It had been so long! Only one day, but it had seemed a week at least.
The wait while his parents had gotten ready and finally left had seemed to last forever.
Sean and Billy weren't coming until after practice, and that wasn't until after four. He had hours yet, but he couldn't wait. Yesterday had been a horrible afternoon alone. Sean had commanded him not to relieve himself, not to even touch himself. While that had been easy to agree to on Thursday, by Friday afternoon it had become difficult. By Friday evening it was nearly impossible. Jay seemed to get hard automatically and without a single sexual thought. And it stayed hard for much longer than was normal.
But he managed. He had stayed up late watching television and playing games, and had finally fallen asleep near morning. When his alarm clock went off, he felt as if he hadn't slept at all. After his parents had left, he paced, showered, paced some more, and finally dozed off on the couch watching nothing interesting. It was the doorbell that woke him this time.
He dashed to the front door, excited and grinning from ear to ear. He flung open the door and said, "Hey!"
His smile left instantly as he took in the short, black, straight hair, the black eyes, the round face and narrow lips, wide shoulders and strong arms of Paul Rogers.
"Jay, how's stuff?" Paul asked.
"Paul! Uh, so, what's up?" Jay asked.
Paul hadn't been around a lot, not since they had been friends last year. This year they'd hardly spoken. Jay had greeted Paul in the usual way at the start of the school year, but Paul had responded with a shrug and otherwise ignored him. Jay had said hello more than once since that first day, but Paul had always been distant and unresponsive. Now, seeing Paul on his doorstep for the first time in nearly a year, Jay was both glad and worried. He had liked Paul, quite a bit, and had worried that his attraction to Paul would one day be figured out by him or someone else, so when Paul had become less friendly, Jay assumed that Paul had begun to figure him out. Since then, Jay had stayed clear of him, more than a little worried that the bigger, stronger Paul would take out his homophobia on him.
"Nothing, really. Just, I thought, what the hell, go see what Jay's up to, ya know?"
Paul shrugged his sturdy shoulders and grinned. He wasn't as tall as Jay, but was surely wider and stronger. Working out for the wrestling team had built his already sturdy frame into a tight, strong physique. Jay had noticed before, and that had been instrumental in Jay's growing attraction to him. Wearing a tight, blue shirt and tight jeans, Paul's body was on display, and Jay found himself both turned on and frightened. The idea that Paul had somehow found out about him, and even about Sean and Billy, made Jay sweat with fear and worry.
"Cool," Jay said as smoothly and calmly as he could. "What's up?"
Jay began thinking of things he could claim he had to do so that he could get Paul out of the house before Sean and Billy arrived in less than half an hour.
Paul walked in and turned, grinning, and said, "Oh, just a boring day. Nothing to do. Kinda wondered what you've been up to lately, so, here I am."
They had never been great friends, but had spent some time at each other's houses more than once. It wouldn't have been unusual for Paul to come over a year ago, but now, it was. And there was something unusual about Paul, too. He seemed different, or nervous, or as if he were hiding something. Jay was sure there was something going on, and that worried him even more.
"Well, I got a couple of minutes, but I got to head out soon," Jay said.
"Oh? Got plans?"
"Sure, kinda," Jay lied, he hoped convincingly.
"Oh," Paul said with a grimace. "I, uh, was hoping you had some free time today."
"Oh? What's up?"
"Well, I kinda gotta talk to ya about, something. Okay? It's, sorta important. Okay?"
Paul seemed to have more to say, so Jay waited, one eye on the clock. He hoped he could get Paul to spit out whatever it was and get him on his way soon.
"I, uh, fuck. Look, can we go to your room?"
"My parents ain't home," Jay offered and then sat down on the couch.
"Oh," Paul said softly. "Um, good, uh... "
"What's up?" Jay asked again, hoping to get things moving quickly.
Paul sat down almost next to Jay and stared him in the eye. It made Jay very uncomfortable, and he tried to hide that fact.
"Jay, man, this is, ain't gonna be easy, okay?"
"If you're here to tell me you figured out I'm a fag, don't bother," Jay said flatly.
He was surprised at himself, but he didn't care, so long as he got Paul out of his house before Sean and Billy arrived. Jay stared open-mouthed.
"Don't act all surprised and shit. You know," Jay said to Paul's surprised expression. "You gotta figured it out by now."
"Yeah, well, if that's all you came to tell me, you can go."
Jay held his calm, emotionless expression, but only with extreme effort. He still couldn't believe he had said that. He worried that Sean and Billy could never be openly friendly to him at school now, not once Paul had told everyone. He was angry at himself now, and wanted nothing more than for Paul to leave.
As Jay stood to tell Paul that he could leave, Paul stood and stepped closer to Jay. Jay backed quickly and almost fell over the throw rug that nearly tripped him as he backed. Paul stopped still and stared at Jay.
"You can leave," Jay repeated without looking at Paul and then turned toward the door.
As Jay's hand closed over the doorknob he was spun around by Paul's strong arms and he found himself being held by his forearms in Paul's nearly crushing grip.
"What did you say?" Paul demanded, nearly in Jay's face.
Paul didn't look angry at all, and his tone wasn't angry either, but his words had been loud and forceful. Jay was worried and scared, and now hoped that Sean and Billy arrived very soon. Jay's mind played out his fate for him in bloody, gruesome detail.
"What did you say?" Paul demanded again, shaking Jay almost roughly.
"I said you can leave! You don't have to tell me you know I'm a... that I'm... I'm a fag. Okay?"
Now he had gone too far, and now Jay knew that the entire school would know. Sean and Billy would have to continue treating him like a pariah now. Not friends at school, but like before, like always. And now, Sean and Billy wouldn't even dare to come back to his house. It was all over, and he had no one to blame but himself. He knew he hadn't deserved something so great, and that it wouldn't last. And he had known he would ruin it. And now, he had.
"You're gay?" Paul asked, stunned.
Jay could only nod, hoping that he didn't start bawling like a baby.
"You're... you?" Paul asked, letting go of Jay's arms.
Jay nodded again, now unable to look at Paul at all. He was ashamed and frightened.
A resounding knock on the door startled them both. Jay almost fainted and ended up stumbling forward a step, nearly into Paul.
"Jay?" Paul asked.
Jay couldn't respond. He knew who was at the door, and he knew it was now all over, and was about to end in the worst way possible. He heard the door open behind him.
"Jay, time to take it like a-" Sean said as he started in. "Oh, you got company. Didn't know," Sean said next.
"Hey, Paul," Billy said.
"Billy," Paul replied. "What are you guys doing here? I didn't know you guys even knew Jay."
"Oh, yeah. We, uh, sorta got to be buds this, like, last week or so," Sean said casually. "So, uh, Jay, should we come back later?"
"You won't want to," Jay said, barely able to stumble to the couch.
"Why's that?" Sean asked, walking in with Billy, who closed the front door behind them.
"Jay say's he's gay," Paul offered.
"I knew he was figuring it out, so I told him. So if you guys all wanna leave, go ahead."
As far as Jay was concerned, that was all he needed to say, and they would all leave. He only hoped they left without Paul convincing Sean and Billy that they needed to teach the fag a lesson. He knew Sean and Billy would pound him as badly as Paul would to cover for themselves. Jay was ready, too. He had always known it would come to something like this, that it would only be a matter of time.
Now, it was time.
"What if I said I don't give a fuck?" Sean said firmly.
"Me neither," Billy added. "Jay's a decent guy. I don't care if he is."
"And, if you got a problem with it, maybe I got a problem with you," Sean said menacingly.
"Me?" Paul gasped. "Me? Me have a problem with it?"
Several seconds went by as Jay wondered if it would be possible that this wouldn't end up as badly as he feared.
"I don't," Paul went on. "At all."
"Good," Sean said. "Jay's a good guy, and, if anyone caused him any problems, Billy and me, we wouldn't like it."
"Shit!" Paul exclaimed loudly enough that the spell of fear and dread holding Jay motionless was broken, and Jay finally looked up, away from the carpet.
Sean, Billy, and Paul were facing each other, less than a foot between them all, and around Jay in a semi-circle. Jay didn't know what to think, or how to feel. Or what was going on.
"Shit!" Paul repeated. "I mean, shit!"
"What the hell's your problem?" Sean asked, obviously confused now.
"You guys are really his friends? Not just, I don't know, not just, like, being tutored by him or something?"
"You saying we're stupid?" Billy asked angrily.
"Fuck no! I'm, I'm asking if you guys are really his friends. Really, friends. And you don't care if he's... gay?"
After three seconds of silence, in which Jay felt as if years had passed, Sean said, "Yes. Jay's a friend. And I was serious about anyone fuckin' with him, too."
"Ditto," Billy added.
Jay choked up, hoping that he didn't sob or cry. No one had ever said anything like that about him before.
"I came here to tell him that I, to apologize for..." Paul dropped to the couch next to Jay and went on, "Jay, I, want to apologize for, how I didn't talk to you this year. I mean, it wasn't anything you did. Honest. I... I didn't want you to get in any shit. Over..."
Paul put a hand on Jay's shoulder.
"Jay, I didn't want you to have to put up with any shit when everyone found out about me. I didn't want you to... be, the school fag along with me."
Jay looked up and blinked. He tried to think, but all he saw was Paul, his friend from last year. And he didn't look happy or like he was about to laugh, like he almost always had. Now he looked worried, scared, nervous, and like he was near tears, too. Jay did the only thing he could do.
Jay opened his eyes and wondered when he had fallen asleep. He was expecting Sean and Billy, he remembered, and shot upright.
"Feeling better?" a familiar but long-missing voice asked.
He spun around as best he could and saw Paul's face over his. He noticed then that he was laying on the couch, against Paul, and almost sitting in Paul's lap. He moved to quickly sit up, but was held back by Paul's powerful arms.
"No, no. No big movements for a few. Sit back and breathe," Paul demanded, pulling Jay back to himself.
Jay felt ridiculous, being held in someone's arms like that, and especially as he remembered what had happened. He looked at the clock and knew that only a few minutes had passed.
"Where's Sean and Billy? And what the hell is going on?"
"They went to get pizza. They'll be back in a while."
"Pizza?!" Jay yelled. "Fucking pizza? What the fuck is going on?"
Jay pulled away and managed to get out of Paul's grip. He knew Paul had released him on purpose. He stood up, weaved a bit, then fell back onto the couch, dizzy and nauseated. He held his head in his hands.
"Told you," Paul said gently. "You gotta sit or lay down a couple minutes."
"What the fuck is going on?" he demanded again.
"Sit back, and I promise I fill ya in, all the way. Okay?"
Jay let himself fall back into the couch, hands still over his face. He felt Paul move closer, then a hand on his shoulder.
"You feeling okay" Paul asked, again very gently. After Jay had nodded, Paul began. "Jay, I knew I was gay before high school. Okay, I didn't, know, but I knew. Sorta. I mean, it didn't show up one day and I started liking, not girls. Okay?"
"You don't have to tell me how it is. I know how it is. I want to know what the fuck is going on here!"
Jay dropped his hands and glared at Paul.
"Were we friends?" Paul asked, meeting Jay eye to eye.
"Then listen. I didn't want to get found out, and have someone who was nice to me get called a fag, too. So I didn't talk to you. So you wouldn't be bothered for knowing the fag, in case I got found out. Okay?"
"So, I was thinking a lot this last few weeks. And, I miss you. A lot."
Paul swallowed with difficulty, and Jay easily noticed that, being familiar with the same thing in himself.
"So, I came to tell you. I hoped you'd be okay with it, and at least not hate me."
Jay nodded, also familiar with that in himself.
"Maybe even, we could be friends again. If, you wanted to risk being known as the fag's friend at school. You know, if, it got out, about me, and shit."
Jay laughed then. The absurdity of the situation was more than he could handle without humor to deal with it. All he could do was laugh. So he did. At first, Paul looked as if he was going to become angry, or upset, but a grin finally cracked his worried frown, and soon he was laughing as well.
When Sean and Billy returned and opened the front door without knocking, they saw Jay on the couch, his back against Paul's chest, and Paul's arms around Jay.
Paul immediately removed his arms from around Jay and looked ready to stand up. When Jay didn't move, Paul looked worried, nervous, and scared.
"So, you guys didn't kill each other I see," Sean said, placing a pizza box on the coffee table and sitting down.
Billy opened the box and took out a slice as he said, "Looks like they might want to do something else to each other, though," with a laugh.
"So you guys okay?" Sean asked as he grabbed a slice of the pizza.
Jay laughed once and shook his head. It didn't seem real. Sean and Billy, two popular jocks, and Paul, another jock, in his house, together, on purpose, and not a one of them was about to beat him up or call him a fag. Not only that, they were all gay, too. And Paul had proved that he was caring and gentle, and very much liked him. How could any of it be real, let alone all of it?
"I guess," Paul said tentatively.
"Jay? You, uh, mention anything?" Sean asked.
Jay knew exactly what 'anything' Sean meant. He shook his head.
"Want to?" Sean asked tentatively.
"Up to you. I don't care."
"No, up to you."
Jay nodded, then looked back over his shoulder at Paul for a moment.
"Not like Paul wants to go steady or some shit. He just, wanted me to know, that's all. And, he likes me. Sorta."
Paul snickered in embarrassment and turned very red, now unable to look anywhere but at the far wall or the ceiling.
"Oh? Going to be exclusive?" Sean asked with a grin.
"No!" Paul said quickly. "I mean, not like that. I, just wanted him to know, about, me. That's all. And, that, I... think... he's nice."
"So, it's okay if we pick up where we left off. With me, anyway. And Paul said if there was somebody I was being with, he didn't care, just so long as we were friends."
"Cool," Sean said as he reached for another slice of the pizza. "So, any chance he might, wanna, join us?"
Sean took a bite, Billy choked on his, and Paul asked, "What?"
When Jay was done laughing, which took a few seconds, he sat up and turned to face Paul.
"Uh, Paul, um, Sean and Billy, and, uh me, we, uh, been, um, well... "
"You have not!" Paul said, sitting up in astonishment and staring around at the three of them, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.
"Just this week. I mean, I guess, Sean kinda figured me out. That was why I was sure you had, too, and was why you came over."
"You guys..." Jay began, staring at Billy and Sean.
Both boys grinned, and Billy blushed darkly around his awkward grin.
"You mean... not just me? Not just Jay?" Paul asked, stunned.
Sean shrugged, then Billy followed suit. Both boys continued eating pizza as if watching a movie.
"And you..." Paul began, looking at Jay. "With..." he asked, looking at Sean and Billy. "For real?" he asked, again looking at Jay.
Jay blushed further and nodded, grinning, and wondering how things could change so quickly.
Paul gasped repeatedly, which made the three other boys laugh.
Paul met Sean's eyes, and asked, "You?"
Paul met Billy's eyes, and before he asked, Billy nodded.
Paul looked at Jay, who shrugged.
Three nodding heads answered his unspoken question.
Paul gasped several more times.
"I... I don't fucking believe this," Paul said in nearly a whisper, as if to himself.
"You don't?" Jay asked. "This time last weekend I was..." he coughed and blushed.
"Still a total and complete virgin," Sean finished for him with a laugh.
"Ass," Jay mumbled with a small laugh.
"Yeah, it was too, not anymore," Billy said, reaching for another piece of pizza.
"Ass!" Jay said much louder this time, and around Sean and Paul's laughter.
"Oh my God! You got laid before I did?" Paul asked in disbelief.
"Yeah, who'd a figured, huh?" Jay said, trying not to laugh even harder. He stopped in mid-laugh when what Paul had said fully registered. "Wait a sec. What about Nancy Wright?"
"Nothing happened," Paul said with a shrug. "I just went out with her so I..."
All three nodded knowingly.
"So, another virgin to break in, boss," Billy said with a leer.
"If he's willing. And he can take it," Sean said smoothly.
"Willing...to what? Take what?" Paul asked suspiciously.
Three boys grinned. One looked worried.
"Remember how we used to wrestle around? And you'd get my arm or leg up behind me or something, until I cried uncle?" Jay asked Paul.
"Uh, sure," Paul answered cautiously, blushing furiously.
"Well, you can always cry uncle," Jay said, then bounced his eyebrows.