Hello my readers. RichardAdams again. Thanks again for all the support. What I'm about to say next is a response to a request by a reader: Nex. He asked me to read his stories and to give him feedback on them. So if you aren't interested in reading this part, go ahead and skip again to Chapter 8 of 'Am I...?'

Nex, I'm going to say it right now and be completely honest. I'm not the kind of guy that likes to sugarcoat things. If you accept that, then here we go. First things first, your stories have great potential. I can see Milk and Chocolate turning into a good series that a lot of people will like to read.

But it isn't quite there yet. My biggest problem is the great number of grammatical errors and awkward wording. But all of those are easy to fix. Another large problem for me is that the story feels incredibly rushed. The story and plot is moving way too fast and it's quite difficult to feel close to any of the characters you've created.

Your character Marc comes across as way too forceful. I understand that he really likes Nick, but in chapter 1, he seemed very apprehensive and afraid of his sexuality. It doesn't quite add up to me. By chapter 2, he's practically throwing himself at Nick. Try to make sure characters stay the same type of people. Over time, they can develop into a better character, but the way you wrote it made it seem like they changed overnight. That often never happens.

Some other things don't really add up. Didn't you write Ty was starting high school in a year but we see him talking to Nick and Nick says he's a sophomore. I was very confused there. Plus the football scores are incorrect. Marc ran into the end zone for a touchdown and you had the score at 37 to 39 and the final score was 40 to 39. A touchdown is 6 points and an extra point, if a team makes it, and one more point. A field goal is 3 points. Try to work out stuff like that.

Overall, the story is pretty good, but it needs a lot of work. I believe you can work on it and make it into something amazing. Thank you for trusting me with a task like this. It makes me feel great to know you trust me with such a task. Thank you Nex.

If you would like any questions answered or if you're a writer hoping to get a second pair of eyes to review your work, I'm always there to help you. On a lighter note, my high school graduation is in three weeks, so I'm excited for that. But there are still finals and final projects and presentations, so that sucks. I'm a senior and I don't get to take a break. Isn't that stupid?

Well, enough about me and my problems. Here's Chapter 8 of 'Am I...?'

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Knowing Coach's and Mr. Creswell's secret is actually pretty cool. It makes me feel like there's some special connection between me and Leo, and them. And every time I pass one of them in the hallway or walk into their class, I'm given a small smile that only I notice. But Leo and I are not going to be given any special treatment. We found that out when we got a C on a Biology lab...

It's the middle of the week and as I'm walking to my next class, someone calls me from behind. "Josh! Wait up!"

I look back and see my motorcycle driving, earring wearing, sexy stud of a boyfriend, quickly walking toward me with a smile on his face. I can't help but smile back. "Hey Leo," I say when he catches up with me.

Even though I want to kiss him so badly, he and I are still mostly in the closet. "What's up?" he asks me.

"Not much. Just heading to Coach's class."

"By the way, the quiz we have in there is kick ass. I'm pretty sure I did well, but it was still incredibly hard."

I groan to myself. "Thanks for the heads up. Now I know when I fail, other people will fail with me."

"C'mon Josh. History is your best subject. You'll do great."

I smile at him. "Thanks for that Leo."

He and I keep conversing as we walk down the hall. But as we turn the corner, I see and a sight I know too well: Brian Mosley being ganged up on by some of the basketball team. Brian Mosley is a senior like me and Leo and is Franklin High School's only openly gay student. He's a good-looking guy, with his dirty blonde hair, thick hipster glasses, and nice smile, but my heart belongs to Leo. Nobody really bugs him about his sexuality and he is very well liked.

But some of the basketball team is made up of a few homophobes. The basketball coach doesn't approve of his players doing stuff like that, but he often doesn't see it happen. You would think that the football team would be the one's with the homophobes, right? Wrong.

Remember Coach Coddler? He's has no respect for people that use 'gay' and 'faggot' as insults. If you even say the word in a way that isn't politically correct and insults others, you run three miles. If you mean 'gay' to be stupid? Three and a half miles. Faggot as a derogatory term? Four miles and a ten-page history paper on the history of homosexuality. As a result, the football team is incredibly accepting of others and doesn't have a single bully on the team (woohoo! Stereotype broken!).

Back to Brian and the basketball players. Brian, despite his smaller five foot eight size, never backs down when he's confronted like this. Leo and I walk a bit closer and join the group of students that have stopped to watch what's going down. "What? You got nothing to say to me, faggot?" says one of the players (I can't tell who. I'm not at the best angle).

"Oh, I have a lot to say," says Brian. "I'm just afraid your tiny brains won't be able to understand what comes out of my mouth."

This prompts a few laughs from the spectators, including Leo and me. The basketball players look pretty pissed off. "You're going to regret saying that, you little cocksucker," says another player, who I know is Danny Walters.

Danny's a dick. He's a complete jackass and often likes it when he sees other people in pain and misery. Not to mention, he's the biggest homophobe you'll ever meet. I, like many other students, hate him.

I suddenly see Danny bring a fist behind his head, ready to strike. I move faster than I even knew was possible and grab Danny's wrist. I twist his arm around and put him into a police hold, causing him to let out a pained scream. "Rusden! Let me go!"

"Not until you promise to leave Brian alone," I say.

"The faggot? He deserves to get the shit kicked out of him! He's probably sucked more dick than I can count!"

"You can count to zero?" I ask mockingly. A burst of laughter comes from everyone, even Brian and the other basketball players. Danny lets out a low growl. "Now I'm going to let you go. If you try to hurt anyone here, I'll personally see to it you regret that decision."

I give Danny a shove down the hall and he looks back to me with a face that can kill. But he turns around and walks down the hall, his teammates following behind him. I look over to Brian. "You okay?" I ask.

"Yeah I'm fine. Thanks Josh. I really appreciate it. I might be missing a few teeth right now had you not stepped in."

"No problem. If anything like this happens again, you can always talk to me. I'm always there."

Brian gives me a smile and I hear a clap come from behind me. I turn and see Leo clapping with a smile on his face. A few more claps break though and then the entire hallway is applauding. I feel my face get warm at being in the spotlight. "Hey! Everyone get to class!"

I look up the hall and see Coach walking down it, his huge height towering over everyone in the hallway. Everyone starts to disperse and Coach stops next to Brian, Leo, and me. "Everything okay here?" he asks.

"Yeah, we're good Mr. Coddler," says Brian. "Josh was just protecting me from some basketball players who were making fun of me."

"What were they saying?" Coach asks Brian.

"Well, it was just Danny Walters who was saying anything. But he was making fun of me being gay. Danny looked like he was going to punch me, but Josh ran up and kept Danny from hurting me and got him away from me. I'd probably be hurt if it weren't for him."

Coach looks to me and smiles. "Nice work Rusden," he says. "Looks like someone's getting extra credit on my quiz."

"No thanks Coach," I say. "I shouldn't be rewarded for something anyone would've done. But I appreciate the thought."

Coach smiles again, even brighter this time. "Alright, no extra credit." He looks at the hall clock. "Class is starting in a minute. Leo, Brian, you should get to class. You don't want to be late."

"You're right," says Brian. "Thanks again Josh. I'll see you around!"

Brian walks down the hall, confidence radiating off of him. "I need to head to Spanish," says Leo. "I'll see you after school Josh."

"Go ahead and kiss him," says Coach. "The hallway's completely empty."

Leo and I both do a quick glance and see he's right. Leo closes the gap and he presses his lips to mine. Even though it's for a second, I love it. Leo pulls away, waves to both me and Coach, and walks in the opposite direction. Coach and I walk to class together. "I'm really proud of you Rusden," he says.

"Thanks Coach. I knew that if I were in Brian's situation, I would've wanted to be helped by anyone. Plus...I could've been in that kind of situation."

"I know how you feel, Rusden. When Adrian and I were in college, he'd been confronted numerous times by white supremacists. I decided to never leave his side, for his own protection. That was until one day I had to take a test and had to leave Adrian alone for the morning. He was almost mugged by three skinheads. But what I didn't know was that Adrian was a fourth degree black belt in tae kwon doe."

I look at Coach, my jaw slack. "He's what?"

"Adrian had been doing tae kwon doe since he was four years old. By the time he was twenty, he was a fourth degree black belt. When I heard about the attack, I rushed to the hospital to see how he was. He didn't have a scratch on him and all three skinheads were left with broken arms, legs, noses, two concussions, and even a pelvis was cracked."

I crack up, imagining my Biology teacher beating the living shit out of three scary skinheads. "So Mr. Creswell could kick my ass if I tried to attack him on the streets?"

"You would've wished he kicked your ass. He's now a twelfth degree black belt and could break all of your limbs before you could yell 'ow'."

I laugh again. "Good to know."

Coach and I make it to class, me now feeling fully prepared for my quiz.

I get my quiz back by the end of class with a large 98% on the top. The bell rings and I grab my bag, say goodbye to Coach, and meet up with Leo in the hallway. He tells me he need to stop by the library to grab a book for his English class, and I go with him.

It takes a few minutes, but Leo finds his book. We walk back out into the hallway to find it completely deserted. Mark and Shawn already left, Shawn telling me and Leo earlier that he needed to get home as quickly as possible, and Mark being Shawn's transportation for another month and a half, was forced to go with him.

Leo and I get out to the parking lot. We both were a bit late today and had to park in the back of the lot. As we're getting closer, I suddenly hear a faint noise coming from the wooded behind the parking lot. The noise comes again, a sharp thump. "What's that?" Leo asks.

"I don't know. Let's go look."

Leo and I walk past my car and his bike and get to the edge of the wooded area. We walk along the path and noises get louder. But there's a new voice to the mix: a moan. That voice...

Leo and I take a few more quiet steps and through the trees, I see Danny next to a tree, thrusting fists at it. "That'll...teach you...to...be a...faggot!" he yells between punches.

We stop where we stand and I peer a bit closer. Danny's fists come back bloody with every punch and around the tree, I see a head of dirty blonde hair atop a five foot eight body. Brian. "HEY!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!!"

Danny stops punching and sees me and Leo. He immediately turns and runs further into the woods. Leo and I rush over to the tree and see Brian, slumped to the ground, his head, face, and clothes covered in blood. "Jesus Christ..." Leo quietly says.

"Call 911," I say. "He looks really hurt."

Leo reaches into his pocket and touches the screen a few times. "Y-Yes? I need an ambulance at Franklin High School. Someone's been attacked..."

I get a closer look at Brian and underneath his bruised, bloodied face, I see two small streams of water coming from his eyes. He's probably scared out of his mind. "Brian, it's me Josh. Listen, try not to move."

He takes in a breath and instantly cries in pain. Shit, his ribs are probably broken...

I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. I quickly dial a number. Coach picks up a ring later. "Rusden? What's up?"

"Coach? I need you outside the school right now. Brian's been hurt."

"What? What do you mean hurt?"

"Danny Walters beat the living shit out of him. He took off running when he saw me and Leo. I really need your help right now. Leo's on the phone with 911, but Brian's ribs are probably broken..."

"Shit. I'll be out there in five minutes. I need to grab Adrian and the principal. Help him all you can until we get there."

I hang up the phone and look back to Brian. He suddenly looks a lot paler than before and he's slumping over ever more. I look behind him at the tree he leans against and see the bark is dark red. I lean Brian forward a little and see the back of his head is coated in blood. My stomach sinks at the sight of it.

I carefully put Brian back and rip off my collared shirt. I ball up the shirt and press it to the back of Brian's head. My shirt turns dark red in less than a second. "Brian, help's on the way," I say to him. "You're going to be okay. But you need to stay awake."

"Okay..." he quietly says.

Good, he's responding. I sit Brian up a little more and get an even better look at his face. Bruises are already starting to take form on his eyes, nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin. His lip is split wide open and blood is pouring out of his nose. His bruised eyes are still dripping water. "At least you'll get some battle scars out of this," I say.

Brian chuckles a little and I see his smile. At least Danny didn't break any teeth, although each white tooth is bright with blood. Leo suddenly appears by my side. "The ambulance will be here in three minutes," he says, his phone still in his hand.

"Tell the dispatcher he probably has some broken ribs and a head injury, although the head injury doesn't seem too serious."

I look up at Leo and see he's visibly scared out of his mind. He's probably never been in a situation like this before. "Leo, Brian's going to be okay," I reassure him. "Please just talk to the dispatcher and tell me how close the ambulance is. Also, stand out in the parking lot and when you see Coach, Creswell and the principal, bring them here."

Leo nods and rushes out to the parking lot. I look back to Brian. "Did Danny hurt you anywhere else?"

"Um...my leg..."

I look down at Brian's leg. I carefully roll up his pant leg, him wincing the whole time, and see his calf rapidly swelling and starting to turn dark purple. "Fuck," I say. "This looks like a tib-fib."

"A what?" Brian asks.

"A fracture of the tibia and the fibula," I tell him. "I don't mean to scare you or anything, but right now, your leg is being mostly held together by muscle and skin..." But next to Brian's leg, I see a small pool of blood. "Oh shit..."

I look underneath Brian's leg and sure enough, there's a small bit of bone sticking out of the back of Brian's calf. "Um...Brian?" I say. "Are you in any pain at all?"

"I'm in so much pain that I can't even feel anything."

Well, I guess that's a good thing. I take my bloodied shirt off the back of Brian's head and rip off a sleeve. I put the shirt back behind Brian's head and tell him to lean back against the tree and the shirt. I take the sleeve and circle it around Brian's leg, covering the exposed bone. "Brian, this is probably going to hurt like a son of a bitch."

"What're you doing?"

"I need to close a wound on your leg. To do it, I need to tie my sleeve around your leg, right where the fracture is."

He takes in a breath, wincing as he does so. "Just make it quick..."

I take both end of the sleeve and tie it into a knot, but don't tighten it. "One. Two. Three!"

I pull the knot closed as tight as it will go and the most bloodcurdling scream I've ever heard echoes through the woods. I look over at Brian and see he's crying hard and looks to be in a great deal of pain. "Hey...hey, Brian. You did great," I say. "You handled that really well, better than a lot of other people would've."

His cries die down a little, but his tears don't stop. "Why? Why me?" he asks me. "This happened because I'm gay. What's so bad about that?"

God, this little guy...I put my hand on his shoulder. I'd hug him if it weren't for his ribs. "Brian, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being gay. Danny will be caught and you will get justice for what he's done. I'm just happy you weren't even more hurt than you are..."

In the distance, I hear a faint siren. "The ambulance is almost here," I say. "You're going to be okay."

"Thank you Josh. You may have saved my life."

He and I exchange a smile. "Over here!"

I look up and see Leo rushing over with two EMT's, one carrying a bag, the other a stretcher, and two police officers. Creswell, Coach and the principal get there a minute later. "He was attacked," I say to the officers.

"Do you know who by?" one of them asks.

"Danny Walters," says Leo. "He attacked Brian because Brian's gay."

"Danny took off into the woods down the path," I say. "He probably still has Brian's blood on his hands."

"Did you tie his leg and press this shirt to his head?" one of the EMT's asks me.

"Yeah, that was me," I say.

"This is textbook," says the other EMT. "You knew exactly what to do and you did everything right."

"My dad's a doctor. He taught me a lot about first aid and what to do in situations like this."

"You're lucky he did," says an EMT. "We need to get this kid to the hospital. This head wound needs stitches and he definitely has a tib-fib."

The EMT's get Brian onto the stretcher and start to carry him out of the woods. "We'll meet you at the hospital, Brian!" I call after him.

"Wait," Brian chokes out. "My phone is in my pocket. Josh, could you call my parents? They need to know..."

"Sure," I say.

I walk to the stretcher and grab Brian's phone from his pants pocket. "Thank you again Josh," he says. "You saved me..."

I take his shoulder and give it a squeeze. "It was nothing, Brian. Leo and I will be at the hospital in a little."

Brian smiles and the EMT's carry him to the ambulance. "We're going to head over there," says Coach, Creswell by his side. "We've been in a situation like this before."

"Go ahead," says Mr. Greenwich (my principal). "Brian probably needs people with him right now." Coach and Creswell head to their cars. "I need to go make some calls to the school board about the severity of Danny's punishment, that is if the police don't find him first. Thank you Josh and Leo. You've done a great thing today."

He shakes both our hands and heads back to the school. After the police ask me and Leo a few questions, he and I get to our car and motorcycle and drive to the hospital.

I call Brian's parents on the way to the hospital. Mrs. Mosley tells me she'll meet me and Leo there and Mr. Mosley, who's in San Francisco on a business trip, will be on the next flight home. Leo and I park in the paring lot and rush into the hospital, where we find Creswell and Coach in the waiting room. "They've taken Brian into surgery," says Creswell.

"Surgery?" says Leo? "His injuries were that serious?"

"His leg is broken in five places, he has two broken ribs, a broken nose, and a concussion," says Coach. "Not to mention the cuts and bruises."

Leo and I take a seat across from Coach and Creswell. "Josh, you're shaking," Leo says.

I look down and see my arms and legs are visibly trembling. "I'm...really scared right now..."

"We all are Josh," says Creswell. "All we need to do is sit, wait, and pray for Brian's well-being..."

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Mrs. Mosley gets to the hospital two minutes after Leo and I arrive. She frantically starts asking every hospital personnel if she can see her son, but every single one says Brian's still in surgery. She takes a seat next to me and when I tell her I'm Brian's friend, she cries into my shoulder for the next two hours.

Mr. Mosley managed to get a flight almost immediately and got to the hospital early that evening, looking as frantic as his wife did. Finally, at about seven-thirty at night, I see Dad walk out into the waiting room wearing his scrubs and surgical hat. We all stand up at the sight of him. "Brian's alright."

A collective sigh of relief comes from all of us. "His leg was severely broken and both his ribs broke right in two," says Dad. "Brian's concussion is minor as is the broken nose. All his cuts have been stitched up, but there's still a large amount of bruising." He looks to Mr. and Mrs. Mosley. "I assume you're Brian's parents?"

"Yes," says Mrs. Mosley. "Nicole and Kevin Mosley. May we please see our son?"

"Of course. Please remember he just had surgery and is going to be sensitive to loud noises. So please remain quiet. If you all want to come, then that's fine as well. Follow me."

We all follow Dad down hallway after hallway until we get to a private room. We walk in and see Brian sitting in a bed with his leg elevated, bandages wrapped around his head, numerous bandages on his face, and his face is swollen and bruised. But underneath all that, I can still see his smile. "Mom, Dad..." he quietly says.

Mr. and Mrs. Mosley rush over to their son's bedside and carefully hug him, both of them crying as the hug Brian. "Hey Josh, Leo," Brian says.

"Hey," Leo and I both reply.

We walk over to Brian's side. "You guys saved my life today," he says, his eyes wet.

"Josh saved your life," says Leo. "I just called 911."

"Leo that isn't true," I say. "You helped Brian just as much as I did."

"Wait a second," says Mr. Mosley. "You two found my son and saved his life?"

"They did," says Brian. "They saw Danny hurting me and managed to scare him away. Leo called for the ambulance and Josh kept me calm and helped with most of my injuries."

"I taught him well," says Dad.

I smile at Dad. Mr. and Mrs. Mosley suddenly approach Leo and me and pull us both into a tight hug. "You boys saved my baby's life," says Mrs. Mosley. "My husband and I can't thank you enough."

"We were glad to help," I say. "Brian's a good friend. He probably would've done the same for us."

Mr. and Mrs. Mosley let go and wipe their eyes. A sudden ringing comes from Coach's pocket. He reaches in and pulls out his cell phone. "Hello? Yes, this is he. Really? That's great. Thank you for the news. You have a good night." Coach hangs up the phone and puts it back into his pocket. "The police caught Danny."

Relief floods Brian's face. "Where was he?" Creswell asks.

"He was hiding in the woods. They found him in a tree with blood on his hands. They're probably going to match it to Brian's blood and with a statement from Josh and Leo, Danny will go away for a long time."

"Why would anyone want to hurt my son?" asks Mr. Mosley.

"Danny wanted to hurt Brian because he was gay," says Leo. "I only wish it happened to me instead of Brian."

"Wait, what?" says Brian. "What do you mean?"

I look to Leo and he looks to me. He and I both nod. "Brian," I say. "We're sorry for keeping it from you, but Leo and I...we're both gay. We're boyfriends."

The Mosley's look at us with shocked faces. But after a second, Brian slowly smiles. "Wow," he says. "I never would've guessed."

"They're not the only ones," says Creswell. "Tony here and I have been married for the last two decades."

Mr. and Mrs. Mosley smile with Brian. "I'm so happy to know that my son isn't alone anymore," says Mrs. Mosley.

"Wait, aren't you two my son's football coach and history and biology teachers?" Dad asks Creswell and Coach.

"We are," says Coach. "We prefer to keep the fact we're gay a secret to a lot of people, otherwise our jobs will be on the line. It sucks to have to be so secretive, but we love our jobs."

"Josh and I aren't exactly out of the closet either," says Leo. "Only our families and you guys know about it. We aren't quite ready to come out. Sorry Brian."

"I completely understand," he says. "It took me years to come out. If it takes you guys the same amount of time, then that's fine."

Brian suddenly looks exhausted. "I think that means time's up for visiting," says Dad. "Mr. and Mrs. Mosley, you can stay with your son, but Josh, Leo, Mr. Creswell, and Mr. Coddler you need to go. I'm sorry you can't stay, but it's protocol. You all can visit Brian tomorrow."

"Thanks Dad," I say. "You helped save Brian's life."

"So did you and Leo, bud. I'll be home in about two hours. Tell your mother I love her."

Leo, the Coddler-Creswell couple and I head out to the parking lot. "Tony and I should head home," says Creswell. "Connor and Rachel are waiting for us."

"Go ahead," says Leo. "We'll see you tomorrow."

Coach and Creswell head out, leaving only me and Leo in the parking lot. "That was...something, wasn't it?" I say.

"It was terrifying," says Leo. "But Brian's fine and is going to be okay. Danny's in jail an is going to be locked up for a while." As I'm staring at Leo, he suddenly looks faded. "Josh? Why're you crying?"

"Because I know that could've easily have been one of us. I could've found you in those woods, bleeding, broken, and scared. I don't know what I would've done had that happened to you..."

Leo wraps me in his strong arms and kisses my cheek. "Josh, you were strong today. You took control of the situation and saved Brian's life. You're strong, Josh. I know if you found me in the woods, you would've done everything in your power to help me. I'd do the same if it were you."

I feel water slide down my neck and look down and see Leo's crying too. I squeeze him tighter. "Thank you Leo. I love you so much."

"And I love you Josh."

I kiss Leo's lips and hug him again, both of us thankful the nightmare is over.

 

RichardAdams

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