Sixteen was a confusing but amazing age for me. I think it was one of my best teenage years, but I’d have to say every year I had with Dane was a good year. Sixteen was different though. It was a mile marker, I didn’t feel like a kid anymore. I had more in my life at that point then I’d ever had. I had Seth, my doe-eyed angel, and Dane, my protector, I even had Dr. Corbin, and my art - I had everything I’d ever wanted or needed, but I was living without making choices. I should have told Dane about my relationship with Seth, I know that now. It wouldn’t have changed the outcome, it wouldn’t have changed my love for Dane. It would have given Seth what he needed. What I’d denied him.
The thing is, life doesn’t always let you have everything you need.
May 10th, 2016
“Congratulations on winning the art contest, it will look good on your applications for college. The boy in the portrait, that’s Seth?” Dr. Corbin asked, looking down at the image on my cell phone that I showed him.
“Yeah that’s Seth,” I said, smiling. He’d let me draw him for the contest a few weeks back.
Corbin nodded and handed me back my phone. “Why don’t we talk about Seth? He’s a large part of your life.”
Taking the phone back I didn’t say anything. In the last six months, Dr. Corbin and I had built a good ground for what I wanted to talk about and what I didn’t want to talk about — and he knew at this point I didn’t like to dig past the surface. I’d made a friend outside of Dane and that was the entire reason to come to him. For Dane, I go out of my comfort zone and push myself to talk and listen to what the doctor has to say, but I had my limits.
Really, I didn’t mind Corbin, if I was being honest with myself it was nice to talk to him sometimes. He was an unbiased ear to talk to when I needed to. I wasn’t by nature a talkative person, I was perfectly fine with silence, but my head got crowded sometimes with darkness and doubts. It was nice to have Corbin to talk to even if it was about mundane shit, I didn’t want to trouble Dane with the stupid shit I had to deal with. He had enough to focus on with his career and taking care of everything on his own. I could handle my problems on my own.
“What about Seth?” I finally asked.
“You have become very close to him, is he more than just a friend?” Corbin’s eyebrow arched a little. He’d been asking for months what Seth was to me, and I hadn’t gone into much detail always diverting the topic away from him. I wasn’t sure why, but a part of me didn’t want to tell him what Seth was to me. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of Seth or what we had, but the label he wanted me to put on it, that terrified me. If he was my boyfriend then....then I couldn’t have Dane. I’d have to let a part of what I had for Dane inside of me go and I just— I couldn’t let any part of what I felt for him go.
I fucking wouldn’t.
“He’s my best friend. We do everything together.” Which was the truth we did do everything together, and a lot more? Sharp tingling sensations stabbed in my gut, the same familiar guilt I had whenever I lied about Seth to anyone. I was openly in a relationship with him at school, but I wouldn’t tell the one person who meant the most to me in the world. Seth was going to catch on soon.
“I see,” Dr. Corbin smiled lightly, the laugh lines at the corner of his mouth becoming more defined. He was a handsome man in his late forties with green eyes that were much darker than my own. I was sure if Seth ever saw him he’d blush so red he’d turn into a tomato, but that was what Seth did around all hot guys - it was fucking adorable.
“Does Seth see you as just a friend? From what I’ve heard your relationship together sounds much more involved than friends.”
“We’re friends, there is nothing to question about it.” The lie tasted like ash in my dry mouth while the stabbing in my gut got stronger. If Seth ever heard me say these things he’d shatter into a million pieces. He’d doubt that I loved him, he’d think he meant nothing to me.
“Ty, when you first came to me over six months ago you had no one in your life besides your father. You’ve built a relationship with Seth that went beyond just simple friendship, and I can see that when you accept someone into your heart you hold onto them with every fiber of your being. It’s ok to love more than one person Ty and I know you love this boy, I can see it, hear it, in every recollection you tell me. So tell me, why are you holding back? Why are you denying what you feel?” Corbin asked as he sat forward in his chair, his arms leaning over his knees as he watched me closely.
Denying what I feel? Was that was I doing? No, I didn’t deny that I loved Seth, but I was denying that I was in a relationship with him. I knew it was ok to love more than one person, I’d loved Jane and Mark—
But that was different and I knew it.
Corbin didn’t know that it was different. He didn’t understand that the kind of love I had for Seth and Dane wasn’t one that I could share, or in Dane’s case even acknowledge. The love I have for them will force me to rip my soul in half one way or another. I didn’t have it in me to do it to myself not when I could live in the limbo where I was able to pretend that I could have Dane one day and Seth too.
“I’m not denying anything. Seth is my best friend.” I said without looking at the doctor. I couldn’t bring myself to see the disappointment there.
There was a long stretch of silence. He was waiting for me, giving me time to change what I’d said, or maybe just to say anything else. I didn’t and it only took a few minutes before Corbin sighed. “Alright, Ty. I think that’s enough for today, I’ll see you next week,” he said as he got up like he always did when our sessions were over.
I got up and walked to the door with Corbin leading the way. He stopped in front of it his hand on the doorknob getting ready to open it for me when he spoke again. “I will say, not as your doctor, but personally, if you deny something long enough it’s likely it’ll pass you by,” his dark green eyes became shaded, something dark and distant lurked in his expression. He shook his head, looking up at me again. “Once you miss a chance Ty, you might never get it again.”
He opened the door stepping aside so I could walk out past him. I did, trying to ignore the rock floating in my gut as he closed the door behind me. His words haunted me all the way through the building until I was outside in the bright may sunshine. Would I miss my chance? Who would I regret missing my chance with the most?
Crossing the road to my jeep I saw a familiar figure leaning against the driver side door. Dane handsome face was shaded by his sunglasses as he watched me walk over. I didn’t know why he was here, but I didn’t care. I was just happy to see him.
“You forgot your driver's license at the house,” he said as I walked up to him.
“Oh, sorry I didn’t realize,” and I hadn’t, but he’d come all the way down here to make sure I had it. “You didn’t have to come over here and give it to me.”
Dane frowned and took his glasses off. “The last thing I need is a hot-headed cop pulling you over with my name on the jeep and you don’t have your license, besides I figured we’d go to Plucked Chicks for dinner.”
I smiled, the warm glow I always got when he did things like this making it almost painful not to touch him. I wanted to just fucking show him how much he meant to me, but I couldn’t. My hands fisted at my sides as I held back from touching him. Ever since my birthday, it had become almost a physical ache to not touch him freely, to not touch him like I did Seth. “That sounds great,” I rasped out, and it did sound amazing. I wanted to do anything with him, and I loved going to the stupid diner with him where he’d steal food from my plate. I loved just being with him.
“Alright—” Dane’s eyes strayed down to my clenched fists, the grey turning darker as worry filled their depths. “Is everything ok, Ty?”
Quickly I unclenched my hands, “Yeah I’m fine, just—” My eyes shifted looking at his chest as I tried to say something. What could I say -- I want you? I want you to touch me? I couldn’t talk to him about Seth, either. He knew what our relationship was, he had to, he’d seen us together but hadn’t said anything. Why hadn’t he said anything?
Without warning his strong hand touched my chest right over my heart. The heat of his palm soaked through my shirt and it made my blood pumping wildly as I caught his grey eyes with mine. “Ty does this have to do with Seth?”
“No!” I blurted out. “Yes… I don’t know.” I didn’t want to tell him if I did he wouldn’t want me anymore. I couldn’t be his if I loved Seth.
He sighed and went to drop his hand but I trapped it with mine over my heart not wanting to lose the connection between us. “Please don’t—” I cut off not sure what I was asking of him. Please don’t leave me, please love me like I love you.
“Ty, calm down,” Dane said as his free hand reached up to grip the back of my neck steadying the anxious roiling in my gut. He pulled my head down so that our foreheads were connected, leaning on each other. He hadn’t held me like that since the night in the alley behind Plucked Chicks over a year ago. Subconsciously my other hand went to his waist pulling him closer to me. Dane didn’t resist as I pressed our bodies closer together in the middle of the parking lot. That was what made me love Dane, he never denied me what I needed. That I could touch him now made everything so much better. I could feel his heat, smell the clean scent of his skin, feel the warmth of his breath against my cheeks.
“Breath, Ty,” he said slowly, his deep voice soothing the last of my anxieties. He didn’t rush me, letting me stand there holding onto him while I calmed my rapidly beating heart. The parking lot was almost empty so it was only us for now, and Dane waited as my body began to relax into him, my breathing becoming less ragged.
“Ty, I love you no matter what,” Dane said as he clutched my neck with a hard grip, reassuring me that he wouldn’t let me go, that he loved me indefinitely. “I love you, and being gay doesn’t change that,” He looked straight into my eyes with his steady grey gaze, never wavering.
I nodded unable to speak as my throat tightened painfully. If only he knew that wasn’t what it was. Would he let me touch him like this if he knew how much I wanted to be inside of him — To be physically connected to him like my heart and soul was. “I-I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.” That was all I could get out past the lump in my throat as he wrapped his strong arms around my shoulders and held me close.
“No, I’m sorry I didn’t say anything. I wanted to let you come to me in your own time. It doesn’t matter, Ty. No matter what, I’ll always love you. I’ll always be there for you.”
Always. He’d always be there. Relief poured into my large body as I held him tight, not giving a shit who saw me holding my adopted father so closely.
July 3rd, 2016
“Ty stop that tickles!”
“That’s the point!” I said as I ran my hands over Seth’s naked sides till he was a wiggling giggling mess. His pale skin flushed with color as he continued to laugh and my heart warmed at the beautiful sight he made naked on my bed.
“I can’t monkey’s uncle! I’m gonna pee myself!” he shouted with loud snorts of laughter. A bark of laughter escaped me as I watched him snort uncontrollably. Damn, but he was so different from all the people I’d met in my life. He was so pure and good, everything about Seth was a ray of light that burned away some of the darkness that lived inside of me.
Finally, I took mercy on him and stopped my hand sliding down his side to sooth the tickle tortured skin. My eyes followed my hands as he caught his breath. I took the time to look over his body, all his light-colored skin, and the hard dick laying across his abdomen. Everything about him was frail and breakable and it made a protective urge inside of me ignite with the need to keep him safe like Dane did for me.
My hand skimmed past his hip and down his leg to his thigh when something caught my eye. Dark discolored skin that I hadn’t noticed the day before took up an entire patch on the inside of his thigh. “Seth, what’s this?” I knew what it was, I had a close relationship with bruises, but how he’d gotten it was what I wanted to know.
Seth stilled under me, his body tensing as he looked at the area I was talking about. “It’s nothing, I bruise easily and I fell in the shower… I’m fine.”
I touched the area gently an uneasy weight in my gut. “Are you sure?”
“I’m fine big guy, why don’t you move your hand a little higher up?” Seth bit his lip as he smiled deviously at me. In the last few months, we’d done a lot more exploring of each other's bodies till Seth had become much more confident. I loved his new-found courage, and the way his brown eyes widened with excitement, not nerves.
“Oh, do you mean here?” I asked as I touched his balls just beneath his erection.
Seth gasped spreading his legs wider, “N-no but your c-close.”
“What about here?” I drifted my hand down lower between his legs.
He moaned. “T-that is even b-better.” He stammered.
A door downstairs closed loudly making me pull my hand away quickly, Seth’s eyes widening. “Dane’s home,” I said as I got off the bed and started putting my clothes back on. Seth didn’t say anything as he also gathered his clothes and started putting them on. Once we had our clothes back on I lay back down on the bed and Seth lay down beside me, looking at me with conflicted brown eyes.
“What?” I finally asked curiously what he wasn’t saying.
Seth smiled gently his hand reaching out to touch my cheek. “Nothing, I just look at you sometimes and think I’m so lucky to have you.” His fingers traced over my jaw and down my throat in an intimate caress. “I love you, Ty.”
“I’m nothing special. It’s me who’s lucky.” I pulled him close cuddling him close to my chest. He sighed as he curled into my larger body.
“I going to get a drink from the kitchen do you want one?” I asked Seth as he watched the movie from the comfortable pile of pillows on my bed. School would start again in a few weeks and I was going to miss the summer. Seth and I had spent almost every waking hour together for the past three months and it had been some of the best memories of my life. I’d done so many things that’s I’d never done before and all of it had been with him. I’d noticed though that in the past few weeks Seth wanted to stay inside more often. He’s said he was tired so we’d been watching movies and exploring each other's bodies till there was an actual fear our dicks would fall off.
“No, I’m good, babe.” He said with a soft smile.
I nodded and kissed the top of his head before going downstairs. I went into the kitchen and rummaged around for something to drink before deciding on water. I walked back upstairs drinking out of the bottle as I came back into my room. My heart stopped when I saw Seth sitting on the bedroom floor, my stash of drawings from under the bedspread out in front of him. Hundreds of drawings were spread out around him, some still in his hands as he looked closely at them. “Seth? What are you doing?”
He looked up not startled by me, his eyes looking back down at the drawings before looking at me again with a curious frown. “Ty, what are these?”
Anxiety clawed at my gut threatening to bring the water back up. I’d hidden those drawings for a reason, I hadn’t wanted Seth or Dane to ever find them. How could I explain over two hundred drawings of Dane to him? Why I had them hidden under my bed? “You shouldn’t be snooping around my fucking room,” I snapped defensively, as I started grabbing the drawings up in quick snatches.
He couldn’t see these, neither of them could.
“I-I’m sorry, I dropped the remote under the bed, I t-thought they were just part of your portfolio. I-I didn’t mean to make you upset.” His voice wavered as his brown eyes begin to shine with pain. “Please, don’t be mad. I’m sorry, Ty.”
I stopped picking up the drawings and looked at him, his face flushed as he held back the tears that were threatening to fall. Guilt burned an acidic trail up my throat along with my anxiety. I’d never talked to him that way before. I’d never made him cry. Here I was doing both because he’d accidentally stumbled on my stash of drawings. It wasn’t his fault, but I was taking it out on him.
“No, I’m sorry,” I said as I put the drawings down and grabbed his cheeks with my hands. Leaning forward I kissed his lips gently feeling as they trembled under my lips. I’d caused that fear in him. He kissed me back slowly, tentatively, asking me forgiveness when he didn’t need to. I broke away to lean my forehead against his connecting with him the only way I knew how.
“I’m didn’t mean to make you upset. I-I just thought they were some of your other drawings,” He pulled back his brown eyes averting to look at the pile of drawings beside us where I’d laid them. “Ty, why are you hiding these under your bed? Why… are they all of your dad?”
I shook my head as I pulled away from him sitting across from him on the floor with the drawings between us. Seth’s brow furrowed as he slowly grabbed one of the drawings from the top of the pile. It was a realistic sketch of Dane smiling softly, his steel grey eyes dark with humor as he laughed at one of my bad jokes I’d told him from the internet. It was so rare for Dane to show so much emotion, that was why it was one of my favorite sketches.
“Ty these,” Seth pulled out another drawing, and another, looking at each one in detail before getting another one. Sketch after sketch he looked at the many faces of Dane, all the ones I wanted to keep for myself, that I didn’t want to share with anyone else. Not the smiles, or the anger, and definitely not the love. “Ty these are beautiful.” He said so softly that I almost didn’t hear him.
“They’re just sketches.” I heard myself say, but it didn’t sound right to my own ears. To monotone, too emotionless for someone who’d spent countless hours perfecting every emotion of the same mans face hundreds of different times.
Seth shook his head while looking down at one of the newer sketches. It was of Dane sleeping on the couch with his shirt off, the soft expression on his face only one I’d ever seen when he was sleeping. He looks vulnerable and beautiful and it made me want to protect him each time I looked at the drawing. “These are more than sketches, Ty. They’re beautiful, you shouldn’t keep these hidden.”
“People wouldn’t understand,” I said without thinking.
Seth frowned again, his eyebrows pulling together in consternation. “Maybe, but there is nothing wrong with loving him, Ty.”
My heart ratcheted in my chest as I watched him closely. Did he understand what he was saying? He couldn’t understand, not really. He thought he was seeing a platonic love, one that was expected of me. He didn’t see the craving and desire in each drawing. “It’s better if I keep them hidden, people will say shit.”
Seth sighed the same sound that I was used to associating disappointment with. I didn’t look at him, expecting him to finally understand, but instead, I felt his soft hand trailing over my arm. “I won’t, why don’t you show them to me? I want to see what you see.”
“You won’t understand,” I said softly. How could he?
Seth looked down at one of the many drawings spread out on the floor. “I don’t need to.” Was all he said.
He didn’t need to understand, but he would listen. I could tell him about what I kept bottled up inside and he would leave me or judge me for it. Was that too good to be true? What if he changed his mind? What if he did what Caitlyn did and tell lies that affected Dane? No, Seth wouldn’t do that. I know how pure and good he was. What he was offering me was one hundred percent unbiased and came from him loving me. I needed to do the same, I needed to give him a part of me.
“I’ve loved him since I was thirteen,” I started, and then I told him everything.
October 1st, 2016
“Can I tell you something?”
I looked at Seth from where he sat on the hood of my jeep looking out at the skyline. We were at the observation parking lot on the top of one of the mountains. I’d come here with Dane before and he’d shown me the beautiful Colorado sky free of any city lights, all the stars shining so bright it felt like I was falling into the galaxy. I’d told Seth about it, how beautiful it was and I’d promised to take him there. Tonight Dane wouldn’t be home, he’d said he had business he had to take care of. I didn’t want to sit at home wondering if he was really working, or if he’d found a girl to spend himself in. I didn’t have the right to be jealous, I knew that but it didn’t change that Dane was mine. I couldn’t stomach the idea of anyone getting more of him than I could have.
So I took Seth to my favorite place.
“What?” I asked.
“I’m quitting student council.”
“What? Why? You love being student president!” Something wasn’t right, worry sloshed in my gut like bad food. In the past few months, Seth hadn’t been himself, his fatigue getting worse, along with the excessive bruising. Now, this.
“I do, but I have to focus on myself for awhile and I want to spend more time with you.” He leaned against me kissing my throat with his soft lips before leaning his head on my shoulder and looking up at the stars. “Life is short and I want to do what I love the most while I can.”
Acid sloshed in my stomach as more anxiety built inside of me. “What are you fucking saying Seth?”
“Don’t worry, I’m just being selfish and immature. I want to spend every moment I can with my boyfriend.” He slid his hand into mine, intertwined our fingers.
My body slowly relaxed and I closed my fingers around his hand. “You sure you’re ok?”
He nodded, smiling brightly even though his brown eyes had dark circles under them that had become normal. “I’m fine, big guy. Now tell me about the time you and Dane came here for the first time.”
I smiled broadly at that request. Telling him about my feelings for Dane had been the best thing I’d ever done. He hadn’t judged me for how I felt. Seth accepted it and never once tried to change how I felt. I loved him more for that.
“I love you,” I said as I kissed the top of his head. “I don’t know how you can still love me knowing how I feel about Dane, but fuck I love you so much, Seth.”
“I love you too, Ty.” Our hands stayed joined as we sat in silence for a few minutes, taking in the scenery and the intense surge of emotions between us. I thought about my first time out here with Dane and I was about to tell him when he spoke up again.
“Love is multidimensional you know,” he looked up at me with his big round brown eyes. “It doesn’t have to mean one thing, it can have layers and levels, it can have different causes and reasons. It’s so complex and it can be so complicated for some people, but love is always something that should be embraced. I envy how deeply you love Ty. Mark and Jane, Dane, and me, even Dr. Corbin. You invest your entire heart and soul into the people you love. It’s so rare to see that, I’m so glad that you love me that way, that I’m getting to feel that level of emotion. You somehow make me feel like you’ve been apart of my life for as long as I can remember, but I realize that I didn’t have anything as amazing before you came around.”
For the first time in a long time, I felt embarrassed. My cheeks flushed and I shrugged noncommittally. “It’s nothing that poetic,” I said while keeping my eyes trained on the stars above.
“It is, Ty. The way you love me, I can feel it everytime you look at me. It’s like you couldn’t breathe without me,” he paused, his eyes trained on something in the distance as he processed his thoughts. It took him a few minutes before he said, “Don’t ever stop loving the way you do, Ty. Not me, and not Dane.”
I frowned, confused. What was he trying to tell me? “You know I can’t love him the way I want to. He’ll never love me that way.” The confession always made my skin feel like it was pulling to tight across my body. They were the two people I had in the world that I would die for, but I’d have to give up part of myself to have the other. Did it matter though? Dane would never love me the way I loved him, I’d had to admit that to myself over and over to start trying to accept it.
“Ty I’m d—” Seth stopped suddenly. I looked down to see him touching his upper lip right below his nose. He brought his hand away from his nose, the tips coated in red.
“Shit Seth what happened?” I asked as I turned his head to see the red trail of blood leaking from his nose. “Fuck, let me get some napkins.” I jumped off the hood of the jeep and rushed around to the passenger side where I stored the napkins in the glove compartment. Once I had them I brought them to Seth so he could put chunks of the soft paper in his nose to stem the flow of blood.
“Seth, what’s happening?” I touched one of the visible bruises on his arm, the ones that appeared after only a light touch from my hands. “What aren’t you telling me?” He sat there quietly, his brown eyes dull as he stared down at his hands. He didn’t say anything for awhile and I wondered if he was going to answer me at all.
“Can we go home? I want to lay down, and then I’ll tell you.” He pleaded silently to not push him for more right then, I could hear it in the soft desperation in his voice.
I wanted to push him anyways. Fuck, but I could feel something wasn’t right. Everything about tonight felt off in some way, but I couldn’t say for sure what it is. In the end, I couldn’t hurt him, not even if it was to push him out of his comfort zone to tell me what was going on. I could wait till we got back to my house. “Promise me you’ll tell me,” I demanded, kissing him softly tasting the metallic hint of his blood on his lips.
“I promise big guy,” Seth whispered, smiling weakly against my lips.
We didn’t stay much longer, but I didn’t rush him as he got into the jeep and buckled in. I wanted to get back to the house. The eerie foreboding hanging over us made my insides twist into painful knots. My hand gripped the wheel painfully hard as I steered us onto the road that leads back down the mountain. We didn’t say anything, the soft song from the radio playing in the cab. My mind raced with everything he could tell me. Was he leaving? Was he sick? My heart pounded dangerously as I thought of losing him. I looked at him quickly and back at the road. His face was pale, more than normal and his brown eyes weary as he stared straight ahead.
“I don’t want you to be hurt,” he whispered, his voice raw as he leaned his head against the passenger window. “I love you so much, and I don’t want to hurt you.” Seth sucked in a wet breath before his tears began to slide in an uncontrolled river down his freckled cheeks.
“It’ll be ok, baby. Whatever it is it’ll be ok.” Fuck it had to be. I reached out my hand to lace our fingers together so I could hold onto him. Whatever it was it had to be ok.
Seth looked at me, I could see it out of the corner of my eye, his faced flushed from his flowing tears. “I don’t want to leave you,” he said softly as white light poured in from the passenger side, surrounding him like a halo.
“Seth!” My head jerked to the right as blinding light flooded the jeeps cab swallowing Seth in its brilliance, before it swallowed me too, throwing me into darkness.