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This story deals with many areas of teenage mental health which go deep into the reality of depression; thoughts and attempts at suicide and death. These topics are a reality of growing up for some gay teens. I draw from my experiences to explain this difficult time of life but accept these topics are not for everyone so I just want to add this note to let folks know before you start this book. Many thanks, James

For Everything You Are - 12. A Very Honest Date

It was lunchtime at Jake's school, and he was patiently waiting in the lunch line. Finally, he was nearing his turn to take a tray. The closest table to him was at least providing some entertainment as he listened to a girl scolding what was obviously her boyfriend for speaking to another girl. But, unfortunately, he was pulled from his fun by the vibration his phone was making in his pocket.

Pulling the device from his tight jeans, he looked at the screen. It was Ethen. Shit, he must know. Jake swallowed hard before answering.

"Hi Ethen," he said nervously.

"Hey, handsome, I'm picking you up after school," came the reply, the relief of Jake's face evident to anyone who might have looked at him.

"You are?"

"Yep, so meet me in the parking lot; I'll be waiting."

"Okay, well, I gotta go; I'm just about to get my lunch. I'll see you after school, pups."

"You betcha, see you soon," replied Ethen, hanging up. Jake stood in the line, smiling. School could not be over fast enough.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Ethen approached the car park, and, sure enough, Jake was waiting. He pulled the car into a space, and Jake walked over, waving. Then, opening the door, he slung his bag onto the back seat and himself into the front.

"Good day?" asked Ethen, stroking the back of Jake's head. "I've missed you!"

"It dragged a bit, especially after your call." Ethen smiled and brought his hand down and rested it on Jake's leg before reversing out of the space.

Pulling onto the main village road, he drove to the point the bus would usually turn right, but Ethen carried on, causing Jake to look at him, surprised.

"Don't worry, your mom and dad know you're with me," he said, looking ahead and smiling.

"Where are we going?"

"Oh, just somewhere," he teased, "It's a secret."

"I hate surprises," Jake said, frowning.

"I said it's a secret; I said nothing about surprises, and anyway, can't I take my boyfriend on a little leisurely drive?"

"I guess."

"Well, then, enjoy the scenery."

As Ethen drove, they headed towards a large group of rocks, some as big as houses. Ethen veered off the tarmac road onto a dust track with vegetation on either side. The track appeared to be circling the rock group as Jake looked out of the window. Coming around to the rear of the rocks, the vegetation thickened, creating a secluded spot, the sun casting golden shades of light, hitting the small scattered trees and cacti.

Jake could see a small column of smoke rising from behind one of the rocks as Ethen came to a halt and took off his seatbelt.

"Looks like someone else is here," Jake said, pointing to the smoke.

"Oh… I don't think so," replied Ethen, sure of himself. Ethen got out of the car and went to Jake's side, opening the door and reaching for his hand. They both walked hand in hand to where the smoke was coming from.

A small campfire came into view, surrounded by a circle of large stones. There were some camping supplies, including a tin kettle, chairs, and some blankets.

"I normally wouldn't leave a fire unattended out here, even a little one, but I didn't want to bring you back to a cold camp, so I dug a fire pit and lined it with rocks in a spot with nothing to catch fire within 20 feet."

"You…you did this?"

"Yeah, I thought you'd like it. So you don't like it?"

"No… I love it. It's just, no one has ever done anything like this before, not that I'd expect them to, it's just…."

"You talk too much. Hey, go to the back of my car and open the trunk, will you?"

"The what?" asked Jake, clueless.

"The trunk," he pointed, "You know, the back door, at the back."

"Oooh, you mean the boot," Jake burst out laughing.

"Yeah, that thing," he grinned. "Open it and pull out what you see."

Jake did as Ethen told him and walked over to the car. He slowly opened the trunk, almost expecting something to fly out at him. Instead, he found a large white pot made of metal, coated in enamel; it was warm. To the side lay a bottle of white wine, and wrapped in a dish towel were two stemmed glasses.

Jake pulled out the pot first. "This?" he shouted to Ethen, looking for a reaction. Seeing Ethen nod, his head confirmed he had the correct item.

"Bring it over… and the rest," Ethen called, after looking back at Jake, noticing him still standing there. Jake began to walk back with the pot. It gently swished in his hands, but it looked sealed, whatever it was. "Here, give it to me. Are you hungry?"

"I'm always hungry," joked Jake, passing the large pot to Ethen. He placed it on the ground, went over to the blankets, and pulled out a three-legged metal grill from underneath. Meanwhile, Jake went back to the car, pulled out the wine and glasses, and came to a stop beside Ethen. Ethen placed the grill in the centre of the fire, carefully put the pot on top, then pulled off the lid, and Jake peered in.

"Stew, you made a stew?"

"Well, actually, your mom did, but I helped," he said, looking proud.

"Wow, this is nice," Jake said, smiling and shaking his head.

"Yeah, and I brought tea, too. Your mom said you like it. I don't drink much of it, myself, but I know how you British love your tea."

"Ethen, this is….you are so cute, you know that?"

"I just wanted to spend some time with you, you know, just the two of us?" Ethen remarked, unscrewing the wine.

"Well, we could have done that at home; you went through all this trouble just to spend some time with me?"

"Well, my dad is home tonight, and your parents are home with your friend, Cody, so I thought, why not get out of the area and do something a bit different?"

Ethen dug the two glasses into the sand.

"Well, you have certainly done that; I'm impressed." Jake went over and kissed Ethen on the lips.

"Here, take a seat, and I'll pour us a drink." Ethen poured in the wine filling the glasses to about the halfway mark. "You don't have to drink it; it's more of a gimmick, so if you prefer a tea? Ethen remarked before holding up a hot flask and opening up the top. Jake watched as steam rose in the cool late afternoon air.

"How did you keep that hot?"

"Oh, well, this is the neat thing. It's got an element in the bottom; it works on solar power and keeps things hot. See the little plates?" Ethen showed Jake his gadget, let him take a sip and put the lid back on. "My dad got it for me; I sometimes go camping with Ed when it's warmer."

"Hmm, you make good tea, too."

"Uh, well, actually your mom did that, too, I have to admit." He laughed. "So, tell me about your day. How are things with Luke, settled down?"

"Yeah, he seems okay now; he's even been talking to me between lessons, and my day was slow like I said."

"Ah well, it's all done now, and I'm glad things worked out okay with Luke."

Silence reigned for a while before Ethen spoke again. "So, uh…how is Cody settling in?"

"Ye….yeah, he um, likes it here. He's had a rough time lately, so it's good to see him happy.

"That's good," was all Ethen said, turning away from Jake and staring ahead.

"Okay, what's up?" Jake blurted out.

"Nothing, what do you mean?"

"C'mon, Ethen, I'm not a simpleton. You have something on your mind, and I'm guessing it concerns Cody."

"It's nothing really, just something your mom said, that's all."

"Knowing my mother, she has probably said a lot. So what exactly are you referring to?"

"She said….she said that you and Cody had 'history; it just got me… worried, I guess."

"Hmm, well, I guess we do," said Jake, thinking.

"Was it serious?"

"It was real, for me anyway. Serious? Not really, there was no time for it to be serious," Jake reflected. "I'd just found out that we were moving here, and Cody comforted me one afternoon. I don't know what happened, really; all I remember is that I kissed him; I mean, I'd always liked him, he is pretty hot, but we have been friends, best friends, for so long and…."

"You don't have to tell me this if you don't want to; that's not why we're here," Ethen said, lying.

"It's okay. You should know, and I know you have been curious. I know I would be," he replied, managing a smile. "I always thought he was straight. It would have been better that way looking back. But then, he kissed me back, and I fell deeper for him, ended up in the hospital from an overdose, cause I'm a fucking idiot, and then we moved here. So that's it, in a nutshell," Jake finished before he shrugged.

"Hospital?" Ethen repeated, eyes wide. Jake huffed.

"Stupid, really, I felt like I had a whole lot of shit going on, and I couldn't deal with it. You know, the move, Cody, my life in general. Yeah, I know, not the brightest idea I ever had." Ethen just frowned.

"Do you still feel anything for him?"

Jake thought about the question for a moment.

"Yes…yes, I do; does that bother you?"

"Yes, but I trust you." Ethen watched as Jake's head sank. "Jake?" he asked, looking at his expression. "Hey, I said I trust you." Jake got up, turned to Ethen, got down on his knees, and rested his hands on Ethen's legs.

"Yeah, I know what you said, and that's the problem."

"You haven't given me a reason not to… or have you?"

"You're so beautiful; do you actually know how beautiful you are?"

"I'm getting a bad feeling about this," Ethen said slowly. Jake lowered his head between Ethen's legs. "I feel like a big announcement is on the cards." Jake took a deep breath; It was now or never.

"We had sex last night; it wasn't planned, I regretted it, and it won't happen again and… and I'm sorry, I just can't lie to you, Ethen," he babbled. Ethen was silent. "I guess I'll be walking home now then?" Ethen slowly got up, pushing Jake out of the way and began pacing. "Well, say something… anything." Jake pleaded.

"Jake, look…."

"I know, I get it. I'm a fucking cheating asshole…."

"Just shut up for a minute and let me finish," Ethen snapped. "Jake, I'm no angel, and I've done some pretty awful things, but let me tell you something that will surprise you." Jake looked up at him. "I asked you whether Cody still means anything to you, and you were honest and said yes. From that moment, I knew that at some point, the 'event' that took place last night would have to happen. Yeah, it fucking hurts to think that you did, but… but I'm glad it happened now."

"Glad? How does that make sense?"

"Jake, you're missing the point. No, of course, I'm not glad, glad. I mean, I really want to be angry with you right now like you wouldn't believe, but I get it, okay? I do get it. And like I said, usually, if two people still have feelings for each other…."

"You asked me whether I still felt anything for him, not if I had feelings for him."

"What's the difference?"

"Well, I mean… I think there is a difference."

"No, Jake, they mean the same thing; it's just the latter way of saying it holds more feeling, that's all. But, look, whatever your feelings, as I said, if two people still feel something for one another, the likelihood hood is they will end up fucking."

"We didn't fuck!" Jake hissed defensively.

"Jake, there is no grey area here; whatever you did, you still technically cheated on me."

"Yeah, I know, and I feel fucking awful for it."

Ethen ignored his last answer; he was in logical mode still and wanted to get his point across before any emotion took over. "As I was saying, I'm just glad it happened now, rather than months or years down the line."

"Are you breaking up with me?" Jake asked, looking scared.

"I should. Like I said, I have been no angel." Ethen fell silent and thought for a moment. "You have severely mislaid my trust Jake, but…you have been honest. I think the world of you, and I don't wanna lose you."

"Yeah, likewise, but…."

"Jake, please don't talk at the moment. You might make things worse. I'm trying to work this out, okay?"

"Okay, sorry."

"You are everything I have ever wanted, Jake. I think about you all the time, and I want to make this work with you so bad. I could walk away from you, but I don't think that's what either of us wants. The fact that you have been honest with me gives me hope." Ethen sighed. "You know your honesty might just do us a favour. I'm going to do my best to forget about what happened between you and Cody, and in return, I want you to promise me it will never happen again because if it does, I'll know, and that will be all for us."

"So you forgive me?"

"Not yet, Jake, that takes time, and I'm trying my hardest not to slap you all-round this desert for what you have done, but I'm mature enough to know we're early on in our relationship, and we are both human. So we're going to have blips, and although this was a fucking big one on your part, let's just say I will deal with it."

Jake got up from his knees and kissed Ethen on the lips. Ethen half responded but still felt at odds.

"Wanna eat?" Ethen asked.

"Can do, though I'm surprised you're hungry."

"Yeah, well, it's a good stew, and I can't tell your mom we wasted it," he managed a grin.

"I'm sorry, Ethen, you have to believe that."

"If I didn't, Jake, would I be here?"

"Probably not, but how can you be so calm? I mean, don't you want to shout and scream, hit me… I don't know?"

"Hit you? Why would I ever want to hit you? Look, it's done. I could shout and scream until I lost my voice, but it's pointless, it's happened, I can't change it. Yeah, when I think about the two of you having… whatever you had, yeah, it makes me mad inside, but I have to believe you wanna be with me and that it was just something you both needed to get, I dunno…out of your systems I guess."

"I think I understand you."

"Well, shut up apologising and eat; after, you can get some more wood for the fire as punishment." Jake looked around. He could see nothing capable of burning.

"But there is nothing to burn here," said Jake, worried.

"Back floorboards of my car, you'll find some firewood; there, I made it easy for you." He winked. Jake picked a weed from the side of his seat and threw it at him.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The sun went down as the boys chatted. Jake commented to Ethen how beautiful it looked when the low sun had bounced its yellow light off the mountains in the distance. Jake's revelation was put to the back of their minds as they further got to know each other's past. They gently chuckled at each other's stories as they sat close together in their chairs, sleeping bags pulled up to the waist.

"You never mention your mum."

"No? I never realised that."

"Tell me about her." Jake requested. Ethen chuckled as a memory came into his head, then he let out a long sigh.

"Well, her name was Susan, she was a typical mom, you know, she always made sure me and Dad were well fed, looked after us, and did all the usual mom and good wife stuff, but what I remember most is that she had this thing about fantasy."

"Fantasy?"

"Yeah, she was brilliant with her imagination. She told me the most awesome stories when I was a little kid, about how aliens would visit and try to make the world a better place. I also believed in Santa and the tooth fairy until I was thirteen." He laughed, slightly embarrassed. "Yeah, that was my Mom, always liked make-believe. Then, just before she died, she told me that it was all to keep me away from the reality of the world, you know like it was a horrible and scary place. I guess she had a point in the end."

"How did she die, if you don't mind me asking?"

"No," Ethen said, sighing, flicking his hand. "She had this lung disease thing, which meant she struggled to breathe most days. She used to have to wear this mask, and I nicknamed her Darth Vader. My dad used to tell me off for saying it, but right up until the end, she got the joke, and it made her smile."

"What happened? The doctors couldn't help?"

"She was in and out of the hospital, they kept sending her home when she got a bit better, but two or three days later, she was back in again, until the last time when she never came home again."

"My God, how sad."

"Yeah, she was suffering through. I used to watch her sleep. Her breathing was kinda funny, you know, and I knew how it made her panic when she was awake. I mean, jeez, how bad must it feel when you feel like you can't breathe?"

"Yeah," was all Jake said.

"Then, one day, the doctors came in and pulled my dad to the side and basically said they were at the end of the road as for what they could do for her. So they started giving her this 'special' injection, which they said relaxed her body, but I think it was just a way of putting her down, because after three of those injections, she died," Ethen reflected, sad.

"You think the hospital deliberately killed her?"

"Maybe not, but I think they helped. I think the insurance company got tired of paying out and… I don't know. Maybe they have some kind of secret handshake. Or maybe it was just her time to let go, suppose we'll never know."

"That sounds terrible," Jake said, shaking his head. "We get free health care in the UK; I can't bear to think if someone were costing our National Health Service too much, they would just end their life."

"Probably happens all over the world, Jake. Medicine is money, and someone has to pay for that, and the people paying don't care about people's lives; it's just about their bottom line."

"True, I guess," added Jake, now feeling sad for his boyfriend.

"But anyway, she was a great mom, she took good care of me, and I had a great childhood," he said, smiling to himself. "You know, the one thing that always sticks in my mind, I have lived in this town all my life, and do you know, I never remember being bored."

"Really? Even I have moments of boredom, but I come from a large town with lots going on. I guess it takes a while to get used to the quiet life here."

"Yeah, I guess so, but I'm sure there is plenty I can show you. It might look like an empty desert, but over time, I have found some extraordinary places, if you like that kind of thing," Ethen declared.

"As long as I'm with you, I don't care what we do."

"What a cheesy line, Jake, but I can live with it," he laughed, stroking Jake's arm. Jake just smiled, leant over and kissed Ethen's cheek.

"So you get on okay with your dad?"

"Yeah, Pop's great; I don't see a lot of him, though. I kind of had to grow up fast when mom died. Maybe I sound old for my age, but I had to take over her role in the house, you know, with dad working. When she died, he just spent more and more time at the base. It was like he didn't wanna be at home, in our house."

"Well, I can understand that. It must have been hard, with all the memories and all."

"Oh, yeah, I get why he did; it just meant I had to do a lot for myself. I don't resent that; In fact, I have come out a stronger person, I think. I can cook for myself when I have to, despite me leading you to believe otherwise. I can repair things. In fact, it was my mom and not my dad who taught me to change a fuse," he grinned.

"What about school? Do you miss it?" asked Jake, changing the subject.

"No! But I had many friends. I don't really want to go into the topic of school, Jake. Let's just say I had a hard time there, and in any case, my dad thought I'd be better at home looking after the house in the end."

"In the end?"

"Yeah, look, it was a hard time in my life. He used to drop me off every morning for a time. As soon as he left the parking lot I would leave the school and walk home. Then, I was being homeschooled for about eight months by a woman called Sandy, but my dad fired her after I said I wasn't learning anything. I took my GED test 3 months later, which was enough to get into my training program, and never went back to high school."

"Having a degree isn't everything."

"No, but it helps if you want a good job when you leave home. Thankfully, what I wanna do, I don't need a degree for, so for me, it's not too bad, but if you are thinking of dropping out, don't!"

"Yes, Mum," Jake sniggered, bringing a grin from Ethen.

"So, you and Cody…."

"Do we have to go there? I was really enjoying tonight," Jake demanded.

"Hey, don't jump down my throat. I'm not about to scold you again for what happened. I'm just curious about how you met, that's all, Mr Defensive."

"Sorry, I just thought you were gonna talk about…well, you know."

"How did you meet?" Ethen repeated.

"Well, we went to the same primary school. We were playing in a sandpit, and I took his tractor, so he hit me over the head with a spade. I was taken to hospital and had to have two stitches, and we've been friends ever since." Jake burst out laughing.

"Whoa, so how do you go from violence to friends?" remarked Ethen, looking confused. "Oh, wait, hold that thought, gonna get some more firewood." Ethen stepped out of his sleeping bag and trotted to his car, pulling out another two logs. "That should do 'til we have to go," he said, tossing them onto the smouldering fire. "Yeah, so carry on, you were about to say."

"I dunno, we were five, and I think his mum brought him round to my house to make him apologise to me. That's when our parents started talking, so my mum told us to go upstairs while they chatted. I remember sitting there in a huff, not wanting to speak to him, but then about five minutes later, we were playing with my toys as if nothing had happened."

"Yeah, that sounds about right for young kids," Ethen mused.

"Anyway, our parents became friends, and I guess we did, too. He was always the rebel, though. I think that's what I liked about him. When I found out I was gay, the way he carried himself, you know, with a kind of confidence, it drew me to him."

"Is he like that now?"

"Not so much; I think it was just a phase. It started when he was about fourteen, and he lost a fight in the schoolyard. After that, he started doing weights at school and developed a chip on his shoulder. I always said he changed because he was hit on the head too hard, but really, it was just bruised pride. He's mellowed out now," said Jake, reflecting on Cody's softer moments.

"So, when am I gonna meet him?"

"What, so you can tear his head off? I mean, I think it's quite romantic, visualising you two fighting over me, but…."

"Don't push your luck, mister. You are not in my good books, and comments like that…."

"Yeah, probably not the right thing to say, considering. I'm sorry."

"God, you Brits, you apologise so much."

"Well, I am, sorry, I mean."

"Yeah, I know, you said. It doesn't mean any more because you said it multiple times. Let's just move on from it," Ethen protested. "So, as I said, before you went all stupid on me, when am I gonna meet him?"

"Whenever you want. Luke said something about a party at his house next weekend. Apparently, his parents are away for the weekend. I said I'd speak to you when he asked if I was going. I forgot to mention it because of more pressing events if you catch my drift. So if we do go, you can meet him then."

"Yeah, Ed mentioned that. I think he's the one organising it; I have to be at the base until nine-thirty, but I can come after. Nothing is stopping you and Cody going early, though; it's not like you won't know anyone."

"Yeah, okay. I need to check, but I think my parents are at some function that night, as well, so I might be able to get an extended curfew," said Jake, suddenly excited.

"Or better still, you could stay at my house," Ethen said, winking.

"Hmm, now that, I like the sound of."

"Yeah, and my dad won't be there, either."

"Home alone sounds exciting," declared Jake.

"It's a date then?" Ethen winked.

"I thought this was our first date."

"Meh, who's counting?" shrugged Ethen. Anyway, it's approaching nine-thirty," remarked Ethen, looking at his watch. "I said I would have you home by ten, so we better get packed up."

"Yep, you got it," said Jake stretching out, yawning.

They both got up, and each started taking bits back to the car. Ethen used the rest of the tea to put out the fire, stamping down the remaining hot coals with his foot. Then, with everything in the boot, Ethen waited for Jake to get in and started the car.

"I enjoyed being with you tonight, even if I did fuck it up in a way."

"Forget it. I'm glad you told me, okay? Let's just forget it happened, like I said, a blip. And yeah, it was nice being with you too. Don't worry; they'll be plenty more nights to look forward to.

"I hope so," said an approving Jake. Oh, and by the way, thanks for the wine, Mr Romantic!

"Meh, dad won it in a raffle; it's probably piss!"

Jake blinked a few times as his jaw dropped open.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Ethen left the dirt track, hitting the tarmac again. They pulled into their road minutes later as he slowed the car down, dodging the rather large potholes that littered the trail. He turned into Jake's driveway at five to ten.

"Here we are, sir, let me get the door for you," said Ethen jokingly but carried out his statement. He was just opening Jake's door when the front door to the house opened. Standing in the doorway was a curious-looking Cody. Ethen caught his eye, and their gaze locked. Jake got out and looked at Cody.

"Cody, this is Ethen," said Jake. Cody just nodded to the statement but said nothing.

"Nice to meet you, Cody," Ethen said, deciding to at least make an effort.

"Hi," grunted Cody. Ethen just smiled at him, not wishing to cause a scene, even though he was angry at Cody for even having the nerve to be frosty with him after what he and Jake had done. Then, as if to put his mark on his property, he pulled Jake into a deep kiss. Cody just looked away and rolled his eyes.

"Ethen, my parents, might see," he said, muffled through the kiss.

"Good," he grinned. "Not like they don't know."

"Well, they don't, I think."

"Well, then, you need to tell them, and you better tell him that I'm not going anywhere, as well. He looks like he wants to kill me," Ethen whispered, grinning.

"Don't worry; he knows the score, but… I did say I wouldn't rub in his face, but you kinda threw that promise out the window."

"Go on, you better go. Your bodyguard is getting impatient," Ethen teased. Jake just smiled at the comment, "See me tomorrow?"

"Yeah, I'll come knock for you," replied Jake.

"Not till after six, okay? I'm at the base, and I need to shower and eat."

"Yeah, after six, no worries. I'll see you later."

"Yeah, see ya, handsome," Ethen finally said before getting back in his car. Jake walked past Cody, showing no emotion, as Ethen began reversing out. Cody shot him an evil look before shutting the door. Ethen just frowned and pulled away to his own house.

He looks friendly!

©Copyright 2021 James Matthews; Mark Baker; All Rights Reserved.')
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This story is a 2020 re-release and re-edit. Some parts have been changed and the 2013 story has been kindly re-formatted to third person with substantial input from my good friend Mark Baker.

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At least at this point, 2 of the 3 protagonists are talking to each other. Lets hope Cody sees someone or something that fires up his bonermeter at the party...What's the early odds on the over/under that Luke finds a way to tame the snake behind Cody's zipper!!!!

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