Cameron put his pencil down and let out a heavy sigh of relief. As he looked over his last final exam of the year, he had never felt so confident about his finals before, but this year, having really paid attention the last couple months, he thought his finals just may pull his yearly average up quite a bit. That coupled with the fact that he actually did the work the last two months.
As he was able to leave the class as soon as he was done, he took his paper to the teacher’s desk and walked out of the room. The halls were nearly void of students; most of them, Cole being one of them, did not even have any finals that last day.
He had cleaned out his locker the night before; he walked out of the school feeling a feeling of euphoria at having the entire summer off. No more having to hear whispered conversations as he walked by groups of people, no more having to see Kyle go out of his way to avoid him in the halls, no more dirty looks from the bigots. Though he had to admit being ‘out’ had gone better than he had expected, but he still did not like being the topic of most people’s conversations, good or bad.
He could not wait to get started on his summer with Cole. Despite that though; he walked to his father’s house instead of Cole’s. He wanted to get his father’s lawn done and out of the way. That way he could have the rest of the week without having to worry about it.
He got to his father’s house and pulled the mower out of the garage. He made quick work of the front lawn then moved onto the back. He was pushing the mower back towards the house on his last lap when he stopped short seeing his father standing on the back porch. He was actually standing with only the help of a cane, and not in a wheel chair as he had expected.
The way he held himself made it look like he was still in quite a bit of pain and a scruffy beard covered his, what used to be, always clean shaven face. His father looked like he had aged at least 20 years in the past couple of months. He looked like an old man, which was not a way Cameron had ever pictured him before.
Not sure what his father’s intentions were, just standing there on the back porch, Cameron pushed the mower to the end of the lawn and shut it off; leaving him standing at the bottom of the porch. He paused for a minute chancing a glance up at his father who was staring back down at him, but when he didn’t speak he figured the safest thing to do was just walk away before he threw his cane or something at him.
He had only taken a few steps when his father’s voice stopped him.
“Why are you doing this?”
Cameron turned and looked back up at him, not sure of what to say he shrugged. “Just thought it needed to be done.”
“You didn’t even mow the lawn when you lived here. Why do you it now?”
“You were able to do it before. I didn’t figure you could now.”
His father’s eyes narrowed and Cameron’s eyes flashed to the cane keeping an eye on it so he could duck out of the way if it came flying at him.
“I ain’t a cripple ya know!” his father sneered.
Feeling a surge of anger Cameron took a deep breath refusing to get into a fight. “I didn’t call you one, just it hadn’t been being done and I figured I’d do it. That’s it.”
His father’s expression softened and his shoulders slumped a little almost in defeat. “Can you come inside for a minute?”
“I need your help with something.” The man snapped as he turned and slowly made his way into the house.
Though still unsure whether he should actually follow or not Cameron slowly walked up the porch steps, figuring his father was not in that good of shape, and he was no longer a little kid that could not defend himself. He walked in the back door into the very dimly lit house even though the sun was shining brightly outside the curtains in the house were all still drawn letting very little of it in.
His father was standing behind a chair that was standing in front of an open closet door, halfway down the hallway that led straight through to the front door. He walked towards his father who put his hand on the back of the chair and pointed up into the closet.
“I can’t reach those boxes in the back. I need them and I can’t get up onto this chair. Would you get them for me?”
Cameron nodded and climbed up onto the chair reaching way back on the shelf in the closet. He pulled out the four boxes that he, one at a time, handed down to his father and then climbed back down off the chair. He returned the chair to the dining room table while his father took the last box into the living room and sat down in his chair and started going through it.
Cameron walked out of the dining room and stood in the entryway to the living room where his father was sitting. “Do you need anything else?”
His father shook his head as he was looking over some old pictures he had pulled out of one of the boxes. He saw they were of a baby and assumed they must be of one of the girls.
“Well I’m going to go then.” He said as he turned away.
“I never really realized what a cute baby you were.” His father said causing Cameron to stop mid step. “I think at one point I always thought babies were kinda ugly. You know, like baby birds or something. But looking at these pictures now I see I was wrong.”
Cameron walked up beside the chair and looked down at the pictures. “You mean those are me?” he had not seen a baby picture of himself that he could ever remember and was definitely interested in seeing some.
His father nodded and handed him a couple of the pictures with a shaky hand, something Cameron figured must be an after effect of the accident or maybe the medication he was taking. He actually smiled as he looked over the pictures, as conceited as it may be; he thought he had been a pretty cute baby as well. “Can I have one of these?” he asked wanting to show Cole. They’d spent an afternoon once at Cole’s house looking through old pictures of Cole and Cameron had felt bad he didn’t even have one picture to share and he hoped this would at least make up for it a little.
“Yeah I don’t care.” His father said gruffly.
Sensing his father’s recent calm mood was about to go Cameron decided to make his escape. “Well if you don’t need anything else I’m gonna go.”
His father grunted and Cameron turned again to walk away.
“Cameron?” His father spoke up again causing him to turn back around.
“Don’t be a stranger okay?”
Feeling a lump in his throat Cameron nodded, realizing his father could not even see him he vocalized his answer. “Okay,” he wanted to say more, but that lump in his throat seemed to be constricting his ability to talk. He turned back around and walked down the hall then out the back door and onto the porch. He looked over the lawn as he took a deep cleansing breath while a huge smile filled his face. It had not exactly been the on his knees apology that he had fantasized about, but knew damn well that would have never actually happen. His father had actually, in his own way, admitted he wanted him around. That in itself was all Cameron needed to feel loads better about the situation between him and his father.
He put the mower back in the garage and walked over to Cole’s house. He was not surprised to see his mother’s car in the driveway, but was a little surprised to see Cole’s wasn’t there yet. His mother and Cole’s aunt spent nearly all their time together now, either at Cole’s house or his mother’s they seemed to divide the time between the two places rather equally; but as of yet no plans had been made, or even discussed for that matter about a more permanent living situation.
Cameron was happy with it that way. He and Cole had all the freedom they could ever want. He figured if they all moved in together and became a real family things would maybe get stricter. As things stood right now, as long as his mother knew where he was staying the night, she didn’t mind that he spent it in bed with Cole; either at her place or at Cole’s. It was usually whichever place she and Patty weren’t staying since neither Cole or Cameron felt really comfortable having sex with their guardians in the house, and they suspected that thier ‘guardians’ would feel the same way about having sex with either of them in the house as well.
He walked up the front porch to Cole’s house, not knocking, as he had been told several times not to, he walked right into the house. “That you Cole?” he heard Patty’s voice call out from the kitchen.
“No,” He called out as he made his way into the kitchen where his mother and Patty were sitting at the table. He stifled a grin seeing them there, it reminded him of the night he and Cole had, when they had sex in that very spot, after their first romantic dinner.
His mother smiled up at him as soon as he entered the room. “How was your last day?”
He shrugged. “It was just a test. I think I did pretty well.”
Patty stood up from the table. “Have a seat hon, we got extra food here. You look like you’ve been working.” She added with a questioning tone in her voice.
He sat down by his mother who put her hand on his shoulder acting as if she was straightening out his shirt or something. “Did you do your dad’s lawn?”
“Yeah,” He said happily, which brought a confused look to his mother’s face, he figured because she couldn’t figure out why he would be happy about that. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out the picture he had taken. “He gave me this.” He said handing it over to her.
She took the picture looked down at it and smiled. “You were such a beautiful baby.”
“Yeah what happened?!” Cameron jumped about half a mile as Cole’s voice bellowed behind him, having absolutely no idea that he had even come into the house.
His mom grinned at Cole then looked at Cameron. “I’d say he’s pretty darn handsome now though.”
Cole moved a head a little so he could look down at Cameron’s he studied it closely for a minute then slowly nodded. “Yeah okay!” he said grinning then leaned down and gave him a quick kiss on the lips. “How was your test?”
“Good I think, how’s your mom?”
Cole shrugged as he rounded the table and sat down across from Cameron and his mom. “Okay I guess.”
Cameron nodded, since she had gone into care he didn’t ever go into detail about how she was. He could tell it weighed heavily on Cole’s heart that he could not care for her full time anymore. He had even said he had failed her. Cameron of course had spent an entire evening talking to him about trying to get him to see that he had in no way failed her. He didn’t think he had quite succeeded in convincing Cole of that, but he had not by any means given up the topic yet. He just figured it would be best not to constantly talk about it, because he knew it was a very painful subject for Cole.
Patty came back to the table with two plates. Each had a sandwich and some sliced cucumbers on it. She placed one of them in front of Cameron and the other in front of Cole.
“What do you guys have planned this afternoon?” his mother asked.
“Cameron has to pack!” Cole said after he’d swallowed his bite of sandwich.
“What!” Cameron asked looking at him with a gaping mouth. “We got a whole week before we leave.”
“So?” Cole asked looking just as confused at Cameron. “You gotta pack early. To make sure you don’t forget anything.”
“But what will I wear all week?”
Cole shrugged. “Clothes you won’t be wearing on vacation!”
Cameron shook his head wondering, though happily, how they ever got along so well. Cole was his polar opposite when it came to responsibility and organization. The thing about Cole though was that he seemed to love helping Cameron out with his organization skills; and the thing about Cameron was he seemed to love when Cole helped him out with it.
“We can pack what you have, then that way we can decide what you need and we can go shopping tomorrow. There’s a few things I have to buy too. Like a really tight thong bathing suit.”
Cameron, having just started to swallow a bit of sandwich, eyes bugged out as he started coughing; the result of starting to laugh when you got a throat full of sandwich. He put his hand over his mouth and managed to finish swallowing between coughs, which allowed his coughing to die down.
“What?” Cole asked feigning confusion. “I thought you’d like that?”
Cameron started laughing again, his cheeks flushing a deep red, Cole may have been comfortable talking about such things in front of the adults; however, he sure wasn’t. Cole knew that too and always seemed to enjoy watching him squirm in embarrassment.
“You are gonna wear one too ya’know.”
Laughing a little harder Cameron shook his head. “I am not!”
“What? Everyone down there wears them. Of course, that’s only at the beaches where clothes are required. I don’t plan on spending all our time at the clothing optional beaches.”
Cameron laughed even harder, unable to believe Cole was actually able to keep a straight face through all this. He knew damn well Cole was not the type to wear a thong even under his clothes, let alone let it be all he was wearing; and he was damn certain Cole would never walk stark naked onto a beach full of other stark naked people.
Seeing the looks on both his mother and Patty’s faces he could see they had no idea he was joking either and he figured that he better clue them in. “He’s teasing.” He said looking at them and shaking his head. “He’s just trying to embarrass me.” He laughed again at the look of great relief that came over both their faces and Patty even took the opportunity to give Cole a gentle swat upside the head.
Though Cole had been teasing about the thong he had not been teasing about the packing. At seven that evening a large suitcase was open on Cameron’s bed while he and Cole went through his cloths deciding what would be best for their vacation at the beach.
The suitcase was about half-full of shorts and shirts when the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it!” Cole said looking up from Cameron’s bureau drawers. “You got work to do.”
“Oh, but how can I possibly do it without your assistance!” Cameron said dramatically.
“Ha ha ha.” Cole retorted sarcastically as he walked out of the room. “You’re a real hoot you are!” he called back as he walked down the hall.
Cameron hadn’t added one thing to the suitcase by the time Cole came back a couple of minutes later. The joking look that had been on his face had been replaced with one that was much more serious.
“What?!” Cameron asked, his heart lurching in his chest wondering what kind of trouble Kyle was there to cause.
Cole nodded. “He says he comes in peace. Well not those exact words, but you get the idea.”
“Shit,” Cameron muttered under his breath, he had just started to get over losing his long time best friend. ‘Why in hell was he showing up now?’ he thought to himself.
“Do you want me to tell him to leave?”
Cameron rubbed his hand across his stomach, it suddenly feeling full of knots. He was tempted to say yes, but his curiosity got the better of him and he slowly shook his head. “No, I at least want to see what he wants.” He said heading towards the door.
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“No, but if you hear yelling come running. Okay?”
Cole half smiled and nodded, understanding why Cameron wanted to go do this alone. He gave Cameron a quick hug and whispered, “Good luck”, in his ear.
Cameron walked down the hall wiping the sweat that had suddenly accumulated on his hands off on his pants. He took a deep breath just before he walked out into the living room to see Kyle standing there in the middle of it.
Kyle turned and looked at him the moment he walked into the room. Cameron got some comfort in the fact that his ex-friend looked just as nervous as he felt.
“How are you Cameron?” he asked quietly.
“Fine” He just could not find it in himself to ask how he was in return, he was just too hurt, and too mad to even act like he cared.
Kyle sighed and took a few steps further into the living room, his eyes never leaving Cameron’s face, something he had always done. Cameron had always figured Kyle could win any staring contest hands-down.
“I’m not pissed that your gay Cameron, I thought I should tell you that. In fact, I don’t really think I’m pissed at all anymore. I miss you.”
Totally shocked, Cameron looked up and held his gaze. “Why are you pissed then?”
Kyle’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “You can’t figure that out?”
Still stunned at his revelation Cameron could only shake his head.
“I was your best friend, for what? 13 years? I thought you would tell me anything. I sure know I felt like I could tell you anything, but I guess you didn’t feel the same way about me. I mean this couldn’t have been something you decided real recently. How many years did you know and hide it from me? Don’t you think that’s something a best friend should know?”
Sighing himself now, Cameron sat down on the arm of the nearest chair. “I know how you felt. Or more obviously how your father felt. I was scared. I didn’t want to lose you, you were the one constant I had in my life, the one person I could always count on. I didn’t want to jeopardize that for anything.”
“Cept for Cole?”
Cameron looked back up at him and shook his head. “What do you mean?”
“That once Cole came along you decided not to keep it a big secret anymore.”
“No, that’s not true; I didn’t decide to stop hiding until after I got kicked out of your house. I figured there was no reason to hide it anymore. The only people I cared about finding out already knew, so why bother?”
Kyle nodded looking like he understood that. “You have to know I’m not my dad. I mean after all these years.”
“No, I do know that somewhat, but you are a lot like him in a lot of ways. And you love church, where they talk constantly about people like me burning in hell. How was I supposed to know you wouldn’t care?”
“Oh I care Cameron, but since this has all come out I’ve done some research of my own. I’m willing to consider the fact this isn’t a choice. Only consider mind you.” He said holding up his hand to make sure the fact was perfectly clear.
“You looked it up?” Cameron asked, totally flattered that Kyle would bother to do that. To look past his church, his bible, and his father and try to find out what the other half thought.
“Yes,” he shook his head and took a deep breath looking overwhelmed. “I cannot believe all I’ve read, the stories, the facts the statistics it’s unbelievable. I’m not done researching yet, but I do know one thing.”
Kyle walked over to the couch and took a seat on the edge of it. “I know I miss you. I want to be your best friend again, I’m sorry you thought I was pissed just cause you are gay. I guess I should have talked to you about this sooner, I was just so angry and so hurt I was afraid everything I wanted to say would just come out wrong and I’d ruin any chance of ever being your friend again.”
Cameron nodded, feeling so elated at that moment he wanted to jump up and hug Kyle though he figured it may just be a bit too soon for that kind of thing. “I just want to know one other thing.”
“Why did you tell everyone?”
“Huh?” He asked shaking his head in confusion.
Not having been sure if Kyle did tell everyone or not Cameron took his confusion as genuine and figured that maybe he hadn’t after all. “Why did you tell your girlfriend then?”
“Cause I didn’t have a best friend to tell!” Kyle said quickly. “Well I had a best friend I was just pissed at him. And well you know how well talking it over with my father woulda been. I had to talk to talk to someone Cameron. This was a huge thing for me, I’m sorry I didn’t tell her not to run her mouth, I honestly didn’t think I had to. I thought she would know enough to keep it to herself.”
Cameron nodded, certainly put at ease by his answer. It made perfect sense to him that Kyle would want to talk to someone about it and it also made perfect sense he had felt he could trust his own girlfriend.
“So,” Kyle said slowly. “Friends again?”
Cameron smiled happily. “Definitely.” They both stood up and Cameron got his hug, quick as it was. “You can stay if you want. Hang out with us.”
Kyle shook his head and smiled. “No offense Cameron, but I’m not quite ready for that just yet. I know I’m a prude, but I’m working on it. I just can’t say how I’ll react seeing you guys kissing or something. I’m sorry.”
Cameron nodded, feeling a little hurt, but glad Kyle was willing to work on it, and very glad Kyle was being honest with him about how he felt. “Well maybe you and I can get together for lunch or something sometime this week; just the two of us.”
Kyle nodded and smiled. “That sounds great to me.” He turned and walked over to the door.
“What’s your dad gonna say about this?” Cameron asked before Kyle had turned the knob to leave.
“Oh I imagine he’ll spout off and do some preaching, but believe me Cameron, I’m way more pissed at him about all this then I ever was at you. I’ll take care of it.”
Cameron nodded, and smiled “Thanks Kyle, I’m really glad you came over.”
“Me too Cameron.” He turned back to the door, opened it and walked out leaving Cameron staring and smiling at the closed door his best friend had just walked through