Someday Out Of the Blue

By LittleBuddhaTW


Special thanks to Kitty (PiscesRising) from for editing!





Isn't it odd that when you least expect a panic attack is when they happen, and when you expect one, they don't?

Well, that's about how I was feeling when Maggie dropped the bombshell on me about stopping by my house and meeting my mother, and that Ryan was her accomplice. About the only way I could think of to get out of facing the situation was to have another panic attack. I'd never wanted one before, but I sure did then. I considered the possibility of faking one, but with Maggie being a doctor and all, she probably wouldn't fall for it. Now that she'd met my mother and gotten a glimpse of my "real" life, I was starting to doubt whether or not I could lie my way out of this one. Like most adults, she was surely going to want to get the so-called "authorities" involved.

"Connor, why didn't you tell me what was going on at home?" she asked somewhat more calmly.

I just looked at her. I didn't know what to say, and I really didn't feel like talking anyway. I was pissed because I felt like they'd gone behind my back, and I was feeling like shit. I just wanted to go back to sleep and not wake up for a few days until my cold was finally gone. It was some hell of a cold, though. I couldn't remember ever feeling that sick before. Nevertheless, trying to protect my secret took precedence for the time being.

"Hon," she said, a little more gently this time, "I told you before that I would help you if you were in any kind of trouble. It's pretty obvious that your current living situation is not good for you."

"It's fine," I replied, trying to hold back my anger. "My mother's just a little ... different ... that's all."

"No, it's not fine," she said, her voice beginning to rise again. "No child should be living in those conditions, with a mother who comes to the door naked, obviously drunk, I might add, and who blatantly says that she doesn't care about her own son. I have a good mind to call Social Services immediately."

Now I was really starting to get pissed. I hated it when other people thought they knew what was best for me. I'd been taking care of myself and making decisions for myself for the past several years, and I thought I'd done just fine. Sure, it was a really crappy life, but it was my life, and I wasn't about to have someone else going and making decisions for me, especially when it came to taking me out of my home and sending me who knows where. I could even end up someplace worse. And for whatever odd reason, I didn't want my mother to get into trouble either. She may have been a druggie and beat on me from time to time, but since my grandmother died, she was all I really had left. She certainly wasn't a pleasant woman, but at least she was familiar.

So I wasn't going to stand for these kind of threats from Maggie, and I was going to let her know.

"I said my life was fine," I retorted. "There's no reason to call Social Services. I just wish people would leave me alone. I've been doing fine for the past six years. You don't understand anything about me or my life, so please just butt the hell out of it."

My voice was growing steadily angrier, and the look that came across Maggie's face was a mixture of shock and anger. Well, that was just tough, because I had to set her straight about a few things. I hadn't asked Ryan to bring me back to their house, and I certainly didn't ask him to take Maggie to my house. This was absolutely none of their business. My "family problems" were just that, my problems. Case closed.

"Does your mother hit you?" she asked me pointedly, continuing her interrogation.

"No, she doesn't," I lied. I knew that was a sure fire way to have me taken away.

She apparently didn't believe me, so she turned to Ryan and asked, "Ryan, have you ever seen any signs of abuse on Connor?"

Ryan looked over at me sheepishly, then back to his mother.

"No, ma'am," he said.

I wasn't sure if he'd seen me with the black eye that one time, but if it really was one of his friends who ended up taking it out on Trent Lomax, then he had to have heard about it. Was he trying to cover for me? Probably not, I figured. He was in on this with his mother anyway, and after the way he'd been treating me for the past six weeks or so, I didn't think he would suddenly try being a "friend" to me. He just mustn't have noticed it, or assumed it was Trent's doing.

"See," I jumped in, "I'm not an abused kid. There's no reason to take me out of there. So she doesn't care about me that much. That's not a reason to take me out of my home if I don't want to go. It's not a crime."

"What about drugs, Connor? Does she use drugs?" she asked.

"No, she doesn't use drugs either," I lied, again. That was the number two reason they could take me away from my mother's home. I'd been through this little charade before, and always managed to talk my way out of it. I could do it again this time.

Just as Maggie looked like she was going to continue her interrogation, I started coughing loudly again. It must have sounded pretty awful, because Maggie's expression changed quickly from anger to concern. It must have been the doctor side of her.

"Connor, are you okay? Ryan said you were sick. That cough doesn't sound very good."

"I'm fine. I didn't ask Ryan to bring me here. It's just a little cold, and I don't need or want you all taking pity on me or trying to take care of me or anything. I can take care of myself!" I spat.

With that said, and still unable to stop coughing, I got out of bed, grabbed my clothes off the floor, and made a beeline for the bedroom door. Before I could get out, though, Toby stopped me, grabbing me in a bear hug.

"Please, Connor," he whispered into my ear. "Please don't go again. I'll make her leave you alone, just please don't go, please!"

I struggled to get away, but he just held me tighter, and with the fact that my cold had sapped nearly all the strength out of my body, I could hardly struggle much anyway.

"Just let me go!" I pleaded. "I don't want to be here. I'm fine. I just wanna go home!"

Those were the words that were coming out of my mouth, but part of me didn't want Toby to let go of me either.

"Please, Connor, don't do this," Toby continued to beg. "I love you, please don't go. I know you can't love me the way I love you, but please just do this one thing for me and stay, just for now. Please."

SHIT!!! He just had to pull that one on me. Not fair. Not fair at all.

I was a little surprised, though, as I looked over at Maggie and saw that she didn't seem the slightest bit fazed by Toby's little confession of love for me. Her face just softened, and she walked over, placing her hand on my shoulder.

"Okay, Connor," she said calmly, "we won't discuss this any more right now. Just stay here for now. You're not feeling well, and I want to check you out. We'll just forget everything else until you're feeling better, ok?"

I didn't want to discuss it even after I felt better, but I wasn't feeling in much condition to go on arguing. I felt dizzy, my cough was getting worse, and I honestly wasn't too thrilled with the idea of running back out into the rain and cold, no matter how pissed off I was.

"Fine," I huffed. But as soon as I was feeling better, I was outta there.

Toby led me back to Ryan's bed and tucked me in, while Maggie announced that she was going to get her doctor's bag and would be right back. Ryan hadn't moved, and was still leaned up against the dresser, arms still crossed, and looking down at the floor. Toby stayed seated on the bed right next to me, probably preparing to grab me if I tried to make another run for it. If he was worried about that, though, he didn't need to be. I didn't have the energy to do much of anything right then. Even breathing was a struggle. I felt like total shit, and the excitement of the past few minutes hadn't helped things either.

When Maggie came back in, she took Toby's place next to me and opened up her bag, pulling out an assortment of instruments. She first stuck one of those digital thermometers in my ear to take my temperature, and I did have a fever -- 101.8 degrees. She then took her light and looked in my ears, nose, and throat, felt around the glands on my neck, and finally, listened to my chest with her stethoscope. She spent quite a while doing that, placing it on several places around my chest and back, and damn that thing was cold!

While she was listening, she made that "clucking" sound several times, which was a bit disconcerting. She also lifted up my pajama top (well technically it was Ryan's pajama top that I just happened to be wearing), no doubt looking for signs of abuse, which had fortunately all healed by then, earning her a scowl from me.

"How long have you been feeling under the weather, Connor?" she asked, in her most  professional tone.

"Since about Saturday morning, I guess," I replied.

"Have your symptoms gotten better or worse?"


"Have you been discharging any phlegm when you cough?"

"Yes, ma'am," I answered, now trying to be a little more polite.

"What color is it usually?"

"Sort of a yellowish-green, I suppose."

"Any difficulty breathing, aside from having a stuffy nose?"

"Yeah, I guess my chest feels a little funny."

She seemed to be considering all of this for a few moments. I was starting to figure that I probably just didn't have a simple cold. Maybe it was the flu. It was flu season, after all. I'd had the flu before, though, just never this bad.

"Your vocal cords looked pretty swollen when I looked in your throat," she said. "That would explain why you're sounding a bit hoarse."

"That's probably because I did three concerts in one week and strained my voice," I explained. "It happens sometimes. I just need to rest my voice for a few days is all. Singers get used to that kind of thing."

"Yes, I agree. But that's what I'm not most concerned about. We can't really do anything for that except for you to rest, and maybe give you some Tylenol for the discomfort, although I'm going to give you some for your fever anyway," she said.

"What are you more concerned about then? It's just the flu, right?" I asked.

"From listening to your chest and the symptoms you've described, I would guess that you probably have a mild case of pneumonia. That's a bit more serious than the flu. We can't be completely sure without a chest X-ray, but I think I'll start you on a course of Ciprofloxacin, which is an antibiotic, and just assume for the time being that it's what I think it is," she replied.

"Can't you die from pneumonia?" I asked, starting to get a little worried.

"Yes, some people do," she said. "But so far, your fever isn't too high, and if it is pneumonia, starting on the antibiotics right away should help. If you don't start getting better in a few days, or start to get worse, we'll have to take you to the hospital. But I think you'll probably be okay. However, I don't have Cipro lying around, so I'll have to call in a prescription to the drug store and go pick it up."

"By the way," she continued, "how's your anxiety been? Did you finish all of the medication I gave you?"

"The past six weeks or so have been pretty tough. I finished it last Saturday night, I think," I answered.

"And how have you been since then?" she asked.

"I got really nervous about the talent show last weekend, so I found some stuff called 'Demerol' that my mom had, and that worked really well," I replied.

SHIT! I probably shouldn't have said that.

"Connor," she said, starting to sound angry again. "Do you know what Demerol even is? It's an extremely potent pain-killer; it's not meant for treating anxiety."

"Well, it worked," I replied, remembering just how well it worked. I'd never felt that good in my life before. Well, actually, Ryan holding me before felt pretty good too. Tough call to make.

"Connor," she said, "first of all, you should never take any kind of medication without a doctor's prescription."

"It worked," I said, "and I felt great, so what's the problem?"

"The problem is that Demerol is very strong, and it's only used to treat extremely severe kinds of pain, like in cancer patients. It's tightly regulated, and the reason for that is because it is extremely addictive. You do not want to get addicted to something like Demerol."

As soon as she said "extremely addictive," I thought of my mother. I certainly did not want to become like her, and decided right then and there that I would not be taking any more pills my mother had lying around. Now that I'd thought about it, it really was stupid.

"I promise I won't do that again," I assured her. "I guess it was pretty stupid."

"Yes, it was," she agreed, giving me a disapproving look. "Anyway, I'm going to take Ryan with me to go pick up that antibiotic from the drug store. You just stay here and rest until we get back."

"Yes, ma'am," I said, immediately delighted at the suggestion of rest. I most definitely needed that.

With that, Maggie and Ryan left, and I was left in the room alone with Toby. We sat there for several minutes in an uncomfortable silence. I didn't really know what to say to him, and it seemed he didn't know what to say either. After chewing on his nails for a few minutes, he announced that he was going to take a shower, and left me alone to rest for a bit.

Although I wasn't as pissed off as I was before, I was still unhappy with Ryan for how I thought he'd betrayed me and treated me unfairly. Not just for ratting me out to his mother, but also for the past six weeks that he'd totally ignored me. He should have at least talked to me. If he was angry and didn't want to be my friend anymore, the least he could have done was tell me; then I wouldn't have had to suffer like I did. I could have accepted it and started to get over it. I had no idea what was going on in that head of his. I was blamed for keeping things from other people, but what about him?

Thinking about that got me to wondering again whether or not I would be better off with Toby.

He hadn't betrayed me. In fact, despite the fact that I had tried to ignore him, he'd stuck by my side the entire time. He may have only been fourteen, but to me, he showed a lot more character than anybody else. I should have been with him from the beginning; then none of this would have happened.

Sure, part of me had been a little ... well, shocked ... when Mikey told me about Toby's "sexual charisma." It seemed like he was awfully sure of himself and much more experienced than I was, both sexually and in terms of identifying himself as "gay." That was a little intimidating. However, the way he'd treated me didn't give me the impression that he would do anything to hurt me. More than anything, he seemed like he just wanted to be there for me, and he didn't question me or demand anything from me. So my mind was telling me that I should tell Toby that I was ready to try to return his feelings for me. Unfortunately, my not-so-rational heart still couldn't break itself away from Ryan, despite all of the ways in which I thought he had wronged me.

Needless to say, it appeared as though I would probably be staying here during the Thanksgiving break until I got over my little bout of pneumonia. If none of the day's events had occurred, I would have been ecstatic at the thought of spending my first "real" Thanksgiving since my grandmother died with the McCormack family. But now, I wasn't looking forward to being around Ryan. So I told myself that I was staying for my own health, and for Toby. Ryan could go to hell as far as I was concerned -- certainly a far cry from how I had felt about him before.



Maggie and Ryan returned about forty-five minutes later and gave me my medicine. She also put a bottle of cough medicine, a bunch of throat lozenges, and a box of tissues on the nightstand. It was a little after ten o'clock, so Maggie announced she was going to bed, after informing Ryan, Toby, and me how often I needed to take my medication.

After she was gone, that left me lying in Ryan's bed with a cold washcloth over my forehead, and Ryan and Toby standing in the middle of the room, looking slightly uncomfortable. Ryan more so than Toby, because I scowled at him every time he glanced over at me. The fact that the antibiotic was making me feel nauseated wasn't helping my foul mood either.

"Well, ummm ... I think I'm gonna go to bed ... I'm beat," Toby suddenly said, and began to leave the room.

"No, wait. I wanna go with you," I tried to shout hoarsely after him, but only managed to come out with slightly above a whisper.

Ryan just stood there staring at his feet, looking dejected.

"I think you should talk to Ryan," Toby replied, giving me a serious look.

I knew he liked me. Actually, "love" was the word he used. He had his chance to have me right now. I told him flat out that I wanted to go to bed with him, and he saw the way I was scowling at Ryan. Why in the hell was he telling me to stay here with the person who was basically his competition? Ryan, for his part, just stood there quietly, still looking at the floor. I really hoped it upset him that I wanted to go with Toby. I wanted him to feel as bad as I had for the past six weeks.

"Please, Connor," Toby pleaded, "just stay here and talk with him for a while. You need to talk. When you're finished talking, if you still want to come sleep in my room, you can."

"I don't hear Ryan saying he wants to talk to me," I retorted. "He hasn't wanted to talk to me for the past six weeks. I don't see why he would suddenly want to start now."

I was trying to sound as angry as possible, but my voice wasn't cooperating. I just hoped my words got the message across to Ryan. As I glared at him while I spoke and saw him wince, I could tell they did.

"Ryan?" Toby said, giving Ryan a pointed look.

"I wanna talk to you, Connor," Ryan said quietly, still not looking up from the floor.

"See!" I exclaimed, looking at Toby. "He can't even look at me when he's talking to me. I'm going to bed with you. I want to go to bed with you."

Now it was Toby's turn to look down at the floor. What was his problem? I was practically giving myself to him. Hello?!

"I want to talk to you, Connor," Ryan repeated, finally looking up at me, and I noticed a tear running down his face.

Before I could protest again, Toby quickly slipped out of the room, closing the door behind him.

"Fine," I sighed. "But when you're through talking, I'm going to Toby's room."

Ryan just nodded and wiped at the tear on his face with the back of his hand, emitting a barely audible sniffle.

SHIT!!! The look on his face was starting to break my resolve. I needed to be mad at him, but he was making that more difficult now, which was making me even more pissed off. Exactly who it was who was pissing me off was the problem.

Ryan proceeded to strip down to his boxer-briefs and walk over to the bed.

DAMN! Why did he have to look so hot?

He turned off the light and crawled into bed next to me, and both of us lay there on our backs silently for several minutes. I didn't know how to start this particular conversation, nor did I think that I should. Eventually, though, Ryan finally spoke.

"I'm sorry, Connor," he said quietly.

That's it? It wasn't like he accidentally ran over my foot with his bicycle or something. There were real emotions involved here, at least for me. And he's just "sorry?" I wanted to start yelling at him, or at least as close as I could come to yelling with the condition my voice was in. Yeah, that's what I was going to do, I was going to bitch at him for being such an asshole! I hoped I would make him really cry, too. He deserved to feel the same kind of pain, emptiness, and loneliness that I had been feeling. He deserved it, dammit!

"Me, too," I said.

Huh? How in the hell did that come out of my mouth?

"It's not your fault," he said. I could hear the emotion in his voice. It sounded like he was barely able to keep his voice from cracking. Now that I heard him on the verge of tears, tears that just a few seconds ago I wanted him to shed, I wasn't so sure anymore. What in the hell was wrong with me? This couldn't be normal. I was pissed at him, right? I wanted him to hurt, just like he hurt me, right?


I didn't even realize what I was doing until I felt my hand wrap around his. No hesitation. I just took his hand in mine without any thought, our fingers interlacing. And then there was that dead silence again. But this time it wasn't so uncomfortable.

"I'm sorry I kissed Toby," I finally managed to say. "I just wish I knew why you were so upset. I'd figured you were okay with him being ... you know ... into guys. Mikey told me you already knew about Toby and him."

"If you mean that they're gay, then yes, I'm okay with it. That has nothing to do with why I was upset though," he said.

"Then why?" I asked.

I don't even know why I asked that question. By this point, I already knew the answer. So before he had a chance to say anything, I decided to actually be brave and take the initiative for once in my life.

"Before you walked in on us ... you know ... well, I had just told Toby that I couldn't be with him that way. I told him I wasn't sure of my feelings yet. But I lied. I was already pretty sure of my feelings. It's just that my feelings were for you, not Toby. He told me he understood but asked if he could just have one kiss. I was weak, I let him kiss me, and then things started to get a little out of hand," I admitted.

There was that silence again. But our hands remained entwined.

"But you do have feelings for him. I can tell," he finally said.

"Yeah, I do. Some. But it's not the same ... not the same feeling I have for you," I said. I wished I could find a better word than "feeling" to describe how Ryan made my heart flutter, how his scent intoxicated me, how I always wanted to see him, how his smile could make me completely stop thinking about how awful my own life was in just an instant.

Ryan began to speak. "When I first met you, I felt something different with you," he said. "I didn't know what it was. It wasn't a feeling that I'd ever had before. I don't know how to explain it, but I just felt like I needed to be close to you."

I began to let my thumb trace gently over his hand. I knew he had more to say, and I couldn't interrupt him. I knew he needed to say it, and I needed to hear it.

"That first night that you stayed here," he continued, "I was asleep when I started holding you, like I usually am. But I woke up in the middle of the night, and when I realized that I was holding you, I didn't want to let go."

"I liked it when you held me," I said, not knowing what else I could possibly say.

"I found myself flirting with you, and this 'feeling' that I had kept getting stronger and stronger, but I wasn't sure what it was. I've never really stopped to think about 'liking' someone, girls or boys," he said.

That sounded familiar, I thought.

"What about all the times you kept joking with me about Toby being my boyfriend and all?" I asked.

"I guess I was kinda fishing around to see if maybe there was something there," he replied.

"Uh-huh ... so back to the 'feeling' you were talking about ...," I prompted him.

"Yeah, the 'feeling' ...I still couldn't put my finger on it, put a name to it. My mind is always so busy jumping from one thing to the next, you know? The ADD and all. So I've never been able to stop and really think about 'feelings,' especially feelings that complicated," he said, beginning to sound frustrated.

"It's okay, go on," I said softly, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze.

"So I tried to not think about it that next week at school. I just decided to act naturally, and whatever felt natural, to just go with it," he continued.

"It sure seemed like you were flirting with me a lot ... in front of your friends, too," I added.

"Yeah, I guess I was. But it's okay. They wouldn't care anyway," he said.

I just nodded, although he probably couldn't notice in the dark.

"But then when I saw you kissing Toby, it came crashing into my mind all of a sudden, like a Mack truck."

"What did?" I asked.

"I wanted to be the one kissing you, holding you, and touching you the way he was. And when I realized that I wanted to be doing that with you, I also realized that he was doing it with you, and not me," he explained, his voice beginning to crack again.

"You were jealous," I said.

"Yeah," came his barely audible reply.

Neither of us said anything for a few moments. This was all a lot to absorb.

"What do we do now?" I asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean ... I have these 'feelings' for you ... and you have these 'feelings' for me ... ummm ... does that mean we're like boyfriends or something now?" I asked.

Before he had a chance to reply, I continued, "I mean, I've never done anything like this before, so I dunno ... I mean, do we just have these feelings and that's it, or are we supposed to do something?"

"I don't know," he replied. "I don't really know what being 'boyfriends' means."

Now I was starting to get a little confused. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what being "boyfriends" meant. How could he not know? Wasn't it like being "boyfriend and girlfriend," except just with two boys? It seemed fairly simple to me, at least based on what I read about being gay on the Internet. Maybe it was like Mikey said, though, and Ryan's mind just thought about things differently from other people.

"I'm not sure I follow you," I said.

"I mean, the only way I can think to explain it is like comparing you with my other friends. Like Mikey, the twins, even Natalie ... I mean, I like them a lot, but they don't make me feel the way you do when you're around ... I've never wanted to hold them or kiss them or just lie next to them and feel them breathing or listen to their heart beating. But I want to do those things with you. So it's different."

"Okay ...," I said, still not completely understanding what he was trying to say.

"I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't see you like them ... like just a friend ... I want more than that ..."

Was he talking about that "fuck buddies" thing that Mikey had mentioned? I knew I didn't want that. I wasn't really sure I was ready to have sex yet. I mean, part of me wanted to ... but I wasn't really sure. Shit! Now I'm confusing myself.

"This is really confusing, huh?" he suddenly asked.

"Ummm ... yeah ... you could say that," I replied.

He took a long, deep breath.

"If wanting to do all those things with you ... I mean, like, do them all the time, and just with you ... if that is what being boyfriends means, then I guess we are," he said. "I just don't know if maybe being boyfriends means we have to start having sex and stuff right away."

"Keep going, I think I'm starting to understand," I urged him, squeezing his hand again.

"It's not like I think it's gross or something to have sex with you, and I am kinda curious," he said, with a slight chuckle. "It's just that I don't know if I'm really ready yet, I mean."

"I think we can do things however we want," I said. "We don't have to call it 'boyfriends' or whatever, if you're not comfortable with it. But ... I mean ... I guess what I'm trying to say is that if we're going to be doing those things you said, like kissing and holding each other all the time, and being more intimate, I just want it to be with you ... like, no one else."

"Not even Toby?" he asked, sounding a little surprised.

"I just said no one else. Not even Toby."

"I just want to be with you too ... all the time," he added.

"Then let's make a deal that we'll try not to analyze too much, just do what feels natural, but that we'll only do those 'special' things together ... if that makes any sense," I suggested.

"No one else," he confirmed.

"That feeling ... it's really confusing. Kinda takes your breath away," I said, more to myself than to Ryan.

"Yeah," he agreed.

We just lay there in silence together for a while. After a few minutes, I thought he'd fallen asleep, until he spoke again.

"So, Connor," he started. "I'd really like to hold you now."

"I want you to," I said.

"Will you do something for me?" he asked.


"This may sound weird ... but, ummm ... could you take your shirt off? I mean ... I just really want to feel you ... as close as possible."

"Sure," I replied. "I want to feel you, too."

With that, I took my shirt off, tossed it onto the floor, then rolled onto my side, my back facing Ryan. He spooned up behind me, wrapping his arm around me and pulling me tightly against him. I felt the silky smooth skin of his chest pressed up against my back, as I was enveloped completely in his warmth, like two pieces of a puzzle coming together perfectly. I felt his erection pressing against my butt as he buried his face in my neck, his soft lips gently grazing my skin, sending a shudder through my entire body.

Instantly, all of my confusion just melted away. There was no reason anymore to try to put what we were feeling or what we wanted into words, words that were perhaps beyond the comprehension of two teenage boys, because it was all explained in that one moment when our bodies came together. I knew then what we had, and from the way he held me, I could tell that he felt the same way, too.



I woke up the next morning as I heard the door open and Toby walked in, carrying a tray with breakfast. He smiled at me when he noticed that I was awake, but I could tell his heart wasn't really into it. I was still lying there with Ryan's arms wrapped tightly around me, both of us naked from the waist up.

Now it was my turn to feel guilty. I'd hurt Toby again. Of course, he was the one who'd urged me to stay with Ryan the night before and talk. He was trying to fix things like he said he would do before. But despite his brave facade, I could still tell he was hurting. A lot of people would probably think it would feel awesome to have two incredible guys want to be with you, especially someone with self-esteem as low as mine, but the truth was that it felt awful. If anything, it made me feel worse about myself, not better.

I nudged Ryan awake, and he gave me a big smile when he saw me. Then he noticed Toby as he walked over and placed the tray down on the bed. Realizing the intimate position we were in, it was Ryan's turn to feel guilty as he quickly turned his head away, blushing deeply.

"It's okay, bro," Toby said, placing his hand on Ryan's shoulder.

Ryan looked up at his brother and they shared a look between them, the kind of look that only two brothers would understand. I sure didn't know what was being communicated with that look, but then Toby just nodded, gave Ryan a small smile, and walked back out of the room.

After we finished breakfast, we took turns getting cleaned up. Part of me really wanted to suggest that we shower together. The thought of Ryan standing naked in front of me, water running down his gorgeous body, was extremely exciting. I didn't necessarily want to do anything sexual. I just wanted to see him, touch him. But I didn't want to push him, so I just patiently waited my turn.

Since I was still sick, Ryan suggested that I take a bath instead of a shower. So while I waited in bed, he filled the tub for me, then helped me into the bathroom. At first I thought he was going to stay with me, and even though the thought of being in the shower together with him had crossed my mind, I realized that I was still a little self-conscious about him seeing me naked. Fortunately, as soon as he saw I could manage, he left, closing the door behind him.

The bath felt very refreshing, and I stayed in the tub for quite a while. I hadn't had a bath since I was a little kid (our trailer only had a crappy, mildew-covered shower). When I finally came out of the bathroom, I was surprised to see that Ryan had gotten back into bed, and he motioned for me to join him again. I wasn't about to turn down a little snuggling, so I climbed back into bed with him. We wrapped our arms around each other, and I buried my face in the nape of his neck, rubbing my lips tenderly across his baby-soft skin. His usual scent of Irish Spring and strawberries was even stronger now -- it was amazing that I could smell anything with my stuffy nose.

I felt so different from last night. Even though we'd decided not to define our relationship (that whole rebelling against labels thing, I suppose), for all intents and purposes we were boyfriends. There was no sense in trying to put what we felt into words, because we could feel it every time we touched, and I knew I wanted to touch him a lot. Ever since that kiss with Toby, I'd wanted to try that out with Ryan. Because he decided not to speak with me for six weeks, that hadn't happened. But I decided that I needed to kiss Ryan. I wanted to taste his lips so badly. Unfortunately, just as I was trying to get up the nerve to move my mouth up to his, he decided it was time to talk again.

"She hits you, doesn't she," he said. It was a statement, not a question.

Normally, I would have denied it, but I suddenly felt like Ryan and I had already hidden too many things from each other. Plus, if I could make him understand, maybe he could help keep Maggie off my back. I didn't need to say anything, though. I just looked into his eyes and held onto him a little tighter. Even though I'm sure he could see the sadness in my eyes -- you could see everything in my eyes, the sadness that appeared on his face seemed even greater. If this was going to end up ruining our day, and it was only the day before Thanksgiving, so we still had four more days together, I didn't really want to have this conversation anymore.

"How often?" he asked, his voice barely able to contain his emotion.

"Not often," I said. That part was true, I suppose. She wasn't around enough to beat me every day. Sometimes a week or two would pass without my getting hit once. But when I did get hit, it was usually pretty bad. I decided to neglect to reveal that little detail, though.

"You really should tell my mom, Connor," he said. "After I heard the yelling from your house, and then saw the way your mother acted, I got so scared for you. I don't want you to get hurt."

"It really isn't that bad, Ryan. Please don't tell your mom. It'll just make things a lot more complicated. You wouldn't understand. Promise me you won't say anything, please?" I begged.

"I won't say anything for now, but if I ever see that she's hurt you, I have to tell. I don't care if you hate me for it, I'd just rather you be safe," he said, as he nuzzled his face back into my neck, giving me a gentle kiss.

"Mmmm," I moaned. "Don't worry. I'll be careful. Everything will be fine," I said, trying my best to convince him. The only problem was, it was even harder to convince myself.

"You know," he continued, "I never got to tell you how incredible you were at the talent show. It wasn't anything like seeing you perform at the bar."

"Yeah, it actually felt really great. I felt like I was someone special when I was up there. It sucks when it's over, though, and I just have to go back to being me," I said.

"What're you talking about?" he asked incredulously, suddenly looking into my eyes again. "You're special whether you're on that stage or not."

I just rolled my eyes at him.

Fortunately, we didn't have to go into any more uncomfortable topics, as just then we heard a knock at the door.

"Are you two love birds decent in there?" I heard Toby's voice teasing through the door.

"Yeah, bro, come on in," Ryan answered.

Toby walked in, wearing just his white briefs and a smile. He was most definitely still hot!

"Video games and DVDs?" Toby asked.

"Sure," said Ryan. "I guess we're stuck inside for a few days since the invalid here isn't supposed to leave the bed."

He looked back at me and smirked, which I responded to by sticking my tongue out at him.

For the next couple of hours, I dozed off and on as Ryan and Toby did battle with each other on the Playstation 2. Personally, I didn't find the whole video game thing stimulating, but each time I woke up and saw them playfully fighting with each other, I realized just how cute the two of them could be, especially when both of them were just wearing their undies. I'd never really been a very "sexual" person before. I hardly even jacked off, maybe only one or two times a week, but seeing the two of them wrestling around like that got me extremely excited.

I realized that I'd fallen asleep again when I felt someone gently nudging me awake. When I opened my eyes, I saw Ryan sitting next to me on the bed with a sweet smile on his face, and Toby standing next to him with a plate of sandwiches for them and a bowl of soup for me. Ryan fed me my soup, even though I could have done it myself (I may have been sick, but I wasn't a cripple), but it was sweet anyway. After we finished eating, we all lay down on Ryan's bed to watch a movie, in the same exact position that we'd been in before, when I had last been there.

Things felt right again, and although physically I wasn't very comfortable, emotionally I'd never felt better. The only difference from the previous time we'd all watched a movie together on Ryan's bed was that this time Ryan held my hand, and I rested my head on his shoulder. Toby even snuggled up close to me on my other side, but it didn't feel awkward or wrong. He was just an affectionate person, and Ryan didn't seem to mind, so I decided not to give it a second thought. I was a little surprised at how well Toby was handling the situation, though. I was warm, comfortable, and truly felt loved. Was that it? Was this "love"?



Maggie was home for dinner that night and would be off work the next day for Thanksgiving. I'd told them that this would be my first "real" Thanksgiving dinner, although they told me that they didn't usually go all out like some people did. That didn't matter to me, though. The important thing was that I'd be sharing it with Ryan and Toby. I was still a little peeved at Maggie about the whole "notifying the authorities" thing, which I was certain she'd bring up again eventually, but I tried hard to be polite.

As we were sitting at the dinner table that night -- everyone else was eating pot roast, and I had soup again -- I didn't even realize that Ryan was holding my hand until Toby spoke up.

"Hey, ma, what do you think of the two lovebirds?" Toby grinned at us.

"What are you talking about, Toby?" Maggie asked, raising an eyebrow.

Uh-oh ... I hadn't even thought about Maggie finding out. I knew that she knew about Toby, and obviously accepted it, but he didn't have a boyfriend staying at their house. I wondered if this would change things when it came to sleeping arrangements and the like. They did have a guestroom that they could stick me in, and I did not like the idea of being separated from Ryan one bit.

Before I even had a chance to react, Ryan casually lifted our entwined hands onto the table, and when Maggie looked over and saw that, I thought her eyes were about to bug out of her head.

Maggie gave Ryan a pointed look. "Ryan, what is this all about?"

"They're in luuuuuuuuuuv," Toby teased. If I'd had the strength, and he wasn't all the way on the other side of the table from me, I would have smacked him one right then.

Maggie turned sharply to glare at Toby. "I wasn't talking to you, young man, so zip it."

I wasn't liking the sound of this. This didn't seem to be going well, and I had assumed that when we eventually told her, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Maybe I should have stopped assuming things.

She then glanced back to her older son, and asked again in a somewhat softer voice, "Ryan?"

"Ummm ... well, mom ... Connor and I ... sort of ... really like each other," he replied.

"Really like each other?" she repeated. "So you're gay? Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say that," he said.

"You guess?!" she asked, sounding a bit shocked.

"Yes, we're gay, and we're boyfriends. Okay?" he replied, sounding a bit annoyed. For my part, I just looked at my half-empty bowl of soup and was hoping that the attention wouldn't soon turn toward me.

Maggie took a really deep breath and ran her hands slowly down her face, apparently trying to absorb what was being said. I was equally surprised that Ryan had said we were gay and boyfriends. Didn't he just say something last night to the effect of "no labels" or something? So not only was Maggie taken aback, but I was a little, too.

"Well, then," she said, looking back up, seeming to have regained her composure. "Do I need to have 'the talk' with you, too?"

"Ahhh! No, not that picture of genital warts again!" Toby screamed in mock horror, throwing his hands up to cover his eyes.

Maggie shot Toby another disapproving look.

The Talk?! God, I hope she wasn't planning on sitting down and discussing the intricacies of gay sex with us. I really didn't think I could handle that right then. It seemed like so much was happening so quickly, and I'd had no warning whatsoever, no time to even think about these things myself. And why would she need to explain it? I had figured we could pretty much figure that out on our own ... in private. Plus, we'd decided to wait a while, I thought. But then again, how long was "a while?" What if in a few more days when I was feeling better, Ryan wanted to put his you know what in my you know where?

With all of those thoughts running around in my head, I suddenly felt the anxiety kicking in, and that familiar trembling sensation and sick feeling in my stomach. Ryan seemed to immediately sense that I was beginning to freak out and squeezed my hand tightly, while I tried to take a few deep breaths, although that just led to another coughing fit, which I quickly tried to contain. Like I'd said, I was trying not to draw attention to myself.

"Mom, I was there when you had 'the talk' with Toby, remember?" he replied calmly. "And we're not at that stage quite yet, so it's not even an issue for now."

Hearing him say that calmed my nerves considerably, but I still felt like I was close to passing out from embarrassment. I glanced over at Toby and noticed the amused expression on his face. Yes, I decided, Toby was definitely in need of a good old fashioned bitch-slap at that moment, no matter how cute his dimples were, or how hot his little butt looked in those tight white briefs of his.

"Connor, are you okay with all of this?" Maggie suddenly asked me.

"Huh?" I wasn't really prepared to answer any questions. I was too busy trying to pretend to be invisible, while at the same time giving Toby the most menacing glare I could muster.

"I asked," she repeated, "if you're okay?"

"Ummm ... yeah ... I'm fine ... sure ... yeah ..." I stuttered.

"Don't worry, Connor, it's okay," she said, her voice more soothing. "I'm just a little surprised is all. It's surprising enough when one son tells you he's gay, but when both of them do ... well, you'd have to be a mother to understand."

I just nodded sheepishly.

"Just don't exert yourself too much until you're feeling better," she added, with a wry smile.

OH MY GOD!!! Was the whole world out to embarrass me or something?

And with that, she got up to start clearing the table. Once Ryan, Toby, and I were alone, Ryan shot Toby an angry look.

"What in the hell did you have to go do that for?" Ryan snapped at Toby.

"Oh, come on, Ry! You two were making googly eyes at each other all through dinner. It was only a matter of time until she noticed, and it's better she found out this way rather than her walking in with your love stick shoved up Connor's poop chute," Toby said.

"You know what, Toby? You're a real prick sometimes." Ryan glared at him.

Toby rolled his eyes at Ryan, stuck out his tongue, then started skipping out of the room, singing, "Ryan and Connor sittin' in a tree, F-U-C-K-I-N-G ..."

Ryan looked over at me with an apologetic expression.

"Connor, I'd like to introduce you to Toby's evil twin brother," Ryan said, rolling his eyes.

I just shrugged. "He's only fourteen. You can't expect him to act mature all the time."

Later that night, right after Ryan turned out the light and we were trying to get comfortable, we heard a loud moaning noise coming from next door in Toby's room. At first I thought he was sick and started to worry, until I heard something that made me turn red with embarrassment.

"Oh Connor ... oh baby ... oh shit, it's sooo big and fat ... feels so good in me ... harder ... PLEASE fuck me harder ... uuunnnnggggggh!" Toby moaned loudly, then broke out into a fit of giggles.

"Tobias McCormack," came Maggie's angry voice through the walls, "you can clean out the garage tomorrow while everyone else is enjoying Thanksgiving!"

It was quiet after that.

Ryan sighed deeply, then wrapped me up in his arms. I lay there awake for a while, just enjoying being so close to him, feeling his bare chest pressed up against my back (I'd decided I liked sleeping with my shirt off too!), his warm breath tickling my neck. As Ryan started to slowly run his finger tips in circles around my bare chest, lingering around my already hard nipples, I took that to mean he was still awake.



"Why did you tell your mom that we were gay and boyfriends? I thought you said you didn't like the whole 'label' thing," I said.

"I just figured that would be easier to understand than trying to explain to her what we talked about last night. Hell, I'm not sure I even really understand," he replied.

"Yeah, that makes sense, I guess," I said.

There was still something on my mind, though. I felt a little embarrassed to bring it up with Ryan but figured I might as well.

"Would it be okay if I thought of you as my boyfriend, though?" I asked. "I mean ... maybe it sounds stupid, but I just kind of like the idea."

"Of course you can, Connor. I just think too much sometimes, and sometimes I probably don't think enough. It would actually make me happy for you to think of me like that," he said, giving me another squeeze.


"Yeah, babe?"

"I'm really happy ... with the way things turned out ... and right now ... so, thank you," I said, trying not to sound too mushy.

"I'm really happy too, babe," he said, kissing me gently on my ear lobe. "Now try to get some sleep. Tomorrow's Thanksgiving, and you've got to watch the football game with me since shithead next door is gonna be in the garage all day."

I just moaned in agreement, pushing myself further into Ryan's warm embrace, hoping that moment could last forever.



In the morning I woke up to the smell of food wafting upstairs from the kitchen and the loud sounds of cursing from outside, as Toby had apparently started cleaning out the garage. I'd seen the inside once, and it was a disaster, even worse than Toby's bedroom. There wasn't even any room to park a car in there. Cleaning out that mess was certainly not an enviable task, yet I couldn't help but feel that Toby probably deserved it after the way he embarrassed Ryan and me yesterday in front of his mother.

At the same time, I hoped it wouldn't cause him to resent me. The day before had been really nice when the three of us were all cuddled up together watching a movie on Ryan's bed, and I'd hoped we could do that more often. The idea of having Ryan as a boyfriend (or whatever we were) and Toby as a very close friend was extremely appealing to me. I'd never even had a friend before, let alone two people who I was so close to as Ryan and Toby.

I noticed, with a little disappointment, that Ryan wasn't still in bed with me, so I got up and took a quick shower. Then I got back into my pajamas and walked downstairs to find Ryan and his mom working together in the kitchen. I looked up at the clock on the wall and noticed that it was a little after eleven o'clock. I had really slept a long time.

"Good morning, babe," Ryan said, looking over his shoulder at me and smiling.

"Good morning. Everything smells really good," I said, already looking forward to the Thanksgiving dinner.

"Are you feeling any better, Connor?" Maggie asked.

"Better than a couple days ago, but still not all that hot," I admitted.

Maggie motioned for me to sit down at the table, then grabbed her doctor's bag that was sitting on the kitchen counter. She took out her stethoscope and listened to my chest again, then looked in my nose and throat with her light.

"Well, you don't sound any worse. Just keep taking that antibiotic. I think you'll be feeling a lot better in a few days, but you might need to stay home a couple more days next week, just to be sure," she said.

Home? It was only Thursday, and I knew I would be spending the whole Thanksgiving break with them, but suddenly the thought of going back to my "real" home started to upset me. I'm sure it was my eyes that gave me away ... again, because Maggie immediately spoke up.

"I meant you might need to stay here a couple extra days next week," she added, smiling warmly at me.

I just beamed at her, as Ryan walked over and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, causing me to blush deeply. I still wasn't too comfortable with the displays of affection in front of Maggie, but I was trying, and I knew she was, too. It didn't seem to faze Ryan one bit, though.

After Maggie shooed us out of the kitchen, we went to the living room and lay down on the sofa, cuddled up under a blanket, to watch the football game. I wasn't too interested in the game (duh!), so I turned my body toward Ryan, wrapped my arms around him, burying my face in his chest, and fell back asleep. My coughing woke me up a few times, at which point Ryan would pat me on the back, and once my coughing fit had subsided, he'd give me a kiss on the forehead, then rub my back gently until I fell back asleep.

The next time I woke up, Maggie was calling us into the dining room to eat. We'd always eaten our meals in the breakfast area before, so this would be a new experience. The dining room was really beautiful, with a large mahogany table in the center, surrounded by six mahogany chairs, and two glass-doored corner cabinets filled with chinaware. The large bay window looked out onto the backyard, and the dark pink and blue hues of the curtains, matching rug under the table, and hardwood floors gave the room a lavish look. The sun had already begun to set, and the room was illuminated by several brass light fixtures on the wall, as well as several large candles that had been lit on the table.

In the center of the table was a large turkey, surrounded by bowls of mashed potatoes, stuffing, green peas, yams, a salad, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and two kinds of gravy. They'd said that they didn't make a big fuss about Thanksgiving dinner, but this seemed like a feast to me. Maggie had asked me earlier if I wanted to just eat soup, but since my throat was feeling a bit better, I'd decided that I didn't want to miss out on a "traditional" Thanksgiving dinner. I noticed Toby didn't appear to be in a very good mood, but as I took in the sight of everything around me, soaking up the family atmosphere that I had missed my entire life, both Ryan and Maggie gave me warm smiles.

Dinner was fantastic, but I had to admit the best part was the pumpkin pie. I'd never had it before, and at first, the thought of it kind of grossed me out. I couldn't imagine how a pumpkin could possibly taste good, much less sweet like Ryan had insisted. I decided to try a bite of his first (which he fed to me off of his own plate) before getting my own piece. After that first taste, though, I was hooked, and ended up having three pieces of my own. Maggie was a really good cook, and I made sure to let her know at least a dozen times, each time causing her to blush and make some comment about how such and such didn't have enough salt or wasn't cooked quite right. I certainly didn't notice anything wrong, though. To me, it was just perfect.

After dinner, Ryan and I went back to the living room and cuddled up on the sofa to watch a movie on TV. Shortly thereafter, much to my surprise, Toby joined us on the sofa and cuddled up next to me. Surprised at his sudden change of mood, I looked over at him, and he mouthed the word "sorry" to me and gave me a sheepish smile. I pulled the blanket that Ryan and I were sharing over him, and took his hand in mine, giving it a tight squeeze, which elicited a large smile from him. I didn't think Ryan noticed, but I didn't want Toby to feel left out. It wasn't worth being mad at Toby for the way he'd acted the night before. Toby was just ... well, Toby.

Shortly after we'd all gotten comfortable, Maggie walked in with a tray of hot apple cider, something else I'd never tried before, and again, I was hooked. It tasted wonderful, the perfect blend of sweet and sour, with a touch of cinnamon. It also felt very soothing on my throat.

By eleven o'clock, all of us were yawning, so we disentangled ourselves and made our way up to bed. Not without Toby taking one more little jab at us, though, using his tongue and hand to mimic giving a blow job, then quickly darting into his bedroom, slamming the door. Ryan and I both just rolled our eyes, got undressed, and climbed into bed. Rather than our usual spooning position, this time we cuddled up facing each other, our faces just inches apart.

There had been something I'd wanted to do since the night that Ryan dropped me back off at home after our first weekend together back at the end of September -- namely, kissing him. Since our talk on Tuesday night, though, we had yet to really do so, but lying there like that, looking into Ryan's eyes, I needed to. I had kissed Toby before, but I wanted nothing more than to kiss Ryan -- the thought of which had occupied many a fantasy ever since I had admitted my feelings about him to myself.

At first, I thought about asking if I could kiss him, but then just decided to lean in and press my lips against his. He slightly tensed involuntarily at first, but as I tightened my arms around him, he immediately relaxed and began kissing me back, our lips brushing gently against each other, causing both of us to moan softly. As I felt him holding me even tighter, his hand rubbing slowly up and down my back, sending shivers up my spine, I began to gently nibble on his lower lip, rubbing my own hand along his smooth neck, then running my fingers through the short hair on the back of his head. As our embrace tightened, our kiss became more urgent and passionate, our mouths slowly opening to allow access to each other's tongues.

The sensation of Ryan's tongue in my mouth, dancing gently with mine, his warm embrace, our bare chests pressed tightly together, hands tenderly exploring every inch of each other's bare flesh, and his unmistakably boyish taste sent all of my senses into overload. The kiss with Toby had been very good, even passionate, but this was intensely erotic. I couldn't get enough. I felt like a wanderer in the desert who had gone days and days without water, on the verge of dying from thirst, and Ryan's kiss was my oasis.

Our kiss grew even more urgent, and Ryan's soft whimpers as I pushed my tongue even deeper into his mouth were driving me wild. I wasn't thinking rationally anymore. I was in another world, a world with just me and Ryan, and the feelings, both physical and emotional, that were coursing through my body and mind were driving me into a state of unbridled bliss. With my eyes closed, it wasn't blackness that I saw, but a pantheon of radiant lights swirling around in front of me. I couldn't have broken that kiss if I wanted to.

Without even thinking, I reached down to feel Ryan's erection through his boxer-briefs. I didn't consider whether it was "too fast" or not. I had to feel it ... I needed to feel it. As my hand started slowly massaging his hardness, noticing how thick it was compared to my own, his whimpers became even louder. Ryan then reached his hand down to massage my own throbbing boyhood. I wasn't even embarrassed that my own cock was obviously smaller than his; at that moment it just felt so good, so right. Our kiss was intense, although the gentle rubbing of each other's cocks was slow and tender, enough to feel good, but not to climax. I was in heaven. There was no other way to describe what I was feeling.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally broke apart, lying next to each other, panting. I couldn't think or speak. I was too overcome with the intense feelings that I had just experienced, something I'd wanted for so long, yet never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how earth-shattering it could be. If just kissing and touching each other like that could feel so incredible, what would doing even more feel like? I had to push that thought out of my head, for fear of letting my hormones drive me too far, too fast.

When our breathing returned to normal, I shifted Ryan onto his side, and this time it was my turn to spoon up behind him, wrapping my arm around him and pulling him close, my erection planted firmly against his soft butt. We didn't have to speak. Everything we had needed to say had already been said, and with me holding him closely, we both quickly drifted off into the land of dreams.



The rest of the Thanksgiving break went by much like the first two days. Maggie went back to work on Friday, and Ryan, Toby, and I spent most of our time playing video games and watching DVDs in Ryan's room. We all ate dinner together in the evenings when Maggie got home, and Ryan and I got into a comfortable habit of talking (and LOTS of kissing!) when we went to bed. Toby had returned somewhat back to normal, although he still occasionally ribbed Ryan and me when he noticed us giving each other what he called "googly eyes," or when we were holding hands or cuddling. We tried not to do overdo it when Toby was around, especially not making out, because we were afraid that either it would upset him, since we weren't sure whether or not he'd gotten over his crush on me, or  he might cause us (or more specifically, me) too much embarrassment.

Over those next couple of days, Ryan and I never went past our passionate kissing and gentle groping. Each time we really got into it, though, I couldn't help but think about doing more, but I was trying to be a "good boy."

On Saturday afternoon, Mikey ended up coming over to visit. Both Ryan and I were a little surprised when he walked into Ryan's room while Ryan and Toby were doing battle on the Playstation. After Toby lost, Mikey took on Ryan, and they played for about a half hour. When they were finished their game, though, Toby and Mikey suddenly excused themselves and left the room. Shortly thereafter, we heard the sound of loud music coming from next door in Toby's room. Ryan and I cast each other slightly confused looks, but just shrugged it off and decided to take full advantage of the time alone to get into some serious kissing and snuggling.

My favorite part was after we had kissed for a while, just lying next to Ryan, my head on his shoulder, running my fingers gently around his chest, and talking. We talked about all kinds of different things, from our relationship, to school, Ryan's friends, what we wanted to do in the future (which I hadn't given much thought to at that point), what songs I was thinking about performing, and other silly topics.

After we had finished snuggling and kissing that Saturday, we went downstairs to get some lunch and then snuggled up together on the sofa to watch television. About two hours later, Mikey came into the living room and announced that he was going home. He looked a little winded and red in the face, but I didn't say anything. I had an idea of what he'd come over for, and figured I might ask him about it later. I didn't want to say anything to Ryan, because Mikey had said that Ryan didn't know about his and Toby's past "relationship" (if you could really call it that). Nevertheless, I was a little surprised, since I thought that had ended a couple years ago.

Shortly after Mikey left, Toby came into the living room, freshly showered, and sat down in the recliner to watch television with us. I glanced over at him, and when he met my eyes, he grinned a devilish little smile, basically confirming my suspicions as to Mikey's impromptu visit.

By the time Monday rolled around, Ryan and Toby were headed back to school, while I was stuck at their house alone. I was actually feeling quite a bit better, and after spending the day bored out of my mind watching game shows and a ridiculous talk show about redneck husbands who slept with their wives' mothers, I decided that I'd rather be back in school the next day. Even though I got to see Ryan when he got home from school, he had homework to do, so I had to control my urges to cling on to him and kiss him every two minutes, and content myself by lying on the bed and watching him.

At dinner that night, I told everyone that I would be going to school the next day, and after Maggie gave me another quick check-up and made sure that I didn't have a fever anymore, I finally got the green light. Maggie stressed that I was welcome to come over any time I wanted, even if it was a school night, as did Ryan, but I felt like I needed to go home. They didn't know about the other responsibilities I had, such as making sure the rent was paid, paying the bills, and buying groceries, so I needed to be there.

Also, part of me was afraid that if I hung around their house too much, Ryan would eventually get tired of seeing me. Maybe it was an irrational fear, but it was one that worried me nonetheless. Fortunately, Maggie didn't bring up my situation at home again, but the look she gave me when she told me that I'd better come over to their house any time I needed to let me know that she would most likely be watching me very closely. I just had to hope that I could avoid my mother as much as possible, or that the bruises she left wouldn't be on a visible part of my body, although now that Ryan and I had grown accustomed to sleeping shirtless over the past several nights, it would be difficult to hide much from him. On the bright side, though, things had been a little more stable since my mother had started dating Krull. Maybe she would keep him around for a while.

Since I still wasn't completely better yet, and my voice was still very raspy, I called Mr. Bill to let him know that I couldn't make it to work that week. He wasn't too happy at first, but then Maggie got on the phone and explained to him (more like lectured to him, actually) that if he didn't let me rest my vocal cords, I might not be able to sing for much longer. He eventually relented and told me that he would see me at the bar the following week, and I promised I would put on one of my best shows ever. I wasn't too worried about taking the week off after winning the two-hundred dollars at the talent contest, but I would definitely have to go back the next week, hoarse voice or not, if I was to keep up with my family's bills.

Monday night when Ryan and I went to bed, I felt a little sad that my stay there was ending. However, I knew that now that our relationship had grown, and there weren't any more questions as to how we felt about each other, that I would be staying with him every weekend, barring any unforeseen difficulties.

I was also a little nervous about seeing all of his friends tomorrow, since I'm sure they would be curious as to why I was suddenly hanging out with Ryan again after a six week absence. And would they notice how close Ryan and I had become? I was sure that Mikey wouldn't have a problem with it (that was pretty obvious, if he was fucking around with Toby again), and Ryan had told me that his friends would be cool with it. Maybe they would, but I was still worried about them looking at me differently, and I was afraid that because of me, they would look at Ryan differently, too.

However, all of those worries vanished completely when I felt Ryan take me in his arms and place his soft lips on my mouth, our tongues once again becoming entangled, holding each other closely, and I was once again transported to that other world that belonged to just me and my boyfriend.

My boyfriend! I loved the sound of that!