Chapter 20: Left off the middle

I was in my room, preparing to change to a more comfortable attire for sleeping. Having spent a considerable amount of time with the guest's of the party, I think it was time for me to have my personal moment alone.

I was shocked to find Sebastian standing inside my room, looking out my window when I came out of my bathroom dressed only in a pair of black silk boxers and an open silk robe, which was also black.

Great! Just the person that I'd like to see.

"What are you doing here?"

Sebastian turned around and smiled faintly. Damn! Even after I punched him, he still looks good – good enough to eat.

He let his eyes roam over my barely covered body. I felt exposed and hurriedly tied my robe and looked him straight in the eye, daring him to make a move.

"We need to talk Jon." Sebastian stated firmly.

I was taken aback.

"What's there to talk about Sebastian?" I asked, spouting his name like it was something vile.

"Haven't I made it clear that I do not want you near me?" I continued. "Or is NO so hard to understand?"

Sebastian hung his head, as if defeated and sighed. It was a minute before he spoke again.

"I don't understand this Jon." He said tentatively. "One minute it feels like everything is good between us and the next we're fighting again. I seem to step back three times every time I make a move towards you."

"I don't understand this either." I said as I motioned for him to sit on my bed as I climbed on it and settled my back on the headboard. Sebastian was unsure as he sat down on the edge of my bed.

"You want to talk?" I asked.

Sebastian just nodded.

God give me the strength to make it through this with my sanity intact.

"What are you doing here Sebastian? After two years of absence, one can think that you have forgotten your home town."

"I still have my family here Jon."

"Good enough. However, what are you really doing here? Why did you have to come back into my life? Everything was fine until you came along."

"I came back for you." Sebastian answered while looking me in the eyes. As if he wants me to gauge his sincerity, his honesty.

"There's no need for too much eye contact Seb, Lord knows compulsive liars can get away with that."

"I'm telling the truth here, you'd have to believe me." Sebastian pleaded.

"You can talk and try to convince me, whether I believe you or not however remains to be my decision." I snapped.

"You came back for me? What's there to come back to Seb? You and I were never more than just a good fuck. You made that clear the moment you left me behind and walked out the door."

Sebastian remained silent. He was close to tears but I know it's his pride that's keeping him from truly grovelling. I found it amusing that he is so tensed sitting on one corner of my bed while I was now sprawled on my side as if we were merely discussing the latest fashion trends and not our pseudo-relationship.

"I wanted to apologize."

"For what?"

"For leaving you that way. For leading you on. For running away from you. For lying to you and to myself."

"What makes you think I am remotely interested in any of your apologies?"

"I know you Jon. Despite the nonchalant behaviour, you are as affected with this as me. You might not like me for what I did to you, however, judging from how we ended up a few days ago, is proof that you are still attracted to me. If we are ever going to make something out of this, we have to come clean with each other. I'm just trying to hasten the process."

"How perceptive of you." I replied sarcastically.

"I'm being serious here Jon."

"And who says I'm not serious?" I crawled over to him and spoke directly in his face. "I may like to have fun, but I never take my feelings lightly." With that, I climbed out of the bed and went out of my room to get a bottle of water from the pantry in the second floor. I hoped that Sebastian left but it was too much to wish for since he was still on the same spot where I left him when I came back.

I opened the bottle and took a drink as I rummaged through my bedside table searching for the envelope and the letter. I took the letter and tossed it to him.

"Explain the cheesiness of that thing." I demanded.

"Do I have to explain to you what I wrote here?" He asked me.

"You seem to find the idea incredulous. Tell me what to make out of it. I'm so confused. You used me, you made me fall in love with you, and then you left me without a single explanation. Now you came back out of nowhere and you're telling me all this things I would have killed for just to hear from you. Tell me why I should believe you?"

Sebastian stood up and came beside me. Face sad, eyes apologetic.

"I never meant it to be that way Jon. I never meant to hurt you." He said while trying to hug me but I sidestepped and was able to move away from him. Acknowledging the rebuff, Sebastian sighed and went back to occupy his vacated place.

"Then why are you doing this Sebastian? Why did you have to come back? Can't you just leave me alone?"

"I want to make it up to you. I want to apologize for what I've done and be forgiven. I want to show you how sorry I am. I want to show you how much I love you."

"Love? Do you even know the meaning of the word?" I sneered.

"I loved you since then, but I was afraid. I was confused. No matter how pretty you look, how good looking you were compared to other girls I know, it does not erase the fact that you are a guy. That goes against what I have been told, what I believed. It was just wrong."

"So you think what happened to us was wrong?"

"Fooling around with you was normal. It's a part of sexual curiosity, we all know that, we were even in a high-risk environment for homosexual behavior since we were in an exclusive boys school. Having sex with you was not something I considered wrong, but falling for you, another guy, now that was a mistake."

"Exactly the same feelings Sebastian, falling for someone like you was a mistake."

"God!" Seb let out a frustrated groan. "I didn't mean to make it sound that bad."

I raised an eyebrow at him.

"I was not like you. I knew I was straight. I was straight before I started fooling around with you. Being around you was my secret, something forbidden yet enjoyable but there came a point in time when I could not get enough of you. I realized I have fallen in love with you. For a person who grew up straight suddenly feeling this 'funny feeling' towards someone of the same sex can be mightily scary Jon."

"Our sexuality is just a matter of acceptance Sebastian. I have long ago decided that I liked boys, when I got hard looking at naked boys when I was in the 5th grade. Yours might have come later than mine, but I sure did not hurt anyone with allusions to love."

Sebastian was about to argue but decided to just remain silent for the mean time.

"Did you honestly believe that you can just up and leave and come back after an extended period of time and have everything ready, waiting to have your attention back? That is so presumptuous of you."

"I just wanted to see if we can move past the difference." He mumbled.

"What makes now and then different Seb? The fact that you are now willing to make the concession that you might be gay, makes you think that you and I can work? It was bad enough that you made me an unsuspecting participant in your sexual experiment. I am not going to let you do that to me ever again."

"It was not an experiment. Granted that I never imagined liking you more than I intended in the end, but that happened. I know I have been more than an ass. Why can't you just accept my apology?"

"So you think sorry would make everything alright?" I asked. "Well I'm so sorry Sebastian but mere apologies won't cut it."

"So what more do you want me to do?"

"I honestly don't know Sebastian."

"Why not find it out with me? Give me a chance Jon."

"You can try to sweet talk me Seb but I made a resolution. I can't let you in my life. Not this time."

"Can you at least tell me why?" Sebastian asked defeated.

"I don't trust myself with you Seb." I said as I moved back to the side table and took the envelope.

"And I don't know if I can trust you again." I finally said as I handed him the other envelope.

Sebastian took the envelope from me and opened it questioningly. I saw his expression change from curiosity to utter horror.

"Where did you get this?" He asked, his voice trembling and his hands was shaking, enough to have him loosen his hold on the photos, which fell from his hands to the floor.

I did not have to look at those photos again. Their images already imprinted on my mind. Those were snippets of my life - a mystery that finally has answers.

"What's the matter Sebastian? Those pictures show too much truth for comfort?" I hissed, not even caring to conceal my anger any more.

Sebastian was unable to answer back due to the fact that Vince and Marc barged into my room.

"Jon, why didn't you tell me the bastard was going to be here?" Marc asked as he came inside followed closely by Vince.

Marc suddenly stopped when he saw that I was not alone in the room but he got pushed aside by Vince, who without warning threw a punch on Sebastian, the latter fell on my bed with a cry of pain but didn't stand up to defend himself.

"You deserve more than that bastard." Vince said fuming. "Don't you dare come near him again."

"Who are you to tell me that Vincent? You left him the moment the pictures were distributed, if I remember correctly. What makes you think you're better than me?" Sebastian hissed from his position on the bed.

Vince made a move to strike again, but Sebastian was surprisingly fast as he moved out of the way. Marc had to catch Vince and drag him to a safe distance, away from Sebastian to stop the fight. They were both sissies if you ask me, but I cannot have my parents storming into my room because a fight broke out, not when there might still be guest's downstairs.

I went towards my two best friends. Marc was still holding Vince who was currently glaring at Sebastian instead of putting up a fight.

"Why don't we take this outside." I said.

Marc gave a nod and dragged Vince out with him. I turned to Sebastian and told him to stay put and followed them out the door.

I closed the door behind me as I reached the hallway and smiled tentatively at them.

"Why didn't you tell us that he was going to be here?" Marc questioned.

"And a happy new year to you too." I grumbled.

"What are you two doing in your room Jon?" Vince interjected.

"We were talking, something which I must say is long overdue." I told Vince.

Turning my head to face Marc I answered his question. "I didn't know mom invited his whole family over. Oh, and Eric invited him over for the party as my date without my consent of course and that was before I told him our little history of sorts."

"Hhhhmmm... You sure do have an interesting if not entertaining opening salvo for the year bitch." Marc said with a grin.

"Try in the lines of aggravating and frustrating but this has to be done."

"Tell me once your little talk is done so I can have my own talk with him." Vince admonished.

"You don't need to involve yourself with this Vince. As much as I appreciate the effort, remember that you weren't also fault-free with me." I snapped.

"But..." Vince started to protest but I cut him off.

"I'm sorry but I have to deal with this alone. The way I dealt with our own issues. We are not totally fine Vince, but the things between you and I will be better so allow me to make my own decisions on how to deal with Sebastian."

Vince nodded and I looked at Marc, letting him know that the same goes for him. Marc let out an annoyed sigh but gave out a slight nod.

I let out a relieved breath.

"So." I said with as much happiness as I can muster. "Why don't you go back downstairs , enjoy what's left off the party and come see me when I'm done having my pleasant chit-chat with Sebastian."

"To pick up the pieces I'm sure." Marc replied dryly.

"Don't I just love you and your optimism." I said sarcastically.

Marc just rolled his eyes at me and motioned Vince to go down, but before that, he caught my eye with his penetrating stare. Wordlessly, we exchanged an understanding that only mental links that exists between best of friends could give you – that I know I might end up a mess for the nth time but I know I will be alright, an assurance that we will both be there for each other.

I went back to the room to find Sebastian sitting on the floor and poring over the pictures. His head was bowed down, I think he didn't notice that I was back in the room yet. He was stoic, or I thought he was until I saw that he was actually trembling from trying to muffle his sobs.

I stayed for a few moments standing where I was, just looking at Sebastian. The guy I fell in love with. My first love, my first fuck – who was crying softly over the pictures that exposes the truth I wanted to deny that almost ruined my life in high school.

Have you ever felt like you have been in the same and or similar situation before? It's simply unnerving.

Well that was exactly how I felt as I sat on my bed, back held stiffly on my headboard as I tried hard to have my blanket swallow me to oblivion.

Marc was sitting at the foot of my bed with a stupefied expression and Vince was pacing nearby, an occasional mumble could be heard from him and that was about the only sound in the room.

The poignant moment of familiarity was broken by Paolo, as he happily bounded into the room announcing how sleepy he already is and letting his body free-fall into my bed without so much as a warning.

"What?" Paolo asked confused as he looked at three sombre looking faces who sighed at the same time.

Marc just shook his head and mouthed something to his boyfriend. Judging from Paolo's change in expression, I think he understood the reason why we seemed like somebody died.

I remained silent, Vince just stopped pacing and sat on the floor and we both watched Paolo and Marc's whispered exchange. A few minutes later, Paolo got up, wished all of us a happy new year, and said he is going to go home and will be back later on the day.

A few minutes of silence ensued until Marc decided to break it.

"Are you going to be alright?"

I just shook my head. Why lie? I feel like shit or lower than shit if that is possible.

How do you get over someone who you were finally willing to admit that you were pining for and then learn that what you had were based on lies?

I'm hurting. Though no tears are falling, it feels like my heart was left not only broken but empty as well. The truth hurts. A lot.

I shuddered. My body was in pain, making me want to hurl and puke as I shook a couple more times before I finally felt drained enough to lie limply on my bed, tired from all that dry heaving.

Vince moved from his position on the floor and joined me on the bed as he easily lifted me over to him as he attempted to soothe me with his warmth and words.

Marc joined me on the other side of the bed and lied down next to me, slowly stroking my hair to make me relax.

I was caught in between my two best friends' as they tried to comfort me for something that I know was also in part my own doing.

I'm having a de javu here. This is how the three of us ended when Vince showed me the damaging contents of the envelope when I got back from the overnight trip with Sebastian two days ago.

I finally got Sebastian to answer all the questions that I have for him and it did not turn out well but it was closure.

I am finally ready to move on.

To move forward is something that I longed to do. But why do I feel that being stuck in the middle is safer?

I remained silent. I gravitated towards the presence of the two people that I know would understand what I did and why I did it. I basked on their love and patience. I know they would be here for me, waiting until I'm ready to talk.

With their comforting presence keeping me calm, I closed my eyes.

All it takes are five photographs to break the mystery of my very first sexual encounter. The one thing that I have been trying to forget as much as I've been trying to remember. The one thing that started a chain reaction that almost left me friendless and a social outcast - my wonderful début into the world of sex scandals.

It was the night of our junior end-of-year party, a rented bar, one class of about 40-ish students, no teachers. Drinks were plenty and I was drunk. The first time that I ever remember having to actually deal with Sebastian for the past years that we were taking the same classes. I remember it since he was the one who helped me when I was out off it and took me home. I never really expected that he was part of the whole fiasco.

The first picture was of me sandwiched between Lyle and Sebastian near the pool table, in what can be construed as a very lewd dance. My head turned up facing the camera, Lyle's face was close to mine and his hands on my waist while Sebastian was pressed close behind me and his head was somewhere in my neck. The second photo was of me straddling Lyle on a couch, his eyes closed and my head buried on his chest. The third photo was with me sitting on Sebastian's lap while he is holding me down to him; he got his hands on my chest and on one of my legs while he had his mouth on the lobe of my ears. The fourth had me straddling Sebastian on the same couch, he was shirtless with his hands on my buttocks, my hands were on his chest and we were caught on a lip-lock. The last piece was the clincher, I was on my knees, face buried between Sebastian's legs who now had his pants down and face showing how pleased he was of the service he was getting.

One might think that it was the progression of one insecure brat to becoming the resident homosexual bitch/class slut. For me, it was simple – it was my downfall.

I cleared my throat. Sebastian looked up at me, not bothering to wipe away the tears that he silently shed.

"Care to explain?"

"I'm sorry Jon." He said, with fresh tears now falling freely.

"You seem to have a lot of things to be sorry about Sebastian. Tell me, were you ever planning on telling me the truth about that night?"

"Eventually."

I snorted. "Eventually, meaning not if you can help it?"

"Jon, let me…"

"Enough. No more lies. I can't deal with it anymore. Do you even know how hard it is to loose a friend? How hard it is to start over? How it feels to be so ashamed of yourself that you would rather die than look at how other people scorn you? Do you know how hard it is to pretend that you're not affected by anything when all you really want to do is cry?" I ranted with my voice shaking.

"It was not supposed to be that way."

"That's what you always say. I liked you. I liked you enough to delude myself that you were the first person I made love with since I gave myself up to you freely and I remember doing that as well. What happened on that night was put to the back of my head as some nightmarish event, until I can get proof that it happened, then that's the time I would believe that I lost myself to someone who I could not remember and didn't even know. Ironically it was you all along."

"I liked you too Jon. I liked you more when I got to know you. But I was not ready to come out. If it makes you fell any better, I've tried so hard to atone for what happened that night."

"Like what? Ask Lyle and your gang to get off my back? To sic Lyle and your friends on James when you found out that that pathetic excuse of a person was the one who took those pictures?"

"Yeah."

"Why did you have to lie to me Sebastian?"

"I don't know. If I told you I was the one on the picture with you, would you have given me a chance?"

"It's easy for you to say that since it was not your face that was focused on the picture. The attack was directed at me and not you. You could have been honest with me, instead of having to sneak around in the guise of friendship. To think I let you help me find the source of the pictures. You were merely concerned that the other side of the picture remains precisely where it is – hidden. Weren't you?" I accused him.

Sebastian remained silent.

"You don't even have an excuse that night. I was drunk and you weren't since you don't drink, you could have stopped it from happening. Why did you let it happen?" I was now shouting, not caring if the rest of the house hears it.

"I don't know."

"This has got to stop Seb. We're not going anywhere. Now I know that everything really happened, and you were the guy that I sucked off. Big deal right? No. At least I know I should never have trusted you. You played me more times than I can count."

"Give me a chance Jon." Sebastian begged. "Please."

"I thought when you started talking to me, we had some sort of connection, something special. Now I can't help but feel that everything were just lies." I said sadly. "You could have just left me alone to fend for myself back then Sebastian. What made you come to me? You're desire to know whether I remember that night and whether I might drag you down with me? You wouldn't have gotten anywhere since I really can't fucking remember anything that night. Or did you befriend me in the hopes of getting further that just a blow job? Well congratulations! You did well!" I spoke fast and loud. Almost shrieking until I needed to stop and get some air.

"Now you want another chance? You had one. You blew it like everything else that you do."

"Jon." Sebastian said.

"Just leave. Please. Take the awful memories with you. I can live without them."

Sebastian stood up from the floor and looked at me.

"Can you at least forgive me?" He said.

"Can you undo everything?" I asked.

With that said Sebastian gave a bitter smile and shook his head slowly at me and walked out of my room. I walked shakily back to my bed and sat down, covering myself with my sheets, blankly staring at nothing in particular.

That was how Marc and Vince found me.

I woke up with a grumbling stomach five hours later. Vince was now settled on the sofa bed in my room while Marc was peacefully sleeping beside me. I grabbed my phone and saw that it was already almost 10 in the morning on the first day of 2006.

I fastened my robe tightly and put on a pair of flip flops before heading out of my room. The house is eerily quite. Everyone is still sleeping and probably won't come out of their rooms till late this afternoon. We are expected at some relatives place for an impromptu reunion tonight and I just can't wait. Another senseless get together where everyone brags about what they have done and what they have acquired.

I went downstairs and frowned at the mess. Glasses were left on the floor, furnitures were in disarray, fixtures are not in their proper places, the floors were dirty. It was pure chaos. Where are the maids? Probably still sleeping.

Not minding the current state of the household, I made my way to the kitchen to see if I can get something to eat. I was halfway through a bowl of chicken macaroni salad when I heard the buzzer signalling someone was outside the gate. Who the hell i their right mind would intrude a family this early? I grumbled as I pushed the bowl aside and got a can of juice from the fridge and made my way outside. I had no choice, everyone is still down and the incessant buzzing is grating on my nerves.

I opened and the side gate irritably and was shocked to see Lyle.

"Hi Jon." He said tentatively.

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

"I came to say hi and personally greet you a happy new year." He said with a smile. "Why the grumpy attitude for such a glorious day?"

"What could have been a glorious day just started to go downhill. So go figure." I said dismissively as I made a move to close the gate.

"Not so fast." Lyle said as he easily stopped me from closing the gate. "A friend of mine wants to talk to you." Head nodding towards the direction of the idle Mitsubishi Eclipse in front of us. I could just make the Sebastian's outline inside the lightly tinted car.

"Tell your friend that I have already said enough. If he had difficulty understanding the things that I said then he better go back to his school and learn some more." I moved away from him and started the make my way back to the house. "Close the gate when you leave." I added as an afterthought.

"Listen to me bitch. I may not understand what the hell he sees in you but I know him well enough to know that he is hurting and its your fault." Lyle snapped as he pulled me back.

"What do you know about hurting Lyle? Ow. I forgot, You've always been the bully, you perfected the art of hurting people. Is that why you were able to make sure that Sebastian is really hurt? Too bad, you don't hold enough power over me, that was so high school. Grow up."

"Just talk to him." Lyle bristled.

"Why don't you just go ahead and kiss his boo boo. I'm not doing that for you. And just for the record, he set himself up to be hurt when he decided to hurt me. He just realized that as of late so leave me out of it."

"Please Jon." Lyle's voice softened. "Just let him say goodbye to you."

"Fine." I conceded.

Lyle gave me a big smile and went back to his car. I waited for several minutes before Sebastian actually got off the car and came over to me.

I mentally cursed myself. I can't deal with this. This is too much. I need time to think things over.

He was freshly dressed in a stripped sport shirt and cargo shorts and is wearing sneakers. His lips started to curve into a smile but he decided against it seeing the heated glare that I gave him.

"You just don't get it do you?" I asked. "Why can't you just leave like I asked you to?"

"I'm leaving. Relax. I'm going back to school. I just came here to say goodbye."

"And that matters because?"

"Because once I ran out from you without a single word, I don't want to do that to you again. Now that I came back, even if we are not in good terms, I want to let you know for sure that I am here, and even if I'm leaving again, I will be back."

"So you're hoping that persistence might lead you somewhere?"

"It's worth a try Jon." He smiled and turned turned around and made his way back to the Lyle's waiting car.

That earned a smile from me despite myself. You must give the guy credit for his one-track mind.

I caught myself just in time as I made my face blank when Sebastian suddenly turned around.

"One more thing Jon." He said. "Tell me, How could you let something that could be so good end before it has a chance to start?"

I tried to keep my mouth from hanging. I was caught completely off guard by his question that it took me some time to think of an answer. Sebastian thinking that I will just end up brushing his question off opened the door to the passenger seat when I decided to speak.

"I asked Marc the same question, the day after Christmas." I said. "He told me that it might be because it was not meant to be."

Sebastian just nodded his head curtly and started to get in the car.

"But I think I have a better answer to that." I said. "Maybe its not just time."

Sebastian smiled at me and for the first time since the New Year started I was able to smile genuinely.

He got in the car and they left and I was still standing near the gate still smiling. Maybe. Just maybe, this year will turn out to be different.