Admittedly I was somewhat surprised to be in Greg's arms, but I wasn't questioning either. I leaned into him and heard his heart beating through his shirt, and it warmed my soul to its very beginnings. I felt the familiar feeling spreading through my chest, both light and diffusely warm and totally associated with Greg. I never felt this with another and as long as I live I shall always know where that feeling was first felt, when he held me in the kitchen of my father's house as he held me now, in the halls of my school.
The scent of him was intoxicating and I had a moment where I felt as if I could stay in this manner for the rest of my days. His hand moved up and down my back, soothing me as the tension left my muscles and a relaxed calm that was his doing descended on me.
"You okay?" he asked softly and I nodded into him, snuggled even. I didn't really understand why, for all the talking and the emotions that rushed through me, I still felt as though this feeling was too wondrous to be contained or described with one word, surely love was inadequate? I felt the embrace loosening and he stepped back a step, no more than arms length.
"It's about goddamn time, Greg." came a female voice from just off to the right and we turned almost as one to see Kelly Preston standing with her hands on her hips and a devilish smile if there ever was one.
"Hi, Kel," Greg said with an embarrassed smile.
"Don't hi me mister, you better introduce me to my replacement, and let me say to you," she said turning to face me, "You had better be all he said you are and a bag of chips, cause he's a real sweetheart, you know." I merely nodded as no words came to mind, all except wondering what was she talking about?
"You are okay with this? You don't mind your boyfriend being turned into a fag?" Becky sneered as she reentered the fray.
Kelly fixed a stare on Becky that would have cracked stone and stated flatly, "Don't you have a puppy to kick or something?"
"Do you have issues with people who are different from you?" came the voice of my Social Studies teacher, and incidentally Greg's uncle.
"Only Queers," Becky snapped back unthinking.
"Ever heard the phrase, 'me thinks the man doth protest too much'? It means sometimes people who say they dislike something in a loud voice are just covering up the fact that they desire that very thing."
"Are you trying to say that I am…." Becky made a choking sound.
"No, not at all," he said quickly, "Merely pointing out others may think that if you attract so much attention to the subject. And you two," he said rounding on us, "Do you want detention for public displays of affection?" We both shook our heads no and headed for the door only to be flanked quickly by Mark and Tommy. Kelly said goodbye once outside and ran to catch her bus.
We walked out into the bright sunshine, some people giving us strange looks, but most who had been there didn't seem to care too much. I think we were now considered a novelty or a curiosity of sorts. Perhaps when the novelty wore off they would leave us be, but I didn't think that would be the case, not really.
"Okay, Snowman's for ice cream! This deserves a celebration," Mark said, and Tommy quickly seconded that motion. We began to walk away from the school and as we did I spotted Rich, Mickey and Nick walking together as they had that morning. I wanted them to join us, I felt the need to bring as many people together with me as I could, especially those who had showed a liking for me.
I urged Greg on and he went faster with a bemused expression on his face as I propelled him down the street, the others in tow.
We caught up to them in short order and I tapped Nick's ear as I had that afternoon with a paint brush. He turned to look at us and his expression wasn't one of greeting but more of wariness.
All three stopped and faced my little band, although I realized that I was the only one smiling. I smacked Greg on the shoulder and he looked at me with a questioning glance.
"Making friends, for the world to see," I said urgently. He looked from me to them and back, shrugged his shoulders and reached out to Nick.
"Nick Pedersen, right? All County Guard?" Nick's face was the picture of shock as he reached for the offered hand.
"Um, yeah Greg. Ah, nice to meet you," he managed.
"Rich, Mick," Greg said shaking their hands as well. Tommy and Mark followed suit and I positively beamed.
"Hey, you know what? This is cool and all, but let's get to know each other and keep walking to Snowman's, huh? Do you think?" Tommy said, making shooing gestures with his hands.
"What's your hurry, you got a hot date?" Mick blurted unthinkingly and seemed to shrink waiting for the retribution.
"Yeah, with his hand," Mark jibed and the laughter started as nervous giggles that broke into full fledged laughing as Tommy slowly got pissed and red in the face all at once.
"Okay, I'll get ice cream without you!" he said marching off.
"Tom, Tommy! Come back, we're sorry!" Mark said, wheezing between gasps for air and laughing. Tommy half turned and flipped us off before turning to continue his march. We broke into gales of laughter, it was just too funny.
When we had recovered he was long gone on his way to Snowman's and we continued to walk as a group.
"Wow, who'da thought we'd all be walking together?" Nick shook his head.
"Yeah, I guess it is kinda funny after all. I mean, funny strange," Mark said.
"Tell me why?" I said.
"Just different circles of friends, really," Nick answered, "But also 'cause these guys have money," he said nodding at Greg and Mark, "and we don't. The only reason I knew you and Greg weren't getting along was 'cause of Tommy. He and I were the only two from our school on the all-county team so we got to know each other pretty well."
"Jake sure nailed Becky today, didn't he?" Mickey asked, giving me a playful shot to the arm. I smiled at him and felt a part of a group as I had not in a very long time, in fact it had been so long I found that I really had missed it and not realized it. How weird.
We reached Snowman's and Tommy was sitting at a table off to the side with a huge bowl of ice cream. I was to learn that the kid could eat his weight, just about, and not gain a damn pound. We approached the windows to order and Mark left us to go sit with his brother. We placed orders, I with Greg's help, and talked idly, well, they did and I listened up until we heard a loud screech across the parking lot and then arguing.
We stuck our heads around to see Mark and Tommy leaning into one another trying to force one another off the bench, only what made it really funny was that Mark was laughing and Tommy was grunting with the strain. All of a sudden they overbalanced and both fell to the ground with Tommy's sundae overturned on them. Mark howled with laughter and began to lick the ice cream from his arm as Tommy glared and words could be seen to be exchanged between the two brothers. Greg leaned back over to the window and ordered another sundae for Tommy.
By the time we got over there they were back to their normal selves, with the exception of being a little sticky. Greg handed the replacement sundae to Tommy who's eyes lit up.
"Looks like you two made up," Nick said cautiously.
"Tommy could never stay mad at me, he worships the quicksand I walk on," Mark said with a smile. Tommy hit him in the arm. Just as things appeared to be normalizing Mickey opened his mouth again.
"Speaking of making up, looks like you two are friends again," he said, looking from Greg and then to me and back again. I was sure this time the kick came from Nick as he made no effort to hide it.
"Ow! Why'd ya do that? Asshole!" Mickey said rubbing his shin under the table.
"Cause it's supposed to be a s-e-c-r-e-t," Nick spelled out. We all laughed except for Mickey and Rich.
"Okay, what the hell is the secret anyway? Only Mick and I seem to be out of this loop," Rich said somewhat irritably.
"Oh, well Greg has been in love with Jake for about six months and he's been all we heard about, so much so that we told him he had better ask him out before we choked him," Tommy said grinning evilly. I realized this was payback for the hand joke thing, but truth be told I was nervous despite knowing that I had no social life. I glanced to see Greg reddening and grinning all over and it was so cute it was almost painful. Back to the issue at hand though, I think I just didn't want to risk alienating myself from these new potential friends. My hopes faded with the look of shock on Mickey and Rich's face. I felt very uncomfortable.
"Jake, is it true? Are you…Gay?" Mickey asked, and then turned to Nick, "This is what you've been hiding? You really were keeping a secret?" He looked near to being devastated, he turned to look at me with a helpless questioning look on his face.
"Jake?" He asked.
"Paw said there must be a mistake, how can my son not be straight?" I said.
"Is that it? Is it a joke?" he asked. I really did consider lying, truth be told, for just a second. But I had been outcast before, some of my doing and some of Becky's, but outcast none-the-less and I knew it would come again next year when school started, so I would only need true friends, and I wanted these guys to be in that category.
"Now you ask if I'm sincere, that's the question that I always fear. But I'll tell you what you want to hear," I replied solemnly.
"No shit?" Rich breathed. We sat with a nervous tension and Tommy had a truly apologetic look to him about the whole thing, but what was done was done and could not be undone. The silence was broken by Jesse Cantarme clearing his throat. We turned en masse to look at him as he gave a weak smile and asked if he might sit down with us. I moved over and he sat, smiling at me.
"I heard you guys are official now, congratulations," he said shyly.
"Funny you mention that, we were just talking about secrets," Mickey said, eyeing Nick.
"Hey asshole, not only was it a promise not to tell, but look at how you're acting. Ten minutes ago Jake was ok with you, now you look like he's got something catching. Why would I tell you?" he asked with a little fire in his voice. "Rich and I stuck by you, even after Becky said what she did. So don't be an ass," He finished angrily.
Mickey looked ashamed and stood to go, but Rich placed a restraining hand on his shoulder.
"Mick, don't wimp out. If you felt like an asshole when Becky said the shit she did and it wasn't true, how do you think they felt when they knew it was? Imagine how scared they might have been that they were next, asshole," he said solemnly.
I stood and grabbed his wrist. "Reach down your hand in your pocket, pull out some hope for me." I said before releasing his wrist.
Mickey wavered on the edge of running and staying and finally sat down, eyes wet but tears not welling any further.
"Jake I'm so sorry. I just judged you when I thanked you for looking past that this morning," he said quietly.
"Atta boy, Mick. I knew you had it in you." Rich said, "Even if you're queer too."
We all looked at Mickey and his eyes filled with panic.
"I am not!" he said, and Rich started to laugh, followed by Nick and then the joke hit the rest of us as we started to laugh
Mickey slugged Rich, but the tension was broken. Teasing was now in order, however, and Mickey was the first target. "Oh Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!" I said laughing, and he groaned as they all sang what they knew. Mickey tried to change the subject.
"Jesse, I see your artwork is in the Art contest, it looks pretty good. Think you might win?" he asked. Although this was a blatantly obvious attempt to change the subject, it did work as a few of us looked at Jesse.
"Um, I don't know really, never tried before," he said, still the shy boy.
"Do you have your sketchpad with you?" Greg asked and Jesse colored like a sunset. This would be good! Mark had the sketchbook out of Jesse's pack and open on the table in a heartbeat and we all looked down at a pencil drawing of…me.
"Wait, you're queer too?" Mickey asked with a small amount of panic in his voice
Jesse looked a cross between panic and embarrassment and made as if to stand, but I placed an arm around him and held him down to the seat while the others passed their initial shock and began to compare the drawing to me.
"I got 'em standing in line," I said while raising my eyebrows comically.
Don't get me wrong, I was embarrassed to be the object of his desire, well, to have it brought out like that. Butt Jesse seemed to be a good guy, so I wouldn't let him slip away from me if I could avoid it. I did what I knew how.
"Jesse paints the pictures about how it's going to be, by now I should know better, your dreams are never free." They all chuckled and teased him, asking what kind of payment he was asking for.
"No wonder Becky thought I was queer," Mickey muttered, "All my friends are."
All in all they took it well, but I think a few faces had registered less shock than others. Make's you wonder doesn't it?
* * * * * * * *
That night Greg and I sat out on my back porch in a two person swing. Fireflies show up here in the summer, and tonight they were out in full force showing all their luminescent colors. I love to watch them, sometimes for hours trying to follow the path of a single firefly, to see if I can guess where his spark will show up next.
Unfortunately they don't travel in straight lines, that would make things so much easier.
As I sat next to Greg with my head on his shoulder and my hand on his flat stomach I thought of the last two days and all that had happened to me. How did I get here so fast? Was this love? And would it last forever? Questions for which I had no answers.
I sat up and looked at his profile in the dimness that was apparent just after sunset, his small but well formed nose and strong chin, the fine clear brow. The smile was something to cherish and I felt myself capturing and burning his profile into memory. He turned to look at me.
"Why are you looking at me? I thought you liked the fireflies," he said. I nodded and leaned into him, wrapping him in my arms.
"I think you ought to know that I intend to hold you for the longest time," I said.
"Okay by me, I wanted it long enough," he said. He hesitated and then spoke again quietly. "If you hadn't done what you did today, I might never have gotten the courage to do what I did today. What would have happened if you hadn't made such a huge effort for me?" he said idly, I don't know if he really expected an answer.
"I know you're out there somewhere. Somewhere, somewhere. I know I'll find you somehow, and somehow I'll return again to you," I said.
"I guess you must really like me, huh?" he asked while nuzzling the top of my head.
"All I need is a miracle, all I need is you."
"Hey," he said and I sat up to face him. "You wanna, you know, kiss or something?" I swear he must have been red, but the fading light saved him for now. "I mean, I would really like it if…" he trailed off and I leaned in slowly and ever so softly placed my lips on his and felt rocketed to some distant place, a paradise where only we existed. He became slightly bolder after I made the first move and he moved to my earlobes, which tickled but was also strangely erotic. I squirmed and made small noises of pleasure and if his breathing was any indication he was enjoying it as much as I was.
"Sweet sensation," I breathed.
He then trailed down to my neck and started on the soft skin, swirling his tongue and pressing the tip into my neck. It was heavenly. I responded and pushed back against him and wrapped my lips about his earlobe and found he was squirming as I had done, and I was pleased at bringing pleasure to him. I then moved down to his neck and began to taste the soft skin and his clean scent filled my senses. I broke from his neck and we met for a kiss, I felt his tongue gently scraping along the outside of my lips and I parted them to allow him in. Our tongues were intertwined and I practically on his lap when the porch light snapped on and my fathers voice boomed out from the screen door.
"Get a room!" he chuckled as we jumped and sat up straight, mortified at having been caught in such an intimate moment. "Always wanted to say that, it's one of those father son things I thought I was going to miss with you, Jake!" He continued to chuckle as he retreated in to the house.
"Jake, I've heard of people going to therapy 'cause of their folks, but I think I'll be the first one to go because of my boyfriends parents," he said out of breath, and it occurred to me that I was breathing heavily too. I giggled and he started to follow my lead and soon we were laughing like loons. I wonder why dad wasn't surprised or anything?
When we walked in my father was sitting in his easy chair watching TV, but he muted it as soon as he spotted us.
"Come in here, guys. We need to talk," he said. We complied, looking at each other wondering if either knew what was coming.
"I'd like to start by saying I know. I know about you two, and it's all good. As long as you are safe and happy, that's all that matters to me." He looked at Greg, "I talked to your dad last night after you left and he helped me put all the pieces together, in case you were wondering. I want to talk to you about sex, though.".
Oh my god, no! He wasn't going to do this to me! My face flared and I stood to open my mouth and my father waved me to silence.
"Jake, it has to be said so have a seat and lets get this over with." He stood and began to pace the room. I looked at Greg and he shook his head as I sat down next to him on the piano bench.
"Sex is a very special thing, a sharing between two people. It takes passion, love and trust to truly enjoy it. Now, it also takes being safe." And so saying my father reached to the floor between his chair and the small end table next to his chair to produce a condom and a banana.
"This," he said pointing dramatically, "Is a condom, it can save your life and you should use them. Not to mention that you can get other diseases that are non life threatening, but very annoying from sexual activity.
"This," he continued dramatically, "Is a banana which will stand in for a penis. In order to properly use the condom you must first tear the package like so," he said, placing the top of the packet in his mouth and trying in vain to tear it with his teeth. Now, this was silly to begin with, but he could have set the banana down and tore the package with his fingers, but he didn't seem to want to relinquish the banana. At last the packaging gave way and he produced the rolled up propylactic.
"Now when the penis is erect you place the condom on the tip," he placed the condom on the end of the banana and began to unroll it, "And unroll over the penis to create a protective seal against bodily juices, er, fluids. The penis is now ready to engage in safe sex."
I was mortified, I couldn't believe he just did that! How embarrassing can you be? I mean, isn't there a law somewhere? Greg mumbled something unintelligible and we went up to my room, leaving my father with his banana. We walked into my room and Greg began to snicker and I grinned at him, and he snickered some more until he was giggling. I followed suit and soon we were laughing so hard we couldn't breathe, and just when we began to gain some control one or the other would laugh or giggle and we'd be off again. Once, we were so close but he smiled, and I giggled at that and, well, you get the idea.
"Stay the night?" I asked, and then feeling like a tease, "I need you tonight."
"Sure, let me call my folks." He grinned walking to the door and then stopped to look at me. "You know, sex ed makes sex sound boring and clinical. Your dad makes it sound ridiculous!" he said as he broke into a giggling fit. I was laughing right with him and shoved him out the door.
I went into my attached bathroom and brushed my teeth, but I noticed myself in the mirror again, as I had this morning. I had changed yet again, in some imperceptible way, but it had happened none the less. I sat down on the bed as Greg entered the room, giving me a thumbs up.
"All set. Hey, listen Jake I wanted to ask you something seriously," he said as he sat down next to me. I gave him my complete attention, as if he didn't have that when he walked into the room!
"Well, it's like this. I know he bungled it, but we never talked about sex and stuff," he said.
"Sex is good, sex is fun." I wiggled my eyebrows, "Sex is best when it's one on one." He laughed at me and then his face became serious again.
"I don't want that, at least not yet. I want us to be more than sex, more than attraction," he said and I nodded in response.
"Let's wait a while, before we go to far," I said.
"Yeah," he said, relief plain on his face. He brushed his hair back with his fingers, "I want us to last."
We didn't go to bed right away, instead we played the playstation and some on the internet before Dad tapped on the door that it was two thirty, get some goddamn sleep. We undressed for bed and I noticed that Greg was wearing boxer briefs like I was, except his band said Jake & Co. I pointed this out to him.
"It wasn't premeditated!" he said, "But I guess you can tell everyone you've been in my pants, huh?"
We laid down, Greg holding me from behind and I could fell his gentle, sweet breath on the back of my neck and his warm, soft skin on mine. His chest pressed tighter to me with each exhalation and the feeling of his smooth chest making and breaking contact felt wonderful..
"Jeez, it's been a day, huh?" he said as he drifted off to sleep.