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    Jason MH
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Between the Shadow and the Soul - 21. Fourth Interlude - For His Son, Disappointment

April 26, 1999

"I'd like to talk with you. Before you start on your homework."

Nate's forward progress ground to a halt, one foot in the hallway and one in the living room. He preferred to scurry into his room as quickly as possible when he got home from school. The less time he had to deal with Richard, the better his evening would be.

The youngster had already started thinking of his father as Richard since the man was nowhere near being a father and wasn't even in the same universe as being a dad. Sometimes he even thought of him as a roommate, a virtual stranger who just happened to live in the same house.

The Fiend stood near the sofa, gesturing vaguely for his son to take a seat. He could see suspicion in Nate's eyes. That did not bother the doctor, but the hesitation did. Nevertheless he allowed his features to soften into an approximation of gentle warmth, his posture to slouch so as to give him a relaxed and friendly appearance.

"Please," he said gently.

Nate dropped his backpack and shuffled into the living room, thinking this wasn't going to be good. Unless he had an audience, Richard didn't really talk much to his son, and he certainly didn't make an effort to start a conversation. Unless it was about Greg.

He thinks I'm too young and too stupid to notice, Nate thought, and he thinks I don't catch on to his little chats and interrogations about Greg. But I get it. I'm not dumb even if he thinks I am.

Richard waited for his son to take a seat. He felt displeasure when Nate sat at the end of the sofa opposite where The Fiend stood. And that the child alighted on the edge of the cushion as if ready to make a fast escape further irritated the doctor.

Everything about the brat irritates me, The Fiend considered. He knew it to be true, that Nate's very existence chafed and chapped, scraped and scratched, poked and prodded, and otherwise irked the good doctor until he felt every nerve tingling with the desire to throttle the thirteen-year-old boy.

Drawing a deep breath, relaxing through the exhale, letting stress flow out and way, The Fiend plastered on a fake smile, the daunting one he used when sharing particularly painful or unpleasant news. He knew his son would welcome it as warm and understanding despite Richard knowing its foundation snarled and gnashed with biting indifference.

When his father settled on the arm of the loveseat, Nate realized it was less a resting position than a perch, something like a bird of prey might use while it looked for something to kill and eat. And that's precisely how he thought of his sperm donor, like he was some kind of shadow creature stalking the dark recesses of the earth and consuming the unwary and causing pain to everyone he encountered.

I don't really know if that's true, but he gives me the creeps. This fake person everyone sees and this cold, heartless thing meant just for me. The way he acts around Greg when he thinks I won't notice. Sometimes the way he looks at other boys, rarely but sometimes. He might've given birth to me, but he isn't a father. I'm not even sure he's human.

"What are you scowling at?" The Fiend asked with feigned curiosity when all he felt was annoyance.

"Nothing," Nate replied automatically.

With frigid calculation The Fiend considered his son, measured him, evaluated his tone and nonverbal cues. Then he gently said, "If something's bothering you, Nate, you can talk to me about it."

"Homework," the boy replied, a slight tremble in his voice. Which pleased Richard.

Not wanting to communicate his disdain for this encounter, the doctor relaxed his shoulders slightly and lowered his gaze a bit, meeting his son's eyes and offering a slight smile, something sympathetic and reassuring. Deciding the cause of Nate's sour expression mattered little to his purpose, The Fiend promptly shifted his focus to this part of his plan. He had spoken with The Boy just a few days prior, helping Greg understand his feelings for Nate would ultimately cause pain and anguish and the destruction of their friendship. But The Fiend knew the obstacle he faced in his quest to conquer and possess The Boy stemmed not just from the object of his desire, but also from his own son. Thus it behooved Richard to attack the problem at both points of origin. The Boy had already been handled; now he would deal with Nate.

"I know we don't talk like we should," The Fiend said apologetically, even abashedly. "That's my fault. I guess I'm not very good at this fatherhood thing. I spend too much time with work and patients and rounds and..." Dropping his head with a bitter shake for effect he muttered, "And the most important thing I should be doing I ignore because I'm too busy."

Nate didn't say a word. Warmth from Richard? Didn't happen. Apologies? Nope. Self-deprecation? Absolutely not. So this sudden familial bonding and sorrowful soliloquy just didn't jive with his son.

"You and Greg seem rather close," The Fiend said without transitional preamble, his tone inquisitive and measured, yet also neutral.

Nate's reply came without thought: "He's my best friend."

"Is that all?"


Where's this coming from, the youngster thought, and what's he up to?

"I asked if being best friends is all there is between you two."

"Yeah. We're best buds. We click, you know, so we're close."

His son only hesitated for a fraction of a second, yet Richard caught it. Practiced at the study of human nonverbal communication and as observant as any top predator, the doctor had no intention of allowing even a hint of diversion to beset his plan now that he had it reassembled and reestablished as the de facto path forward for all parties. Being keenly aware of his son's thoughts and emotions throughout this conversation was a prerequisite to the success of both this tactic and the overall strategy.

"You think he likes you."

"What? No. I mean yeah. He likes me. I'm his best friend."

Nate was flustered. Was he doing this right? Was he playing Richard's game according to whatever twisted rules the doctor had? He didn't know. He didn't even know what game they were playing. But he strongly suspected he wasn't going to like the outcome.

"You know what I mean, Nate," The Fiend prodded in an understanding way, as though aware his son might be uncomfortable with the intended topic of conversation. "Greg came out to you like he did with everyone else. You know he's gay. Do you think he likes you as more than a friend?"

Did he? Is that what Nate thought? If he was honest, yeah, it was. He couldn't really say why, but he had the impression that maybe Greg had feelings for him above and beyond friendship. It was the little things, like touches and looks; but it was also something else, something intangible, something hidden.

Still, Nate didn't know if Greg was aware of it. Hell, he didn't even know if he was imaging it. Was it wishful thinking? If Greg was interested in him, he wouldn't wind up with some other boy, which would mean Nate wouldn't lose his best friend.

But it was more than that, wasn't it? Didn't Nate think it felt good to believe Greg liked him as more than just a friend? Didn't he think it made his stomach all tickly and his head all buzzy and his face all warm when he thought about it, really thought about what it would mean if Greg liked him like that?

And he was closer to Greg than he'd ever been to anyone else in his life. An admittedly short life at thirteen, sure, but still... Nate always thought being the favorite friend of the biggest, best looking dude in school was a claim to fame, yet he also thought it was something else, something better, something special. Because he felt special, because Greg made him feel that way, and Nate liked the way Greg made him feel, and the doctor's son wondered if maybe he wasn't a little bit gay too, since he liked Greg a lot, maybe more than just as a friend, though in the interest of full disclosure Nate didn't have a lot of experience with feelings beyond friendship because he was this thin, scrawny, ordinary looking black kid. Mostly he had friends because kids wanted to be Greg's friend, everybody was drawn to him, all the girls wanted to date him and all the boys wanted to be him—or at least pick up some of the castoffs he left in his wake.

But Nate was special, he knew he was, because Greg chose him. When he was the new kid in school fresh from D.C. and he had no friends and nobody to talk to and nobody to hang out with, Greg came to him, approached him and befriend him and made him feel like a million bucks. From that point on Nate didn't need for friends because he had Greg and Greg always had an entourage of casual friends and acquaintances and wannabe friends. By proxy Nate had all those things too. Most importantly, though, he had Greg, and that always felt like it was more than enough, like he was a best friend and he was a brother and he was... well, something else, something better, something sacred.

"I guess I don't understand," Nate said, though he was pretty sure he understood Richard's point just fine. Does Greg like Nate? Yeah, Nate kinda thought so even if he couldn't say for sure.

The Fiend knew his son was lying, albeit not a significant lie so much as a deception, perhaps even self-deception. Richard doubted it, however. He suspected somewhere deep inside, where Nate himself might not yet see it, his son harbored some measure of belief that his best friend felt more than friendship toward him.

Rising from his perch and settling on the couch nearer his son, using the move to communicate friendly concern and support, The Fiend turned slightly and gave an impression of openness and honesty and—he hated to think it, yet he did—even of love. Using all his strength to keep accusation out of his voice, the doctor explained cordially, "Listen, kiddo, I know you're young, but you're not that young anymore. You're at the age where feelings start to pop up that you haven't had before, feelings that are pretty doggone strong and awfully confusing." Resting his hand on Nate's shoulder and giving a gentle squeeze he added, "I'm dancing around something here because it means the difference between having Greg as your friend and having him walk away from you forever."

Nate's eyes bulged and his body convulsed with sudden panic. "What?" he gasped. "Why? He wouldn't... Why?"

The Fiend cocked his head slightly and grimaced with superficial compassion. "Son, that's what I'm trying to help you with, what I'm trying to figure out. But I'm doing a damned terrible job at it, aren't I?" He added a self-deprecating snicker to emphasize his apparent failure, every bit of it mechanical and plotted.

God, what's he up to? Nate wondered. And what if he's right? What if he knows something I don't? I'm not real sure of who's feeling what, so maybe Richard's aware of something I've missed. All I know is I can't lose Greg. That's not acceptable. Not at all.

"I... Well..." Nate stammered, trying to organize his thoughts. Then: "I guess, yeah, I mean I suppose I think maybe he likes me as more than a friend. But I don't know! I'm not sure anyway."

Despite the urge to wrap his hands around his son's throat and squeeze until the pitiful creature stopped stuttering and learned to speak like an adult, The Fiend gently rubbed Nate's shoulder as he told him, "I understand. Trust me, son, it wasn't that long ago that I was your age and going through the same thing. Emotions are kind of new for you, at least these emotions, and it's not always easy to understand what other people are feeling."

"But what do you mean Greg might walk away from our friendship? Why would you say that?" Nate was close to whining and begging at once, but he couldn't help it. Richard's words had put a screeching fear in him that was driving up the volume of panic in his voice.

"Calm down, Nate. I'm trying to help you."

I doubt that, the youngster thought automatically, although he realized he wasn't so sure about that this time. Richard was hitting some pretty sensitive buttons and all sorts of alarm bells were going off in the kid's head. If Richard knew something important, damn it, Nate needed to know it.

"What I need to know," The Fiend began, "is if maybe you have some similar feelings for Greg, like something more than friendship maybe, something you might not even be sure of but that makes you wonder what you might actually feel for your best friend."

Nate shrugged, a bit in confusion and a bit in dismay. "I'm not really sure. You know, I guess everything's all messed up right now. It's hard to tell sometimes what's going on in my own head."

The Fiend offered a chuckle and half a grin, something warm and relaxed, something unnatural on his countenance. "I hear you, kiddo. Been there and done that, I assure you."

"What about Greg leaving? What do my feelings have to do with that? Why would it matter if I did or didn't like him... like him like that, I mean, as more than a friend?"

"Oh, Nate..." Shaking his head and restraining his features so his sneer remained hidden, The Fiend said, "You know Greg sometimes talks to me about... well, about stuff he's confused about or stuff that requires an adult's guidance."

Nate knew they sometimes talked, though he doubted it was all Richard was making it out to be. Greg was awfully smart, the smartest guy Nate had ever met, and one thing his best friend didn't seem to need was adult guidance. Or if he did, Nate would bet a million bucks that he'd ask his mom or his dad first, or maybe his uncle or his aunt. Who'd want to turn to Richard for advice? Not anyone who knows him, that's for damn sure. Still... With something so important to be lost if he fucked this up, Nate didn't think he could afford to disregard the doctor's words. At least not before he'd heard them anyway.

"Yeah," the boy said, "I've noticed."

After a deep breath, as if to fortify his resolve but really meant to increase his satisfaction, The Fiend told his son, "Recently... recently Greg's been worried about something, something between the two of you."

"What? Why wouldn't he talk to me about it? What is it?"

"He doesn't want to embarrass you if he's wrong, so he hasn't talked to you about it. Right now he's just trying to figure out if he's right and, if so, what to do about it. But he's pretty sure how he feels about it. He's adamant that if he's right, it'll tear your friendship apart."

I refuse to cry, Nate thought. I won't let him bully me with this bullshit. I know Greg better than he does.

"You're lying!" the youngster almost shouted. "You don't know anything about Greg or our friendship. You're lying and I don't believe you!"

The Fiend felt a delicious warmth spread through him at his son's anger and defiance. And his obvious pain. He needed his son emotionally and psychologically off balance. Such a state would render him more susceptible to suggestion. To drive a wedge between the two boys and to inflict suffering on them both, one he would comfort and one he would not, Richard adhered to the new plan he had concocted in response to The Boy's surprising ability to circumvent each trap and sidestep each snare The Fiend carefully placed in his path.

"Calm down, Nate. I'm trying to help you. Maybe I'm stumbling through this, but at least I'm trying. I don't want to see you get hurt."

"Then tell me! Tell me why you say he'd walk away from our friendship."

"Greg's worried you might be in love with him, or at least that you have feelings for him beyond friendship."

Nate gasped. He wasn't sure what he thought about that. For that matter, he wasn't sure what he thought about Greg beyond friendship. He just wasn't experienced enough with all these teenager feelings.

Enjoying the look of utter despair and confusion on his son's face, basking in the glow of discomfort and fear, The Fiend continued, "Greg's the tallest, best built, best looking guy in your class, maybe even in your school. He's good looking, he's smart, he's charming and charismatic, he's physically superior in every way, he's popular, he's clever and witty. And he's your best friend, closer to you than anyone else. It would be completely normal if you felt a little something more for him than friendship."

Leaning down to speak more conspiratorially, The Fiend added, "But he doesn't feel that way about you. He's worried that those kinds of feelings would destroy your friendship. He loves you, sure, but only as a friend. So he's worried you might love him too much, as more than a friend, and it scares him because he knows it would ruin your friendship, it would change it until it was different, wrong."

"I don't need him to love me! I don't need to love him like that! He's my friend. That's what matters."

"Is it? Is it really, Nate? Are you not the least bit interested in him?"

"No. He's my friend!"

The Fiend could see the unshed tears welling in his son's eyes. He could also see the confusion and deception. Whether or not Nate realized it himself, he felt some measure of attraction for Greg. In the vulgar colloquialism it might well be a bromance Nate felt, or perhaps even a bit of hero worship. In a perfect world The Fiend knew it would be one of those but nothing else, not pansexual or demisexual or bisexual attraction. Yet he could not rely on perfection in an imperfect world; therefore he had to make his own perfect destiny come to pass by controlling the situation.

"Here's the problem, Nate. Greg's scared that you might feel more for him that just friendship. But he doesn't feel that way about you. And he knows that if you want more from him than he can give, it'll tear apart your friendship.

"He'll leave. If he ever thinks you feel that way about him, he'll leave because you're too close, because he thinks you love him too much. He'll say he feels that way because he doesn't want to embarrass you, he'll say he loves you too much and he has to get away from you, but what he's really saying is that he can't give you what you want and he can't hurt you so he has to get away from you. He doesn't want you to feel bad, so he'll say he feels that way and then he'll leave you."

Doubt. The Fiend could feel it emanating from Nate in waves, building until it crashed and washed over everything his son thought and felt. Richard cared not a bit if Nate believed him; he cared only that Nate heard him, for the wellspring of the kid's emotions and thoughts would be tainted by a toxic tide of Richard's making.

"What's your problem?" Nate shouted. "What the fuck is your problem? What are you trying to accomplish?"

"I'm trying to protect you, Nate. I'm trying to keep you from being hurt."

"Bullshit! You don't care about me."

"That's where you're wrong. You're my son and I love you. I don't want to see you heartbroken and cast aside by someone like Greg when it can be prevented."

"He'd never throw me aside." Nate was crying and he couldn't help it. He wasn't sure what Richard was up to, but he was sure that it hurt, that it worried him, that it made him question everything he held most dear. And that was causing panic and pain, anger and anguish.

"Greg knows he can't be something other than a friend for you. He'd never be interested in that, but if you want that and he finds out, it'll break his heart because it'll tear apart your friendship. That's why you need to focus on finding a woman you can build a family with, have a home with, a woman who can satisfy you and make you happy. You need to find yourself a woman and don't give a second thought to Greg."

"He wouldn't leave me..." Nate whined through sniffles and aborted sobs, tears streaking his cheeks. "Why would he ever think about leaving me?"

Restraining his features so his triumphant sneer remained hidden, The Fiend said, "Greg's better than you. A lot better. Better looking, smarter, better body, taller, friendlier, more outgoing and more interesting. Greg's better than you, Nate, and if he thinks you're too interested in him, he'd have to move on because he won't string you along but he can't love you like that."

Yanking away from the doctor, Nate grimaced, choked back a disgusted laugh, said, "You're lying!" He wiped his nose on his sleeve before adding, "I know you're lying. Greg doesn't think he's better than me. He'd never think that!"

Why is he hurting me like this? Nate wondered. What's his goal? What the fuck's all this about?

"You know I'm right," Richard told him. "Just look at yourself. Your friends are a byproduct of your friendship with him. And now that he's out of the closet, he's an interesting oddity and the most popular gay kid. But you? You're the sidekick."

Sometimes Nate felt like he got sloppy seconds from Greg, it's true, but he never resented his best friend. Why would he be upset about any of that when Greg showered him with all his attention and love and friendship, focused on him all the time, spent all his time with him?

No, it wasn't charity and it wasn't pity. Nate knew that deep inside, felt it in his heart, saw it whenever he looked in his friend's eyes. Richard was wrong. Wasn't he?

"You straggle along in his wake hoping for a smile, a touch, a word, and it's pathetic. He'll never love you, Nate. Never. At best you'll always be just a friend. Because he's too good for you. He could never love someone like you."

The Fiend almost shivered in delight. His son's face contorted with pain and worry and doubt and sorrow. His tears were like ambrosia scenting the air with victory. The more emotional turmoil Richard could cause, the more his words could seep into Nate's thoughts and feelings without notice.

"Greg's gay, Nate. He'll never be happy with anyone who isn't also gay. He won't want somebody to try it out with him. He won't want somebody who isn't sure. One thing I know about you is that you don't know what in the hell you want.

"You could never satisfy someone like Greg. You could never make him happy, not truly happy. That's because it's not in your nature to be happy with a man, not truly happy anyway. You might experiment, you might think otherwise, but you'll only ever be happy with a woman. And that's why you can never be what Greg needs or wants. That's why he'll never love you."

"Why would you say that? Why are you doing this?"

"One of these days he'll leave you. He'll leave you because he can't give you what you want. He'll leave you because you're wrong for each other. He'll leave you because he doesn't want to disappoint you. He'll leave you, Nate, and when he does you'll remember I warned you. You'll remember what I said. And you'll realize I was right all along."

Nate jumped up from the couch and ran to his room, weeping openly and harshly, his backpack forgotten where he'd dropped it. Once in his bedroom, he slammed the door, leaped atop the bed, dropped his face into his hands, and cried without shame. The whole bed shook with his muffled sobs, his pillow dampened with his tears.

"He can't leave me..." he muttered through sniffles and hitched breaths and mournful groans. "I can't lose him... He can't leave me..."

The Fiend knew a single conversation did not a victory make, thus he would revisit these topics with Nate time and again, forcing a new truth to take root in his son's psyche, a truth of Richard's making. He did not know what the future held for the two boys, but The Fiend knew The Boy had vexed and thwarted him, and such was unacceptable. The doctor knew of his superiority to those around him, especially to a child like The Boy. To have his unfailing plan repeatedly desecrated by one so young required a punishment that would last no matter the outcome of this particular hunt.

And so the predator would lay the groundwork for misery and mistrust and misunderstanding between the boys, his gift to them for their meddling and their foiling and their foolishness. For in the final analysis, knowing he would have no further use for The Boy once his appetite was sated, The Fiend wished to leave him not just used and discarded, but also unhappy and unanchored.

As for his own son, the doctor wished nothing but disappointment.

Thus ends the bad interludes. The only one left is still about Richard, but it'll leave a pleasant aftertaste, very much unlike the others.


I can't thank you enough for your readership and interest! I wish I'd known about GA years ago when I wrote this tale. But at least now I know of a place to share some of the other tidbits and goodies I have tucked away in digital limbo, not to mention any new ideas I come up with (which is a guarantee since I love to write).

Copyright © 2018 Jason MH; All Rights Reserved.
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What a putrid waste of flesh.

Granted, he produced Nate but he should’ve been hit by a car or killed from a wasting disease from the inside out after he fertilized the egg.

I’m taking your “pleasant aftertaste” reference about Richard to mean you will share what awful fate has befallen him; for that I cannot wait.

 Few literary characters have inspired in me the boiling anger Dick does.  To set out such destruction for someone you only want on a transitory basis AND your own flesh and blood because they do not follow your script illuminates his lack of humanity. 

These poor, beautiful boys are still victim to this fucktard. 😞

l eagerly look forward to the next installment of this story, as well as your other “tidbits and goodies” after this story’s completion.

Edited by FanLit
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Posted (edited)


"Greg knows he can't be something other than a friend for you. He'd never be interested in that, but if you want that and he finds out, it'll break his heart because it'll tear apart your friendship. That's why you need to focus on finding a woman you can build a family with, have a home with, a woman who can satisfy you and make you happy. You need to find yourself a woman and don't give a second thought to Greg."


So could that have been the seed that has caused Nate, years later, to talk to Greg about wanting to meet a nice girl, get to know her, settle down and get married, have kids, the white picket fence... (etc)? And does that mean that Nate may actually be gay - or at least bisexual - or even Greg-sexual, as someone suggested in a comment to the last chapter? We already know that Greg and Nate have had sex twice, which supposedly confirmed that Nate was really straight. What we don't know is how old they were at the time. Was it before or after Richard assaulted Greg? If it was before, it could just have been a case of adolescent experimentation. If it was after, then it just may be that Nate is not 100% straight (or could it just be a case of Nate wanting to comfort his friend, or to prove to him that he could still give his body to another man despite what had happened with Richard?).


My gut feeling is that Nate is actually straight, but I have to admit that I'm not sure. I suppose I'll find out the answer in the remaining chapters.


Great story, Jason! You've still got me hooked (and second guessing). :thumbup:  :) 




Edited by Marty
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Horrible horrible person.  Feel so bad for both Nate and Greg, who are both still suffering from his abuse.

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It’s sad that Nate seemed as smart as his sperm donor despite his young age and yet Richard still managed to mess him up. Maybe Nate is bi and maybe he’s straight yet we have no idea what would have happened if Richard hadn’t messed with his mind. Of course while he may have managed to convince Nate to not even try to have a romantic relationship with Greg for whatever reason they supposedly did have sex at some point so Richard didn’t completely convince Nate not to try to be more than just 100% platonic friends with Greg. Now, in the following chapter we’ll likely see Nate reviewing his emotions and the impact this event had on him as he tries to discover If some part of him wants to be more than just Greg’s friend though at the same time he may think of what Richard said about Greg leaving him causing him to foolishly believe The Fiend spoke the truth. Richard really messed both of these guys up.

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