I know I started advertising this story right around when Sail finished but life caught up and I didn't get the chance to write any more on this, plus I wanted to wait until I was pretty much finished with Edge of Glory. But it's about time I at least got the first chapter up and let people see what is to come. I've never written anything quite like this, so if you're used to my other work, be prepared for a change. I like to think it's a good one :)
This story is not something I have personal experience with. I've put out a call for information in the past and I'll happily take more. Therefore, I do not claim any of this to be an accurate representation of an acclaimed 'Straight Camp.' I am only using the facts I have been given and my own creative license to create this story. This is FanFiction, not a proper portrayal of a camp of this variety. This goes for every chapter so if I forget to put it on the others, this is a blanket disclaimer.
This is my first Nick/Jeff-centric story. I blame my beta, SquirrelzAttack for completely addicting me to the idea of these two boys being together. It also starts off short but chapter lengths will grow :)
AU. Simple as that.
Jeff raised his head from his pillow, something that took much more effort nowadays than it ever had. "Yeah?"
His mom was standing in the doorway, looking concerned. "Can we talk to you downstairs?"
"Sure." Jeff sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Just give me a minute."
As his mom walked back down the stairs, Jeff rested his face in his hands and sighed. All he wanted to do was lie back down and sleep the rest of the year away, so he didn't have to go back to school, didn't have to face the kind of crap he had dealt with every day of his freshman year so far. Maybe even sleep forever, and never wake up...
Jeff sighed again, pulling himself off his bed and heading towards the door. He paused in front of his mirror for a second, considering his appearance. His hair, which he used to be so proud of styling, now hanging limply down his face. Deathly pale skin, dark circles under his eyes and a mouth that never smiled. And why should it? He didn't exactly have anything to smile about at the moment.
Like any other teenager, Jeff had thought high school was going to be the best years of his life. He'd have a good group of friends, hopefully find himself a boyfriend, do the Prom thing, graduate and just have a blast. But when he had come back from summer break and realized that people were looking at him differently, avoiding him in the halls... well, Jeff knew he wasn't going to have that perfect high school experience. It was only when he realized that one of his supposed friends had outed him over the break that Jeff knew just how bad it was going to be.
Pulling himself out of his thoughts, Jeff made his way downstairs and paused when he saw his parents sitting in the living room, deep in conversation. They stopped when he approached, and his dad gestured him to sit across from them. "How was school today, son?"
Jeff refrained from rolling his eyes. "How do you think?" he asked instead, lowering his eyes to the carpet.
"So they're not getting any better?"
"No." Jeff sighed, glancing up at his mom. She reached out for his hand which he gave reluctantly, knowing she was only trying to help.
His dad stood, walking over to his desk, leaving his mom to keep talking. "Jeff, you know we support you no matter how you choose to live your life. If you think you're gay, then that's your decision and we love you no matter what."
"But we want to help you," his dad broke in, coming back with a sheet of papers and a brochure. "We want you to feel confident in yourself, and feel safe. So we have a few options for you."
The sheets of paper were handed over. Jeff glanced at the top and his heart leapt into his throat. "Transfers to Dalton Academy?"
"It's a zero tolerance school. That's the safety part." His dad hesitated for a second before passing him the brochure. "This is the confidence."
Jeff stared at the brochure in front of him, uncomprehending. The words 'Wildwood Springs Health Camp' were emblazoned on the front with a picture of a campsite. He flicked through a couple of pages before the realization came to him. This is one of those straight camps. "You - I thought you were okay with me being gay?" Jeff would have gotten angry, but he just didn't have the energy anymore, simply staring at his parents in confusion.
"We are, honey, but we want you to be sure. And there's a therapy element to it, Jeff, and we think you need it. You've been getting more and more depressed and we want to see you coming back as that confident boy you were at the start of this year. We don't want..." she trailed off, her voice catching. "We're not going to make you go, but we want you to consider it."His mom was still clasping his hand tightly, and Jeff squeezed back absently as he thought. He hadn't heard a lot about the camps, only that they involved a lot of group sessions and therapy and talking about experiences. And ... a lot of other gay guys...
Being the only guy out in his school certainly made it difficult to find someone to be interested in, and so far Jeff hadn't had a boyfriend. But maybe if he found another guy there in the same situation.. who knows?
"I'll do it."
His parents began to discuss dates and packing, Jeff nodding along whenever necessary. All he knew was that in four days time, he would be free of school and off to somewhere that was apparently going to help him. Somewhere that would stop him from wanting to die all the time, or feeling like he was worthless.
Somewhere that might make him feel alive again.
Take a deep breath.
Nick followed the instructions on the screen, trying not to feel too stupid. He glanced behind him again to make sure his door was shut, then turned back to his laptop.
Be confident. You know who you are and you are proud of being that person.
I am. Nick nodded. He knew he needed to stay strong.
Set the time aside and sit your person or people down. Tell them in a calm and measured voice that you have something important to talk to them about and you'd like them to hear you out before they say anything. Keep your statements simple and clear, and don't let your emotions get the better of you.
Okay. Okay, I can do this.
Nick stood, pushing his chair back and walking over to his door. He took one more deep breath before he opened it and headed down the three flights of stairs to his father's office. Hesitating only for a second, he rapped on the door.
Opening the door slowly, Nick poked his head in. His dad was facing away from him, typing something on one of the computers in the expansive study. He waited patiently until his dad finished typing and turned around. "Nick? What can I do for you?"
"I'd like to talk to you and Mom for a moment."
His dad raised an eyebrow but stood anyway, following Nick down to the kitchen. "What's the matter, son? Troubles at school?"
Nick shook his head as they entered the kitchen. "Mom?"
His mother turned from where she was chopping carrots for dinner. "What is it?"
"Nick apparently wants a word with both of us."
His mom frowned but put down the knife, the three walking into the living room. Nick sat across from his parents, noticing that there was a large gap between them as usual. Does nobody marry for love anymore? He took a deep breath, then looked straight at his mom, hoping it would be easier if he directed it at her. "There's something I need to tell you both and I'd like you to bear with me until I'm finished." He paused, drawing up all of his courage. "I - I'm gay."
There was a moment of silence, then his dad was on his feet. "What did I tell you, Caroline? I told you a million times, that if we didn't encourage him into sports, he'd turn out to be.. one of those."
Nick flinched, but his dad wasn't finished. "I won't allow it. Not under my roof."
"No!" His dad turned on his mom, shaking his head. "No, it's not happening! The Duval family are highly respected in society, having a queer child will only reflect badly on us."
Nick felt the tears begin to build in his eyes. "Dad," he said quietly, "Dad, please."
"Okay, here's what we'll do." Justin sat down again, steepling his fingers. "Summer break is in two days. There's a camp that you can go to over the holidays and this whole drama should be sorted out by the time you get back. I'll deal with the arrangements -"
"No!" Nick jumped to his feet frantically. "Dad, there's nothing wrong with me! Why are you sending me away?"
And then something in his father's expression softened, and Nick thought he had finally gotten it.
"Nick, you're clearly sick."
"And going to this camp will help you get better. Alright?"
Nick shook his head, tears running down his cheeks. "No, it's not." He turned and bolted up the stairs to his room, managing to slam the door shut before succumbing to his emotions. Why can't they just accept me the way I am?
Lifting his head, Nick noticed his laptop was still open to the website he had searched for just half an hour ago. "Want to come out to the people in your life? Follow these easy steps!" it mocked him. Growling, Nick crossed the room and slammed the lid shut. Yeah, right. Easy for the perfect family, maybe.
Dragging himself over to his bed, Nick crawled under the covers and curled into a ball. He had imagined a million different scenarios for when he finally came out to his family, but this had been one of those ones that he had immediately rejected as 'too dramatic.' After all, the head partner of Duval and Smith was always calm and collected... but he was always about appearances too, Nick realized. He would never let anything as embarrassing as a homosexual son ruin his reputation, and would do anything to stop that.
Even sending me away to some straight camp.
The tears kept coming and Nick began to sob quietly. It wasn't just that his dad had rejected him either, but that his Mom had sat by and done nothing. But of course he knew why that was.
Nick heard his bedroom door creak and he shoved a fist in his mouth to muffle his crying. Quiet footsteps made their way across the room and then a weight was on the end of his bed.
"Nick, honey, you know I love you no matter who you are. And I'm sorry I couldn't stand up for you... I just -" His mom's voice broke off for a second. "Stay strong to yourself and I'll look into something to help you out when you get back, alright? I love you."
The weight disappeared and his door shut a few seconds later. Nick sighed, burying his head into the pillows and attempting sleep. All he knew was that in two days time, he was headed to a place where a group of people were going to try and make him 'better.'
But Nick didn't want to be 'better.' He just wanted to be himself.
Next Chapter: Arrival