This chapter is dedicated to Scott, for finally contacting me via MSN Messenger and providing such lovely feedback and philisophical conversation.

(shout-outs at end of chapter)

Never Fade, Never Die

That feeling of understanding that I'd felt at the end of the Influent's concert stuck with me. I still had a vague feeling like there were a ton of bricks right above my head, but that understanding was like a bunch of helium balloons, holding the bricks mere centimeters above. It didn't even occur to me would happen when that understanding was gone, and the balloons popped.

All that mattered to me was my friends, and during the following months, they were those balloons.

Evan and I didn't go back to the Castro, but we were becoming more and more open about our sexuality. We could show affection in the presence of Sam and Ali without problem, and sometimes in public when we were away from our immediate neighborhood.

That small crack in mike and Dave's friendship that had formed at Gilman had grown until it became a gaping chasm. Now, we hardly ever saw them together, and when we did, it was noticeably strained. They would joke around, but their way of playing off each other was gone, and their duo humor diminished.

Sometimes, Dave left us entirely to go to Oakland with Chris, probably making drug deals.

That was the case this afternoon, and Evan and Ali had gone to get some coffee while Mike, Sam, and I jammed in my basement.

"Man, that sounded awesome!" Sam raved, glad to finally have a bassist.

"I know." Mike agreed, a shadow passing over his features. "you're a much more consistent drummer than Chris was."

"Yeah, let's play it again." I suggested, drawing the conversation away from Mike's failed band.

Chris had finally sold his drum kit for that little extra speed he insisted he needed.

"Alright." Mike snapped out of it. "This time try playing with the hi hat open on the first and third." He suggested.

Sam and I could both tell our improvement since Mike had started jamming with us. His ingenuity and knowledge of music pushed us during the last month to play at a whole different level. He'd also inspired Sam to practice more, and I now could hear Sam plucking away at Barnabus until two or three in the morning, school or no.

In fact, Sam didn't seem to even go to school half the time any more. Spring was approaching, and his report card reflected his absences. Whenever he hung out with everyone, he seemed enthusiastic and happy, and things with Ali seemed at least to me to be getting better.

Yet at home, Sam was distant, reflective, and often times I had to repeat what I was saying a couple times before he even acknowledged that somebody was trying to speak to him.

"We need a band name." I said, after we had gone through the song again this time with open high hats.

Mike smiled widely. It was the first time any of us had acknowledged that our little jam group was, in fact, a band. Mike was apparently ecstatic about this new title.

"How about the Organelles!" Mike suggested.

Sam laughed. Ever since he stopped skipping to smoke with Dave, Mike had been very enthusiastic about his biology class, and we often called him the science nerd. In truth, though, I think I admired this new Mike.

"Haha. And each of us could have organelle names! Like, I could be the Mitochondria, and Adam could be the Endoplasmic Reticulum, and Sam could be the Golgi Body!" Mike raved.

His sense of humor had certainly become less crude.

"Hey!" Sam pretended to object. "Why do you get to be the powerhouse of the cell, and I have to synthesize proteins?" he mock pouted.

I had slept through most of Biology, and proceeded to call them both science nerds

"Well you suggest something, then." Mike told me, when we were done laughing.

There was a long silence.

"How about Thesis Statement." Sam said, out of nowhere, staring blankly at the wall.

Another long silence.

"I like it." I said, looking at Mike to see what he thought.

"Yeah, that's a good name." He confirmed, again trying to tone down his excitement so as not to betray his image.

He dropped his pick and began finger picking his bass as if the new name had challenged him to reach a new, higher level. I think I liked the was he responded to the band's christening better than the normal response of sitting around talking about the name and patting ourselves on the back for our collective creative genius. I respected Mike for that.

Soon, Sam and I picked up on his bass line and started to play along, my snare and bass drum counts in perfect tune with the bounding heart-beat of Mike's bass and the poetic wail of Sam's guitar. It was the first time in a while we'd played something that wasn't a cover, and I noted how entirely different it felt to be creating something new instead of trying to play the exact beats of Tre Cool, Josh Freese, or even Tommy Ramone.

My arms began to feel like jelly, and I quickly whipped my head as I switched to the crash ride from the high-hat, and watched a few solitary beads of sweat fly in slow motion in front of my eyes and then fall onto the ground where my leg throbbed up and down with Mike's bass.

Then it ended. Suddenly, strikingly as it had begun.

My eyes peeled open.

Ali looked from one to the other of us with a gaping smile from where she stood with her jacket still on, Evan right by her in the doorframe, eyes trained on me.

I'd taken my shirt off somewhere amidst the fury, and now I sat shirtless, feeling sweat dripping down my body. I still sat completely upright on the drum throne, arms poised with drumsticks still in hand, as if ready to hit the snare again within a half a second's notice.

I held Evan's shocked gaze for a while, before glancing up at the clock. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion, in sharp contrast to the fast unceasing complexity of our jam.

We'd been playing for a half an hour, I calculated, since coming up with Thesis Statement.

"That was amazing!" Ali exclaimed, finally removing her jacket and walking over to Sam.

Evan was still, looking at me as if he wasn't sure whether I existed. His gaze finally drifted from my eyes as I caught it taking in my neck, and then my chest, and then my stomach, and then…

I blushed.

He snapped out of it as if my blush finally had him convinced that I was, indeed, still still Adam.

Now we were both blushing. Though if you'd have asked me, I'd have said I was flushed from playing the drums, and if you'd have asked him, he'd have said it was from being out in the cold just minutes before.

As it was, both our gazes fell upon Mike, hoping his baby-like face would return us to innocence.

He was smiling in triumph, casually setting down and unplugging his bass as if we always played that well, and it was no big deal.

"That was fun." He said, his smile again betraying his supposedly uncaring nature.

"That was fucking great!" Ali corrected from where she was attached at Sam's arm.

Slowly we all shifted to the two broken down couches we'd recovered from the dump, and I found my shirt where it had landed on top of a guitar stand in the corner.

I boldly, and perhaps carelessly, seated myself closer than was entirely necessary next to Evan, with Mike there.

Sam raised an eyebrow, but from where I could feel every place Evan's warm sweatshirt touched my arm, I didn't care.

I was still so wrapped up in the power and raw energy of playing music that my mind didn't seem to be able to process the conversation everyone was engaged in.

The only part of the present reality that my awareness could take in was the faint scent, the sensation of Evan's sweatshirt, and occasionally his syrupy voice in the air.

My eyes had unconsciously drifted closed.

"Hey." Said a voice.

The sweatshirt moved off my arm.

I opened my eyes. Evan was leaning forward with his knees supporting his arms, which in turn supported his head. He was looking at the floor; as lost as I was, it seemed.

"You look really tired." Sam said, revealing himself to be the one who said 'hey' earlier.

"Yeah, I am too." Mike agreed. "I'm gonna split."

"I'm going, too." Ali said. "You want to come?" She asked Sam.

"Sure."

It actually took them another five minutes to grab their jackets and for Mike to pack up his bass.

"Bye." I said, finally speaking.

"See ya." Evan said to them, after snapping out of whatever daydream he was in.

"Are you tired?" He asked me, after everybody else had left. "Do you want me to go, so you can sleep?"

"No, stay!" I told him, not even bothering to keep out the note of urgency in my reply. After all, I had decided, I shouldn't have to be embarrassed.

He smiled at me with an exclusive smile.

I got up. "I'll be right back." I told him as I started for the bathroom, and, hoping it might relieve some of the fatigue, I downed a glass of water and splashed some on my face. I cringed at the chloriny taste of bay area tap water.

I looked at the mirror. The moisture of my sweat made my hair stick up, and pit stains were clearly cisible on my red shirt. I discarded it on the bathroom floor and walked, shirtless, to my bedroom, where I grabbed a clean 'Adeline Records' shirt.

I followed the strip of ripped up 70's style wallpaper back down the stairs and found that Evan had lay down on the couch and his eyes were closed.

Placing the needle carefully on the edge of whatever record was on the turntable, music began to play. The record turned out to be the Cure. Decidedly appropriate music for relaxing on the couch with Evan.

My mind was still reduced to a pure sensory perception, all reasoning and intellectual thought on hold.

Evan opened his eyes, and moved on the couch so that he was on his side, with his back against the back of the couch, presumably to make room for me.

Somewhere along the line, these such moments had lost their awkwardness, and now held a pleasant and precious nature; the times when it was just he and I.

I lay down next to him, aligning myself with my back against him. His arm draped over my from behind and pulled me closer. Again, I felt every place his body touched mine tingle, and I felt his lazy breath on the back of my neck.

I closed my eyes again, and time passed idly. Everything felt sublimely surreal. It felt like we were in a music video or something, the music filling the room like a gas, so thick in the air it seemed like the density of the air had increased dramatically.

When the music stopped, and we could hear those last few seconds of blank crackily vinyl recording, I reluctantly got up from the couch and flipped the record over.

Another sweet melody started immediately, and that pleasant surreality fell upon us again. It wasn't the usual surreal feeling in which I felt horribly detached. Indeed, I felt more present and aware than I'd ever felt before in my life as I made my way back to the couch where Evan lay watching me. I can only imagine what I looked like then, for I felt like I was floating.

This time, when I lay down next to Evan, I faced him, lying close so that we were face to face with the music all around us. One of my arms was trapped awkwardly between our upper bodies, while the other one reached up to rest on Evan's back, extending halfway around, my hand finding his hair.

His lips curled up in a lazy and almost drunken grin, and his arms mimicked mine so that we were reflections of each other, our arms intersecting at a point a bit past our elbows.

I felt like I was looking in a mirror, and was somehow able to reach all the way through it to my reflection.

One song turned into another, and the song Bloodflowers started, bass drum pounding.

I kissed him then, the beauty of our symmetry propelling my desire. I rolled onto my back and let my senses guide me.

"This dream never ends" you said
"This feel never goes"

"The time will never come to slip away"

The sweet taste of Evan's mouth.

"This wave never breaks" you said
"This sun never sets again"
"These flowers will never fade"

The weightlessness of both our bodies.

"This world never stops" you said
"This wonder never leaves"
"The time will never come to say goodbye"

The sensation of his hand on my neck and how the hairs stood up at his touch.

"This tide never turns" you said
"This night never falls again"
"These flowers will never die"

The soft baby skin of his neck as my lips and tongue explored it.

Never die
Never die
These flowers will never die

Evan's comforting hand on my back.

"This dream always ends" I said
"This feeling always goes"
"The time always comes to slip away"

The sound of his breathing and the way it changed when I found my way back to his lips again.

"This wave always breaks" I said

"This sun always sets again"
"And these flowers will always fade"

Both our shirts climbing up over our heads.

"This world always stops," I said
"This wonder always leaves"
"The time always comes to say goodbye"

The sudden revelation of our skin touching; an entirely new kind of free.

"This tide always turns" I said,
"This night always falls again"
"And these flowers will always die"

His hands on my back and on my face and how gentle he was.

Between you and me

It's hard to ever really know
Who to trust
How to think
What to believe

The friction of our bodies and the unity of our feelings.

Between me and you

It's hard to ever really know
Who to choose
How to feel
What to do

His smell and the way he wrapped me up in it.

Never fade
Never die
You give me flowers of love

The movement of our bodies and how it drove me crazy and kept me sane simultaneously.

Always fade
Always die
I let fall flowers of blood

Our rhythm quickening until I reached the peak of sensory perception and felt him do the same.

Never fade
Never die
You give me flowers of love.

Breathing slowing down and the feel of his hair on my chest where his head lay.

Never Die…

Our absolute togetherness.

Never Die…

"I love you." He said.

Just like that, my conscious mind returned. I braced myself for what I knew would come. Waited for it to tell me I was a sick faggot.

"I love you, too." It said, out loud, finally allowing me to say what I knew I felt.

For once, my conscious let my senses feel without resentment, without fear or self-loathing.

My arms wrapped around Evan's naked back and I knew we had found something so beautiful it surpassed the senses.

Author's Note:

So, that was my version of a sex scene. I wanted to do something different, so please tell me what you thought of it. This is the end of what I'm going to call Part One. For now, I'm not sure when I'll write more of this story. I've started another one, so you guys have to let me know whether you want me to start doing some serious work on that one, or put it aside and do Part Two on this. So please, your feedback would be especially helpful this chapter.

-Andrea Fierce.

Shout-outs:

Stonesphynx: I swear sphynx is like the most impossible word to spell, ever! I mean, what's with the lack of vowels? Anyway, as always, thank you for the kind review.

Whimsey Whisper: They go to other places than san fran and berkeley, you monkey. They went to Oakland on their date, so there. I mean, you expect them to go to like EASTERN europe? Like that weird England place?

Fountain Pen: Yes! Media ruins everything. I'm glad you were able to relat to it, yet sad that you have to, if that makes any sense.

Cannibalistic smurf: sorry about the speed problem : (

Queen Leora: Hurrah for hobbitism! I'm glad that you think it is much excellentet than last year, that brings a tear to my eye. Hope to see you soon, when the ocean seemingly lodged in my nose decides to come out.

Tin Whistle: Thank you kindly.

TI Hudson: Wow, you have no idea how good that makes me feel. I was happy for like a week after reading your last review. Thank you so so much.

Piperita Patty: yes, London Calling is for sure a must. I hope you have it by now. It is, in my opinion, one of the best records made.

James-waterford: Thanks so much for finally coming out (pardon the expression ; ) and reviewing. It means a lot.

Mizery-Rose: *cringes at the thought of juggalos* god I hate some aspects of so called 'alternative' culture. I'm sorry I didn't obey the allmighty you and update sooner, for that you may smack me on the head with an object of your choice.

Smashed: heh heh, I knew somebody would pick up on the chuck/Pierre thing. I must admit I have a soft spot for power pop. Although I've heard that Simple Plan are real pricks, aside from Cone. Oh well. The Chuck and Pierre in this story were based on friends of mine, so it's ok. Thanks for the review!

Astarael: Thank you for that review. Punk scenes can be great, but let me assure you they are invariably heartbreaking as well.

(^V^): *taps foot waiting for that nice, long review..* heh heh, just kidding. I'm glad I could entertain you on a boring morning.

Deadxfish: hurrah for cute little homosexual punks!

Kat: thanks for the review! It was wicked!

Onigami Nanashi: Sorry there isn't much of Mike or Dave in this Chappie either.

Cheyenne: As always, thanks for your review. Twas lovely.