Disclaimer. I do not own these characters and no copyright infringement is intended.

**Warning. This chapter contains phrases and words that you might find offensive in this day and age. Please know that I don't condone them or agree in any way shape or form with them. I do not use them lightly but they are needed to show that some people are still predjudiced towards homosexuality.**

I couldn't look at him as I spoke. Fidgeting and twisting my fingers together, I began to tell my tale.

"Remember I told you my parents died, and I ended up living with my aunt and uncle?" I glanced up and saw him nod. "Well, life with them wasn't exactly easy. They hated having me there. I was a burden to them. Yes, they were well rewarded for their troubles. My parents saw to that with the insurances that they took out in case of such an event. But I wasn't loved or shown any kind of affection by them. Mostly I sat in my sparsely furnished attic bedroom and wished that I had died with my folks. Anything would be better than being miserable. I went to a new school where I had no friends. Everyone whispered behind my back about me being the boy whose folks died. In the end, I withdrew further and further into myself. No one could reach me."

Looking at him, I saw that he was listening intently to me, taking in every word. I just hoped by the time I was finally through that he would still be here.

"I would sit in my room and cry. My uncle used to come home and he would shout at me and call me a sissy for being upset. He didn't understand. One night, he threatened me with his belt when I was crying. He didn't realize that it had been a year since my parents died. I told him to hit me, that I didn't care anymore. That's when he threatened to send me to a foster home, told me I was more trouble than I was worth. The only reason they took me in was for the money. They thought they would get more than they did for doing it. The problem was they liked to look good to their neighbors and friends, so sending away their orphaned nephew wouldn't look good."

I paused. There was more to come and judging by Carlisle's face, he wasn't liking what I had just told him. His jaw was clenching, and if what I was saying wasn't so serious, I would find it hot. I wasn't sure that he would be able to hear the rest of it with freaking out. There was no way I could stop now, though. I had lied to him about my childhood when the subject came up, telling him that I hadn't been treated badly. Now, he would hear the truth.

"They are the reason I couldn't handle people seeing us being openly affectionate. I lived like that for years, until I was 14 and started to become aware of the people around me. By this time I had a couple of friends, Bella, who you already met, James, and Paul. They, like me, were not the popular kids in school, so we looked out for each other like brothers would. Bella was a bit of a tomboy back in the day and never fit in with the girls who spent hours fixing their hair and make up. She hated that crowd. She did everything we did, and we looked out for her.

Paul started to get interested in girls and would drool after them as they walked the corridors at school. I thought that there was something wrong with me when I didn't have the same reaction as he did to girls. So I pretended, not knowing what else to do. Problem was that I liked James. I would watch him as we changed for gym in the locker room. I thought it was just a phase I was going through. But I had no one to ask or to talk with, so I locked the feelings away. What I didn't know was that both James and Bella had noticed my growing interest in him. She didn't say anything to me, not right away. I didn't know that James had the same thoughts about me, not until the night of Bella's sixteenth birthday, which was three months before my own."

Thinking about this was hard. Dredging up the past was painful but adding the thoughts and feelings that those years instiled deep within me made me see how I had grown as a person. Everything that my fucking uncle said about me was wrong. Not that I ever had anything to prove to him.

"Bella's folks were divorced. She lived with her mom, Renee, who was a free spirit. She pretty much went with the flow, so having a small party for her daughter's birthday and letting three boys sleep over when she headed out of town was nothing to her. Renee knew that Bella was into Paul and I think that she decided to let nature take its course and see what happened. I don't think that she expected the clusterfuck that she came home to.

I told my aunt and uncle that in advance about the party and that I was invited to stay at Bella's overnight, although I lied about Renee being there. I needed permission of course and they gladly agreed. It was only when my uncle started making references to me 'finally becoming a man' and 'showing her what I was made of' that I realized why he had been so happy to let me stay. I'd always had an earlier curfew than the others. It always bothered me. I missed out on quite a bit growing up. Camping trips, late night movies and such, but it kept my uncle happy and off my back. I didn't complain. I had been looking forward to a night of fun and freedom with my friends, but his lewd comments made me feel sick. I never saw Bella like that. It wasn't her that I was interested in, it was James. I couldn't tell him that. I couldn't tell anyone.

In the weeks leading up to the party Bella and Paul became closer. She'd started to dress a little less like a tomboy and was wearing slightly tighter tops and jeans. Of course, this hadn't gone unnoticed by Paul, who started to turn his attention to her. It was strange watching two of my best friends hold hands and such. This left James and me to walk together, often slightly ahead of them, giving them their privacy. Being so close to him on my own for such prolonged periods of time was torture for me. When we would head to the beach on hot days, I would steal glances at him when I thought no one was looking. His body had developed into that of a young man and I was certainly paying attention to these changes.

On the day of Bella's birthday, we went to the beach. Paul and Bella were making out on the sand. James and I were messing around in the sea, play fighting and trying to duck each other under the waves. My arms were wrapped around his waist as I tried to wrestle him off his feet. I lost my grip and my hand brushed against the front of his swim shorts. I was excited that I felt the obvious erection he was sporting, hoping it was me who had done that to him. There was a look of horror on his face at the contact and he swam away from me. I watched as he went, not fully understanding what was happening, but I felt ashamed.

I went back onto the beach, grabbed my towel and bag, heading back home when I heard Bella shouting me. She asked what happened and I told her. I felt ashamed. The next thing I knew she wrapped her arms around me and whispered in my ear that I had nothing to be ashamed or worried about. James was probably every bit as scared as I was, but that if things were meant to happen, then they would. I told her that I'd ruined her birthday and I remember starting to cry. She slapped me across the face, not hard, but just enough to make me stop."

I smiled at the memory, but Carlisle's face looked angry. "Bella stepped up at the right moment and made me think about more than what was happening just then. She told me that James liked me, but that he wasn't sure if I felt the same. We were still young, fighting feelings we didn't understand and trying to find our way in this messed up world. Bella told me that she would talk to James, sort things out, as there was no way she was letting us spoil her birthday."

Carlisle cleared his throat, for the first time since I started to speak did he interrupt me. "Can you stop for a minute? I need a drink of water." I nodded, watching as he stood and made his way to the fridge where he took out a bottle of water, offering it to me. I nodded and he threw it towards me. His face was conflicted with emotions. He took a couple of long drinks from the bottle before he asked.,"Was he? Did you and James? Shit! I have no right to ask. Sorry, I promised I wouldn't interrupt you."

"That's okay. I know it's alot to take in." I didn't know what else to say. "Do you really want me to answer that for you?"

I watched as he leaned against the counter. "Sorry, please continue."

My eyes didn't leave him as I carried on with my story. "That night, we ordered pizza. Renee had bought some beers for us to drink, not a lot, but enough to have some fun. She trusted us to be responsible, and we were. We all settled down and watched a movie together. It was some some horror film or other. I really can't remember the title. Bella was holding onto Paul, hiding her face in him as the murders happened. Leaving James and I sitting awkwardly on the couch together. Neither of us had spoken about what happened at the beach, which was fine. I was still trying to get my head around what Bella had said about him feeling the same about me. How could he? I mean, it wasn't normal for boys to like boys. I knew my uncle had his views on the whole homosexual thing. It was wrong, an abomination in the eyes of the Lord, and those who practiced would burn in hell for eternity. That was the reason that I hid and tried to deny my feelings toward James, thinking it was a teenage phase. Fully expecting to wake up one day and start finding girls attractive."

Carlisle interrupted me. "Did he work it out? Is that why you left home at 16?"

I nodded. "Shit, Emmett, I'm sorry—" I held up my hand to stop him

"He didn't work it out exactly. After the movie finished, Bella and Paul headed upstairs. We all knew what they were doing and it kinda felt weird. It left James and I alone, which was worse. I didn't know what to say to him, so I grabbed another bottle from the fridge and went out onto the porch. He followed me out, leaning against the rail with his elbows, staring at me. When I finally managed to look at him he smiled at me. He told me it was okay, that I shouldn't be ashamed of what I was. I remember he reached out and took my hand, pulling me to him. It felt strange being held in his arms, but at the same time, it felt right."

Carlisle turned away from me, his hands outstretched on the counter, his head bowed. I couldn't stop now. I had to continue.

"How long we stood there, I don't know. My hands began to explore his back and his mine. Settling on my ass, he pulled me to him. I could feel him hard against me. James whispered that it was me who did that to him, before he kissed me. I was shocked. I'd never kissed anyone before, so this was new and exciting—"

"Stop! Please!" Carlisle almost shouted. He looked like he was about to lose his mind. "I know I said no secrets, but I'm not sure I'm ready for a blow by blow account of your first time." He began to pace the floor.

"That's not what this is. I have to tell you this so you can see why, at times, I am the way that I am. You promised you would hear me out. If it's too much then say. You can leave at any point, Carlisle, walk away and there will be no hard feelings on my side."

He was then in front of me, crouching down, my hands in his. "I never said I was leaving. It's just this is a lot to take in, and I have a feeling that this is going to get worse, right?"

All I could do was nod as I closed my eyes, fighting back the tears that threatened to fall. I took a couple of deep breaths before I continued.

"We finally went inside, both nervous about what had happened and what could happen next. Settling on the couch, I lay back and James straddled me, covering my body with his. Our hands freely roamed each other's bodies. I think the beer we'd drunk helped to give us both some confidence. We made out like the horny teenagers we were, not caring if Bella and Paul walked in on us. It was great to finally be able to be myself and not hide how I felt for my friend. I honestly think that things would have gone so much further that night had the door not slammed open and my uncle walked in on us."

Carlisle's fists were clenching and releasing, showing the anger that was building in him. I was detached from that emotion regarding what had happened. To me, it was the past.

"He walked into the lounge and as quickly as we tried to separate it was too late. James scrambled away from me. My uncle was angry, so very angry. He shouted and swore at us, called me a dirty faggot, said I was a disgrace to the family. Bella and Paul came downstairs half-dressed. I remember he called her a filthy whore, demanding to know where her mom was. The answer that she wasn't here caused his anger to spike. He grabbed and dragged me out of the house and threw me to the ground by the car, hollering at me to get inside. I tried to fight back, but he was stronger than me, a grown adult. Once I was inside, I saw James start to make his away toward the car, but Paul stopped him. Tears streaked my cheeks as the car pulled away. My uncle was so angry I could feel it radiating from him, so I cowered in the passenger seat, terrified of what would happen when we got home."

I paused, remembering only too well the events, but finally telling someone the whole story was harder than I thought it would be. I needed a moment.

Carlisle spoke, his voice trembled with emotion. "What happened?"

"When we pulled up outside the house he dragged me from the car. I was crying and scared, so very scared. He told me to be a man, that crying was for girls. Once we were in the house, he threw me against a wall. I fell to the ground, and he screamed and shouted at me. He demanded that I be a man and face him. He said that I was a dirty fag, an abomination. That he wished I had died with my parents so he wouldn't have the shame of having a homosexual living under his roof. Each word was like a knife wound. I started to defend myself against the verbal onslaught, but he told me that I didn't have the right to speak to him. Then he hit me."

My hands scrubbed my face as I composed myself to continue.

"It was brutal. I tried to protect myself, but I couldn't. So I did the best I could, curling up into a ball to protect myself from his fists and his feet. It didn't help that much. I woke up hours later in the same position, sore and aching. I dragged myself upstairs to the bathroom and cried when I looked in the mirror. I had a black eye, split lip and eyebrow. Lifting my shirt, I saw dark bruises forming on my ribs and it hurt to breathe. I think I had a couple of cracked ribs, but there was no way I would know for sure without seeing a doctor. I went to bed and cried myself to sleep."

Carlisle's eyes flashed with anger. "The bastard, did you not report this?"

"No, I was too ashamed. I was a teenage boy who has just been caught making out with his male friend. How would that go down in the small town?" I uttered.

"People would've believed you. There is no shame in being gay, Emmett. Your uncle, the person who was supposed to be looking after you, physically assaulted you," he shouted.

"I know what he did, I was there, Carlisle. It happened to me," I retorted. "It happened, but there is nothing I can do about it now."

"You shouldn't have suffered like that," he spat.

"Well, I did. There was no one there to protect me that night. The next morning was worse. He kept me off school, told them I was ill. Bella called the house and asked to speak to me. My aunt told her that I wasn't allowed to talk to her. I heard Bella shouting at her, then my uncle took the phone and told her not to call again. I went back to school a couple of days later. The black eye was hard to hide, so I walked with my head down, avoiding eye contact where possible. My uncle had driven me to school and gone to the office, telling that I had been in a fight with some older boy. Of course, they believed him. Why wouldn't they? Bella, Paul and James sought me out between classes, demanding to know what had happened. I told them that I'd slipped and fallen down the stairs. I knew they didn't believe me, but what could they do?"

"You didn't tell your friends what had happened to you? Why on earth not? They could've helped you, told their parents who could've intervened," Carlisle offered.

"There was no point, no one would've believed me. Don't forget my uncle was a fine upstanding member of the community," I replied.

"He assaulted you! It was a crime both against a minor and a hate crime. Do you not understand that?" he shouted.

"My life was a misery for the next couple of months. I played by his rules, stayed away from my friends and listened to his lectures on morality and the evils of homosexuality. He said that if people found out I would bring shame on the entire family. The more I heard him speak, the more I knew that I was gay and that was something I had to hide. Just before my birthday, Bella cornered me between classes. She'd spoken to her mom, told her what she thought was happening and Renee said I could move in with them. Of course, I accepted, but wanted to wait until I was sixteen. On my sixteenth birthday, I packed what few possessions I owned and left. My uncle's last words to me were that no one was ever going to want a dirty homosexual, and that there would always be someone out there who would want to show me just how wrong it was. What he didn't count on was my determination to prove him wrong. I got a job, saved hard and then moved out of Bella's as soon as I had saved enough. I never, ever looked back."

Carlisle was staring at me, tears filling his eyes. "That's why you freaked out last night, the public display of affection. Did you really think anyone was paying us any attention? Other than thinking how lucky I was to have you with me."

"I… I dunno. It's strange as I am not open about my sexuality. The only place I can feel truly free is in the clubs on the scene. Everyone there is either gay or openly accepting."

I felt his arms around me. "You poor man. I cannot imagine how it feels to have to hide part of who you are for so long." He kissed the top of my head as I curled myself into him. Finally, I was able to release the years of pent up anger and emotions I had buried away deep inside of me. I began to lose control of my emotions and I began to cry. "It's okay. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere. Unless you want me to?"

"No, please stay," I whispered through the sobs.

With that, he pulled me with him as he relaxed on the couch, just holding onto me as I leaned on someone emotionally for the first time in my life.

Authors notes:

Peeks out from beind the sofa... Hope you all don't hate me now, but if you want to get an angry mob together and go pay his uncle a visit I think we can arrange it.

Once again beta'd by the wonderful Sue273 who is an angel for stepping in on this one - loves ya!