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Bonding, Backstory and Baggage (Thicker Than Water, Chapter 7)

John Henry


So, Chapter 7....

As with most of the chapters I write, I'm never certain where the story is going until it's done.  I generally have clues as what each chapter should have in it, but often, turns are taken that I wasn't prepared for, and this chapter wasn't an exception.

Up to this point, Bryan hasn't really been interested in Steve as a person.  He hasn't been rude to the man, but given Bryan's issues with father figures and relationship issues, I was prepared for this to be another failed attempt by Steve to get Bryan to like him.

As mentioned before, Steve is a character from another story I've written (and still working on completing), and I wasn't sure how much of his backstory to add, since Steve didn't have a big part in the other story.  By this point, I was settled on making a shared universe out of several short stories and would-be novels I've written for another website.  Which stories would be connected and how they'd be integrated were other problems as I tell Steve's story.  It's still tricky now, since I want the connection without the reader having to read a bunch of stuff they'd problem not like, since the content is extremely adult, taboo and certainly not suited for this website.

I'm also someone who likes inside jokes that most people wouldn't get.  Those jokes don't need context, but if you're "in the know," they're that much funnier.

Also, as I reading the chapter for this blog post, I noticed that the high school names I'm using changed.  I originally wrote Wilson High in this chapter, but in later chapters, I called it Washington.  My original idea was to write a series about the high school and slowly incorporate the queer kids from my other stories into one setting. 

I wanted to name the high school after US President Woodrow Wilson, who was a bigot worse than Trump and Nixon combined.  He grew up in the Southern US during a period called Reconstruction, which took place after the Civil War of the 1860s.  Reconstruction punished the South for trying to break away from the US threw economic means and reimbursements for the cost of the war.  Wilson, whose family owned slaves before the war, still held the racist views of his ancestors prior to becoming US President.  He even wrote books and articles glorifying the South's fight to keep slaves and also glorified the then defunct Ku Klux Klan so greatly, it caused the Klan to make a come back during the early 20th Century and they haven't gone away since.  When Wilson became President, he segregated Washington, DC, which wasn't desegregated until segregation was made illegal in the 1960s.

These are hardly the only horrible things Wilson did while President, either.  During WWI, Britain and France initially carved up the Ottoman Empire between the two nations.  However, Wilson didn't like this, and drew up his own map, which was essentially the same map that Britain and France came up with.  This carving of the Middle East is why the current War in Gaza and every single problem the Middle East has suffered is occurring.  I wish that here hyperbole, but it isn't.  Had Teddy Roosevelt or Taft became President instead, there's good reason to believe that the Middle East wouldn't have been carved up the way it was.  Wilson only wanted to make himself look good.

The US polices the world because Woodrow Wilson thought we should.  It's called the Wilson Doctrine.  He mandated that the US should spread and secure Democracy by any means necessary.  Our current economic problems also come from Wilson.  He forced through the Federal Reserve Bank, thus privatizing our currency and failing to make sure that monopolies were better regulated.  The Great Depression can be attributed to his policies.

There's much more to Wilson as well, which I was going to make into a plot of the series that got the school's name changed.  I still might do that, but right now, I've changed (and will continue to change) the name from Wilson to Washington whenever I come across it.


As we know now, Bryan starts off not wanting to hear anything from Steve, but Steve is unwilling to give up.  I wanted this to be a juxtaposition for Bryan's point of view.  I think most of Diego's boyfriends didn't really care about the boys and only saw them as accessories or roadblocks to their relationships with Diego.  Steve doesn't see them that way.  He sees them as a family unit that he wants to be a part of, which means being accepted by all family members.  He wants to care about the boys, but only on the level he's allowed.  At this point, Bryan is being distant and aloof, and Steve wants to give Bryan an opportunity to change his mind.

The line, "I'm actually bisexual," was taken from Heartstopper.  If you haven't seen it.  You must.

The tale of Steve's personal discovery links two stories this Thicker Than Water.  The first tells the story of a shy, nerdy and sexually repressed, gay, college student who has the hots for his seemingly straight of a jock dormmate.  The jock pretends to be drunk to get the main character to help him into bed.  Through some clever word play, the sober jock "drunkenly" confesses that he really likes his roommate. After they kiss, the jock admits he hasn't had anything to drink and it was a set up to get to the point that they were into each other.

The part of Steve's background when he's talking about his black friend being bullied discusses a character named Trevor who is introduced in Chapter 26.  Also, the boy's hand he held while crossing the street is Billy, Diego's lawyer, who is introduced in Chapter 23 or 24.  I can't remember which.

The hug between Bryan and Steve wasn't planned.  It seemed something that needed to happen in the moment.  While I was editing, I considered removing it several times, but the scene didn't feel right without it.  So, whenever this happens, go with your gut.  If it works, use it.  If it doesn't, ditch it.  If you're not sure, read it out loud and see how it feels, but always trust your instincts.

The exchanged with Kenny, Bryan and Terra about the relationship, I feel, is pretty common, especially among insecure, young teens.  The fear of the being outed it massive.  I know it's pretty common today, but ask anyone born before 2000, and you'll get some horror stories for sure.  It's good that we as a species are moving beyond our prejudices, especially racism, sexism and homophobia, but there's still too much work that needs to be done to make coming out a non-issue, and I wanted to express that through Kenny's feelings of embarrassment, fear and insecurity.  Bryan has confidence because his dad is confident about who he is.  Kenny doesn't have that, and I think a lot of younger people might not realize how hard coming out is.  Just my opinion and take on the situation.

And lastly, the events that lead up to Donna's funeral.  The real life inspiration for Donna, to the best of my knowledge, is still alive and active in her addictions, which have cost her at least four children with two different men.  I fictionalized her death for a couple of reasons.  1)  I don't like her in the slightest in real life, so if she did die, I wouldn't be surprised and honestly, her children are better off without her.  And 2) I didn't want the story to focus on her anymore than it had to.  The story is about Diego and the boys remaining a family despite Calvin.  I felt adding another antagonist was too much of a burden to the over all plot.

This bit also give us more insight into who Calvin is as a person, mostly coming from the real Calvin.

So, next is Chapter 7.  Hopefully, it won't take that long to be released as this post did.  My life is getting back on track, so hopefully, there will be fewer delays.

Until next time....

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