Travis won't talk to me. I've been trying for days, and now I don't know what to do. The day after he texted me, he showed up at school with a black eye and a limp, but he ignored my attempts to talk with him. I don't know what happened, and I don't think I'll be able to find out. I've tried texting him and emailing him, and nothing works. He didn't even come to gym class on Friday or the other class I share with him, either.
I finally found a friend here, and already he's gone. Fuck. After this, I don't know if I'll have the energy to try and make any more friends for a while. So far, all I have to show for this school year is a barely-managed B average, a broken arm, and a date with a junior.
Wait a second. That's today. And it's almost that time. I have to get ready. Donny will be here in a half an hour at most.
I walk to my closet and throw it open. There's no good options there, but I have to find something passable, at least. I settle on a black T-shirt with the band name of 'White Chocolate Antifreeze' across the front, then match it with a pair of black skinny jeans. My hot pink cast stands out against the black when I look at myself in the mirror on my closet door, but it's not horrible. It actually makes me look almost like a punk rocker myself.
Thinking along those lines, I walk into the bathroom and take a quick look at my hair. It's messy and wild, but with the rest of the style, that's not too bad. I only wish it were a shade or two darker, but that's not something I have enough time to change. I guess I'll be winging it for this first date. Besides, who would dye their hair just for a first date.
I'm overthinking this. I need to take a step back and breathe. Everything is going to go fine, I'm sure of it. Breathing deeply, I take one last look in the mirror and smooth out my shirt before leaving the bathroom and heading downstairs.
"Hey, Clint. Where are you off to?" Dad asks as I round the corner into the kitchen.
"What makes you think I'm going somewhere?"
Dad peers over the top of his reading glasses at me and lowers his book. "You're wearing clothes."
He has a point. "Yeah, I have a date, actually."
"Really? You just came out a few days ago."
"Only to you." I wince as I remember what happened with Travis. "Well, one other person, too."
"You still haven't come out at school, huh?"
"No. I have an idea, but I'm waiting for this," I pause, raising my cast dramatically, "to come off. I think it's going to be a good one, personally."
"Whatever makes you happy," Dad says with a shrug. "I just don't know why you'd make such a big deal out of it. Being gay isn't that much of a taboo anymore, and you know it never has been in our family. Which is why I'm still surprised you haven't told Angie."
I shrug. "I'm just waiting for the right time. Angie can't keep her mouth shut. Where is she, anyway?"
"She left earlier today to hang out with some friends. Said they were going to some place called Flynn's. Who's your date with?"
"The guy who fixed my phone."
"Well, we know he's nice, at least," Dad says with a grin. "I guess that counts for something. Though you're still going to be careful, right?"
I roll my eyes, but then I nod when he gives me a dirty look. "Of course, Dad. We're just going to a movie."
"Isn't that a horror film? I thought you hated scary movies."
"Donny says it's suspenseful rather than scary."
"Oh, so he has a name now, huh?" Dad asks, grinning knowingly. Damn. He trapped me into giving the name, didn't he? That cunning bastard.
"Yes, but please don't mention that to Angie, either. Donny doesn't want anyone to know he's dating a guy. He's probably more scared of it than I am."
"That doesn't sound good."
"Yeah, I'm a little wary about that myself."
"Just be careful. Call me if you need someone to bail you out."
I smile genuinely and reply, "Thanks, but I honestly don't think I'll need it."
My phone vibrates then, and I pull it out to see Donny's number on the screen. The text says he's in my driveway, and I look up at Dad, unable to keep from smiling like an idiot. "He's here."
Dad raises the book again and says, "Have fun, Clint. Don't forget, be careful. You're the best son I have, and I trust you."
Instead of pointing out I'm his only son, I give him a wave and walk to the front door. After stepping into my sneakers I open the door and see Donny's SUV idling in the driveway. With a foolish grin I close the door and practically skip down the walk toward the passenger seat.
Donny opens the door from the inside, and I hop in quickly. He looks me up and down and says, "Hey, Clint. You look good today."
His hair is freshly combed, and he's wearing a black button-up shirt, the top two buttons undone so I can see the top lines of his pectoral muscles. I hadn't found him overwhelmingly attractive before, but I found this version of him alluring. "You too. Ready to go?"
"You bet," Donny replies as I buckle my seatbelt. "The movie starts in a half an hour, and we have to go to Springville."
I give him a weird look as he puts the car into gear and backs out of the driveway. "Why not the local theater?" I ask. "I could have sworn they were showing Dark Miracle."
"They are, but people from our school are also likely to be there. I don't want to be seen."
He drives for a minute before I decide to respond. "I know you don't want to be outed, but isn't that a little excessive? They don't have to know we're on a date."
"I just can't take any chances. No offense meant, but why else would I be hanging out with a freshman?"
I snort derisively at that, and roll my eyes for good measure. "Maybe because you can actually have friends who are in different age groups? In fact, that's more common than dating outside of your age group."
We come to a stop sign, with one way taking us back into town, and the other way taking us toward the highway. Donny hesitates as if he's considering my words, then he turns the car toward the highway. "We're going to Springville, and that's simply the way it's going to be."
I throw my hands up in defeat, then cross my arms over my chest and stare out the window, watching the town disappear behind us as we approach the onramp. "All right, sorry I said anything, but I really think you're overthinking this."
Donny doesn't immediately answer and instead focuses on driving onto the highway. After he merges safely into the next lane over, he finally responds. "Look, I'm two years older than you. That's a big deal in high school."
"How old are you?" I ask. "Juniors are usually sixteen or seventeen, right?"
"I'm sixteen, I turn seventeen in May," he says firmly, as if that should be the end of the argument.
I laugh at that and reply, "Then you're definitely overthinking this."
"I'm fifteen. I'm one of the oldest students in my grade. I know it's weird because I'm short and skinny, so I probably look younger than I am, but my birthday is in September, the first week of the school year. We're less than a year and a half apart."
"Fuck," Donny says, sighing deeply. "Now I feel like an asshole."
"It's okay, I forgive you for thinking that way. It makes sense, since we are two school years apart, but it's not worth stressing over."
"I guess not." Donny pauses for a moment, then looks over at me and adds, "But we're still going to Springville."
I shrug and look away. "Whatever."
"It's not just that," he protests, "I also wanted to take you to dinner in Springville. There's a restaurant there which I really like."
Restaurant? I love restaurants! I turn back to him, grinning wide and say, "Cool. What kind?"
"It's a Vietnamese place. They serve Pho."
"I've never had it. I've heard of it, though."
"Are you adventurous?" He asks with sparkling eyes.
My grin widens. "When it comes to food, definitely."
"Good. You'll love it."
The movie turned out to be less scary than I expected and more interesting than I'd hoped, though I'm still not sure I liked it. Being completely new to the suspense genre, I didn't know what to expect; I'm still trying to process what happened.
Donny, on the other hand, turns out to be a complete gentleman. I wasn't expecting the level of courtesy he showed me; he even went so far as to ensure he opened every door for me. It was almost annoying, but in an endearing way. He also paid for popcorn and the movie, so really the only thing I had to worry about was being there.
When the theater lights went down, I worried he might make a move on me, but he didn't do that either. Instead, he set the popcorn between us so we could share it. Occasionally our hands would brush, but I didn't make anything of it, and neither did he. Donny is . . . comfortable.
He seems to sense I need some time to process the film before discussing it, and as we leave the theater he doesn't try to engage me in any conversation. Instead we walk slowly back to the car and drive to the nearby Pho restaurant, Pho Sure.
Since I know nothing about Pho, I let Donny order for both of us. We talk about random things while we wait for it to arrive. Only after the steaming bowls of broth, noodles, vegetables, and beef make it to our table does the conversation truly begin.
"Did you like the movie?" Donny asks before loudly slurping down some of his noodles. I follow his move and do the same thing, though I have much more trouble than he did with the chopsticks. It's not that I've never used them, they're just hard to use in my right hand since it's not my dominant hand.
"I'm not sure," I say after swallowing. "Still trying to decide."
"It still scared you, didn't it?" Donny asks, nodding in understanding.
"Eh . . ." I shrug, not sure how much I want to admit. "A little, I guess. That part where the witch first steps out of the woods when nothing was there before? That definitely made me jump."
Donny chuckles. "I jumped a little, too. The worst part for me was that damn crow following them through the second half of the movie. I just knew it was up to something, and then . . ." he shudders, and I join him. The crow was the most unnerving part of the film. "Fuck, man. That was intense."
"Yeah. It wasn't bad, though. I mean, it's not my normal kind of movie, so it's hard to really figure out how I feel about it."
"I had fun, though," he replies. "Thanks for going out with me."
"Thanks for taking me. And for dinner."
"Don't mention it. How's the pho?" He asks before shoving another clump of noodles into his mouth.
"It's good. I don't think I've ever had a soup I like this much."
We eat in silence for a few minutes, getting into the meal. Donny is eating much quicker than I am, but I'm slowly getting the hang of the utensils. It's almost frustrating enough for me to ask for a fork, but my stubbornness kicks in and I am determined to finish eating the dish properly.
After another minute, when my frustration peaks again, I decide it's time for some more conversation to give my hands a break. I pat my pocket to make sure my wallet is still inside then say, "Since you paid for the movie, I thought I could—"
Donny raises his hand to stop me and interrupts. "No. I asked you out. This is on me, too. If you want to go on a second date, then maybe I'd consider letting you pay."
The whole night, from the opening of doors to Donny's absolute refinement flashes across my memory, and I give Donny a strained look. "Do you think I'm the girl or something?"
"No, I think you're the one who got asked out, and I'm the one who did the asking. It's my responsibility. If you ask me out, then it can be yours."
It's not the worst explanation, at least. He could have said some outdated misogynist shit, and then called me feminine. Then I'd have to throw the soup in his face. "I get it. I can live with that philosophy, I guess." But then my face falls slightly as I remember the day Donny asked me out. It's a bittersweet memory, and still raw.
"Something's bothering you, though. I can tell."
"Yeah. I . . . I came out to someone the same day you asked me out. You mentioning that kind of brought it back to my mind."
"You told someone you were gay?" Donny's right hand drops to the table, his chopsticks clattering against the wood and momentarily drawing the attention of several nearby patrons.
"Yeah," I sigh. "My friend Travis."
Donny's face begins to pale as he stares at me. "Did you also tell him we had a date?"
I raise an eyebrow and say cautiously, "No . . . Why would I?"
Donny releases the breath he'd been holding onto in a sigh of relief. He sets his chopsticks and spoon down carefully and then says, "Fuck, man. Don't scare me like that."
"Why is it such a bad thing if people find out?" I ask, attempting to pick up my noodles with my chopsticks again. I'm having a hell of a time using chopsticks in my right hand, but at the moment it would be better than trying with my left. At least my left hand can work the spoon to some degree.
Donny leans forward, keeping his voice low. "I'm on the football team, Clint. Do you realize what happens to people on the football team if people find out they're gay or bi?"
"Has anyone ever done it before?"
"Not at this school."
"Then no," I reply, shaking my head. "I have no idea what happens to people on the football team who come out. Who says they'll reject you?"
"The guys would kill me," Donny groans, burying his face in his hands.
"That's seriously what you're worried about?" I ask. "You're worried what the guys on the football team will think about you?"
"Yeah, and my family," Donny says, revealing his face to me again. "They wouldn't get it, either."
"My dad's a huge sports fan, he's all into manly things, and my mom's always talking about 'when I have kids' . . ." He shudders and then continues in a whisper, "If they ever find out I'm gay, it would devastate them."
I wonder if I misheard him and I ask, "I thought you said you were bi?"
He stares at me, his eyes widening in alarm. Then his shoulders slump and his eyes begin to water. "Fuck. Yeah, I lied, okay?" He looks at me and shrugs, telling me he's given up on hiding it from me. "I'm definitely gay, I just d-don't . . ." his voice breaks and he pounds the table with his fist in frustration. "Fuck it all!"
"Look, you're definitely overthinking this. It's not that big of a deal," I say, then curse inwardly as I realize I'm repeating some of the same words my Dad used earlier. I hate it when he has a point. "Maybe it is for some people, but do your parents love you?"
Donny sniffles then says, "Yeah. I think so."
"There's nothing unmanly about being gay. And gay people can have kids, they just have to go about it in a different way. If you don't want kids, that's an entirely different matter, but you can't live your life for your parents."
"You might have a point, but I'm still not going to come out."
I sigh, and then Travis enters my mind again. "I suppose I can see why you'd still be wary after my recent experience."
"What happened?" Donny asks, eagerly leaning forward to hear my story.
"He told me to stay away from him, that we can't be friends," I reply, then an idea forms in my head. I can't help but frown as I think about how this week has gone, and some of it is because of what Donny has done to me.
Donny shakes his head. "That's total bullshit."
I cross my arms over my chest and glare at Donny. "You essentially said the same thing to me, didn't you?"
Donny cocks his head to the side and stares at me funny. "No . . . I . . ."
"You said we couldn't hang out at school, and if anyone sees us together, it's bad. We can go on a random date in the next town over, but friends?" I shake my head and smirk at him. "That's something you don't want from me."
Donny meets my eyes for only a second before lowering his gaze. I return my attention to my Pho and start slowly eating it. I get most of the way through my bowl, even at my hampered pace, before Donny looks up at me again.
"Can I make it up to you?" He asks quietly.
"Let's get out of here. There's a place I sometimes go with—" He coughs, as if he's just swallowed something wrong and reaches for his water glass. After taking a drink, he begins again. "There's a place I go which only a few people know about, and it has a great view of the city. We can talk there, and it's a lot more comfortable than this place."
My dad's admonishment to be careful lifts a flag at this, but Donny hasn't given me any big reasons not to trust him so far. He's a good guy, I can tell, but still, I'm wary. "I don't know . . ."
"Trust me," Donny says, reaching across the table and resting his hand gently on my shoulder. "It'll be worth it."
I can feel the warmth of his hand, and can see the sincerity in his eyes. After a few seconds, I decide it's worth trusting him. "All right. Let's go."
After we finish our Pho, Donny pays the bill and then leads me out to his vehicle. Once we're away from the restaurant, we head toward the mountains. We're both silent as Donny drives, but after we go a few miles he turns on the radio. He switches to a local alternative rock station, and I'm immediately put at ease. Trailblazer by Demons of the Crossroads is playing, somewhere in the middle of the second verse. They're one of my favorite bands, and this song is no exception.
The music only gets better from there, switching from DOTC to The Plain White Tease, and then a song called Radiator Cap from my favorite band White Chocolate Antifreeze. I psyche myself up for another song when the DJ begins to cut out and Donny turns the radio off. The mountain must be interfering with the signal.
I look up and realize I haven't paid attention to where we're going. We're on a paved road still, but we're steadily climbing upward between two mountains. The leaves on either side of the road are starting to turn, and I wonder for a moment if I should have brought a jacket. Donny has the heater on in the car, so as long as I stay inside, I suppose I'll be warm.
A loud boom draws my attention to the west where a massive black thunderhead rolls toward us. "Those storm clouds are getting a little close."
Donny glances that direction and smiles. "Yeah, but don't worry about it. We'll be staying inside the car unless you really want to get out."
I nod and watch the trees again for a little while. In the fast approaching twilight, a pale purple light illuminates the trees. It's certainly beautiful up here. "How did you find out about this place?"
"My dad takes me up hunting deer in this area, or rather a few hours deeper into the mountains, where the road becomes a bit more treacherous. We won't be going nearly that far. It'll be hunting season soon, but there shouldn't be many people on this mountain right now. Maybe a few campers and hikers."
"Why are you taking me up here?"
Donny just smiles and replies, "You'll see."
And it doesn't take much longer before I do. Less than five minutes later and another mile up the mountain, we come around a bend and the view opens up before us. The entirety of our small town is visible below us, with the lights glowing brightly in the dusk, offering a stark contrast to the storm clouds overhead.
The road levels out to create a paved view area, blocked off from the steep mountainside by a wooden fence. There's plenty of room to park facing the drop off and the view of the valley, and this is exactly what Donny does. He turns the engine off and I take in the full view. Off to our right side is a stretch of trees that travels further up the mountain, but the rest of the view ahead and to the left is open. It's amazing how far into the distance we can see.
"Damn, that is a nice view."
"Yep; you can probably see your house from here, too, though I'm not completely sure which one it is. Mine is right over there." Donny points off to the western side of town, drawing my attention to the right. The storm is really coming in now, and rain drops splatter the windshield while the trees in my peripheral start waving wildly in the wind.
"Wow. That's pretty neat."
"Recline your seat," Donny says, gesturing over me and pointing to the side. "You can find the lever on your right side. It'll be more comfortable."
I do as he says and pull the lever, then push backward and relax as the seat reclines. Donny's right, it's definitely more comfortable. I close my eyes and listen to the rain, and it starts to lull me off into a different place. "Yeah, this is nice. The rain is hypnotic."
"Yeah, that's nice, too," Donny says, but his voice almost sounds far away.
"You sound distracted," I remark, then yawn. I could fall asleep here, easily. "I can see why you like this place. It helps you take your mind off things."
"I was hoping I could make you feel better about our arrangement," Donny says quietly.
"Oh? How—" the words catch in my throat as I feel Donny's hand brush along my arm, sliding up above my cast and under the cuff of my T-shirt. The sensation makes my skin go crazy, and my eyes open in surprise as they try to process what's happening in the dim light.
Donny leans over me, his hand continuing upward to stroke my shoulder underneath my shirt. "I really like you, Clint. I like having you around, and even if we can't—" His hand reaches out and unhooks the clasp of my pants.
"Donny, stop!" I shout as I try and sit up, but find it difficult to get the proper leverage from my reclined position. I try and bat his arm away with my right hand, but he's moved his arm away and doesn't notice my attempts to fend him off.
As I squirm, Donny remains undeterred. He withdraws his hand from my shoulder and moves both hands to the task of removing my pants. My zipper slides down as I finally manage to prop myself up on one arm. "What's the matter? I can make you feel really good . . ."
"Donny, stop, please!" I shout, pushing off with my arm and getting a little bit higher. He's either not listening to me, or doesn't care.
"Clint, just relax, this will feel awesome, I promise," Donny says as he gently pushes me back down with one hand while his other hand reaches into my boxers and grabs my dick.
My body responds, and although the feeling of another guy's hand on my cock makes my gay teenage brain sing, the rational part of me tells me something else. Donny is raping me, and he's not going to get away with it without a fight. I swing my leg up and my knee connects with the side of his face as I shout, "Get the fuck off me!"
"Shit!" Donny shouts as he releases his grip and grabs at the side of his face. He returns to his own seat, clutching at his head and glaring at me. "You kicked me! What the hell?"
With him back in his seat, I have ample time to sit up, and as soon as I'm up, I unlock the door and reach for the handle. "I'm getting out of here!"
Donny reaches out and puts his hand on my cast, holding me in place as I open the door to the car. "Clint, just stop. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have—"
"Let me go!" I shout, bringing my right hand across his face as hard as I can. The sound of the smack reverberates through the car as Donny releases me. I throw the door open and rush out into the rain, even though I can hardly see anything at all.
But toward the trees I see another car. Someone came up and parked here while Donny and I were taking in the view, and we didn't notice them. Hopefully it's someone who can help me, though I can barely make out the vehicle in the downpour surrounding me. My undone pants slide down to my ankles and I slide along the slick pavement, falling to the ground and scraping my knees.
Several car doors open. It seems like too many for just Donny, but I don't have time to think about it as Donny rushes up to me and tries to help me to my feet. "Clint! Don't run off, I'll take you home—"
"Don't touch me," I growl.
Donny raises his hands in surrender, and his expression is horrified. "Okay, I'm sorry. I'll take you home. It's just that it's been so long since I've had sex, and I really like you and I . . . just wanted to make you feel good. I thought if I gave you a blowjob, you might give me a chance to . . . to prove I'm worth waiting for."
I shake my head as I struggle to my feet. I'm drenched from head to toe already, and I try to slide my sodden pants up my legs, but struggle to do so, all while keeping a wary eye on Donny. "Yeah, no . . . that's not how I do things. We're done, Donny. The date is over, and we're not going out again. Ever."
"Clint?" A familiar voice says from behind me.
I turn, my pants halfway up my legs with my dick still hanging out from the opening in the front of my boxers. My sister is standing there in a slick red jacket and staring at me in horror. "Angie? What are you . . ." I stop as I see the guy standing behind her. Brent Niven. The guy who wants to beat the shit out of me for something I didn't do. "Shit."
But Brent doesn't even give me a second glance, instead he's staring open-mouthed and wide-eyed at Donny, who is quickly backing up toward his car. "Donny? What the fuck?"
Donny turns and runs through the rain, stumbling once but picking himself up quickly until he gets to the driver door and climbs back inside. Brent chases after him and catches up just as Donny backs up the car and speeds off into the night. Brent runs after the car for a moment until they both disappear into the downpour.
"Brent!" Angie calls, taking a step after them, then realizing it's a lost cause.
"Well, there goes my ride," I say as I finish pulling up my pants. I barely manage to remember to tuck little me back inside my boxers before I zip back up. I'm soaked, I'm cold, and this night sucks.
"What the hell are you doing here?" Angie asks, rounding on me.
I wince at her angry tone. "I hope your question means you didn't hear that conversation?"
Angie snorts. "You mean the one you just shouted into the woods?"
I groan loudly. It doesn't seem to vent my frustration enough, so instead I scream into the night, "Fuck!"
"So, Donny was your date . . ." Angie says while I catch my breath. "Brent told me about him. They're best friends, you know . . ."
I look at her in disbelief. "You're dating Brent Niven? He's the junior?"
"Yes, though it's not going well. He didn't even pay for my dinner. We had to split it."
Brent trots back up to us then, his face a mask of rage as he looks at us and asks, "Did I hear what I thought I heard?"
Angie and I share a look, wondering which one of us he's talking to. Assuming he's referring to her remarks about their date, Angie says, "What did you think you heard?"
Brent ignores her and turns to me. "Did Donny just say he wanted to blow you?"
I shake my head and say, "I'm not going to answer that."
"That faggot!" Brent shouts, looking back over his shoulder at the road behind him, then he turns back to me, wearing the most fearsome scowl I've ever seen on a high school student. "By not answering, you already told me. And I fucking knew he was a faggot anyway."
Angie takes a step toward Brent and says, "You better watch your mouth, Brent."
"Why is that?"
"You say 'faggot' one more time and I'll kick your ass."
"It's what he is," Brent says, spitting to the side, one drop of spittle amongst a million drops of rain. "He should be called what he is."
My sister puts herself between me and Brent, and she isn't about to back down. "Yeah, well my brother's gay, too, and I won't let you say shit like that when I'm around. If you want this," she points down at her crotch, "you better shut up."
Brent's hands clench into fists and he quivers with rage. After a moment, he simply waves his hand and says, "Fuck it. I'm done with tonight. I'm getting out of here." He starts walking back toward his car and Angie and I share a look of alarm.
"How are we supposed to get home?" Angie asks.
"You can figure that out on your own," Brent shouts back. "Fuck off." He climbs into his car and turns the engine on.
"So, do you want to call dad or should I?" I ask as Brent starts to pull out.
Angie sighs and pulls out her phone, though the rain makes it hard for me to make out. "It's my turn. Let's get this over with."
Before she can dial the number, Brent pulls up next to us and pushes open the passenger door. Angie gives him a hard look, and he returns it with equal intensity, but then his face softens.
"I'm not going to leave you two up here," he says, looking between us. "Can't have your deaths on my conscience. Get in here, but shut up. It's a long drive back to town, and I'm not gonna listen to more of your bullshit on the way."
Angie and I don't have to share a look to know we're on the same page. As long as we make it home safely, Dad never has to know how big of idiots we both were tonight.
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