I entered the gym only to find Thomas half dressed and struggling to find a way to get his shirt over his face. I opened the collar of the shirt wider and his head popped through, face a study in abuse. His nose was swollen and bruising was evident under his eyes. Dried blood rimmed his nostrils and a cut over his eye still wept slightly, and his eyes flashed a stunned anger.
“I ask for help and you are going to make me a freak?” he almost roared.
“What?” I asked in a confused voice, “Thomas I was just trying to get help!”
“By calling in the national guard? Paramedics? What kind of help is that? Police reports and then newspapers, can’t you see it now? My face is beaten to a bloody pulp, news at eleven!”
“I’m sorry, I did what I thought would get you help fastest!” I replied somewhat angrily.
“I need to get out of here,” Thomas said, almost absently, and began to totter forward. I grabbed my previously forgotten bag and placed an arm across his upper back to help him forward. He stiffened and then relaxed into me, placing an arm across my shoulders and allowing me to help him from the building.
We moved quickly behind the building towards the front of the school and my waiting friends. Oh jeez, my friends. Brian is going to flip, I hope he isn’t too mean to Thomas I thought miserably. We rounded the building and I urged Thomas to stand up as straight as he could before anyone really saw us, unfortunately Brian did and I could see his eyes narrowing.
The sound of sirens approaching was filling the air and I motioned for everyone to come towards me as I turned from them and headed down the street towards my house, a good six blocks away. More like eight this way, but I had to keep Thomas away from the direction the sirens were coming from. Moments later I heard pounding feet and then they were all around us, Brian being the first to speak, predictably.
“What the fuck, Chad?” he demanded before catching sight of Thomas’s ruined face, “Oh my god, what happened?”
“Nothing,” Thomas grunted.
Stan looked about in utter confusion and Cyn took Thomas’s other side as we quickly turned the corner to avoid the approaching fire department and assorted other services. That was big trouble, we couldn’t get caught now, there would be huge fines and even a juvenile record.
The heat was merciless and seemed to roll off the pavement in visible waves, searing through the soles of our sneakers and baking us in our own juices. At last we reached my block, when I stopped dead. My parents and Matt were home, if Thomas didn’t want a big deal, well they would make it one, wouldn’t they?
“Cyn, can we take him to your house? My folks are home,” I looked at her pleadingly.
“Sorry,” she said shaking her head, “Mom is on vacation, planting her garden this week,” she replied. I looked at Brian desperately.
“Oh, man, Chad,” he trailed off with a whine. I gave him the puppy dog eyes and I watched my best friend crumble, nodding his assent. We headed over to Brian’s house as fast as we could hobble and got Thomas in and on the couch.
“Ok, pretty boy, what happened?” Cyn stated flatly, her tone brooking no excuse.
“Why should I tell you?” Thomas nearly spat.
“Because we went out of our way to help you? Has that crossed your mind? I guess we must have a reason,” she glanced at me before fixing him with a look, “but isn’t the fact that we helped you enough for you to be civil and honest for ten minutes?”
The life seemed to drain from Thomas and the hard exterior crumbled as large tears collected in his eyes. “I’m sorry, I’m…really sorry. Leo would kill me…fuck it, he already tried,” Thomas gestured with his hands to his ruined face.
“Yeah, why don’t you start there?” Cyn stated.
“Leo…well, he has a reputation, you know?” Thomas began.
“As an asshole, yeah,” Brian offered.
“He is pretty rough, I’ll give you that, but when Leo asks something…” Thomas hung his head, “I gave it to him.”
“I don’t understand,” Stan said in confusion.
“Stan, honey, let’s get something to drink and let the boys handle this,” Cyn said evenly while grabbing Stan by the arm and steering him to the kitchen.
“Thomas,” I began, but words failed me. Leo had wanted something, he had wanted Thomas. And he had gotten him, that was what made matters worse, for me anyway. Here he was, beauty defiled, as I never could have thought possible, a sad beauty if there ever was one.
“You know, he can be nice,” Thomas said as he curled his legs up underneath him and the tears tracked down his face slowly, “He was really nice at first. He used to take me out, almost like a real…”
“Date?” Brian supplied. Thomas nodded in a defeated manner, giving up the fight to stay in the closet I suppose.
“Thomas, why did you let him do this to you? You’re so,” I choked on my intended words, “were so popular,” I finished lamely.
“I first met Leo about a year ago, at one of the football games. I had to go to see the coach because I had twisted my ankle a few weeks before and I had a doctors not to go back to gym, like I wanted to do that,” he sighed with a small grin.
“Leo was in the changing room, and I had noticed him before of course, he’s built and he had the nicest eyes, probably his best feature. He used to wear his hair in that short cut that looked awesome on him, like he was a cop or a Marine or something,” he sniffled sadly before continuing, “I had to wait for coach and Leo talked to me for a minute, general stuff, why I was there just before football practice. I think he said he was late so that’s why he was the last one in the locker room. I asked him why he was late, and the dumb ass says to me that he had math detention, cause he didn’t do his homework.
“That was the beginning, he conned me into doing his homework for him, which sucked, but he also figured out that I liked him, somehow. He would dress really skimpy around me, come out with just a towel on form the bathroom, all sorts of flitting stuff. I won’t lie, he was really, really built and I like that,” Thomas said defensively, “I just didn’t realize that he wasn’t gay. I didn’t realize that he just wanted…he just wanted to get off,” Thomas finished in a defeated, broken in the soul sounding voice.
Why did you stay with him, Thomas?” Brian asked.
“You mean besides the sex?” he said with a sad laugh, “He’s very big, much bigger than I am and he can make me do almost anything,” his eyes hardened, “He could anyway, no more. I can’t take this anymore, what did I ever do?”
“Act like King Turd of Shit Hill for starters,” Brian replied sourly as he stood and sat in a chair opposite the couch.
“You have to believe me, Leo said I had to, I wasn’t allowed any other friends,” Thomas looked down in humiliation, “I was his property until he decided he was done with me, I realize that now, now more than ever.
“He was just using me, I don’t think he ever once said he…that he loved me,” he left his eyes focused on his lap, large tears tracking down his cheeks, “Leo was so not the person I thought he was. He was telling me in the locker room that he was going to …” he choked back a sob and inhaled deeply, breath hitching before continuing, “fuck me tonight, fuck me because he owned me.”
I wanted to hug him, to soothe him and make him feel better, and I was just about to when the iceman, Brian, wrapped his arms around Thomas, who sagged into him in great wracking sobs.
“It’s over now, you don’t have to worry,” Brian said quietly.
“He’ll still come after me, who’s going to stop him, you?” Thomas laughed hollowly, “He’ll catch me, and he’ll rape me probably. He’ll do it because that’s what he wants, because he owns me.”
“No, he doesn’t, and you stay with us, so he can’t get you alone, you have fiends now,” Brian stated firmly.
“He’s a lot bigger than you, Brian, what do you think you’d do to him?” Thomas sniffed, a small smile playing about his fine features.
“I’ll bitch slap him! I’ll knee him in his balls!” Brian stated, puffing out his chest comically and drawing a smile from Thomas’s battered face.
“It’s not that easy,” Thomas whispered, and Brian drew him into him again and held him as Thomas wept.
We sat in silence, save for the sound of Thomas’s soft sobs, which were heartbreaking to listen to. Finally he slowed and quieted down and was sitting back on the couch when Cyn came back in.
“I sent the boy wonder out for some soda, best I could do,” she said, “How’s our patient?”
“He’s feeling better, thanks,” Thomas said with a somewhat broken smile, split lip and all.
“Well, that’s good,” Cyn stated with a smile as she ran a finger down the side of his cheek, “wouldn’t want such a pretty creature becoming extinct.”
“Thomas, how long have you and…Leo been a … couple,” I managed to spit out, though the idea of Leo’s hands on Thomas made me physically ill.
“Just short of a year,” Thomas said in a near whisper, “I can’t believe it’s all over now.”
“It better be over, none of that shit where you go running back to the bastard who abuses you,” Cyn narrowed her eyes, “I’ll kick your ass myself.”
“I just don’t understand why you guys are helping me?” Thomas asked, “I know I wasn’t nice to you, and you,” he looked at Brian, “If looks could kill I’d be ten feet under.”
“We have our reasons, maybe one day we’ll tell you, but I think not!” Cyn replied as she tossed herself on the couch next to Thomas.
“We can tell him, Cyn,” Brian said with a devilish gleam in his eyes and I began to panic. Hadn’t he heard that Thomas all but screamed he wouldn’t be interested in me? He likes the buff footballers, the athletes and body builders, not kids who played soccer or the occasional basketball game.
“We are part of the Blond Conservation League, and we just happened to see one in danger of becoming extinct!” he chuckled to himself and Thomas frowned at him in amusement.
I was walking home from Brian’s thinking of Thomas, but now it was different. Before I always used to dream about him, unreachable, beautiful and unconquered. He seemed so exotic, wild, and foreign to me. He was my ideal, my rainbow’s end, the penultimate of all the guys I had ever fantasized about.
He was my first love. Ok, maybe my first crush, but still I saw him differently now, violated. He wasn’t ever going to kiss me as his first boyfriend, we wouldn’t be each other’s first we…wouldn’t ever be together, I realized. Don’t get me wrong, I was still attracted to him, unbelievably attracted, but my feelings weren’t so clear now as they had once been.
I felt awful for Thomas, this physically stunning creature who was a train wreck inside, and I never knew it because I was so focused on his outside. What did I know of him? Why had I thought this was love? I felt bad for the way I had mistaken Thomas, I was no better than Brian at judging him, and at worst Leo and I thought of him the same way, as this beautiful object of desire.
Now I felt miserable, and what was worse is it wasn’t entirely because of Thomas’s situation, I was also mourning for me. The knowledge of what had happened to Thomas was paining me something fierce, but mixed with it was a sense of loss for me too, a sense that I had been blind, and if I was blind to that, what else might I have been missing? All I saw when I looked at Thomas was this beauty that was out of reach, when in reality he was being reached regularly and needed that, that for all his beauty he was very insecure and alone inside himself. I shook my head, I really knew nothing of him.
I opened my front door to find father sitting in his chair, scowling at me, and my mother with her lips pursed sitting next to him. I knew then I was in trouble, but not exactly what for.
“Hi,” I said timidly.
“Chad, where have you been?” My father blurted with no preamble.
“I was at Brian’s, Dad,” I replied unsure of why this would be an issue, after all I was normally allowed to go anywhere I pleased after school, so long as I was home for dinner and my grades didn’t suffer.
“Well, you said you were coming straight home from school!” My mother interjected.
“We changed our minds?” I said in a slightly smartass tone of voice.
“Well, I can see making a cake was for nothing, we should have gone to the lake with Matt for some fishing like we planned!” My father grumped loudly.
“Oh, so that’s it, huh? You decide to try and make up for my birthday, then when I don’t cooperate you get pissed at me?” I demanded.
“Don’t talk to us like that!” My mother admonished.
“What’s the fuss?” Matt said as he descended the stairs.
“Oh, not much, Mom and Dad are pissed at me, I guess I’m just ungrateful though as they’d like to acknowledge my birthday now, and I wasn’t here to fit their busy schedule!” I finished my voice at a crescendo.
“Hey, watch it!” Matt slapped the back of my head as he had done the night before, “It was a mistake, grow up!”
“They didn’t forget to pick up your ass, did they? They knew what day you came home, but they forgot I had been born that day! Sure, why should you care, you were the son they wanted!” I finished in Matt’s face like I had never dared to be before. His hand slapped across my face and my head snapped back with the force of his blow. I faced him slowly as he glared at me.
“That wasn’t fair,” he said.
“Life, I am finding, isn’t either,” I replied coldly as I left my family in the living room and ascended the stairs to my room. It was a short-lived moment by myself however as Matt came through the door and slammed it behind him.
“You don’t know how to knock?” I snarled at him.
“What is your problem?” he hissed at me.
“What do you care?” I replied sullenly as I reclined on my bed.
“Look, they were preoccupied, that’s all,” he began and I cut him off.
“They forgot I was even here, Matt, just like they always did when you were here. I thought it would get better, maybe they’d love me when you left for the Navy. Maybe I wouldn’t look like such a mistake with you not here to make me into some annoyance!” I got off the bed and began to pace slightly, my agitation growing as years of bile stored for my older brother poured forth.
“You beat on me, and when I complained you denied it and they believed you. You took my money for lunch and I went hungry, and they believed that I lost it rather than think their precious Matt would ever knock his brother down and take his money,” I gritted my teeth as I rounded to look at him, “Jesus Christ! They even kept it up when Brian’s mother called to tell them you had done it to him too! But who got grounded? Who had to stay home while you went to the lake with them? Whose baseball registration was forgotten, but Matt’s was paid for at the end of the season every year, to make sure he was on a team! Go ahead, Matt, tell me how much they love me, go ahead!” I screamed.
My chest heaved in and out, and my heart raced beneath my skin. I felt hot and at the same, time, cold in my core. I felt exhausted, my brain seeming to flex and become tired, limbs gaining a sudden weight as I sat down on my bed, fighting to keep any tears in that threatened to fall.
The door closed behind me as Matt left, and all I could think was, ‘there, can’t deny that can you’?
I lay on my bed, trying to calm down and not succeeding all that well. Thomas wasn’t what I thought, I wasn’t what my family though I should be, apparently, and nothing was going the right way the last couple of days. I lay on my bed for I don’t know how long, thoughts swirling and racing through my head. I was lost, the guy I wanted knocked from his pedestal, and worse what did that say of me? I was in love with what I thought he was, not what he was and since he wasn’t what I thought, I was no longer in love? I’ll buy a vowel please? Anything to give me some direction in this miserable little act I had in progress.
Does that make me shallow that I was attracted to him, no, obsessed with him based on his looks? Yeah, I think it makes me shallow too, and I hate that. I heard the parents and Matt downstairs, the murmur of voices and then the smells of food floated up the stairs and I realized I was pretty damn hungry, but I wasn’t about to go downstairs. Footsteps made the stairs creak and there was a soft knocking on my door.
“What?” I answered. The door opened and Matt poked his head in.
“Dinner’s ready, Chad,” He said quietly.
“I’m not hungry,” I replied, rolling over and looking out my window.
“Chad, you have to eat, don’t piss them off anymore,” he said quietly.
“Screw them, and screw you,” I replied. He sighed and closed the door behind him.
The night sky was in place when the phone rang, and I was more surprised when I was allowed to take a call on it, as I figured I had earned grounding by revealing my version of events.
“Hey, what’s up baby?” Brian said in his sexiest voice.
“Oh, slick Bri, who you planning to try that out on?” I asked while giggling and lying back on my bed.
“Can’t you tell? I am doing my Thomas impression!” he laughed.
“Oh, please, no!” I laughed, Brian could always make me feel good.
“Wait, I got a better one,” he said dropping his voice to a totally sexy rasp, “what are you wearing?”
“Um, jeans…” I giggled.
“Anything else?” he asked, continuing to rasp.
“Well, no,” I giggled a little more.
“Well, why don’t you just slip those jeans right off?” he suggested, breathing somewhat heavily into the phone, and I have to admit I was getting the chills from his little performance.
“Dude, unless you’re going to come over here and deal with the mess your making here, you better stop!” I giggled again. I heard what sounded like the phone being dropped, and laughed, assuming Brian had dropped the phone like he was leaving to come over and ‘service me’.
“So, your prince in shimmering cotton-polyester blend just left,” Brian stated through his giggles after picking the phone back up.
“Oh say it isn’t so, not polyester!” I laughed.
“I feel sorry for him,” Brian stated suddenly.
“I…I do too,” I replied a little more slowly, a little surprised at the change of mood.
“But?” Brian pressed. I sighed, no hiding anything from Brian.
“Well, he’s not what I thought he was,” I stated lamely.
“Yeah, I have to agree with that assessment,” he replied evenly.
“I…oh, this is stupid,” I said as I felt my cheeks reddening though Brian couldn’t see me.
“Oh, this has to be good, come on Chaddie waddie, give it up to Bri!” he needled.
“Asswipe!” I replied with a laugh.
“Seriously, what’s in that twisted little head of yours?” I groaned in response.
“Bri…I duno, it has been just so fucked up the last few days…I think I am not even sure yet what’s up in my head,” I sighed deeply.
“This isn’t just about Thomas, is it?” he asked.
“No, my folks started again. They got pissed off cause I didn’t come straight home like I had said I would,” I replied.
“Yeah, well, not like you can give them the real story, huh? That’s weird though, they never hassle about you not going home after school,” he commented.
“Well, get this, they made a cake and were pissed I wasn’t here so they could soothe their guilty conscience,” I replied.
“That sucks,” Brian said softly.
“Yeah, then Matt and I had it out, after he smacked me downstairs,” I continued.
“Yeah, I can see he hasn’t changed that much, huh?”
“I guess not,” I sighed.
“I guess it was kind of a shock for us all, finding out who the real Thomas was anyway, huh?” he asked, resuming the former topic.
“Yeah, that’s a big part of it,” I conceded, and the silence began to draw out.
“Are you still attracted to him?” Brian asked.
“Yeah, he’s cute as hell, but…” I trailed off.
“Maybe not exactly what you wanted?” he asked, maybe a little hopefully.
“Well, not what I thought he should be, not what I pictured,” I sighed deeply, “No, not what I wanted, and I am not what he wanted, either.”
“That’s got to be tough,” Brian sympathized, “being in love and not having it returned to you.”
“Yeah, well, now I don’t think it was love. How could I be in love? I didn’t know a freaking thing about him, I just wanted what I thought he was,” I replied with a sigh, “You have to know someone, what makes them happy, what makes them sad, what makes them who they are before you can really love them I think. I think you have to really know someone first,” I sighed again as I rolled onto my side and looked out the window to the street and the lights of the house across the street.
“Sometimes you just have to hope they become what you need,” Brian hesitated, “or that they see you are what they need.”
“I guess,” I sighed again, “see you in school tomorrow?”
“I’ll be there, man,” he replied.
“Night, Bri,” I said with a yawn.
“Good night, Chad,” he replied and my head felt very heavy on the pillow, eyes drooping, “I love you.”
My eyes snapped open.Next Chapter Previous Chapter