Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2008 17:06:47 +0100 From: email@example.com Subject: American-English, pt. 4 I would like to thank the guys at Nifty for putting up with me. I'm sorry for posting the wrong chapter, but I did it at around 2am my time, so I was tired. Here is the next instalment early, so now you'll have the first five to read. This does mean that I will be taking some time to write part six as I haven't started yet. Also, thanks must go to Rob who has helped me on the creative side of things. It's very kind of him to help me. This is the last chapter that I wrote myself. After this, he is my co-writer as the ideas are as much his as my own...maybe more so. Also, thanks to everyone who has emailed me their kind, kind words. I do really appreciate every email I get. It's both a blessing and stressing to know that so many people look forward to and enjoy reading this drivel. It honestly makes my day. Anyway, happy reading! This story is entirely fictional. If it seems familiar then it's because it is. I stalked you and took parts of your life for this story. I have that kind of time. If anything offends you, well, too late because you already read it. To be fair, you are on a site where you could come across anything, so you have no right to be offended. So there. If it is illegal for you to read this in your community, then I advise you to leave. However, I can't personally do anything about it. I won't to be honest, because I'm lazy. Thank you, I'll be here all week! Enjoy! AMERICAN-ENGLISH CHAPTER FOUR. UNDER PRESSURE. I don't think any TV show, any film, book or other medium has ever truthfully portrayed the stress of finals week. Or at least none I had come across. I had assumed it was the same typical struggle experienced by students all over the globe. Well, I was wrong. Luckily for me, I still had the pleasure of having to sit my A level exams for the courses I had started in England. Perfect. The worst part? The exams weren't due to commence for another couple of weeks. Excellent. I didn't want to imagine how intense the pressure could grow. Though I may complain, I actually welcomed this trying time. With everyone too busy to be concerned with aggravating me, it appeared that all of the troubling confrontations with the student body were behind me. Everything regarding the photograph incident had been forgotten and my face (having not come in contact with any more fists or other attacking limbs) had healed quickly. The swelling and bruising had reduced significantly and my normal skin colour was visible from the red shine that had painted over it. For the first time, I was most commonly addressed as `Jacob', rather than `newbie', `fag' or some other pleasantry by my peers. Soccer was still the focus of our P.E. lessons, and I was the star on the field- a title I didn't really want. Most of the guys still didn't like me, even if they didn't verbally abuse me to my face. Brady, Dylan and Evander were still arseholes though, and made sure they were anything but friendly towards me. What made it worse, however, was my frequent pairing with the only other player who wasn't regarded as a total failure at the sport. It had been over week since my encounter with Clay and, although we still shared greetings (however seldom), our friendship had been reduced to basic hand gestures and head-nods. A wall of awkward fog had wedged its way between us and until one of us broke it down, it was likely that our mild friendship would cease completely. My friendship with Alicia and LeAnn, on the other hand, was blossoming brilliantly. Being so care-free and open-minded, the pair had a way of making everything and nothing feel important. The only thing that irritated me about them was how far away they lived. "You have to get up at five every morning?" I questioned them, disbelievingly. "Well, believe it or not, Jay, we don't look this good naturally," Alicia replied. "What do you mean "we"? I don't know what you mean. I wake up every morning like this, complete with birds singing and deer helping me get dressed..." she faded off as Alicia and I laughed at her. "What are you guys laughing at?" She giggled with us. "Girl, get over your self, please!" Alicia turned back to me. "I know it's shocking, but it does take time to look this fine!" she smiled at me. "Get up any later, and we'll be a skanky mess at school. Travel takes an hour and a half at least." "That's ridiculous." I hadn't ever truly realised how far they lived. "I wouldn't do it. I'd insist on being home schooled." "You'd miss us too much!" Alicia laughed. All-in-all, things were going pretty well for me. I was happy. Ish. Something was still making me feel weird inside. You know when you've forgotten to do something, or you need to sort something out and you can't remember what it is, but it's there clawing at your back and making you wince every so often... that kind of feeling was scratching at me. My problem was that I knew the cause of it, no matter how I tried to ignore it. "Hey, Jacob, wait up a minute!" Jackson called me back to the field as I headed up with the rest of the troupe to get changed and head off home. I still hadn't managed to acquire any male friends in this class and so, even with my recent prominence on the pitch, the lesson was still one of my least favourites. "Good hustle today. It's a shame the rest of the guys aren't picking it up quick enough. I'd like to get a good game going...I was hoping on starting up a team for the school. But there's not enough guys who wanna play. Heck, there's probably not enough guys who could play!" I laughed with him at this. Although there was improvement, most of the guys just couldn't get the skill it takes to play football. Maybe they weren't used to just using their feet to pass the ball around...who knows. "I've been thinking a lot lately how it's a shame that you're talent is being wasted in this class. So I looked around and asked a few people I know and I've found a team just out of town that are looking for a couple of new players...if you're interested?" "What? Really? You think I'm good enough for a team?" I had never been part of a football team before. I only played around at school and with my mates. "Yeah, definitely! So I can tell the coach that you're interested?" "Sure... Yes. I'm in!" I smiled at him. "Well, in that case, he agrees and willingly takes you onboard." He beamed back as we picked up the sacks of balls and walked up to the lock-up. "You're the coach?" I'm a smart-cookie, aren't I? He just laughed back at me as we headed up the green slopes of grass to the storage shed. He explained a little about the team: all guys around my age, talented at the sport, all different styles and techniques and a friendly group (he would say that though, wouldn't he- can't really abuse the poor bastards now can he?). "This is perfect. I think I know how I can arrange the team now..." he drifted off as he headed to the staff room. "The two of you are really gonna have a blast!" Déjà vu. Once again I was stood outside the locker room, shocked by his parting comment before he wandered out of sight. Two of us? I didn't really have to ask him who the other guy was. I didn't even have to think about it. Only one other guy would have been good enough to join an actual team. Since the shower incident, I'd to skip the shower whenever gym was held last period, heading home straight away instead. The tension in their now was a little confusing for me. Clay, it seemed, had adopted the same approach. I would often see him driving home as he passed me. "Jake? Jacob?" Mum had been around more lately. Dad had started up at work properly now that the company was settled and so was unable to take her on outings and explore the new country. She now filled her time with cooking and gardening. My home life was becoming more and more like an episode of `Desperate Housewives'. I think you know which character I mean. "Hey, mum." "How was your day?" Insert toothy grin and glowing complexion. "Pretty good. LeAnn and I blew up some stuff in chemistry. And I got offered a place on a football team just outside of town..." and I explained about the proposition. "That's wonderful!" Over-ecstatic expressions. "I am so proud of you." She hugged me, covering me in flour. "Oh my, Jacob..." she pulled away. Apparently I smelled worse than I thought. "I think you need to go and wash yourself." At least I found an antidote for Mrs. I'm-Going-To-Smile-`Til-My-Teeth-Fall-Out. "Wow! That's awesome! Does that mean we get to come and watch you play?" I rang Alicia later that night to tell her what had happened. "Of course. If you want to!" "I wonder if there are cheerleaders... Does soccer have cheerleaders?" "Err, not that I know of... why, you want to join the squad if there is?" "Definitely! I mean-" she put on a cutesy voice, sounding something like Chrissie's "-I would, like, totally just be, like, the greatest cheerleader who, like, ever existed! Like!" We laughed at each other. LeAnn had a similar reaction when I rang her, including the mockery of Chrissie. Over the next few days, and a lot of studying, Jackson spoke to me frequently listing all the details that I would need to know about: where, when, what to bring etc. He offered to pick me up and take me home as I couldn't drive and my dad had the only car with him at the time. When Friday afternoon rolled around, I sat by the front door waiting. I had my football boots and socks ready, with my Arsenal shirt and shorts on. I heard the horn bleep and called goodbye to the mother, who was making fruit pies. About eight of them. "Ha-ha, nice shirt," Jackson approved as I got into his car. It wasn't overly flashy, but still nice. On the drive over we spoke about various subjects; who our favourite players and teams were, who would do well in which league. We also talked about music and other stuff. He was a big classic rock fan and insisted on blaring the music from the CD player. It was a pretty long drive and I felt bad for making Jackson taxi me around. The town had disappeared and the only buildings left were very large houses spread out across the land. We arrived at a big playing field where a few guys were waiting for Jackson. "Hey, how's everyone doing?" he asked as he unlocked the door to the building at the side of the field. I walked in to discover a large, spacious room which smelt of sweat, feet, sweaty feet and mould. It reminded me of my middle school's changing room. At least this one didn't seem to leak or have drafts, which had made changing in the winter months very uncomfortable indeed. I took up a place on one of the benches feeling as awkward as I had done on my first day at the high school. All of the guys here seemed to be friends and spoke openly and lively with one another. Feeling the "new-guy" complex settle in, I sat in the corner of the room and changed my shoes and socks anticipating the start of practice. Most of the guys were still changing when Clay walked in. It was strange watching his presence go unnoticed; usually when he entered the changing rooms at school he would be greeted by a number of people, whilst his entourage brought up the rear. Here, there was no one. He looked as sheepish as I felt. Head down he walked to the fist strip of empty wood he could and sat down, getting changed into a T-shirt and shorts. "You guys still changing? Jeez, what you waiting for? This ain't no beauty pageant!" Jackson walked back into the locker room from the pitch where he'd been setting up the equipment. Noticing Clay he stopped and called the guys to attention. "Hey, fellas! Hush up! Right, you may have noticed that we have a couple of new guys here today. I want you to meet Clay Jefferson." Jackson held his arm up, indicating CJ to the room, who returned the welcome with an embarrassed, weak smile and nod. "And Jacob Hylton," Jackson continued, raising his arm to me as well. I felt all the eyes turn around and face me, sat in my little corner feeling the scrutinising stares of the fifteen young men who I had never met. "Wait `til you see what the guys can do. I want you to make them feel welcome. Remember- and I know it's corny, alright," he smirked at a couple of guys who laughed and rolled their eyes, "but we're a team, ok? So we gotta be one. Otherwise, you're fucked!" As the laughter broke out, I had a look of shock on my face. I had heard (in my many years of now-varied education) teachers swear occasionally, but never as explicitly as this. Then again, he wasn't Mr. Jackson, high school gym teacher & coach. He was Jackson, the manager of the football team. We headed out to the field. The sun was still high in the sky, keeping us baked in warmth as we began jogging laps around the pitch. Many of the guys horsed around as we ran, jumping on each other and pushing each other to the ground, racing for small stretches of the course and just having a good time. Clay, who was a few yards behind me, still had his head down concentrating on the course. I don't think I had ever seen him stay quiet for so long outside of a classroom. Lately, all he seemed to do was look intensely pensive. He shrouded himself in deep thoughts and a quiet aura. He didn't seem to be Clay anymore. "Hey, Jacob, right?" I turned to find the panting voice to my left. "Yeah, that's me." "Oh, I didn't know you were English. Cool." The guy smiled. His wavy, dirty-blonde hair moved with the wind as he continued jogging. He was about my height, maybe a fraction taller, and was built well- one of the first things I noticed was how big his biceps were. He caught me looking at them. "Ha-ha, yeah, I get that quite a bit..." he laughed it off. "I'm Jesse by the way." He held out his hand awkwardly and I took it in mine. We chatted a little bit about practice sessions and how the team had done the previous season. From what I gathered, the team were good- very good usually, but they had lost a couple of players for college a couple of years before and couldn't replace them, thus lacking a respectable number of players to play with, which cost them the league. After an hour or so of tough warm-up regimes and even more laps, I was worn to the bone. Collapsing onto the field, Jackson walked over to me and laughed. "Not used to it, huh?" I didn't respond. I couldn't. "Yeah, guess you weren't really expecting us Yanks to be so tough with soccer." He smiled at me and held out his hand to help me up. "You'll get used to it. I just work all the guys hard to make sure we're good enough. I don't want a repeat of last season." Finally on my feet, I looked him in the eye with as much confidence I could and replied. "You call that tough? I was just taking a break... I was getting bored." I smiled cheekily at him, a couple of the guys including Jesse laughed with me. I even saw CJ smile a little, but he quickly stopped. He still hadn't said anything, or at least not a lot, to any of the guys. I couldn't help but feel bad for the guy. "You little shit!" Jackson laughed, smacking me around the head. "Just for that, all of ya- get to it. Five more laps. Winner gets a prize." He punctuated with a blow from his whistle and we all started along the tracks. I wasn't going to win this one by a long shot. After the third lap I lost the incredible ache in my legs to numbness. My chest heaved and my head stung with exhaustion. I would have to get in better shape for this team. As the practice persisted, the sun was began to set in the distance. A warm orange glow painted the field and the team. An amazing scent filled the air from all of the surrounding vegetation in the village. It would have been nice to just sit and enjoy the environment, but we didn't get that chance until after eight o'clock. Three hours of tortuous exercise had finally come to an end and I felt both weirdly content and tired as hell. As everyone dismantled and collected up the equipment and started heading back to the derelict hut, Jackson called after me. "Hey, I've just had a phone call and I have to head to the hospital. My sister's been in a car accident- it's nothing serious. But I have to check on her, get her home. So I won't be able to take you..." he drifted off, looking guilty. "No, that's cool. My dad will probably be home by now or something. Yeah, you should go. I hope that she's alright." "Yeah, she will be. She drives like a maniac, so it'll knock some sense into her. One of the guys will be able to give you a lift if you need it. I'll see you on Monday. Have a good weekend, Jacob. Jesse!" He called after the blonde. "I need you to lock up. Just bring the keys back next week. I gotta run." And he explained about his sister. I also had a feeling he asked if Jesse could run me home as he asked me when I passed him on the way to the locker room. "Hey, Jake, you need a lift? Coach said he was your ride." "Err, nah, I'll see if my dad can come and get me. Thanks anyway." "It's no problem. I'm heading into town anyway." "Well, if it's not out of your way..." "It's cool. No need to worry about it," and he shot me a wink and a pat on the shoulder. The building was steamy when I walked in. I heaved myself to my corner and undressed. I headed to the shower and hung myself under the first free shower head. Like school, some of the guys didn't hang around to shower. I couldn't really blame them. The showers were not pleasant. Mould grew in each corner of the tiled walls and floor and a stench which made me think of mildew polluted the air. The water pressure wasn't much to be desired either- only two of the ten or so shower heads shot out a decent force of water. Everyone else either had to wait for them to free up and then fight for control, or just deal with it. Since I would be one of the last to leave to help with locking-up, the pathetic, dripping shower didn't bother me so much. By the time I had finished washing the dirt and sweat from my hair, only a small number of guys were left. I looked around at them and noticed that Clay was one of the last ones. I began to wonder if he had misplaced his voice. I hadn't heard him say a word since I arrived at the field. He seemed to be concentrating intently again, this time on his shower. He kept his face firmly at the wall. Jesse walked in after locking up the equipment to grab a quick shower. The two working showers were in use, one by Clay and the other by another guy. I think his name was Sam. "One of you guys need to move or I'm joining you under there...I don't have time for these pissing things." "Like fuck are you coming under here," chortled Sam. He was tall and had sweeping dark brown hair. Well, at least when it was dry. "Fag!" Jesse laughed back. "Yo, Clay," he walked up behind him. Clay didn't seem to have heard him. Terror erupted across his face when Jesse stepped under the blazing shower head with the quarterback. "Sorry bud, I need a quick shower, and bad. I got a hot date after this and don't really wanna smell like the rest of these dicks." When Jesse started washing his body I noticed Clay watching him soap up. Jesse had a big chest with complimentary abs to go with it. It was the kind of body a lot of guys dreamed of having. Clay shot me a look and quickly rinsed off as soon as he realised I had noticed him watch Jesse. He left the shower quickly grabbing the first towel he could find. He had already left by the time I came out of the shower. I couldn't explain it, but something made me feel sorry for him. He hadn't been himself since that last gym class. Even when he was with his buddies, he was quieter than normal. Chrissie had yelled at him in the corridor earlier that week for not meeting or ringing her when she demanded. When we were both dressed, Jesse and I headed out and locked up the building, setting the alarms and switching off the electricity. "I see why Jackson got you two on the team. You're both great. I think we might be have a swing at the title this coming season." "Thanks." I blushed a little. I started to feel the pressure to meet expectations build. Jackson and Jesse had both complimented me on my apparent skills. Clay had also called me talented a few times. During the long ride back we talked a bit more about sports. I explained my ignorance involving most American sports and he asked me to explain cricket. "Couldn't tell you." We laughed. Music, films, hobbies, school and careers were all topics we discussed. Jesse went to a smaller high school on the other side of the little village. He mentioned how he'd wanted to try and transfer for his senior year but he'd ran into problems. "Well, I live pretty far away so it'd be a pain to have to get there. Plus, I'm 18. Doesn't look so good that I'm heading into my senior year older than everyone else. You know how schools are all about appearances." After enquiring about his age, he explained that he hadn't been held back. "I'm not stupid!" he smiled. "I contracted this virus which fucked up my nervous system for nearly a year. It left me basically paralysed. It was alright though- we knew it wasn't permanent. It was just shitty. I couldn't walk, write, eat... I couldn't play sports... it sucked. But I began to get my arms and upper body back within a couple of months. I was worried that my legs would never come back though. It actually helped me get into soccer. Physio did all these stretches and things on my feet and legs and I had to do more with them to get my strength back in them. I started using a ball one day and eventually, well, I just learnt to play soccer. So at least something good came out of it." As we approached the town I asked him about his date. "Ah, it's a hot one. I'm meeting him at this little restaurant across town and then we're gonna watch a movie...maybe get a room." He chuckled cheekily. "Wait." I interrupted him. "'Him'? You're going on a date with a guy?" "Yeah...oh shit, you didn't know. I've told most people so I don't even think about it. Hope I didn't weird you out." "No..." I lied a little. "I guess it took me mostly by surprise. I never would have expected though. I mean, you're the only gay guy I've met who isn't camp." "Camp?" "Yeah, I guess you guys don't use the word? It means girly, I guess. It's what we say back home when a guy is really effeminate. Don't know why," I answered the puzzled look he gave me. "Oh, well. Yeah, I'm not like that. I don't really like it. I mean, if I wanna girl, I'll have a girl, y'know? Which I do by the way... I'm bisexual. I'm really opened minded about, well, everything. What's the point in being so one way in life?" "I guess..." I agreed. "I dunno if I could though... I mean, I've never even thought about it." "Never?" "Nope." "Oh... I thought most guys did. I mean, even to confirm that they never would. Maybe there's hope for you yet!" he laughed. I did too, somewhat lightly. "So you strictly a lady's man?" "Well, I guess..." "You guess?" he questioned me. "Well, if I'm honest, I haven't really had much experience...and by much, I mean I was ten when I was in my last relationship. She was nine. I thought we would be together forever." I joked and he chuckled. "Really? I can't believe that dude. You're a great looking guy. And that accent?" he gave me another wink and I felt myself smile bashfully. It made him laugh more. "Ha-ha, don't worry, I'm not gonna try anything...at least not now..." When we entered the town I gave him directions to my house. "Cheers, mate. Was nice of you." I said to him as I stepped out of the car. "No worries dude. I'll give you a call sometime and we can hang out?" "Yeah, sounds like a plan." It wasn't until after he drove off with my number that I began to wonder what he meant by hang out. Give over, Jake. Stop over thinking everything, I thought. It was after 9.30 when I walked in the door. "Hey parents!" I called out from the hallway as I headed up stairs. No answer. I guess they went out. Again. I reached my room and collapsed onto my bed. The rest in the car had given my body the time to seize up and ache again. It was still early, so I grabbed the phone and I decided to ring one of the girls, see what they were up to. Neither of them answered their phones when I called. Maybe they went out or something. Damn them for living so far away. Falling back onto the bed, I grabbed the book I was reading and continued on. James Patterson's books always put me in a good mood. I loved his style of writing, his description of characters... I was lost in chapter forty-two when the phone rang. "Hey, slag," I crooned down the phone. I had assumed it was one of the girls returning my call. "Err..." It was a male voice that sounded. "Oh, sorry. I thought it was someone else. Can I help you?" "Jacob?" "Speaking." "Hi." A pause. I suddenly recognised the voice. "Clay?" "Yeah, it's me." "Hey." Awkward silence. "You alright?" "Yeah, I guess. Tired. I'm aching all over." "Yeah, same here. Didn't know it was going to be so tough," God bless small talk, I thought. More silence. "Are you ok, Clay?" "Yeah. I was just bored." He spoke very quickly. "Oh?" "Not that I'm only ringing cos I'm bored. I just didn't feel like going anywhere with the guys and I found you're home number on the fridge, you know cos our parents' are friends and I just thought I'd...thought I'd say hey...if that's cool?" He didn't even pause for breath. "Yeah. Course it is." "Cool," he repeated. The continued silence caused me to blurt out: "Do you wanna hang out?" "Yeah," he spoke as soon as I asked. I guess he thought he sounded to eager, so continued. "If you wanna though." "Err, yeah. Yours or mine?" We agreed to go to his place. I was a little intrigued to see his place. I knew he was pretty well off, so this would be interesting to see. Ten minutes later I walked down the street in the opposite direction to school. The further I walked, the bigger the houses grew. Approaching Clay's, I saw that his was one of the largest ones I had ever seen. Large, Greek style columns erupted from the Earth and clung to the house, towering over the street. White, winding steps swept up to the front door, a heavy wooden door, framed with clear, stain glass forming weird shapes on the surface. There were three storeys with what appeared to be a loft conversion. The white stone seemed to illuminate in the darkness of the street, the many windows reflecting the street lights. I walked up the pathway, up the stone steps and knocked on the door. The knock seemed to have been made louder by the shear size of the door, standing over me at more than seven feet. "Hey," Clay answered the door. "You're house is fucking amazing!" Was all I could muster. He laughed. "Thanks. I built it myself." He gave the old cocky grin I hadn't seen in over a week. I laughed with him and stepped inside. The door shut behind us with a snap. The open hallway gave birth to the luxurious sitting room. White stone was probably a running theme throughout the house. The walls here were white with various pictures, from family photos to modern and classic art. The classy furniture was comforting and homely, yet airy and spacious. "Wanna drink?" he asked. "Yeah, thanks." He led me to the kitchen, passing under the high ceilings which had vaguely visible white sculptures, adding to the décor without being overbearing. The modern kitchen was smaller than I thought it would be, but still large enough for an island and stools to eat at. He handed me a diet coke and we headed back to the living room. "Wha'd'ya wanna do?" he asked, flopping onto the sofa. "I dunno..." I followed suit, still looking around at the grand room. "God, you'd think you'd never seen a living room before," he smiled, throwing a cushion at me. "Hey! I nearly spilt the coke!" I laughed, throwing it back at him. "Wanna see what movies are on?" "Sure." Dick head. The dick head. I looked around for a TV and couldn't find one. He picked up the remote control and the whirring of a projector screen fell from the ceiling. It was...big. It was about twelve feet wide. Must have been that, at least. The dick head. Flicking through the channels, we stopped at "Smoking Aces". Typical guy-ish film, I thought. But I liked it nevertheless. Sometime through he asked if I was hungry. "I haven't had dinner yet," he offered. Accepting, we ordered pizza and enjoyed the rest of the film. I tried to sit there and just enjoy the food, the film and the company, but something was distracting me. I had a lump in my gut which throbbed. I didn't know what to make of it. Was it the awkwardness of being with Clay? Reaching for another slice of pizza, I stole a glance at him. I could have sworn I saw him turn away the instant I grabbed for the pepperoni. The movie continued. Alicia Keys and her lesbian friend were shooting a bunch of FBI agents. This was my favourite part of the film. That fifty calibre gun... I don't really have a thing for violence or weapons...but that gun. B-E-A-Utiful. It was hard to concentrate though. Clay kept fidgeting and moving around. At first I assumed he couldn't get comfortable, but after twenty minutes of squirming, I guessed that something was up with him. "You okay?" "Huh?" He had a spacey look like he was a million miles away. "Clay, what's up?" "Nothing. I'm just tired from practice is all." "Well, do you want me to go so you can sleep?" But he answered before I could even finish. "No!" He exclaimed. "Nah, don't be silly. It's cool." Pretending to ignore his strange behaviour I continued watching. Soon after he said he was going to get something from the kitchen. Finally able to concentrate on the action, it took me around five to ten minutes to notice he hadn't returned. I went on a hunt to find the host. He wasn't in the kitchen. Toilet? I went in search for a bathroom, but couldn't find any on the ground floor. The stairs, which rose opposite the front door, led me to the next floor, where I continued my expedition. Could he have snuck upstairs when I wasn't watching? I looked around: no sounds. No movement. At least not on this floor. I walked into what I presumed was his parents room. It was very large, with a big bed and even a small two-piece suite. There were a few doors which I assumed led to a bathroom and one closet per resident. Venturing further upwards, I reached the top floor, which had a further staircase off to the side. I must have been right about the loft conversion. I stood at the base of the stairs and looked around the current floor. No one around. Again. I came to two conclusions in that instant: first, this would be a killer house to play hide-and-seek in, and second, if I knew Clay at all, I guessed he would have the attic as his room. It would give him the most privacy and space from his parents. A whole floor of space. I walked up the winding staircase. These ones were wooden, unlike the main stone ones. They creaked a little as I stepped further. A window, which would have allowed glorious southern sunlight into the otherwise dark-staircase, showed off the view of the small town. It was pretty spectacular. A door met the end of the staircase. It was slightly ajar. A dim light shone through the gap. Why had Clay come up here and not told me? Did I want to know? I stepped up and walked along the little corridor before the door, which I pushed open a fraction more. Clay was sitting on the end of his bed, his head in his hands. His leg bounced up and down nervously. Slight groans of frustration muffled out from his hands. The room looked to be big, but I couldn't tell in the semi-darkness. One lamp out of sight from my angle gave only a little light to the room. I watched him for a minute or so in the same agitated state. Something was definitely wrong. "Clay?" I knocked on the door. Either he didn't hear me or he didn't want to. I opened it and took a few steps toward him. "Clay?" I repeated. His body twisted quickly to identify the intruder. "Sorry, I thought you heard me..." I stated. "It's ok. I was just thinking about something and didn't hear you." He didn't look at me when he spoke. He pulled away from my face as soon as he realised who walked in. "Clay, something is really not right with you." "I'm fine." His tone was more aggressive than he meant it to be. "I'm fine, Jacob," he repeated more calmly yet still not looking at me. "Clay, I'm not an idiot. You haven't been yourself since... You haven't been yourself for a while," I corrected myself, not wanting to draw attention to the shower scene. "You look unhappy at school when you're with your friends, you didn't say a word at football training today, you ring me out of the blue and then you sneak up to your room when you say you're going to grab something from the kitchen?" He shook his head slightly as I listed his strange behaviour. "Look!" He half shouted at me as he got to his feet to finally face me. He just stood, staring at me. His eyes were... His eyes have always looked intense. Kind but mysterious. Thoughtful and deep. The pupils are difficult to distinguish from the dark brown colour of the iris. They reminded me of the Minstrels sweets; the shape and colour. But now, there was an even deeper intensity to them. A flood of fear and anxiety. They looked like they could belong to a lost little boy. At the same time they were determined...anger was folded into them. He looked helpless. He looked strong. He looked lost. He looked... I can't even describe it. He continued his burning gaze, like he was looking into me...deep inside. `Eyes are the window to the soul'. The old adage seemed to ring clear at that exact moment. I was just about to pull away when he stepped forward quickly, took hold of my face and pulled me into his own, embracing me with his lips. He kissed me. When he let go after only a few seconds I stepped backwards, feeling both shocked and dizzy from his sudden grasp. He continued to stare at me...tears, like watery crystals, shone brightly in the dim light as they slid down his desperate face. His eyes broke with the knowledge of what he had done. He looked wounded...my expression of horror did nothing to help matters. I couldn't say anything. I could barely breathe. Before I knew what was happening, his bathroom door slammed shut as he locked himself in. I didn't even see him move- it was as if he was there one minute and gone the next. A few minutes later, after he stopped punching the wall, kicking the wall, head-butting the wall, I heard him slump down to the floor. He wouldn't open the door. I didn't ask him to. I could hear his gentle crying. But all I could do was stand there, breathless, exasperated and dizzy. I finally made my way to the bedroom door, headed down the three flights of stairs and headed out the front door. The titanic slab of wood closed behind me just as Ryan Reynolds' character pulled out the plugs of the two mobsters in the hospital. The screen faded to black. Before I leave you, I wanted to once again recommend: OPERATION: COLLEGE QUARTERBACK Hot sex scenes and an amazing storyline with incredible characters. My favourite. /nifty/gay/college/operation-college-quarterback/ FALLING FOR A STRAIGHT GUY A great, slow paced story about a young, very likable guy. I edit this story now. /nifty/gay/highschool/falling-for-a-straight-guy/ QUARTERBACK WITH THE EMERALD EYES The longest story I ever read with on Nifty with constant new storylines to keep you entertained! It will make you yell out "Oh, God, WHY NOT ME?!" many times! Awesome! /nifty/gay/highschool/quarterback-with-the-emerald-eyes/ HOUSE PARTY I just started reading this one today and it's really good. The characters are some of my favourites. /nifty/gay/highschool/house-party/ Let me know what you think of them! And my own of course! Response to firstname.lastname@example.org Personal replies will be sent a.s.a.p. Thanks again. H.Mac.