Boys Who Like Boys: 1

by Miss Kitty E

His mother had been playing an 80's station on the way to school that day. Lance had a proper appreciation of the 80's so it wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been Friday, because of course they would have played that Cure song. Lance had spent most of the morning singing "Thursday I don't care about you, it's Friday I'm in love," and feeling deliciously... gay. It wasn't as if singing a Cure song would have gotten him beat up back in Mississippi- no, it just would have been Exhibit B in the case against him. It was just freeing somehow, like if he really wanted to he could smear on some black eye liner, and paint his nails. That didn't mean he particularly want to, but he could.

The close of the year was close at hand, two weeks away maybe, and he should have been stressing about finals and due dates, but it really was Friday, and he really was in love. He dragged his feet to his locker, and took his time with his books; he didn't want to look like he had nothing better to do than wait for Joey to come and 'pick him up.'

"Are you gay?"

Lance looked up immediately, blinking as his mind made the shift from expectant to humiliated. "What?"

A tall, wiry kid Lance thought might be named Jesse, asked again, "You're gay, aren't you?" pushing into Lance's personal space.

"No," came out of Lance's mouth before he even had a chance to consider whether it should. He stepped back and tried to close his locker before the other boy could reach in and try to play keep away or something equally juvenile.

Jesse slammed his hand against the locker, the sound of metal colliding with metal making Lance jump back and ready for a blow. Tears prickled hot when Jesse laughed, all this wasn't even the product of real hatred, just entertainment.

"At least we know you're a liar, too. Come on, who's your boyfr- Shit!" Two large hands hooked into the kid's shirt collar, pulling back and down until Jesse fell over, slamming to the ground, ass first.

"Hey man," he roared. "What the fuck?"

Lance looked at Jesse first, then up at Joey, who was moving for him, putting himself between Lance and the other boy. Looking at the expanse of Joey's back made Lance feel safe again. He pulled at Joey's shoulders, pausing words that threatened to boil over. He said, as quietly as he could over Jesse's repeated mock of 'fucking fags,' "Please, Joe, I just want to go."

It looked for a minute like Joey wasn't going to listen, but he abruptly turned away from Jesse. "Shit, Lance, shit," he murmured because Jesse had gotten in the final word, with, "Yeah, yeah! Go ahead an' leave you motherfucking pansies."

Joey's car wasn't parked too far from the main doors, and even though Lance was relatively sure that violent, anti-gay mobs took more than a minute or two to heat up, he didn't feel completely safe until they were driving away. Even then, he kind of wanted to look over his shoulder and make sure that the jocks hadn't rallied together, having caught the scent of a 'faggot' in the air.

"Baby," Joey said gently. He was steering one handed, the other lying palm up on Lance's thigh. Lance grabbed it, letting his smaller, paler fingers be folded safely into the warmth and strength of Joey's hand. "Are you alright? What did he do?"

Lance frowned as he thought on how to explain, the whole thing didn't really amount to many words. "He asked if I was gay. Um, he just, I don't know, I mean... it was nothing. But-"

Held up at an intersection, Joey looked at Lance, squeezing Lance's hand tightly, then letting go briefly to lace their fingers together. "I'm sorry about... um, I don't know if you're mad about me rushing in like that, but fuck I thought he'd-"

"It's okay," Lance said limply, and really it was. Because what would have happened if Joey hadn't? Maybe Jesse would have walked away thinking it was all right and he could do it again. Then again, maybe Jesse had walked away thinking he needed to get some revenge instead. He didn't care if it was the worst possible course of action, Joey has stood up for him, put himself out there in the worst possible way. "Everybody will know now, Joe."

Joey shook his head, "Everybody will think they know." He sighed and punched it when the light turned green, driving angry even though Lance tugged on his hand, chiding him. "And they'll give you more shit than they give me. Fuck. I'm sorry, baby, I'm so sorry."

"Stop, Joe. Just stop." Lance let his head rest against the window, hiding his eyes under his hand. "I don't care right now. Not right now. Later. Just be here."

"I'm not leaving." Joey lifted his foot a little off the gas, "Lance, can you come over to my house tonight? Do you think you can manage it with your mom?"

Lance thought about going home and defending himself from his parents' well meaning, but prying questions. Thought about how his mother would try too hard to understand. Thought about his father would inevitably say something like, "You gotta take it like a man, son," because he thought his father didn't really think Lance was one any more. He closed his eyes tightly, no, he didn't want to go home.

"Dad's working the night shift again, and my mom's spending the night out with her sister, we'll be alone, I thought maybe-" Joey continued.

"Sounds good, Joe," Lance rubbed his the heel of his hand over Joey's palm for a second, then let him move it back to the steering wheel. They didn't say much after that, but really, it was only a short drive to Joey's house. Lance waited patiently as Joey unlocked the door, and followed him up the stairs without really thinking about it. Joey tossed him his cordless phone and Lance had to stare at it a second before remembering.

He dialed his home number and listened to the rings. His mother picked up, "Hey mom, it's me. Um, I'm at Justin's right now. Josh is here, too, we're going over some, uh, difficult songs for the choir concert. It's gonna take a while, his mom says it's alright to have dinner here, so I probably will." He paused while his mother nagged a little, speaking, as she always did, a little too loudly into the phone. "I'll be back around, I dunno," he looked at Joey who held up eight fingers. "Eight probably. Love you, Mom, bye."

He hung up the phone and sighed, lying to his mother was getting easier, but he still had some six-year-old belief that it would all come crashing down somehow. Like maybe Justin would call his house asking for him. It was worth the risk.

He heard the squeak of bedsprings and turned to look at Joey. "Still have to lie about me?"

Lance shrugged, "She'd think we were doing something wrong. Fornicating, or whatever. She tries Joe, she really does. Maybe it was too much, you know, gay is one thing but already dating is another."

Joey kept his opinion on that a mystery, and Lance crawled onto the bed beside him. "Fornicating, huh?" Joey asked, sliding down and slipping his hand under the hem of Lance's shirt. Lance sucked in a deep breath as Joey slid his palm up, exposing his stomach. He could feel Joey's breath spread over his skin, could see it in his mind's eye because his eyes were shut tightly, he didn't want to move. Joey kissed the spot right above his navel, and Lance clenched his fists. Again, Joey pressed his mouth against Lance's stomach again, tightly, but this time he blew.

Lance would have shrieked if his voice hadn't been so low, instead the sound broke, and he pushed Joey away, laughing so hard he could barely breathe. "Oh my god, Joey." His body took convulsive breaths before it suffocated itself with amusement, "You are such a fucking dork."

"But you're smiling. This is an improvement." He stretched out again, and Lance looped his arms around Joey's neck to kiss him quickly.

Joey was pushed playfully away when he smoothed his hand over Lance's stomach again. The blonde pulled his shirt down shyly and sat up, scooting all the way against the headboard. He looked at Joey expectantly then patted his chest; Joey went to him. Hands on Lance's knees, he made a sort of armchair out of his boyfriend, leaning back against him, scooting and shifting until he could lay his head back on Lance's shoulder. Role reversal, Joey thought dimly, Lance was in the traditional position of the protector now, holding him instead of needing to be held. He hoped it would help.

"Tell me what's going on with you now, how you feel."

Lance shrugged, "A little angry, a lot sad." He paused, it took him a long time to find the right word. "Really, really obvious."

"Obvious?" Joey asked. When he tried to look at Lance all he could see was the smooth expanse of Lance's cheek and jaw.

"Yeah, like, obvious. Flaming." He sighed gently, "I always thought I was pretty straight-acting. Not above suspicion, but-"

Joey cut him off, eager to push those thoughts from Lance's mind. "I don't think he did it because of you, Lance. Does he even know you?"

Lance thought about, he had seem him once or twice in the gym, but never ever shared words. "No. I don't think so, anyway."

"Then he was just trying to be a jerk. He would have done it to anybody."

Lance sighed, and pulled away a little, "Not to you."

A little crease formed between Joey's brow as he tried not to be angry at what Lance was assuming. "You don't know, you weren't there in junior high."

"Everybody pulled that crap in middle school."

"You know what, Lance," Joey sat up a little so he could look him in the eye. "It's not just you. Seventh or eighth grade, alright?" Joey waited until Lance was really with him. "In the locker room, everybody's changing, and this little punk kid says I was 'looking' or whatever. And he's loud about it, so everybody hears, next thing I know they're chanting 'cocksucker' and there's nothing I can do but laugh it off. The only people who would talk to me after that was girls and TJ."

Lance was quiet for a long time, he couldn't look at Joey when he asked, "What changed?"

"I got bigger than most of them, that shut them up a lot. And I joined theatre, and didn't play sports and then it was like I wasn't a threat anymore. I wasn't like them." He settled back against Lance, "So I know, baby, I know. I'll do whatever you want. If you want to come out and be a couple, if you want to deny it, I'll do it. I been through it before, one way or the other."

Lance sighed, tiredly, "I don't know what I want to do, yet."

"That's okay." Joey glanced at the clock on his nightstand, "So, we've got maybe two hours... you wanna talk some more or make out?"

"Well..." Lance mused jokingly. Joey turned his face a little, nuzzling Lance's neck. "Actually, you know I think I just wanna eat."

Joey blinked, mentally shrugging. "Well, you came to the right place, Bass."

Downstairs, Joey rifled quickly through the fridge producing two bins of Tupperware. "Baked squash, and ooh, fettuccine. Mom left it for me rather than leave me to my own devices. Should be enough for the two of us."

"There's enough for three people," Lance said, watching Joey as he pulled down a casserole dish and dumped in the squash to be heated in the oven.

"Every Italian mother's greatest fear is that someone will leave her house hungry." Lance laughed, but Joey insisted, "No, I'm serious! She wakes up in cold sweats and starts baking. It's really become quite a problem."

"A couple valiums will fix that right up, you know."

"Yeah, yeah, you're so smart." Joey closed the oven, and turned back to Lance. "Come here." Lance knew that meant he was about to be kissed.

Sometimes he doubted, just a little, that he was really gay, or even bisexual or whatever. He didn't know how to handle labels very well, and the word "gay" was just so damn heavy when you came from the south, so heavy it could only ever be a burden. He thought maybe Joey was just some kind of exception that he would confess to the nice, Baptist girl he would marry a few years down the line, or maybe just a solution to loneliness, or a case of getting caught up in the excitement of something so new. But he never thought that when Joey kissed him, not when he felt the scratch of the soft goatee Joey was growing, or the overwhelming warmth of Joey's body and mouth and the breath that breezed across his cheek, or when he wrapped his arms around the solid trunk of Joey's waist, or looped him around the girth of his neck. Being gay wasn't a burden then, but the best thing he'd ever done.

Part Two - Fic Index - Main