I peeked up from what was left of my breakfast to see Ryan giving me this amazing smile from his side of the table. Those beautiful eyes of his blessing me with that intense craving stare that me fall in love with him for the very first time. Giggling, I said, "Knock it off, dude."
"You know what."
"I just...I think it's kinda cool. That's all."
He sighed and said, "Being able to just sit here and admire my 'boyfriend' without having to worry about giving up the big secret of it all. It just...it feels really good, you know?"
Blushing, I mumbled, "Feels good to me too." And I tried to avoid his penetrating gaze for a moment or two, but I found myself compelled to keep peeking back up at him anyway. Ryan knew how enraptured I was with him, so he just kept staring at me to make sure that he caught my every glance, every single time. Until, at one point he crossed his eyes and stuck his tongue out of the side of his mouth, nearly causing me to choke on what I was chewing! "Hahaha! STOP! God, you're so goofy!"
"I love you, Randy." He said.
And just as my heart began to vibrate with the tingles of hearing him say it out loud, so openly, so freely, at my breakfast table...I looked Ryan in the eye and said, "I love you more."
You know, I had really convinced myself that coming out to my mom would somehow toss my entire life, my sense of emotional stability, and my ever daily routine, into a world of chaos and despair that would be completely unrecognizable to everything that I had ever experienced before. It felt like pulling a crucial series of bricks out from the bottom foundation of the tower that I had been building since I was a little kid. I wasn't sure whether or not it was going to cause the entire structure to topple over to the side or simply crumble from within. But the truth is, sharing my true feelings and my honest self with my mom...being able to stare at my long time sweetheart all googly-eyed and love stricken like this...I realized that the effect was the exact opposite. I wasn't pulling bricks out from the bottom of my personal foundation...I was adding more bricks to the top of it. Growing bigger, taller, reaching towards the sky while taking the people I loved most with me. And that was something really special.
It's not something that can be bought or sold. Faked or taught. I guess you just have to experience it for yourself. And in time, just like everything else in life, you learn how to accept it, and move forward with a sense finesse and a sincere touch of grace.
Insecurities aside...I make myself proud every now and then. Hehehe! Crazy, right?
Ryan and I got ourselves ready to head out, already missing the relaxing comfort provided by our Spring Break vacation from school. But before walking out of the front door, Ryan lightly placed his hands on my hips and turned me to face him. "Hehehe, what are you doing?"
He didn't answer, he just kissed me deeply, and I found myself floating as the soft cushion of his sweet lips placed me into an instantaneous trance. Lost in the surreal beauty of it all, I began to kiss him back, my eyes closed as our tongues touched and my body reacted to his touch.
"Ahem!" Came a voice from the bottom of the steps, and we both jumped from the surprise of seeing my mom standing there watching us. Ugh! Caught! Red handed!
"Sorry, Mrs. Stephens..." Ryan blushed. But where this would have been an apocalyptic moment under any other circumstances, we could only giggle as my mother playfully waved us off so we wouldn't be late for class.
"School? Heard of it?" She said. "Go!"
"Hehehe, sorry, Mom."
"Whatever, just...behave, ok?" She told me, and we opened the door to leave. But just as Ryan stepped outside, I got this...'feeling', you know? It wouldn't let go of me, and I sort of hurried over to wrap my arms around my mother's waist and hug her tight. I, seriously, just closed my eyes and pressed my head to her chest close enough to hear her heartbeat. I swear, you'll never know a more inviting embrace than the one you get from your own mom.
"Thanks, Mom. I mean that." I said, and she rubbed my back lightly before kissing the top of my head.
"Get to school, ok? Be safe, hon." She said, an emotional little tremble in her voice. "Go on now."
"See you later." I smiled, and she wiped her eyes before Ryan and I left to give her a moment to collect herself before having to go to work herself for the day. God, that felt good. You have no idea.
As Ryan and I were making our way to school, ready for what was sure to be another boring history class, I kept getting this urge to tell him how much I loved him. I don't know why. I mean, we already said it to one another, and even shared a sweet kiss by the front door. But I just...I felt so much closer to him in this golden moment. I don't think that I ever realized how much I was holding it back until I found the path towards making my big secret officially known. Now, it was almost like I wanted to make up for lost time. I was literally swooning with the prospect of telling him again and again just how I felt about him. I mean...you should tell the people you care about how much you love them as often as humanly possible, right? That's not a bad thing, is it?
Ryan saw me watching him. Blushing, then not blushing. Smiling, then not smiling. And as I fidgeted and wiggled in his divine presence, he finally said, "What is WITH you today? Hehehe! I love you too, ya know? Geez!"
"Yeah. I know. I just...I don't know...this is weird." I said.
"What's weird about it?" He grinned.
"I don't know, I feel like I'm being weird. Is this weird for you? I'm sorry if it is."
Ryan put his hand on my shoulder, and we stopped walking for a moment so he could look me in the eye. "It's not weird. Randy...I remember feeling exactly the same way when I first told my dad about....you know...'us'. It's really scary at first, and then it's sort of like this freefall drop where you're expecting things to get worse at any minute...but it doesn't. In fact, life gets better. And once that jittery feeling of nervous energy in your chest begins to fade away...you just start to enjoy life on a whole other level. It's a little awkward for a while, but you learn to love it. And if I get to be a part of that...if I get to participate in this part of your journey...then that makes me the luckiest boy in town. And I couldn't be more grateful." He kissed me on the cheek, right there, out in the open, and I didn't feel any need to cringe or look around at all. It was like, I didn't have an 'evil' secret to protect anymore. And I felt good about that. Which ended up making me feel good about...
"When did you become the super love guru of all things gay teen related? Hehehe!" I said.
"You'd be surprised what you learn when the need presents itself." He smiled. "And if there's anything that I need in my life, free from regret and consequences...it would be you."
"Ok, so now you're just trying to get me all gooey inside so we end up ditching class to go off some place and have a whole day of hot boy sex!" I teased.
"Wait...you want to???" He asked cheerfully.
"NO!" I snapped back. "Well, I mean...YES! But we can't miss the first day after Spring Break. Teachers will be keeping an extra keen eye for shit like that today."
"So tomorrow then? Got it. Hehehe!"
"We'll see how I feel." I giggled.
"How you feel about an entire day of hot boy on boy fluid exchange? I'm pretty sure that I can predict that one."
"Don't you judge me, you pervert!" I laughed, and just as we were approaching the school, we happened to notice Ariel and Tyler about a half block ahead of us. Tyler seemed to be pretty normal when it came back to school...but the look on Ariel's face was something entirely different from what I was used to. Especially when it came to being anywhere within the blast radius of Tyler's undeniable charm and radiant beauty. I mean...he almost seemed kind of sad, to be honest. What the heck was that all about?
Tyler waved at us with a big smile, and we gave him our usual greetings for a typical school morning, but Ariel was unusually quiet as he just sort of stood off to the side and let us talk. It wasn't really like him at all. I mean, Ariel is the pure definition of a shy guy in every meaning of the word, but once he warmed up to you...he ends up being one of the best friends that you could ever ask for. His bashful blushes and hidden giggles become this really cute part of his personality that you quickly learn to cherish with your whole heart every time he glances at you through the soft curtain of his dark locks.
But this was...different.
Not just 'shy'...but slightly conflicted inside. And when his eyes met mine for a few brief seconds, I could tell that there was something bugging him. And while Ryan and Tyler were doing their best bud thing, with a few shoves and giggles included, I stepped closer to Ariel and asked him, "What's up? You ok?"
Ariel's blush deepened, and he looked down at his shoes as he attempted to avoid my eyes. "Yeah. I'm ok."
Most unconvincing Ariel statement ever.
I sort of pulled him a few steps to the side so we could talk, but all he could do was look at all of the other students that were surrounding us and heading into school themselves. I was like, "Dude...you don't seem like you're ok to me. I mean, do you wanna talk about it or...?"
"Thanks, Randy. Really. I'm just...I'm..." He was struggling with the words at the moment, but it seemed like he was really trying to get them out. And that's when he said, "...I just really don't want to be here today."
"Here, like...at school?" I asked.
"Yeah. I just wish I could have stayed home today. You know...with Tyler." He pouted.
I looked back over my shoulder, and Tyler and Ryan were still giggling over a couple of casual jokes like they always did. But I was getting the feeling that Ariel wasn't too thrilled with having to 'share' him with the rest of the world again. Which is understandable, I guess. I can't say that I haven't spent a few gloomy hours thinking the exact same thing when it came to Ryan and me spending time together in school after we first became boyfriends. But...this really seemed to be taking a toll on poor little Ariel's emotions in ways that I doubt I'd be any good in helping him deal with it all. No matter how much I wish I could.
Awwww...he was feeling so down. And I felt like I was draining what little energy he had by making him pretend that he wasn't hurting somewhere deep inside. It's weird, but I can't tell whether I'm helping him or hurting him when he gets like this.
"Hey, Ariel? You ready to go in?" Tyler asked him, a big grin on his face.
It brightened Ariel up a little bit, but not much. "Sure. I'm ready if you are...Tyler..." He said softly, and Tyler told us that he'd see us at lunch before both of them walked in through the front door together. It's so cute, seeing them as this really sweet couple. But I'm obviously missing something here. I mean...what could possibly make Ariel feel a moment of doubt when he's secretly dating one of the hottest boys in school?
He was always so proud of it before. What the heck happened?
Ryan was rummaging through his backpack for a few extra seconds, and he was like, "Oh shit! I think I might have left my history homework at home! FUCK!"
I brought my backpack around, while still having it hang on my shoulder, and I thumbed through my folders and stuff for a moment. "Hold on a sec. I think I've got it." I said, and sure enough, I found it mixed in with one of my school folders. "You were going to walk out of the house this morning without it and I made sure to grab it off of the table before you left it behind." Adding in a mumbled, "Dumbass..."
What? I had to keep SOME of my teenage masculinity in tact! It's a 'man thing', you know?
"So we're sharing homework duty, now? Hehehe!" He said.
"Somebody has to look out for you. Obviously." I replied, making him smile.
"You know...I'm not counting this as an engagement ring or anything. We're still just 'hanging out', as far as I'm concerned." He giggled.
"Whatever. You are so locked in. I'm not buying that for a minute." I told him. "We're going to get hitched someday and grow old together, aren't we? Hehehe!"
"Psh! Whatever. I give us fifteen years. Twenty tops." He said, poking me in the side. "Then I'm trading you in for a newer, cuter, younger, model. I'm all about those twinks, baby. So keep up with your boyhood manscaping, or I'm outta here."
My jaw dropped as I tried to keep a straight face. "RUDE!" I said, and Ryan laughed out loud as we entered the school hallway.
But...as we were enjoying our good time, feeling open and hopeful about our future together...we happened to see someone staring at us through the swirling herd of faceless students. The eyes were unavoidable. And it, pretty much, stopped all of time as Ryan and I remembered exactly what it meant...and what it might mean for us in the near future if we didn't tread carefully.
It was Hailey...and two of her female friends...standing by her locker and looking at me and Ryan as though we were some kind of horrible anomaly that wasn't meant to exist in these hallways with the rest of the 'normal' people. You know the look, right?
I mean, I never pegged Hailey for being some kind of a relentless homophobe or anything, but...that suspicious look of hers was just...the worst. Like...the absolute worst! I mean, technically...I guess that she could feasibly claim herself to be Ryan's 'ex'...but is she really? Did any of that even count as a relationship? I mean it's not like they were having sex or anything, right?
I doubt it. Some making out and a few dates maybe, but it wouldn't have gone any further than that. She's just all salty and bitter because she saw us kissing outside of that restaurant, and now she wants to shoot me a bunch of mean looks because I have my super gorgeous boyfriend, and she's not even in the running to take him back from me. It's a whole other gender, sweetheart. Deal with it. You're trying to play a basketball game by bouncing a football on an indoor court. Your equipment is all wrong for this game. You know?
I didn't do anything to egg her on or make her feel bad...but I didn't look away from her either. I refuse to allow her to make me feel ashamed to be side by side with the boy of my dreams simply because she wanted him all to himself.
Speaking of which...
"S'up, Ryan? I thought we were going to hang out some more this past week. You vanished on me." i turned my head to see Sean's smug grin approaching us from behind. It turned my stomach to think that he actually had other classes with Ryan during the school day where I wasn't there to, like...chaperone, or whatever. It would be a little easier having him around if he wasn't so 'boy model' cute. The only thing that I hated more than being forced to notice and accept how truly beautiful Sean really was physically...was the idea that Ryan might have a moment of weakness where he noticed as well.
It's hard, you know? But Ryan told me to trust him. So...I should trust him. It weighs heavily on my shoulders and makes me feel like shit more times than not...but...sighhhhh...I'm either going to trust him or not trust him. And thanks to Cody's advice, I'm well aware of the fact that this is the exact game that Sean is playing here. Get me to look like some kind of paranoid, super jealous, asshole who's overly possessive and controlling...and the moment that Ryan starts feeling trapped and handcuffed to some kind of raving lunatic...Sean slides right in to take my spot. That's his goal. And I'm not going to let that happen. He didn't earn Ryan's heart the way that I did, and he doesn't deserve it.
So, while I'm trying to maintain a friendly face and all in his presence...in the back of my mind I'm secretly telling him to FUCK OFF every second that I have to watch him flirt with my baby!
Maybe this is what Ariel was feeling this morning. About having to share, you know?
How do you gauge the balance between having the sweetest, most incredible, boy of all time sharing his whole heart with you...and giving him enough breathing room to live his own life too? I mean, I can't just be Ryan's only friend? Can I?
No no no no...Randy...you're overthinking everything again. Relax. Ryan loves me. We spent the whole morning being in love. Sean can't match that. All of the flirting and blond hair flips in the world isn't ever going to be enough to come between us. Not with what we have.
Maybe Ariel is worried about this kind of thing, but I shouldn't be. I'm going to trust him. Appreciate him. And I'm going to tell him that I love him every time I get the chance to do so. That alone will secure a permanent space in his heart from now until forever...the same way his love has a place in mine.
Shouldn't that be enough?
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