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by Wes Leigh

Chapter 22

Success isn't final. Failure isn't fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts!

-- Winston Churchill

Diego and Xavier were busy painting backdrops to look like a forest for the upcoming production of MacBeth. It didn't have to appear all that realistic, but it did need to look like an enormous forest, and that meant a lot of trees.

They were working hard on the backdrops, ignoring each other. The other drama students were working on the other side of the stage, staying away from the two of them. Without really knowing why, everyone realized there was growing tension between the two teens who had been such good friends up until now, so the other students were staying as far away as possible.

Diego finished a tree and asked Xavier for the brown paint so he could add a few more trunks.

"Here. I don't need any more," Xavier replied, handing over the tray filled with russet paint.

Diego took it, mumbling, "Thanks."

Xavier nodded.

Diego sighed, "Xavier…"

Xavier shook his head violently and held up his hand. "No! Don't even go there, Diego. I don't want to talk about it."

"But, Xavier—"

"I said I don't want to talk about it, Diego!" Xavier threw down his paint brush and stomped out the back door of the stage.

Diego dropped his own brush and followed Xavier, raising his voice and yelling, "That's too bad, Xavier. I DO want to talk about it, and you're gonna listen!" Diego followed Xavier out into the hallway behind the stage and grabbed him by the arm, spinning him around. "If you don't want to discuss it, that's fine. I'll do all the talking."

Xavier glared at Diego, then said, "Say what you have to say."

"This has to stop, Xavier. You're miserable. Daniel is miserable. Everybody is on edge. You have to forgive him and put this behind you."

"I have to forgive him?" Xavier practically shouted. "When did he say he was sorry? When did he apologize for screwing up everything so damned bad that things may never be the same again?"

Diego ground his teeth in frustration. "How can he apologize when you won't even speak to him? You have to give him a chance, Xavier. I'm sure he wants to patch this up just as much as you do."

Xavier looked down at his feet and asked, "What makes you think I want to fix it?"

"What do you mean, Xavier? Are you going to throw away everything you guys have over one stupid argument?"

"It's not one little argument, Diego. This is HUGE! Daniel has dug the Grand Canyon between us, and you're asking me to jump over it and shake his hand. I can't do that! I can't forgive him. I can't even get to where he is, because that's how big a hole there is between us! Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Diego couldn't help himself. Tears started dripping from his eyes, rolling down his cheeks.

Xavier sighed and said, "Don't think I don't appreciate you trying, Diego. I do. But this is not something you or anyone else can fix. Daniel and I are done. Forever." Xavier turned and walked down the hallway, headed for the exit.

Diego watched him go, sniffling and crying softly.

A few heads peeking through the door at the back of the stage popped back inside, alarmed by what they'd just seen and heard. The gossip would be all over the school before the end of the day.

Dillon dropped the ball. Again. For the third time.

Coach Sean blew his whistle. Again. Ordered the offense to line up and run the play a fourth time.

Daniel shook his head in disgust, but leaned over the center and called for the ball. He rolled to the right and launched the ball down the field. It flew just outside of Dillon's grasp, hitting his fingers and skittering away before he could pull it in.

Daniel kicked the grass as hard as he could and shouted, "SHIT!"

Coach blew his whistle and threw his clipboard on the ground. "Damn it, boys. What the hell is wrong?"

Connor trotted over and put his hand on the coach's shoulder. "I got this, Coach."

Coach Sean nodded his thanks. "Talk some sense into them. I don't know where their heads are right now."

Connor strolled over to the offensive players, who were gathered in a loose huddle. "Hey, guys," he began.

Most of them acknowledged Connor, granting him the respect he deserved as a senior and their captain. Daniel glared at Connor, resenting his presence.

"It looks like you guys are a little out of sync today," Connor said.

Dillon looked sheepishly at Daniel, but said nothing.

Daniel saw Dillon glance at him. Daniel held his hand up and said, "My bad. I'm having trouble focusing today. I keep leading Dillon too much, expecting him to catch up to my throw."

Connor nodded. "Can you take it up a notch on your runs, Dillon."

Dillon shook his head. "I'm going full out now, Connor. It's a fly route, so I'm sprinting the entire way."

Daniel snapped, "I said it was my fault. Not Dillon's. I'll fix it, and the offense doesn't need help from the defense. Not that you Neanderthals have a clue how the offense works. Thank you very much."

The other players stared at Daniel wide-eyed and shocked.

Connor took a step back. "I wasn't trying to step on your toes, Big D."

"Then keep on steppin' back, Big C. Because I've got this."

Connor nodded as though he understood what Daniel was saying, then his eyes sparked and he rushed Daniel. The two collided and started throwing punches at each other, while the other players shouted and scrambled, trying to pull them apart and keep them separated. Coach Sean ran in, screaming at them to break it up.

When the chaos finally ended, Connor was sporting a red cheek where Daniel had managed to land a fist. Daniel had a split lip. Coach made them both run twenty laps, with half a lap distance between them, and warned them that he wouldn't allow that kind of crap on his field ever again.

"Diego, I'm going to teach you to teleport the same way Xavier taught me." Daniel's voice caught at the end. It was painful recalling that day when he was learning under Xavier's patient tutorship.

Diego noticed but said nothing. He could see how much Daniel was hurting. Diego didn't want to make matters worse, so he said, "Okay, what's first?"

Daniel pointed at a tree on the other side of the river. They had found an isolated spot near the old mill. There was no one around to see them teleporting from spot to spot, so it was the perfect place to train. Daniel had Diego focus his vampiric vision on the tree and study the patterns in the wood. Then he explained to Diego about visualizing the tree up close and projecting his body through space to stand in front of the tree. When Diego was ready, he made the jump, barely able to contain his excitement when Daniel appeared next to him, praising him for his successful teleport.

They continued jumping from spot to spot around the river, then tried a few longer jumps to places they both knew around town. Finally, Daniel asked Diego to visualize a place he remembered from when he lived in Houston. Diego pictured a boardwalk in League City just off Galveston Bay.

Daniel thought, Now… this is the tricky part. I want you to picture that boardwalk late at night, after all the businesses are closed and all the people have gone home.

Diego nodded. Because we don't want anyone to see us teleport in?

Right, Daniel replied. As a vaewolf, you have the ability to manipulate both time and space. That's something the vampires can't do.

That's wicked! Diego exclaimed.

Daniel nodded his agreement. It's also dangerous. I don't fully understand it yet, but even time responds to a vaewolf's demands.

Is that why you keep having premonitions?

I think so. Maybe my mind is travelling through time while I sleep. I don't know, Diego. Daniel chuckled. I've only been a vaewolf for a year now, so me training you is like the blind leading the blind. That's why we need to be extra careful, okay?

Diego nodded, so Daniel continued, Teleporting through both space and time is extremely tricky, so I want you to think about where we're going and give me a chance to see what you're picturing. When I'm satisfied you have a good visualization, we'll go there. Now, start thinking about the boardwalk.

Diego nodded and closed his eyes. He pictured the boardwalk where he and his family had spent a few happy days hanging out, feeding the seagulls, enjoying the fresh salty air. He changed the image to late at night, with a sliver of a moon high above, turning the boardwalk into a silvery path covered in shadows. He sent the image to Daniel and heard Daniel say, Good. Let's go.

Diego felt a change in the air around him. It was warmer and much wetter. He opened his eyes and found himself standing on the Kemah Boardwalk late at night. Daniel was standing next to him, smiling.

You did it, Diego. Good job.

Diego jumped into Daniel's arms, hugging him around the neck and then kissing him on the cheek.

Daniel laughed and hugged Diego back, giggling when he felt a hard lump pressing into his stomach. Daniel smiled at Diego and asked, "Are you excited about time jumping or are you just happy to see me?"

Diego snickered and said, "A little of both. Come with me." He slid out of Daniel's arms and grabbed Daniel by the hand. Then he led Daniel around the Kemah Boardwalk, pointing out the various shops and restaurants. "Landry's has incredible seafood. Their crab cakes are the best! And that's Pharoah's Fury." He pointed at a nearby amusement park ride. "It will make you barf. I'm serious, dude!"

Daniel allowed Diego to pull him along by the hand, pointing out one attraction after another. Kemah was more than a boardwalk; it was also an amusement park, complete with a dozen rides including a massive roller coaster. Daniel had to trot to keep up with Diego, who was thrilled to share his childhood memories with his new friend and lover.

At one point, Diego stopped and stared all around him, finally dropping his eyes to the ground and sighing.

What's wrong, Diego? Daniel asked.

I wish Xavier and Connor could be here too.

Daniel pulled Diego into his arms and kissed him gently. Patience, my love. Maybe one day we can all come back here in the middle of the day, eat your crab cakes, barf on that stupid ride, and have a great time together, just the four of us.

Diego blinked back his tears. I do hope so, Daniel. Diego sighed and added, I love you so much, but I hate this situation.

I do too, Diego. I do too.

Connor drove his old, battered pickup up the rocky road to the top of the hill and parked in front of the cabin. THEIR cabin. He climbed out of the truck and walked slowly to the door, his shoulders slumped in dejection. He slowly opened the door to the cabin, walked inside, then shut it behind him and locked it.

Turning, he saw Xavier standing next to the bed. Xavier smiled sadly at Connor and held out his hands.

Connor walked forward and took both of Xavier's hands in his own. He held them gently, studying the fingers of his lover, memorizing the cool feeling of Xavier's skin touching his own. He lifted Xavier's hands to his mouth and kissed them, then pulled Xavier into a hug.

They stood there, simply holding each other, pressed together, soft cocks pushing together and missing one another. Connor slid one hand behind Xavier's neck and held him still as their lips touched and slowly caressed. Connor's other hand slid down the front of Xavier's body, up under his shirt, down past his belt and into the warm recesses of his groin. Cupping and stroking. Stirring to life what he found there.

Xavier moaned into Connor's mouth, kissing passionately now. His hands roamed around Connor's powerful back, down his hard sides, across his broad chest. Xavier lifted his hands to rest on each side of Connor's face, holding him still as Xavier forced his tongue inside Connor's mouth.

Their hands became frantic as they stripped away shirts and pants, tossing clothing wherever it fell, then they turned as one and fell onto the bed, holding their naked bodies in a tight embrace. Their hips began frantically sliding together, grinding their hard erections together. With sweat and precum mixing on their bodies, they grabbed each other by the hips and began thrusting against each other, frantically, desperately lunging until their cocks swelled up and burst, covering their stomachs with warm cream.

They stopped moving and held each other tight, foreheads pressed together as they took deep breaths.

Connor laughed softly and kissed Xavier on the nose.

Xavier smiled and reached up to stroke Connor's cheek. We can't meet up here anymore, Xavier thought. This has to be the last time.

I know, Connor replied. I hate this situation.

Xavier nodded. I do too, Connor. I do too.

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