Book 1: FRESHMAN YEAR

Chapter 10: CLOSURE

"Three months and a half," I muttered as I crossed out the 5th of June from my calendar. I sighed deeply as I drowned in my own depression. I hate myself. I hate the things that I did. And I hate all of the stupid decisions that I've made.

Bruce is back to tormenting me. Keith acts as if I wasn't around. They've literally both turned around and gave me the fucking cold shoulder.

I was alone.

I was back from the very start. I can clearly remember the last time that I felt like this. Seventh Grade. That was the period before I met Keith. That was the time when I had no one to talk to, no one to hang out with, no one to grab onto, and no one to remind myself that I'm still a part of the world.

I was alone and I longed for two of my best friends.

I wish I could turn back time and just tell Keith about my secret. I wish I was brave enough to make him understand what I was going through. I wish I was confident enough to be able to trust him. Otherwise, I wouldn't be in this situation in the first place.

I was alone.

Then, there was the matter with Bruce. I hurt him like hell. I practically broke his heart. I wholeheartedly admit it - I was a bastard. I am a fucking bastard. I don't know how to reach to him. I don't know how to redeem myself to him. I don't know how to restore the bond that, up until that moment, I didn't know we had.

I failed them both.

I didn't even think! I never think. And I hated myself even more for that.

I hurt Keith with my lies and Bruce with my insensitivity.

"Danny! Danny!" My sister yelled from the other side of the room, yanking me from my depressing state. "Danny, come quick!"

"What is it?" I grumbled unenthusiastically, sitting up in bed and pushing the covers off of me.

"Just come! QUICK!" She answered.

So, I got out of bed and made my way to Stephanie's bedroom. Luckily, it was only a ten-second walk. As I got in, I saw her sitting on her desk, facing her laptop with an evil, amused grin pasted on her face.

"You're never gonna believe what's on Gossip Girl tonight!" She shrieked as I entered.

"What's on what?" I cried. I wasn't sure if I had heard her right.

"Gossip Girl! You know . . . the country's biggest gossip? She posts all of America's juiciest rumors and scandals. She, like, knows everything and anything that's happening around here."

"Wait!" I held up a hand, "You're kidding. Right?"

"No, I'm not. It's true." She retorted.

"Gossip Girl? THE Gossip Girl? Manhattan's Gossip Girl? In California?"

She nodded enthusiastically. "It's crazy, right? But believe me, Dan, it's true. Gossip Girl is now apparently working nationwide. Or at least, she's hawking over California as far as I know. Where were you these past three months?" She mumbled incessantly, "Anyway, you need to LOOK. AT. THIS!"

I looked over her shoulder and noticed an article with pictures posted above it.

"WHAT THE HELL?" I gasped, finally making out what was on the pictures.

Then, I pushed Stephanie off of her seat, landing her on the floor with a thump, and started reading aloud:

Irvine High School's Freshman Student Council president and campus sweetheart, Stacey Moore, was just seen spotted outside Starbuck's arm-in-arm with Football quarterback Lucas Princeton's younger brother, Keith Nathaniel. As you all remember, it has almost been about two months ago that the two lovebirds were rumored to be exclusively dating. And remember what S says? "We're just friends." But, we all know that those tiny, little, safe words are just a code for something more - something more complicated than 'just' being 'friends'. Sneaky sneaky! Whether true or not, I guess it's safe for me to say that, what we're seeing in these photos are not 'just friends' material. I guess it's time, little birdies! SPILL IT OR KILL IT! What'll it be, K? - XOXO Gossip Girl

I took a deep breath.

"WOW! Now, that's something. Gossip Girl!" I gasped unbelievably, "She just posted a blast about him! WOW!"

"I know, right? She's SO cool!"

"But how come I just heard about this if they've been . . . dating for the past couple months?!" Suddenly, I demanded.

"Why?" Stephanie teased, "Is my big brother jealous?"

"WHAT?! NO!" I retorted. "I'm just-"

"Whatever you say! You know, you still haven't told us exactly why Keith and Bruce are avoiding you." She chimed, then continued, "As for the news, Danny, you haven't actually been socializing nowadays. Every time I get home, you're already in your room. Vegetating! It's no wonder you're late on the latest gossips." My sister reluctantly answered, taking over the computer and scrolling over the photos of Keith and Stacey all sweet and cheesy outside the cafe. My gut twitched with jealousy. A huge part of my subconscious was screaming 'Get off him, bitch! He's mine!'

But then, she was right. I WAS vegetating. I was hiding from everyone. I was hiding the fact that I was alone. I was running away from the real truth that I was lonely; that I was sad: that I was depressed.

"I know, Steph." I sighed and slumped on her bed, "I'm just afraid, you know? That if anyone would make the effort of talking to me, I'd get too trusting, and then they'd somehow get the truth out of me, and then blabber it for the whole world to know. I don't want that, Steph. I'm not ready to . . . come out just yet."

"Well . . . you need to start moving, anyway." She chimed, "And work back on your social status. Gossip Girl's been comparing you to Dan Humphrey, you know that? She calls you California's Lonely Boy." She mocked, giggling. "You can't just mope here and torture yourself for your mistakes. You said you made bad decisions, so what? Don't we all do? You said you said hurtful words to the people you love, so what? Is it too hard to apologize now? I mean . . . when will you try to fix things back together? I don't want to see you like this anymore. It's starting to get infectious!"

"Wait, she said that? 'California's Lonely Boy'? She actually talked about me?" I queried excitedly.

"She did." She nodded happily. "But, don't get it through that thick head of yours!"

I looked at her and laughed, "You know, you need to stop talking before I get the idea that you're getting smarter than I am."

She giggled, "Just think about what I'm saying. The clock's ticking, 'Lonely Boy.' School's almost over."

I lay down across her bed, my arms folded behind my head.

She then looked at me with an affectionate smile. "I have an idea!" She yelped, "I'm going to recommend you to someone who may be able to help you with your boy issues."

"Oh, thank God! I could really use a clown or a comedian right now!" I replied with sarcasm.

"I'm serious, Dan. He's new in town, but I think you know him. He's your school Guidance Counselor. I heard he's really good on dealing with problems."

"Hmmm." I thought about it. Then blushed. I guess she still doesn't know. "Him? Why him?"

"Come on, Danny! Just give it a shot. You're not gonna regret it!" She seemed really sure of herself. "Plus, I hear he's really hot!"

You got that absolutely right! I thought.

"Okay, fine. I'll try." I dismissed the topic with a sigh. "I'll try talking to him."

Then, I knotted my forehead. "Anyway, do you have any idea who Gossip Girl is?" I asked, changing the topic, "How long has she been doing this in Irvine?"

"Now, that's the million dollar question, brother. No one still knows." She answered, "But in terms of how long, she's been at it for almost two, three months now, I think."

"Ah. Okay. Doesn't matter, anyway." And we shrugged.

~*~*~*~*~

"Well?"

Mr. Connor just stared at me with that predatory look of his. He shuffled in his seat and started to play with the assortment of pencils that he had on his desk. I wonder how he got his position in this school? One look from him would make anyone - and I mean, anyone - turn to stone!

Douglas Connor is a thirty-something guy who worked as a lawyer from New York and, as what Principal Harks told everyone during the introductions, was looking for greener pastures to graze at. Or so he says 'cause Connor says.

But I, nevertheless, think suspiciously of him. There's just something about the way he moves, the way he talks, the way he looks at people, that makes me think that there is so much more to him than meets the eye. The only problem is WHAT?

I cleared my throat, "Well, sir . . . I've done my part here. I've shared. I've confessed. I basically poured my heart out . . ." Still staring. "Um . . . I think it's your turn now to . . . give advice?"

RATTLE RATTLE RATTLE, goes the little pencils.

"Um. Sir?" I mumbled.

TUMBLE TUMBLE TUMBLE, hope they wouldn't crumble.

I sighed in defeat. "Okay. I think I'll just leave you with your pencils, then. Thank you for your time."

With a heavy sigh, I got my things and went for the door.

See, Danny? What the hell were you thinking? He's just some homophobe who doesn't even give a damn about anybody's problem - especially a gay-guy's love life.

Curse you, Connor!

And damn you, cock! You've been hard ever since you entered the room! So what if he's so tall, so built, and so handsome? He's just a jerk who got lucky to land a job as 'Medusa' in replacement for your old guidance counselor.

"Respect."

He spoke. I thought I misheard, but it was actually him who muttered. I turned around. "Excuse me?"

"Honesty."

Now it was my turn to stare.

"Trust."

Is he high or something?

Then a pair of hypnotizing gray eyes turned to look at me. I froze.

"Sit, Daniel." He made it sound like it was a command. So I complied.

It took all of my willpower to blink my eyes and sit back down before this highly, intimidating man.

"First of all, I have no problem with gay people. The first time that William told me of a guy whom his nephew had a crush on, he told me the guy was . . . charming." he started. "I guess he was right."

My mind did a back-flip, then a triple-cartwheel. "Did you just say William?" I asked, confused.

"Yes. I guess I just did." He replied.

And then everything came to place: William. Nephew. Connor. Douglas Connor. New York.

"Oh, my God!" I practically shouted, "You're William's lover!"

I blushed at my choice of words. He just nodded and gave me a gentle smile.

"But, William told me you weren't coming till your son finishes the semester."

"We talked. And he says that Bruce didn't want him living there in the apartment with him. He wanted space. That's what he said to Will." He answered, "So, he figured, he didn't want William. And he didn't want Bruce living alone, so, he swapped places with me. Now I'm living with William's nephew and he's living with my son."

And I left it at that. I guess this wasn't the right place for me to ask any more questions about his personal life.

"Um . . . so . . . you were saying?"

"Ah . . . Okay . . ." He cleared his throat, "Second, what you're dealing with now is still too complicated for a fifteen year old,"

"Sixteen." I cut in.

"Third, you need to seek professional help."

"But that's why I'm here, aren't I?" I retorted heatedly.

"And that's why I'm telling you this. Your best friend acted the way he acted because he was hurt. As your best friend, he would think that a secret as big as what you just told me shouldn't be kept from him. He is now thinking that you violated his trust; that you degraded his moral judgment. And the fact that you kissed another guy enraged him. He thinks that you betrayed him."

"But I didn't know how to tell him! And that kiss was completely one-sided! I was trapped! Bruce surprised me!" I reprimanded. "What was I supposed to do?"

But he continued, anyways, as if I didn't cut him.

"Bruce, on the other hand, is the more complex character. You are saying that he . . . likes you?"

I didn't know what to say, so I just nodded. Then, after a few seconds of contemplation, I muttered, "Yeah, I think he does. Or, yeah, actually, he does. The kiss. That's proof enough, isn't it?"

He nodded. "And you literally rejected him in front of your best friend? In front of someone, who until then did not know about his sexual preference?"

I gave him a nod and I dropped my head in shame. Only up until that moment did I fully realize how harsh I acted upon Bruce.

"Did you really mean it, though? What you said to him before he left?" He asked.

"Of course, I didn't. I was just too panicked and confused that night that words just came out of my mouth. I never really meant to hurt any of them." I answered shakily.

Mr. Connor nodded repeatedly before asking, "So, are the feelings mutual?"

"Mutual?"

"Yeah. Between you and Bruce? I mean, do you like him, too?"

"What do you mean, like? You mean like like like? Or like like like?" I giggled at my words.

But he still answered professionally, "Are you attracted to him? Physically? Emotionally?"

I contemplated on this thought. Honestly, I still didn't know what I felt about him. Because Bruce . . . he's . . . he's a really great guy once you really get to know him. But, in terms of that. . .

"I don't know." I told him. "I don't know if I really do like him." It wasn't true, but it wasn't a lie either.

A few moments of silence passed.

"Hmmm . . . You broke his heart, Daniel." Mr. Connor concluded. "And now, he's back to bullying you?"

I said yes.

"Hmmm. . ." He sat there, thinking.

After a few minutes of silence, I spoke up.

"What do I have to do, Mr. Connor?" I croaked.

"Well," he sighed, "You can start by calling me Doug."

I was surprised by what he said, but I quickly recovered.

"Oh. Uh . . ." I huffed a laugh, "Okay. What do I have to do, Doug?"

Then, he smiled. That was the first time I saw him smile. And damn, was it worth it! All I can think of now is that Mr. Connor - er, Doug - doesn't deserve to be cramped up in a tiny office, giving advice to problematic teenagers. He should be on the catwalk, or on TV, doing modeling, or endorsements, or making movies. He was just too good looking to be a Guidance Counselor.

He then continued giving his advice, "First, you need to find your neutral place. A place where the two of you would feel comfortable enough to talk. It is best to talk to them separately. You need to tell them what you feel. Tell them honestly why you did what you did. Then . . . tell them you're sorry. IF you are."

I took a deep breath, then nodded. Telling him I understood.

Doug gave me one last smile then motioned for me to leave; the session was done. I muttered a simple thanks before departing.

Well, there's one thing I know: Some things are just easier said than done.

I just really wish I could pull this off before the school year ends. Before it's too late.

~*~*~*~*~

The sun was brightly shining through the crowded halls of Irvine High; almost all too brightly for my dampened, depressed soul. I was walking, humming to Beyonce's 'Single Ladies', when someone suddenly yanked me from behind. He pulled me backwards into a vacant corner of the halls and pushed me to the wall. I yelled my protests, turned to my captor and realized that he was actually a she.

"Stacey! What the hell are you doing?" I cried as I tended to a throbbing elbow.

She turned around. "Sorry. We don't have time. Ms. Hernandez checks her attendance twice every meeting and I can't afford to be tardy again."

"But why are we-"

"SHHHH!" She cut me off. "I have something to tell you."

"Do we really have to whisper? Are you a secret agent on a very covert mission or something?" I joked.

"This is serious, Danny!" She hissed as she pushed me against the wall. Again.

"Okay. Okay. God! Chillax, Stace! What is it?" I whined.

"It's Keith," she said.

I gave no response. I mean, what should I say to that?

"Danny?" She snapped her fingers at me, "Are you listening?"

"Uh . . . Yeah. Well . . . Uh . . . What's with him?"

"He's changed." She simply stated.

"Changed? What do you mean changed?"

"I mean. When he was still courting me five, six, months ago-"

"Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Wait! Six months ago?"

"Yeah. We've been going out since he returned from his trip on Europe. Didn't he tell you?" She asked, surprised. I see now why Keith has been waiting outside our English class that first day after the break; he was waiting on Stacey. I just shook my head. "Well, as I was saying, he courted me for two months and when I finally said yes, he was real sweet and charming and everything that a girl would ever need from her boyfriend. . ."

"I can't help but sense a 'but' coming." I said as she stopped talking.

She took a deep breath, then added, "But by late February . . . he's been . . . distant, cold, silent . . . and I don't know what's wrong with him." She muttered. Oh, God! Late February?

"Did he tell you something? Did I do something wrong? Did I say something? What did he say, Daniel?"

I gave her a shaky laugh before starting, "Okay, Stacey. You need to stop before you start with the waterworks!"

She composed herself wiped her teary eyes.

"Okay now?" She nodded, "Okay. Listen. There are . . . a lot of reasons why you shouldn't be asking me these questions. First of all, Keith and I . . . we haven't been talking since my . . . since February-"

"Really?" She gasped. "But you're his best friend! God, I'm so sorry for asking. I didn't know."

"Well . . . we are. I mean, we were." I paused as I grasped what I was saying. "But as far as I know, we're basically nothing but strangers right now. He completely ignores my existence."

She just stared at me, confused.

"The second reason; I didn't and wouldn't even have known that you two were an item if my sister didn't show me an article about the two of you on Gossip Girl last night."

"Oh, God. You saw that," she gasped again, this time, blushing. "I thought he told you we were together."

"Believe me, he didn't." I sighed, "And lastly . . . I don't think it's a very good idea if we were seen together. If Keith would know that we were even talking, he'd probably think the worst of it."

"But we're only talking! You're my friend!" She cried out.

"Yes, we are. And yes, I am. But Keith . . . Keith and I . . . we're dealing with a really big mess right now. And we haven't quite worked it out yet, so it's probably best if we distance ourselves from each other before it costs you your relationship."

"But, Dan, I need your advice. You're his best friend, and I want to know how to make him open up to me. We need to communicate for our relationship to survive."

"I know." I sighed. I definitely know. I, too, need to talk to him if I want to salvage our friendship. Or what was left of it.

I sighed and gave her a sorry look.

"I'm sorry, Danny. I shouldn't have bothered. I should just go." She stated. "Thanks for listening, anyway."

"No, no, no. Wait! Stacey," I grabbed her arm. She turned and bit her lip. "Take care of him, okay?"

She gave me a weak smile, nodded, then walked away to Ms. Hernandez's class.

~*~*~*~*~

The hours passed by as I sat and listened to Mr. Douglas' historical droning about the Civil War. Honestly, right now, I just didn't care about it.

I looked at the far-left side of the classroom to where my best friend sat chatting with Stacey under their breaths. And I wondered why Stacey said what she said. Keith seemed fine. If what she was saying was true, then why does Keith look happy? She told him Keith was distant, but he was even holding her hands.

Is he acting? Or is he really alright and Stacey was just being paranoid?

I shrugged.

Then, I felt something hit the back of my head. It was a crumpled piece of paper. I picked it up and flattened it on my desk. There were words written on it. Bold and catchy, it read, "Fockin' Faggot!"

I turned to glance at the back to where Bruce sat. He caught my eye for a second then blinked and returned to drawing on the edges of his notes.

Sigh.

They really hate you, Danny. My subconscious told me, I almost cried. Then I heard someone call my name.

I turned around to find Carter Davis and Isabella Martinez glaring at me.

"What?" I snapped.

"Don't you 'what' me!" Isabella snapped. "Do you know the latest gossip?"

"Let me guess: Stacey. Keith. Starbucks. Right?" I answered imperviously.

Carter just shook his head disapprovingly. "Um . . . that's old news, man! That was, like, 15 hours ago. I meant the latest."

"Well, then, I seriously have no idea what you two are talking about." I replied.

Isabella just handed me her phone. "Take a look, and see for yourself."

Confused, I took her phone. SHIT! It was another Gossip Girl blast. What the hell!

I was just glad it wasn't about me. But I got nervous as I saw the pictures above it.

I read the article.

'Seems like we know now why the Freshmen's Prince and their resident Bully stare daggers at each other every chance they get. Ooooh. That's right, Irvine High! Sneaky, sneaky! They say, "It takes two to tango." But what kind of tango would it be if another pair of hands and feet would add to the mix? I just wonder how B balances this equation? Well, it looks to me like the princess is taking care of her very own agendas outside the prince's court. Be careful, S. The last girl who played with fire totally combusted . . . with heated humiliation and pitifully scorched . . . under the people's unified glare. Anyway, everybody's just dying with anticipation on what's going to happen next. - XOXO Gossip Girl

And just like the previous blast from last night, photos were posted above the article - photos of Stacey and Bruce. Shit! From the angle of the shot, it looked like Stacey and Bruce were about to kiss - her hands were on his shoulders and his hands were on her hips. How the hell is this possible? I felt the familiar gut-wrenching feeling that I felt last night as I saw Stacey with Keith. SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!!!

I suddenly looked at Keith. Stacey was sitting beside him and she had a frightened look upon her face. I looked at Bruce. He was just smiling at Keith. What the fuck! What is he up to? What are he and Stacey up to?

Keith, however, was impassive. I couldn't tell if he was angry or not. He was just looking at Bruce. I couldn't tell what he was thinking.

I opened my mouth to speak to him, but nothing came out.

Oh, shit! What the fuck is Bruce doing? I hope he didn't fuck things up between Stacey and Keith.

~*~*~*~*~

The bell finally rang.

I hurried outside and waited for the others to come out. Keith passed by and I called him.

"What?" He turned. His eyes were on me, but he was not looking at me. I was hurt, but I let it pass.

Again, I felt my mouth open but no sound came out. But after a few moments of gaping like a fish, I started talking.

"Keith, about the photo . . . Bruce isn't . . . he wouldn't . . ."

He scoffed at me. He leaned close then lowered his voice so only I could hear. "Of course it's nothing, Daniel. People like you would rather it be you kissing Bruce than Stacey, am I right?" He smirked.

With that, anger surged all throughout my body I almost punched him. His hatred sparked the hurt and disappointment that I felt against him. Wasn't he supposed to be my best friend? He should understand me; but what is he doing, hurting me more? Isn't it enough that he's ignoring me? Should he really rub it on my face that I was gay? That he hated people like me? That he hated ME?

Luckily, my subconscious told me to stop and I grabbed hold of myself. I didn't want to cause a scene, though eyes and ears were already trained on us.

"Keith, please. I already said I was sorry. These three months, I couldn't do anything but damn myself for doing it to you. I'm sorry, man. I'm so so sorry." I whimpered, "I know what I did was wrong and I keep punishing myself for what I did to you. Please, forgive me! I need my best friend back. I'm alone." I started crying, oblivious to the fact that people were staring at me.

Keith took a step back, smirked some more, and through the most menacing voice I ever heard he said, "Serves you right, don't you think, Daniel?" then turned around and left with Stacey on his heels.

I watched as they made their way through the crowd. As I turned to walk the other way, someone pushed me out of the way, sending me all the way to the lockers knocking the air out of me. I groaned in agony.

"Oops! Watch it, Fockins!" I just glared at Bruce's massive figure as he went his way.

Keith heard the bang of the lockers, and in anger, he turned back and marched off to Bruce who was walking towards him.

The two guys stopped walking, maintaining the distance of a foot between their angry features.

Then I heard Bruce coldly say, "You're standing in my way, Princeton."

Keith smiled then gave Bruce an overall look.

"Obviously." Keith replied, with the same tone of coldness.

I heard the crowd muttering and whispering, but not loud enough to be heard for fear of what the two giants would do to them.

"What do you want?" Bruce growled, giving Keith a gentle shove.

"You damn well know what I want, Adams!" Keith shouted as he pushed back. "Stay away from my girlfriend!"

"Oh, really?" Bruce mocked, "And what makes you think I would do that? You know, your girlfriend's pretty hot!"

Keith's face flushed with anger and he raised his hand to punch Bruce. And with impossible reflexes, I quickly went to my feet and came in between them, a hand restraining a heaving chest. I didn't care if it was a foolish move. I didn't want either of them to get hurt. I just heard myself shout, 'Stop!', and both of them retreated.

But Keith leaned close and hissed at Bruce, "I don't care what you are doing, you motherfucking son of a bitch, just leave my girlfriend out of it! You've already taken-"

"Yeah? Taken what?" Bruce cried, his chest heaving with anger. "Taken what, huh, Keith?"

I was left frozen. Speechless. I had a very distinct idea on what Keith was about to say. But, I just stood there in between, feeling like a fool. There was nothing I could do but sob and tremble.

"Never mind." Keith backed away, then he pointed at Bruce's chest, "Just stay away from Stacey!"

And he grabbed her and swept her through the crowd, leaving me with Bruce, glaring at Keith's vanishing figure.

My arm was still clasping his shirt. As soon as he realized this, he swatted it away and stormed off to the opposite direction.

They hate me too much. I broke down and cried.

~*~*~*~*~

"You're shitting me!" Jake gasped. Blake and Luke just gaped at me like I was the world's nastiest seafood ever created. After my encounter with Keith, then Bruce, I was left standing, crying on the hallway. Lucky for me, the trio found and comforted me. With all the pent up anger and frustration that I felt for Bruce, Keith and myself, I finally broke down and told them everything. Well, not every thing. I skipped Bruce's history when he was still in Texas. I thought it wasn't my position to just confide it to anyone.

"I wish I was, Jake." I breathed.

"Fucking shit!" said Jake. "Bruce? I don't believe it!"

"But, guys, you have to promise me: no one has to know about this!"

"You have my word, bro." Blake said. "I don't do gossip, anyway."

"And mine, too." Luke added. "It's no wonder Keith seems so . . . distant and silent nowadays. I just wish you could've told us sooner, Dan. We would've done something to fix this."

I just gave Luke a smile and I turned to Jake.

"Well?"

"Let me just process this, Daniel. Bruce? Is gay?" He shook his head, "Unbelievable! Unlike you, I never would have thought Bruce was one of us. And, what more . . . he . . . kissed . . . you?"

I affirmed with a nod.

He huffed a sigh. "Okay. I'm not telling a word to anyone. However hot this information is, I'm not that kind of a guy to out a fellow 'brother.'"

I sighed. At least some of my closest friends understands. Now, I didn't feel so hopeless anymore.

Now, I need to talk and reconcile to one of them before I truly explode with pent-up anger and depression.

~*~*~*~*~

I waited for him to pick up. He did.

"Oh, thank God, you responded!" I gasped through the phone. "Bruce, I really really need to talk to you!"

"Um, this is William. Is this you, Daniel?"

"Oh, sorry. I thought it was Bruce." I apologized, "So, you're at Bruce's apartment? I thought you and Doug swapped places. Anyway, where . . . um . . . where is he, Will?"

"He was just out running errands." He answered.

Just then, I heard Bruce calling, "I'm home, Uncle Bill!"

"He just got home. I'll hand him his phone. Wait a sec."

I waited.

"Hello?" It was Bruce.

I took a deep breath before answering. "Bruce? It's me. Danny."

"Why are you calling me, Fockins? D'ya wanna get beat up again?"

"Please, Bruce. We need to talk." I pleaded, tears almost leaking from my eyes.

"Fine. But, only because you're fucking annoying and I can't keep on ignoring your pathetic messages anymore." He gruffly answered.

Okay. At least he's listening.

"Bruce. We need to meet." I hesitantly stated.

"Why?"

"I have something to say."

"Why don't you just say it now?"

"I . . . I can't." I weakly answered. "I want to see you when I say it. I need to see you when I say it." Honestly, I just wanted to see if he'd still take me back if he would hear what I have to say.

I heard static through the line as he contemplated on his answer.

"Fine." He huffed. "Where?"

"Meet me outside of school. Near the gateway. Eight o'clock. I'll be waiting."

"Okay. Fine. I'll give you an hour to explain your sorry ass." He snapped and hung up.

~*~*~*~*~

Even thought the night was dark, it was warm enough to soothe my nerves and free my body of some of the stress that I felt.

Then, as I was comfortable enough, I heard footsteps approaching. It was Bruce. I can clearly see his hulking figure walking towards me.

"I'm here." He said, "Speak."

I took a deep breath before I started. I took a step closer. "Bruce, do you remember the day before Valentine's Day?"

"Oh, yeah, that was when my mother died, right? How could I possibly forget?" He snapped sarcastically. Now, I was getting impatient.

"No, I meant . . . I meant, our very first . . . our very first date." I mumbled. "Remember?"

"Hmmm. . ." He scoffed, "Funny. We both know that that wasn't a date, Daniel."

"Will you just shut up and let me finish?" I snapped.

"No, you shut up! I don't want to talk about this anymore. Now, why don't you just say what you have to say, so I can go and move on with my life."

I looked at him and I stifled a laugh. I have forgotten just how cute he is when he grumbles and complains.

"What's so funny, Fockins?" He hissed as he grabbed the front of my shirt.

"No, Bruce . . . it's just . . . I wanna say that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the things that I said the last time we were at Keith's." As hostile as his reaction was, I didn't really feel intimidated with him. Shockingly, I felt glad he did it. When he pulled my shirt, we were close enough that I could smell him; that I could feel his breath on my skin. And then suddenly, I realized something.

It was a feeling.

This feeling - this giddy, jumpy, happy feeling that I feel - I realized I only feel it when I am with him. No matter the place. No matter the time. No matter the circumstances. I am happy when I am with him. I laughed with happiness with the sudden realization.

"That's all? You're sorry?" he sighed indignantly, "Okay . . . So, are you only gonna stare and laugh at me or are you gonna say something more? You're wasting precious time!" He growled impatiently as he stretched my shirt more. He leaned in closer. "Well?"

I smiled at him and leaned in closer. "And I also like you. . ."

My heart pounded as soon as the truth came out of my mouth. This caused him to immediately back off, releasing my shirt from his grip. He, too, released a deep, heavy breath and took a step backward. His face showed confusion. "Wha - What did you just say to me?"

"I realized it last year when I saw the real you. The 'you' when you are with your mom. It's just up until now that I have fully accepted it." I pursed my lips to steady them from shaking, "I like you, Bruce. I mean . . . I might be falling in 'like' with you if that's even possible," I looked at him and giggled at his confused glare.

He opened his mouth. Then, closed it again. Then, he shook his head and gaped at me some more. I'm sure this bulky piece of a boy was uncertain of what was happening.

So, I continued. "No matter how harsh and tormenting you are to me, I couldn't seem to truly hate you. 'Cause I know deep in my heart - deep in your heart - that you are not that kind of person. You are . . . the only person that makes me feel . . . vulnerable . . . yet at the same time, you push me and challenge me and make me feel confident . . . and protected . . . and stable . . . and strong." I took his hands in mine and looked up into his icy-blue eyes, he was tearing up. With this, a great surge of energy shot up through my veins and I smiled through the tears flowing down my own cheeks. "You're a wonderful person, Bruce. I know that now. You're sweet, caring, patient, kind," I chuckled a bit, "At times, you may be a bit stubborn and harsh, but, still . . . you're wonderful!"

I sighed. Suddenly, I felt lighter; as if a very heavy load was just taken from my shoulders.

"I like you, Bruce Adams." I repeated as I gripped his hands for emphasis. "And I know for a fact, no matter how much you deny it, that you like me, too . . . This feeling that I have when we're together . . . it's like . . . I feel like I'm standing on the edge of something really big and I see you standing there with me," I caressed his cheek, "Take a leap with me, Bruce. Take a chance on us."

Bruce was shaking with tears streaming down his face. He grabbed my back and pulled my body to his. He laughed at this. "Danny, I . . . I. . ."

"Shhh!" I held a finger to stop him. I stood on my toes and gave him a peck on his smiling, warm lips. "No need to speak, Bruce . . . I know."

Our lips touched one more time and, it may sound like such a cliché, but sparks flew behind my tightly shut eyes. This time, our kiss was filled with much more passion. Tongues were caressing each other's warm cavernous mouths as hands grabbed and gripped hair, hips, and shoulders.

When our lips parted, he gave me the most genuine smile that I've ever seen on his cute and chubby features. Then, he grabbed my waist one more time and hugged the shit out of me, laughing at the same time, swaying our bodies from side to side as our laughter echoed through the night.

Everything was almost perfect. And now, all I have to do is talk to -

"Keith." I heard Bruce gasp. My mind filled with confusion. Why is he suddenly talking about Keith? Then, he released me from his embrace and I looked up to his face. He was looking at something that was behind me. I quickly turned around to face the enraged face of . . . my best friend.

He was standing before us, giving us the most menacing glare I'd ever seen on someone, "So, this is why you called me?" He shouted. "To gloat? To make me feel bad! Huh? Is that it, you fucking bastard?"

"Keith, please relax," then I faced Bruce, "Bruce, what is going on here?"

"Keith, listen. Danny has nothing to do with this. I called you so you and Danny can talk. Believe me. . ."

"NO! SHUT UP!" He snapped nastily, "I can't believe he'd ever want to be friends again with me . . . when he's obviously got you now! You made sure you got him to yourself. You must be really glad!" He growled.

"Keith, please. Don't be absurd! Of course I still want to be friends with you! You're my best friend! And I need you! Please, Keith, please!" I cried as I grabbed his shoulders.

He shrugged me off. "NO! Get off me! GET OFF ME! I don't want to have anything to do with either of you anymore! You make me sick!"

"No, Keith! Keith, don't go! KEITH!" I shouted, "I need you! KEITH!"

"No, Keith wait!" I saw Bruce through my tear-filled eyes as he stormed after my best friend.

He was gone.

I cried on the sidewalk. I can't believe I've lost him again. But right now, I know I've lost him for good. Whatever chances that we'll ever even be friends again are now gone. He banished me. He doesn't want anything to do with me anymore.

He's gone.

The sidewalk was cold; the ground was hard, my tears splashed onto the concrete, my face hidden in my arms.

This is not how it's supposed to be.

This is not what I had planned.

This is not where it's supposed to be heading.

This is not what I wanted.

This is not what I needed.

"Keith. . ." I heard my own weak voice echo through the cold, dark, silent night. "Come back . . . Come back, Keith. . ."

No! This can't be happening! It can't be. No! Please, no. I can't go through with this. No.

"Keith. . ." I heard my subconscious breathe through clenched teeth, "I love you. . . come back. . ."

And then the darkness that surrounded consumed me; leaving me confused of my feelings. Confused of myself.

Confused and all alone.

*End of Book 1, Chapter 10*

Author's Note: Hey guys! Book 1: FRESHMAN YEAR is finally finished. I thank you all for your support especially Gaydemon.com for giving writers like me the chance to share their stories to readers like you.

Let me know of your reactions, comments, suggestions, and questions so I can use them to further my work and help make my stories lean closer to the fantasies buried in that subconscious of yours.

The first chapters from Book 2: SOPHOMORE YEAR should be finished within the next couple of weeks. So, just hang on! Bruce, Keith and Danny will be coming back SOON!

If you want, you can contact me through my email address [email protected] and you can also follow me on Twitter @ANerdyJock for further interaction.

Words are not enough for me to show how much I love you guys! May more blessings 'cum' your way and good luck and God bless!

- XOXO Nerdy Jock

 

Nerdy Jock

[email protected]

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