Sorry for the delay...real life and a bad fall resulting in back problems kinda took its toll on me.
But I am here now. Wish I could claim the characters...Jasper my darlin', how I want you!...but SM owns everything but my story ideas and my deaf dalmatian. Please leave me a review and let me know you are still reading! Thanks!
Chapter 12 – Birthdays
Life passed by more sedately then the preceding months. Edward and I continued our individual therapy sessions, first weekly and then bi-monthly. Neither of us saw a reason to meet together, and neither our parents nor the Doc pushed us into it. Looking back, perhaps that was a mistake. Had we gotten together to talk, life may have taken a slightly different direction for us. Hindsight is 20/20 I'm told. Anyway, eventually, Dr. Carlisle told our moms that he felt our issues were less acute and we were allowed to quit seeing him. It was with the understanding that we would call him if we felt we needed to, with his urging to not let any problems escalate until they felt insurmountable. I missed our talks sometimes. I really liked having a man that I could share things with, but I was happy to be getting better too.
Edward finally told his mom and dad that he was gay. It took him a few months of talking with the Doc, who acted as a mediator and set up a joint session between Edward and his parents, for Edward to spill it all, but the severe consequences he anticipated never materialized. Edward never told me much about that session, merely saying that his mom was okay with everything but his dad needed some time to get his head around it all. I know that his dad eventually let Edward know that he loved and supported him, no matter how he identified himself.
My fifteenth birthday occurred shortly after we both started therapy. With everything going on, it was a quiet affair. Mom took me out to the diner in town for dinner and we had some awesome cheesecake, instead of the traditional birthday cake. Edward did wish me happy birthday and got me some movie tickets and other small stuff, but, all in all, life passed quietly and without incident.
Initially, my mom was stressed about the possibility that Father may have come back. She was worried about how I was feeling and how I would deal with him if he returned. She alerted the police, as Doc suggested, but there was really nothing they could do until Father actually showed himself or started trouble. I urged her to be more aware of her surroundings because I was afraid for her, but it was hard to stay on high alert when month flowed into month and nothing happened. We were both lulled into complacency and I gradually discounted the spine tingling and prickling sensations I still experienced intermittently. Occasionally I caught glimpses of movement in the corner of my eye, but when I turned my head there was never anything there. Father faded into the background where he belonged, and I sincerely hoped he would stay there for the rest of my life.
One large change did happen for me. With Doc's help I learned to channel my anger and aggression into more positive avenues. I ran every morning, rain or shine, with or without Edward, so my days could start peacefully. While running I learned to reach a meditative state of relaxation that helped me react calmly to stressors during the rest of my day. Mom also purchased a heavy bag for me, and when I became overwhelmed with life I could take out all my rage and fear on the bag instead of the people around me. At my insistence, mom found a photo of Father, which I had duplicated into a life-sized head-shot and pasted it on the heavy bag. At first, she was sure I was regressing, but when she saw that it actually initiated a lot of my release which contributed to my serenity, she relaxed and let me do what I needed. It felt good to beat on the subject of so much pain.
Edward and I grew closer once again, but there was an unspoken agreement that we would keep a bit of distance between us now, both physically and emotionally. I knew we would never experience the camaraderie of our earlier days but I was happy to have him in my life so I never pushed him to be more then he wanted to be with me. Edward never verbally repeated what he had told me that fateful weekend when all hell broke loose. I guess loving me was something he was able to get over. At first, the absence of his affirmation of love was a welcomed relief, but gradually, it began to weigh on me. I wondered how he could so easily negate his feelings.
I realized as I matured that I was gay, just like Edward. It wasn't an overnight "light bulb" event, but rather a quiet awakening for me. When I looked at my response to the girls at school, and how I identified feelings of lust and curiosity with the boys around me, I wondered if the gods were chuckling and if Edward and I were thrown together at such a young age for a reason. Maybe Father did see something between us. However, I refused to make Edward's mistakes. I had started talking openly with my mom right after I began therapy with the Doc, so it was easy to discuss my revelations about my sexuality. She took it well, only telling me she was concerned about how the rest of the world would treat me. She told me she was there for me in what ever capacity I needed her…that I could rely on her always.
My talk with her about the man who assaulted me in the park the day I ran away was an entirely different matter. She was incensed that the pervert touched me and wanted to report it to the police immediately. I convinced her that I didn't want that…that it would actually hurt me to have to keep reliving that incident. After some persuasion on my part, she allowed the subject to drop, and I was able to put it behind me. I did, however, catch her gazing at me with anger and pity mixed together on her face, which would turn into a sad smile when I caught her eye. I realized how lucky I was that I could tell her anything, even something as horrifying as that, and she would listen with compassion and understanding. I don't know what I would ever do if she was no longer in my life.
I decided not to be open at school, or even with Edward. I knew from watching Kyle, a rather shy and studious young man in my grade who came out at school that some of the kids were cruel and antagonistic. I remained quiet, distancing myself from the worst of the kids. I realized that I was gravitating toward Kyle and his friends, but I saw no need for the grand gesture he had made. I silently lent him my support and kept the worst kids at bay with my mere presence, as they were afraid I would go off on their asses. They knew I was unstoppable once I got started and that I never lost a fight. What they didn't know was that I was relying on my previous reputation now. I had no intention of starting anything with anyone. I promised the Doc I would use my brains instead of my fists, and none of the punks at school could make me break my promise.
With Edward, it was different. I was developing real feelings for him, or maybe I had cared deeply for him all along, but since he seemed to have gotten over me, I wasn't going to open myself to the heartache of loving someone who didn't love me. I thought all the time about what he had said to me, even dreamed of his words…but I just was not about to be a sap over him. I was a fifteen years old, and I was not going to act like some little school kid. I was sure that he would tell me again if he still felt something for me, so I kept my mouth shut waiting for him to instigate that kind of interaction between us. It was hard sometimes, but necessary for my own well-being. All in all, I guess I was afraid of his reaction. I know it makes no sense…but feelings are not always rational. I didn't want his pity…and I didn't want his understanding without his love.
Don't think that we were distant, because we weren't…we just didn't hang on each other like we used to. Edward was still in the popular crowd with his own friends and I tended to hang around the fringes with mine, but it was obvious to everyone that our friendship was back on track. While it no longer occurred to me to just throw my arm over his shoulders or embrace him in any way, I did tend to grab his arm or touch his back more times then may have been necessary or even appropriate. We were "easy" with each other, but anyone looking at us would not have known we were both gay. Neither of us officially dated any girls, keeping ourselves active in group events only. Since we didn't make a big deal out of it, we flew under the nasty kids' radar. I think Edward probably figured me out, but we never discussed it; I was never put on the spot about how I felt about him. I may have begun to "suffer in silence" as my mom pointed out to me, but I wasn't about to put myself out there to get hurt by him or anyone. I guess we were both in the mindset of "don't ask, don't tell." Since most teens react to anything different that way anyway, it was easy to keep up our pretense even between each other. I had a feeling he knew, but didn't want to have to tell me he didn't love me any more. As I said…it was just easier to avoid the whole subject.
Summer arrived, but it was different from any other I had experienced. Edward got a job and was busy all the time, either with his job or his other friends, so at first I mostly kept to myself and found ways to whittle away at the time. When school let out for the summer, I left my new friends behind, still not comfortable with forging ahead without Edward.
Out of the blue, Kyle called me in the middle of July and invited me to a small get-together to celebrate his fifteenth birthday. At my mom's urging, I attended. We all had a great time swimming and barbequing, and I starting hangin' with him and a few other kids. When I finally felt comfortable enough to come out to them, they were not at all surprised by my announcement. They told me they respected my strength now, and also thanked me for my silent support during school when Kyle first came out, and promised to keep my secret when school started again. It turned into a really good summer…one that was not dependent on Edward's attendance.
This was the first summer ever that I made new friends and Kyle and I became very good friends. We decided we weren't each other's type, but we did practice kissing a few times before we came to that realization. It was freeing and terrifying all at the same time. I wondered if I could ever get over my crush on Edward and move on to find a new love, but I figured at fifteen I didn't need to rush it. I found I could be happy being who I was and not feel guilty for not thinking of Edward twenty-four seven. Yeah, Edward and I still hung out, but I was not as dependent on him as I had been. That actually allowed us to have some great times together that summer that were not wrought with angst. I guess we were both growing up.
I found that I was reluctant, however, to include Edward into my new group of friends because I didn't want to be forced to "come out of the closet" with him. Besides, they were my friends, and he didn't share everything or everyone with me. Childish…yes. I was still hurt by his inability to continue to love me, after he told me he did. I didn't want him or thoughts of him to intrude on my little piece of heaven. After all…they say ignorance is bliss…and I liked being able to keep up our façade of best friends without having to be totally open to him.
School started and a month or so later Edward's seventeenth birthday arrived. He decided to celebrate with a huge blow-out party at his house. Everyone from school was invited. When I arrived a little late, he never even noticed, which kinda put me out of sorts for a while. He was in the middle of the room dancing, with a soda in his hand, as he sang along to the song at the top of his lungs. Even though I walked over to him and wished him Happy Birthday, he waved me off and continued dancing with his other friends. He didn't actually approach me until towards the end of the evening. I was talking with Kyle and my other friends when Edward tugged on my arm, pulling me away and into a dark corner.
"What are you doing hanging out with that gay kid?" Edward asked rather heatedly. "Are you trying to out me?"
"Edward, the world doesn't revolve around you and your gayness!" I whisper shouted. "I like Kyle and his friends…I am comfortable with them."
"Are you gay?"
"Cause you haven't told me you're gay and I AM supposed to be your best friend!"
"Don't you think I have a right to hear you say the words to me, just like I did for you? Am I not important enough to you? How come you didn't come to me when you knew?" Edward was getting increasingly agitated and louder as he continued.
I pulled him into his dad's office and closed the door so no one would hear us, as I answered his questions.
"If you would let me speak, maybe I can tell you what you want to hear. I am gay, but I am not interested in you outing me by shouting and being a dick! Besides, how could I possibly be outing you by hangin' with my friends? I figured you knew I was gay, so I saw no reason to discuss it. Why are you so upset? You have your friends and I have mine, and I like it that way. What is your problem?"
Edward sat down with a thud on top of his dad's desk, and put his face in his hands.
"I'm losing you aren't I?"
"Edward, no! We are still friends. It's just that you have been so busy with work and school and all your other friends…"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I…I…don't know exactly…"
"You don't think that is something I might want to know?"
I couldn't think of anything to say. This was my fuck up and I had no clue how to get out of this without telling him I loved him. I knew he no longer loved me and there was just no way I was puttin' myself out there, only to be disappointed. I wanted to run, just like I had a year ago, but I owed it to him, to myself, to at least say something.
"I'm sorry Edward. I just gradually came to the realization that I was gay and never knew how to bring it up. It is not like we spend much time alone with each other any more. I know you don't want anyone to know about you and neither do I, about me I mean, so can we just forget about it right now?"
Edward looked at me and shook his head. "When you decide to let me into your life, let me know." With that, he jumped down from the desk and walked toward the door, brushing against my shoulder and knocking me aside as he went past. Right before he closed the door behind him, he mumbled, "Maybe you should trust me a little more…like I used to trust you."
I stood in his dad's office…could have been minutes…could have been hours, my mind a jumbled mess. When I finally rejoined the party, I found Kyle and told him I would see him at school. He asked if I was okay and I shrugged my shoulders noncommittally. He looked at me for a moment, appraising my attitude, but said nothing else. All of us said our goodbyes and I walked home alone, still trying to rationalize how badly I had fucked up with Edward. I don't know where Edward was when I left his house and I was glad I didn't run into him. I don't know what set him off and I had a lot of thinking to do.
What a great start to this school year…NOT!