The sun was shining with an autumn afternoon glow when Cory, Kevin and Matt finally got through their last class of the day and walked out of their separate classrooms. As Cory left his classroom, he was warmed by knowing something new about his two best friends. They were both gay, and he had a boyfriend. He didn't even mind the pushing and shoving by the other kids trying to hurry to their lockers for Cory was also in the same hurry, but not to get home. He knew he was going to be seeing Kevin and Matt in a few minutes, and that gave him a warm glow. He felt really alive at that moment as he thought of his love for Kevin and knowing that his love was being returned.
But now he wanted to share this with his other friends, just not as awkward as it had been with Richard. Richard knew too much so he was expecting Richard's reaction. They don't yet. Cory hadn't told his other friends that he was hopeless over Kevin. However, Cory didn't know that everyone already knew.
Cory first saw Matt outside waiting for him as he exited the school building. He strolled over toward him, but then Kevin arrived and fell in next to him. Cory wanted so much to hold Kevin's hand right then but knew that it was impossible given where they were.
Matt saw the angst in Cory's eyes just then, but figured it was because Cory hadn't told Kevin about how he felt yet.
"What's up guys?" Matt asked as they approached.
"Just another school day," Kevin replied.
"So, what's on the agenda for this afternoon? What'd you wanna do?" Matt asked.
"You wanna get some burgers – it's my snack time, you know?" Cory asked.
"Hey, that sounds good. I'm hungry too. Let's go over to Sammy's," Kevin responded.
Sammy's burgers were only a half step above the school's cafeteria burgers, but they were cheap and within blocks of the school.
"Yeah, it's close. We can walk there," added Matt.
So, the three boys started off, side by side. It didn't take long before they were out of sight of the school and the kids from there had thinned out.
Looking around Cory noticed that they were the only kids walking down the street now, and only about two blocks from Sammy's burger place. He looked at Kevin to his left, and then he looked at Matt to his right. No time like the present, he thought to himself as he slipped his hand into Kevin's.
Kevin jerked, but then looked around and relaxed, and left his hand in Cory's. No one had noticed. Actually, there wasn't anyone around to notice.
Matt, still talking about his Lit quiz that day, was oblivious to the hands being held. Finally, he looked at Cory, making a point of how the quiz had covered things that weren't supposed to be there.
He suddenly stopped talking when he noticed the held hands. Matt smiled. He knew this was coming, but all he thought was that it was about frigging time. Matt didn't say anything for a while as the three continued toward Sammy's.
Finally, he couldn't take the silence anymore.
"Did his eyes finally get to you Cory?" Matt asked.
Cory grinned. "Nah, it was his kiss."
"Yeah, he kissed me on the cheek after the pool party."
Kevin turned to Matt. "Yeah, and I would've done more if dipshit here, and me too, I guess, wasn't so frigging paranoid."
Kevin still had that mature brashness in his grin, and it came through in his last words, but Matt knew what a softy he was inside.
"You know guys? Kelly's NOT going to let this go," Matt said.
"What do you mean?" Cory had to ask.
"Oh man, she's known you two guys were in love and have had a really hard time telling each other. She's been furious that you never showed the guts to talk about it before. When you tell her, she's going to love you for it but you're going to hear her wrath for taking so long."
"I guess we're in trouble, huh?" Kevin asked.
"Count on it," Matt replied.
They were silent as they walked the last half block to Sammy's, two boys deep in thought about how, where and when to approach Kelly, one boy dying inside knowing how this was going to turn out.
Cory turned to Kevin as they opened the door to the restaurant.
"We really need to talk about how we're going to handle Kelly. This could be dangerous."
Kevin nodded. "Yeah, we do. I just hope she doesn't kill first."
As they entered the restaurant, they looked around seeking an empty table. Two boys froze. One boy chuckled. There was Kelly sitting with Dawn and Josh only twenty feet from them.
"Oh fuck." Cory said under his breath, as they stood in front of the door that had just closed behind them.
Kelly and Josh looked up and saw them. 'Trapped,' Cory thought.
"Well, let's go kill three birds with one stone," Kevin finally said after a short pause.
The three boys moved in the direction of the trio sitting in a wide booth.
"Hey, what do you guys want? I'll go order while you two get acquainted with your new demons," Matt laughed, knowing what was coming, but didn't want to be a part of it.
"Whatever you get, just triple it," Cory said, not really thinking about food at that moment.
Matt left for the order window as Kevin and Cory headed down death row.
Cory stalled for a moment, turning to Kevin.
"Kevin? The hand thing worked twice now. You want to try it again?"
"Yeah. It's worked before and we don't have to say anything."
Cory and Kevin joined their hands together as they completed their journey down 'that' row to Kelly's, Josh's and Dawn's booth. When they arrived, everyone at the boot scooted over to make room for them, but Kelly, still watching the hands, didn't move. She took her eyes away from the hands and finally looked up at them.
"You guys want to sit here?" she asked.
"Well, yeah, if it's okay," Cory answered, a little taken aback.
Josh looked over at Kelly and said, "Come on Kelly. You saw what I saw, and it looks like life is finally going to go on."
"Yeah, you're right. Looks like these two 'males' finally grew some balls."
That broke the tension, and Kevin and Cory slipped in beside Kelly, leaving Josh to be with Dawn and a space for Matt across the table.
"So, you finally did it, huh? You finally 'talked' to each other?" Kelly asked.
"Yeah, we did," Cory said, looking down.
"Well, don't be so sad. This is exactly what all of us have been hoping for, praying for. Now you two can get on with your lives," Kelly said. "You've put all of us on hold, you know?"
Dawn finally spoke, "Hey, I don't know you guys all that well yet, but English Lit has us reading some English guy's writings, and I think he's written about you guys. Which one of you is Romeo?"
Cory and Kevin's faces became beefsteak tomatoes.
Just then, Matt arrived with their food, but nobody could think of food right then. Matt slipped in next to Josh.
Josh looked over at Cory, putting his elbows on the table, his chin in his folded hands.
"You know Cory, at your birthday party I didn't feel that you had the guts to do this. I thought of you as this scared little rabbit who was about to hurt a lot of people around you. You impress me, man. You did good.
Cory turned to Kevin, "What do you think, Kevin?"
"Yeah Cory, I think we'll be working on it," Kevin answered.
Cory turned his attention back to Josh.
"It wasn't just me, Josh. Kevin, too, had the same feelings and also was as scared as I was. We're just trying to grow up, man. Yeah, we screwed up by not being honest, but we're not alone. I'm sure you've had doubts before about what you should do too. We're still trying to grow, to understand this fucking world in front of us that we're about to be a part of. Yeah, both Kevin and I made a mistake, and we almost lost each other because of it. But we're still here. We're still trying to learn, man."
Josh was quiet for a moment, eyes glued on Cory's.
"You know Cory, from what you did, but mostly from what you just said, you and Kevin are on my good list."
Cory looked toward Kevin. Kevin spoke.
"Josh, you just joined our good list too."
Nothing more was heard from Kelly. Josh had said it all.
The next day as Cory got home, he did something that he normally didn't do. He checked the mailbox. Richard had asked him to bring in the mail when he got home, but Cory seemed to forget most of the time. When he opened the mailbox, it was loaded. Trying to manage his backpack and pull out all of the letters, magazines and junk trash, including the ones from the supermarket that kept falling apart, he struggled to keep it all together. He couldn't. Half of them spilled on the ground.
He dropped his backpack on the grass and started to pick up what had fallen when he noticed one letter was addressed to him. His face lit up when he saw that it was from Mike.
Cory almost forgot his backpack on the grass as he started to run toward the house, keeping his eyes on the letter from Mike, but turned and gathered everything before dashing inside.
He threw the rest of the mail on the kitchen table and ran upstairs to his room. Once inside, with his backpack neatly stowed away in the middle of the floor, Cory sat at his desk, but didn't open the letter. He just stared at it for a while.
Finally, he opened it and pulled out the letter, it too was eight pages long, like his was to Mike.
Cory began to read. Mike was furious over what Cory's dad had done. He told him that he could come to live with him, if he wanted to, but was also so happy for Cory for having found a foster dad. Mike also told Cory about how his life was going, how he liked his new school, his new home, and even that he had found a girlfriend. Well, not a girlfriend yet, they had just started dating. He was elated that his friend Cory had found a boyfriend and how happy he was for him. He said he knew how unhappy Cory was back in Plymouth, but that things were definitely now going Cory's way.
When he closed the letter, Mike said something that he had never said before. Mike told him that he loved him and that they would always be friends, no matter how far away they were. He told Cory that if he ever needed anything, that he would be there for him in any way he could.
Cory cried after reading that letter. He missed Mike. Until that moment, Cory had never understood what a true friend Mike was, no, is. Kevin had taught him what a friend really means and how sacred that relationship is, and Cory now understood. Mike would always be there for him, no matter where he was.
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