Build Me Up, Margerinecup

By a.j.

After that day, school seemed less and less important, and getting blow jobs from a pretty Mexican boy seemed like his top priority in life. They had sex nearly every single day, coming home straight after - or, more often than not - in the middle of - school, go to James' room and dispose of their clothes, spending the afternoon touching each other and, after the first month, holding each other. When Zack first talked about Freddy, James would get a sad look on his face and look at his dresser. He would later tell about his own ex-best friend, Michael Rodriguez, the half-white, half-Mexican beauty that he had known since he was little. Except in James' case, Michael didn't just leave one day without an explaination. He stopped talking to James because he was very much against homosexuality.

Sometimes Zack liked to pretend that sex with James was healing, that they were bonding on a level he had never known. He pretended to be in love with him, and on Christmas he gave him a present awkwardly, blushing as he pulled a small gift out of his backpack. James had only smiled, blushed, and pulled a larger box out from underneath his bed. Zack had given James a watch, a gold-banded beauty that had once belonged to his grandfather. James gave Zack his favorite book of poetry.

Zack was quite sure they would be together forever. On Valentines Day, Zack had finally taken James to his own home, both of them sneaking out of school before second period as to avoid the parents. There they had sex many, many times and walked around Zack's house naked, making pancakes and touching each other.

In April, Zack had decided to surprise James with a visit to his work. The manager of the Burger King had told him that he was in the break room, which is right where Zack went. And saw James making out with the person he recognized from James' dresser.

The next day James explained about life and how he liked Zack a lot but would always be in love with Michael. Zack understood. At least he thought he did. He said he did. He didn't.

He asked if they could ever hang out again, and James answered no.

The last thing he heard was that James moved away after the school year ended. They never did speak again. And he didn't think they ever would.

…………………

The morning sun woke him, its tendrils of light hitting his face in just the right way to simultaneously rouse him and annoy the hell out of him. He grunted and rolled over, pushing the heels of his hands into his eyes, determinedly keeping them closed.

And suddenly, everything from the past day rolled back into his head at top speed. Sneaking out to see Freddy. School. Everybody making fun of him. Talking to his Dad in the car. How his parents were pretty much okay with everything.

And for the first time in awhile, he woke up feeling like life was complete.

Of course, just as the happy, fuzzy feeling was starting to settle comfortably in his stomach his mother came in, picked a pillow up off of the floor and threw it at him.

"Zack, honey, breakfast is ready," she half-yelled, obviously not sure whether her son was awake or not. Zack grunted in response, rolled into the wall defiantly and mumbled something akin to "I don't want to." He then rolled over a few more times to put on a show for him mom, moaning in protest the whole way like he was five years old. Finally, he underestimated his size and ended up falling off of his bed with a loud bump.

Zack groaned and rubbed his head, sitting up and trying to untangle his legs from his comforter, cursing the sound of his mom's laughter from the doorway.

"We expect to see you down there in a few minutes, Zack," she said. "And don't even think of climbling out the window."

Zack mumbled to himself as she left, a silent "Goddamn motherfucking cunt face scrotum lips grargh" before finally emerging. He stripped and quickly threw on a random pair of jeans and a green tee-shirt his mom had gotten him last year in an attempt to get him to wear colors that weren't black.

The minute he sat down at the dinner table, his father set down his newspaper and started speaking to him.

"Two weeks, no phone, no cell phone, no internet, nothing outside of school and band practice. Two weeks. If you break one of these then you get an extra week attached on. Understood?"

Zack nodded, staring intently at his pancakes. He had forgotten that he was grounded.

"Oh, and no more sleepovers with boys, okay? Your girl friends can come over if they want. And, er," he paused, looking rather uncomfortable. "Do you have, a," he paused to cough. "You know."

"Boyfriend," his mother inserted from the kitchen stove, her voice slightly higher than normal.

"Uh. Yeah." And suddenly, everybody in that kitchen was blushing. There was a long silence, in which his mother finished her own food, cleaned up, and sat down to eat.

"Who," she managed to ask in between little bites.

Another silence.

"Freddy."

Another silence.

"I never liked him." Zack's dad. "Are you sure you don't like that Tsai kid?"

This caused Zack to laugh, his snorting chortle going into his milk glass.

"Lawrence isn't gay, Dad," he choked out, causing his father's brow to furrow.

"Are you sure?" he asked, sounding disbelieving.

"Yeah, Dad, I'm sure. He likes the ladies. A lot."

"Oh." His father sighed, taking a sip of his coffee.

"Freddy is a very nice boy," his mother inserted into the conversation.

"Sure," his father shrugged.

"Yeah," Zack said with a smile.

…………………

School wasn't exactly easier after yesterday. It wasn't as if everybody knew that he had talked to his parents and decided that he was a pretty okay guy and wanted to stop messing with him. If anything, people were messing with him more, and the few guys he had thought were gay had, by third period, all cornered him at some point and asked him out. Still, it was as if all of the shadows that had followed him since he was twelve had suddenly gone away, leaving him with a brighter, safer world.

His shirt helped. In fact, even if he hadn't noticed which shirt he had put on, everybody else did. Especially Freddy, who had pulled him away from the class at the beginning of chemistry to talk to him, his face etched with worry.

"Fuck, Zack, are you okay? Did your dad finally fucking hit you? What the hell happened? Jesus, I was worried and waited for a call, and what the fuck are you wearing, it's really, really fucking hot, makes your eyes look all melty and chocolatey and mmm, Zack and chocolate and me licking chocolate and why haven't we had sex yet?"

Zack was suddenly very glad for the fact that the classroom was big and that Freddy had a very quiet whisper-voice. They didn't get a chance to talk during Chemistry, leaving them, as usual, with their only chance to talk being in the bathroom. As soon as they were in there, however, very little talking went on; Freddy immediately pushed Zack against the wall of the stall and kissed him, hard enough to bruise his lips. Zack gasped at first, then kissed back, knowing that their lunches at school would be the only times they had to make out.

When they finally broke apart, Freddy rested his head in the crook of Zack's neck.

"Fuck, fuck fuck fuck. I'm sorry, Zack. Fuck. I should have asked how you were. Why couldn't I stop myself? Fuck. Jesus. I'm horrible. Fuck. Sorry," he whispered, berating himself. Zack pulled him up by the head and kissed Freddy quickly to calm him down.

"Shut up, Freddy. I'm fine. Okay?"

Freddy nodded, worry still in his face.

"What happened with your dad?"

Zack smiled in response, looking directly into Freddy's eyes and stroking the blonde hair underneath his fingers. "He's okay with me being gay. Pretty much. I'm grounded, no phone or internet or boy sleepovers anymore. But he doesn't hate me. Oh, and he and mom approve of the two of us. Sort of. I think. Maybe."

Freddy smiled and pulled Zack in, hugging him tightly.

"Zack, that's great news! Oh my God, that's amazing." He paused, letting the words sink in. "Wait, you told them already? What did they say? I know your mom likes me cause I'm hot and all, but what did your dad say?"

"First? Ew. Second, my dad said I could do better but that you were fine. Or something," Zack said, trying hard to remember exactly what it was his dad had said.

"Normally I would be like 'what the fuck! I'll kick his ass!' but I'm kind of distracted by you. Damn, Zack, green looks really, really good on you. I mean, really. You look like a pretty candy bar for me to unwrap, like those cookies-and-cream chocolate bars nobody buys anymore even though they're seriously the best candy bars out there. But yeah, you look like that. Holy Jesus on a stick, I really want to do dirty things to you right now," Freddy rambled on, his eyes staring at Zack's chest the entire time. Zack only laughed in response, moving his hands to his boyfriend's back.

"And since you can't come over to my house to sleep over anymore, I guess we had better make the most of lunches," Zack murmured, surprising himself with how he was speaking.

"Fuck yeah," Freddy whispered, leaning in to kiss Zack again.

…………………

He couldn't say he wasn't surprised when he was called into the Principal's office. When a school is filled with tabloids about a certain student at the school, especially ones that depicted scenes in the worst of gay porn, the Principal would most likely have to intervene and talk to the boy in question. However, he was kind of surprised when he saw his parents in the office as well, his mother looking uncomfortable and his father looking angry.

"I can assure you my son hasn't done anything wrong, Ms. Fields," he heard his father saying as he came in, his voice tense and thinly restrained.

"Welcome, Zack, please sit down," his principal said in a sickly-sweet voice as he came in. She was pretty young, probably no older than thirty-two, with dark skin and a prominent jaw. Zack had seen her all of two times in his life, the first time during the freshman orientation and the second being when she came into his freshman Honors English class to talk about the importance of the standardized tests at the end of the year and the other important exams that would plague his high school years. He thought she was a bitch.

Still, he sat down warily, staring her down the entire time. She coughed once, shuffled papers on her desk, and looked up, resolve plastered all over her face.

"I don't know if you know, Mr. and Mrs. Mooneyham, but some very interesting flyers have been passed around our school for the last few days. There have even been reports of them being sent directly to peoples' houses, and I have gotten a few calls from parents concerning your son.

"The first thing I have to ask is, of course, whether any of this is true."

"Of course it isn't!" his mother shouted, scaring the shit out of Zack. She was usually pretty quiet. Ms. Fields glared at her.

"And your name is?"

"Diane. And my husband is Peter," his mother answered through clenched teeth.

"Right. Well, Diane, please try to control yourself. The question was directed at Zack."

Zack vaguely wondered if Bitch Fest 3000 was about to start.

"Zack?" his father whispered, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Your principal asked you a question."

"What?" Zack blinked, shaking away the fantasy of his mom beating Ms. Fields over the head with a bat. "Oh. Yeah. No. It's not true."

"Are you a homosexual?" Ms. Fields asked, her eyes boring through him.

"Why?" he asked, clenching his teeth. He had never liked her, but he liked her a lot less right now.

"Please answer the question, Zack," she asked, her voice back to that goddamn sick tone.

"Shit, yes," he sighed, rolling his eyes, wanting to piss her off. Surprisingly, she didn't call him on his dirty word.

"Do you have any idea who did this?"

"Yeah," he said. "I don't have any proof, but I know who did it."

She nodded and made an understanding sound, closing her eyes as if in thought.

"I'll do my best to punish them, Zack, because this definitely falls under grounds for an expulsion. What they did was 'gay-bashing' and discrimination. I would even go as far as to say that you have the right to sue them, if you want to," she told him. His eyes grew large. He knew it was inappropriate, hateful and a downright shitty thing to do, but he never thought it was anything that serious.

"This might be a hard question, Zack, but," Ms. Fields continued, then paused, seeming to be trying to think of the best way to put her question. "since the incident, have people, well, harassed you physically, verbally, or otherwise?"

Zack nodded, thinking back to all of the comments people had made and the time he was cornered by the boy. This caused his mother to gasp and put her arms around him.

"It's okay, though. I'm fine. Really," he said, trying to calm his mother down.

"Well," Ms. Fields interjected. "I know it's unfair, but I have to recommend that you switch schools."

An uproar came from both his parents, scaring both Zack and Ms. Fields.

"He wasn't the one-"

"Unfair! He didn't-"

"Shut up!" Zack yelled, causing his parents to quiet and glare at him. He paused and caught his breath. "Shit, you guys. It's okay. I can switch schools. I don't care."

They stared at him.

"Are you sure?" his father asked.

"Yeah. It's fine," Zack answered, his voice quiet.

"Well, I'll give you all a few days to discuss the idea. In the meantime, Zack, I need you to write a statement for me tonight about who you think the culprit is and every person who harassed you. I promise I'll do my best to give you justice."

Zack nodded, still shocked beyond belief. Fuck, he hadn't thought it was really that big of a deal. He didn't want to get people in trouble, but when he looked at his parents and how pained they were he knew he had to do something.

As the family left, his father telling him that he didn't have to stay at school the rest of the day, his principal smiled and said goodbye.

"Oh, and Zack?" she started. He turned around.

"What?"

"Try to watch that potty mouth."

Zack smiled and nodded.

…………………

Zack really liked Saturdays, because most of the time it meant band practice. He was especially happy for that Saturday, as it was the first real human contact he had had in days with anybody he actually liked, except for lunches with Freddy. However, his particular band practice wasn't his favorite, since it was less of a practice and more of a "let's interrogate Zack" day.

"So are you coming to Richardson Prep?" Summer asked, swinging her legs as she sat on the counter in Zack's second garage.

"I don't know," he answered, biting on his pinky nail. "I kind of want to stay in public school. Besides, everyone at R.P. knows about me, right?"

They all nodded, making the same understanding noise that Ms. Fields had been making a few days before, like they were all stretching out an "m."

"I still can't believe your parents are so cool about everything," Katie commented, playing her bass as loudly as she could so that Zack's parents would think they were practicing.

"They just don't hate me. It's not like they fucking gave me condoms, lube and gay porn and turned me to the world," Zack said nonchalantly, tuning his guitar.

"It's not that bad. You just got grounded," she answered back. "And they're even okay with you having a boyfriend who you have, by the way, forgotten to mention who it is."

Lawrence laughed and Zack looked at him, both sharing a smile.

"It's obvious," the Asian boy said.

"You?" Summer gasped, her eyes boggling.

"It had better not be," Freddy snapped, staring at Zack. He had been surprisingly quiet the whole meeting, just sitting there tapping the high hat with a smile on his face. "I'd have to kick his ass."

"Oh. My. Fucking. God," Katie said, forgetting her bass and just grinning like a mad woman.

"Freddy, you're gay?" Summer gasped, get gaze going from Lawrence to Freddy, looking both confused and somewhat relieved, Zack was quick to notice.

"No. Yeah. Kind of," Freddy floundered, looking at Zack. "For Zack, fuck yeah."

There was a brief silence, where Zack just smiled at Freddy, his face flushing. It was only broken when Summer's cell phone went off.

"Excuse me," she said, answering it and going off into the corner to speak privately.

"That's really cute," Katie whispered, going up and hugging the two of them. "I'm happy for you."

"Thanks," Zack said, his face still very red. It was weird, everybody knowing, and even weirder that people didn't seem to have a problem with it. When she hugged Freddy, she whispered something into his ear, making the other boy blush. Before Zack could wonder what that was about, he realized that Lawrence had come up to him.

"Hey Larry," he smiled, seeing the boy who he had recently come to see in a new light.

"My sister is a lesbian," he said suddenly, getting right to the point. "I haven't seen her in years. My parents kicked her out. I loved her."

"I'm really sorry," Zack whispered, putting a hand on his friend's shoulder.

"You are lucky, Zack," he said simply.

Yeah. He was.

A screech came from the corner, causing everybody to turn around and stare at Summer, who was currently jumping up and down and screaming happily.

"The fuck?" Freddy asked simply, causing everybody to laugh.

Summer quickly did her best to calm down, flapping her hands up and down near her face.

"Zack, I could kiss you right now," she said, running over and hugging the boy in question. "You just rocketed this band to new levels?"

"Um. The fuck?" Zack had to ask, copying his boyfriend.

"Apparently those a-holes who pranked you sent the same article to some record producers, but it totally backfired on them! A new company, Dive, read the article, looked us up, and downloaded those cheap recordings we made a few years ago and sold to our friend. And they liked us! They want to sign us! And put us on tour this summer!"

"Holy fuck," Katie whispered.

"We're going on tour!" Summer screeched, resuming her happy dance around the room.

Zack's mother opened the door to the garage, a confused look on her face.

"What's the matter, kids?" she asked, sounding moth annoyed and confused at the same time.

"We're going to be famous!" Katie screamed, joining Summer in her happy dance. Mrs. Mooneyham, still confused, looked to Zack just in time to see him happily embrace Freddy.

"Okay, Zack, remember what your father and I said about, er," she said, pausing. "You know."

With that, she exited the room. The School of Rock looked at each other, paused, and started laughing.

He was dating Freddy Jones, the object of his childhood affections. He was in love. He had a kick-ass rock band. He had good friends. He had parents who loved him, even if he was gay. He had a lot of people around him who understood. He was about to be signed to a record label and go on tour.

Yeah. Lawrence was right. He was pretty fucking lucky.