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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
This is a rewrite of a story I posted on another site. I've made the mistake of posting before completing the work, so I'll apologize in advance for the delays between chapters.

Re-birth - 1. Chapter 1

Chapter 1

The sky behind the trees was beginning to show some light as I prepared for my morning run. I spent several minutes stretching, put my earbuds in, and ran my fingers through my dark brown crew cut. ‘Almost time for a haircut,’ I thought as I felt the hair sticking up beyond my fingers. School was finally out, and I could have slept in like most 17-year-olds were probably doing this morning, but keeping myself in excellent physical shape is one of my priorities.

Every morning since 7th grade, I have gotten out of bed at 5:00 to work out. First, I run four miles. Then I spend an hour lifting weights in my basement. This routine first paid off my freshman year when I was named to the varsity wrestling team. That year, I went on to win second place in regionals in the 113 lbs. weight class. I was only 5’6” then, but I've grown quite a bit over the last two and a half years. Now I’m just over 6 feet. This most recent season ended with my taking home the WV State Championship in the 182 lbs. class. With my senior year coming, I hope to stay in this weight class and repeat the title.

I started my playlist and took off. I ran through the streets of our small community onto the county road, then followed the same route my school bus used for just over two miles. At this point, I turned up the dirt lane that led to the old abandoned farm. After passing the sagging house and ancient barn, I ran over ATV trails that led to the field behind our community. Then I took several laps around the streets, slowing to a walk during the final lap to cool down.

During this final lap, I noticed the moving van parked in front of what used to be Mr. Zell’s house. Mr. Z. had been like an adopted grandfather to me, and I missed the elderly German immigrant. I remember the many times I would wash and wax Mr. Z.’s midnight blue 1971 Buick Riviera while the old man sat and talked about other cars he had owned over the years. I also took care of the yard and shoveled snow for the old man, since Mr. Z. couldn’t do it himself.

It was on a morning run just like this one, back in April, when Mr. Z. had flagged me down to tell me of his plans to move to Florida. He said it was time for a change, so he was moving into a senior living community where he could relax in his final years. His plans to move came as a shock, but the bigger shock came when Mr. Z. asked if I would like to buy his car. It only took me a second to run home and discuss it with Dad. Ten minutes later, I was the proud owner of the huge, American-made muscle car with the unique boattail design. I must have been lost in the memory of that day as I ran by the house because I didn’t notice the blond boy stepping out from behind the truck until I ran into him, knocking the box of books out of his hands.

“Oh, sorry.” The boy said as he bent to gather the scattered books.

I blushed. “It was my fault. I was daydreaming and wasn’t watching where I was going. Can I help you with those?” I asked as I bent to help pick up the books.

“I won’t refuse free help.” the blond boy laughed. When he stood, he turned, offering his hand. “I’m Scott, Scott Warnick.”

I stood frozen, facing a boy maybe a year or two younger than me. He was a few inches shorter and easily 50 lbs. lighter than me. His straw blond hair was styled in what my friends called a ‘short quiff’ cut. What had me frozen in place were his eyes. I was looking down into the most amazing emerald-green eyes I had ever seen. I recovered from my shock and said, “Oh, um… I’m Greg Fowler. Nice to meet you. I live over there.” I said, pointing stupidly at my home, just one house down and across the street.

“Then I guess we’re neighbors. If you meant the offer of free labor, grab any box labeled ‘Scott’s books’ and follow me.” he said with a laugh, having repacked the box he had dropped. I texted Dad, saying I would be a little late getting home, then grabbed two boxes of books and followed Scott inside.

We were about to go up the stairs when Scott’s mom came from the kitchen and asked, “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your new friend?”
Scott pointed at me and said, “Greg, this is my mom. Mom, this is Greg.”

Looking at her, I could see where Scott got his blond hair and green eyes. I smiled and said, “I’m Greg Fowler. Nice to meet you, Mrs. Warnick.”

“We’re not formal around here, Greg. I’m Donna.” She glanced at the boxes in my hands and added, “I see Scotty has roped you into doing some work?”

“MOM!! Please don't call me Scotty. You know I hate it! And no, I’m not forcing him. Greg offered to help.”

I laughed and told Donna how we had ‘run into each other,’ and now I was working off my guilt. She laughed and invited me to stay for lunch. I texted Dad, letting him know I was probably here most of the day. He replied that he’d see me after work.

When I put my phone away, Scott said, “Well, let’s get these upstairs. Then we can unpack if you’re sure you don’t mind helping?”
“Nah, lead on, Scotty,” I said with a smirk.

I was surprised when he didn't get upset. He just smiled and tilted his head. “Ya know, I think I like you calling me that.”

He turned and led me up to his room. I had only been in the foyer and kitchen of this house when Mr. Z. lived here. We went up the stairs to a small hallway with a bathroom across from the stairs and a bedroom at each end. Scott had the room to the left, towards my house. There was a queen bed, a dresser, and a floor-to-ceiling stack of boxes. I walked over and looked out his window. I could see my house and the window of my room.
Scott shrugged and said, “It's not much, but it's mine. And with Mom and Dad’s room downstairs, I get the bathroom to myself.”

I looked around and said, “It's bigger than mine. I think it's cool. And you're lucky. I’m stuck in a twin bed. Dad uses the bigger bedroom for his office.”

“Do you read much?”

“I love reading. Why?”

“Follow me.” He said and led me to the room at the other end of the hall. When we entered, I looked around, amazed. The room had bookshelves lining three walls with a desk against the fourth. Stacks of boxes covered almost the entire floor, some as high as my shoulders.

“Dang, dude, this is better than Dad's office! What all do you read?”

He shrugged and said, “I’m interested in lots of things, so they’ve kind of accumulated.”

“I bet your teachers love you!”

“She has to,” Scott laughed. “So far, I’m homeschooled.”

“So far? That means you’ll be going to my school next fall?” I asked.

“That’s the plan. Two years of normal high school.”

“Well, I don’t know how normal we are, but it’s a high school,” I said, laughing. “So, what do you do when you’re not studying? Are you one of those gamer nerds?”

“I’m a nerd, but not a gamer. I always thought TV and games were a waste of time. I read a lot.”

“I never got into gaming either, but I enjoy TV sometimes. What do you read for pleasure?”

Scott pointed to the boxes under the window and said, “Harry Potter, J.R.R Tolkien, Mark A. Roeder, Douglas Adams. Pretty much anything in the fantasy genre. What about you?”

“I love all of those! My mom gave me a tee-shirt with a Venn diagram with ‘life’, ‘the universe’, and ‘everything’, in the circles with ‘42’ in the overlap. No one gets it!”

“I think I’m gonna love your mom, dude!”

The casual mention of my mom caught me off guard. I quickly turned away, hiding the tears that formed in my eyes. After a second, I wiped my eyes and whispered, “Mom died three years ago last month.”

Looking down, embarrassed, Scott said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…”

“No, it’s ok. You didn’t know. It’s just that no one at school mentions her, and the way you said it was so natural. It crossed my mind for a second that I couldn’t wait for you to meet her.”

“I really wish I could have, Greg.”

“Thanks.” I wanted to change the subject, so I looked around and said, “Do you have a system? Or are all your books in random spots so you can explore and get distracted by what you find?”

“Both?” Scott shrugged, laughing. “They’re supposed to be sorted by field, with fiction sorted by author, but they end up all mixed up. This will be the first time they’ve been sorted in forever. Why don't you unbox these and organize them on the shelves? That way, you'll know where to find anything you want to borrow. I'll go put my clothes and other stuff away.”

The next few hours passed with us talking to each other through the hall, getting to know each other. While I was sorting and shelving books, he was folding and putting away clothes. He wasn't kidding about having a lot of books. I swear he had an entire law library, more accounting books than my dad, and two shelves of books on analyzing the markets, stock valuation, and long-term investments.

“I'll have to borrow your law books. I want to study it in college.”

“Criminal law?”

“No, corporate,” I said. “I want to get into corporate management.”

“I want to do financial planning; I love working the stock market.”

I made a face and said, “Yuck, numbers!”

He laughed, saying, “You need numbers to manage businesses, silly!”

“Yeah, but not like tracking stock trends and such.”

Scott told me that he loved the outdoors and that he spent many hours hiking on their farm in Pennsylvania. I told him about the huge, wooded area behind the abandoned farm that was on my jogging route. He said I’d have to give him a tour sometime.

Before I knew it, I was surrounded by empty boxes. “All done, I think? All that's left is your computer, and I don't want to mess with that. It’s personal.”

“Yup, it's a personal computer, duh,” Scott said with a grin.

I rolled my eyes and said, “‘You’re killin’ me, Smalls.’”

Quick as a flash, he replied, “Some lady named Ruth. Baby Ruth.”

“Someone knows their classic movies! Anyway, are we done?

“Yeah, let me go get a drink, and then you can give me that tour. You want something?”

“Coke Zero?”

As I followed him downstairs, a tall man with short salt and pepper hair walked in the front door and said, “Hey, Scotty. Who’s your friend?”

Scott whined, “Dad! I’ve asked you not to call me that!”

The man shook his head, offering his hand to me “I’m James Warnick, Scott’s father. Nice to meet you.”

I shook his hand and said, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Warnick. I’m Greg Fowler.”

“Please, we’re not formal. Call me James. Donna is just making lunch. I think she’s expecting you to join us?”

“Yeah, let’s go eat, Scotty.” I said with a grin.

When Scott just smiled, James asked, “He can call you that, and I can’t?”

Scott just shrugged his shoulders, grinned at me, and said, “Yeah, he can.” as he gave me a shoulder bump.

We followed James into the kitchen. Donna looked up, smiled, and said, “Scott, get drinks for everyone, please? Greg, do you like venison burgers?”

“Yes, Mrs. Warnick, thank you.”

“I know I told you to call me Donna. How do you like them cooked? Cheese or no cheese?”

“Medium, and cheese, if it’s no bother.”

Scott sat down beside me and handed me my drink. Donna brought two plates with burgers and potato chips and put them in front of us, saying,

“Sorry, it’s nothing fancy but as you can see, most of our things are still in boxes.”

“This is great, Mrs…. er, Donna.”

As we sat and enjoyed lunch, James and Donna took it, in turn, to learn more about me and share about themselves. I told them how I was class President all three years so far in high school, as well as Student Council President as a Junior. I talked about my plans for the future. I talked about how, in college, I wanted to do a double major in business management and law in college.

I learned that James owned several businesses throughout western Pennsylvania. Their plan was to be in this home for two years so Scott could graduate high school while James expanded his business in nearby western MD.

When lunch was finished, I turned to Scott “Still up for that tour?”

“Sure, how should I dress?”

“That depends on if you want to walk, run, bike, or drive?” I said.

Scott put his finger on his chin like he was deeply considering the options, then said, “I’d say the biking tour, but you looked like you were just finishing a run earlier.” With a smirk, he added, “I’d hate to wear you out.”

“You won’t wear me out. I was only halfway through my workout. I usually lift weights for an hour after my run. I’ll go get my bike and meet you here in ten. I can show you around,” I said as I headed for the door.

Ten minutes later, we were circling the neighborhood while I pointed out houses, telling Scott who lived where. Most of the houses had older couples whose children had moved out, while a few others had young children. I was the only teen in the immediate area, and I was glad to finally have someone within walking distance that was close to my age. After touring the neighborhood, I led Scott down the county road and up to the old farm. We dropped our bikes and headed into the barn.

There were rails attached to the uprights creating pens for animals on the ground floor. Troughs for food and water, or the remains of them, had boards that tilted. Scott explained that it was called a head gate, and it would hold the cow steady while they were being milked. I thought it was neat how the upper part stuck above the fence, and you could lock it in place with a bar that was hinged.

While we explored the old barn, I told Scott how this was my refuge when my mother had died. “I spent many spring and summer afternoons here, just lying in the shade, reading. I didn’t want to go home because Mom wasn’t there, and Dad was too sad. I would lean up against these head gates and fall asleep sometimes.”

Scott pointed to the loft and asked, “What’s up there?”

I looked up and shrugged “I’ve never climbed up to look. I didn't trust the ladder since I was alone. You're lighter than me. You up for the climb?”

Scott pulled on the first few ladder rungs and put his foot on the first one, testing it. They seemed solid, so he slowly climbed up a few rungs. He looked back, “Sure, I'm game. You gonna catch me if I fall?”

“Always,” I almost sighed. I had no idea what was going on with me. I had just met this guy, but I felt some weird connection, like fate was telling me he was mine.

“Always is a long time. How about just for today? We'll see about forever later.”

I blushed. “Yea, that's what I meant. You gonna climb or talk?” He grabbed the next two rungs and pulled hard. They held tight, so he slowly climbed, pulling on each rung as he ascended the ladder.

Scott reached the top, then slowly put his weight onto the loft floor. “Seems solid,” he said as he carefully walked around, testing each step. Once he was sure the floor was solid, he spread his arms and ran around yelling, “I’m the King of the world!”

“OK 'Jack', I’m coming up.” Since he had tested the ladder, I didn't hesitate but quickly scrambled up.

I had imagined finding boxes with tools or forgotten treasures, but there was nothing like that. The floor was littered with scraps of hay and twine from a time when the barn was full of animals, and this was the loft for hay storage.

As I looked around, I said, “Not what I had imagined, but it would be a cool place to sit and read, out of the summer heat.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Scott said, looking around. “Have you ever explored the house?”

“The first time I stepped on either porch, the wood cracked. I think it’s beyond hope, and I’m not risking going in.”

“Well, it’s still cool. Should we head back?”

We climbed back down and got on our bikes. I led Scott up the ATV trails, through the field, and back to his house.

“I have to get home and cook dinner. Want to hang out tomorrow?” I asked, hopeful.

“Sure, I’ll text you.”

We exchanged numbers, and I watched Scott go into his house. When he was safely inside, I ran home. Once there, I headed to my room, stripped, and tossed my clothes in the laundry basket. I noticed it was full, so I grabbed the basket, then stopped in Dad’s room and grabbed his stuff too. I headed to the laundry room to sort and start the wash. Once that was done, I grabbed a quick shower and put on fresh boxer briefs, basketball shorts, and a tee. I checked on the clothes, then went to the kitchen and looked through the cabinets and refrigerator to figure out what to make for dinner.

Mom had taught me to cook while she was still strong enough, and I was always happy to do my share around the house. I put some ground beef in a large skillet, and while that was browning, I chopped an onion, a green pepper, and a clove of garlic, adding them to the beef. Once it was browned, I carefully drained the excess grease into an old can, then added oregano, basil, parsley, and some red pepper, like Mom told me her mother used to do. I pulled out the large saucepan and opened the cans of tomato sauce and tomato paste. After transferring the spiced ground beef to the saucepan, I made sure to get everything mixed to a nice thick consistency. Setting the heat to its lowest, I let the sauce cook for a while.

As I was cooking, my thoughts kept going back to Scott. Somehow, I felt like I had met him before, but I would have remembered him, right? Then I remembered that Mr. Zell had a blond grandson named Scotty. I thought about the boy that had visited at Christmas about two years ago, but he was only eight or nine. I laughed at that because this Scott was obviously closer to 16 than 8. It had to be a coincidence.

After stirring the sauce again, I ran down, moved the first load to the dryer, and reloaded the washer. While I was downstairs, I gathered the towels from the weight room Dad, and I had built in the old family room and took them to be washed with the rest. Finished with that, I headed back to the kitchen. I had just added noodles to the boiling water when I heard Dad walk in.

“Hey, Dad! How was work?” I asked, giving the sauce a final stir.

“Same stuff, different day,” Dad said, looking at the stove. “Want me to put together a salad?”

“Nothing to put together. I bought some of those bags with the salad already mixed, but if you want to pour it into the bowls, knock yourself out. The spaghetti will be ready soon.”

Dad laughed, “I think I can pour a salad without burning it. Your Mom always said I could burn boiled eggs. I’m glad she taught you how to cook. Otherwise, we’d be living off of frozen dinners and delivery pizza!”

“I wouldn’t mind pizza all the time, but you’re old, you’d get fat!” I said, dodging the playful swing he took at me. “Hey, did you notice someone bought Mr. Zell’s house?”

“Really? I never noticed a sign on it, I thought his son was going to do something with it. Have you met them?”

“Yeah, James and Donna Warnick. I ran into their son, Scott, this morning and ended up helping him unpack some.” I said as I put noodles on two plates, covered them in sauce, and set them on the table. I went on to tell Dad how I knocked Scott down on my run, then I ended up telling him about my entire day.

“Are you sure it’s not Erich’s son? I think his name was James, and the grandson was Scotty, wasn’t he?”

I laughed “Yeah, I took Scotty sled riding the Christmas he was here, but he was like eight or nine. This Scott is closer to my age, so it’s definitely someone different.”

“Well, I’m glad there’s finally a boy your age that lives nearby. Maybe you will finally have someone to… what is it you kids call it? ‘Hang out’ with?”

I rolled my eyes “Yes Dad, we kids hang out. We also go to movies, go hunting, and play sports. We’ve even been known to study, from time to time.”

He laughed and said “You know I’m just teasing. But seriously, I got told today that I have to head to Dallas on Sunday. I’ll be there a week doing an audit. Then possibly a week or two in Los Angeles. I’m trusting that you’ll be fine and won’t burn the house down?”

I laughed “I’ll wait until you’re back to burn the house down. Seriously though, I’ll be fine, I always am. I guess you’re lucky I got one of my feelings and started your laundry while I was cooking, huh?”

“I never say enough how much I appreciate all you do around here son. I’m proud of the young man you’ve become. But enough of this, do you want to do dishes and I’ll finish the laundry? Or the reverse?” Dad said, standing and taking his plate to the sink.

“You finish the laundry, that way you can fold your stuff to pack. I’ll clean up here and do the dishes, then get a list of groceries I’ll need. I offered to take Scott on a driving tour of the area, so we can do that tomorrow and pick up the stuff before we come home.”

As Dad headed downstairs, I cleared the table and put the dishes in the sink. I put the leftover noodles in a container, then covered them in sauce and mixed it so they were all coated. That done, I pulled another container down and put the remaining sauce in it, placing both in the refrigerator. After washing the plates and scrubbing the pans, I dried everything and put it all away. Then I cleaned the countertop and table and sat to make my list of what I needed to get at the store tomorrow.

Finished with the list, I went to Dad’s bedroom and found him folding and packing clothes. I grabbed the basket with my stuff and headed to my room. After folding my things and putting them away, I sat on my bed and finished the Roeder book I’d been reading. Then I tried to spend an hour reading about contract law, but I couldn't focus, I kept thinking about Scott. While eating, I was wondering if he liked spaghetti and if he ate meat or not. When I was reading, I wondered if he had read this one and liked it. Then I wondered if he was trying to tell me something when he mentioned Roeder's books. Reading books about gay teens doesn't necessarily mean you're gay. The stories are great, and who the characters love doesn't matter.

I've never had a boyfriend or even a crush. Was this a crush? I never explored with a friend like I'd read about. I've known I'm gay since I was 12, but I haven't told anyone. My dad is a devout Catholic and it won't go well if he finds out. We live in a small community in West Virginia, so I know the rednecks at school will be a problem. The school has an anti-bullying policy, but considering some of the teachers are the worst bullies, it's not enforced. One boy came out two years ago and was beaten so bad he had to transfer schools. The guidance counselor said, “It's his own fault, if he wasn't like he is he would've been fine.” so yeah, I'm deep in the closet.

I gave up trying to read and settled down to sleep. I was still thinking about Scott. I couldn't get his green eyes out of my mind. When he looked at me, I felt like he could see into my soul, and I felt at peace with that. His awesome smile made me want to grab him and kiss him, and his trim body made me think of doing other things. I finally gave up. I threw my blankets back, pulled my boxer briefs down, and took care of things. After I cleaned up, I curled up and held my body pillow, imagining it was Scott as I fell asleep.

Copyright © 2023 Justin4Fun; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Just read the first chapter. I am desperately drawn to read more.  It brought tears to my eyes at one point, fists clenched in another part. To me, it is a full-rounded start to a very good story. Negative comments, well, I don't have any. Let the story develop into what it is meant to Be. This first chapter is the groundwork for something amazing.

Absolutely a Good Read.  Awesome in fact.  Sweet characters being themselves. 

Thank You for Sharing @Justin4Fun

Edited by TiggerDude
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My Mom & Dad were taken from me when I was 15. Car accident. Hit head-on by a drunk driver. The anger I felt? Undescribable.  Your story reflected a part of what I went through. thank you for that.

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1 hour ago, TiggerDude said:

My Mom & Dad were taken from me when I was 15. Car accident. Hit head-on by a drunk driver. The anger I felt? Undescribable.  Your story reflected a part of what I went through. thank you for that.

Well, there's a scene upcoming where Greg talks about when he lost his mom, so be ready.

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Ok. Cute and intriguing start. Even if this wasn’t a fantasy story, this would’ve sucked me in as a teen romance. All I can say is double major plans seems a bit of an over achiever for me but who knows, some ppl are just super efficient with their time. I’m excited to see where it goes 

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