked awful and he was just looking at me with a blank expression on his face. My heart was stuck in my throat. I knew that he wanted me to acknowledge him.

"I heard Kirshner stopped him from killing you. What's up with that?" Tonya was really starting to get irritating.

I wanted to be polite. She was Andrea's friend, but I wasn't too sure how long I could hold out. "You'll have to ask him."

"Why can't you tell us?"

That's it dammit. Don't you see that I don't want to talk about this? Are you that FUCKING thick?

"Becaush I was laying on the ground bleeding to death with my wibs sticking through my fucking wungs, alwight? I jusht barwy wememba it." People sitting at the tables around us turned and looked. I hadn't really meant to shout that loud. I saw Chris get up and walk out of the cafeteria. It looked like he was trying to keep from crying. I wanted to run out after him. To tell him it was ok. To tell him I still loved him. But I couldn't. It wasn't. And I wasn't sure I still did.

Tonya gave me a rather disgusted look. She turned to Susan, "C'mon Susan, let's leave the little dweeb to pity himself." She looked back at me, "loser."

"God Tonya, sometimes you can be such a jerk." Andrea was finally coming to my defense.

"I just don't know what you see in this dweeb."

"Balls, Tonya. He's got great big ones. And that's not something I can say for any other guy in this school. Except maybe Kirshner."

Tonya just shook her head as she and Susan walked away.

"How do you know how big my balls are?" I was smiling again.

"I've got my sources."

"I'll bet you do." I giggled a little. Jesus Christ, Mike. You're talking to a girl about you're balls. I could feel my face getting a little red.

"And speaking of big, is Joey really as big as they say he is?"

"Oh Gawwwd!" I leaned forward with my head thumping as it landed on my forearm on the table. I could feel my face as it flushed, not to mention the lead pipe growing in my pants. She not only wanted me to talk about my genitals, she wanted me to describe Joey's. Ugghhh!

I heard Andrea giggling. "Aw, c'mon. I'm sure you've seen him."

"If you weally want to know, ask him. If he doesn't faint, I'm sure he'd be happy to show you." Now it was my turn to laugh as I looked up at her.

She smiled back at me. "Well, if you're not going to show me yours, I just might have to talk to Joey. I'm sure he's seen you, too."

Lunch period was over, but there was no way I could stand up right now. Andrea grabbed my books and my lunch bag.

"You coming?"

Huh? Uh, oh, yeah." Fuck! The way she'd been talking, I thought maybe I would, any minute now. I stood up and started around the table.

As I did, Andrea tried to suppress a laugh and a smile, but it didn't work to well. Her eyes had found my crotch.

"Can't you at leasht let me carwy my own booksh?"

"But you'll hurt your ribs."

I swallowed and gave her a pleading look.

"Oh!" She smiled and put her hand to her mouth in a failed attempt to hide her amusement. Her eyes still fixed on my ever growing problem.

I moved my hands in front of myself. "Please?"

"A little self-conscious, are we, Michael?"

There's nothing worse than having a hard on at school. Unless of course you not only have one, but you also have a girl following you around, who not only knows that you have one, but who continually giggles about it and insists on carrying your books so you don't even have anything in your hands to use to cover it with. Gawd! I might as well have just been naked. I think it would have been less embarrassing that way.

Andrea did finally let me have a book to carry in front of myself, but that didn't stop her from teasing me all the way to my next class. And she picked up right where she had left off as soon as we got to study hall. She kept leaning over me and rubbing her arm and shoulder against me while showing me how to solve the math problems. The fact that her tits kept brushing against me wasn't helping. And Andrea was more than willing to diagnose my condition. Fortunately, she had to go in the opposite direction when the bell rang. Maybe there is a God after all. I headed towards the gym. I still had to tell Coach Willis that I'd be missing some practices.

I heaed down the hall towards the gym, then down the stpes to the locker room.

Jesus Christ, Mike. Why don't you just let her jump your bones and go for a ride? It's not like you're still with Chris. Or are you? Fuck! I haven't even spoken to him. Does that mean we haven't officially broken up yet?

I stepped into Coach Willis' office. The door was open.

"Hi Coach."

He was sitting at his desk and looked up at me. "Oh, hey Michael. I heard you got yourself busted up a bit. How long you gonna be out?"

Nothing like beating around the bush. "Pwoblwe, at weast a week. The doc says I can wun whenever I feel I can bweathe. Wight now it hurtsh way too much."

"But you are coming back?"

"Why wouldn't I?" I was a bit puzzled. Quitting wasn't an option.

"I know you joined up to be with Chris. I hear you two are having some problems."

Fuck! News travels fast. I hadn't even realized he knew we were an item. I don't know why he wouldn't, though. Everyone else did. "I might have joined to be with him, but I alsho want to stay in shape fowr baseball. And I don't quit in the middle of shomething."

"Good. That's all I want to hear. I suppose I'll see you next week then."

I turned and walked out of the room. Fuck! The guy never took me seriously. Well, I'll show him. By the end of the year, I'll be the best damned runner he's got.

I needed to get to the parking lot. James would be waiting for me. It wasn't far, just upstairs and out the door. He wasn't there. I looked over at the football field. Most of the team was warming up for practice. Fuck! I wanted to be with them. Fuckin' Chambers. God I wanted to rip his face off.

"Hey Mike."

I turned, it was Joey. "Hey Joey."

"No practice, huh?" He was bounding down the steps towards me.

"Not fowr about a week.

"Oh." Joey looked disappointed. "I thought maybe you wouldn't come back."

"You don't want me to?"

"If you quit, I could too." Joey had one of the cutest frowns I'd ever seen.

I laughed. "Not a chansh, Joey. I don't quit."

Joey's eyes went to the ground, but popped back up quickly. "Can we talk later?"

"Sure thing, man. Just come on over. I ain't going nowhere."

"Well, if it isn't the little fucking fairy patrol."

I looked up. "Hi Won."

I glance over at Joey. He was scared shitless. I nodded and he ran. As he did I saw Chris standing off to himself. He was just looking at us. God I wanted to talk to him so bad. But there wasn't fucking time to worry about Chris. Recob was standing over me.

"You fags are like gnats. I keep swatting you, but you're to stupid to go away. Annoying little vermin. I'm just gonna have to squash you once and for all."

"You can twy." I ain't going anywhere you fucking asshole.

"Maybe later. I wouldn't want to cut my fist up on all that wire in your mouth. Must be awfully hard to suck dick like that."

"I'm sure yoursh would fit just fine." I must have a fuckin' death wish.

"The only time you get mine is when I split your ass in half with it."

I smiled. "Aww Won. I knew you weally woved me." Mike, if you fucking survive this I'm going to kill you myself.

"Let's go Ron." It was Kirshner.

Ron just looked at him, then turned to me. "Looks like Tinkerbell lives another day."

Joe looked back at me and winked as he and Recob jogged towards the field. I gave him a thumbs up. Fuck Mike, why do you fuckin' do this? He is just gonna fuckin' kill you.

"You ready to go, Mike?" James was pulling up beside me in the hottest goddamn car in town. It was a '69 GTO Judge, orange with white trim, 455 cubic inches of raw American muscle under the hood. That was some kind of sweet machine. James had been known to race it, too. Got his license suspended about six months after he got the car. He's lucky Aunt Maxine had let him live. I think he had to promise her his first born to get her to let him keep the thing.

"You bet." I ran around the car and hopped in. Damn, I loved just sitting in this thing.

"Those guys givin' you trouble?"

"Just the big ugly one."

"Oh, well that narrows it down." James chuckled.

So did I. "The big one was the guy who gave me all the beautiful dental wok. The not quite so big one was the one who stopped him from wedecowating the west of me."

"And you're just standing there trading insults. Are you nuts?"

"Just passing the time waiting fowr my wide to get hewe."

James just shook his head before lighting up the parking lot with flying gravel and squealing tires.

"Hey Mike!"

"Oh Shit!" I took a couple of deep breaths that hurt like hell. "Joey, you scared the shit out of me." I'd been laying on my bed listening to the radio and contemplating the meaning of life. Well ok, my thoughts weren't that heavy. Unless of course the meaning of life had something to do with jacking off. I was still pretty damned horny after walking around school all afternoon with a hard on. And I was in dire need of relief. Oh well. I guess there wouldn't be time until later.

"Oh, sorry. Your aunt let me in. So what's up?"

"Same damn thing that'sh been up all aftanoon."

Joey laughed. "Yeah, mine too."

I smiled as I got out of bed.

"Wanna do something about them?"

"Joey!" I couldn't help laughing. Joey had to be the horniest kid I knew. No other guy I knew would even admit to jacking off. Joey not only admitted to it, he actively pursued partners.

"We wouldn't actually have to do anything, just jerk off together."

I was laughing too hard now to talk.

"Me and Chris used to."

"So I've heawrd. How did you guysh meet anyway?"

Joey was looking at some of the pictures and things I had put on a table next to my bed. I was looking at his butt, trying to picture what it would be like to jack off with him. The thought of seeing him hard. Whew! I felt a stirring in my pants. He turned and looked at me.

"It's really kind of embarrassing."

"Joey, you just asked me to jack off with you. What could be more embarrassing?"

"That's pretty much what I was doing when we met."

"What?" I looked right at him. He really had me curious now.

"You know the woods on the other side of Branyan's farm?"

I nodded.

"Well, I was over there and, well, uh, I was doing it and..."

"You mean you were jacking off in the woods." I smiled and giggled.

He nodded. "And Chris was running. He saw me. I was naked. My clothes were, well, not anywhere nearby."

I had put my hand over my eyes and was laughing so hard it hurt. Joey had been streaking through the woods. That had been pretty popular a year ago. There was even a hit song about it.

"It's not that funny."

"Yesh it ish. You got caught naked and jackin' off in the woods. That's funny." Yeah, I did remember that I had just been in that same situation. I hadn't thought it was funny either. I wondered whether or not I should tell him.

"Anyhow, I couldn't hardly cover it up. He made a couple of jokes about it, then admitted he was pretty horny, too. We ended up jacking off together. We talked about it after. That's when we first told each other we were gay. It was only a couple months ago. We became boyfriends after that."

"Wewre you in love with him?" We were now both sitting on the edge of my bed, sort of turned halfway around, facing each other.

"I thought I was." Joey was looking kind of sad. "But since we broke up, I think maybe I wasn't. He was just the only gay guy I knew. I like him, though. You too."

I smiled at him. I was beginning to realize that I knew Joey better than I knew Chris. Chris and I had never really sat down and talked about anything serious. We made love and joked around. That was about it. I wondered if I could really have been in love with him or if he could really be in love with me.

"How come he won't talk to me?"

"He's scared to."

"Scared?" He had to know I'd never hurt him. I looked down at the floor

"He's afraid you'll tell him you don't love him anymore."

"Yeah, I'm not weally sure I do. Maybe I never did. I don't know."

We sat there for several seconds. Neither of us knowing what to say next.

"I want to love him, Joey. I weally do. It's just hawrd wight now." I could feel the tears forming again.

Joey moved next to me and put his arms around me. "He's really sorry that he ran away, you know. But that's how he is, Mike. He's a runner. It's what he does best. You're a football player. They teach you to tackle your problems, they teach him to keep ahead of his."

God, I'd never thought of it like that before. For a goofy, horny little kid, Joey was pretty smart.

"Maybe I was expecting too much, then."

"No. He should have stayed. He should have backed you up. You just don't do that to the guy you love. You gotta stand up and fight sometimes. Some things are worth fighting for." There were tears in Joey's eyes.

I tried to wipe them away. "What's wrong, Joey?"

"You remember when you found me under the bleachers?"

"Yeah, you were pwetty messhed up. You couldn't even talk."

"I was lucky my jaw was just dislocated, not broken like yours. I don't think I could survive on a diet of milk and juice."

I smiled at him.

"Well, anyway, Recob had seen me and Chris kissing. He chased us. Chris got away. He left me, too." Joey paused a moment. "He's not perfect, but he is a good guy, Mike. You could do worse, ya know."

"Yeah, well he'sh got to leawrn that shometimes you have to stand up fowr the one you love. Even if it means you get huwrt."

I laid back on the bed, my feet over the side, looking up at the ceiling. Joey laid next to me. Our bodies touching from shoulder to thigh. I put my arm around him.

"You know, Joey, I'm weally glad you decided to be fwiends instead of being mad at me."

"Yeah, me too." He got this really evil look on his face. "Does that mean we can jack off now."

I backhanded him in the gut as he tried to roll off the bed. The little twerp was laughing his ass off.

"I'll tell you what. You got fifteen minutch to get home befowre I start. You want to do it with me, that'sh as close as you get. You can think of me while we do it." It was my turn to laugh.

Joey hopped up off the floor. "You'll be thinking of me?"


I stepped off the bus and headed for my aunt's house. Friday at last. Riding the bus to school wasn't my idea of fun, but that's what I had been doing the last couple of days. My aunt couldn't drive me every day. Chris and I still weren't speaking so riding with him was out of the question. Damn. My life had just started to get back on track. I was making some new friends and even a large part of the student body had begun to accept the fact that Chris and I were a couple. They had even cheered our kiss on the steps of the gym. That was maybe the best thing that had happened. That one little display of public affection had gotten rid of a good deal of the whispers and finger pointing.

Well Mike, at least you're still part of the in crowd, sort of. Andrea was all over me. She respected the fact that I wasn't ready to let go of Chris, but she was making sure that I knew she was waiting in the wings. Fuck. I could have her in an instant. At first I'd thought she was on a mission to seduce the gay kid and make him look like a fool. Instead, she was proving to me that she really did want my friendship, even if I wasn't going to be her lover. And being her lover wasn't entirely out of the question. The remaining "beautiful people" weren't quite so accepting. The jocks more or less ignored me. Tonya was just plain irritating. Tom and Woody were cordial. Something about their relationship just seemed kind of weird. I had to wonder if they might actually be a couple.

Saturday morning, rise and shine. Well, part of me had already risen and I most certainly intended to polish it until it shined. I was just hoping that it would require an awful lot of polishing. There was no rush to get upstairs to breakfast, though I did have quite a busy day planned.

It's funny, I didn't know whether I should knock or just walk in. I guess you don't live here any more, Mike. You probably ought to knock.

"MIKE!" David answered the door. He grabbed me around the waist and hugged me so tight I thought he might just squeeze me in half. I put my arms around him.

"Hi David. How you been?"

He smiled and let me go. "Mom, Mike's home."

Home. Not hardly. This place would never be home again.

My mother came around the corner from the kitchen and into the living room. She stopped as she saw me.

"Good morning Mrs. Paul, I've come to visit my brothers. I hope you don't mind." I wasn't about to call her "mom." No fucking way.

"What did you just call me?" Her tone indicated that I had succeeded in pissing her off.

"You heawrd."

"I am STILL your mother."

"Not hawrdly." My mother? You aren't fit to mother a dead rat.

"Michael James Paul you are not so big I can't still put you over my knee." She stepped towards me with her hand raised.

"Go ahead. Fuckin' hit me. Bwreak my jaw again. Oh that's wight. You pwobly fowrgot since you didn't even come to the hospital. I spent thwee daysh in thewre you know." I just glared at her. Then I noticed my brother had stepped back across the room. He had tears in his eyes.

My mother just stood there. She seemed to be in shock. I'd never seen her without something to say before. I walked past her.

"C'mon David, let'sh go out back for a while."

"You just hold it right there, young man." The initial anger and shock seemed to have worn off. Her voice was harsh and cold. It was enough to stop me.

"God will forgive you for treating you mother with such disrespect."

Oh Fuck. Here we go with the religious bullshit. Why does she always have to do this.

"God doeshn't have to forgive a fucking thing." I turned towards my brother who was already backing his way through the kitchen towards the back door. "C'mon David."

David beat me to the door and was outside before I was. I don't think he wanted to stick around and listen to her either. My mother followed us to the door and continued to yell at me. I just ignored her.

David and I headed through the backyard and across the neighbor's field and into the woods before we spoke.

"Well, I guessh I fucked that up, huh?"

"Why does mom hate you so much. Just because you're a... I mean, gay?"

"I don't think she hates me, probably not dad either. I just think they don't like me very much. That'sh all."

David looked confused.

"So whatcha been up to kiddo?"

It turned out to be a really good visit. I told David all about the fight with Recob and getting my jaw broken. He told me all about school and how well his football team was doing. We sat by the river and threw some stones. We even stripped to our underwear and went for a quick swim. David was a little nervous about being naked in the woods, especially once I told him how I'd been caught. We went to the tree house to drip dry before getting dressed again.

After a couple of hours I kissed him on the forehead and we gave each other a big goodbye hug. I had to promise to go watch him play football before he'd go home. I walked him to the edge of the woods, but didn't think I should go further. There was another item on my agenda.

"Alwight Kevin, it'sh time we shettled this onch and fowr all." I was standing on his doorstep looking at him through the screen door. "You comin' out hewre or am I coming in thewre?"

Kevin stood there for a second and just looked at me. I know he was considering whether or not he should just slam the door in my face.

"All right. Come on in."

Whew. I breathed a sigh of relief. I'd been hoping he'd invite me in. There was much less chance of getting into a fight indoors. I stepped inside.

"You want a Coke or something?" He avoided looking into my eyes.

"Suwre." I followed him into the kitchen and sat at the table while he pulled a couple of cans out of the fridge. He sat opposite me and slid a can my way. We just looked at each other while we opened them.

"So, you here to apologize or what?"

Me apologize? What the fuck have I done to apologize for? Fuckin' idiot. Be cool, Mike. You didn't come here to pick a fight. "You think I owe you an apology?"

"You lied to me, man." Kevin's eyes were cold, but I thought they might burn right through me.

"You think I lied becaush I didn't tell you I'm gay?"

"You're supposed to be my best friend. But you don't even trust me enough to tell me. I have to hear it through the grapevine. What kind of a fuckin' friend is that?" I could see the tears forming in his eyes.

"Look man, I didn't even want to admit it to myshelf. How could I tell anyone if I couldn't even tell myshelf?"

"But you went out and got a boyfriend didn't you? If you couldn't tell yourself, how could you get a boyfriend."

"It all just short of happened. I didn't weally plan on it."

"What, you're telling me is that Chris just magically appeared in your arms and became your boyfriend? You expect me to believe that?"

"That'sh pwetty much what happened." I know it sounded lame, but I was telling the truth. Chris had magically appeared in my arms. I could tell from the way he looked at me that he didn't believe me.

"It's twue, Kev. He wanted to thank me for helping Joey. When he told me he wash gay I tripped and fell over. He fell on top of me and..." I took a deep breath, "I just got this shudden urge to kissh him."

Kevin just looked at me. I could tell he was still trying to decide whether to believe me. Fuck. If I were him I wouldn't believe me. It sounded like some cheap romance novel written for teenage girls.

"I shwear to God, Kevin. That's how it happened. Joey got mad when he found out and blabbed about it the next morning." I was pleading with him to believe me. "I shwear, Kev, I wouldn't lie to you. You know that."

"You just can't tell me you didn't know you were gay for all these years. You had to have known."

"I never shaid I didn't know. I shaid I couldn't admit it to myshelf. There ish a difference, you know. I didn't WANT to be gay. I thought I could change it or that it would go away, or shomething."

"I don't know, Mike. It all sounds pretty strange to me."

"Yeah, I pwobly wouldn't believe me either." I stood up and took a couple steps towards the living room. My eyes were on the floor. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. He wasn't going to believe me. I had lost my best friend.

"Where you going, man?" His voice had softened and he had gotten out of his chair.

I turned back to him. "Look man, I came hewre becaush you're worth the effort to have ash a friend. But if you don't believe me, there's nothing I can do."

"I didn't say I don't believe you."

I looked at him, my brow furrowed and my hands, palms up, waiting for a 'yes' or 'no.'

"I'll think about it. But there's something else I need to know." He sat back down at the table.

I waited for him to finish.

"This is kind of weird." He took a breath. "Do you... I mean... I don't know how to say this..."

"You want to know if I'm attracted to you?"

He nodded.

I returned to my chair and took a sop of the Coke, "I ain't gonna lie to you, man. You're good looking. Kinda hot, weally. I've looked, licked my lips a few times."

"Do you think of me, uh, you know, when you..." He made a circle with his right thumb and fingers and made a jerking motion at waist level.

I smiled and looked at the table, nodding my head, "Shometimes." I expected him to yell at me and throw me out.

He smiled a little and his eyes widened a bit. "Really?"

I nodded.

"You really think I'm hot?"

"God Kevin, you'wre one of the best looking guysh in school. I'd have to be fucking blind not to notice."

"So if I was, uh, you know, gay..."

"No, Kevin. You'wre not going to tell me you're gay." I was shaking my head. No way was I going to buy that.

"No, I'm not, uh, gay that is."

"So what'sh the point of asking?" I'm not gonna let you bait me into telling you about my fucking fantasies. You don't need to know how often I've thought of you. How hard it's been to fucking resist you, especially when we've been showering or sleeping together.

"Well, uh, we've like dressed together and slept in the same bed, in our underwear and stuff."

"I've nevewr touched you, Kevin. Even if I thought about it, I've got more shelf-control than that. And more reshpect for you, ash a fwiend."

He stepped forward and threw his arms around me. Then suddenly before I could respond, he stepped back. "Uh, sorry, I didn't mean..."

"Gawd, Kevin, you can hug me you know. I gay. I'm not a wapist. I'm not gonna get hawrd and jump your bones. Well, I might get hard, but it stays in my pantsh. I promish." We both chuckled a bit as we embraced.

"Uh, you want to go downstairs and shoot some pool or something?"

I smiled. I had my best friend back.

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