On The Outside

Chapter 4

I was smiling wide enough to make my entire face hurt that day in school, overjoyed at the idea of getting another chance. Albeit a slim one. Still, I rank the day that Drew came back to school right up there with some of the happiest moments of my life. It was such a magical existence since that day when we did our 'class interview', and I didn't even realize it until he was gone. For the rest of that class he tried to not be excited about seeing me again. Or at least not let on that he was. Drew attempted to keep up that whole professional student vibe on as though he could come back into my life and not set off fireworks in my heart. Geez, and it had only been a few days.

Try as he may, there was no way that he could resist a smile if I sent one his way. He would try to not notice, but I would stare right at him, knowing that he was looking at me out of the corner of his eye. Until eventually, those sweet lips of his would spread apart gently as his smile fought for total control of his face. He'd hold back for a second or two, or maybe look in the other direction to hide it from me, But the grin always won. And a boyish giggle would follow it as his face turned pink. He'd have to hold his breath to keep from laughing out loud, and after he had finally given in, he'd look over at me, and mouth the words "Stop it!" with his smile filling my heart with more energy than it could hold. I had never had so much fun in that class.

There were a few moments, when the gaze in his eyes and the gleam of his smile was enough to arouse me. Nothing sexual, just the look of his skin, the softness of his hair, the liquid sparkle in his eyes, the curve of his back, the slim shape of his hips. I would glance at it without meaning to, and it would cause my member to swell and harden ever so slowly while I tried to mentally stop it from happening. I'd have to do something drastic like trying to think of the lunch lady in fishnets, topless, and pouring gravy all over herself. Ugh...works every time!

The strange thing was, whenever Drew was smiling for more than a few seconds, he'd suddenly stop. Completely. Then he would clam up and tune me out again with more determination. I didn't get it. He hadn't really held anything back from me since that first day we ate lunch together in the park. But now, he was detaching himself from me. Maybe just a little, but enough for me to notice. I must have really hurt him to make him worry about how he acted around me. I almost wish the whole thing on Friday had never happened. Maybe I was just incredibly greedy for his attention. Or maybe I was making this whole thing up in my mind. But whatever it was, he was drawing back from me a bit, and I was desperate to fix it, which meant trying to get closer, which meant he'd have to draw back even further. The circle went on and on throughout the rest of class, and although I had him back, and we shared a few laughs...I knew that something was out of whack between us.

Drew was quick to get his stuff together and stand up when the bell rang, but I had already anticipated him making an attempt at a hasty getaway. So I was able to meet him at the door before he bailed on me. "So, what made ya come back?"

"I got a visit from a little birdie. So I figured, why not?" He smiled.

"Well...I for one am glad to see you."

From the expression on his face, it was hard to tell if that comment made him feel better or worse. He just started walking away to his next class and I turned to follow him. "Yeah...well, thanks." He said, not even looking at me.

"So, you wanna hit the park for lunch or something later? We can catch up on the last few days. Including the fact that you missed our fabulous biology video on enzymes..." But before I could finish, he stopped me.

"Actually, I'm going to be busy for lunch today dude. I've...I'm going to the library to finish a history report that was due on Monday. So I've got some work to do."

"Do you want me to drop by? Maybe smuggle you a sandwich or something?"

I was trying, but it was no use. "Nah, I'll be cool. Thanks though. I'll see you later, k?" And he sped up, losing me in the crowd and hurrying off to his next class.

"...Ok...." I whispered to myself. Sigh...I won't even pretend that I don't deserve the cold shoulder. Still, that doesn't mean that it hurt any less. When lunch rolled around, I figured that I would just go on out to the park by myself. There was no need for me to expose myself to Billy's so-called lovey dovey ravings for the girl with no name. Nor was I really up for any of Jermaine's 'social ladder strategies' either. I just needed some peace and quiet for a change. No better place for that than our little hideaway.

I marched up there and just sat cross legged under 'our' tree, enjoying the silence. It's funny, but you never know just how much running around you do until you stop. Then your body seems to just be tingling with energy as you sit back and just try to relax. It was an incredibly tranquil moment, but it would have been much better if I had someone to share it with. And not just anyone. Just then, I heard footsteps approaching me. Great. So much for peace and quiet. I looked around the tree to see Drew approaching me, with a little lunch bag in his hand. "Hi!" I said, startling him a bit. I didn't think he saw me sitting there.

"Ethan? What are you doing here?"

"I just came out here to enjoy the quiet for a while. I like it. The real question is, what are you doing out here? I thought you had a history paper to do."

"I...I DID. And, I will do it, but...not...not right now." He said nervously. No wiggling his way out of this one. He was caught red handed. He was avoiding me now, and that meant that I had REALLY screwed up. Still, I didn't see a reason to call him on it right then and there. I'd much rather just talk about other things.

"Come on over, sit down."I said, and he plopped down next to me. But nowhere near as close as he used to. He kept his distance, an invisible wall between us, and suddenly I felt like the poor little gay boy falling for the heterosexual hero of the football team. Did this mean that he liked me? Or didn't like me? Or did he not 'want' to like me? Or did he not want me to like him? Ok...the confusion returns. I tried a few times to scoot over closer to him, but he was very subtle about moving away. Like, he would pretend to drop something, and mover over to reach for it. Or he would stand up to 'stretch his legs', and when he sat back down, he would make sure that it was a bit further away than before. Grrrr...I HATED this! I just...I want things to be like they were. Not for the kisses and touches or anything...but for the companionship and carefree level of comfort that I felt with Drew. I never felt that with anyone else, and I missed that closeness. Now I felt bad for looking at him for too long, or for giving him any kind of compliment, or touching him in any way. Then...at one point, I brushed my arm against his, and he scooted over intentionally to keep it from happening again. That hurt. He tried to stay normal in his conversation, but the barricade was still there. There were certain words he would no longer use. Certain jokes or phrases he would no longer say. Certain gestures that he would no longer make. And it was crystal clear...Drew was carefully monitoring and, to a point, 'censoring' his conversation. He was biting his tongue, stopping himself from just being...Drew. I won't say that I didn't enjoy our time together, because Drew's mere presence in my life was a blessing and then some. But it was incomplete, and the best part was missing. Drew's heart.

I was almost hoping that Drew would at least try to make things between us look legit by staying with me a while longer instead of running back to class. But he didn't. He kept looking at his watch in the last few minutes, and I began to feel like I was a burden for even keeping him there that long. So I let him off the hook and stood up, signaling that it would be ok if he ran away from me screaming, or whatever. I lent him a hand, and he took it to help him to his feet. The sad thing is, that little bit of contact felt really good to me. Until he let go, that is. Then it only made me miss him even more. Strange, huh? He's standing right here, RIGHT HERE, and I still miss him. I must be going psycho or something. "So...I guess I'll see you later then?" I said.

"Uh...yeah. Maybe. Bye." He flashed me a patented 'fake' Drew smile, pushed his bag up on his slim shoulders, and walked away. I watched him walk, that not quite feminine walk, and tried t keep that empty feeling from welling up inside of me again. So...this is what being 'friends' with Drew feels like? I mean, this is what I wanted all along, right? No big problems. No whispers behind my back, or suspicious looks from my friends. No teasing, no temptations, no 'crossing over' into that whole unacceptable world of gayness that I was dreading so much. And I still had a good friend to show for it. Someone funny and witty and caring, someone I can talk to about almost anything. So I'm cool, right? I'm fine.

If I'm fine...then why do I feel so dead inside?

I think something changes once you fall in love with someone. Or even if you're infatuated with them. There's a certain closeness, a desire, a standard of needing them that simple 'friendship' can't provide. I didn't think it would be that way, but it is. I can feel that extra something missing when I talk to him. I can feel that restraint and I long to have it back. Once you rise up to a certain point, it can be really hard to settle down on some level that isn't as fantastic or as beautiful as the top of the mountain. How long could this go on? How long could I pretend to be ok with this before I realize that the need to have him in my life, and the need to hold back what I feel for him, will eventually cancel each other out? And then we won't even be friends anymore. How long, indeed.

I kinda slinked my way home that afternoon. Feeling like I had lost a love that I, basically, still had. And I thought back to that first day, that day when I discovered I was gay. Sitting on that cold floor, trying to force myself to love something that was practically another species as far as I was concerned. Trying to force my mind to act right, to get back under my control and obey me for once. I remember being so angry, so 'beaten' and distressed, wondering if I'd be alone for the rest of my life and never be able to tell a single person why. Then Drew came into my life...and even though it was confusing and scary at first, he actually made me LIKE being out of control. I enjoyed never knowing what emotion I was going to feel next, or when I was going to laugh out loud to myself, or the anticipation of not knowing when I'd see or hear from my angel again. It was stressful at times, but I loved every minute of it. Because no matter what the result was for ANY of the situations I went through with him, it was ALWAYS worth the wait. He freed me in so many ways. Kept me from feeling dirty, kept me from feeling unnatural or ashamed. I liked the feelings I got when I thought of him, and the people out there who don't understand that...I feel sorry for them.

I got home about 15 minutes later than usual. I must have been really dragging my feet. And I dropped off my backpack on the living room couch. I know my parents give me hell about doing my homework in front of the television, but I have yet to bring home a grade bad enough to warrant them to enforce it too harshly. Besides, if it was one thing that I needed right now, it was to keep my mind busy enough to stop thinking about 'you know who'...for a few minutes, anyway.

I saw the light on my answering machine blinking, and naturally thought, "Great, Jermaine is probably on a hunt for some of his import beer for a surprise party or something." But when I played the message, it was Drew's voice on the other end.

"Hey...this message is for Ethan. Um, I just wanted to say hello, or something. So I guess I'll talk to you later.......bye." And then he hung up. I played it again, feeling the excitement crawl over me just from hearing his voice. He sounded so plain. Not restrained, and not normal, but some strange nexus in between the two. I wondered if I should be too eager in calling him. I mean, I didn't want to be a pest to him or anything. And I certainly didn't need him crawling even further away from me by putting out any extra effort. But it didn't take long before I gave in. I should have known from the beginning that it wouldn't.

I quickly dialed the number, knowing the digits by heart after the very first phone call I ever made to his house, and felt my heartbeat pounding as I waited for him to pick up. "Hello?" He said, in what to be the cutest voice ever.

"Hi..." I said. But for some reason, when he picked up that receiver, the whole thing felt like it was the first conversation we'd ever had. Maybe it WAS in a way. I was looking at Drew in a whole new light, and he was being a totally different person altogether. I guess you can say that we were meeting our other halves for the first time. I was nervous. EXTREMELY NERVOUS. And jittery, and unsure of myself, and almost dizzy. A long silence had passed before I realized that I wasn't even talking. "...It's Ethan."

"Hehehe...I KNOW that, doofus." He giggled. I could feel myself blushing and smiling myself, but the trembling in my stomach went wild. I tried to calm the butterflies long enough to talk without my voice shaking, but that took so much concentration that I couldn't think of anything remotely interesting to say. After a few minutes, the conversation picked up, and it was almost natural again. And yet, it was still hard to be myself when he spoke. I couldn't understand why, but I just wasn't comfortable...at ALL! And no matter what I did, that comfort wouldn't come back to me. Something about having him on the other end of the line kept me overflowing with tiny quakes that shook me to the bone. Small quivering reminders of the love that I felt inside, and was always trying to hide for one reason or another. A few times during our talk, I was trying so hard to calm and contain the chemical reactions in my body that I wasn't even listening to what he was saying. And it made me stumble over words even more. It was a losing battle all the way around. After clumsily batting around a few lame topics, I guess I must have bored him enough to make him want to leave. He said, "Hey Ethan? I've gotta go dude."

Something inside told me to not let him go. To keep him talking, keep him laughing. Don't give up Ethan. A little bit longer, and maybe you'll be able to tell him something from your heart. "Are...are you sure? It's still kinda early." But it was no use.

"Yeah, I'm sure."

"Well...um...uh..." I scanned through every thought in my head, just trying to either gather up enough courage to at least hint at how I feel, or get him to stay on the phone long enough to get it. How hard can this possibly be??? He's GAY! Hello? The problem of possible rejection due to sexual preference has been removed. And we have things in common, and we get along, and we laugh together! AND we've already kissed each other once! How difficult is it to just say the words 'I love you'??? "...it...it was good talking to you Drew." Evidently, too difficult for me.

"You already said that at lunch." He giggled shyly.

"I know. But it's true, you know? It makes me...feel good to talk to you....you know?"

There was a short silence, and then he said, "Ethan...dude..." in an attempt to stop me.

"I'm not kidding. I just...I want you to know that I care about you a lot...and I just..." Shit! I was trying! Honestly trying to say what was in my heart, and now I was beginning to wonder if I could. The words simply weren't there. And I could almost feel tears welling up in my eyes from the frustration of being too scared to take that tiny little step towards possible happiness.

"I really have to go." He said quietly. Great! Just perfect! I could hear him starting to retreat from me all over again, and I could tell that all that he wanted to do was get off the phone at this point. I sighed to myself, and he said, "...cool?"

"Yeah....whatever." I said sadly, mentally kicking myself in the nuts for blowing another opportunity.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just being weird today is all. Just...I meant every word, ok?"

There was a pause, and then Drew replied, "Ok. Um...thanks, Ethan. Really." I felt too bad to continue too much, but Drew suddenly changed his apparent 'fear' of me. It was only for a few quick moments, but it almost felt like it used to feel. Back when our feelings for each other were our own and we didn't have to worry about sharing it with the other person. "So I'll see you tomorrow?" He said, his voice lowering just a bit. Not to a whisper, but to a gentle, slightly raspy, moan. It was hard to explain, but it was sex personified into the form of a teenage voice. It tickled my ears just to hear it.

"Yeah...um...sure." I felt the fear building up inside of me again, but it didn't stop me. This was different. Better.

"I thought...maybe we can go out for lunch at...at the park. Like last time? For a while..." He said. Now it was Drew who had a slight tremble in his voice. It was a tiny nudge in my side that told me he liked me, he HAD to like me. I know he did. He could hide it and avoid it and run from it, just like I did. But eventually, just like the uncontrollable smiles we shared in class, he would have to give in eventually.

Not that THAT helped me feel any less nervous. "Y-y-yeah...ok...might be fun...I'll meet you at the gate?"

"....Yeah. Maybe then we can set up a day to work on our project again? Maybe...you know...rent a video or something?" His voice was slowing down now, bashfully getting cuter and cuter by the second. It was like he was making love to my senses over the phone. I wondered if he knew what he was doing to me. Wondering if he was waiting to see if I would cave in after all. It wouldn't take much effort to seduce me at this point. I was already grinding myself into the bed at the sound of his voice, and if he had been there at that moment...we would have been well on our way to finishing what we started that rainy Friday night.

"Sure. Just you and me...it'll be...cool." I said, trying timidly to match the passionate tone and speed of his voice, and he sighed a little bit. It was almost silent, but it was there. Just the words 'you and me' sounded so right together. My chest began to constrict as the silences between us got more frequent, and our voices more hypnotic. I don't think we were really even talking anymore, we were stimulating each other as subliminally as we knew how. And it felt amazing.

"I...I'll look for you then...Ok? I can't wait..." He sighed, his breathing becoming a bit strange now in pace. At that moment, I pictured him laying on his bed, in the same entranced state that I was in. Hard as a rock, laying on his stomach and talking to me through those slightly parted red lips. Thinking about me. Thinking about us.

"O-o-ok...." I stuttered. And then there was silence. I could have interrupted it by saying goodbye, but I didn't. I just closed my eyes and felt his presence over the phone. God...it was a beautiful moment. One where all time came to a standstill.

"K......" He whispered, followed by another long pause where neither one of us said anything at all. The silence must have lasted almost a full 30 seconds. But there was nothing 'uncomfortable' about it. In our minds, even though we weren't speaking...we never stopped transmitting what was on our minds. And in our hearts. He couldn't hide it from me, or I from him. But that was ok, I was flying on auto pilot at that moment, and I doubt I could have put it into words anyway. Suddenly, being gay was an incredibly beautiful piece of who I was again. One that I was more than happy to indulge in. Then, Drew whispered softly in my ear, "....G'night Ethan."

"G'night." I whispered back, and there was another short delay before he hung up the phone. The second I heard the click on the line, I whispered to myself, "...I love you, Drew." And I imagined him whispering back, 'I love you too.'

I hung up the phone, a breathless smile on my face, and a painfully rigid erection that stood at full attention without a single sexual thought to motivate it. A circumstance that was sure to change. I couldn't help but touch it. Rub it. And for the first time...I began thinking of Drew sexually. Freely, without restrictions. It had existed as a tiny itch in the back of my mind for soooo long. Something that has always been there, but was never allowed to rise to the surface. I blocked it out, fought it back, strangled it with all of my might...but not this time. I conjured it up into full view, and for the first time, my heart, my soul, and my mind worked as one unit to give my aching body the release that it needed. The one it had been searching for in Drew's eyes since the beginning.

My almost involuntary rubbing became more arousing. Teasing my member as it was trapped inside of my jeans. It called to me, stretching and tightening, begging to be set free. After a few minutes, I was compelled to turn over onto my stomach and push into the mattress. I thought about his voice, singing tenderly in my ear. And I thought about how his lips must have looked forming those words, his gentle breath carrying them from his mouth to my ear. And my sexual frustration reached an all new high, causing me to grind even harder into the bed. My hips rolling in small circles, my lips kissing the pillow underneath me. Then, I couldn't take anymore. I rolled over onto my back, almost tearing my pants off of me. I closed my eyes, and leaned my head back as I undid the button on my boxer shorts, freeing my excited length from its prison. I gasped out loud with the initial contact. My hand, touching me, skin to skin, feeling it's heat, feeling it's desire burning inside. I held it for a few seconds, and then began to stroke it slowly. I could have sworn that my whole bottom half had become as hard as those particular 6 inches. My balls, my thighs, my stomach...all of it felt as though it was tightened up and all coming towards that one long point. The sensitivity was incredible, and my mind raced as Drew entered my mind.

Mmmmm...I imagined twisting the soft, silken curls of Drew's hair around my fingertips as he kissed me deeply. His tongue all the way in my mouth, his feather weight bearing down on top of me, his soft lips shivering slightly as his excitement passed through our kiss. Oh God...to hear him whisper my name in my ear. To taste his kiss on my lips. To feel his hardness in contrast to the soft flexible frame of his ripening young body. I bet his neck is soooo soft, like a baby's skin. It just looks soft, especially when the sun highlights it, shining around the big brownish blond curls of his hair. And his earlobes, so tastey. And his chest, totally hairless, smooth and undefined. His thighs...the softened meat of them, melting in my mouth as I suckled at them tenderly. I would take him into my mouth, feel his temperature rise, savor the taste of every inch of his member...until he begged me to stop. Soft music, candles, ice cool sheets, and the boyish moans of Drew and I as we pleased each other endlessly. Over and over again. I would never let him go. My mouth watered at the very thought of him in my arms. Mmmm...I want to touch him everywhere. Kiss him everywhere. Worship him in every possible way.

I felt the orgasm rising inside of me, and I wanted to stop. I wanted to hold it off and prolong the intimate visions that rolled through me. But it was already too late, the picture of his seductive smile had pushed me over the edge, and I erupted...exploding in one of the most intense climaxes I had ever experienced. Even the FIRST time paled in comparison. I was gasping in short puffs just to keep from moaning out loud. My body continued to spasm out of control, and I was on pleasure overload. My eyes were wide open, and my juices poured out of me in excess. My body lost all of its strength almost instantly, and I lay back almost losing my consciousness. Lost in a daze of pure sexual bliss! MAN! If being with Drew in my fantasies was that good...just IMAGINE what it would be like to have him for real.

When I was finished, and was able to catch my breath, a part of me felt guilty for thinking of him that way, but it was instantly overpowered by the other parts of my mind who had been searching for that particular orgasm for a long long time. It's going to be hard to ever top that one. Looks like I might have hit my masturbatory peak at 15. But hey...it was worth it.

I couldn't sleep without going at least two more times. And one of those times my mom walked in and I had to pretend that I was asleep! Thank God for covers! By the time I got to school the next day, I was floating on wings of love and blushing from thoughts of lust. And when I saw Drew, my heart literally stopped. Frozen completely while it tried to figure out whether the love or the lust was most important at that moment. All I knew was that the urge to smother that sweet face with kisses was inescapable. "Hey...bud." I said, looking into his eyes deep, and trying to somehow recreate what had happened on the phone last night.

"What's up?" He said. And he gave me a lopsided grin and sat down. 'What's up?' Is..is that it? What happened to the...you know...the whispers and the cute little rasp in his voice and all that? What happened to the voice that inspired the greatest orgasm of my life?

I sat down next to him, and smiled at him. He naturally smiled back, but that was it. I didn't get it. What happened? It was like he was going back into that shell again, and I didn't want that. C'mon Drew...give me a sign that you love me too. Come on! P-p-please? Life would be so lonely without you.

"So...what'd you do after you got off the phone last night?" There. I'll just place a little reminder in his mind, and then see how he reacts.

"Nothing much really. I finished my report. And I got ahead on some other things too." He wasn't responding at all. Whatever wall he had put up between us before, was now 100 feet tall, infinitely wide, and electrified, with barbwire at the top and a moat on either side!

"Oh...ok." And that was it. What else could I do? Shout it out in the middle of class? Write it on the blackboard? Hey Drew, please love me? I started out being hurt...REALLY hurt, but it didn't take long for that to turn into anger. The fucker gets me all riled up, gives me the go-ahead, and NOW he want's to change his mind? I am NOT to be played with! Cute or not, the hell with him! And there I sat, for the rest of class, trying hard not to give a damn. I didn't speak a single word to him, and a few times, I could feel him watching me out of the corner of his eye, like always. But I pretended not to. I just pouted and worked up enough energy to stay pissed at him. Did being pissed make the love go away? No. Did being pissed make the hurt go away? No. But it was the only retaliation that I had. It may have been childish, but it was my only option at that point.

The bell rang and we all got up to go. I was going to leave without even talking to him, but he actually stopped me. Like I'm supposed to care! How can he treat me this way? I should never talk to him again! Maybe I won't! "So, are we still on for lunch?" He said with a semi-grin.

As angry and hurt and depressed as I was at this whole fiasco, without even thinking, I heard the words, "Sure, wouldn't miss it for the world." leave my mouth! WHAT?!?!?! What am I doing? It was like my emotions had taken over, and the real me was tied up, bound and gagged, in the back of my own mind somewhere. Don't give him the satisfaction! Don't let Drew get away with doing this to you! But, by the time I had finished walking with him to his next class, he had smiled three times, and I was entranced again. God...I'm such a wuss! I've kicked people's ass for less. And here comes this pretty little boy toy erasing my ability to even get mad anymore. This must be what it feels like to be completely 'whipped'.

I went out to meet Drew at the gate, hoping, praying, that the mere site of him wouldn't make me all goofy and feel like jelly inside. No such luck. Whatever piece of me that was dedicated to Drew, he had complete and total control over it. I don't even think he was aware of it, but he was. Damn, why was I such a dork? We walked out to the park, and sat in our usual spot, Drew keeping his newfound degree of distance between us. And yet, I felt really good about having him there. Hurt, sure. But good nonetheless. We sat out there, talking back and forth for a while, and no matter how much I tried to hold on to the utter hatred for his change in personality since last night, it wouldn't stay. I felt better and better every second that he was by my side. It was useless to try to resist his charms. And then, he would say or do something so cute, or so shy...that it would make me shiver with delight. I LOVED it when he was playing the shy guy. But I HATED the fact that he would stop after going just far enough to make me want to jump on him. Sigh....my love grew, he stayed the same. Purposely stopping himself from feeling anything more. No doubt because of my stupid little display of ignorance on Friday night. My mind wrestled with a thousand thoughts at once, and nothing was turning out the way I thought it would.

I spent the entire lunch hour trying to flirt between the lines. Trying to get his attention on the fact that I wanted to be with him. But he just kept blocking them as easily as I tossed them his way. I never felt so helpless. I had been steering the conversation to sex and being gay as much as I could without being too obvious, and he wasn't responding the way I hoped he would. So I took a little chance.

"So how come you never talk about anybody that you like at school?" I asked. His face turned red before he could even turn all the way to look at me.

"I...uh...I just don't. I don't like anybody." He said. But he was so awful at lying. Especially to me. I giggled a bit. "What?"

"C'mon...you're hiding something. So spill it. I KNOW you have to think that somebody in our school is cute! So who is it?" I was so hoping he would say me. Hehehe, it was stupid, but hey, it was a safe way to try to get his attention. I say 'who is it', he says 'it's you Ethan', and then I get the chance to say, 'I love you too'. Cool, right? That way, I force HIM to make the first move, and once it's safe, I get to just confirm it, and we live happily ever after. Just like in those Internet stories where they're having sex by the fourth paragraph. But...evidently Drew didn't know that game.

"Do you SWEAR not to tell anyone??? EVER!!!" He asked.

"YES! I swear! Now tell me! Please? I'm curious!"

Then he sighed out loud and said..."Well...Patrick from my study hall."

WHAT??? "Huh?"

"Yeah. He's....he's dreamy, you know? And he is so majorly cute. I know he's not gay or anything, but I used to have a big crush on him. He's cool. I saw him moon a car one time, and I nearly stroked myself silly for WEEKS afterwards. He's so hot, dude! But don't you EVER tell him I said that, or so help me I'll run you down with my car! As soon as I get a license that is." He was smiling, but I wasn't. At least not at first. Psh! Patrick? That asshole? He was pretty, sure...but he didn't have a brain in his head. He didn't care about anything except for his hair and his social status as an icon. Unless he grew up to replace a member of N'Sync, he was going to be homeless in less than a year after high school. I mean come ON! PATRICK? Over ME??? He wasn't funny, or cool, or special in any way that I could see. He didn't know Drew like I did. He didn't listen to his problems or spend time worrying about his well being! If he was drunk enough, or horny enough, Patrick might screw him in the back of some dirty old car for kicks, but he didn't love him. Not like I did. He could never show Drew the romance, or show him how incredibly beautiful he was the way I could. But I guess he was 'pretty'. So he gets Drew. What kind of FUCKED up world is this???

"What's wrong?" he asked, seeing the look on my face.

"Oh...nothing. So Patrick, huh? That's cool. He seems cute enough. Is he the only one?" I asked, masking the rejection as best as I could.

There was a pause, and then he said, "W-w-why do you ask?" And before I could answer, a lady and her three kids invaded our paradise. Drew stood up and started gathering his things right away.

"Where are you going?"

"Lunch hour is over." He said. I told him that we still had a few minutes left, but he just said that it would take him that long to walk back. Drew...Mr. 5-Minutes-Late. Fine. If he doesn't want to talk, then I don't either. And I found myself locked in another pouting session again. As we walked back, I asked him if he still wanted to do anything on this project. Maybe, deep inside, I was still longing to see him at my house again, but I'll be damned if I let HIM know that. "Sure. How about tomorrow night? Your place?" He said.

"Sounds good. Whatever is good for you dude." And I walked faster, leaving him behind. I was hoping that he would get the message that I was upset with him, even if I was slightly excited by the fact that he was coming over again. But he doesn't need to know about that part. I'd rather make him feel bad for a while.

The next evening, he showed up, books in hand, ready to work. We only had one more week to get this thing done, and we hadn't even really gotten a chance to plan things out. It was going to be quite a push to get everything done by the deadline, and we both knew that. But...seeing him at my front door broke down all of my barriers. I suppose I should have expected it by now. "Hey..." I said.

"My dad's coming to pick me up at the corner in a few hours, so I don't have long." He said, walking past me.

"A few hours? But...I rented a video and stuff. I even ordered a pizza if you..."

"Nah, I really will have to go soon. So we don't have much time." He sat down, and started opening books and spreading his papers out over the coffee table. He was...nervous. VERY nervous...shaking in fact. He wouldn't even look at me. He just kept his head down, and shuffled through his notebook hurriedly. I didn't know what to make of it at first, but this had to be a good sign. Maybe it was my time to test HIM for a change. See just how much seduction he can take. Let's find out, shall we?

An hour passed. Two. Three. And still, he never gave in. If I touched him, he cringed. If I made a flirtatious comment, he laughed it off nervously and then went right back to work. He was trying hard not to let me in, but I kept trying. "So...Patrick, huh? I've been meaning to ask, why him?"

"That's not really project related, Ethan. Now come on, we've gotta finish this."

"In time...right now, I'm wondering why he seems to be the object of your affections."

"Dude, my dad is going to be here soon. I don't think we have time to talk about something so trivial."

"I do." And he gave me a look, but I just leaned back and folded my arms. Letting him know that this study session wasn't going anywhere until he told me what I wanted to know. "I don't know. I just thought he was cute. Ok? Happy now?"

"So you like him?"

"I didn't SAY that. I said he was cute."

"But you'd sleep with him, huh? What 'parts' of him do you like best?" I asked. I was joking, even smiled when I said it, but I don't think he took it that way.

"Look, there's more to me than just being gay, you know? I can talk about other things too. I don't know why people think that just because I happen to like boys that it's all I think about, all I do, and all I'm capable of. I'm a person just like anybody else. I can have...'friends' and stuff too without being hopelessly in love with every guy that walks past me."

"I...I didn't mean..."

"Yes you did. Because that's what 'straight' people tend to believe. That I just size up every single guy on the planet and make it my mission to score with them all. And then, there's the little local gay clubs and help centers, where EVERYBODY is just totally consumed by it. Every conversation, every activity, every book, every song, every TV show, every movie, every thought in their head...it's just 'gay' this, and 'gay' that, and gay gay gay! You know, without this fancy little label, I'd probably come off as much more of an everyday individual. Not just another one of those poor, sexually confused, youths who has to be comforted and saved all the time. I'm not a homophobe, I'm not ashamed, and I'm not an activist. I'm just...'me'. I wish people could just see that I'm more than some ridiculous controversy."

I waited until he was done, a little surprised by where all of that came from. But I didn't mean to insult him at all. I felt bad, and mumbled, "I'm sorry. I was just...making conversation. I didn't know it bothered you so much."

He lightened up a tad, and then buried his face back in his notebook. "It's ok. Just don't...'classify' me, ok? I can be friends with a boy without drooling all over him and doing something stupid. I just like to forget about my sexuality once in a while and pretend that I can sit here with you and...not be...whatever. Look, forget I said it."

I saw a pair of lights show up outside of the house, and Drew's dad honked the horn for him to come out. "That's for me, I've gotta run. Listen, I'll talk to you later, k?" As soon as he started packing up, I felt this feeling of utter panic come over me. Something that just burned inside and was dying to leap out. I couldn't let him just...LEAVE! I had to...well, I had to just...I don't know WHAT I had to do, but I couldn't let him leave. Think Ethan! Think! Um, um, um...shit!

He put his coat on and walked to the door. "I'll see you tomorrow?" I said, trying to stall for just a few seconds more. I couldn't think of anything to say, but when I saw him reach for the door handle, I felt my arms wrap around him from behind. I don't know what made me do it, but it felt good. Tender and loving. He froze and tensed up at first. But then he just relaxed a little bit. He didn't look at me. He couldn't look at me. I just kept my arms draped loosely over his shoulders, and we shared a small moment of silence. I could smell the sweet fragrance of his hair, and I rested my chin on his shoulder, rubbing my cheek lightly against his. That's when the tension returned, and he pulled away from me. I looked at him, and his eyes glittered with the beginnings of tears. I reached up to wipe them away, but he took a full step away from me.

"I'm...I'm...I'm sorry. Ethan...I can't stay. I just...can't. I just...g'night." And he opened the door, almost running to his dad's car to keep from crying in front of me. I shut the door, feeling that burning fire inside of me turning cold. I went to my room, laying back on my bed, and felt a bout of sadness sweep over me. I wanted to be so close to him, all the time. I wanted to always touch him, always hear him laugh, always be able to look at him whenever I needed to see what true beauty was. But somehow he didn't want that. I thought that he was just protecting me, or maybe himself, by saying that he didn't like me in that way. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I'm the desperate one in all this, and he's just trying to fend off MY advances. Who knows? All I know is that I could be in a room packed full of my closest friends and family...but if Drew wasn't there..I was going to be alone. The only question now is, do I try again, or do I move on? I guess I'll have to let my heart decide that for me. The rest of me is much too weak at this point.