Steven and his mom demolished a large amount of ice cream while he explained exactly what had happened. Steven was happy that his mom and he had managed to re-establish a good relationship after they both fell apart after Nick was killed. It had taken time and a lot of effort on both of their parts, but at least they were trying.
For her part, Steven's mom was really proud of her son because he had strong principles and was prepared to fight for them. She had loved Nick as if he were her own son, and she was excited about Landon becoming another son. They'd only met him over the past weekend, but she was thrilled how they had all become close during the space of a couple of days. And to see Steven smiling and joking again, really for the first time since Nick was killed, gave her enormous happiness. So she wasn't going to criticize Steven for what he did to Kyle, even though she didn't really approve of people going round and punching other kids in the face.
"How's Jose taking all of this?"
"Well, I don't know, Mom, I want to go see him after he gets out of school. Let me send him a text and tell him to call me as soon as he gets out of school."
"Why don't you ask him to come over. I expect he needs a friend right now. He must be terribly upset."
"Yeah, that's perfect! I'll ask. If he can't get a ride, can we pick him up?"
"Sure, no problem!"
Steven texted Jose about the plan to get together but he didn't expect a reply because students didn't have access to phones until homeroom, which was probably going to be about three o'clock. So after they'd finished their ice cream, Steven and his mom went home. Steven lay on his bed thinking over what he'd done. He had no remorse about punching Kyle because Kyle was one of those kids who seemed to have to learn things the hard way. But he was really worried about Jose.
It's tough for gay kids to come out, so for things to go so badly on your very first foray out into the real word is horrible. Jose had needed affection and trust and very gently handling, and instead he got molested by a thoughtless and selfish idiot. He hoped that Jose wouldn't end up trying to pretend not to be gay and start a life of misery and self-denial.
Steven's phone rang. "Hey, Jose, how are you?....Good…. Look, can you get someone to drop you off here so we can talk?.....Great, we'll be waiting and we'll drop you off at home later on!.....Yeah, same here! See you soon!"
Steven went into the kitchen and told his mom that Jose was on his way. "Is there enough food for him to join us for dinner if he wants? Good!"
As soon as Jose arrived and been given the requisite snack and soda, they went to Steven's room. Almost immediately Jose started to sob, and Steven made him sit down on the bed, sat down next to him, and let Jose let it all loose.
Some time later, and lot's of tissues later, Jose pulled himself together enough so that they could talk. It's a good thing Steven was a patient listener because Jose had lots to say.
"Steven, thanks for asking me over. I didn't want to go home today because I need to talk to people and I can't do that at home. I mean I like my parents but I'm not out to them and I'm not ready for that, and anyway there's all the problems of religion and priests and confession, and even now I don't know what I'm going to say when I go to confession next time, and although our church says it accepts gay people, that's not really true, especially among older people. So to be able to come and talk to you about everything is wonderful! You don't mind, do you?"
"No, I don't mind. I wouldn't have asked you over if I didn't want to. I'm lucky because I've been out for a long time, and I've had full support from my parents, and I had a wonderful boyfriend, and now I think I've got another wonderful boyfriend, and I don't have to go round pretending to be someone I'm not. And that's what I hope for all gay kids. So I'm really, really angry at Kyle and what he did to you."
"Did you see him today? Did you talk to him?"
"I saw him, and I punched him in the face!"
Steven related all the events of the day to Jose. Jose was stunned, partly because he'd never seen Steven get violent or get in a fight, but more because he began to understand that Steven had done this for Jose.
"You did all that for me? And you don't mind being punished?"
"Yes and no. I mean I've never been suspended before, so I do mind that. But it's a matter of principle for me. We can't have people trying to force others to have sex with them when they don't want it. And when it's their first date that makes it worse. So, yes, I deserve to be suspended, but I don't have any regrets. What matters to me is that the whole thing with Kyle doesn't have a lasting and negative impact on you. I want to see you in a happy and loving relationship with someone and be able to enjoy the same type of life that I've got."
Jose turned and gave Steven a big hug. "I wish you didn't have a boyfriend because then we could be boyfriends."
"That's nice of you to say that, Jose. We'll never know what might have been because I hope I'm going to be with Landon a long, long time. But you and I are going to be really good friends, and even though you don't go to the same school as me, I'm going to look out for you, and we're going to do fun things together, and I hope that just maybe me and Landon could help find you a boyfriend."
"Thanks, Steven, you're my hero!"
"No, I'm just an ordinary kid!"
"No, you're not! You invented that whole gay social thing, bringing kids from different school together. And for me, that's special. You go to a big school and you have an LGBT Club so you know other gay kids, even if you don't go to the Club, but we have a small school, and there's no way we'd have an LGBT club, and then there's all the priests and religion and stuff, and the message that sex is only for having children, and sex before marriage is a sin, and gay people having sex is a sin, and all that, so that social thing is perfect for a kid like me because it's the only way I can meet other gay kids, and it's all your idea. That's why you're my hero, and I bet a lot of other kids would think you're a hero if they knew it was your idea!"
"That's why I don't want people to know. I'd rather just be an ordinary kid than some kind of superhero who people look up to."
"You're not ordinary! You're special!"
And they spent the rest of the afternoon talking and playing a couple of video games and just hanging out. Jose stayed for dinner but they had to take him home right after they ate because Jose had homework to complete. And they promised to get together the next afternoon.
Steven didn't do homework. He had three days to stay home and do all his homework. Everything was online, so that was something he planned to do the next morning. Instead, he talked to his Dad about what had happened, and he got pretty much the same reaction from him as he had from his mom and the Principal and Mr. Evans: yes, sexual abuse is an important issue that needs more public discussion, and no, punching people on the nose is not the way to do it. But his dad wasn't angry, and yet again Steven realized how lucky he was to have such supportive parents. So by the time he got to bed he was very content, particularly when we read the text from Jose thanking him for his friendship.
Tuesday morning Steven woke up at his normal time, realized he didn't have to get out of bed because he wasn't going to school, and turned over to get a bit more sleep. Was he ever wrong!
There was a loud knocking on his bedroom door. "Steven Roberts, get out of bed right now, get dressed in school clothes, your breakfast is waiting, you've got stuff to do. NOW!"
When your mom speaks like that it's stupid to resist. So he took a shower, got dressed and wandered into the kitchen to have breakfast.
What's up, Mom?"
"Don't think you've got a day off, Steven, you've got to do all your homework! I've got your class schedule right here. You've got Algebra at 8:05, and you're going to sit at the dining room table and do that. At 8:48 you get a three minutes break, and then its Spanish. And we're following your schedule for the whole day. You can have a lunch break at your scheduled time and you'll be able to sit outside for that. I've made your normal lunch already. And give me your phone and your iPad. I don't want you goofing off."
"But, Mom, I need my iPad for getting my assignments and stuff!"
"OK, but if I see anything other than school work on it, you lose it and you'll have to do everything by hand!"
"I hate you! This is much worse than detention!"
"Well, that'll teach you to go round punching people in the face, even if it was for a good reason! Now, finish your breakfast and get into the dining room!"
Steven obeyed. He knew when he was beaten. He heard his mom in the kitchen listening to the little TV she had there whenever she was cooking. It wasn't on loud enough for Steven to hear what was being said. So he sighed, opened his backpack, got out his Algebra book, downloaded the homework assignment, and started work. Secretly he quite liked Algebra, but social rules at school meant it was necessary to say you hated it. He finished his homework, sent it off to his teacher, and started reading the next section in his textbook.
"Steven, come here and look at this! Something's happening down at your school!"
Steven got up, went into the kitchen, his mom turned up the volume and they watched. They saw a huge crowd of students outside the entrance to the school. Some were waving placards and there was lots of chanting and shouting.
"What's going on, Mom?"
"I don't know!"
Then the reporter came on screen.
"Well, good morning everyone. This is Jess Walker from ABS Channel 4 reporting live from Washington High School where students are boycotting classes. It appears they're protesting because a student got suspended yesterday and everyone seems to think that was unfair. So they're trying to get him reinstated and the school is refusing. I've got the school Principal here. Sir, can you tell us what's going on?"
"Yesterday I suspended a student for fighting. He admitted to it, so I had to follow school rules. We don't have any flexibility on that."
"So why the demonstration?"
"I'm not sure why it's caused such an uproar. We suspend students from time to time but I've never seen any reaction like this."
"Do you know what the fight was about?"
"Yes, I do. The student who was suspended punched another boy who had been sexually molesting one of his friends. The boy being molested had told him to stop several times but the other boy didn't stop. So his friend decided to teach the molester a lesson that when someone says 'no' they mean 'no', and he ended up punching him."
"And what happened to the boy doing the molesting?"
"Well, I'm told he stayed home today. But because the molestation occurred outside school property, and because the other boy doesn't attend this school, there's nothing the school can do about that."
"So what's going to happen next? It doesn't look like things are going to quieten down."
"No, it doesn't. The police are here to try to make sure nobody gets hurt, and the Chairman of the School Board is here, and now I've got to go back and try to get students to calm down and go into school. So if you'll excuse me, I better go!"
"Thanks. Well, as you can see, the students are still demonstrating. Let me see, yes, look there's a sign that says 'Let Steven come back!', I guess that's the boy who got suspended, and there's one that says 'No means No', and that's what most of the students are chanting. Well, we'll bring you updates as soon as we have them. This is Jess Walker, ABS Channel 4, returning you to the studio
Steven and his mother just looked at each other. "Jeez, I'm sorry, Mom, I didn't know anything like this would happen! I think I'm in big trouble!"
"No, I don't think so. You didn't know about any demonstration or boycott, did you?"
"No, Mom, I swear I didn't!"
"OK, excitement's over. I'll let you know if anything develops. You can get back to your homework!"
But before he could get started again he saw all sorts of things happening on the street outside.
"Mom, look! There's a TV truck outside, and several other people who look like reporters, and there's another TV truck."
Steven's mom looked out, swore loudly, drew the curtains and told Steven to go to his room because he wasn't going to speak to anyone.
Steven was happy to escape, but he left his door open so as to hear what was going on. The doorbell rang and there was a loud knocking on the door. Steven's mom went to the door and opened it. She was half blinded by krieg lights from a TV crew. "We want to talk to Steven Roberts!"
Steven's mom didn't have any experience with dealing with the press. But she wasn't stupid, either.
"My son is doing his homework and he's not to be disturbed."
"Is it true he started the demonstration at the school?"
"Yesterday my son punched another student. He was suspended for three days and sent home. He has not been near the school since. We know nothing about what has or has not happened at school since I collected him yesterday shortly after lunch. Steven will not talk to the press, and any effort to do so will be harassment of a minor. Please leave!"
Despite the continued questions being thrown at her, she managed to close and lock the door, did the same for the kitchen door, and went to find Steven.
"Did you hear all that!"
"Yes, thanks, Mom, you're an angel!"
The doorbell rang again. Steven's mom picked up the phone and called 911, while Steven got a step ladder and removed the battery from the doorbell. They unplugged the landline and turned their phones to silent mode. From the living room window they could see two TV crews parked outside their house. Not long after that, a squad car arrived and an officer made sure that nobody stepped onto the Roberts property or disturbed them or others in the neighborhood.
Steven's mom called her husband and gave him a heads up. Steven tried to do his homework but he couldn't concentrate. Instead he and his mom sat and watched TV and saw pictures of students milling around the entrance to the school, being watched by a bunch of police. Many students were holding up signs: 'PUNISH RAPISTS', 'LET STEVEN COME BACK!', 'NO MEANS NO!' Then they saw a clip of Steven's mom at the front door.
"Wow, you did great, Mom! You're a natural TV star!", Steven joked. But inside, Steven was really worried. He had no idea what would happen next, and because it was all over the press it might be very hard to restore normalcy very easily.
The sound of a police siren coming down the street made Steven peek out of the window. A second police car turned into their driveway and a senior looking officer stepped out and came to the door. There was a knocking on the door. "Police!"
Steven's mom waved Steven back into his room, and went to open the door.
"Mrs. Roberts? I'm Police Chief Connolly. I'm really sorry to bother you, but I think we need your help. May I come in so that the TV people don't listen to our conversation?"
Steven's mom opened the door, the Police Chief stepped inside, and they went into the kitchen because the living room was dark with the curtains drawn.
"I'm really sorry to bother you, Mrs. Stevens, but as you're no doubt aware we have a real problem at the High School and we're really worried it's going to turn nasty. I've talked to the Principal and the head of the School Board and we think the only viable way to defuse things is for your son to come to the school and make some form of statement to the students to try to calm things down."
"Steven, did you hear that?"
Steven came out of his room, nodded to the Police Chief, and waited.
"Steven would you be willing to do what Mr. Connolly is suggesting?"
"I don't know. Is it safe?"
"We think we can get you there and into the auditorium safely. Would you like to speak to the Principal?"
Steven nodded. The Police Chief got out his phone, tapped in a number, turned on the speaker, and waited for an answer. "Hello, sir, I've got Steven Roberts on the phone for you." He handed the phone over.
"Hello? Steven Roberts here."
"Good morning, Steven. You know what's going on, don't you?"
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry I've caused so much trouble."
"Nobody's blaming you, Steven. Other students started the demonstrations when they got to school. But I think you're are best hope to get things calmed down. The students seemed pretty united in wanting you here. Would you be willing to come and talk to them?"
"Well, I haven't got much to say."
"Just tell them what you told me and Mr. Evans in my office yesterday, and we'll take it from there."
"Are you sure that will help, sir?"
"No, I'm not sure, but it's the only thing I can think of other than closing the school. But I don't want hundreds of hysterical students running wild through town because that could become a riot. We haven't had any violence yet, but tempers are getting hotter and hotter!"
"If you think it's the right thing, then I'll do my best, sir. But, sir, I don't think you should reinstate me. I deliberately hit Kyle and I should be punished, like you said."
"I agree, and I think you need to tell everyone that. Thank you for trying to help, Steven. I really appreciate it. Can you come here right now together with the Police Chief and your mother?"
"Yes, sir, we'll leave right away!"
And they did. Steven was very excited about going through town with the siren blaring, but inside he was really nervous and ready to piss himself. When they reached the school there was a group of about a dozen policemen waiting for them. The Police Chief turned on his bullhorn.
"ATTENTION, EVERYONE, PLEASE! I HAVE STEVEN ROBERTS HERE, AND HE WANTS TO TALK TO YOU, AND IF YOU ALL GO INTO THE AUDITORIUM WE CAN HEAR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY!"
A bunch of students started chanting. "STEVEN! STEVEN! WE WANT STEVEN!".
"Are you sure this is safe, sir?" he asked the Police Chief.
"Yes, those officers there will protect you. Just get out of the car and they'll form a ring around you and lead you to the auditorium. Mrs. Roberts, you come with me, please, we'll follow them."
Steven got out of the squad car. There was a huge cheer, and the chants of 'STEVEN! STEVEN! WE WANT STEVEN!' continued. Steven walked up to the officers and they formed a little ring around him, and started shouting to students to make way. And they did. Nobody blocked their way, and they were able to walk quite easily into the auditorium. He went up on to the stage where the Principal, Mr. Evans and several other teachers were present. Students started pouring in to the auditorium, and continued to chant Steven's name.
When all students were present, the Principal moved over to the microphone. But the noise continued and he couldn't speak. He tried several times but was shouted down every time he opened his mouth. Eventually he turned round, looked at Steven, and asked him to try.
Steven stood up at the microphone. There were cheers and whoops and more chants. It seemed total mayhem. Steven didn't know what to do, but eventually he raised his arms and gestured for people to sit down. It took a while, but eventually the noise abated.
"Ummm, hi everyone. If you didn't know me before, I'm Steven Roberts." He was interrupted by more cheers and chants. Again he raised his arms, and the students quietened down.
"Ummm, I'm not used to speaking in public so I'll probably make a mess of it. I'm just a simple freshman here, and I'm pretty scared being up here. So first of all, I want to thank you for having this demonstration!" There was a fresh round of cheering. Steven waited, holding his arms up.
"Yeah, I got suspended. And I thought that would mean I could goof off at home and play some video games, and have a good time while you were all in class. Was I ever wrong! You don't know my mom, or rather Tyrannosaurus Mom. She made me sit at the dining room table and do homework just like I was in school. Except at home I couldn't goof off like we do in class, and there's no friends around during class breaks, and it's really boring. I was in the middle of Algebra when the Principal asked me to come. Umm, Mr. Thompson, I promise I'll never mess around in your class again. Algebra is much better than staying at home with my mom!" The whole auditorium burst into laughter. You could feel the tension and hostility begin to die down.
"But let me tell you why I deliberately punched this other kid. Yes, I know you all probably know his name, but I'm going to call him the kid because it could have been any one of you.
"Last Saturday the kid went on a date with a boy I've known from Middle School. That boy doesn't go to our school but I've kept in touch with him, and I sort of set them up because I thought they might like each other. And they liked each other enough to arrange a date on Saturday. For their date they decided to go to the movies and as soon as the movie started the kid started to try to have sex with my friend. Lot's of us have done that at the movies." There was a ripple of laughter. "But my friend wasn't ready to have sex, and asked the kid to stop. But the kid persisted, and kept groping and fondling him even though my friend kept saying no. He probably said 'no' half a dozen times but the kid ignored him.
"I don't like that. I don't care whether it's a boy and a girl, or two boys, or two girls, if one person doesn't want sex they have a right to say 'no' and that should be the end of it. And if the other person keeps on groping and molesting, then that's sexual assault. That's a crime, but it's a crime that mostly doesn't get punished." There were cheers from the audience and Steven waited till they died down.
"I bet most of you can remember your first date. I can remember my first date with my last boyfriend. It was really exciting but it was scary because I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to do, and whether we were supposed to kiss or not, and whether anything else was going to happen. I really liked him and didn't want to mess up in case he decided he didn't like me. We actually didn't do much at all, maybe we held hands, but nothing more. What we did was we started to get to know each other, and we started to respect each other, and we started to trust each other, and by the end of the evening we were much closer. We went on a couple more dates and eventually we did start to have sex, and we had a glorious and wonderful twelve months together. I thought we'd be together forever, and so did he. And then last September some asshole drunk driver killed him.
"But I'm not here to talk about drunk drivers. That's another issue altogether. No, I'm talking sexual assault. And that's what happened to my friend on Saturday. Here he was on his very first date and he was excited and nervous, just like I was, and within the first five minutes of their date, this dickhead starts to grope him and keeps going when my friend asks him to stop. Luckily my friend got out of the cinema before anything happened to him. But he's really upset about it, particularly since it was his first date, and I spent much of Sunday trying to console him and convince him that while he had the bad luck to date a complete jerk, there would be other and better experiences for him.
"So I got mad, and that's why yesterday I went up to the kid and I asked him if I could punch him in the face, and he said 'no', so I punched him."
The auditorium erupted in cheers again. "WAY TO GO, STEVEN!" Eventually Steven got them to quiet down again.
"I wanted him to realize that 'no' means 'no'. So when he said 'no' I punched because when my friend had said 'no' in the cinema, the kid pretended he actually said 'please keep going'. That's the lesson I tried to teach that kid yesterday when I punched him."
There was a huge burst of applause, and the students started to chant "NO MEANS NO!" again. Again, it took a while to calm everyone down.
"But I've got one more thing I want to say, and I hope you'll listen carefully. I shouldn't have taken the law into my own hands. I was wrong to punch the kid, even if I thought it was the only way I could get his attention, and I was wrong to do it at school because I broke the rules about fighting and that's why I got suspended. And you'll probably all think I'm stupid or something, but I asked the Principal to suspend me, and he agreed that was the only course of action. I know you guys don't like the fact he suspended me, but funnily enough, I do. It's only fair.
"As for the kid, I don't know what's going to happen to him. It's sort of up to my friend to decide if he wants to file a complaint of sexual assault. He may do, he may not do. The school can't do anything because the assault was outside school property.
Steven turned and looked at the Principal "If you'll excuse me, I've got one more thing to say, and then I'll shut up and go back home to serve my suspension. Is that OK? Good, thank you, sir, but you may not like it!"
Steven looked out over the audience who waiting eagerly to what Steven was going to say. "I like having sex! I bet you all do! It's great! The more the better! But sex is really only great when you're with someone you like and respect and trust because then you're both at ease and you can enjoy yourselves because you're both doing things you want to do. It's no good if one of you is uncomfortable. And if you're uncomfortable and ask the other person to stop, they better stop, right there, right then.
"I'm really proud of you all in boycotting classes to make it clear to everyone that you all believe that 'no' means 'no'. I'm amazed by what's happened today. I can't believe the entire student body has shown such solidarity. You've sent a message to the school and the community, and I'm proud of you. And when I've finished my suspension I'm sure we'll find other ways to deal with the issue of sexual assault, and how we can make our schools a safer place for everyone." There was cheers and applause for several minutes.
Finally Steven got everyone to calm down. "OK, it's almost lunchtime, I'm hungry, so why don't we all go and eat our lunches and get back to normal classes afterwards. I think the boycott has been wonderful, even though I had nothing to do with it, and couldn't even take part. And when you do go back to classes then I hope the Principal and other teachers and the School Board will consider the matter closed and won't punish anyone for boycotting classes and we can go back to being a nice, safe high school where nobody is afraid of being molested. Is that OK, sir? Thank you!
"OK, guys, I've got to go home and serve the rest of my suspension! I'll be back on Friday if Tyrannosaurus Mom hasn't driven me mad by then! Let's try to go back to normal, but when you do, please remember these three words: 'NO MEANS NO!'"
The applause and cheers were deafening and the chants of 'NO MEANS NO' were kept up for some time. Steven turned away, saw he was being motioned to the side of the stage of the auditorium, so he waved to the student body, walked off the stage, and found his mother and Mr. Connolly waiting for him, and they went out through the emergency exit where the squad car was waiting. They got in and were soon on their way home.
"Mom, I was so scared I thought I was going to crap myself and I didn't know what to say! So I hope it was OK!"
"Steven, you were fabulous! You'll make a wonderful politician! I'm so proud of you." And she hugged him.
Mr. Connolly looked back from the front seat. "Steven, you weren't OK, you were absolutely brilliant. I send my officers round to schools to talk about serious issues like sexual assault, drunk driving, drugs, and so on, but you had a bigger impact this morning than any of my officers ever have done. You hit just the right tone with those kids. They listened to you because you speak their language and you're one of them. They trust you and now I think they really respect you. Maybe I'll get you to come and talk at some other schools."
"Well, maybe, I'm not good at talking in public."
"Young man, you stood up in front of hundreds of students who were suffering from some form of mass hysteria, and you spoke to them, and calmed them down, and made them laugh, and got your message across, and they listened to every single word you said, and then they went back to school, and nobody was hurt, and nothing got damaged. You're a hero!"
Steven blushed. "That's kind of you to say that, Mr. Connolly, but I think you're exaggerating!"
"See for yourself! Your speech was videotaped and I bet it's on the evening news, lead item!"
When they got home the TV newsmen were still there. Chief Connolly ushered Steven and his mother into the house, and then he addressed the press.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm pleased to inform you that the protest at the High School has ended peacefully, students have returned to classes, and there's nothing more to report. I'd be grateful if you could leave Mrs. Roberts and her son alone because they're not making any statements, and I'm not taking questions at this time. So I'd respectfully suggest you leave now and find something else to report on. Thank you!"
The Chief stood there, and slowly most of the reporters and TV crews packed up their stuff and left. The Chief went into the house and walked over to Steven. He held out his hand.
"Thank you again, Steven. You really did a wonderful job today and I'm really grateful. And thank you for your comment about drunk driving. I hadn't realised you were Nick Mancino's boyfriend. That was a tragic loss. My condolences to you, and to you Mrs. Roberts. I'll be in touch, but I've got to get back to work. Unfortunately crime doesn't sleep!"
And with that the Chief left, Steven sat down to eat his regulation school sandwich and face the prospect of an afternoon of homework under the eagle eye of his mother.
When the time came for school dismissal, Steven's mom handed him his phone told he was dismissed as well until 8:05 next morning. Steven smiled, and gave his mom a big hug.
"Thanks, Mom, you're the best!"
"No, I'm not, apparently I'm Tyrannosaurus Mom!" She hugged her son back as hard as she could.
Steven's phone was packed with text messages, most from people he hardly knew. He responded to people he knew with a word of thanks and a message to say he'd see them in school on Friday. He only answered two at length, and he told them both the same thing.
'IM GOING TO MY GYMNASTIC CLASS AT 400. MEET ME THERE AT 445. DONT COME HERE THERE MAY STILL BE REPORTERS OUTSIDE MY HOUSE'
Both Landon and Jose replied and said they'd be there.
Luckily they could get in the car through the side door without facing reporters. So when they left for the gymnastics class all that happened was some flash photography and a TV camera pointing through the window. They could hear people shouting questions but Steven's mom just ignored them and drove off.
At the gymnasium Steven warned the front desk that reporters might be following them, and that he'd like anyone asking for him to be turned away. Except for Landon and Jose. The front desk was only too happy to oblige, and indeed a reporter who'd chased after them in his car, immediately tried to get access and was refused.
Steven did his workout, and pretty much felt back to his full potential. He really welcomed the exercise because the day had been really stressful. At the end of his allotted session he went into the changing room, and was really pleased to see Gabe there.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Steven, what the hell have you been up to. That speech you gave this morning was amazing, nobody could have done that better! And you're all over TV and everything!"
"And hello to you to, Gabe! Seriously, I'm really glad to see you here today, we've got a lot to talk about!"
"Damn right, we do! First, you gave my little asshole brother a real doozy of a pair of black eyes. Looks like a raccoon! Stupid dick! Thanks for punching him out, he deserved it. My parents went bananas when they heard what happened. I think he's been grounded for the rest of his life! My mom and dad want to meet you and thank you, they're not mad at you at all. He got what he deserved!"
"Whew! I thought they'd want kill me!"
"No, he's been cruising for a bruising for some time, and you gave him what he deserved. So you're OK with us!"
"How's he doing?"
"He's absolutely miserable. He realizes he did something completely stupid and unacceptable and he wishes he could take it all back! I think when you punched him, it actually made his brain work again! And he feels terrible about the boy he messed up. What's really stupid is that he really liked him and he told me before their date that they might become boyfriends, and then he went and fucked it all up! Do you know how your friend is?"
"Yes, I do. I spent a lot of time with him Sunday, and I told him about me hitting Kyle, and I think he's slowly getting over it, But it's going to take him a long time to fully recover, and get his self esteem back so he can think of trying to go on another date. I'm going to spend as much time as I can with him to help him get over it all."
"Steven, you're an angel! You're always trying to help people. I wonder, is there any chance I could meet the kid and pass on a message to him?"
"Sure! Follow me!" And Steven led Gabe to the viewing area where they found Jose and Landon. Both the boys leapt up when they saw Steven. Jose gave him a huge hug, while Landon gave him a hug and a big kiss as well.
"Hi guys, thanks for coming. I wanted you to meet Gabe here. He's Kyle's older brother. Gabe, this is my boyfriend Landon, and this is Jose!"
"No shit! Jose, I'm so sorry about what my stupid idiot brother did to you. And me and my mom and dad feel really bad for you and want to send you our best wishes. And we're all happy your guardian angel here punched my dumb brother to teach him a lesson. So don't worry, we've got your back!"
"Ummm, thanks, Gabe!"
"You may not believe this, Jose, but my brother Kyle feels terrible about what he did. He's been severely punished, not just by Superman here, but he's been grounded and his phone and computer are confiscated, and he's being kept home because we don't know if it's safe for him to go back to school or if he's going to have to transfer. And he told me that if I met anyone who knows you, to say he's really sorry and he wished it had never happened. And if there was a chance to meet you and apologize in person, he wants to do that."
Jose looked at Gabe and thought for a while. "I guess I'm not ready to do that, Gabe. I'm still pretty shaken up because I sort of feel violated. It's probably best to wait a while. But tell him I got his message and I'll think about meeting him some time later."
"That's fine, Jose. Look guys, I'm late for my training session. Thanks for coming, I really appreciate that, and let's get together soon, maybe this weekend? Umm, without Kyle, of course."
"That's a good idea, Gabe," said Steven, "I'll be in touch. OK, guys, let's go!"
They met Steven's mom and she agreed to let Steven go and spend a little time with Landon and Jose on the understanding it was a school night and Steven had to be home for dinner. So she went home, and Steven and Jose piled into Landon's car and went over to Landon's house.
"Landon, can we watch the local news on TV at six. I'm told my speech might be shown."
Jose chipped in. "Speech, what speech, what's been going on?"
"You mean you haven't heard?"
"Heard what? We don't hear anything at Catholic High! Well, we heard there'd been a demo at Washington High but not much more. Were you involved?"
Landon explained. "Steven singlehandedly defused a mass of hysterical students at school this morning. Everyone says he gave a fabulous speech. I hope it's on the six o'clock news! I can't wait to see it!"
Steven's speech was on the news, and it was the lead story. Jose sat and watched the entire report which occupied almost all of the half hour newscast. His jaw hung opened as he saw what Steven had said and done.
"Wow, Steven, you did all that! How long did it take to write your speech?"
"Ummm, I made it up as I went along!"
"No way! It was awesome! You're a fucking genius."
"That's funny, Jose, that's what I told him the first time we met, remember!" added Landon.
Jose gave Steven a huge hug. "Thanks! You really are my hero! Even though we're not boyfriends, I love you!"
Then had to split up. Landon dropped off Jose, then drove Steven home. Steven tried hard to get his mom to let Landon stay for a while.
"Mom, could Landon stay for dinner, and then maybe he and I could spend some time together before he has to go home!"
"Steven, it's a school night. So the answer's 'no'. And you know what that means, don't you!" She gave a wicked smile.
The two boys looked at her with big grins on their faces. "Yes, Mom. 'NO MEANS NO!'"
Three chapters of this story are part of the 2019 story challenge "Inspired by a Tweet: Non Consent". This is the last of those chapters. You can vote below, but should really read all three first. The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 8 March to 29 March 2019 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.
The challenge was to write a story inspired by this tweet:
This challenge is to write a story based on reading the tweet and to write a tale within its spirit, albeit a male homosexual teenage tale.. There is no picture, Just the tweet.
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