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I have to be honest...seeing Ryan and Sean talking to one another in such a friendly and familiar way was...’awkward’ for me. I mean, it’s not like I was really having any trust issues that were significant enough for me to address or really worry about. I was trying, ok? I really was. I can handle this. My boyfriend is one of the hottest, crush worthy, specimens in the entire friggin’ school. What was I going to do? Handcuff him to my wrist and prevent everybody around us from occasionally staring at him like some sexy piece of meat by putting a bag over his head and dressing him in a burlap sack where no one could see how much of a boy model he is when it comes to clothes clinging to that fit and fine body of his in the most seductive ways imaginable? I mean, that would definitely be a plus for ME, but utterly impossible when it comes to putting it into practice. That would be ridiculous, you know?
Ryan’s not flirting or anything. And he’s already proven that he’s willing to stand by me no matter what. Through coming out to my mom, to spending time in bed with me when I’m sick, to telling Sean to back off at the carnival when he stepped too close to the line. He’s a good boyfriend. He’s got my heart in the palm of his hand, and he really hasn’t given me much of a reason to have any fear when it came to the idea of him abusing it for his own enjoyment. So...
...Why does this still bug me so much?
Cody told me that this would happen. I just didn’t know how sneaky a tactic like the one Sean is using would be when it came to potentially sliding his way into Ryan’s heart without either one of us consenting to it.
This whole thing is so crazy. I’m trying to have faith, baby. I really am. But there’s a part of me that can’t look past the idea of there being some kind of weird competition between us...and I’m the only one who stands to lose everything here.
Ugh! I can’t even imagine breaking up with my boyfriend already and having my mom actively trying to be supportive and cheer me up after just finding out about us, asking difficult questions through it all that I really didn’t want to answer. That would be a fate worse than death...ten times over!
So...instead of making a deal out of it, I just sort of stepped over to the side and let them talk without really participating in the conversation. I mean, there were a few times when Ryan looked back at me and sort of let me know that he still liked having me present in all this, but I just sort of smiled and nodded very now and then without saying much. A little bit of self control and some level of grace was all that I really needed to keep things civil between us. I shouldn’t worry. I already won. He’s my boyfriend. Sean can’t ever take that away from us, no matter how hard he may try to be an annoying splinter in my finger about it all. So why worry, right?
You want to know what was weird though? Sean kept looking over at me while they were talking and laughing with one another...and it was almost as if he was watching to see how much it bothered me that he was my sweetie’s friend. Like, he was trying to gauge a reaction from me and kept looking for me to be going through a period of distress or something. It was weird. But, you know what? It actually made me feel better about the whole event. Hehehe! Seriously...it did.
It’s like he was seriously wearing himself out trying to trigger me, and it made me feel good to know that I wasn’t willing to give him the satisfaction of a response. Is that what this is all about? Him trying to make me lose my cool so that I look like some kind of maniac, foaming at the mouth and rabidly attacking him and crying over his stupid and childish tactics to suck all of my boyfriend’s attention away from me while he gets to sit back and play the role of the victim? Is that the best he’s got? What a child. What a loser.
Trying to rope me in to this silly game of his. He’ll get no such satisfaction from me. I’ll just patiently wait for his blabbermouth bullshit to run out, and then Ryan and I will walk away from him...hand in hand...and continue enjoying the love and companionship that we spent time building ever since that afternoon when he kissed me on the lips for the first time. A love that he’ll never know because all he does is spend all of his energy and every waking moment thinking about me instead of doing something positive for himself.
Enjoy your little vapid conversation, asshole. Because the prize will still be mine when it’s all said and done. Of that, I can be certain.
Deal with it, you scavenger piece of shit!
“Well, I’ve gotta run. I’m walking with Randy to class.” Ryan grinned, backing away from Sean and coming to resume his place at my side again.
“Gee...you never walk with me to class anymore.” Sean said with a flirtatious smirk. One that was completely wasted on Ryan as he just shrugged and turned to smile at me instead.
“I guess you’ll have to find yourself a bodyguard then, won’t you?” He said, causing Sean’s smirk to lose all of its authenticity almost immediately. He peeked over Ryan’s shoulder to look me in the eye, and it took everything that I had to keep from sticking my tongue out at him to celebrate yet another victory over his over privileged, unearned, good looks. But why even bother? He’s not worth the wasted energy. “You ready, babe?” Ryan asked me.
“Yeah. I’m ready.” I said with a sigh, and Ryan said goodbye to Sean as we went on our merry way without him crawling all up under my skin like he usually does. Gee...what do you know? Cody was right. I can easily take Sean’s greatest weapon against me away from him by simply not giving a fuck. Who knew something like that would actually work?
He still bugs me though. Just not as much as he’d like to think that he does. I’m only human after all.
Ryan and I walked to class together and went in to sit in our regular seats...and I couldn’t help but to notice Hailey watching us a lot closer than usual. It made me wonder if she really had much leverage here when it came to Ryan and I being together. My mom and his dad already knew that we were gay now. Not only that, but they were well aware of the fact that we were involved in a loving relationship with one another. So what else is there left to tell? You know? It’s not like I have any reason to feel intimidated anymore, or like she’s got this deep dark secret to hold over my head in case she wanted to use it against me. She can fuck off too, for all I care. I mean, wow...is this what being out of the closet is like? Just...being free from the stigma of being so different that it shames me into going back into hiding or denying who I really am? Allowing myself to be manipulated by fears that don’t even have any basis in reality? That’s crazy.
You know...there are so many people out there that want to say that everybody is a ‘sheep’ or a lemming by following some kind of herd mentality...but then they’re the FIRST ones to look at you weird for being different! Like, at all. They want to be in control of defining what is and isn’t ‘normal’...but the second you do something normal, you’re a sheep? Make up your mind. These people are just miserable, and they want everybody else to be miserable too. So they play both sides of the fence so that they’ll always always have something to bitch and moan about. Some fucked up reason to look at somebody else sideways and elevate themselves to an imaginary level where they feel it’s ok to look down on somebody else. Well...if that’s the kind of bullshit that Hailey is on considering me and Ryan being together...then she’ll just have to find her own way of dealing with that on her own time. Not on mine.
God, I’m so SICK of people! Get a life already! We got one! Go get your own...
“Randy…?” Ryan said, giving me a weird grin. “You alright? Hehehe!”
“Me? Yeah. I’m fine.” I said.
“You sure? Because you look like you’re thinking too much again. I can always tell when you’re mentally kicking yourself.”
I had to giggle at his observation. “Yeah. I know. Dude, you’re right. I’m just...” I looked around us for a moment and lowered my voice a bit, almost to a whisper, “...I think I’m just getting used to this new liberating feeling of just being myself for what feels like the first time. You know? Does that make any sense?”
Ryan seemed so proud of me when I said that. I could tell by the way he brushed his hair out of his eyes and gazed at me with the bright glory of those sparkling hazel eyes of his. “Cool...” He sighed breathlessly, making me smile.
Hehehe, God help the first person who comes to approach me the wrong way once I reach the point where I actually LIKE telling people to fuck off and mind their own business. That’s going to be a bad day for them, trust me.
It’s not like Ryan and I started off showing one another these big public displays of affection after our first class together or anything but there was definitely an added feeling of closeness to him that wasn’t there before. Or maybe it was just as much a part of my imagination as the false need to suppress it in the first place. All I know is that I could feel an obvious difference, and it brought me a great deal of peace once I recognized it for what it was.
“You are seriously ‘glowing’ today, Randy. You know that, right?” Ryan asked me before we were forced to part ways for the rest of the morning.
“Am I? I wasn’t trying to.” I said. “I’m just kind of curious as to where to go with this feeling. It’s almost like starting off from scratch, and I’m a bit lost as to how I’m going to pick another path to follow. And where I’m expecting it to lead me.”
“Yeah. That happens.” He said. “Just know that whatever direction you decide to go in...I’ll be right there with you. When I needed you most, you were there to join me. Now it’s my turn to join you.” He gave me a playful little slug in the arm and he said, “We’ll figure it out. The hard part’s already over, right?”
It was at that moment that Hailey walked by us and purposely bumped Ryan with her shoulder as she continued towards her next class. She had plenty of room to avoid that bratty little collision, but...whatever. Let her go.
Ryan just sort of rolled his eyes and ignored the sucker punch of an attack. “I’ll see you at lunch?” He asked.
“You know it. Save me a seat.” We shared a heartfelt smile and then just left one another...starting that anxiety filled countdown clock that promised to bring us back together some time soon. Not soon enough for my tastes, but soon.
As happy as I was to accept my new standing in my boyfriend’s life, I have to admit to wanting to hold on to a bit of that selfish yearning to have him all to myself. Like...even when it came to us being together...I didn’t even want to share enough of him to have other people stare at us and try to figure our relationship out. Even that tiny little bit of attention felt like an invasion of privacy to me. An unwarranted interruption in our cozy coexistence. And I was beginning to wonder whether or not it was going to get any worse from here on out.
Which kind of leads me to a conversation that I had with Ariel just before lunch. He still had a hint of that sourpuss expression lingering on his face, and the fact that this has been going on since we met up this morning had me a bit worried. I know that he gave me an excuse about wishing that he and Tyler could have just spent more time together instead of coming to school today...but, even though I really do believe that he was telling me the truth about that part, there was obviously something else going on here. It’s not like Ariel to hold on to something for this long. No to this degree anyway.
I greeted him, sure...expecting him to follow me down to the cafeteria to meet up with everybody else. But he remained leaning up against his locker, his eyes cast downward towards his shoes. I wasn’t quite sure what he was doing, but when I asked him what he was waiting on, he sort of peeked up through his dark strands of hair and sort of looked off to the other side of the hallway...just a little bit further down. I tried to follow his line of sight, even through an entire army of other students as they zig zagged from one classroom or one locker to another...and the only thing that I could see that looked like it would be even remotely familiar was...
I only caught a glimpse of them at first, but it was immediately obvious to me that it was Matt and Sam smiling and goofing around with one another at their shared locker that was Ariel’s main focus.
I got really quiet and just looked away, not wanting to say anything or even let him know that I saw what he was looking at. I really was not prepared to involve myself in that situation right now, but as I tried to encourage Ariel to just come walk with me to distract him from whatever it was that he might be worried about...he decided to speak up instead. Hesitating to follow me. That was a first.
“Randy?” He said, his soft voice shaking slightly as he struggled to look me in the eye. “If I asked you a question...do you promise to tell me the truth?”
“Dude, the lunch line is going to be super long if we don’t get started. You know they grab all the cool stuff first.” I said.
“I’m serious.” He said. “I mean...am I missing something here? Things don’t feel right.”
Ugh! Please don’t corner me with this right now, Ariel! I shouldn’t get myself all stuck in the middle of this. “Don’t feel right? I’m sure everything is fin. You’ve just got some jitters, that’s all. And that’s understandable. I totally get it. Sometimes it’s ok to just relax and enjoy it.”
“No. That part, ummm...that part feels ok...”
Deflect, Randy. Just keep deflecting.
“I know what it’s like to feel like you have this really perfect person in your life, and feel like you might accidentally do or say the wrong thing, and he’s going to end up slipping right through your fingers. But it’s not true, Ariel. K? It takes some time to adjust and feel a bit more confident about everything that’s going on with you two. You just have to give it a chance.”
Ariel was silent for a moment, and then he mumbled, “You’re not being honest with me...are you?” I felt a bit ashamed at that moment, but I wasn’t really lying to him. I was just trying to put his mind at ease for a little while. It didn’t seem to be working though. “You know something that I don’t.” He asked. “Don’t you?”
“Please don’t tell me a fib, Randy. Not you. Ok?” His eyes seemed a little bit misty, and my heart broke for him almost instantly. “What’s going on with Tyler? And why does he seem to get all shaky whenever Matt and Sam are around? What happened?”
“You should really be asking Tyler about all of this stuff. He’s the one you need to talk to...” I said, getting a significant more nervous and wishing that he would just drop it already.
“I can’t DO that, Randy! You know I can’t!” He whimpered. “I promise that, whatever you tell me, I won’t be mad, k? I just...I feel like Tyler’s never gonna talk to me about this, and I just wanna know what happened.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“I want you to say...I want...” Ariel hesitated for a moment, and it was almost as if he really needed to know, but didn’t want to know at the same time. “...Was Tyler...was he ever together with one of them? Like...before? I just want to know.”
“Please...” I said, “...Don’t ask me that.”
I know that it hurt him to hear me say that. Sometimes, not giving an answer is actually giving an answer.
“Does this have anything to do with that day when we were all at the arcade together that one time? When Sam was worried that he had lost his boyfriend?” He asked, prying even further. “Was it Matt? Do you think Tyler had a crush on Matt? Do you think they, like...kissed or anything?”
“Why are you doing this to yourself?” I asked him. “You won, Ariel. You and Tyler are together. You’re one of the sweetest couples that I’ve ever seen before, and you know how he feels about you already, so why are you torturing yourself like this? Isn’t that enough?”
He sighed heavily, and lowered his head again as he began to sniffle quietly. “I want it to be...but I cant tell.”
“If anything happened there, then it probably didn’t mean anything.” I said, now moving dangerously close into deliberate falsehood territory.
“If it didn’t mean anything, then why didn’t he just come right out and tell me?” He said, and I just wanted to get him to the cafeteria where he could sit across the table from Tyler again and get all dreamy eyed and infatuated to the point where he couldn’t concentrate on anything other than the rapid beating of his excited heart. But...even though I got him to stand up straight and finally start waling with me towards our lunch for the day, I highly doubted that he was going to let this go so easily. He didn’t seem to be in the mood to let it go.
Nobody wants to believe that their past actions or even their mistakes are going to really come back and haunt them to the point of ruining whatever blessings they may have in the future...but hopefully, Tyler and Ariel will end up being some of the lucky ones.