Surprisingly, first period went well, and the awkwardness was kept to a minimum. I just wish I wasn't so uptight all the time. I want more and more to be able to be open and explore myself, but the moment I try to, I get caught off guard or make a silly mistake and I feel like I have to run back into my hole and hide in the fetal position. I wish I would have never formally met Brent this morning, even though he was a pleasure to look at, he has me all shaken up. One of the worst feelings I have ever had the misfortune to deal with is while struggling accepting the fact that I may not be straight, to have someone treat me like my curiosity is a disease, or something that makes me less of a person. No one should ever had to feel that way, but I was getting a heavy dosage today.

First period ended, and I hadn't' paid much attention. When the bell rang for dismissal, it took me a moment to comprehend what was going on around me, so by the time I had broken my zoning out, most people had already left the classroom, including Noah. Part of me was relieved that the chances of me embarrassing myself again had evaporated, but I also wanted to hear his voice again. Now that I know we have at least one class together, maybe the chance for me to interact with him more often is there.

Second period flew by, as I continued to ponder what exact emotions I was dealing with at the time, wondering how I can just exist and not have to stress about all the things after the fact. I wanted so badly to be happy, and to do whatever that took, but it's hard when you have people like Brent pressuring you into potentially trying to be something you're not. I had just met him that morning, and by lunch, I had already despised him.

On my way to lunch, Brent and Marc were walking together and I saw Brent trip a freshman down the stairs. After vividly recalling what he had done to me just hours earlier, I took it personally. However, I didn't have the nerve to speak up. After they had disappeared and their loud cackling was far in the distance down the hall, I help the poor guy up and gathered his things. He had a cut on his face from the brutal fall.

"Hold on, let me grab a wipe, I said, as I entered the men's bathroom nearby. I soaked a paper towel and brought it back to clean up his cut.

"Thanks Emmett," the boy answered.

"How do you know my name?"

"I have just seen you around before, and picked up your name from others."

I was a bit shocked at this information. I was not a student who was in the spot light per-say, so many people outside my small circle of friends didn't know me. It was satisfyingly flattering. "What's your name?"

"Trevor."

"Well Trevor, it was nice to meet you," I said as I made sure he had all his things and his wound was properly cared for. He smiled and headed the opposite direction.

As I walked toward the dining hall to hopefully meet up with Justin, I ran into him earlier. The sight of him immediately had me nervous. I wasn't prepared if he had questions about Brent.

"Hey man, headed to lunch?" He said, as if nothing was wrong. Maybe Brent hadn't told him yet.

"Yeah," I said. That was the only word I could get out. My throat was dry.

We walked in silence the rest of the way, and grabbed a light lunch. He headed towards a table where I spotted Brent, Marc, and Brandon sitting, carrying on conversation without noticing we were headed over. I felt my stomach turn. I knew I had to think of something quickly. "Hey, I'm not feeling so well all a sudden, I'm gonna go grab some fresh air," I said, as my stomach really was rocking at this point, and I had felt the color from my face flush.

"Yeah sure bro. We will catch up later." He answered back, not thinking twice about it. Clearly, he had not talked to Brent since this morning.

I headed out of the dining hall with a bottled water and a granola bar that I had grabbed just before. When passing through the doors, I ran into Noah.

"Hey. Where you headed," he stopped and asked me.

"Oh just, outside to catch a breather."

"Mind if I join?"

Damn it Noah. Just his mere presence make my skin crawl with lust and awkwardness, a deadly combination. I didn't want to be rude though. And certainly having lunch outside on the beautiful day it was would be a pleasure, to say the least. I grinned awkwardly, and nodded in approval.

We walked toward the main corridor and out the front entrance where Noah had sped up just slightly to open the door for me, which made me blush a bit. He seemed like a very well manned young man, much like myself. We made our way over to a picnic table out in the grass and both took a seat on opposite sides. We sat in silence for thirty seconds before I decided it was time to try and hold a real conversation with him.

"So how's the first day?" I asked without looking up

Noah sat in silence for a bit, and let out a sigh. God he was beautiful. The way his chest moved gently in and out with every breath he took, and the way he ran his fingers through his hair every so often, only for it to fall back into the exact same place every time. The sun shined on him like a warm kiss from the sky. "It's been more difficult than I had expected. It's a huge change from my last school." He finally answered.

"A good change? Or not so good?"

"I would say.... good." He said and chuckled.

"Made any new friends yet?" I asked, hoping there may be a shot that I could be the first.

"Not unless you count yourself," He said, and finally looked up from his phone, and gave the most innocent smile I had ever seen. My upset stomach quickly turned from grief and sadness to butterflies. This guy really did seem to be perfect in every way.

I smiled back and nodded. I wanted to be the guy's friend. And I can definitely use a backup for when Justin is around Brent. I was already given a fair warning to stay away, and I'm not taking the chance to find out what would happen if I didn't heed that warning.

We carried on general small talk, about the weather differences here compared to his home town and so on. He played basketball at his old school, which makes sense because he did have a sports frame. We were having a great time, when I see Justin and Stephanie on their way over. I was happy to see them both, but also nervous at the sight of Justin, knowing he left his group of friends and surely Brent knew where he was headed.

"Hey Emmett, where have you been all my life?" Stephanie said jokingly, as she had not seen me all day until now. She came in late due to a routine dentist appointment.

"Hey guys," I said as I stood up to hug Steph. "Noah, this is Stephanie, and this is Justin, two of my best friends from childhood. Guys, Noah." Noah then stood up and shook Justin's hand, and reached out to shake Sarah's, but she pulled him in for a hug. He laughed as she gave me a daunting look over his shoulder. She was squeezing him pretty tight, and didn't seem to want to let go. Noah and I welcomed both of them to have a seat, and Stephanie immediately jumped in the empty spot beside Noah. She didn't spare any room between them, either.

We all four had a good time for the portion of time we had left before third period, and Justin and Steph seemed to take to Noah pretty quickly. That's when the bell rang, Noah and Stephanie got up and walked in together while interlocking arms, and Justin pulled me back to cause some separation. My heart sped up.

"What happened with Brent this morning? Did he say something to you?" Damn. Justin cut straight to the point. What was I supposed to say? A million things ran through my mind.

"We had a chat after breakfast. Nothing major," I lied.

"Well he was making some rude remarks about you at the table in there. I had to get up and leave."

"You didn't have to do that.

"Yes I did. It was bothering me. I didn't do it for you."

"What kind of things was he saying?" I asked, not really wanting to know the answer, as I was too scared to see how Justin would react to saying the words.

"Well umm.. He uh, I don't really know why, but..." Justin continued stammering, but seen I was getting angry. "He said you were checking him out this morning. Which I know isn't true, Em."

I fucking knew it. He is trying to out me before I am even out to myself. For one split second I thought maybe Brent would have enough decency to just leave me alone. That was a stupid thing to hope for. "Is that all he said?" I asked, steaming at this point.

"Well umm... no, he said that maybe, i don't know, you were checking me out, too. But Emmett don't stress it. I know you're not gay. I'll have a talk with him."

I know you're not gay. Justin said those words to me in a manner of confidence like he was proud to claim them. He knew I wasn't gay, he probably didn't want me to be gay. He said it to reassure me, not knowing that him proudly saying those words deeply cut me on the inside. I managed to fake a smile, but I felt my eyes gaining water.

"Emmett?" He gasped as the first tear ran down my cheek.

I didn't say anything, and headed back in before I was late for class. I walked, the speed walked as Justin tried to catch up, and as he yelled, calling me back louder and louder I started sprinting. I couldn't process what was happening. I was a roller coaster of emotion.

As I was running to class, not because fear of being late but the fear of what Justin was thinking at this point, I immediately stopped. After letting my body rest for a split second, I began running to the bathroom rather than to class.

I called my mom to come pick me up. I couldn't handle the stress anymore. I didn't keep my lunch or my breakfast down, and I just wanted to lay in bed. When I got home, I immediately locked myself up in my room, grabbed some sleeping medication, took a double dose, and passed out. I wanted nothing more than for that day to be over.

I woke up at about midnight to get a drink of water. It was the first I had moved in about 8 hours, so I didn't know how I was going to get any sleep tonight. I decided to check my phone, because I didn't tell any of my friends that I was leaving for the day. I presumed they would have been worried so I just checked to make sure I didn't miss an important text. I hit the home button on my phone only to be blinded by the brightness. It stunned my vision for about five seconds befor I finally was able to make my way over to the light switch and open the door to go down to the kitchen for some water. To my surprise, I had 14 missed calls from Steph, one only fifteen minutes ago. I sent her a text asking if she was okay, and my phone immediately rang.

"Hello? What the fuck happened today? Noah and I were looking for you," Stephanie barked,

"I got sick," I said quietly, not to disturb my parents. I tiptoed down the stairs and made way to the refrigerator.

"Got sick? Are you okay now?"

"Yes. I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes Steph. I'm alive aren't I?"

"I'm coming over."

"What? It's 12 AM!"

"I'm going out the door. Meet me outside in ten minutes."

As frustrated as I was, I put some clothes on and waited outside for her car to pull up. Once it did, I got inside and cranked the heat. She immediately leaned over to hug me.

"I heard Justin talking today," she said. I got nervous again. I really didn't feel like discussing it.

"What did you hear?" I asked half-hearted, not wanting the answer again.

"He was talking to Brandon about you and Brent. I guess he gave you a tough morning."

"Yeah, I guess you could say that."

"Justin has been having his suspicions, you know."

"What?"

"He approached me after I overheard. He knows you tell me everything."

"Oh my God, Steph. What did he say? What did you say?"

"Calm down, calm down. You know I'm sworn to secrecy. Anything said between us is left between us."

"I know. I trust you," I said while taking a breath. I really knew I could trust her. She had never led me wrong before.

"He just had a few questions. With the whole Brent thing, and Brent accusing you of whatever. He knows Brent is a bully. But he also mentioned how you keep turning girls down, most importantly Courtney. And he knows you've been really off. And he knows that if you were struggling with something, I would be the first person you came to.... So he asked-" I cut her off.

"He asked what? Asked if I was gay? Fuck Steph. What did you tell him?"

"Okay just breathe. Yes he asked if you were gay."

"And you told him I wasn't right?" She sat in silence. "RIGHT?" I said scornfully.

"I told him that it was not my place to answer such a question and that if he had concerns he needed to talk to you."

Fuck fuck fuck. She didn't say no. She might as well have said yes. This has gotten way too far, way too fast. "Steph.... Why didn't you just say no."

"Honestly Emmett, I didn't say no because I can't lie, and I really do believe that if I said no, he would have known I was lying. He knows Emmett. He probably has known for some time, and is just waiting for you to tell him. He loves you dearly, just as me."

Okay. Maybe she was right. But I'm not ready to tell Justin. I love him and I love being around him and I don't want to take any risk on losing him. He has been my rock for so long, and guys can't just have gay friends like girls do. They think it makes them look bad, or shrinks their ego. Maybe he is just hoping I'm not gay. After all, what he said earlier...

Just the minute chance of me opening up to Justin was the scariest thing I had ever considered doing. I couldn't see him wanting to associate himself with me if he knew 100%. Probably the only reason he is my friend now is because maybe he doesn't believe that I might actually be gay. What am I saying? I don't even know if I am gay.

"Emmett. You're fine."

I didn't feel fine. I felt like i was inducing myself into a panic attack. I felt so far from fine, further than ever before.

"You need to have a heart to heart with your best friend Emmett. It's time. And if you want, I'll be right by your side. You know this cant be avoided any longer. He needs to know."

She was so right. And I absolutely hated her for it.

...

No. For once just let me be right. I don't know if I'm gay, so I don't need to tell anyone else until I know for sure. I just have to... I have to experiment. Far too many people nowadays are pushed out of the closet before they have all the answers, or before they are even ready or comfortable to allow themselves to think they might be gay. Society today puts too much emphasis on labels. Everyone has to be something. You have to either be smart or dumb, or fat or skinny. I will not be forced to fit into this box that society puts everyone else in, and I will not answer any questions until I actually have the answers for myslef. Then and only then, will I ever consider labeling myself one way or the other. I will control my own persona and not let others dictate who I am or who I am not, or who I may be. I have to answer questions by putting myself in situations to answer them instead of just guessing. I know what I need to do. I'm going to the football game with Courtney.

***********

 

TD

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