Shards of Love

A Sanitaria Springs Story

By Cynus


I'm not the person I was two weeks ago. I can't think straight; my emotions keep getting the better of me. I feel fear like nothing I've experienced before, and it's dragging me down into a deep depression I'm not sure I can escape. I'm anxious and tired, and I can't figure out why.

Two weeks ago I received everything I ever wanted, so why am I still unhappy? I can't seem to shake this darkness which has been hanging over me, no matter what I do. I'm still consumed by it, and even though Seth and I are growing closer every day, it's like I'm drifting further and further away.

Why? Why? Why?

I'm so fucking sick of this. Can't I just be happy?

Foster put the pen down and stared at his journal, unable to continue. He'd let the words flow, as he had time and time again, but for once it didn't seem to make anything better. He'd kept a journal for several years, ever since he was forced to keep one by a particularly strict English teacher, but by the end of the school year he'd realized how much it had helped him. He'd finally had an outlet for his feelings, even if it never solved his problems.

Now that reality was coming crashing down around him, and it didn't seem like anything he did could change it. He was sure his life was about to fall apart, and he simply wanted to know why. The thought made him shift uncomfortably in his desk chair, the boxers he'd slipped on when he'd left his bed suddenly felt thin against the chill of the wood beneath him. He needed warmth.

He glanced over his shoulder at the sleeping form of his best friend, lying peacefully in Foster's bed, and wondering if he should abandon his journal and try to sleep again. Lying next to Seth was the best thing in the world. They'd taken a break in their friendship for over five years, but now that they'd resumed, it was as if they'd never been apart. Their old, familiar rhythm had returned, and they were already back to finishing each other's sentences. It was almost as if the last few years had been a bad dream.


There were certain things which brought him back to reality. Certain things which made it all real again. The ongoing looks of suspicion from his mother whenever she laid eyes on Seth. The wary eyes of Logan and Grayson as they stared at Foster and Seth from across the lunchroom. The absence of Royce from his room down the hall. Time had passed, and it had exacted its toll along the way.

Seth stirred, turning onto his side and blinking into the light of Foster's desk lamp. He propped himself up on his elbow first, then shifted to a sitting position, the covers sliding away from his naked chest and giving Foster a clear view all the way down to the top of Seth's dark pubes. Some things had definitely changed about their friendship, and sleeping together was one of them. They hadn't had sex yet, but it seemed just over the horizon.

Unfortunately, Foster was sure it was because Seth was rebounding from his previous relationship. If they did have sex this soon, it would be a mistake for both of them, though it was taking all of Foster's willpower to resist it. They'd already taken to sleeping naked, and they'd almost gone further twice, even though they'd only spent a handful of nights in bed together over the weekends.

"What are you doing up?" Seth asked, glancing at the clock. It was three in the morning, but Foster hadn't slept at all. He didn't feel physically tired, though, but his mind was weary as he met Seth's eyes. He hadn't expected to be read so easily, but Seth's expression immediately turned to one of concern as he slid out of the bed, unconcerned by his nakedness as he quickly crossed the room to join Foster at his desk.

Foster closed the journal in one swift motion, not wanting Seth to see what was written there, but knew he'd have to say something in order to keep Seth from digging in too deeply. "I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd write for a little while. Maybe this sounds weird, but I enjoy keeping a journal."

Seth was quiet as he watched Foster slide the journal back into place on the small wooden shelf above the desk. When Foster finally found the courage to look up at him, he found Seth's eyes were distant and his smile wistful. "The things I didn't know about you," Seth said, shaking his head slightly. He reached up and gently touched Foster's cheek. "Too bad I missed out on all that for so long, huh?"

"Yeah," Foster said immediately, a sudden bitterness rising in him, "well, you didn't have to, that was your choice."

Seth's hand paused as he stiffened, his eyes filled with regret. "Foster, I thought you'd forgiven me..." He said slowly, his voice breaking for just a second before he continued in a whisper. "I want to make it up to you, and you know I'd do anything to take those years back and-"

Foster stood and cut Seth off with a kiss, then pulled away, smiling to try and cover up his complicated emotions. "I'm sorry, Seth, I didn't mean to say it like that. I'm just tired."

Seth's eyes lightened momentarily, but then the concern returned full force. "No..." He replied, shaking his head, "that's not it. What's wrong, Foster? Please, talk to me."

"I..." Foster began, searching frantically for another excuse, but the longer he stared into Seth's emerald eyes, he knew he couldn't lie to him. There would be more pain in lying than in the truth, this time. His voice cracked as he fought back a fearful sob. "I'm scared I'm going to wake up, Seth."

Seth pulled him back to the bed and sat him down, then sat down next to him. It all seemed surreal to Foster, especially since Seth was naked and moving around as if he didn't care, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized it made sense. There was nothing erotic about this situation; there was no judgment to worry about or anyone to impress. This was a simple display of love from one friend to another.

But Foster knew it wasn't going to last.

Seth took Foster's hand, caressing it gently as he let their hands fall naturally onto Foster's thigh. The warmth through Foster's boxers was comforting, though not quite enough to push the darkness away. "What do you mean by waking up?" Seth asked gently, staring down at their hands.

"I'm scared I'm going to find out this is all a dream and I'm going to wake up," Foster said after a moment. "I'm scared you're going to leave me. I mean, this all feels unreal. Two weeks ago, I watched you from a distance, wanting you, and then now you're here, sitting next to me..." He trailed off for a moment before looking up to meet Seth's eyes, a raw pain filling his every word. "How the hell did this happen? I wanted this for so long, but I don't deserve it. I don't deserve you."

Seth kissed Foster's lips, quickly but with certainty. "Please don't..." he pleaded as he put his forehead against Foster's and breathed in deeply. "Foster, you deserve this and more. Much more. I want to give it to you, too. Maybe we're going much faster than I'm used to, but I've never felt more right about anything in my life. Sometimes love happens in an instant; sometimes everything just fits."

Foster wanted to believe it was that simple, but his doubts won in the end. "But something isn't right, Seth. I just can't put my finger on it." He pulled away and shook his head firmly. "Don't you get it? There's still something wrong, and we can't move forward until we find out what it is."

Seth nodded slowly and grimaced, but then said resolutely, "I'm not going anywhere."

"But how can I be sure?" Foster sighed, looking away.

With another squeeze of his hand, Seth said quietly, "I wish I had an answer for you, but it doesn't change anything. I'm staying, Foster. No matter what happens."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I could feel their eyes on me today, watching my every move. Is it jealousy? I don't know. Is it contempt? Again, I can't be sure. Nothing seems certain anymore. Maybe that's what the problem is. Before, I knew what was going to happen, and how my life was going to play out. I was going to be alone forever, I wasn't going to be loved, and I wasn't going to love again. I'd become used to it, numb to it.

And now, there's Seth.



How many times have I written his name in these pages? A hundred? A thousand? I've lost count, but I know he's been on my mind all these years, and I've never forgotten what he meant to me. I've said his name with love, with anger, with bitterness... but I've never said it with hatred. I've never been able to hate him, even when I was so angry with him I wanted to beat the shit out of him.

I've never stopped loving him. I don't think it's possible. I knew when we were ten, and I expressed it in the way that felt natural, the way my parents expressed their feelings to each other. Even when he pushed me away, when he wanted nothing to do with me, I couldn't stop loving him.

And now, there's Seth.

I write his name, and it's like I'm seeing it for the first time. Every line and curve of the letters pulls at me, enticing me with the whisper of his name. It's the same when I say it, I can taste his name on my tongue, and it tastes like his kisses. I've ached for him for all this time.

But is it enough? Does he truly love me back? Or am I fooling myself?

Why can't I be happy?

It was dark, even for a Monday, and the last thing Foster wanted was to go to school, but he knew there'd be hell to pay if he didn't go. He had two tests and a project due, and none of his teachers were well-known for leniency. He'd barely managed to get the project done the night before, after sending Seth home.

They hadn't spoken about Foster's doubts since their early morning conversation the day before, but Foster could tell it was weighing heavily on Seth's mind. Every time he'd turned around, he'd caught Seth looking at him with a touch of sadness in his eyes. Those beautiful eyes...

But now he had to face everyone else, his peers at school who'd never had a prayer of understanding him. School was always a drag, especially since he and Seth had somehow managed to avoid having a single class together. The fates were cruel; they always had been. At least they were able to sit together at lunch.

As he slipped his backpack over his shoulder he heard a knock on the front door. After staring that direction in confusion, he stepped out of his room and descended the stairs to see who had come to visit. When he opened the door and saw Seth standing on the doorstep, smiling wide as their eyes met.

"Hi," Seth said, showing his teeth as his smile widened even further.

"Seth, what are you doing here?" Foster asked. "You live on the opposite side of the school!"

Seth shrugged and replied, "I thought we could walk to school together."

Foster smiled at that but was still fighting the surprise he felt. "You must have gotten up really early to get here."

"Yeah, so?" Seth asked with another shrug.

"You love your sleep," Foster observed, chuckling.

Seth leaned forward and gave Foster a quick kiss on the lips. "I also love you," he said when they parted, causing Foster to blush.

"I..." Foster said uncertainly, "you can say that?"

Seth's smile faltered for an instant but then returned as he nodded. "Yep."

Foster bit his lip nervously and looked away, unable to bare the pure emotion in Seth's eyes while he felt his own guilt rising. "Does it bother you that I can't?" He asked quietly.

Seth stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Foster, pulling him into a tight embrace and pressing their cheeks together, leaning in close to Foster's ear to whisper, "No."

Foster returned the embrace, loving the contact and feeling some of his insecurities melt away. He could smell the sweet and fruity aroma of Seth's shampoo in his hair, mixed with Seth's natural scent and drank it in deeply. "You smell nice," Foster purred.

"See?" Seth said with a light laugh. "That's practically the same thing as 'I love you'. I'm good."

Foster pulled his face away, leaning his shoulders back as he maintained the embrace. He locked gazes with Seth and asked with a touch of awe in his voice, "How can you do that so easily?"

"What? Love you?" Seth asked, his grin turning impish. "I don't know; it just comes naturally."

Foster laughed helplessly and broke the embrace at last. "Whatever. You're amazing, do you know that?" he asked, not really expecting an answer as he reached back for the door knob. "Let's go."

His hand collided with the hand of his mother who was standing behind him, and he jumped back in surprise. Seth looked up at her and smiled then said politely, "Good Morning, Mrs. McGuire."

"Seth," Mrs. McGuire said formally, though the corner of her mouth was turned up slightly, the closest she'd had to a true smile since Seth had begun coming over. "I'm surprised to see you this morning."

"Well," Seth began, glancing at Foster, "I'll be here every morning to pick Foster up, so I hope you'll be okay with it."

To Foster's surprise, his mother's smile softened and she seemed completely genuine as she replied, "I think I can get used to it. It's good to see you."

They said their goodbyes and then Seth and Foster turned to start down the road toward the high school. Seth kept glancing back at Foster's house until they were out of sight, but only when they'd finally turned the corner and the house disappeared did either of them say anything.

"That was different," Foster said, smiling at Seth with wide eyes.

"Yeah, it was," Seth replied, bewildered. "Did you talk to her about us or something?"

Foster shook his head. "Nope. I guess she's just starting to accept you're really back in my life."

Seth smirked and said quietly, "Hopefully she's not the only one."

The words stung even though Foster knew Seth hadn't meant them to. Foster knew his voice was in danger of cracking with emotion, but he wanted Seth to know his feelings on the matter and risked speaking anyway. "I'm trying, Seth."

"I know," Seth said encouragingly, and then surprised Foster by locking their hands together and squeezing gently. "And I'll be here until you believe it and long after."

Foster was silent for a moment as they continued toward the school, hand in hand. As much as he wanted to believe the statement, his doubts continued to plague him. "What about..." he began hesitantly, but when Seth looked at him, Foster felt he had to continue. "What about Logan and Gray?"

"There's no need for that," Seth said quickly, but managed to keep his smile. "There's no comparison. They filled a role in my life, and they will in the future, but it will never be the same one. You fill yet another role, and that's the one I care about."

"And what role is that?" Foster asked, though he was terrified of the answer. He realized he was holding his breath and tried to let it go, but just wound up holding it again.

"The one I love more than anyone," Seth replied, "The one I'm meant to be with." He looked away and blushed, though he continued with confidence in his voice. "I wish I could explain it to you, but I can't. Ever since you and I reunited, it was like I'd finally come home. Everything became clear for me. You can take that however you want, but I'm convinced I belong with you."

Before Foster realized what he was asking the words had left his mouth. "But what if you're just rebounding?"

This time Seth's smile disappeared in an instant. His head snapped back toward Foster as he said in a neutral tone, "I'm not."

Foster looked away, feeling guilty for the question. They continued in silence again, as Foster began to draw strength from the fact that their hands were still connected. "Are you mad at me?" He asked after a few moments.

Seth sighed. "Frustrated, maybe, but not mad." He swung their hands up into the air and said, "I just want you to accept that this is real."

Foster stared at their connected hands for a moment but then let them fall again. They were coming up on the school now, and would soon have to part ways for their different classes, and he didn't want to let the conversation end on that note. "I don't know if that will ever happen," he admitted after a minute, and when Seth sighed again Foster hastened to add, "you've been a dream for so long."

To Foster's amazement, Seth's smile returned and he chuckled softly. "Gray used to call me dreamcatcher. Maybe there's some truth to that." He kissed Foster on the cheek and then gave his hand a final, gentle squeeze before he let go. "I can be both your dream and your reality, Foster. I'm magical like that."

The confidence in Seth's statement struck a chord with Foster and made him let out a childish giggle. "And cocky," he said after he regained control.

"I love it when you laugh," Seth said. "It reminds me of home."

Foster's emotions shifted then, to a complex mix of love, doubt, fear, and bliss. He didn't know what to make of it, and he didn't know what to say. So instead he kissed Seth lightly on the cheek and said, "I'll see you at lunch."

Seth caught Foster's arm as he turned and then pulled him into a firm embrace. "Yes," Seth said resolutely. "You will. It's a promise."

And then they parted, and Foster was distancing himself from Seth yet again, though his mind was filled with nothing more than the beautiful image of his best friend's eyes. The promise had been more than a pledge to join Foster for lunch, it had been a vow to always be there for Foster. How Seth had managed to communicate that through a simple gaze, Foster didn't know, but he felt the meaning as surely as he'd ever felt anything.

But that still wasn't enough to override his doubt over their relationship. Everything was still going so fast, and it was a drastic change from the life Foster had been living a few weeks before. It was so much to take in, and he couldn't understand how Seth had made the transition so quickly.

He continued to dwell on it all through his classes, through the test he was sure he'd bombed and the project he wasn't sure he'd even put his name on. He didn't care today, there were far more important things than school. This was his heart he was thinking about!

When he entered the lunchroom he found that he'd arrived first, and moved automatically toward his normal corner of the room. He usually sat on the floor against one of the walls, ignoring the tables in the center of the room and the faculty who sometimes bothered to tell him to move. Enough students preferred sitting along the wall that it was more trouble than it was worth to force them to sit at the tables. Foster was glad for that, as he preferred being away from the larger crowd of students.

As soon as he sat down, however, he realized that Seth might not feel the same way. In fact, it was possible he'd not seen Seth because he had returned to sit with his other friends. He stared across the cafeteria at where Logan and Grayson sat with several members of the basketball team and two girls from their class, Maggie and Kristin. Seth wasn't there, but it did look like they were all having a good time.

Foster jumped as Seth said from his side, "Foster."

"Yeah?" Foster asked, smiling nervously.

Seth sat down next to him and pulled out his lunch, then asked simply, "What's gotten you distracted?"

Foster considered dismissing the question, but he felt his guilt returning immediately. Seth had been completely open, and Foster had to do the same if he wanted things to work, and so he voiced his doubts. "I'm watching your friends. Don't you want to be with them?"

Seth shook his head firmly and said, "Only if you want to be. I don't think I'm ready to talk to them yet, personally. It's been rough as it is, working with Grayson at the café. Sometime, yes, but not yet."

"So you do want to go back to them..." Foster said under his breath. He was sure he'd been too quiet for Seth to hear over the volume in the cafeteria. He let his gaze extend across the room again and settle on Logan. Logan was searching the room as if looking for someone, whom Foster assumed was Seth simply by the subdued expression on his face.

Then he felt Seth's hand slide over his, gently gripping it and caressing it with his thumb. Foster looked down at their hands, watching Seth's thin fingers slide into his own and the muscles and tendons work naturally to allow their hands to mesh. It was instinctual and perfect, and there was a fundamental beauty to the way their bodies seemed to connect so easily.

Foster let his gaze travel along Seth's arm to his shoulder, then up his neck to the curve of his jaw and his supple lips, curved upward in a delicate smile, so fragile it seemed it could break in an instant but beautifully alluring. Foster continued upward, past Seth's freckled cheeks to his enticing green eyes, full of devotion and love.

"It's not like that, Foster," Seth said gently. "I want you to be with me when I do. You and I are together, now. They're not bad people, and they didn't mean to hurt me." His smile turned sad for a moment as he glanced across the cafeteria toward Logan and Grayson, but as soon as he turned back to Foster it was a happy smile again. "When we do decide to go to them, they'll be good to you, I promise."

Foster's doubts were fading, and for the moment Foster was sure he could trust Seth's intentions, but there were so many other factors to consider. "What if they want you to be with them, like you were, you know...?" he trailed off, unsure exactly how to phrase his concerns.

"It won't happen," Seth replied, squeezing Foster's hand. "If the three of us had waited and moved on together, maybe, but now it would be impossible even if I wanted it. Our history wouldn't allow it; we've already traveled down different paths." He sighed and shrugged slightly. "I think I was holding them back, now that I think about it. I knew I didn't really belong with either of them in that way. Logan and I were always supposed to be friends, nothing more, nothing less. Grayson and I became close, but we bonded over mutual love for Logan, first." His smile became a smirk as he glanced back in the direction of his former boyfriends. "Those two are meant for each other, as surely as you and I are, and I'll never intrude on that."

"Do you..." Foster began awkwardly. He knew he was being silly, especially since the first time Seth and he had spoken in years, Foster had been very open on the subject of sex, but now that he and Seth were in a relationship, it was a much more difficult subject to address. He cleared his throat and began again, "Do you regret not having sex with them?"

"Well, I'm a teenage boy, so I'm already hard just from you asking the question," Seth replied with a nervous chuckle, and Foster couldn't help but glance down at Seth's crotch to see just how true the statement was. Seth's distended crotch immediately earned a response from Foster's dick, but he tried to ignore it as Seth continued. "But I think it would have felt wrong. Back when it was just me and Logan, it would have probably been different, but we would have still been best friends getting to know each other intimately, not lovers." He shrugged as he looked at Foster and then blushed, causing him to look away again in embarrassment. "It might have been different when Logan and I were having problems and Grayson was there for me; Grayson and I would have given into hormones and passion, and it probably would have been awesome and a night to remember. But as soon as those two kissed, it would have been wrong. I think I knew that deep down, and it was part of the reason why I resisted moving forward with them."

Foster nodded slowly, but he wasn't quite satisfied. "You didn't answer my question. Do you regret it?"

Seth hesitated for only a moment as he pursed his lips thoughtfully. "No," he said with a resolute shake of his head. "Not really. I'm still a virgin, so I don't really know what I'm missing, but I think I'm happy for it. It means that eventually my first time will be with you."

Foster sucked air in through his teeth at that statement, feeling his anxiety on the rise. "Does it bother you that it won't be my first time?" He asked, bracing himself for the answer.

"No, though I didn't know that," Seth said, shrugging as if it didn't matter. "We haven't talked about that, and I didn't want to assume either way." He smiled supportively and squeezed Foster's hand. "Was it someone I know?"

Foster shook his head, not in answer but because his emotions wouldn't allow him any other gesture. "I don't really want to talk about it. There's some things I'm not ready for."

"I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I'll give you some time," Seth said after a moment. Foster was worried, but when he turned to look at Seth's face he found him smiling, and a wave of relief washed over him. "I want to know before you and I reach that step, though," Seth added a few seconds later. "I don't think it will help either of us to be keeping secrets when we decide to move to that level."

Foster took a deep breath. He wasn't completely happy with that answer, but he knew Seth had a good point. "Okay, I can respect that," he said with more confidence than he felt. "Though it might be awhile."

"You're worth waiting for, Foster," Seth said, leaning his head into Foster's shoulder and resting it there. "You always have been."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today was different. It felt real. I don't know why, but there was something in the way Seth looked at me which told me he was really looking at me. I was staring at Logan, wondering when he was going to come over and take Seth back from me, but Seth reached out and took my hand, I looked down, saw his hand wrapped in mine, then I looked up.

Those eyes are unforgettable. I've never known someone who could smile with their eyes better than Seth can. Maybe it's just the love talking, and I'm seeing more than there really is, but when he looked at me then... I knew he was looking at me, and he liked what he saw. For a brief second, I was happy.

So, I guess that's the answer. Maybe I just have to believe it.

I can still feel his hand. His eyes are still smiling at me. The world is quiet, and it's just me and him.

When did I become so sappy?

Does it matter?

More importantly, will it last? How long will I be happy? How long until it ends? Will he really stay forever?

"How come I've never seen you play your guitar, Foster?"

Seth was sitting on Foster's bed, glancing over to the corner of the room where Foster's acoustic guitar sat on its stand. It wasn't the highest quality instrument, but it had character. Prominently displayed on its face were the vinyl logos of several of Foster's favorite bands, including Demons of the Crossroads, and The Scissor Zeppelins. Foster loved the instrument more than anything else he owned except his journal, and he was protective of it.

"I only play it when I'm alone," Foster replied, shrugging noncommittally.

Seth looked back at Foster and asked with a gentle smile, "It's like your journal, then?"

Foster nodded as he walked over to Seth and sat down next to him. "Yeah, you could say that."

"I want to hear you play," Seth said quietly, glancing back at the guitar for a moment before turning back to meet Foster's eyes. "If you'd be comfortable with that."

Foster let his gaze linger on the guitar for a moment before he said quietly. "I might be able to do that, but you're going to have to give me some time to get used to the idea. I've never played for someone before."

Seth shrugged and grinned. "Sure."

"Just like that?" Foster asked, turning back to Seth with surprise.

"Just like what?" Seth asked, cocking his head to the side in confusion.

Foster shook his head in disbelief. "You just let it go. I expected you to insist."

"Why would I?" Seth asked, laughing lightly. "If you're not comfortable with it, then you're not comfortable. I'm not going to push you into anything. If there's anything I learned from my last relationship, that was it."

Foster didn't know what to say to that. He'd never had someone treat him so well. Everyone wanted him to do things he didn't want to do. His parents, his teachers. Royce. He hadn't expected Seth to be any different, and he was starting to realize just how different Seth was from everyone else. Maybe the love was real.

"Stop trying to make sense of it and just let it be."

Seth's words pierced the silence which had settled between them, draining tension Foster hadn't even realized he'd been feeling. He turned to look at Seth, feeling his recent internal conflict rise to the surface, though with more clarity than he'd ever seen it before. He could see Seth's love clearly now, but there was something else holding him back. Memories he couldn't deny.

"But I don't understand," Foster said weakly, tormented by the inability to reconcile the love he felt for Seth with the memory of what Seth had done to him. He wanted it as much as he'd ever wanted anything.

And Seth was there in an instant to make him want it even more. He kissed Foster on the cheek, soft and sweet, communicating a pure intent which Foster longed to hold onto. "Do you understand this?" Seth asked.

Foster nodded. "Yes."

Seth pulled Foster into an embrace, guiding him down to the bed as he wrapped his arms even tighter. He drew their foreheads together and then asked, "How about this?"

Foster closed his eyes for a moment then nodded again. "Yes."

"I love you," Seth said quietly, pleadingly.

Foster's eyes opened again as he prepared to tell Seth what was in his heart. Then he hesitated. "I want to tell you, but I can't."

Seth's eyes were moist as he replied, "Stop trying to make sense of it and let it be."

"That's what you said a moment ago," Foster observed, not entirely sure why he'd said it. He was trying to internalize it; he was trying to make it a part of him, but it had to get past the pain, first.

"Good," Seth said, chuckling though a tear slid down his cheek. "At least one of us doesn't have memory problems." He forced a grin as their eyes locked together again, but the smile quickly faded over the next few seconds. "Or is that the issue?" Seth asked, pulling back in surprise. "You've forgiven me, but you haven't forgotten..." He shook his head and sat up, ending the embrace as his eyes were filled with absolute clarity. The tears had disappeared, and he turned back to Foster with the small beginnings of a smile. "I... I get it."

"That might be it," Foster said, holding his breath as he waited for Seth's reaction.

Seth nodded, slowly at first but the gesture quickened as Seth set his jaw with determination. "It doesn't change anything for me," he said. "I'm here to prove to you that I've changed."

"I know you have," Foster replied, but his doubts refused to let go. "But maybe I haven't."

"What does that mean?" Seth asked as his smile disappeared again.

"I'm not sure," Foster said helplessly, propping himself up on his elbows as he stared up at Seth. "But I do know I want you here, so please don't pull away from me." Balancing on one arm, he reached for Seth and laid his hand gently on his bicep. "Please, just be here?"

Seth nodded and settled back onto the bed next to Foster. He reached out for him again and resumed their embrace. "Okay, I'm here. I'm not going anywhere."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Why can't I tell him I love him? I do, as you well know, but every time I open my mouth to say it, nothing comes out. I hesitate, and I can see his pain, even though he says it's fine or laughs it off. Seeing him in pain is terrible.

But I don't know what to do. I don't know how to make it better. Every time I think about telling him, I remember the look in his eyes when I first kissed him. I remember him pushing me away, telling me to run home like a little faggot and to never speak to him again. I remember showing up at school the next week and finding that none of my friends would talk to me.

I remember the years of darkness afterward, the things that happened as a result.

Seth McAllister ruined my life.

I held it against him for years, and then he was in the hospital, nearly dead and his life completely changed. I remember hearing about it at school, and I was numb all day. I went home and cried, completely confused by my emotions. Even after everything he'd done to me, I still loved him.

You know all of this, of course. Your pages have seen my thoughts time and time again. You remember it as surely as I do; you know how much I wanted to approach him when he was scared and withdrawn, when all of his friends had abandoned him. He'd been so different than the Seth who'd pushed me away, but he was also the same in so many ways... Every part of him which I'd loved had remained intact.

And then Logan Whitmore came along. I'd waited too long, and Seth had moved on with someone else. A boy, no less. Everything was set up perfectly for me, and I didn't take the chance when it was offered to me.

Now, I'm hesitating once again, and I feel him slipping away. I can't let that happen. Not this time. He hurt me, he nearly destroyed me, and he abandoned me, but I can't help but love him. I can't help but want to give him another chance. I think, even if it happened all over again, I'd still give him one more chance.

Because no matter what, Seth's right. We belong together, for good or ill. I've never met another person who does to me what Seth does, and I can't imagine life without him now.

Which is why I can't let him get away this time, and I won't. I promise, I won't! It might take me a few days, but I have an idea. You'll see. By the end of the week, Seth McAllister will be mine once and for all.

Thank you for always being there for me. Thanks for listening.

Seth was coming as asked, walking toward the south side of the school where Foster was waiting. Foster watched him approach with a nervous smile. He had been preparing for today for the last week, and was eager to get on with it, even though the prospect of what was about to happen terrified him.

"Foster," Seth said as he stopped a few feet away. "You've been acting strangely all day, what's going on?"

"I told you," Foster said with a grin, "you have to come over today and everything will make sense."

He was starting to feel like his old self again. The person who always spoke his mind and wasn't afraid of judgment. The doubts were almost entirely gone, and he'd begun to accept Seth back into his life. Everything was going well.

But he felt a pang of regret for how he'd been treating Seth when he saw the look of suspicion in Seth's eyes as he asked. "Will it?"

"Yes," Foster said firmly. "I promise."

"All right, I'm game," Seth replied, smiling now. "But you know I work tonight, right?"

"This won't take long," Foster said quickly. "I need to do this before my mom gets home, anyway."

Seth nodded. "All right."

They started toward Foster's house in silence. Foster was lost in thought, worrying about what he had planned for Seth, and didn't notice they'd gone a block without speaking until Seth said, "You seem really nervous. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, just thinking," Foster replied weakly. "Don't worry about me."

"Okay," Seth said, shrugging, though he gave Foster a worried glance before gazing forward.

Foster was desperate to keep Seth from worrying and decided to keep the conversation going on mundane topics. "How was your history test?"

"It was fine," Seth said carefully, "but is that really what you want to talk about?"

Foster smiled and nodded. "For now, yes."

"Okay," Seth said, returning the nod. "Well, I wasn't completely sure on a few of the questions, but..."

After a few more awkward questions about classes, the conversation became natural again, and before either of them knew it, they'd arrived at Foster's house. Foster led Seth inside and into the living room, then he directed Seth to take a seat on the couch facing away from the entrance to the room.

"I'll be right back," Foster said. "Stay here, okay?"

"All right," Seth replied. "Where are you going?"

Foster grinned and said, "It's a surprise."

Seth nodded and Foster left the room, taking the stairs two at a time to the next level and stepping into his bedroom. He walked straight to the corner which held his guitar and slung its strap over his shoulder. He'd made sure it was perfectly tuned that morning, and didn't want to give Seth any indication as to what was to come.

Creeping quietly back down the stairs, he peered into the living room to see that Seth was busy looking across the room at the pictures on the wall. With a nervous but determined gait, Foster reached for the folding chair he'd leaned against the wall before leaving for school and then set it up behind the couch.

Then he studied Seth from behind for a moment, remembering all the emotions which had brought him to this moment. His journey with Seth had been a crazy one, but one he was now sure of. As he sat in the chair, he placed his fingers on the proper frets for the song he'd been meticulously practicing whenever Seth was away, letting the emotions wash over him. He needed them now; he needed the music they'd fueled within his soul.

And then he played the first chord, letting his fingers play instinctually as his voice prepared to join in. He played a few more chords as Seth spun around on the couch, staring at him with wide-eyed wonder. "Foster..." He whispered, his voice trailing off with a gasp as Foster started to sing.

Touches like glass,

Smooth and clear, but shatters in seconds.

An innocent question on my lips,

Transferred to yours in a gentle kiss

You didn't know

You didn't see,

How much this question meant to me.

Foster was completely lost in the song, focusing on communicating the words he'd written and the notes he'd composed. He didn't dare look up to meet Seth's eyes as he started in on the chorus, not wanting to be distracted.

Your answer shattered me,

Broke me down to shards of anger,

Shards of bitterness,

Shards of love.

Your answer shattered me,

But you picked up the pieces,

Put me back together,

These shards of love.

Seth moved from the couch, walking slowly but methodically as if drawn to Foster's side by the siren call of the song which had been written just for him. He stopped a few feet in front of Foster, completely mesmerized as Foster closed his eyes and continued.

Distance like horizons,

Always out of reach, never out of sight,

An innocent craving in my soul,

Connected to yours by longing vision.

You didn't know,

You didn't see,

How much this distance meant to me.

Your answer shattered me,

Broke me down to shards of anger,

Shards of bitterness,

Shards of love.

Your answer shattered me,

But you picked up the pieces,

Put me back together,

These shards of love.

Foster risked a look at Seth, and then couldn't look away. He met Seth's eyes and was immediately captivated as his emotions took over for him, continuing the song as their master was enveloped by the love he saw reflected in Seth. He could feel his fingers strumming the chords, and could hear his words as they left his mouth, but they were merely background now to the symphony playing between their stares.

Kisses like dreams,

Unspoken desire, the taste of memory,

An impossible future I'd buried,

But it was bursting at the seams,

You couldn't know,

You couldn't have seen,

But these kisses mean the world to me.

You once shattered me,

Broke me down to shards of anger,

Shards of bitterness,

Shards of love.

But now your love completes me,

And you've picked up the pieces,

Put me back together,

These shards of love.

Foster stopped playing soon after the last words left his mouth, but the music between them continued. He'd been scared to look at Seth before, but now he refused to look away. This was a moment of pure energy like he'd never experienced before, and he never wanted it to end.

But there was a question on his mind, and he broke the silence at last with a whispered, "Well...?"

"I..." Seth began, and then shuddered from the palpable energy in the room. "I've never felt this way in my life. I don't know whether to laugh, cry or..." He shook his head and then took a step toward Foster, grinning from ear to ear. "Never mind, I know exactly what to do." He started to move the guitar out of the way, and Foster slipped it from his shoulders and placed it against the wall as Seth straddled him in the chair, sitting in his lap. He wrapped one arm around Foster's upper back while the other entangled itself in Foster's hair and pulled their heads together. They kissed, then kissed again, lips locked in a dance expressing their deepest feelings of devotion for each other.

When they parted for breath, Seth sighed contentedly and said, "I love you, Foster McGuire."

Foster smiled and replied without hesitation, "I love you, too, Seth McAllister. I always have."

Seth's body visibly shook with relief. He closed his eyes and whispered a silent 'thank you', before opening them again and giving Foster another round of kisses. They continued like this for several minutes, letting their emotions come down from the high until they settled comfortably into each other's arms.

Seth stirred after a moment and reached into his pocket, withdrawing his cell phone. "Hold on." He said apologetically, "I need to make a call."

"Sure," Foster replied, smiling.

After mouthing another quick 'thank you', Seth put his phone up to his ear and waited for the call to connect. "Gray, I know you're surprised to hear from me, but I've got a huge favor to ask of you." Foster's eyes widened momentarily at the unexpected identification of the person at the other end of the line, but his expression quickly became a wide smile as Seth continued. "Will you cover my shift tonight?" He looked at Foster and winked then sighed in relief. "Thanks, Gray. You're a lifesaver. Hey, we're going to talk soon, okay? Tell Logan, too. You're awesome, thank you."

Seth wasted no time in ending the call after that, though Foster got the distinct impression that Grayson had wanted to extend it. He now trusted Seth completely, but he still wasn't sure about what Grayson's intentions were. "You're talking to them again?" Foster asked neutrally.

"I will be," Seth confirmed, then stroked Foster's cheek gently. "But you're coming with me."

"Oh?" Foster asked, unable to contain his smile at the sweet gesture.

"I've got to show off my new boyfriend, don't I?" Seth asked, chuckling.

"I suppose so," Foster replied, joining in the laughter. "What did you want to do tonight? Now that you're off, I mean."

"This seems like a good place to start," Seth said, leaning in to begin another round of kisses.

When they parted again, Foster looked deeply into Seth's eyes and said, "I'm awake now."

"No more doubts?" Seth asked, hopeful.

Foster nodded and said, "No more doubts." Then his smile faded slightly as he added, "Though there's still some things you need to know."

"We can talk about them later," Seth said, then went on cautiously, "unless you want to talk about them now?"

"No," Foster replied, shaking his head firmly. A wicked grin then spread across his face as he said, "Right now I want to wrestle."

"Just like old times?" Seth asked, matching Foster's grin.

"No," Foster replied as he leaned forward and gave Seth a quick kiss. "Even better."

Author's Note:

If you'd like to support me specifically, please view my little splurge below about my Patreon page.

Thank you for reading one of my stories! I appreciate the fact that you've taken the time to view something I've done. Although this is probably shameful of me, I'm going to do it anyway! I have a Patreon page where you can support me and help me make writing my career instead of my hobby. The way Patreon works is that you pledge a small amount of money (Even as much as $1 still helps!) per creation that I produce, whether it be a short story or a chapter of a serialization. Each time I produce one of those things, you'll be charged. The good thing is that you can set a monthly maximum! That means that if you pledged $3 per creation and set a monthly maximum of $8, you would never be charged more than $8 in a month even if I released 5 stories/chapters. Here's the link:

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The End