HSAU: Just Us Guys Part 1

Alex

I didn’t expected to be going so soon, Nox caught me texting Max in the middle of a conversation. So as we walked I tried to finish that up.

“Max doesn’t want to go?” he asked. He wasn’t looking at me but staring a head.

How’d you guess?”

“Does he want to spend the night?”

“He does, but he thinks that me alone is going to be too much.”

“You can tell him I’m going too but not to tell my Dad.”

“I did. Now he doesn’t want to lie to your parents.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“What?” I asked and stopped in the middle of the sidewalk staring at him dumbfounded.

“I’ll go with you to get him. So he’ll know he’s not lying.”

“You’ll go home even though your dad might try to stop you.”

“What’s he gonna do physically restrain me?”

“Yeah, he might. Max says he’s furious with you.”

“I don’t just lift weights for the look of it.” He said and kept walking. “I can handle my dad.”

That’s what I was afraid of. Nox handling his dad and someone getting hurt. But he had a stubborn set to his jaw that I knew well. I wore it all too often myself. I don’t think his father truly appreciates the man he was raising. Nox wasn’t a little boy. He was ready to do this without anyone, imagine if he had people in his corner willing to stand up for him too. That’s what his dad should be doing but instead he’s afraid because his son likes boys.

Nox didn’t hesitate opening his front gate, and not again when he pushed open the front door. Max was standing at the foot of the stairs with a duffle bag. “Let’s go.” He said quicky taking two steps before the floor boards creaked and Mr. Durante stuck his head out of his office. He glared at Nox and Nox just walked up to Max took his bag and then headed for the door.

It was all rather uneventful except Max called out, “I’ll be back Sunday night. Unless you think…”

Mr. Durante growled, “Be home before dinner on Sunday. The Kennedy’s don’t have room for the three of you full time.”

Nox stopped in the doorway and turned back to look at his father. Mr. Durante continued, “You think the Kennedy’s wouldn’t tell me you were staying with them. It’s a small community Nox. There is no place I don’t know where you will be.”

It sounded so much like a threat and Nox took it as such turning his back on his arrogant father and walked out the door. I had a feeling that it was going to be the last time he ever stepped foot through the front door. The set in his stride, the speed in which he walked away from the house. Max and I took it slower, Nox was two blocks ahead of us before he stopped and waited.

“He’s angry.” Max said. “You sure you want me around?”

“Absolutely.” I said. “He doesn’t want to feel like he’s taking advantage of our generosity. I want you to show him it’s alright.”

Max laughed, “He won’t ever feel like I do Alex.”

“You been talking to Drew too?”

“Mrs. Durante actually, she’s real nice. She told me how him and Lucy came to be with them. Lucy on the other hand doesn’t remember.”

I chuckled, “Haven’t you figured out that’s all an act?”

Max looked at me with a grin, “I like that she pretends, it makes me look smart.”

“You are smart.” Nox said as we walked past him. “You just need extra time.”

“Like years.” Max joked.

Nox shrugged, “Lucy and I will help.” He said and then was silent for a few blocks before he asked, “What kinda music does your dad play?”

Max chimed in, “Mostly country, but he’s old school acoustic and it’s epic. He has a great voice. He was in a band back in the day, could have made it big but they had Alex instead.”

I hated the reminder that my dad gave up his dream so he could raise me. Nox smiled, “Well maybe there will be a scout at the cafe tonight who is looking for the next big thing.”

Max laughed, “Wouldn’t that be cool. But who is going to be looking in this small town for the next big thing.”

Nox shrugged, “It’s happened before. Sports teams do it all the time.”

“Recording records executives don’t come to small towns.”

Nox grinned, “No but who needs an exec to see it. Just millions of other people. Have you ever recorded him and stuck him up on the web?”

“He’d die of embarrassment if I did that.”

“Really?” Nox laughed, “Like he’d ever know.”

Max smiled, “He’d know. He knows everything. I remember when we were little and he’d always know where to come find us even if it was someplace new we were hiding.”

“I’m gonna have to agree with Max. My dad always seems to know when I do something he doesn’t approve of.”

Nox tried to hide his smile. I could see him bitting his bottom lip trying not to say something, “What?”

He looked at me with those big brown eyes full of emotion. He shrugged, “You do things he doesn’t approve of often?”

I stuck my tongue out at him and I saw a reaction I didn’t expect. He shivered and I wished I knew what was running through his head. But we were at my house, and my mother was sitting outside on the porch waiting for us. “Before you get angry.”

“Unless Mr. Durante is hiding in the house, I think we are okay.” I said.

“I had to tell him. I’d be upset if someone knew where my son was and didn’t tell me.”

Nox gave my mother a pleasant smile, “It’s alright, Mrs. Kennedy. He would have found out anyway. I won’t be here long.”

Mom walked towards us and took Max’s bag from Nox and helped Max up the stairs, “You know where everything is Max. Make yourself at home.” Max did just that, but she turned her attention on to Nox, “And you have someplace better to be?” She said putting her arm around his waist and ushered him into the house. it seemed she was going to dote on both of them and ignore me completely. Very typical.

HSAU: Friday Night Part 5

Nox

Dinner was almost ready when the door opened unexpectedly. It was unusual for anyone to come from the shelter area before dinner. I looked up to see a pair of blue eyes I had hoped not to see until tomorrow. But he was probably just as stubborn as I was if not more from the looks of it. “Hey.” I said.

“You ran away.”

I shrugged, “Not the first time.”

“Everyone’s worried.”

I laughed, “I doubt they even know I’m gone yet.”

Alex looked at his watch and sighed, “Yeah, Lucy said she’d give me an hour.”

“Unless Ry saw me leave it could be longer. But my Dad will ignorantly call everyone I know before he comes here. He always thinks I’m past this place.”

“But it’s where you go when you feel scared. I get it.” Alex reassured me, “But I think you need to come home with me.”

“I’m not going home – not again. I can’t live under his roof and lie to who I am anymore. I tried.”

“I don’t mean your home. I meant mine. My mom and dad said you can stay for as long as you’d like.”

“I can’t mooch off of you and your family no matter how generous they are.”

Alex smirked, “Then at least for a few nights until we can figure something else out. Do you even have a plan?”

I shook my head and shrugged. “I just needed to get away from there.”

“Well, after you finish here you are coming home with me.” It was a demand. It was in his tone, and in his body language. He’d drag me kicking and screaming if I didn’t leave with him. Something about it made me shiver, and I gave a slight nod. I pulled the locker key out of my pocket and placed it on top of the glass barrier. “This will make sure I agree to go with you after dinner, so I don’t change my mind.”

Alex scooped it up and smiled. “And after we get home, I’ll go get Max while you wait at Drew’s and then we’ll go see my Dad play like you promised to do and then you and Max can spend the weekend at my house.”

“Are you putting Max as a barrier between us?” I asked with a disappointed grin.

“Yes, and no.” He smiled “Max will indeed make sure we behave, but it’s also so you don’t feel like you are mooching off of us. Give you a few more days. So it’ll be a few guys hanging out on the weekend, and then when school starts you can be all I don’t want to be here.”

I smirked, “Okay. I can deal with that.” Alex nodded, “Good.” He stepped away from the counter, and pushed the door open he’d come in through, “I’m gonna go find your things and claim a spot until you finish.”

I watched Alex leave and Suzie came over to me with a grin. “He’s cute.”

I nodded, “He is.”

“He seems to like you.”

I grinned, “He does. And I like him.”

“I was surprised you agreed so easily. You never agree when it’s Luc or one of your brothers.”

“That’s different.” I said. “I don’t want to go home then. But he’s not taking me to my home”

“He’s taking you home with him.” She smirked, “I think he has an angle.”

“I’m okay with that. Even if it’s just for a night or two.” I said.

Kim came in pushing the door open so that it would stay open. “You leaving us Nox?”

Suzie laughed, “He’s going home with some guy.”

“He is kinda cute.”

“I know.” I smiled wiping my hands off on the rag. “You need me?”

Kim shook her head, “We are good. The others will be here soon I don’t expect the early rush to be heavy.”

“Okay.” I said. “Thanks for everything.”

“We are always here Nox.” Kim said as she wrapped her arms around me in a hug. “I’ll tell your Dad I saw you, but have no idea where you went.”

“Don’t tell him I went anywhere with a blue eyed boy, he’ll know for sure where I’m at. And I’m not ready to deal with him.”

“I don’t know if I can lie like that.” Kim said.

“I know. Just don’t mention the blue eyed boy. Nothing else is a lie.”

Kim shook her head, “This isn’t like you Nox.”

“Maybe I’m tired of being like me.” I sighed as I walked out of the room to go find Alex. He had been true to his word and was sitting at a table looking at his phone. He looked good, though I wasn’t sure he was happy about anything going on right now. “Hey, I can go now.”

“Hasn’t even started.” Alex said.

“They can do without me. I helped with dinner prepping, the rest others can do. We don’t have to hang around.”

“You sure. I don’t mind waiting.”

I shook my head. “It’s good.”

Alex smiled and stood up. He slung my bag over his shoulder and offered me his hand. I looked back at the kitchen with Suzie and Kim watching me and smirked. I took his hand and we left while a pair of small kids came in searching for food. It reminded me of me and Luce when we were little and I felt the tears start. Alex pulled me along after him. “You have a better life.”

I shrugged, “Is it really better?”

“You tell me.”

“Sure I have food, warmth and a roof over my head. But the anxiety and pressures are still there just in different forms. Instead of wondering where my next meal was coming from or if my mom’s new boyfriend would beat us I now get to worry about how my dad is going to react to every little thing I do. I don’t think he’s as blind to what I am as he claims. I think when he started to realize he had a gay son, was when he started getting angry because I quit football, and wrestling. And when he gets upset because I got a B on a test.” I shrugged.

“You talk with your therapist about it all right?”

I nodded, “Yeah, I cope with it. I don’t worry about my grades. My expectations aren’t my fathers. I need to remember that what other people expect of me is not my problem.”

Alex smiled, “Good. But you know what I expect of you tonight?”

I sighed, “Hmmm?”

“To have a good time hanging out with me and Max.”

I grinned, “I’ll try.” We had plans and I was hoping meeting Alex’s expectations would be easy.

HSAU: Friday Night Part 4

Alex

We walked around the grocery store for a good hour talking and grabbing things off the shelf. Mrs. Durante paid for it and we wheeled Max home. He could walk but not far, so walking up stairs was a bit of a challenge, but we made it. The house was very quiet. Like no one was home. At least there was no shouting, or any broken furniture, that was a good sign. Max kicked a piece of paper that was on the floor and I picked it up as I walked past. Lucy knows where to find me. written in Nox’s fine handwriting.

Max sighed. “I guess it didn’t go well.”

“I guess not. You gonna be okay?”

Max smirked, “Right as rain. I’m going to take a nap and be glad I’m not Nox. Or you. It’s safe here. For me anyway.”

I nodded, “You sure? We had plans.”

“Go make sure he’s alright. I’ll be fine. Maybe you’ll have time after saving him to take me to watch your dad play.”

I left Max’s room grateful that he understood all that was going on and headed down the hall to Lucy’s. I knocked and she hurriedly hid something on the other side and then cracked the door open. I held up the note so she could read it and she frowned and opened the door so I could come in then promptly closed it and locked it. She hung her head. “I didn’t even check to see if he was still here. I knew I should have checked on him.” She sat down on her bed and tried not to cry.

“Where did he go?”

She looked up at me tears in her eyes, “To where it’s safe. When our Mom’s boyfriends would be violent or she’d be doped out of her head, we’d walk to the homeless shelter on the edge of town. Nox always gave me his portion of food, so when they found us the last time he was in so much pain from hunger. He was weak and skinny and just it was hard to think that he did all it for me. And now he’s back there again for a different kind of abuse.”

She sighed, “He’s been volunteering there every month for as long as I can remember. He’s safe there. And that’s where he runs to when he feels hope is lost.”

“Where is it Lucy?”

“He won’t come home tonight.” She shook her head, “He’ll dig his feet in, he’ll stay the night, you might get him to come home.”

“I’m not going to bring him back here, Lucy.”

Her eyes opened wide, and she smiled, “I’ll watch your friend, you watch my brother?”

I smiled, “Something like that.”

“You really like him?”

I shrugged, “Something like that.”

She grinned, “Okay.” She got up and walked to her desk and scribbled down the address on a purple sticky note and pressed a lipstick covered kiss to the paper. “Don’t say I never gave you anything.”

“Thank you Lucy. You won’t tell your parents yet will you?”

“I’ll give you an hour, that’s when dinner is ready. Mom probably already knows since Nox isn’t helping with dinner, but Dad won’t notice till much later unless Ryan makes a big deal about Nox not being at the table for dinner. I’ll try to cover and give you the night, but it might not work.”

I nodded, “Thanks Luc.”

She smiled and pressed a kiss to my cheek, “Take care of my brother.”

“I’ll try.” I said and left her room.

Other than the fact that it was on the other side of town, I’d never been there before. Walking was the only option, I didn’t want to bother my parents with getting him. But I called them anyway. Mom picked up at the grocery store, “Alex, what’s wrong, honey?”

“I’m fine. But I have a friend who’s not. You mind a little extra company for a while?”

“Anytime, you know that.”

“I’m not talking a night or two mom. It could be awhile. He just came out to his Dad and his Dad is having a really hard time dealing with it.”

“Nox?”

“Yeah, Mom. Mr. Durante cleared the house out to deal with it and Nox took off.”

“He’s welcome to stay as long as he wants.”

“Thanks.”

“Do you need help getting him?”

“No, I think I got it.” I hoped I had it. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

I hung up and hoped that Nox would be as easy to agree as my mother had. But somehow I was pretty sure my pretty boy wasn’t going to agree easily.

I kept thinking as I walked to the edge of town. What if he wasn’t here? Had I wasted my time? Was there any way I could convince him to stay with me? He didn’t need to be protected, he just needed some place warm and safe to stay. That’s all I was offering him. Safe and warm and loved?

Why was I doing this? He was just some kid at school. But I heard that voice in the back of my head, he’s the one you’ve been stalking most of your life. Was I really in love? But the address was just up the street and I hadn’t figured anything out. And it didn’t stop me from going inside what looked like some place I didn’t want to be. Was it even the right place?

There was a woman with graying hair sitting at the desk. A pair of spectacles set on her nose as she read a book. “Hi.” I said.

She looked up with a smile, “What can I do to help you?”

“I’m looking for my friend, tall, skinny, brown hair, thick eyeliner.”

“Nox?” she grinned at me.

“Yes, ma’am.” I said wondering if all homeless shelters knew him by his first name. Then I remembered Lucy said he volunteered here so of course they knew his name. “He’s in the back, helping with dinner. You taking him home?”

“Sorta. But not his home, mine.”

She smiled and sighed with relief, “Good, I didn’t want to see what would happen if you tried to take him back tonight. I’m surprised Lucy didn’t tell you to wait.”

“She did.” I said.

“Well, I’ll wish you luck.” She pointed to a door in the backed marked employee’s only, “He’s back there.”

“Thank you.” I said as I started walking through the large room full of tables and beds.

HSAU: Friday Night Part 3

Nox

My mom greeted us at the door and quickly took Max and Alex away from the impending danger. More like running for their lives while they sent me into the lion’s den. But that was alright, I knew eventually it was going to come down to this. Just me and Dad.

The house was eerily quiet as I walked through to his office under the stairs. It was a unique space which had been two closets, one rather large one meant for linens and the one under the stairs. Dad had converted it into a small room just big enough so he could shut the door and have complete privacy. It wasn’t meant to have more than one person in it at a time. But this was where all punishments were doled out if they were serious.

I sat down opposite my father in the only other chair in the room and waited until he looked up at me with his identical chocolate brown eyes. They were molten lava as he glared at me.

“Where did I go wrong with you?”

“You didn’t go wrong. I have straight A’s, I’m the top of the class. What more do you want? I didn’t want to play football, I’m sorry I disappointed your legacy.”

He shook his head, “This isn’t about football. But I can see now why the boys didn’t want you on the wrestling team. Afraid of what you might do to them in close quarters.”

“Yeah thanks, Dad. I can’t keep my hands to myself. Boys are just too fucking tempting. I was raised to take what I want and never care what ever the other person wanted. Yeah, that’s me.” I stood up. “You already grounded me because I’m gay so what are you doing now? Forbidding me from going to school. Kicking Max out so all temptation is gone from under your roof.”

“You will not talk to me like that.” My father growled.

“And I’m tired of you telling me I’m not good enough. Now I’m not man enough. I’m sick of it.” I growled right back and walked out of the office leaving the door wide open.

“Nox, get back here.”

“You are not my father.” I yelled back at him.

“If I catch you and Alex in the same room in this house… You will not do that under my room”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I spat out as I stomped up the stairs. Maybe I wouldn’t stay here then. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d run away. I had a bag already packed too. It was always an option. My bug out bag was always packed. Zombie apocalypse – check. But it was more for this type of situation.

I sat down at my desk and wrote a quick note. Lucy knows where to find me. And folded it up and wrote Alex on the front and slipped it under Ant’s door. He’d see it or Max would.

I grabbed my bag, and I slipped out the window and down the tree. I caught Drew looking out the window and he was running out of the house but I sprinted out of view and around the corner and kept on running with my bug out slung over my shoulder.

It hadn’t been the first time I’d run away. But it might be the last. I loved my Dad. But he didn’t love me anymore. I failed him and he thought I was nothing now. The pain of it fueled my feet to run.

There was an old homeless shelter at the far edge of town. It had been where I’d been found by Kai and his team. Me and Lucy, curled up in a corner starving. It’s where I ran. It was the safe place in all the terrible things that happened to us before we turned five. It’s where I always ran to. My father knew this. My sister told him. But he never remembered. He thought because of all the therapy I was better, and that I’d find it safe at home.

Kim was at the desk and frowned when she saw the bag. “Again?”

I shrugged. “Can I help around here?”

“Absolutely.” She said and took my bag and stuffed it in a locker and handed me the key. “Suzie’s in the kitchen working on dinner, if you want to help.”

I nodded, “Thank you.”

“Anytime, Nox. I hope you aren’t here too long. Lucy doing alright?”

I nodded, “She’s great, has a new project.”

Kim rolled her eyes, “What is it this time?”

“She’s helping a struggling kid in our school under the radar.”

“Sounds like Luc.” Kim said. She’d been working here most of my life. She said she’d never retire from this job. She’d die right here with them. She and my dad had dated back in the day. They both loved helping people, sadly my dad didn’t find me worthy of loving. It was painful to think about it so I didn’t. I step into the kitchen and greeted Suzie with a hug around the waist while she chopped up some veggies. “What’s on the menu tonight?”

“We got lots of beans. Figured we’d make a soup.”

“Sounds good. Where can I help?”

“You know the drill.” She said. And I did. I took over for her after washing my hands and went to work chopping vegetables. Helping Mom in the kitchen had always been fun. But this was work. When you ran a soup kitchen, the meals were far larger than one for a family of six. And it kept me from the dark thoughts. I didn’t think beyond cutting up the peppers and onions. There were tons of carrots and tomatoes after that. It was monotonous work, but it felt good to not think, not be concerned about the next second. It felt safe. And I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten in my head until it was not there.

HSAU: Friday Night Part 2

Alex

I’d never spent this much time with a group of people I didn’t like. And if it weren’t for watching Nox I probably would have left when I got there. And the girls all sort of ignored me, the guys looked at me like I was carrying the plague, except for Nox. He looked at me with big brown eyes that screamed falling in love. And that was probably the most scary thing in the room.

Defending him with that girl who’d asked him to the dance was easy, but the fact that I even had to left a bad taste in my mouth. He lied. Because he didn’t want to say no. How many more times was I going to have to do that?

The bell rang and we all went to Home room and then Nox and I were back in science class. He must have felt my growing tension because he didn’t sit as close as he had been the prior days. Maybe he saw my need for space? Or maybe he was mad at me again. It wouldn’t be the first time I did something I didn’t know I’d done. Ignored something he said? Or god knew what I fucked up this time.

I napped again in science, and not because it was boring, but because I was just that tied. Nox provided me the notes on the way home from school. He just handed them to me and we kept walking.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Nothing.”

“Something’s wrong.”

He pulled out his phone and showed me a text message. I’m going to tell your dad. And there was a video attached. I watched as he pressed play and the video started of me pushing him up against a wall and kissing him. The memory was vivid in my mind as it happened that morning. And it still had the same reaction as before when I had been kissing him. “Who sent it?” I asked.

“Guess.”

“I’ll fucking kill him.”

“It’s already too late.” He said and opened up another text message. We need to talk when you get home. Meet me in my office. The last was from his father.

“You think Jace already showed him.”

He nodded. “He did. Mia and Ryan were asked not to come home with me. They wanted to know what I’d done.”

“Let me talk to him.”

“Alex, that’s not a good idea. As it stands now you probably won’t be allowed in my house to see Max.” Nox sighed.

And the rest of the walk home was done in silence. Mrs Durante met me at the door, “Alex, why don’t you help take Max for a walk.” Max was already sitting in a wheel chair and she was waiting for me.

“I should go talk to Mr. Durante.”

She shook her head, “Nox go on in honey, Alex, it’s better if you don’t.”

I growled and grabbed the handles of Max’s chair and started pushing him. Max sighed, “What’s going on?”

“Jace recorded me and Nox kissing and sent it to his father.” I said then looked at Mrs. Durante. “Jace is just being an asshole.”

She nodded, “I know, but Kai isn’t the most receptive to the changes in his life right now. And Nox is easier to be mad at then his situation.”

“So he’s not just a homophobic prick.” I growled.

She dropped her head, “He’s still that, but he loves Nox. He doesn’t understand where he went wrong. And he doesn’t comprehend that Nox was always like this. Even when he was young. He always had a fascination with dressing up, and attention to details that no guy ever does. But Kai focused that into more manly things. He never saw it as being gay. All the girls he’s been friends with over the years, the fact that he and Mia were together for so long. Mia played my son like a fiddle and Nox let it happen because it made his dad happy.”

We walked on to the park in silence.

Max laughed, “Mr. Durante should be glad Nox is who he is. He wouldn’t be the most popular boy in school if he wasn’t as charming and charismatic, and good looking. The girls adore him, the guys want to be him.” Max laughed, “Some of them even want to be with him. He’s played football, wrestled, he’s got straight As. If that were me my Dad would be going ape shit over it.”

I laughed, “Mine too.”

Mrs Durante smiled, “What’s stopping either of you from all those things.”

Max chuckled, “Have you seen us?”

“I have every day for the past week, and you are both smart boys, some of you could rival Nox as top of the class if you did half the work he says you don’t do.”

I shrugged, “I need to stay with Max.”

“Is that what you tell yourself?” Mrs. Durante asked.

“It’s what I’ve been doing. And my parents are okay with that.”

“I think they accept it, because you aren’t doing it out of laziness. From what Nox says you actually work hard at failing.”

“He talks too much.”

Mrs. Durante laughed, “You don’t even know the half of it. His therapist says he probably doesn’t need her anymore, just someone to talk to and get all those raging thoughts out. He talks for one hour. She barely has to say anything.”

“And you pay someone to listen to him?”

“She helped him get to where he is, and change is brutal on him. So he keeps going. I expect that we’ll have to up his anti-depressants after talking with his father.”

“You think he’ll get bad.”

Mrs. Durante nodded, “Yeah, I do. And I think he’ll do what he always does and push people away. If this is more than just a fling for you remember that.”

I laughed, “You sound like Drew.”

“Drew knows Nox well, he’s been comforting Nox since they met. And if they weren’t like brothers…” Her sentence trailed off in a wishful thinking. Maybe she expected me to do the same thing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with all this work.

HSAU: Friday Night Part 1

Nox

The week went by much the same. Alex stayed until the wee hours of the morning. Mostly hanging with Max on the living room couch half falling asleep while Max downed caffeine and played video games. Max slept most days while we were gone so he was wide awake at night. And Alex didn’t want to leave him alone. Alex grabbed a few showers in the morning in the bathroom upstairs and I got a decent view of his backside which made my mouth water.  Alex would walk me to school and walk me home. We’d hold hands, but the stolen kisses seemed to stop. I wondered if I was bad at kissing or if it was something else. I tried not to let my anxiety show when I was with Alex but I knew it had to show up because I felt a mess almost anytime I saw him. He probably wasn’t kissing me because I was too needy. I tried to reign it all in and Drew commended me for my efforts but he said it was stressing me out.

Alex ate dinner with us every night. He even had breakfast with us most mornings. And by Friday morning he and Max were pretty much part of the family. Everyone was at ease, there was no hidden comments of what’s he doing here. Or why was he still here. Even Ryan harassed Max like he did me. He didn’t care who he annoyed.

We were all sitting at the table eating breakfast before school – something I hadn’t done in ages. Max sighed, “I guess I won’t get to see your Dad playing tonight. You are still going aren’t you Alex?”

“I wasn’t planning on it.”

My dad chimed in, “I don’t see a reason why you can’t go Max. Walking is easier, and it’d be good to get out, maybe you can go back to school on Monday if you can survive an afternoon sitting in the cafe.”

“I don’t know Mr. Durante, the doctor’s haven’t said I’m well enough.”

Ryan laughed, “I’d be jonesing to get outta this house. All this suffocating. We can all go.”

“That’s not necessary Ry, Nox can go with Alex and Max as an extra hand. He’s probably jonesing as you say to get out of the house after school.”

Max looked at Alex and grinned, “Can we go?” He sounded very happy and chipper. He never seemed to let anything get him down.

“Yeah I guess, if Nox wants to.” Alex said.

“I can go.” I replied, “But I have to get to school early. Since I can’t help after school, I need to help finish up the last of the decorations for next week’s game.”

I got up from the table and was out the door before anyone could say anything. At least I had thought so. “You don’t want to walk with us?”

I looked over at Alex and smiled, “You don’t need to go in early. It’s the only time I have to do this. You can walk with Drew.”

“You avoiding me?” Alex asked as he pulled on his shoes in the front door.

“No.”

“Cause that’s what it seems like to me.”

I shrugged, “I did something wrong to make you pull back, I’m just alleviating some of that for you.”

“What makes you think that?” He grabbed his bag and started walking with me.

“You don’t have to come with me.” I said but I started walking too. “I… you haven’t tried to kiss me all week.”

Alex chuckled, “It’s not because I don’t want to pretty boy.” He took my hand and brought it to his lips and kissed it softly before they both fell between us again. “I figured it was safer that way. We both get a little worked up and I don’t want to ruin things or have your Dad catch us.”

“Are you sure that’s all?”

Alex nodded, “Absolutely.” He pulled me off into behind the corner of someone’s house and pressed me up against the wall and pressed his body against mine. He kissed me hard and I moaned. I hadn’t meant to so loudly but Alex was chuckling under his breath as his mouth met mine. His tongue caressed my lip and I opened to let him in and my knees buckled with the sensation. Alex caught me and pressed me harder against the wall, one hand at my hips and the other pressed against the wall near my head.

By the time Alex pulled away I was throughly kissed and he was chuckling at me, “So easy pretty boy.” I blushed but I didn’t hid my eyes from Alex. I liked him – a lot. And my body reacted to him so easily so it wasn’t a lie and it was nothing to be ashamed of. “Come on, let’s go decorate for Homecoming.”

Alex grabbed my hand and we started walking towards the school. I was grateful it was still early, but there was a nagging feeling that something was about to hit the fan and I wasn’t going to like it at all.

We walked into the gym which was bustling with other kids doing the same thing. Even Alex helped a little, though he mostly just sat by me and watched as I drew or painted the letters for the large signs. They needed time to dry before the game, and drawing took more time than the actual painting. Mia oversaw everything even as a freshman she was still bossy. And the funny thing was no one seemed to even notice that she took over.

Sasha came up to me with a bright smile, “What did your Dad say?” There wasn’t even a hi or how are you?

I shrugged. “He said I can’t go. Grounded all that. He wasn’t happy that I had even asked.”

“You didn’t ask him did you?”

Alex laughed, “He did. I was standing right there and even tried Mr. Durante into letting him go.”

I gave Alex a side long glance but he didn’t even seem to notice. Why was he getting involved in this. “Besides, he’s stuck taking care of Max. Since Lucy isn’t exactly reliable and you know Ryan has to go being on the football team and all.”

Sasha nodded, “I hadn’t thought about that.” She sighed and frowned, “I guess I’ll have to go with Gary.”

“Nothing wrong with Gary.” I said.

“He’s not you.” Sasha said walking away from us.

When she was far enough away and we were alone I looked at Alex, “Why did you lie for me?”

“It wasn’t a complete lie. I asked your Dad to let you go. And I have been right there with you when you’ve mentioned home coming before and he just glares at you like you should know you aren’t going.”

I shrugged, “If she catches us both in a lie.”

Alex smirked, “They’ll just blame it all on me.”