So hopefully I still have some readers out there *squints eyes and looks around*

I'm very sorry for the update fail. I'm just gonna be honest, during the holidays I hit a pretty bad depression (as many of you know I lost my daughter 5 years ago and the holidays are really hard for me.) So when I started coming out of that, my in-laws got very, very sick and the hubby and I were having to help out a lot. Then the hubby's back went out so I've just been so freakin' busy I barely have a moment to even think, let alone write. Things are getting better so hopefully you never have to wait for an update like this again.

Anyway, thanks for checking this out and I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Playlist: The Kill (Acoustic Version) by 30 Seconds to Mars and Falling by Florence and the Machine

Brandon's POV

The last few months had been crazy. Good but crazy. It was weird havin' people to always talk to and places to go. My family was always callin' or textin' me, my friends were always swingin' by to drag me outta the house, and Brady was always right there on the other side of the screen or phone.

But late at night, when it was time to go to bed, I was still fuckin' lonely. I went to bed alone and woke up alone. I hated it.

It's not that I ain't used to sleepin' by myself cuz I been on my own pretty much all my life. What I ain't used to is havin' someone who wants to be with me when they wake up in the mornin' or me still wantin' them there too.

When I was a kid, it weren't no big thing to go out and find some girl that would let me fuck. Bein' a teenage guy, ya always run around tryin' to stick your dick in anything ya think might feel good cuz gettin' off was always a good thing, even better if it wasn't by your own hand but that's all it was, a quick fuck. It usually ended with me just tryin to sneak out 'fore they woke up cuz I didn't wanna be there. The point is that I didn't really sleep with no one cuz the thing about fallin' asleep is that it leaves you vulnerable and I don't trust people that much.

Most people thought I was more trouble than I was worth and I was fine with that.

Then I fell asleep with Angel the night I stole that car and drove to Mission. That was the first time I ever just slept with someone I cared about. That was when I realized I was really in love with him, instead of just thinkin' I might be. We slept atop that old hood all wrapped up in each other and I slept like a baby.

We weren't fuckin' and hadn't even seen each other for a few months 'fore that night but I stopped sleepin' around…that was hard though so I started drinkin' a little more, poppin' a few more pills, even snortin' a line or two…whatever I could get my hands on cuz fuckin is a stress reliever and without it, I had to ease my stress other ways.

But none of that lasted too long cuz drugs made me careless and I got busted.

And since I got busted and thrown into Juvie, I never saw Angel again cuz he killed himself a few months later.

He finally admitted he loved me and I went and fucked it all up and then he was gone.

When I finally got released from prison, the first thing I did was fuck cuz fuckin' is a stress reliever and ssomethin'' I could do 'sides drugs since I'm on paper…

But fuckin' didn't really work no more. I mean, I could still buck like a god damn work horse but it didn't really help my stress as much. I still did it cuz it was still better than by my own hand cuz even though it didn't work as good, it was still ssomethin'' to relieve my stress, if only for just a few minutes.

But I can't have that now.

I can't go about town fuckin' strangers cuz I'm in love with Brady but he's like a million miles away so I ain't gettin' to fuck him either. But I'm doin' okay with it. I went a long time without while I was in prison so I can go without fuckin' for awhile.

That's the strange thing about fallin' in love…it takes away the urge to just stick your dick in other stuff.

I still had the need to get my dick wet but only the finest little cocoa ass was gonna do.

It was a little scary when I realized that my dick only wanted Brady, I mean, honestly I expected havin' to fight it down cuz he tends to have a mind of his own sometimes but this time, my dick and my brain both agreed…Brady was all we wanted.

Maybe that's what love was. When you wasn't at war with yourself concernin' him.

I figured all this out 'bout a week 'fore Brady come down to Texas to see me, I had been dragged out to some club down the street by Lexi, her girlfriend, and Sig…

Sig let out a dramatic sigh as he swirled his Jack around in his Coke, "This place blows. Like literally. There are five guys getting blowjobs right now within my immediate peripheral. We've been here for over an hour and I've been bought like four drinks. I should be the sixth guy, Brandon. I should be the sixth guy in this room getting head. Gay guys love me! Why am I hooked on a girl that will never, ever want me? Why don't I like the D? It would make my life easier, ya know?"

Takin' a pull from my beer, I shook my head, "Don't know, man. Life's fucked up. Might have a better time meetin' people if you didn't hang out in the gay bar all the time with a girl that only likes pussy."

"I know, right! Ugh, stupid Lexi and her fucking piercings and tattoos and bitchy, bossy attitude. I think I need to check out a BDSM club. I think I have a total Sub fetish. Where would I find one of those? Do you think the Internet has listings in the Houston area? Or, oh, maybe someone here knows! That guy over there with the dog collar on licking that guys ankle looks like a good bet. I'll be right back."

Siggy stumbled off as I took another pull from my beer and chuckled in amusement at the fucked up little dude. It's really too bad no girl had snatched him up yet. He was funny as fuck.

Since I was left alone for a minute, I pulled out my phone to check and see if Brady had texted me yet. He had gone out to some club with Eddie, Jay, and Suzie.

I smiled as I opened the pic of him sittin' in the dark club with a glass of Crown and Coke, holdin' up a napkin that had a picture of a heart drawn on it with the words 'Miss you,' written real pretty in the middle. He had a sweet drunken smile on his face and his pretty caramel eyes were glazed over ssomethin'' fierce.

Smilin' like an idiot, I grabbed the pencil stickin' outta Lexi's purse and started drawin' a picture of two guys doin' it doggy style, one with a tiara on his head, on a napkin then scrawled out at the bottom 'Miss you 2, Princess.'

Then I fumbled with my phone for like five minutes tryin' to get a decent picture. Stupid big fingers and tiny buttons always fuckin' with me.

Once I finally hit send, Lexi came back to the table to slam back her drink and I told her she'd have to watch her purse for a minute so I could go take a piss since Sig had abandoned ship and was now in what appeared to be a pretty deep conversation with some guy in heels and a platinum blonde wig.

I hope he knows that ain't a girl.

I trudged through the club, head down and my hands shoved in my pockets as I made my way back to the bathroom. After takin' a quick piss, I washed my hands and ignored the sounds of slappin' wet skin comin' from one of the stalls.

This place was ghetto as fuck and I had to make a mental note to never, ever bring Brady here.

I left the bathroom, hopin' I'd get home soon so me and Brady could get down and dirty on Skype. I was so glad I finally knew what a fuckin' Skype was.

"Hey there, big guy."

This young guy came outta nowhere and I nearly drew my fist on him, the stealthy little bastard, but he just smiled up at me as he swayed on his feet.

Shovin' my hands in my pockets, I rolled on the balls of my feet and gave a small smile, "Uh 'scuse me…"

I was gonna try and walk around him but the little fucker just stepped in front of me again and put his hand on my arm, "Where ya goin' so fast, sexy?"

Looking down at his hand on my arm, I cocked an eyebrow and mumbled, "Uh, back to my table. I got a…"

Boner. I got a boner as he leaned in and palmed my dick through my jeans while he whispered, "I don't care 'bout no guy you got waitin' on you at home, baby. I just wanna suck you off real hard and real dirty right back here in the corner where no one can see us. Your little boyfriend don't ever have to know. So, you want the best head in all of Texas, handsome?"

By this point, I was backed into the dark corner and my dick was rock hard cuz fuck yeah I wanted a blow job. I wanted a blow job so fuckin' bad my balls ached.

But not by the best lil' dicksucker in all of Texas…by the best one in Seattle.

My lil' dicksucker. My lil' Princess with the phat ass and pretty cocoa skin, that's what I wanted.

I took my hands outta my pockets and gently stopped the boy as I scolded him, "You shouldn't be beggin' to give total strangers head in the back of a club, kid. There's a lot o'bad guys out there and don't you wanna, ya know, be in love with somebody 'fore ya put their dick in your mouth? Or, I don't know, at least know they're name? A cute lil' guy like you should be makin' these boys 'round here work for it. I'm gonna go back to my friends now but you be safe, okay?"

The kid looked at me like I was crazy and maybe he was right cuz the old me never woulda turned that down.

My dick was still painfully hard but he wasn't mad at me for goin' all PSA on that guy and he didn't fight me to get in that guy's mouth so we were finally on the same page.

That's when I figured out I was really, truly, all the way in love with Brady. Cuz instead of gettin' my dick suckedwhen no one woulda ever known but me, I didn't. I went home and jerked off to pictures of Brady since he didn't text me back until the next mornin'. Apparently he passed out at the club. Jay sent me a picture of him drooling on the table that his little face was smushed against.

He was adorable.

I was actually pretty proud of myself. Maybe I could do this love thing.

Maybe me and Brady could really work out.

But then I kept havin' dreams 'bout how I fucked up with Angel so bad.

::

Angel shoved up his bedroom window with a huff as he stuck his head outside and grumbled, "What the hell do you think you're doing, Brandon? It's four o'clock in the god damn morning…"

I squinted my eyes and cursed the big, Texas moon for bein' so god damn bright. Shovin' my hands in my pockets, I shrugged, "Nothin'…just thought you might wanna, ya know, hang out?"

Fool around…

His lips pursed together as he mumbled in Spanish underneath his breath before those pretty brown eyes snapped to mine, so on fire they made my skin burn, "Oh my God, are you fucking high?"

With a huff of my own, I glared at him, "The fuck are you so mad about? Why you bein' such a bitch?"

I definitely had ssomethin'' wrong with me cuz when he leaned out the window and twisted his hand in my t-shirt, yankin' me forward with a growl…my dick stood right at attention.

"Call me a bitch again and I'll rip your god damn throat out. If you wanna see me, pendeho, then you will show up at my house at a fucking respectable hour. Or at least not reeking of cheap liquor, so high on god knows what…your pupils are so blown that I can't even see the blue in them. So, turn around, go home, get some much needed sleep and come by when you're fucking sober or don't come by at all 'cause I'm not playing these stupid little games with you, mi loco guero. Comprende?"

Stumblin' back a bit when he let go, I couldn't stop the full on grin that came to my face as I nodded, "Okay, Angel. You're right. Sorry for bein' a dick. I guess I'll see ya tomorrow...today…whatever. Sweet dreams."

He finally let out a little huff of laughter as he shoved his window back down, rollin' his eyes and mumblin', "Fucking crazy white boys…"

I started to go home. I wanted to listen. But I got sidetracked by Heather Minks. Or at least my dick did. Cuz I felt bad after but I just couldn't stop myself from lettin' her drag me off to the alley and suck me off behind someone's garage.

He heard about it the next day and avoided me for two days after that. When he did finally talk to me again, it was pretty obvious he was high. His pupils were blown and he was sloppy as he shoved his art supplies in his book bag.

Leanin' over the art table, I whispered, "I'm sorry, Angel, shit's hard right now. Are you okay?"

His black eyes snapped to mine as he gave me a pissed off sneer, "I'm fine, Brandon. I've spent the last two days listening to that skank Heather talk about how totally awesome it was having your big hands in her hair and fucking her god damn face. It's not that I care about who you fuck cuz I really don't. I don't love you so it's not that I'm jealous. It's just that all she talks about is how good your dick is and how the rest of you is absolutely worthless…"

That made me cringe away from him as I whispered, "You don't love me?"

I figured he would or already did. I mean, he kissed me like he loved me. At least that's how it felt. Or how I guessed bein' loved might feel like.

Hangin' his head in his hands, he pulled his fingers through his pretty hair and sighed, "I'm not in love with you and you're not in love with me. If you were, you would've went straight home and if I was, I would care more than I do that you didn't. Anyway, I have to get going. I have somewhere I need to be. See ya around, mi loco guero."

But I felt like maybe I did love him. I wanted to tell him but shoved my hands in my pockets instead as I huffed at the ground.

He threw his backpack over his shoulder as he stood to leave but I just didn't wanna let it go like that so I grabbed his hand as I sat back on the stool to be eye level with him.

"Wait, where you runnin' off to? And what are you high on, Angel?"

With a roll of his pretty brown eyes, he pulled out a bottle of pills and flashed them at me long enough to see his name on the label but not what it was, "It's okay, they're prescription. And I gotta go 'cause my little sister, Melita, needs me to braid her hair before her big gymnastics competition tonight. So, see ya."

Then he was gone, rushin' out the door. And I ended up fuckin' some girl that worked at Taco Bell…I don't remember her name, I just called her Taco Bell…

The dreams keep happenin' and it starts wearin' me down and I just keep waitin' for shit to go bad cuz it does, it always does.

And life doesn't disappoint me. Well, I mean, it does, but it don't.

Turnin' my head, I see a woman that looks just like my mama…well, I mean, if my mama was clean and sober and completely different.

This woman was dressed nice with her blonde hair all done up and walkin' with a little boy and girl, maybe five and six years old, all cleaned up nice too with big happy smiles on their faces.

Even her voice sounded different, not old and haggard and mean as she smiled down at the little boy, "It ain't that much further, son. Daddy's probably already waitin' on us."

It couldn't be my mama. My mama didn't sound like that or look like that or act like that…

But then her eyes raised to mine and once I saw a spark of recognition then, just like that, the warm eyes melted into an icy stare made that I recognized all too well.

I didn't mean to say a word but I stepped forward and choked out, "Mama?" 'fore I could even stop myself.

A quick glance around and she stepped closer, holdin' onto the kids tighter as she hissed low, "I ain't your mama. Don't you ever speak to me again. I got my life together with a real man and two beautiful perfect children and I ain't 'bout to let some little worthless skeleton fall outta my closet and ruin the rest of my god damn life. You and your daddy took enough from me, you ain't gettin' no more. So, next time you see me, you just turn the other way, boy, cuz I'm dead to you."

There was my mama. Mean and evil and never pussy-footin' 'round the point she was tryin' to make.

The little girl tugged at her pant leg and pointed at me, "Who's 'at, mama?"

With a cold, dead glare, she looked at me as she tugged them along, "Just a mistake, baby. It was all just a mistake. Let's go see daddy now, okay? How 'bout we stop for some ice cream on the way home."

The little boy and girl jumped with happiness as she dragged them away from me but the little girl kept peekin' over her shoulder through blonde curls.

My mind was just racin' as I wondered how the fuck my mama got clean and sober? Who the fuck were those kids? Did I have a brother and sister? She was wearin' a big fancy ring so who the fuck was dumb enough to marry that bitch?

But apparently mama got her shit together. Apparently she was doin' real good now. Maybe I was the one draggin' her down. Maybe she hated me so much she couldn't bear the thought of bein' around me sober.

Maybe I was the reason she was so fucked up.

Maybe I'm the reason Angel was so fucked up. Maybe he woulda been okay if I had just left him the fuck alone.

What if I fuck up Brady too? What if I fuck up his whole life just like I did everyone else's?

Why the fuck didn't I say ssomethin'' to her? Why didn't I tell her that she was a fuckin' cunt and I was better off without her?

It pisses me off that here I am, yet again, takin' her shit and not sayin' a god damn word back. She's the only, and I mean, only god damn person I ever let talk to me like that. I don't know why I do it cuz then I hate myself after. I hate bein' weak and I hate that she can hurt me and fuck, I don't wanna feel this pain in my chest cuz she shouldn't be able to hurt me no more it's been twelve fuckin' years…

I squeeze my eyes closed, tryin' to reign in my panic and hurt and anger. I try to choke it all down but Lou Anne notices ssomethin'' off in me as the mornin' goes on. I can't even do my fuckin' job cuz my hands are shakin' and I'm knockin' the ink over and I feel like I'm 'bout two seconds from blowin' the fuck up. Lou Anne ends up tellin' me to take the afternoon off and get myself right. She don't seem mad but now I'm fuckin' paranoid about my job cuz if I fuck up again I could lose my job and then I could lose everything…

Fuck, breathe, Brandon…

I have to drag myself upstairs 'fore I say or do ssomethin'' dumb. Throwin' my ass down on the couch, I just sit there as my phone keeps annoyin' the fuck outta me. Brady's been textin' me for awhile cuz we ain't talked at all today and it's well past noon. But I don't wanna talk to Brady cuz he has this way of breakin' me down and I can't do that right now. I can't talk about this shit cuz I don't wanna.

Cuz it hurts. All of it hurts, the dull, hollow pain on the inside where my heart's s'posed to be, the shame of not bein' able to stand up to her once again burns through me like wildfire, and my bones feel like they're gonna rip through my skin cuz it's stretched so tight over 'em and I can't fuckin' breathe.

I wanna claw at my skin, tear it open till it bleeds just to relieve some pressure cuz I feel like I'm suffocatin' and…

Breathe, fuckin' breathe...

I dig my fingers into my scalp as I curl up onto the couch and fuckin' growl when my god damn phone chimes again.

Grabbin' it from the coffee table I damn near crush it in my hands as I turn it off and toss it back down. I gotta get outta here 'fore I break ssomethin'' or do ssomethin'' stupid but I'm scared to leave the safety of my place cuz I might go out there and break ssomethin'' or do ssomethin'' stupid.

Then I'm up, pacin' 'round my apartment, tryin' to decide what I should fuckin' do cuz my mind is goin' a hundred miles a minute and I feel like I'm gonna jump right outta my skin.

With a deep breath, I wrench open my door and take off for the gym. I keep my head down, hands buried in my pockets on the way so no one accidentally pisses me off by lookin' at me the wrong way.

The gym will be good cuz I really just wanna hit ssomethin'' but the bag at the gym don't hit back and that don't really help. So I spar with some guy who's trainin' for a fight and beat the shit outta him but that don't really help either. My arms feel like they're gonna fall off but I'm still all worked up and nothin' is fuckin' helpin.

So I storm off back to my place, still all antsy and twitchy and not feelin' any bit better. I curl back up on my couch but don't feel like doin' anythin' so I just sit there in the quiet and try to stop the storm goin' on inside of me.

I ain't sure how long I sit there but eventually the sun must go down cuz I'm just sittin' in the dark. I know I should get up. I know I need to move my ass and quit wallerin' in self pity but I can't fuckin' move. I feel like if I move a muscle, everythin's just gonna explode and I gotta keep in control so I just close my eyes and try to control my breathin'. But I've been festerin' all day and it feels like my arms around my knees is the only thing still holdin' me together so I'm scared to let go.

A knock on the door makes me jump and my heart is in my throat as I drag my feet across the floor to answer it. I don't wanna but I can hear Lou Anne hollerin', "Brandon? You in there, bub?"

She's probably already pissed at me for missin' work so I don't wanna make it worse by ignorin' her at the door of the place she's lettin' me stay at for free.

Cuz I'm a fuckin' loser. A god damn charity case. I didn't buy hardly nothin' in this place.

I take a couple deep breaths before pullin' it open. I don't look her in the eye cuz I don't wanna. So I keep them on the floor and don't tuck my hair back when it falls in front of my face.

"Hey, you okay?"

I just nod, eyes still on the floor as I drag a hand through my hair but let it fall back again.

"Well, uh, you might wanna give Brady a call. He called the shop a couple times, said he ain't heard from ya and he's awfully worried. Said your phone keeps goin' straight to voicemail. You sure you're okay?"

I nod again and rasp out, "Yeah."

My voice is rough and my throat raw from not talkin' all day. I clear my throat and mumble, "Sorry for him callin' the shop like that."

It's not like I need a god damn babysitter.

"It's no problem, hon. He just loves you, is all."

He really shouldn't.

I don't say anythin' and I still don't look at her as I nod again. I can hear her sigh before she speaks again and I know that sigh. That's an exasperated 'I'm tired of fuckin' with you' sigh. I've heard it a million times from a million different people.

"Alrighty then, I guess I'll be goin'. If ya need anythin', you just give me a call, okay?"

I wish she wasn't bein' so god damn nice to me. I don't deserve it. I ain't even man enough to look her in the fuckin' eye.

Noddin' my head again, I mumble "thanks" as she leaves. Shuttin' the door, I press my head against it as I take a few breaths. Hopefully she won't think I'm some ungrateful bastard and decide to kick me out on my worthless ass.

I pull away from the door and flip on the lights, eyes squintin' from the sudden brightness as I walk back to the couch. Ploppin' down, I grab my phone and turn it on to see a slew of texts and missed calls. Most of the texts are from Brady and they start out normal but end up frantic before I get to the last one that just says, "Please be ok. I love you."

It makes my chest ache cuz I'm a dick for makin' him worry but then again, it's probably better that he finds out now what kinda asshole I am so he can get out 'fore I fuck up his whole life.

Cuz I will fuck it up. That's what I do, the only thing I'm good at.

My head is throbbin' and my stomach is all fucked up. I got thirteen voicemails and I don't even wanna listen to them cuz it ain't right that I'm makin' people worry 'bout me. I ain't worth the effort and they really should just let me go.

It's Saturday night and here Brady has spent all fuckin' day worryin' 'bout me instead of goin' out and enjoyin' himself like any other guy.

It pisses me off cuz I'm so fucked up that he has to call Lou Anne and send out a search party from half way 'cross the country.

He should just get himself a normal boyfriend. A good one that won't ignore him and that he won't have to worry about if he goes a day without talkin' to him.

I ain't ever gonna be that guy. I ain't ever gonna be good for him. For anyone.

My hands are shakin' as I grit my teeth and start to just turn the damn phone off again but it starts ringin'.

And I just can't stop myself as I answer it.

"Jesus Christ, can't I have one day off without you freakin' the fuck out and callin' my god damn job to check in on me?! I got a fuckin' parole officer already, Brady, I don't need another one!"

Stop! Stop bein' such an asshole to him!

I can hear his breath catch and then he stutters out in a small, soft voice, "I…I didn't mean…"

"You ain't gotta blow up my fuckin' phone and have people come check on me like I'm on fuckin' suicide watch or ssomethin''! I'm fine! I don't need a god damn babysitter!"

I can hear the shock in his voice, the hurt as he whispers, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…"

I wanna stop. I wanna never hear his voice sound so fuckin' broken and small but I just can't stop the hateful bullshit comin' outta my mouth cuz now that I've opened it, it's just boilin' over like a pot on a stove.

"Believe it or not, I am fuckin' capable of takin' care of myself…"

No, I'm not…

"I don't need your constant god damn worryin' 'bout me…"

Yes, I do…

"Go out with your fuckin' friends, get a fuckin' life! Just fuckin' leave me already!"

Don't leave me, I'm so sorry…

Finally his voice cracks through tears I know he's cryin' as he yells back, "I'm not going anywhere! And you can yell at me all you want, I'm still not going anywhere because I love you!"

"Well then you're a fuckin' idiot, Brady! Don't you see?! Ain't you got it yet? I thought you was s'posed to be smart!"

Just hang up on me, baby…let me go…leave 'fore I tear you apart…

"I'm not an idiot for loving you, Brandon! Don't you see that you can't push me away! Just tell me what's wrong! Please!"

"I ain't gotta push you away, Brady, cuz you ain't fuckin' here! You're a thousand god damn miles away and you're better off there! I'd push you a million miles away if I could! All I gotta do is hang up this god damn phone…"

"But you haven't because you don't really want to…"

"You don't know what I want! You think cuz we talk on the phone and cyber fuck that you know me?! You don't know shit!"

His voice is wrecked as he huffs, "What the hell is wrong with you, Brandon? You know this isn't about sex…"

"Ain't it? Did you really fall asleep last night?"

"What?! Oh my God, what are you talking about, Brandon?!"

"I'm just sayin' you jumped my dick like two days after we met so maybe this 'imaginary fuckin' ain't good enough for you."

"You asshole! Quit twisting everything around! It was like four days and I am not a slut!"

"You let me fuck you without a rubber in an alley."

I couldn't believe it when it came out my mouth but it was too fuckin' late to take it back. I spent all this time fallin' in love and this is the moment when the fall is over and I'm slammin' face first into the ground.

But the damage is done cuz he's sobbin' now and I fuckin' hate myself for goin' so god damn low. I know all about his first time and I just called him a mother fuckin' slut.

I'm just like her. God damnit.

His voice is softer now as he chokes out, "Please stop being mean to me…"

And when he says that, the pot's done boilin' and I'm just left an empty mess as I remember beggin' my mama for the same thing…to just stop bein' mean to me.

There ain't no stoppin' the ugly tears and I hate it cuz but I fuckin' deserve to feel like the piece of shit I am. Why would he ever love someone that's half a fuckin' man like me.

"Talk to me, Brandon, please. Tell me you still love me because I'm dying right now."

I clench the phone to my cheek as I scrub away at my eyes and choke out, "I love you. I do. M'sorry…so fuckin' sorry…"

I can hear the relief in his little voice as he whispers, "It's okay…"

But it's not okay. It's not okay.

My throat hurts from the screamin', it's scratchy and raw as I whisper back, "I didn't mean none of that, Brady…I'm so sorry…"

"I know you didn't. You wanna tell me what happened?"

I don't but I find myself sobbin' out what happened with my mama anyway and I just can't stop. I don't want him to see me like this, to see how much of a basket case I am…how much of a waste. I hate myself when I'm like this. It's why I don't talk and keep this shit inside cuz when I let it out, I'm like a god damn child who can't stop cryin' and clingin' to somebody to just fuckin' love me.

But why should he love me? I'm no good. I ain't a kid no more, I'm just pathetic.

"You're not pathetic, Brandon. The last time I ran into my mother, I wanted to run the other way. I stood there like an idiot while Suzie stuck up for me. Do you think I'm less of a man for it?"

I'm slumped back down on the couch now as I wipe away the last of the tears and mumble, "No."

"Well I don't think you are either, baby. You wanna know why?"

I pull out a square and sniffle, "Why?"

He giggles through sniffles of his own, "Let's get on Skype and I'll tell you. I really wanna see you, Brandon. Please."

I groan as I take a drag cuz I really don't want him to see me right now but I figure I owe him at least that and I really would like to see his face.

Opening up my laptop on the coffee table, I fire it up and a minute later, I see his pretty little face starin' back at me. Guilt immediately washes through me as I take in his ruddy cheeks and red, glassy eyes behind his glasses. His nose is pink and there's a pile of used tissues on the bed next to him and I'd do anything to just go back and start this conversation over and not be the reason they're there.

He smiles and I swear to God he's the prettiest thing I've ever fuckin' seen.

"Okay, so the reason I know you're not like that hateful wench is because you look like shit right now, babe. Your eyes are swollen and your face is tear-stained and I can't imagine your bitch of a mother has ever felt guilt like you're feeling right now. And I get that you feel guilty for blowing up at me, I do. That's what makes you better, Brandon. You know it's not okay and you're trying to change."

I take a drag and slowly exhale as I whisper, "I wanna change…don't wanna be like this. Don't wanna hurt you no more…you know I didn't mean that, Brady…"

"I'm tougher than I look, babe. I may be your princess but I'm still kind of like a ninja."

I don't know how he does it but he pulls a smile from me and it almost hurts my cheeks cuz it's like my muscles ain't s'posed to work that way.

But the smile fades as I look down at the ground and whisper, "You're too good to me…for me."

"No, no, no…you raise those pretty blue eyes and look at me, Brandon."

I do what he says and raise my eyes to look at him. And he smiles, his eyes wet like liquid amber as he says, "The people that love you are supposed to be good to you. Even when you mess up. All the time, baby, that's what real love is. It's unconditional. And you're a good man…"

"I'm not…"

"You are. Look at me…you are, Brandon. You're not a perfect man but you're a good one. None of us are perfect people, we just have to try to be the best that we can and hope that we have more good days than bad days. Hey don't look down, look at me…I love you. Whatever you're going through, we'll get through it together, okay? I'm not going anywhere. I'm a ride or die kind of boy, babe."

That makes me laugh as he winks and grins so bright that he could shame the sun. My eyes are stingin', my throat hurts, and my head's poundin' but I'm kinda happy right now anyway.

I stub out my cigarette as I smile, "You're a down ass bitch, Princess."

He giggles, "Why thank you, babe. I take that as a compliment."

"I meant is as one."

"I know. I know you."

"Yeah, I think you really do. I'm sorry for puttin' you through so much bullshit, Brady. It's just been a really long day…"

"Do you want to let me go?"

"Never."

"Good, 'cause I don't plan on going anywhere. So, um…did you forget to eat today because I can hear your stomach growling and you were being an uber dick earlier."

He's a little shit…but he's right, I did forget to eat today.

So, I get up and heat up leftover fajitas from the night before while he runs to take a quick shower and before long, we're back on the computer, just talkin'. We talk 'bout all kinds of shit.

.

.

.

"Oh my God, Suzie is killing me! She's brought home three dogs today! I guess they were scheduled for euthanization and she couldn't bear to put them down. I don't know how she's gonna be a vet if she brings home every animal she comes across."

"You don't like dogs?"

"No, I love them! I mean, the long-haired ones mess with my allergies but usually my pills take care of it. It's actually pretty cool, I've never had a dog before. Look at this one! His name is Spartacus Whitlock-Seneca, I call him Sparty. He's feisty."

He holds up a little black and brown ball of fur and I just can't help myself.

"Aww, he's so cute!"

"I know, right!"

He nuzzles his nose against the little wet black one and smiles, "She found homes for the other two but we're totally keeping him. He's like our adopted love-child."

"He's adorable. I can't wait to see him. I ain't ever had a dog before neither."

"Aww, really? Well, he can call you daddy too, babe?"

He's just so fuckin' cute and…he just sneezed on the dog.

And it must be love cuz I still think he's really cute even covered in snot.

.

.

.

"So, Eddie and Jay took me out driving this morning. I'm getting so good, babe. I plan on having my license by the time you get here."

"Oh yeah? You gonna show me 'round that big city of yours, Princess?"

"Yup. I'm gonna take you on a date. They'll be doing the big Halloween exhibit at the art museum so I thought that would be fun. And there's this restaurant that I've been dying to go to but it's the kind of place you take a date to so um, how do you feel about dress shirts and ties?"

I grimace but find myself sayin', "In general, I'm kind of against it but I guess I'd make an exception for you."

But that smile…that smile is totally worth it and hell I might even wear dress shoes to.

.

.

.

"That's crazy. Two kids?"

"Yup. Little boy and girl, look like twins. It sucks, ya know. I never really wanted a brother or sister cuz I didn't wanna wish my life on nobody else and 'sides I had all my little cousins to take care of but…I don't know…might've been nice…"

"Are you gonna try to get in contact with them? They probably don't even know they have a big brother out there…"

"Nah. I'm gonna leave it alone. They're too young to be brought into that drama. If mama's got her shit together then that's a good thing for them and I don't wanna risk fuckin' it up. For them, not for mama."

He sighs, heavy and deep as he whispers, "You would be a really good big brother."

I shrug as I rake a hand through my hair, "Maybe. I want kids of my own someday though. How 'bout you? You want kids?"

His smile widens as he bites his lip and nods, "Yes. I mean, not until after school for sure but when I get older, yeah. I love kids."

"Me to. Is it dumb that I want the stupid white picket fence and little heathens runnin' 'round and a big, ol' dog that likes to sleep on the front porch?"

"No, it's not dumb, Brandon. Sounds pretty perfect to me."

.

.

.

"So, um, your petition to move up here is less than two months away. Have you um…ya know, thought about what you're gonna do about the living situation?"

"Yeah, a little. Jeremiah said he could hook me up with a job doin' construction with some guys he knows from work. That'd get me by till I can get a job in a shop. Eddie and Jay said I could crash in their guest room till I get up on my feet…"

"Or…you could just um…move in here with me. And Suzie. She said it was okay and everything, I already checked. But like, if you don't want to…I mean, I know it's like, a big deal…but ya know, if you wanted…"

And I grinned like a fool cuz my tummy was all woozy and my chest didn't feel so hollow as my heart pounded inside it like a drum.

"Yeah, I want to. Cool."

Real smooth, Brandon.

But he was grinnin' like a fool too as he rasped out in a breathless little whisper, "Cool."

.

.

.

"Brady, fuck…fuck…Jesus, I can't…"

My toes were curlin' as I fisted my dick with one hand and clenched the other one in my hair behind my head as I watched Brady slide that purple dildo in and out of his ass.

God, that round, plump ass looked so good all spread open and that little hole puckerin' up around that dildo, clenchin' around it, pullin' it back in and fuck…I was so god damn jealous of that purple bastard.

White lightenin' ripped through my body as every ounce of energy and worry and stress got pulled out through my dick and I came all over my stomach.

I collapsed against the couch and watched Brady fall apart, comin' in thick white ribbons across that warm, cocoa skin.

He cleaned up while I just used my t-shirt to wipe my tummy clean. I looked out at the window and seen daylight comin' in. I was so fuckin' exhausted. I could sleep for fuckin' days.

When he laid back down, the boy looked wrecked. His hair was all over the place, his skin red from all the lovin' and his eyes bloodshot and tired. But he smiled lazily, like he was as dazed as me and whispered, "Nothing imaginary about that. I love you, baby."

I smiled back as I whispered, "Love you too, babe. Get some sleep okay? Call me when you wake up."

"Okay. Call me if you get up first okay?"

"Okay."

"Cool."

"Cool."

:::

So after all that, the next time I seen the doctor, I told her everything that happened. I didn't hold back. I needed to get better and to do that, I had to actually work at it. I mean, I had been goin' to therapy and those stupid anger management meetings but I hadn't really took none of it too seriously. I talked to the Doc but never really told her somethin'' deep 'cept for that first time when Brady was with me cuz I have this thing about trustin' people.

I generally don't.

But after the things I said to Brady I think I gotta do this shit better. So I closed my eyes and said the things I never wanted to say out loud.

"I got in me to be an abuser like my mama. It's there inside me like this ugly little thing that I can't tear off. I'm scared that I'm too damaged to be helped like I'm…like a dog that's been beaten its whole god damn life so all it does is growl and snap whenever someone gets too close. Cuz it don't trust nobody and maybe it ain't the dogs fault but we have to put it down anyway cuz it's just too forgone to be saved. I need help."

"Brandon, you're not too forgone to be saved. We've been throwing out life preservers; you've just finally stopped fighting the waves and latched on to one. Admitting that you need help is a big step."

"I don't wanna be like her. I don't wanna hurt nobody. Can you help me?"

"Yes, Brandon, I can help you. So let's talk."

"Okay."

.

.

.

"So, see I thought I loved Angel, I mean, I'm pretty sure I did but I was fu…sleepin' with just anybody. Does that mean I didn't love him? What kinda asshole am I that I didn't love him good enough?"

Dr. Lorenzo looked over top her glasses as she smiled warmly at me, "The kind of asshole that was fifteen years old, Brandon. You were a child, no matter what kind of 'grown-up' things you had been doing. I have no doubt in my mind that you loved Angel but loving someone as a mature adult and loving someone as a traumatized child are two very different things. Your lack of trust was debilitating to you in your younger years and just now you are beginning to develop stable relationships and build a solid foundation of people you trust. I'm proud of you. Telling Brady you love him was a really big step. How are you feeling about that?"

Shruggin' my shoulders, I looked out the window and sighed, "Good, I guess. Brady's…good…"

But guilt nags at me cuz Brady is too fuckin' good.

That's the thing with me, I need somebody to fuckin' call me on my bullshit and in-person, Brady totally does that but over the phone he just gave in to my nonsense all the fuckin' time.

Like callin' him at all hours of the night.

It's not like I always realized I was even doin' dumb shit like that till after the dumb shit was already done.

"Brandon, you okay babe?" his soft voice was raspy and sleepy as he whispered into the phone.

"Yeah, I just…just needed to hear your voice. Sorry to call you so late…"

"S'okay, babe. Did you have a nightmare again?"

"I did. But that's no fuckin' excuse for what I do. I wish he'd yell at me, tell me to stop bein' a fuckin' child and beggin' for his god damn attention so much that I felt it somehow warranted a phone call at four in the omethi'"

"But he doesn't get mad at you."

I sighed and shook my head, "No, he just tells me he loves me and struggles to stay awake while I rattle off about absolutely omethi' at all. It's bullshit and I hate myself when I finally hang up."

Even a couple days after our fight I called him. Cuz I gotta shitload of problems.

But I'm tryin' to do the right thing so I tell the Doc cuz she usually has pretty good advice and never tells me I'm unfixable or omethi'.

She says I'm tryin' to set myself up…tryin' to sabotage my relationship as it gets more serious cuz either a) I wanna push him away 'fore he hurts me or b) I wanna push him away 'fore I hurt him.

How 'bout c) all of the above.

I'm waitin' for shit to fall apart cuz it will. I know it will. It's how my life works.

Brady really is too good for me. I know this. I can feel it in my bones.

"He thinks I'm some ghetto prince that's gonna ride in on a big, black Harley and whisk him away to his happily ever after. He thinks I'm better than what I am. He doesn't get mad when I call him at four in the somethin' and he really should. It's not the nightmares that make me call…if I'm bein' real honest with myself, and sometimes I really ain't, but if I am, I know I call him cuz there's this really irrational side of me that wants to see if he's gonna put up with my shit. Is he strong enough to handle me when I'm bein' crazy?"

"So, it's like a test then? You're testing to see if he loves you enough to not be pushed away when you're being erratic."

"I guess, maybe I am. It's just…I don't know if it's somethin' in my blood or if I learned it from my mama but I'm always gonna be that mother fucker that goes a little too far if I'm bein' pushed. So maybe it makes me feel the need to see how far I can push people first…to test if they're gonna be strong enough to stick around without breakin'…just how much bullshit they're gonna let me get by with 'fore they put their foot down or run away."

I think all men, at their most simple form, are just fuckin' animals. We got this need in us to keep ourselves safe and we do that by barin' teeth or pissin' all over everythin'. If we bare our teeth and you run away, good. If you don't, then we're fightin'.

But before we're these vicious, snarlin' dogs, we're just little ol' puppies who wanna be cuddled, tucked in safe, and scolded when we're doin' wrong cuz we wanna do right. Your parents are s'pose to be the ones that do that for ya, that make ya feel safe and teach ya right from wrong but when ya grow up without it, you become kinda feral…kinda wild.

"Truth be told, I need a little fuckin' discipline sometimes, Doc. Sometimes I need someone to call me out on my bullshit and tell me that it's enough and stop bein' irrational and crazy and just go to fuckin' sleep already. For someone to be with me for the long haul, they gotta know when to put their fuckin' foot down."

Bein' in love with me is a full time god damn job and I hate that Brady's got saddled with it cuz he's much too sweet to get bulldozed by me.

"Didn't you tell me once that you are his first boyfriend too?"

I nod and she smiles, "Well, maybe he's just afraid of losing you if he pushes back. You do have a bit of a strong personality, dear."

Ain't that the fuckin' truth.

She just tells me to talk to him more and open up to him that it's okay to call me on my behavior if I'm I' outta line.

"So how are you doing with the lack of physical intimacy? I figure the months between contact with your boyfriend is probably weighing pretty heavy on you sometimes."

"It's not like I wanna fuck around with other people but I'd be lyin' if I said this thing with Brady was enough. It ain't, not physically."

I want more. Wanna take it, go all caveman and shit, runnin' to Seattle and draggin' his pretty ass here to stay…but I can't fuckin' do that.

And it ain't cuz of morality and shit, it's cuz I don't wanna go back to prison for leavin' the state.

"But I can deal, if that's what you're askin'. I ain't gonna cheat on him or somethin'; don't have no desire to be with nobody else. He's all I want."

"Do you have the same faith in him? Do you believe that he's going to stay faithful? Do you trust him?"

"I do but nobody wants someone to make their life harder. The whole point of havin' a partner is havin' someone to help make your life easier, right? Why would he even want me? I make his life harder."

Her grey eyes are kinda soft and it's sorta hard to see the trace of a smile as she speaks, "I think the point of having a partner is having someone you can lean on and talk to…someone who gladly shares the burdens and the joys in our lives. You assume you makes Brady's life more difficult but relationships are not that simple, Brandon. I'm sure in many ways you make it better. Remember how we talked about feelings of self-worth? As important as people are to you; your family, your friends, your partner…you are just as important to them. You provide them with just as much."

But other than somethin'g' free live porn, I wasn't sure what much good I done for Brady.

When I left for the day she gave me a few techniques to use when I started feelin' the urge to call Brady in the middle of the night. One, was slowin' myself down, countin' to twenty and breathin' real deep 'fore I grabbed my phone. Two, was somethin'' my sketchpad and drawin' out whatever I was feelin'. Three, was callin' her instead.

Which, yeah, that was just weird. No fuckin' way was I gonna call this lady in the middle of the night. I didn't really wanna speak with her in the day time.

Though, really I didn't mind it that much. She kinda reminded me of this woman CO that always sneaked me in Subway sandwiches when I'd get thrown in solitary for a few days, she was old but smelled pretty and talked real soft to me. I liked it, it helped calm me down.

I mean, I was doin' better. Not just, ya know, at bein' a productive member of society and shit but I was doin' better at this relationship shit too. We got through our first fight and even though I fucked up bad, he still calls me every day. He ain't run yet.

He loves me. And I might've picked a bad time to say it but I fuckin' told him I loved him and that's what matters most. That was a really hard thing for me to do cuz I got all these mother fuckin' issues…mama issues…abandonment issues…self-worth issues…authority issues…the list just goes on and on.

So yeah, I got a lot of fuckin' issues and it was hard to tell Brady I love him; not cuz I was afraid he wouldn't love me back or somethin' but more afraid that he would.

Cuz I really don't trust myself not to hurt him.

Not physically, I mean, I'd never in a million years lay a hand on someone like Brady, someone so soft and sweet and little. But I got a sharp tongue, a short fuse, and a long-proven track record of fuckin' my life up.

It was really only a matter of time 'fore I said or done somethin' stupid and fucked up this shit with Brady, and most likely hurtin' him in the process.

Doc Lorenzo says I got trust issues too but one thing I trust in, is myself to fuck up.

And we're back to self-worth issues.

It's a never endin' circle

:::

It's been a little over a week since our fight and things have been good…maybe even a little better. Brady don't treat me no different after I fucked up so bad and I'm really grateful for that.

Truth is, it some down ass shit for him to forgive me the way he did and not hold it over my head. I don't plan on ever givin' him any reason to have to forgive me for that kinda bullshit again though so that afternoon in anger management class, I actually take notes instead of doodlin' in my notebook.

Not gonna lie, I still think this anger management shit is just that…a bunch o'bullshit but whatever, I was still gonna try it cuz I'd try anythin' not to keep fuckin' up the way I do.

But it's hard cuz people are assholes and it's like they're tryin' to fuck with me when they pull out in front of me and don't use their god damn turn signal.

It's okay though, I breathe through it and by the time I get home, I'm just mildly annoyed.

I slam my truck door and pull out a square as I cut through the side alley to the stairs of my apartment. I'm just gettin' ready to light it when I hear a tiny little bark.

Raisin' my eyes, I see Brady sittin' on the top step with a big smile and the cutest little auburn pup.

In about two seconds, I've thrown down the cigarette and leaped up the stairs.

And it's been way too fuckin' long since I kissed those sweet lips so I do that first while I rub the pups head.

When I break away, we're both grinnin' as the puppy squirms.

"What are you doin' here, Princess? And who's this?"

I rub her between the ears and she stretches her little neck to me as Brady smiles, "I missed you so I got a couple days off so I could come visit. And this little girl is one of Suzie's refugees. The guy she had lined up fell through because he isn't allowed to have a pit bull in his building. I already checked with Lou Anne and she said it was cool. I mean, she's yours if you want her?"

He hands me the little ball of wriggly puppy and I ain't gonna lie, I held her to my face as her little puppy tongue licked me all over and then I fuckin' giggled like a dumb ass.

No one but Brady would ever see me fuckin' giggle.

But oh my God, she was adorable.

"Are you kiddin' me? O'course I want her! This is fuckin' awesome!"

Yeah, I'm a total dumb ass but I don't care.

"I thought she'd be good for you. Ya know, give you something to snuggle with when I'm not here."

And for the first time in a while, I'm really, really happy. Cuz I got a boyfriend that really does know me…and he loves me anyway.