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Val 'n Tyne

by Hans Schreiber and Flip McHooter

Chapter 4

Warning! This story is a work of fiction written by a legal age adult. Any similarity between the fictional characters and any live person is purely coincidental. This story contains fictional descriptions of sexual activity between consenting minor youth. If you are under the age of 18, and/or if you are offended by this content, and/or if it is illegal in your jurisdiction to possess or read such material, please leave now and do not read this story as neither the internet host nor the author can be responsible for your actions. Please, always practice safe sex; no momentary thrill is worth your life.

All rights reserved. No part of this story may be transmitted or reproduced in whole or in part in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Author or Publisher, except where permitted by law. Copyright © 2012 by Hans Schreiber and Flip McHooter.

Special thanks to our editor, Pablo.

Val sat down on the table with his name card on it and wondered if Tyne would show up to fifth period. He guessed he was still busy messing with the pictures for Noah to give to Lizzy. Ms. Harris took role when the second bell rang and asked everyone to open their workbooks. They were studying the social evolution of the acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Val was shocked to learn that prior to the revolution, in a land that was populated by people who had fled to America to escape tyranny and persecution, anyone caught engaging in homosexual relations was punished by death in all 13 colonies. The first statutes in English law against homosexuality were written in 1533 by British parliament under Henry the VIII, stating that anyone committing the abominable vice of buggery with man or beast was to be punished with death. These laws were repealed and reinstated over the next thirty years until they were solidified under Queen Elizabeth and stayed in effect until 1861 when it was reduced from a capital crime to life in prison. In France at this time period, the penalty for homosexuality was to be burned at the stake along with the witches.

After the Revolution, the states reexamined the English laws and their harsh nature. Pennsylvania was the first to change the punishment for sodomy and buggery to ten years in prison and forfeit of all land and goods. In New Jersey, the punishment was softened to 21 years of hard labor. Delaware doled out three years solitary confinement and a public lashing of sixty lashes on the bare back. The last two colonies to give up the death penalty were North Carolina in 1855 and South Carolina in 1873.

A lively discussion ensued in the classroom and as it was beginning, Tyne slipped into the empty chair beside Val. He smiled at him and said, "Mission accomplished." Val wondered about the whole idea again.

Ms. Harris told several stories of modern day, young, gay people who chose to invoke their own death penalty to escape the torment they suffered from gay bashers. One of them, they all remembered from right there in Hartsdale that happened just last year. A seventh grader had been repeatedly bullied, and not able to take it anymore, he did a head first dive off the roof of the middle school cafeteria during lunch, his head splitting open all over the quad area right in front of his classmates. The idea was sobering and left the entire class in thoughtful introspection. Val thought about how carelessly he had called something 'gay' or teasingly referred to someone as a 'queer' or a 'fag.' He wondered how many people he had wounded with those words. He'd gotten a small taste of what kids who had come out experienced and realized that those words had to be hurtful to ones like Tyne who had not come out.

At the end of class, Ms. Harris asked everyone to fill out a short comment sheet about the upcoming 'date.' She had the questions on the white board and Val read through the five questions carefully before beginning to answer them thoughtfully.

What was your first reaction to this assignment?

I thought it was stupid and felt like I was being forced to do something I didn't want to. I was also worried about what my parents' reaction would be.

Why do you think there was such a reaction to the assignment by the student body and parents?

People don't understand about gays and it scares them I think. And sometimes parents aren't very tolerant, even if they say they are.

Was it difficult to make contact with the person you were assigned to go with?

Yes. It felt really awkward.

Have you found out that it was easier than you thought to talk with, and find common ground with, a person of your same sex you didn't know very well than you thought it would be?

Yes. Tyne turned out to be a very cool guy, but I was worried we didn't have anything in common or that we wouldn't find anything to talk about. I found out he is a real person with real hopes for his future and in lots of ways much more solid than I am.

Do you have any fears about the upcoming date?

Yes. I'm afraid that Tyne won't like me because I'm just a dumb jock. I really think he's cool and smart and I wish we could become real friends.

Val took his paper and tossed it in the pile on Ms. Harris' desk, waved to Tyne and left for basketball, nervous about the whole picture plan. Tyne took a few more minutes to fill his paper out and when he was about to toss it in the pile, he saw Val's name sticking out on a paper in the middle of the pile. He glanced around and making sure that no one was watching, he pulled it out and set it on top. When he read the last answer, he got a lump in his throat and tears stung in his eyes. He had no idea.

All the way over to the gym, Val started having doubts about what he was about to do to Nick. Part of him felt like he deserved it, but knowing what he'd been going through himself the past week, Val wondered if the punishment was a bit too harsh. He thought about the severe and cruel punishments he had just learned about and how unfair it was. He wondered what kind of nightmare gays lived through in those times.

Nick and Val entered the Physical Education building together. The more Nick thought about it, the more determined he was to fool around with Val and get in his pants. Since Lizzy had brought this whole thing up, he kept thinking that this might really be a great opportunity to get it on with his hot friend. His dick had been in a state of chubbiness all day and more than once he caught himself daydreaming in class about all of the hot and sexy things he'd like to do to Val's muscular naked body. "So what are you going to do about this gay thing?" Nick asked Val as they walked into the locker room together to change for basketball practice.

"What the F are you talking about, Nick? I told you I'm not gay," Val said, and looked at his friend with utter and complete frustration. "Why won't you just drop it? I'm really getting sick and tired of all this shit. Why don't you just shut the F up? And stop talking shit about me behind my back, too."

"Dude, I'm not. I wouldn't do that. I'm just trying to help you out."

"Well stop trying, because you're not helping."

"Because I really think you have doubts, and you need to make up your mind. Test the waters out a little bit, you know? See what feels right."

"Don't go there man, I'm warning you," Val said, as he slammed his books into his locker. "Just don't go there."

"All I'm saying is that everybody wonders about it sometimes, you know, to see what it feels like, and maybe this is the time for you to try it out. I've heard it's just a normal and natural kind of thing to do."

"Really? Why are you, of all people, saying this to me? Have you 'experimented' on the other side, maybe on the down low?"

"Look, I get how you could be kind of confused about all this sex shit. You told me you're still a virgin, I mean that's saying something about you right there. I'll tell you something about me, but you got to keep it a secret, okay?" Val shrugged. He wasn't all that interested in Nick's secrets. Nick continued in a hushed tone, "I did some gay stuff with my cousin, Michael, before when we were younger. We jacked and sucked each other. It kind of messed with my head some. I wanted to do it with him, to try it out and all, but then I didn't want to do it because I was afraid about the whole gay thing. You're probably thinking this date thing with Tyne is a chance to experiment a little. After doing it with Michael, I started getting a ton of girl sex. Maybe it will work that way for you. Maybe you just need someone you can totally trust to satisfy your gay curiosity."

"Stop! Just stop it right now. If you say one more word about me being gay, or trying gay stuff out, I swear to God you'll be spending the next two weeks trying to pull your head out of your ass. Because in a minute, I'm going to shove it so far up there that you'll…"

"Okay, okay. I get it," Nick said, holding up his palms. "I'm just going to say this one last thing. It's your problem and you're going to have to deal with it, sooner rather than later. It's the only way you'll know for sure. Val, you don't have to do this date thing with Tyne and ruin your reputation just for a chance to try it out. As your best friend, I'm willing to let you experiment with it together with me. It's a small sacrifice for a good friend. You can drop the date with Tyne and you can mess with me on the down low so nobody will know or suspect. Then, I'll talk to Tyrell about you and Sheena. He says Sheena's totally hot for you and when she found out you were a virgin, she got totally excited to be your first experience."

'No, this is your problem and you're going to have to deal with it, sooner than you think' Val thought. Val had just pulled off his boxers and fished his jockstrap out of his bag. He stood up erect and glared down at Nick. Fury rose from deep within and burned in his flushed face and chest. Through clenched teeth, Val seethed, "You did what? You told Tyrell to tell Sheena that I was a virgin so she'd be a pity fuck for me? What makes you think for a minute that even if I wanted to do gay stuff, which I don't, that I'd want anything to do with you? I'll tell you what you are gonna experience with me – pain, because I'm gonna kick your ass!"

They spent the rest of the time suiting up in an uncomfortable silence. After they got dressed and were out on the gym floor, Val became increasingly more frustrated as the practice wore on. It was uncharacteristically quiet and the team was moving around very slowly. The guys on the team always played easily off each other in a coordinated rhythm, passing the ball around to each other, instinctively anticipating each other's moves to set up open scoring opportunities. But not today. Then, about halfway through practice, it occurred to Val that all of the guys were out to get him. Every time he was wide open for an easy pass, they would hesitate and find someone else to pass to. The few times that he was able to run down the court with the ball and try to make a shot, he got fouled unnecessarily hard by someone. First it was by Lukas, which wasn't a surprise since he never played fair, but then Dane started to elbow him and got Val good up under his chin. When Val complained to the guys, they just shrugged their shoulders. Even Coach Carlson just looked the other way, pretending not to notice or care what was going on.

Val could only take so much, and later on when Evan tripped him and he did a face-plant on the hardwood, he went nuts. He got up and marched over to Evan, and without saying a word punched him hard, right in the gut. The guys had to pull Val back before he did some serious damage to his so-called friend.

"Val! Out. Right now," Coach screamed at him.

"But Coach…"

"Out. I don't want to hear it. Get out of my face. Go cool off in the locker room. That's no way to react just because you're frustrated."

Dejectedly, Val left the court and headed towards the locker room. His life was imploding all around him and all he wanted to do was get out of there. But he couldn't. Now more than ever, he had to get Lukas to look at Nick's phone so Nick would get what was coming to him and this shit would finally stop. He just hoped that Tyne and Noah had pulled off the second phase of their scheme, because all he could think about was revenge. He just hoped that once Lizzy got hers, his life would go back to normal.

Val took his time changing out of his practice clothes. He pulled his jersey off and sat on the bench for a long time fuming and then slowly got dressed in his street clothes.

He looked up when he heard the door from the gym open and close. Tyrell came around the edge of his locker bay and leaned up against the first locker. "Hey Val, you okay?"

"No, I'm not okay. What's up with you fuckers? I thought we were teammates and friends and you're all treating me like shit because of a bunch of gossip and rumors about me being gay. It's just an F'n class assignment. This is such bullshit."

"Yeah, I'm sorry. Lukas and Evan and 'specially Nick are talking a lot of shit about the gay thing. They're saying like what if you got AIDS and shit and then we could catch it from you on the court. Plus, they are all like being uncomfortable with you in the locker room checking them out and stuff. Stupid shit. But, I just wanted you to know I think it's wrong. Nick told me about your idea to get with Sheena, but that you're too shy and all. I talked to her already and we can all go over to Latwanza's house on Saturday and hang out. The place will be all ours and Sheena really thinks you're hot and will totally go all the way with you. It'll totally fix your rep if you lose your V-card instead of going on that dumbass assignment with Tyne. Besides, when I told her your dick was bigger than mine, she was like drooling."

"Wait. You did it with both Latwanza and Sheena?"

"Yeah. My brother Tyrone was with us. The four of us had a great time. Sheena's really horny. You'll have fun," Tyrell boasted.

"You have two minutes to get the F out of my sight before I beat the shit out of you. I don't need any pity fucks. It's nobody's business that I'm a virgin. Maybe I'm a virgin because I choose for it to be something special when I finally do it. And where the F do you get off telling anybody about how big my dick is? Why the F are you noticing the size of my dick anyway?"

"Well dude, c'mon, it's right there. You're not very shy about showing it off."

"Whatever." He had just finished tying up his huge Nike's when the rest of the guys started to stream into the locker room. He thought about busting Nick up good, but then he decided that would be pointless once everybody saw the pics.

Val grabbed his gym bag and his backpack and slammed his locker shut. Totally ignoring Nick, he went around the locker room until he spotted Lukas.

"Hey, man, there's something you need to see. Take a look at the pics on Nick's phone. I downloaded a three point b-ball app for him and somehow a picture of me came up on the screen. You need to check it out and find out who the real gay guy is around here," Val said, trying not to lose it. He was pissed, and he was no longer feeling guilty about setting Nick up.

"Shut up. He's a chick magnet. There's no way he's gay. There's no way he'd take a picture of you – unless you made him. I guess that little brainiac faggot you're dating is really fucking with your head, dude."

Val cringed at that word and grabbed Lukas' jersey and pulled him in tight. "He doesn't have anything to do with this. Now go ask Nick to check out the b-ball app and then thumb through the pics. It's a simple request. Just do it! Now!"

"All right already. Fuck!" Lukas slammed his locker shut and walked over to Nick, who was just stepping into his boxers. "Let me see that b-ball game that Val downloaded to your phone. He said it was cool."

"It's freakin' lame, dude, just like his gay ass is. But if you want to check it out, here," Nick said, and tossed the phone to Lukas.

Val was standing around the corner of the locker bay, and was able to hear the conversation. He couldn't believe how easy it was for Lukas to get the phone from Nick. He didn't even question Lukas' interest.

"Holy fuck! I can't believe it. You're queer too! That Tyne guy really is turning everybody gay. I can't believe you have naked pics of Val on your phone. And who the hell is this guy?" Lukas said as he clicked through the pics on the phone. "Gawd, he looks like a girl. Shit! He's wearing makeup. Is that what you're into now, Nick? Girly-men?" A crowd immediately gathered around and soon groans and shocked comments were erupting.

"What the hell? What are you guys talking about? I don't have any pictures of guys on my phone. Evan held it toward him and flipped through them. Val looked on, feeling a little guilty as he watched the panic well up in Nick's face. Then Evan flipped to another folder containing a picture of Val standing completely naked followed by a close up of his dick and balls. There were two additional ones that Tyne had not taken. Then, even more shocking was a pic that had obviously been taken from the top of a bathroom stall showing Dane stretched out on the toilet seat jacking off. Nick began flailing toward the phone to grab it back.

"Give me that! I've been setup. This is total bullshit. I'd never take those. C'mon, you guys know me. I've fucked more girls than any of you have even kissed. Give me back my damn phone!" A lively game of keep away ensued until Dane got hold of it. Nick lunged at him and Dane smashed Nick hard in the face knocking him down. Dane straddled Nick and began pummeling him with his fists, one of them still clutching Nick's phone. Nick curled up and took it until Val grabbed Dane and threw him off. Val grabbed Dane's arm and dug his fingers into the underside of Dane's wrist until he released the phone. Nick lay on the floor wiping blood from his nose and lip.

Val took the phone back to Nick and said, "Erase those off your phone, right now." Nick took the phone and quickly started to do just that. He remained curled up on the floor.

Lukas came up and kicked Nick in the ribs and said, "You disgust me. After all the shit you were talking about Val, it turns out you're the faggot." Lukas started a second kick when Val raised his leg and planted his size fourteen Nike in the middle of Lukas' chest, propelling him hard backwards into the lockers. There was a loud banging sound as Lukas' head dented the locker door. "Ow, fuck! What was that for?"

"I'll tell you what that was for. That was for Nick. I've had it with all the trash talk about gays and faggots. You've been treating me like shit all week because you believed a bunch of stupid gossip about me being gay. It hurt like hell even though I'm not gay. Imagine how it feels when someone really is gay. I don't know if Nick's gay or not and I don't really care. If he says he was setup, then I believe him. Whether he is or not, it's none of our F'n business. He's a teammate. No one gives Tyrell shit about being black or Carlos because he's Hispanic. And no one harasses you because you're an ugly asshole, Lukas. This gay bashing bullshit ends now. Everyone who agrees with me and is willing to give it a rest for good, raise your hand."

Some hands quickly shot up, and some others slowly rose while they checked who else was raising theirs. Only Lukas and Dane refused. "Fine," Val said. "You don't have to raise your hands but the rest of us are done with it. Let's get back to being a team. We sucked in practice today because we're not united."

"Fuck you. I'll quit before I play ball with a bunch of fag lovers," Lukas scowled.

"Anyone sad about Lukas quitting the team raise your hand." No one did. Not even Dane raised his hand. Lukas stormed off to find Coach Carlson.

Val reached a hand to Nick. Nick looked at it and then looked away in shame. Tyrell walked over and grabbed Nick's arm and pulled it up into Val's grip. Evan, Carlos and David all gathered in and lifted Nick off the floor. Slowly the crowd dispersed to get dressed. Val sat down next to Nick on the bench as Nick tossed his sanitized phone into his gym bag.

"Are you all right? Anything broken? Val asked, not looking at Nick.

"No, I'm okay. I'll live. You set me up, didn't you? You put those pics on my phone and then got Lukas to look them up, right?"

"Not all of them, but yeah, some of them. I was a little shocked to see the others. I found out you were gay bashing me right along with Lukas and the others then lying to me about it. I can't tell you how badly that hurt. We were supposed to be best buds."

Nick stared down at his bare feet, suddenly intensely interested in his toes. "Sorry," he finally mumbled.

"Yeah, I bet you are. Payback's a bitch, ain't it? Think about that next time you start out to trash somebody's rep." Val stood and gathered his backpack and gym bag to leave.

"Val, thanks."

"For what?"

"For not letting it get out of hand, and for saying what you did to Lukas."

"Sure. It's all so F'n stupid. I can't stand it. You need to make one more apology by the way."

"To who?" Nick asked.

"Who do you think? Dane. That was a fucking shock. Imagine how he's feeling right now having everyone see that pic?"

"Oh. Yeah. I will. Fuck, I'm so messed up."

"See ya later. And while you're apologizing, it wouldn't hurt to apologize to Tyne and Noah too." Val exited quickly from the gym and was glad to fill his lungs with the fresh February air and expel the stale, bigoted air from the locker room.

Noah had to hustle across campus after sixth period to get to the library conference room where the dorks on the student council were having their after school meeting. He wanted to be sure to catch Lizzy before she went in, so he could hand her the photos that he and Tyne had Photoshopped and printed out. Luck was with him because just as he rounded the corner, he spotted Lizzy standing outside in the courtyard like she was waiting for someone.

"Hey, Lizzy? Can I talk with you for a second?"

Lizzy turned around, and seeing who wanted her attention, rolled her eyes.

"What do you want, Noah? I'm busy."

"I know you are, but this is something really, really important," Noah said, putting his best acting skills to use. "Come over here. I don't want anyone to see us talking. I have a big problem that I need to discuss with you. It has to do with Val and Nick."

That got her sudden attention. "What about Val?"

"Well, I'm kind of scared about this, and you have to promise not to tell, okay?"

"Spit it out, Noah. I don't have time for your swishy little games. What is it?" she said, getting all snooty, but followed him over behind one of the columns anyway.

"You see, Nick said that somehow you knew that I had pictures of him and Val on my phone, and I don't know how you knew that, but I don't want to get in any trouble over it. I only had one of each of them. Please tell me who told you about it."

"Wait, you're saying that you really do have naked pictures of Nick and even some of Val?"

"Not pictures, just one picture of each of them. I'm really sorry and I can't figure out who told you, so I really need to find that out."

"Wait. I see what you're up to. You don't really have any pictures, you're just trying to trip me up by getting me to tell you my sources. Well, Val was my source, so there. He told me, only he told me that he only took the pictures of Nick and gave them to you. So you messed up by saying you also had pictures of Val."

"Now I'm confused," Noah lied convincingly. "Why would Val blab that to you? I can't believe he told you about giving me the pictures. Look, I printed them out so you'd see I wasn't lying about it and then I deleted them off my phone. Please don't tell anybody else Val did this and whatever you do, please don't tell my mom."

"Why would I tell your mom?" she asked, taking the folded up papers.

"I don't know, but remember last year when my brother got caught sexting with his girlfriend and it went viral all around the school? His dick and her boobs were everywhere! I don't want that to happen to Val since he's your boyfriend. Well, and Nick too. For sure it would get traced back to me and my mom would beat the holy shit out of me. I just don't want to get in any trouble over a couple of pics," Noah said, looking down at the ground and shuffling dirt around with his shiny green Doc Marten's. He really had to bite his lip to keep from laughing.

Lizzy unfolded the papers and when she saw what they were, she made a little gasp and her eyes bugged out. She looked from one to the other and then back again. Then she looked up at Noah with a blank stare, and then took another long look at the pictures.

"They like to pose like that for each other," Noah said.

"With BONERS?"

"Um, yeah, I guess so. It makes them happy. They are 'best friends' you know."

"But why?"

"Duh, I thought Val told you he was gay. You just didn't know that Nick was too, I guess. Why do you think Nick is so damn pissed about the date with Tyne? Because he's jealous over him moving in on his BFF. Besides, they just like being dangerous in the locker room, I guess. They do it in the locker room after the rest of the team has left," Noah said, shyly.

"I don't believe it. Who takes the pictures like this with their penises all hard?" Taking another look at the pictures, she said, "I knew Val was big down there, but Nick, oh my god, it's so huge!" She studied Val's picture up close and then said, "I didn't think his looked quite like that."

"Whoa, sister, TMI. How would you know what Val's dick looks like? I thought you weren't that kind of a girl and Val claims to be a virgin, at least when it comes to vaginas," Noah said. He watched with pleasure as Lizzy realized what she'd just given away. Noah filled in the blank air time by answering her other question, "They obviously took the pics of each other. Who else would do it?" As for Nick, "I know what you mean. It's like a baseball bat, or a baby's leg. I'm really going to miss whipping my noodle to that hot image. It's really something, huh?" Noah said, starting to queen it up. Tyne had done a great job of importing a humungous dick onto the Nick look-a-like's picture.

"No wonder Nick always has all those girls throwing themselves at him. Well, never mind that. I'm keeping these pictures and I'll make sure this stays between us as long as you don't say anything about me knowing what Val's penis looks like.

"Thanks, Lizzy. I was hoping I could count on you. You have no idea how much better this makes me feel to know it was Val you got your information from and to be rid of those pics off my phone. Umm, could I just have one last peek at the one of Nick?" Lizzy rolled her eyes and held it out toward him.

Noah gave a big sigh and took off to meet Tyne in the parking lot. He couldn't wait to tell him how well she fell for it. What a bitch, he thought to himself.

Lizzy folded up the papers and stuck them in her notebook, and after taking a quick look around, climbed up the stairs and into the library. Going into the smaller board room, she looked around and noticed that Regina wasn't there. That made her excited because Lizzy was the vice-president and that meant she would get to chair the meeting for once.

"Hi everybody. Sorry I'm late. Where's Regina?"

"A volleyball crisis, I think," said Kerry.

"Okay, well let's get started. Do we have a quorum?" Lizzy asked. This was her first time being chair, and she was super excited. She just had to make sure she followed Robert's Rules of Order.

"Yes. We're all here, except for Regina," Sheena said. She was the treasurer.

"Do we need to read the minutes of the last meeting or do we want to move for approval as written?" Lizzy asked as she looked over to the secretary. She was starting to get into her groove and she was thinking that she really liked being in charge like this.

"I motion for approval as stated," Dexter said, pushing his thick glasses up the bridge of his nose and looking at her.

"Seconded," Kerry said.

"All in favor?" Lizzy said, fumbling through her notebook looking for last week's minutes. She needed to look at them because if anyone asked a question, she wouldn't have a clue. She felt stupid for not taking the council minutes home to review the night before. It's all Val's fault, she thought, and that faggot Tyne.

"Aye," everyone said.

"Okay, so moved. Old business?" Lizzy looked around the room. It seemed strange that everyone was quiet all of a sudden.

"Do we have any old business to discuss or not? Dexter?"

"Well, um, there seems to be a problem with the posters for the Valentines Dance. Maybe Sheena can tell us about it since she's co-chair of the dance committee," he said, throwing Sheena under the bus.

"Thanks, Dex, you asshole. I don't know how to say this, but the posters you put up to out your boyfriend are going to get us all in trouble," Sheena said.

"What do you mean? In trouble with whom?" Lizzy asked.

"How about the principal and our faculty advisor, Mrs. Smith. I'm surprised both of them aren't here," Sheena answered. "Ms. Harris, that weird lifestyles teacher, is having a baby cow over it all because it's ruining the point of her assignment."

"Well, Val tore all the posters down and I admitted to him that it was me, so everyone should just forget about it," Lizzy said in a scolding manner.

"Well, it got the whole school talking about Val 'n Tyne and calling them gay, so it's not going to blow over." Derek chimed in. "Plus, Coach Carlson is pissed because you got Nick and Lukas all riled up about Val being gay and it's messing up the team. I was in there getting started with the dance decorations during last period and Val started a fight over it right in the middle of practice and Coach Carlson kicked him out,"

Caught off guard, Lizzy slammed her fist down and tipped the corner of her notebook with her arm, sending all of her papers tumbling to the ground. "Damn," she said.

Dexter and Kerry were the closest to her, and being gentlemen, they jumped up to help her pickup the spilled papers. Dexter was making more of a mess than actually helping, and Kerry was picking up as much as he could because he wanted to get the hell out of there before the principal and Mrs. Smith showed up. But suddenly something caught his eye. A couple of folded up pieces of paper popped out, and they spread open just enough to be obvious photos of some sort. He could just make out the face on a guy in one of the pictures. Curious, he opened one up, looked at it for a second and then quickly folded it back up. Making sure that Lizzy wasn't watching, he got up and sat back down in his seat keeping the pictures hidden behind him.

"What's wrong with you? You look like you've seen a ghost," Sheena said into his ear.

"Look at this. I think we have a bigger problem than just posters."

"Oh my God! I don't know what you're playing, Lizzy, but what's the idea of this? Were you planning on passing these around?" Sheena took them from Kerry and held them up for everyone to see.

"GIVE ME THOSE!" Lizzy screamed. She lunged after them and tripped, falling flat on her face. Derek grabbed the one of Nick and started laughing his head off. Somebody else plucked the one of Val out of Sheena's hands and they both began making the rounds. Lizzy jumped up and tried to climb over the boardroom table to get to the pictures but Sheena grabbed her and they started scuffling. Just then, Mrs. Smith walked into the room demanding to know what was going on. Lizzy's first day conducting the council meeting turned out to be more like Robert's Rules of DIS-order.

Noah found Tyne waiting by the car and he skipped up to him. "Tyne, you should have seen it. She totally bought the whole deal. She thought I was lying about the pictures and then I showed her the ones you Photoshopped and I could totally tell that she was all pumped that something she'd made up was actually true."

"Awesome. We'll have to call Val and tell him." Tyne and Noah did a high five.

"Call me and tell me what?" Val asked. He'd seen them talking and walked up behind them.

"How Lizzy took the bait on the pictures. How did it go with Nick?" Noah asked.

"Kind of bad, really. I got in a fight during practice and got kicked out. Coach Carlson is pissed. I won't be surprised if I don't get to play in tomorrow's game. Then in the locker room, I got Lukas to get Nick's phone like you suggested and he found the pics and it turned ugly. Dane had Nick on the ground punching the crap out of him because there was a picture secretly taken of Dane sitting on the john in a bathroom stall jacking off on Nick's phone."

"WHAT?" Noah and Tyne asked in a shocked gasp.

"But that means…" Tyne started.

"Exactly, and he had some other pics of me fully naked with my junk showing and everything that he'd actually taken on his own. It looks like he really is gay. Well, maybe three-quarters gay at least. He even offered beforehand to mess around with me if I'd drop the date with you, Tyne. He admitted he jacked off and sucked with his cousin before and that he liked it."

"Holy shitkowski. That means he's as gay as I am," Noah said. "Damn. No wonder he let me put my number in his phone. I wish he'd call me, I'd teach him a few things his cousin never thought of. Is he packing anything close to that monster of yours, Val?"

"Noah, don't be disgusting," Tyne said. "And trust me, Noah, no one's as gay as you are. Val, don't feel bad, you did the right thing to expose Nick."

"Thanks Tyne," Val said. "I need to go get started on my homework. Although, I'm not sure why I bother. I don't get it anyway. I don't know who the dumbass was who decided to mix the alphabet up with numbers, but it sure is stupid."

"Don't look at them as letters. They're just place holders for unknowns that you have to solve for. Close your eyes for a minute." Val shrugged and closed his eyes. Tyne made Noah give him the bag of M&M's that was in his pocket and poured three into one pile on a piece of paper and four into another and set it on top of Noah's car. Then he covered the four with another piece of paper and wrote "M" on it. Next, he laid out seven M&M's in the shape of a seven with an equal sign drawn on the paper between them. "Open your eyes."

"What are you doing?" Val asked.

"Math is all about balance. Math is the perfect allegory for life. It always wants to be in balance. You want to solve the problem for M. Since you know that in order for the problem to be balanced, both sides of the equal sign have to contain seven M&M's. So to figure it out, you just have to isolate the unknown part. To do that, we take away the known part on the left side." Tyne took the three M&M's and gave one to Noah and one to Val.

Noah shouted, "Wait!" He grabbed Tyne's hand before he could eat his M&M, plucked it from his fingers and handed it to Val. Then he took Val's and gave it to Tyne. "Val should definitely get the green one."

They all chuckled and Tyne said, "Whatever, you freak."

Val tossed it into his mouth and then said seductively, "Oooo, Noah, you're looking hot all of a sudden. Want to go to the Valentines dance with me?"

"Oh my God, back to math," Tyne said. "So since we took three away from the left side to keep it equal, how many do we have to take away from the right side?"

"Three," Val said.

"Exactly." Tyne took three away from the seven on the right side. He quickly popped the green one in his mouth and said, "Mmm, Val you studly hunk." Then he winked and broke out laughing while Noah nearly fell on the ground and pissed himself. "All right, so how many M&M's are under the "M" on the paper?"

"Four, obviously."

"Exactly! See you can do algebra. It's just a matter of balance. In math and in life, you need balance. You need sports and culture. You need study time and play time. You need work and you need rest. Balance."

"Wow. That's cool. I actually get it when you put it that way. Hey, any chance you could come over to my house and help me with my math tonight? I mean, I don't want to be a pain in the ass, but I really need the help bad."

"Well, uhh …" Tyne was so taken off guard at the invitation and request, he couldn't formulate an answer.

"Of course he will," Noah chimed in. "He hasn't got anything else to do. I'm sure he's already done all his homework, like a week in advance."

"Sure, I guess I can. I mean, I'd be glad to help you."

"Great. You just want to come home with me in my truck now?"

"Noah, do you mind?"

"Do I mind? Hell no I don't mind. You go tutor Val up. But listen, Val baby, if you ever need help with human physiology, I'm your man for that."

"OH MY GOD. Goodbye Noah," Tyne said. Val just shook his head and smiled. On the ride home, Tyne took control of the iPod and played bits and pieces of two dozen songs, browsing through Val's extensive collection. He was impressed with Val's broad range of taste. They chatted about their favorite artists and why they liked them. The conversation flowed remarkably easy and they found appreciation for each other's wit. Val's was quick and Tyne's was dry.

Val introduced Tyne to his mom when they walked in the door and explained they were going to study together. Val's mom was surprised and thrilled. She invited Tyne to stay for dinner and he sent a text to his mom at the hospital for her permission, which she granted quickly since she was working late anyway. Val and Tyne spent two solid, uninterrupted hours on Math and reviewing History. At the end, Val actually did the last three math problems on his own correctly. When Val did the last one, which was slightly different from the other two, he slid it cautiously over toward Tyne. When Tyne announced he had done it right, Val shot an imaginary basket and shouted, "YES!" Then he grabbed Tyne around the neck and hugged him tight, pressing Tyne's face against the bare skin of his chest, exposed by the low neck of Val's basketball style jersey. Tyne felt the flesh of his soft cheek press into the firm chest muscles and he drank in Val's manly scent. He held his breath and felt his dick stir in his pants until Val released him.

"Glad I could help," Tyne stammered. "It wasn't that big of a deal. You're really pretty quick to get things if you just get them explained in a logical manner. That makes you easy to teach."

"That's what my coaches all say too, that I'm very coachable."

"Get washed up, kids," Val's mom called up the stairs. "It's time for dinner."

Val and Tyne slammed their books shut and headed into the bathroom, but unfortunately Val's little sister Violet had beat them in there. "This might take all night. Let's use the downstairs bathroom," Val suggested.

On the way through the big house, the boys ran into Val's dad. "Hi Dad. This is Tyne. He is helping me study my algebra. He's staying for dinner," Val said.

"Hello, Mr. Hardcastle. It's nice to meet you."

"You too, Tyne. Thanks for helping Val out with his studies. Were you able to get through his thick head?"

"Yes sir. He caught on real fast. He seems to be getting the hang of it now."

"Wonderful. Maybe there's hope for him yet. Thanks again for helping out."

"No problem. I enjoy doing it."

"Hello! I'm standing right here," Val whined.

"Go wash up before your mother gets mad, Val," his father said, chuckling.

"Okay. C'mon, Tyne, it's over here."

Once in the small powder room off the entry, the boys couldn't help laughing as they both tried to wash their hands at the same time. They pushed each other out of the way, trying to get the sink all to themselves. Suddenly, Tyne turned to Val with a shocked expression on his face. "Do your parents know that we're going on a date for class?"

"Oh yeah, they do. Violet does too. She thinks it's funny."

"Oh my god. You need to take me home. I don't think I can do this."

"Sure you can," Val said. "My mom is cool, and my dad gets weird sometimes, but deep down he's a cool guy. Opinionated, but still cool."

Tyne let out a long sigh. "All right, if you say so. Let's get this over with."

Tyne followed Val to the dining room where he was truly surprised that Val's mom had pulled out all the stops. It looked like a feast! And the table was set with candles and fresh flowers and everything. Tyne couldn't ever remember eating like this, except maybe at Christmas.

"Tyne, you can sit here next to Val. Violet, scoot over honey," Mrs. Hardcastle said.

"Tyne? You mean you're that Tyne? Is this your date?" Violet asked, turning smug as she figured out who this new friend of her brothers was. "You're cute!"

"Shut up Vi! He was helping me with my homework," Val barked at his sister.

"Well, I want to know everything. If tonight's dinner isn't your date, then what are Val and Tyne planning to do?"

"Violet, mind your manners. Tyne, help yourself to some pot roast. I hope you like it," Mrs. Hardcastle said.

"Thank you. It smells delicious."

"It is. My mom's a great cook," Val said, scooping a large spoonful of cheesy mashed potatoes on his plate.

"Does your mother cook, dear?"

"Well, no, not too much lately. She's a nurse down at Hartsdale General and she's been pulling some extra shifts recently. Actually, I do most of the cooking." Tyne was starting to get uncomfortable with this line of questioning. He hated it when people started to pity him.

"And your father? What does he do, son?" Mr. Hardcastle asked.

Even though Tyne knew this line of questioning was coming, he had never become comfortable talking about it. "Well, he …"

"Dad, Tyne's dad died last year. He got shot at that bank robbery downtown."

"Oh dear! I'm so sorry, Tyne. We had no idea," Mrs. Hardcastle said, dropping her fork.

An uncomfortable silence settled around the dining room table. Finally, Violet had to ask, "How did it happen?"

Staring down at his plate and pushing his vegetables around for a minute, he slowly and quietly revealed the details. "My dad was a hostage negotiator for the Hartsdale PD. They got a call about a bank robbery and when they got there the gunman had taken five hostages inside the vault. Two women, two little kids and a man. From what the Chief told me and my mom afterward, my dad was trying to get the guy to release the women and kids first, but what they didn't know was that the man was the bank's security guard. Well anyway, the security guard tried to be a hero and pulled out his gun when the robber wasn't looking and shot him in the leg. Instead of stopping him, it made the robber even angrier and he turned around and killed the guard. I guess my dad was just about to fire on the robber," Tyne said. Taking a deep breath, he continued, "But the robber was faster and he let my dad have it. Even his bullet-proof jacket couldn't save him since one of the bullets hit him in the neck. He bled to death."

"I remember reading about that. Your father was a hero, son - a real-life hero. Those types of men are few and far between lately. I know it doesn't make it any better for you to hear that, but your father's death wasn't in vain. I respect real men like that." Val's dad looked choked up. "I'd like to think that I'd be able to do that in that kind of situation, but I'm not sure that I could. You can be proud of your father, son, and always hold him close to your heart."

"Thank you sir. I do." Val reached over and gave his new friend a hug around his shoulders. Nothing more was said for a few minutes.

"Tyne, this might seem out of place, but did you and your mother get any support or counseling from the police department?" Mrs. Hardcastle asked.

Tyne shook his head no.

"The reason that I ask this is because I have a dear friend who is a Psychologist who deals specifically with issues like this. Please don't take this the wrong way, but sometimes talking to a professional might help you come to terms and lessen the pain. I don't mean to forget about your father, not at all – you could never do that, but maybe she could give you some ideas and tips on how to deal with the emotions and make it a touch easier. I don't think I could cope if that happened in our family."

"The police assistance league helped out some with the funeral and stuff, but mostly we've just been on our own. My dad's friends on the force have been by a lot, but that just brings it all back up. And to be truthful, I think the single guys just want to go out with my mom. But I think I am handling it okay, but I worry about my mom. She never talks about it and, well, sometimes I just worry about her."

"How about if I do this, since you are helping Val with his studies, I'll call your mother with the pretense of getting to know her. Well, I'd do that anyway. I met Val's girlfriend's mother last week and I have to say I wasn't thrilled with…"

"Mom! Don't go there."

"Well, how about I invite her for coffee and just get to know her. If it comes up, I'll refer her to my friend. Does that sound all right? I'd really like to help."

"Sure. I guess so," Tyne said noncommittally.

"Wonderful! Who has room for desert? I made lemon cheesecake," she said, as she jumped up and headed for the kitchen. Mr. Hardcastle followed her in.

"So, what are you going to do on your date? You never told me," Violet asked again in a sing-song voice once the parents were out of ear-shot.

"Why is it so important to you?" Val asked.

"Because I just want to know. I like to know things. Besides I might want to come along now I know how cute Tyne is."

"What are you? A reporter for TMZ?" Tyne asked.

"God help us," Val said.

"That would be a great idea. Actually, I want to be a reporter for the channel six news," she said, giving the guys a mock interview stance.

"You're a goof, you know that Vi?"

Violet grabbed a dinner knife and held it like a microphone, "So you're going on a date with Tyne. So spill it. Where are you two going?"

"Your brother is taking me fishing. That's it," Tyne interjected.

"Really? That's all? That sounds lame. C'mon, tell me the truth."

"That's it, sis. Nothing to it. Just two guys hanging out up at the lake fishing and talking."

"Well then I don't want to go after all. Fishing is yucky. I hate how slimy they are and it's so gross when you slice their bellies open and dig out the guts." Tyne looked over at Val with a disgusted expression. Val started laughing.

"Don't worry Tyne, you only have to eat the guts from the first fish you catch. It's a tradition for good luck." Tyne faked a gagging reaction. It wasn't all that hard to fake though.

"You two are stupid! You deserve each other," Violet said.

"Here we go," Mrs. Hardcastle said, as she walked into the dining room with a huge cheesecake. Mr. Hardcastle followed carrying a silver coffee pot.

As she started cutting slices and passing them out, she started thinking out loud. "You know, boys, the dance is coming up tomorrow night. You two should double date. Do you have a girlfriend, Tyne?"

"No, I don't. I wasn't really planning on going, anyway."

"Well, you should go. You have to do these things in high school because or if you don't, you'll always regret that you didn't go. Isn't that right Buford?"

"Honey, leave the boy alone."

"Posh. I have a brilliant idea. Tyne could take Becka. That's Val's cousin. She's my sister's girl. We were pregnant together and Becka was born just one week after Val. They've been kissing cousins ever since.

Val gagged. "Eww! Mom, please, I just ate."

Mrs. Hardcastle ignored him and kept talking, "The doctor predicted that Val was going to be a girl and we already had Valerie picked out for his name and his room was painted pink. We even had to bring him home from the hospital in a pink dress since that was what we planned for."

"MOM! Stop it."

"Funny thing is that my sister wanted a boy."

"So you both got what you wanted," Violet joked, giggling.

"Not funny, Vi." Val said flicking her ear.

"Well, when Val popped out, my doctor said to us, 'Oops, looks like your little girl has a tail, and a big one too. When we looked back at the ultrasound pictures, you could see how Val had tucked his cute little penis between his chubby little thighs making it look like he had a vagina instead."

"Dad, make her stop!"

"Polly, for glory sake, you're embarrassing the boy and his friend and your underage daughter is sitting right here."

"Oh posh. I'm just talking about him as a baby and it's not like any of you never heard the word penis before. Val and Tyne both have one and I certainly know you do too, Buford. You and Tyne do have penises, don't you boys? As for Violet, we've had the mother daughter talk and she knows perfectly well what a penis is. It's only a dirty word if you make it dirty. Isn't that right, Violet?"

"Yes," she said giggling and looking at her plate, "I even saw Val's before and it's BIG!"

"Okay, that's it! Shut up about my penis. Geez, Mom, you are so embarrassing."

"Okay, Mr. Sensitive. Anyway, my point is that I'm sure Becka would love to go to the dance with you, Tyne. She's a lovely girl! She has the sweetest personality."

Tyne got a quick look at Violet, who was sitting there shaking her head and rolling her eyes. "Mom, get real. Becka's a dork."

"Yeah mom. Stop playing matchmaker. Besides, I'm not sure I'm going either."

"Why not, Val?"

"Because I broke up with Lizzy, that's why."

"What did you do to cause that to happen?" asked his mom.

"I didn't do anything. She's too controlling and I didn't like it. It's as simple as that. End of story."

"Well, there'll be others. A handsome, talented boy like yourself should have no problem getting a date."

"Especially if you show them your big penis," Violet mumbled, then burst out giggling.

"Okay, enough already. Can we be excused? I need to take Tyne home."

"Yes dear. Tyne, it was a pleasure to meet you. I hope you'll be back soon. And thank you so much for helping our little Vallie out."

"You're welcome Mrs. Hardcastle. And thank you for the delicious dinner." Tyne extended his hand and Mrs. Hardcastle took it and held it excessively long. She actually stroked the back of his hand with her other hand.

"My goodness you have such wonderfully soft hands. Do you use some sort of special hand lotion?"

"Umm, no." Tyne pulled free of her grasp, feeling kind of weird.

"Glory, Polly, what kind of a question is that to ask a boy? It was nice meeting you son," Mr. Hardcastle said.

"You too, sir," Tyne said, and shook the older man's hand. Mr. Hardcastle shot his wife a little grimace that communicated she was right about the soft hands.

"Do you want me to call Becka before you leave?" Mrs. Hardcastle pressed.

"Nah, thanks. That's okay. I better go before my mom starts putting my picture on milk cartons."

"Let's run upstairs and grab our books. I want to show you something before we leave," Val said.

Up in Val's bedroom, Val got down a photo album filled with family pictures. "I wanted you to see a picture of Becka. You might change your mind after all and want to take her to the dance. This was taken last year, but she still looks the same. That's her right there."

"Oh my god! She looks like Steven Tyler. Is that for real?"

Val was laughing so hard he couldn't answer. When he caught his breath he said, "Yeah she does kind of, except she can't play the piano or sing."

"It's a good thing she has a sweet personality," Tyne said.

"That's just code for annoying. Plus, she's got a laugh like a hyena in heat."

"I'm sorry dude. Your mom's nice and all, and she's a great cook, but she's a little nuts." Then mimicking Val's mom's voice, Tyne said, "You and Tyne do have penises, don't' you boys?" That made Val laugh even more, and he doubled up and fell on the floor.

"Hey, Val-erie, get up and take me home. I gotta get going."

"Okay, okay, but don't you dare mention that Valerie thing to anyone else. I mean it."

"I won't. It's pretty funny though. I bet you'd look really cute in a pink dress. You could wear it to the Val 'n Tyne dance. By the way, are you really thinking about skipping the dance? I thought guys like you always went to the dances."

"Guys like me? What do you mean by that? What about guys like you? Why aren't you going?"

"Don't get offended, I just meant all the popular guys and jocks. I just thought you guys always went to everything as a pack to hang out and be seen and flirt and stuff."

"Well, I'm not really like that. If I don't have a date, I hardly ever go stag. It's uncomfortable when the slow dances come and I'm too shy to ask someone," Val confessed. "But why don't you ever go? I've never seen you at one."

"Seriously? What would I do there? I'm not interested in finding a girl and if I danced with a guy, I might as well pick out my headstone. I'm in no hurry to join my father in the afterlife."

"So you don't have to hook up with a girl to have fun. You and Noah and your other friends could just hang out and enjoy the music and the refreshments and being together. It's a cool atmosphere. It's part of the high school experience and you're missing it."

"Yeah, well, part of the cost of being gay, I guess."

"That's wrong. I'll tell you what, I'll go if you'll go. You can hang with me and that way I won't feel as obvious about not having a date."

"Are you serious? You wouldn't ditch me?"


"Okay. What the hell. I'll go."

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