A/N- Please go take my new poll. The winning couple will get a M-rated oneshot in a Christmas/winter theme. Vote for up to three couples. The poll will be up until Dec. 1st, 2009. Thanks.

Enjoy. Love, Sai-Chan.

The phone was a standard black phone. It sat in it's stand, cracked in one corner from a verbal argument between friends. There were fingerprint smudges on it. He couldn't remember the last time anyone had ever bothered to clean it. To be honest, he wasn't even sure when it had arrived in their classy makeshift home. He knew that they used to have a white phone. His grandfather had complained for months about being able to see all the dirty fingerprints on the white one. His brother had always had a slightly racist problem with it, of course. He, though, hadn't really paid much attention to it. Now it had been exchanged for a sleek black thing with fresh, new cracks. He didn't know who'd put them there. He was almost positive his brother had. Then again, Huey wasn't the type of person to throw phones. He was more of a repeat slammer then a thrower. Process of elimination left himself and his grandfather, which meant that it was his fault regardless of who had actually done it. He let out a small groan then, wondering when he would be hearing about that. For everything that was going wrong, he knew eventually Granddad would notice the cracked phone and he would be getting it somehow.

Sighing then, Riley slumped against the armrest of the living room couch. In front of him, resting on the end table, was said black phone with it's annoying cracks. He continued to stare at it, his arms draped over the solid and hard armrest. There really wasn't a reason why he was staring at it. However, that was exactly what he had been doing since Huey had walked him home from the Wuncler estate. After a couple hours of listening to the three of them go back and forth about cheating at video games, Huey had grabbed his little brother's arm and dragged him from the house. Riley had tried to escape, if only because he had finally found some friends that still saw him as human. He was no match, though, for his older brother. The revolutionary had snapped something about a headache, thrown him over his shoulder, and carried him kicking and screaming off the property. Within a couple of minutes, he had been slammed down onto the front porch without any say in it. To be fair, Riley had attempted to run back to the Wuncler estate. That escape, however, had earned him a blow to the head that he could still feel throbbing. Huey hadn't even softened the kick. He had just slammed his shin into his little brother's skull and dragged his semi conscious body into the house.

Since then, Riley had been sitting on the couch, staring at the phone. Once his head had stopped spinning, he had remembered the last person he had to call. The thought had been something fleeting, just his name. Yet, that had been all it took to wipe away the calm serenity of Ed and Rummy's usual antics. As grateful as he was that those two still appreciated his existence, they could not lessen the anxiety of calling Licious. Perhaps it was the fear of rejection, heightened only that much more by the negative reinforcement of his grandfather and the Lethal Interjection's reactions to his confession. Perhaps it was the trauma of watching his idol turn his head and scoff at the idea of being homosexual. Whatever it was, Riley found himself unable to pick up that phone.

Three hours had passed since the moment he had groggily sat up on the couch. All three had melted away as he watched that phone. He regarded it as though it could burn him. In his mind, it most certainly could. To touch it, to call that man, was to commit himself one hundred percent to the lifestyle that was proving to be more toxic then anything he had ever seen. He could say it was all a joke, laugh it off, and everyone would be just fine with that. Huey would roll his eyes and leave him lying through his teeth to wait for him to grow up. Granddad would thank God and move him back into his brother's room, pretending this had never happened. The Lethal Interjections would tease him mercilessly, but would completely ignore the breakdown they had witnessed to return to normal. Ed and Rummy wouldn't believe him as they just nodded and accepted his reluctance until he finally gave in when he was older and confessed again. The girls would be grateful for the take back. Everything could go back to the way it was. He could act like a fool and be normal and just deal with his sexuality when he wasn't at home, wasn't in Woodcrest, wasn't a child. He could just swallow it all and laugh hysterically until everyone left him alone and stopped giving him that disapprovingly disgusted look they all seemed to have mastered in an instant.

If he called Gangstalicious and confessed to him, however, he couldn't pretend that this had never happened. There would be no changing how Licious saw him if he told him. If there was ever someone who would reject him, it was his one true idol. Riley knew it then, knew it before, that he was going to be rejected. Licious was going to shove him away as hard and fast as he could. He was going to slam every door in his face until there was nothing between them but the past. Even that, then, would fade away as time drifted away, drawing them further and further apart. For his entire life, Riley had prayed that he could become friends with a true gangster, a true idol of his cause. He had never gotten that far. He had found his way into Gangstalicious's world, discovered how fake he was, and still he wanted to be apart of that gilts and glamour world. For a while, he had achieved that. He had been able to talk to Licious like true homies, true friends. Then that world had come crashing down when that book had been published, when that secret had been flaunted before the world. Licious had shown his true colors without even meaning to. He had denied everything, lied through his teeth, and bashed his own subculture. There was no doubt that when he found out what Riley wanted to tell him, his love for that rapper's world, the world that he himself had tried so feverishly to enter, would mean nothing next to the confession itself. He would step out of the closet only to have the door to his entire world slammed in his face. Telling Licious would be the final straw, the last puzzle piece to leaving his previous existence behind. All this, and he already knew what the picture would look like when it was completed.

Like a big, black hole coming to swallow him up without pity, concern, or warning.

There was fear of that picture that made Riley want to run to the garage to his new bedroom so he could hide under the bed and cry. He had been thrown for too many loops too fast for an eight year old. His sexuality was becoming that disease everyone was acting like it was. Only it wasn't the disease they saw it as. They saw it as something disfiguring, something contagious that would infect them all should he truly have it. That wasn't the kind of sickness it was turning out to be. Instead, Riley wasn't even the one infected. This homosexuality was infecting everyone he came in contact with. It made them rotten from the core, made them turn into monsters who glared at him with such disgust. He didn't know how he was supposed to stare down such a disease, such fury, when he wasn't even man enough to fight a school yard bully alone.

Still, his hand reached out and picked up that cracked black phone. His whole body shook violently as he punched in the numbers he knew by heart. Riley didn't know what made him dial that phone number when he was staring rejection in the face. Perhaps he was delirious. Perhaps he was hopeful. Perhaps he was having another mental breakdown and his method was self destruction. Either way, he placed the receiver to his ear and listened to the hollow rings echoing out. Around him, the whole house held it's breath. He had no idea what he was going to say should Licious answer. He didn't know what he would do if he didn't. All he knew was that the phone was ringing and he wanted to throw up.

" Yo, 'sup, this Gangstalicious," came that slang voice on the other end of the universe, startling Riley enough to make his heart jolt. There was a second when the thug could only choke on the air, unable to say anything at all. He heard a voice coming from the phone, sounding slightly angry. Before he could register what was being said, though, he was talking without any sort of thought process. The words just slipped out in a jumbled mess.

" 'Ey, I'm sorry 'bout the other night. But, man, I really need to talk to you, Licious. I. . I got somethin' I need ta tell ya, an' I ain't sure how to say it, sos, I'm just gonna say it. Nigga, I. . I'm. . . man, I'm gay, aiight? I'm gay. I wanted ta tell chu, but, you weren't like. . bein' cool 'bout it when we talked an'. . an' I jus' wanted ta tell you, aiight?" he rushed to say, his voice slurring in the middle for his hurry. When he was done, however, he didn't hear anything at all. Riley blinked a couple of times, breathing deeply, as a trickle of panic ran down his spine. Swallowing hard, he glanced at the phone shaking in his grip, " Yo, Lish, you there?"

" Riley? Nigga, is that you?" Licious answered in a confused, shaking sort of voice that was borderline alarm. The Freeman choked out a 'yes', observing how his toes seem to go numb in absolute shock. Something about that voice made his blood run cold long before his idol said the words that he had been dreading the past three hours. A chill washed over his flesh, crawling into his mind the moment he heard that sharp voice offer him the first accusation, " Did. . . did chu say you was gay?"

" Yea'. . . I wanted ta talk to chu 'bout it. . . like. . in person,"

" Person? L-like. . . come get chu or somethin'?" his voice hesitated, halting prematurely throughout both sentences. The questions didn't have to be questions, but they were. They hadn't been questions the last night they'd spoken, the last time they'd hung out playing video games in the back of the limo. Like the majority of everything Riley had heard in the past couple days, however, that had changed. The sinking feeling that he was dropping into the dark abyss became that much stronger as he confirmed his plans. The pause that followed was similar to a knife in the heart, twisting harder and harder until he bled out. There hadn't been a pause the last time. There hadn't been a need for confirmation either. That, too, had changed. Then, finally, there came the sound of Licious clearing his throat, " Um. . . yeah. . . man, fer you. . . sure. I'll be there. . . gimme half hour. ."

" Aiight. . . see yous then," Riley muttered as the phone went dead in his hand. A frozen layer of ice had settled in over his shivering body. Heat was rushing to his face, tears flooding his eyes. Riley couldn't explain it. The devastation of those subtle, almost unnoticeable changes in such a short conversation meant so much more then everything he had gone through already. A piercing pain went right through his heart as he lowered the phone onto the hook. In any other situation, he wasn't even sure if he would have ever noticed a pause, a hesitation, a question when compared to a similar discussion. Right then, however, they were so painfully obvious. Licious hadn't even said anything remotely negative, but his repulsion was so clear. The tone said it all. He didn't need to jerk back, to stare, when his voice held every ounce of disgust of every other person combined.

Slowly, though, Riley slipped off the couch. His knees nearly buckled as the first tear rolled down his cheek. He choked them down, defiantly rubbing them away before any more could stain his face. The first couple steps were difficult to take. They shook and he almost stumbled, but he managed. By the time he reached the front door, his heart was beating as hard as it could. He felt like his stomach was turning into lead, swirling with acid. His feet stuck to the ground, weighing him down. Yet, for all that, he twisted that knob and stepped barefoot into the slightly humid night. The sun had set, leaving Woodcrest and Timber Deer Lane in shadowed darkness. Into this uncertainty, Riley walked, heading for the curb at the end of the driveway. Every step made his head swim as that panicked terror consumed him in a furious bout of shivers.

He knew that this conversation was going to be full of pauses, hesitations, and questions that shouldn't have been there. He knew that this one was going to leave him screaming himself hoarse, desperately trying to hide in a closet he couldn't keep closed any longer. This was the final step towards his new life, his new future, his new horizon. That step was in the dark, alone, to wait for the worse rejection, the worse reaction he would probably ever experience in his life. That step made him shake uncontrollably, on the verge of tears, in the midst of physical sickness. That step was so terrifying he practically broke down in hysterics a million times before he sat down on that cold curb just a couple feet from his new bedroom. However, that step was the most important one. Riley knew that. He knew that as he huddled in the darkness, staring at the shadows that crept towards him, waiting for his idol to destroy his sanity one last time. Maybe this time, he would be able to put the pieces together to stand up and face that horizon with the strength he had tried to have this entire time. Thus, he sat and he waited, shivering in quiet terror and solid resolve to face this head on like he knew he had to.

Gangstalicious never came.

For two hours, Riley sat out on the curb in the darkening night, in the growing cold, shivering and sobbing into his hands. His idol never showed up. There was no phone call offering any sort of explanation. There was simply the unadulterated fact that Licious had rejected him so fiercely, he didn't even wish to see him or put up any sort of farce. That sort of utter and complete disgust was crushing in ways that Riley couldn't even begin to comprehend. His body ached in a furious sort of way, his head numb in the same pain. His tears felt hollow, empty as they fell from his chin to the dirty street. Before him was the stretch of road that no car had traveled down in over an hour. There was a mocking echo only he could hear then as he choked on a cry he didn't want to let out. Burying his face in his hands didn't, couldn't, change that Licious hadn't come. There really wasn't anything that could, save for a phone call that he knew was never coming. For all their connections, all their time together, one small detail had ended their relationship in the cruelest of ways. Licious didn't come and he wasn't going to. Riley knew he had to accept that, even if all he wanted to do was lay down and never wake up again.

Before he could, however, a wash of yellow light swept over his knees from behind. Hiccupping, Riley looked up clumsily, his vision blurred from the tears he couldn't wipe away fast enough. Standing idly a couple feet away was his older brother, holding a flashlight by his side. Huey was dressed in his pajamas, the shirt undone to reveal the night shirt underneath. His dark eyes were cast in deep shadow, adding to the harsh stare he was so gifted at casting around. The look he gave the thug was unpleasant annoyance. That same hardness that felt like a brick wall over steel that he always wore. Seeing it in that darkened abandonment that was settling in, Riley only saw the familiarity written on those cold lines. A small sense of calm rose up within the sea of grief as he pushed his hands over his cheeks to rid himself of any remaining tears.

" He. . . he. . . he didn't come," Riley said in a quiet voice that sounded like an echo of his own boisterous voice. His brother gave a short nod in answer, his feet making soft thuds as he made his way over. Without asking if he could, he took a seat beside his little brother. He didn't say anything, though. He remained that silent wall, those eyes glaring off into the distance at something only he could see. The comfort from that glare was immeasurable, " I. . . I. . . I thought he wuzz gonna at least. . . come, y'know?"

" I didn't," Huey stated in the surest, most unfeeling way he probably ever could. Riley hiccupped one last time, rubbing his eyes. A small, unsure smile formed on his lips at his brother's callous manner. Huey didn't apologize for the brash observation of the situation. He never did and he never would. Somehow, that made Riley's smile a bit more certain, a bit wider.

" Nigga, you stupid," was all that the thug could think to say, the lightest laugh leaving his mouth. His words were met by a sideways stare that was as cutthroat as the most notorious gangster's. Whereas others might draw away and cower, Riley felt his tears evaporating underneath the scrutiny only his brother could give. Coughing, he lowered his head, ignoring the stare as he normally did. The flashlight was placed on the ground between them without warning, making him jump a little. When he turned his eyes back to the other, Huey had his head tilted back so he was staring up at the starlight sky beyond the trees and houses.

There was silence then, the comment left to hang in the balance of the conflicting worlds of the two Freeman brothers. For a moment, Riley just looked on as the more jaded of the two gazed up in that deadpan manner at the sky. Then, slowly, he too looked upwards. All he could see was a slate of darkness sprinkled with small specks of light. There really wasn't anything there he hadn't seen before. He had spent many nights laying out on the rooftop, avoiding punishments and homework, tracing his name in the stars. That night, though, he didn't do anything so vain. Rather, he took in all that he could, although he wasn't sure just what he was seeing. He knew Huey probably knew all the names to all the stars, all the constellations, if only because it was such a Huey thing to know. He didn't ask. He merely looked and enjoyed the simplicity the night sky had to present him with. In the time it took for him to look at every blinking dot, then, he felt the shivers sliding away. The cold began to lift as he saw the future, the untold, in that black skyline. There was nothing conclusive, nothing concrete, about that realm stretching beyond the manmade exterior of Woodcrest. There was nothing but a blanket of darkness that held infinite possibility. Instead of focusing on the bleak reality, though, Riley turned his mind to the promising probability.

His world was gone. He was no longer an accepted member of the Lethal Interjections. He was no longer the threat to Cindy's world. He was no longer the less agonizing grandson. He was no longer a friend of Gangstalicious. He couldn't pretend he was a butch bully, a true believer in the thug lifestyle. He couldn't be the troublesome punk child in baggy clothes. That world was gone, shattered by the opening of one single door that really wasn't even that important. After all, it was merely a closet. Still, his world was in shambles. He needed to pick up the pieces to face tomorrow. He had the reluctant semi-acceptance of his grandfather. He had the unwavering friendship of Ed and Rummy. He had the unshakeable support of his brother. There wasn't much else he could piece back together. However, there was plenty of room for growth, for possibility. He knew who his true friends were. That had been an eye opening experience he wouldn't soon forget. He had discovered the depth of Huey's love for him, even if it was completely hidden beneath that locked exterior. More importantly, he had learned what he was capable of withstanding. Riley had taken more hits then he ever had and he was still standing. He may have been blind sighted, hit below the belt, and kicked when he was down, but he was still standing. That alone made up for every blow he had taken. If he was still standing, then he could still walk away and pick up the pieces. He could make it through this. He knew this road wasn't going to be easy, but he knew it was a path he had to go down. He had opened that closet door and he had admitted that he was homosexual. There was no turning back. Regardless of the future pain, Riley knew he had faced the worse of it. He could handle the rest. He had his whole future ahead of him, after all. In time, those doors that had shut in front of him because of this one little detail would open up to new possibilities. Somehow, he would get there, to his happy ending.

" Thanks, Huey," he whispered, breaking the silence as he continued to stare up at the endless sky above. The horizon may have been dark, unforgiving at that, but he saw the small sparkles of light. To those, he smiled a confident grin as he felt a gentle pat on his knee. The touch was withdrawn before he could even acknowledge it. Yet, he smiled that much wider anyways.

" Anytime, Riley,"

Not the end. Please, review if you liked what you read. And take my poll! Thanks.