By Julien Gregg
Edited By Rob Hawes

Author's Note: This story does not endorse a way of life. It merely describes one. The reader is left to form his or her own conclusion and make their own choices. The characters in this story do not practice safe sex. I can't urge my readers enough to always be safe. Life is precious. Why chance it?

Chapter Eight:

"That's awesome!" Sebastian cried when Ian told the group that he'd passed all of the tests and would graduate at the end of the year with them. "I knew you could do it."

"I was a little worried about one of the tests," he replied. "Two of them were kind of difficult to get through but that one really had me sweating."

"But you passed them all!" said Carl, patting him on the back. "Way to go!"

"So you're going to go to college next fall?" Ryan asked.

"That's the plan," said Ian. "I have to apply at Whitmore though. I promised my dad."

"Whitmore's a good school," said Sebastian. "I'm planning to apply there myself."

"Me too," said Carl as some of the others nodded. "That would be cool with all of us going to the same school."

"I just have to pass all of the classes I'm in now and it's a sure thing that I'll graduate," said Ian before taking a drink from his glass of juice.

"Well we'll just have to make sure you do," said Sebastian with another of his killer smiles. "I'm sure that each of us can spare some time to help you out if you get in too deep."

"Thanks guys," Ian replied. "This is going to be great."

For the rest of the day in school Ian was in a great mood. He went from class to class with a smile on his face. Other students smiled back at him even if they didn't know what he was smiling about. Several asked but all he would say was that he was having a great day. They seemed to accept that well enough. Some even said congratulations, though he didn't know if they knew about the tests or were just congratulating him on having a great day. He didn't care though. He was on cloud nine.

Andy talked a mile a minute as they drove to his house after school. He was almost as happy about Ian's passing the tests as Ian was. He talked about how great it would be to have Ian along at all of the senior parties and events. He seemed happier than Ian was actually. He was telling him about the senior trip as they pulled into the driveway at Andy's.

"I don't know if my parents would let me go," he said. "I'll only be sixteen."

"I'm sure they'll let you go," Andy replied. "They have to."

They got right into doing their homework when they got in the house. Andy's parents weren't home so the house was really quiet. Not much was said as they did their respective assignments and Ian started to think about the warning he'd been given by Sebastian and Carl. He wondered if Any would tell him what it was all about. Then he wondered if he wanted Andy to tell him. He didn't even know that Andy knew that they would warn him. In the end he decided that Andy had been a good enough friend that he deserved to know about it if he didn't already.

"I need to ask you something," he said as they were putting their books away.

"Shoot," Andy said with a smile.

"Well it's kind of personal I think," Ian replied. "I don't know if I should."

"Well whatever it is I'll answer your question," Andy assured him. "I think we're good enough friends that I can answer any question you ask me."

Ian thought about that for a second. He also thought that they were good enough friends that he could ask but he wasn't so sure that they would remain good enough friends after he asked what he wanted to know. He knew that he had to ask after all he'd already said though. He just hoped that Andy wouldn't get too upset with him.

"I have to tell you something first," he said. "It's why I'm going to ask what I'm going to ask."

"All right," Andy said slowly.

"When you first started to drive me home Sebastian and Carl came to my house to warn me about you," he said, and Andy's face grew dark for a second. "They said that I shouldn't let you talk me into anything I didn't want to do. What I want to know is what they're talking about."

"Sebastian didn't say anything else?" he asked.

"That's all he said was that I shouldn't let you talk me into anything I didn't want to do," Ian replied.

"Well something happened last year that I'm not really proud of," said Andy. "My friend Mike Ranson told me something about a boy that used to be a mutual friend of ours and I didn't believe it. So Mike told me he'd prove it. What happened after that was really bad and it took me a while to see it. I'm ashamed of that but it's in the past."

"You don't have to tell me," Ian said when he stopped talking.

"No, I do have to tell you," said Andy. "I never gave it much thought, but if they're warning you then they think something is going on that isn't. I think you have to right to know what they might think is going on."

"All right," Ian said, wondering just what his friends thought was going on between him and Andy.

"Mike told me that our friend Dyllan used to perform oral sex on him when we were younger," he said. "You've met Dyllan. He's Paul's boyfriend."

"Yeah," Ian said, nodding.

"Well Mike told me he'd prove it and then he blackmailed Dyllan in performing oral sex on both of us whenever we wanted," he said. "Mike told Dyllan that if he didn't he would tell the school about it."

"And you went along with it?" Ian asked. There was no judgment in his voice. He just wanted to know.

"I'm ashamed to admit it but yes I did," he replied. "For most of the first semester Dyllan would meet either of us whenever we asked and he would suck us off."

"But you stopped," Ian said slowly.

"Yes," replied Andy. "But I'm ashamed to say that it only stopped because Sebastian found out about it somehow and told us that if we didn't leave Dyllan alone he would pound the hell out of us."

"So they think that something like that is happening between us?" Ian asked.

"They might," he said. "But I want you to know that I am ashamed of what happened and I would never do anything like that again."

"So where is your friend Mike?" Ian asked.

"Mike's family moved to Oregon over the summer," he replied. "We don't even talk to each other anymore."

"And what about Dyllan?"

"Well Dyllan has Paul now," he said. "I tried to apologize to him about what happened but Paul let me know pretty quickly that Dyllan didn't want my apology. He just wanted me to leave him alone so that's what I've done. We run in the same crowd again, but I never talk to Dyllan and he doesn't talk to me."

"So that's why they warned me," Ian said more to himself than to Andy. He wasn't sure why, but it kind of made him a little uneasy.

"I'll understand if you don't want anything to do with me now," Andy said softly.

"I don't think that I should hold this against you," Ian said after a moment. "What happened last year is the past and you've been nothing but a friend to me since I've met you. I can't hold past transgressions against you when I don't really know all of the details."

"What details do you want to know?" Andy asked. "I'll tell you whatever you want to know about it. I want you to understand that I can be honest about it and that I'm sorry it ever happened."

"I don't need any more details," Ian replied. "What I meant was that because I don't know Mike or really talk to Dyllan I can't make the decision to hold it against you. It wouldn't be fair. You admitted it and that's important. You could have just told me you didn't know what they were talking about but you didn't. That's a friend."

"Thanks, Ian," he said with a soft smile. The smile that drove Ian crazy. This time he wasn't so affected by it.

"So are we going to watch a movie?" Ian asked, smiling back at him.

"Sure," Andy replied, smiling wider.

For the next two hours they sat on the couch in Andy's living room and watched a movie about runaways in Los Angeles. Ian didn't really pay much attention to the movie. He thought about what Andy had told him. He wondered if that meant that Andy was gay or if he had just been getting something out of someone. He thought about the fact that he was very attracted to Andy and that might factor into the way he was thinking about it. He tried not to think about the attraction but it was hard with Andy sitting so close to him on the couch.

He could almost smell his aftershave. He could certainly feel the body heat and it was causing a distinct effect in the crotch of Ian's jeans. He felt his face color as he hoped that Andy didn't notice. But then he thought that if Andy did notice it would mean that he had been looking at his crotch. He didn't know if that would actually mean anything or not but he knew that sitting there so close to the boy was driving him crazy.

He put his hand on the couch between them, being very careful not to actually touch Andy's leg in the process. He went back to watching to movie but actually paid more attention to Andy out of the corner of his eye. He was about to pull his hand back into his lap when Andy's hand settled lightly over it. They were both silent but stayed that way for a long while before Ian turned his hand over and Andy's fingers slowly intertwined with his.

Ian's heart was beating very fast as he sat there holding Andy's hand. He supposed his question had been answered but he was too busy trying not to have a heart attack over holding his hand. He wondered what would happen next and knew that he didn't have the courage to be the one to instigate anything more than the hand holding. If anything else was going to happen it would have to be Andy that instigated it.

But Andy seemed content to just sit and hold his hand. Ian was prepared to let him stay that way but the movie ended and they were still sitting there. Finally Andy cleared his throat and pulled his hand out of Ian's to put the DVD back in its case. He looked up at the clock as he did so.

"It's time for me to take you home," he said in a strange tone. "You'll be with Carl tomorrow, but I'd like it if we could spend a little time together over the Thanksgiving break."

"I'd like that," Ian said in a shaky voice.

All through supper that evening he thought about holding Andy's hand. Twice his mother asked if he was feeling all right and he told her that he was just thinking. Alex watching him for the whole meal but that wasn't new. He'd grown so used to Alex watching him with that blank look on his face that he barely noticed at all. At that time there wasn't room for Alex in his thoughts. He could only think of how it had made him feel to hold Andy's hand.

He supposed that after all that had happened to him in the past he should have felt some kind of revulsion or something but he didn't. When he was holding Andy's hand nothing else really mattered. He didn't think about the past and he didn't think about consequences. All he thought about was how it felt to have Andy's hand in his.

The next day at school he was uncomfortable whenever Andy was around him but he tried very hard not to show it. Andy just smiled at him when they ran into each other and asked how he was doing. His reply had been that he was fine each time the question was asked. By lunch he was ready to have a panic attack because every time he saw Andy he was afraid that he'd grab his hand and hold it in front of everyone.

"What's buggin' you, Ian?" Carl asked as he sat down at the table.

"Huh?" he asked, snapping his gaze to Carl's face and seeing the boy smile.

"Something's on your mind," he said.

"Oh it's nothing," he replied with a sigh. "Just something I need to think about."

Then he was quiet all through lunch. By the end of the day he'd had just about every teacher look at him with a puzzled expression. He knew it was because he hadn't been concentrating on the material or the lectures. Twice he was called on and didn't know the answer to the question asked. That was odd for him but that day he couldn't have cared.

He snapped out of it as he walked with Carl to his car. He'd thought about it all day long and he decided that he and Andy would just have to talk about what had happened and what it meant for both of them. There was no point in worrying over it until they could have that talk.

"You seemed to have pepped up," Carl said after Ian told him that he had a lot of homework.

"Yeah," he said with a smile. "I had to think about something and I'm done thinking."

"That's cool," said Carl. "You were starting to worry everyone. Even Andy looked at you funny a time or two."

"Yeah," Ian said.

They sat in the family room and did their homework on the coffee table. The didn't talk much and Ian was grateful. He really did have a lot of homework. As off as he was at school he was on his game at home. He sailed through the homework rather quickly. He was putting his books away while Carl was still solving equations.

"No movie tonight, Ian," Carl said when he finished and began putting his books away. "I've got a date with Lisa Miller."

Ian didn't know who Lisa Miller was so he didn't comment. He was happy for his friend though and told him so. Carl smiled that quick grin of his and then he was up the stairs and out the door. Ian sat on the couch and watched a movie by himself. He actually paid attention but it was one that he'd already seen.

He got quite a shock at the dinner table when he went up for supper. They were all passing things around the table so it was quiet for a few minutes. Then they asked about his school work which was normal. He answered all of their questions and told them that he hadn't really been on his game that day because he had a few things on his mind. When they asked if needed to talk anything out he politely told them that he'd already sorted it out and was fine now.

"Alex, I want you on your best behavior Thursday," their father suddenly said. "Evan and Jory will be here and I want no smart remarks from you about their relationship or their sexuality. We're going to have a nice dinner and that's all there is to it."

"I have to sit at the table with them?" Alex asked with a dark look on his face.

"You will sit at the table with your uncle and his friend and be civil and polite or you will sit in your room without dinner," snapped his father. "Now I don't want to hear another word about this. You will do as you are told."

That ended the dining room table conversation. Alex looked sullen and their father looked angry. Ian wondered what it was going to be like to have his uncle and his lover at the table with them. Would Alex do as he was told? He didn't think so. Alex had always been quick to say something bad about homosexuals. Ian didn't think he'd be able to hold his tongue with two of them at the dining room table.

When supper was eaten he went back downstairs to sit on the couch and read. He was digging his book out of his bag when his father came downstairs to talk to him. He wondered what he wanted to talk about and he hoped it wasn't about his not being on his game. He really had sorted out his thoughts about holding Andy's hand and how it made him feel. He didn't think he could talk to his father about that and he would hate to lie to the man.

"Ian, I want to talk to you about Evan and Jory coming for dinner on Thursday," his father said, taking a seat beside him on the couch. "How do you feel about it?"

"I think it's a nice idea," he replied. "I'd like to get to know my uncle. I just didn't think I would get the chance with everything going on at school."

"Well I'd like for you to get to know your uncle," he said. "I was worried about how you would feel about their relationship."

"That isn't really any of my business, Dad," he said. "That's between Uncle Evan and Jory."

"I thought that's how you might feel," said his father with a smile. "I just wanted to be sure."

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