Portman's POV:

"You fucking slut! You think I don't know what you do? I'm not blind, I see the way you are with other guys, like that kid who was over here today! You fucking him too?"

"How many times do I have to tell you? I'm not sleeping with that guy from work and I'm certainly not fucking Dean's friends!"

I had walked in on a serious fight between Aaron and my mom. They were in the middle of the living room screaming at each other. There were broken dishes in the kitchen, and I saw the empty bottle of wine on the table, so I figured the fight was reaching the tail end by now, and I retreated to my room to wait it out. Normally it goes alcohol, yelling, break stuff, more yelling, then tears, apologies, and a long night of make-up sex. Bleg.

I was lying on my bed with the door closed, but it sounded as if they were standing right beside me. The walls were pretty thin in this place, and I was sure the neighbours could hear everything. If they didn't wrap it up pretty soon the police would probably show. At the moment, however, they were still going strong.

"You expect me to believe that? I know all about you, you'll fuck anything with a dick!"

"I guess that rules you out then! Maybe I *should* start seeing other guys, get myself a real man, not some chicken-shit little momma's boy who can't even get it up!"

There was a clapping sound, a loud thump, and then silence. No, not silence, I could hear my mother crying. I ran into the living room and saw her lying on the floor, holding her head and sobbing, while Aaron stood over her, still looking angry, but now unsure as well.

I exploded. "Pansy-ass motherfucker!" I ran full out at Aaron, jumped on him and knocked him to the ground. He hit me hard in the temple, and the left side of my face exploded with pain, stunning me, but not for long. I jumped on him again, and started whaling on him. He didn't just sit back and take it, however, and we rolled around on the floor together while my mother screamed at us to stop. I barely heard her. Stop? I couldn't stop. I was going to kill him. Nobody touches my mother.

It didn't take long for me to get the upper hand. Aaron was taller than me, but he was out of shape, too many days spent lounging around watching Vikings games. Besides, I was a Bash Brother. Fighting was my specialty. I had him pinned to the ground now, and was about to finish him off when he called out, "Stop! I give up!" and put his hands over his face. I wasn't ready to quit, but I paused at his words and my mother grabbed me around the waist and tried to haul me up.

"Leave him alone, Dean, you're hurting him!"

I shrugged off her arms and stood up on my own, staring at her in disbelief. "I hurt him? Are you serious? The lousy son-of-a-bitch hit you!"

"I'm alright! Besides, he didn't mean it, he was just mad! Aaron, Aaron honey, are you okay?" She knelt down beside him, putting her hand on his shoulder, but he pushed her away, heaved himself to his feet, and stood there, swaying slightly. His face was all mashed up and bloody and I couldn't help myself from smiling. Did I do that? He spun on his heel and half walked, half stumbled into the bedroom. My mother followed him in and I could hear her sobbing and pleading with him to stay. I wondered why, I mean normally my mom's the one to send her boyfriends packing, and she had never seemed particularly attached to this one.

They both emerged a few minutes later, Aaron carrying a battered old leather suitcase and my mother still crying, tugging on his arm as he went. He paused at the doorway and turned to face me.

"You like your slut mother so much, you can keep her. I've had it." And he left without another word.

My mom and I just stood there for a minute, not saying anything. Her eyes were red and puffy, her cheeks streaked with tears, one still red where Aaron had hit her, and as she looked at me, her face contorted with rage. She threw herself at me and started swinging her arms wildly, hitting me on the head, back, shoulders, anywhere she could reach.

"You little bastard! I hate you! It's your fault!"

I grabbed her arms and pulled her close to me. "Forget about him mom, he's an asshole. You can do way better."

But it seemed she didn't want better, because she shrieked loudly and started crying again, pounding on my chest with her fists. "Aaron was right about you! You just want to keep us apart! I never wanted you anyways! I hate you! Get out!"

Don't listen to her Portman, she doesn't know what she's saying, she's just upset. "It'll be alright, mom."

"No, it won't! It'll never be alright again! Get out! Get out! Get out!" With each exclamation she pushed me hard in the chest until I was up against the door. She stood there, crying and glaring at me, and said again, quietly, "Get out."

So I did, but not before I slammed my fist through the wall beside the door. The pain made me smile, and so did the frightened look in her eyes as I left.

I ran down the street towards Fulton's. When I got there I found him curled up on his bed, facing the wall. It turned out it had been family fun night at his place as well. His father had flipped because their car had broken down, and he hadn't been able to find Fulton all day to fix it. Judging by his slow, painful movements and the beginnings of a big bruise on his cheek, his dad had knocked him around a bit as punishment. Bastard.

We were sitting on his bed, and Fulton had taken out his old battered First Aid kit and was inspecting my hand.

"Christ Portman, what'd you do, put your fist through a wall?"

He laughed when I nodded, then took out some cotton balls and a bottle of alcohol. "I can't believe I just jumped on him like that. It was so--OW!" I jerked my hand away and glared at Fulton. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"It hurts, I know, but I've got to clean them up." I reluctantly gave him my hand again, and tried not to pull away while he dabbed at my knuckles with alcohol.

"I'm not surprised in the least," he continued softly, and it took me a moment to realise what he was talking about. "That guy was such a prick, I knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Besides, didn't it feel good to kick his ass?"

I grinned. "Yeah, it really did, and he was a grown-up, too! I'm not sure it was worth it, though. My mom hates me now."

"Don't worry about it. We're going back to Eton tomorrow, and you won't see her again till Christmas break. By then she'll have a new guy and she'll have forgotten all about it. She lives in the present, your mom."

I sighed. "Yeah, I guess you're right."

"I know I'm right," he smiled, gently taking my chin in his hand and looking closely at my face. "Damn, if you won, I'd hate to see what Aaron looks like," he said as he started cleaning a cut above my eyebrow.

"He won't be able to see out of one eye for a week, and I think I knocked a couple teeth loose. Ow!"

"Sorry. Good for you, you do a Bash Brother proud. Not get ready..." He started dabbing at my lip. It hurt like hell and my eyes wouldn't stop watering, but I didn't say anything.

"You're lucky you don't need any stitches. Okay, that about does it, now I just have to wrap up your hand." He put gauze on my knuckles and fingers and then wrapped them in white medical tape, so I looked like a boxer. When he was through he sat back and looked me over. "There, I'm done," he said.

Then why was he still holding my hand?

***

"Well you wouldn't know anything about it, faggot. You've never competed in your life."

"Oh, I know, and I feel all empty inside because of it. I have such a deep admiration for guys who roll around on the floor with other guys."

"Ah, you'd never miss it. You don't have any goals."

"Oh, but I do. I want to be just like you. I figure all I need's a lobotomy and some tights."

"You wear tights?"

"No, I don't wear tights, I wear the required uniform!"

"Tights."

"Shut up!"

"See, Portman," Fulton laughed as he tossed a goldfish cracker into the air and I caught it in my mouth. "John Hughes' movies, particularly The Breakfast Club, defined a generation. No other film before or since has so perfectly captured the '80's teen mindset."

"Yeah, you're so right. This movie is brilliant, man."

We were sitting around in Fulton's basement, doing what we do best, nothing. Were we just a couple of worthless layabouts? Maybe, but what should we be doing instead? Going out on dates with those stuck-up Eton girls? Playing the whole make-up, break-up, teen drama game? Hanging out at the mall, doing homework and behaving ourselves so we could get into a good college? Doing just what all the other kids were doing until we grew up to do just what all the other adults were doing? Thanks, but no thanks. I took another hit from the psychedelic, blown-glass pipe I'd given Fulton for Christmas last year and passed it to him.

"Hey Fult, doesn't that jock kid look just like Coach Bombay?" I asked as I pointed towards the tv.

"Yeah, totally. Freaky isn't it? They could be twins."

"Would you like to be a twin?"

"Nah, you wouldn't have your own identity."

"Yeah, I wouldn't like it either, except that you could mess with people's heads, play jokes and stuff."

"Remember when we sent all that chinese food to that teacher's house?"

"And we hid behind his tree, and he flipped out on the delivery boy? That guy was such an asshole. He looked like a vampire, his wife too."

"Yeah, he had that white skin, red lips and black hair."

"I bet they were vampires. They probably had vampire kids and everything," I said, tossing a goldfish into the air.

"Impossible," said Fulton, as the cracker hit him in the forehead and bounced off. "Vampires can't have sex."

"What are you talking about? Of course they can!"

"Nope, a female vampire could screw a human, but a male vampire couldn't have sex with anyone."

"Why not?" I loved these stoned-out discussions. Nothing but weird topics and a lot of non-sequiturs.

"Simple, he can't get it up."

I choked on the smoke I was holding in at the time, and a laughing and coughing fit ensued. Fulton rubbed my back until it passed, then continued, "Well, vampires are dead, right?" I nodded. "They don't breathe, their hearts don't beat, they don't have blood pumping through their veins."

"So?"

"Well, how do you get an erection? Your heart pumps blood into your dick, and then the vessels close up so it can't leave, and you get hard. Vampires can't get hard."

"I don't know what's more disturbing, that you've obviously thought about this before, or that what you're saying is making complete sense to me. We must both be insane."

"I've always thought it was better to be half crazy than half alive."

What happened next, I didn't plan. I didn't even know what I was doing until I had done it. I guess what he said just rang really true to me. I was in love with him, and I was willing to risk everything for a shot at supreme happiness. I reached out, took his hand in mine, and kissed it. "Stop time," I whispered.

"What?" his voice sounded all funny and husky, like he was choking or something.

"I don't want to leave this moment. I don't want anything else but for us to stay like this forever."

Fulton looked at me for a long time without saying anything, without smiling. I dropped his hand and looked away. "I'm sorry man, I didn't mean to--"

"Would you stop dicking around and just kiss me already?"

This can't be happening, no way. I felt as if I would shatter into a million pieces if I moved so much as an inch. I wrapped my arms around my chest to keep myself from falling apart. Just breathe Portman, in and out. Finally, I dropped my arms and looked up at him. He was smiling and the next thing I knew I was kissing him, kissing him hard and deep, our tongues finding each other and moving together like two dancers in the dark.

His mouth was alive. I felt as if I had just swallowed a 1000-volt wire. Surges of electricity and adrenaline were racing through me, every hair on my body was standing on end. I felt transported, like we had left our world and were floating through another dimension, one where it was possible to feel this good and not explode. Finally we separated.

"God, you're so beautiful," he said as he stroked my cheek, his eyes wide and very bright. "I'm scared that if I close my eyes, you'll be gone before I open them again. Maybe I'm dead, I mean, this can't be real. Life isn't like this."

I nodded. "I know, I'm scared too. It just seems too good to be true. I feel like any moment something's going to send me crashing back down to earth." I took off my shirt and put his hand against my chest. "Everything you're feeling right now, just know that I'm feeling it too. I'm not going anywhere. I wish I could say it'll be perfect, that I'll never hurt you and you'll never hurt me, but I can't, because..."

"Because screws fall out all the time. The world's an imperfect place."

"Exactly."

"But I'm not looking for perfect. I'm just looking for you."

It was all too much. I reached out to take off his shirt, but he pulled away. He stopped, stared at me for a moment, and took if off himself, his eyes never leaving mine. I wanted to cry when I saw him. There were angry red welts all down his back and across his shoulders, and several of what looked like cigarette burns on his ribcage and arms, one of them fresh. I touched his shoulder gently, and he didn't pull away this time.

"What did he--" I started, but couldn't finish. There was a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball.

"A belt. It's what he always uses."

"I'll kill him."

"Don't bother, he's not worth it."

"Are you alright?"

"Of course, stupid, and with Johnny's chronic I can hardly feel a thing. Hell, you look worse than I do."

"But--"

He put a finger to my lips, and smiled. "No, no buts. Don't you get it? It doesn't matter. Nothing matters if I have you. Everything that's wrong with my life, you make right. What more could I ask for?"

And with that, he lay back on the little bed and looked up at me with what just might have been love in his eyes. "Now come here." I took a deep breath, and got down on top of him. Fulton was right, what more could we ask for?

THE END (for now...)

*Well guys, that about wraps up my first fanfiction. I must say I enjoyed it immensely. Thank you all for your kind reviews, especially Cake Eater, who has been kind enough to review every chapter thus far. I already have several ideas for a sequel, or more of a continuation, really. Now that Fulton and Portman have consummated their relationship, what's next? Will they tell Charlie and Adam and the others? Will Fulton's closed-off nature become a problem? Find out in part two of my story, The Bash Brothers in Love, coming soon to a fanfic site near you. Now this is where I need the advice of my readers and veteran computer and fanfic aficionados. When should I start the second part? Immediately, or should I wait, spread it out a bit and give more people a chance to read this, or catch up on the new chapters? I write often, I know, and it's just because once I start writing, I have a hard time stopping, and whenever I get an idea, I want to put it down on paper. If you think I should wait, for how long? A few weeks, a few months? I really have no idea, so I'd appreciate any input. I hope you all enjoyed my little story. Thanks for taking the time to read it. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Nebula for her fabulous Elden Henson site, and for linking the Queertet and giving them the praise they deserve. Without them I never would have known that such a phenomenon as fanfiction even existed. This story is dedicated to Elden Henson, the real Fulton Reed, without whose boundless talents this world would be an infinitely more dreary place.*