"Rob Davis is god." Janette lifted her face and stared at the fluorescent lights of the gymnasium to emphasize her point.

"He's an ok guy most of the time, I guess." Her friend Brandon merely shrugged and tried once again to concentrate on the game.

"Okay?! Look at that behind!" she pointed accusingly at a red blur on the basketball court, nearly drooling.

"Everyone has an ass. We all have to shit, including Davis." He stared at the court, but couldn't concentrate.

"Call him Rob. 'Davis' is so distant and formal, just one more unnecessary reminder that he is way out of my league."

"Maybe I want to keep my distance, it's enough that he's always here through your unending worship," Brandon tiredly half-growled at his female friend, "He doesn't even look as good as me, and I'm no Ashton Kutcher. Plus, he's introverted and cocky. And I know for a fact he doesn't wash his hands after every piss."

"Do you have to use that language?" He rolled his eyes at her, "What would I do - I'd be terribly embarrassed, - if Rob heard what you say..."

"Maybe then he'd wash his hands."

"Brandon Geo -"

"Use the full name and die when I rip your voice box out."

"Be nice. You're being loud and annoying and rude to someone you don't even know."

"I've known you for years, and I've had to endure you for so long, I've earned the right to tease. At least I'm not the one infatuated with someone I don't even know."

"First, I don't care if you tease me, I meant Rob."

"Of course, seeing as you are a disease that feeds on his existence."

"Shut up and watch the game." She always knew that she was going to lose any argument she had with Brandon, yet somehow she always seemed to get in them anyway. Best drag herself out before she was in too far over her head by preying on Brandon's unsatiable hunger for sports.

"Watch the game so I can tell you the score later, so you can pretend you watched the game and not just Rob."

"Rob..." she murmured under her breath. Then she switched roles on Brandon and shushed him. "He's going for the three points..."

Damn it. Every breath. Rob slammed the locker with threatening force, the sound ringing through every corner of the loud locker room.

"Aww, little Robbie wobby is getting angwy."

"Way to go Roberta. Shoulda tried out for cheerleading, cause you'd make more sense in a skirt than with a ball in your hand."

"He can't give up! He likes balls!"

"Which is why I change in the bathroom. Wouldn't want Roberta here to see more than she should."

"Maybe it would be easier to make it so Roberta can't see at all."

He didn't even know, didn't even care, if he was living or remembering. He'd heard it all before too many times anyway, so it was getting hard to differentiate the past and the present. Every note rang the same now as it did then, the passing of time does not take cruelty with it, but rather feeds off of it and feeds it in return.

So it was all the same. The same mockery, same hate, same fear. How many of them are denying the truth? He knew that plenty of them lived in denial, afraid the words they said would come back and slap them in the face, afraid their actions would come back and tear apart their spirits. Afraid of difference and isolation they isolated the different, quarantined the disease so that no one could catch it, or dare to think about it.

The majority fears the ignorant abuse the majority always gives. Ignorant because no one would tell the truth. He sighed, eyes closed and head bowed, against the locker, trying to control himself, looking more vulnerable with his bared back and closed eyes than he thought he was. Steadily, in and out, he forced the sweat-scented air into and out of his lungs.

"Look, Roberta's getting freaky with her locker." The same voice. A different face. Not even worthwhile to look.

"Of course, guys, guys won't have him, girls aren't good enough for him, which makes no sense cause they have assholes too, so he has to take whatever comes."

The final straw, (was it the millionth? Billionth? A hundred times that times a thousand?) settled into place and snapped him. The more violent side took over. "Shut up! Shut up! Enough! So I'm not like you. I know. You hate me. You're afraid. I understand. I respect your wishes and your way of life, I leave you alone. Can't you do the same for me? Just let me be different. Unless you're afraid..."

Rob turned and confronted the nearest one, a tall, chunky, red-head with three-day-old morning breath, staring him straight in the eye.

"Of girly guy. Yeah, right. I'm afraid of the fairy princess."

"Leave - me - alone. Get it?" Rob glared into the hate-filled brown eyes of his teammate.

"Get out of my face, or you'll get it. By the way, this is where you run like a girl." He smiled at Rob, then snarled and spat.

"I just ran out of patience." Rob's expression was indifferent. A few more moments of pain? Nothing to fear, just another part of the routine.

"Took the words right out of my mouth, honey." He advanced, as if to embrace Rob, who, suspecting and expecting the worst stepped away, but not nearly quick enough. The red-head's knee came up full force into Robs crotch, which felt as if it had just been jammed into his brain.

As soon as his shoulders were released from the grip of his aggressor, Rob allowed himself to fall, his spine bent over in the characteristic arch of extreme pain. Of course, positions of pain are also positions of vulnerability. Kevin took the impassable opportunity of kicking Rob in the face. Neither of the boys flinched.

Kevin laughed at what he perceived to be Rob's futile and soon to be fatal attempt to keep up appearances of a tough guy. He pulled up Rob and slammed the pain-bent body onto the nearest locker, the lock digging into Rob's spine quite unexpectedly to Kevin, routinely to Rob, and painfully as well. Poor Rob was doing a wonderful job of holding any little sound that might give away his pain and further aggravate his aggressor. Even knowing what came next he wouldn't close his eyes. It was better to know, anyway, that there would be no escape.

Kevin's left hand squeezed his neck, his blood dripping from his nose down Kevin's arm, onto their shoes, onto the floor. Kevin's right hand came flying towards Rob's stomach, and in less than a second the force of the blow would push the lock deeper into Rob's back.

"Now, if I ever have to get close to you again, I'll kill you. I might do that anyway." He snickered, and kept hitting and kicking, hitting, kicking, punch, punch, kick, punch, until they flow together, smoothly, a crunchy red river of hate, forming a lake to drown the isolated.

Into the hate filled crater, that lake of hate, fell Rob once more, defenseless yet unafraid as the water-level rose. The blood-level. And as soon as Rob lay on the floor close to drowning in his blood, Kevin left.

"I think the butterfly got hurt."

"Naw Kev, or she would have screamed Tinker Bell here is enjoying the attention."

"Is that true? Does the boy-girl like to be touched? Are you into the hard love stuff?"

Moths swarm a candle in the darkness. Until it consumes them. It doesn't move. It doesn't move. They can't leave. It'll never end. Kick kick kick... It burns out.