This chapter is dedicated to Sithmouse, who asked just the right question...I hope you like the answer you'll get to it!

Life Support

Chapter 6:

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cale's Point of View:

I awake the next morning to a bright, cheerful sun.

Terrific.

Even more terrific, I am twenty minutes early getting up, and there is no way I would be able to fall asleep again in that very small amount of time, so pushing back the comforters, I stand, stretching my arms high above my head before scratching idly at my chest.

Heading to my dresser, I carefully select a gray undershirt before choosing a pair of jeans and heading for the bathroom.

And yeah, I'm gay. I care about my appearance. Don't get stereotypical on me.

Leaving my clothes on the counter, I turn on the water. When it's finally warm enough (damn our water company), I shuck my boxers-boring black, blah-and stepped in, heaving a sigh and relaxing as the heated waves bear down on me.

After a leisurely wash, I step out and move to dry my hair and get dressed. The mirror is fogged, as I had, as usual, forgotten to turn on the vent, and I notice with a large grin the sloppy writing on it: Be Happy.

I laugh lightly, shaking my head at what is obviously Dam's work, before leaning my head against the mirror, carefully not smudging his words. My morose thoughts from the previous night reclaim me, and I return to my depressing ponderings, damning Dam for sending me to them, even as I love him. Or because I love him, actually.

I shake my head as I think about it, and the previous day, and all the other things going on.

So, basically, I hate life. Why, you ask? Well, besides being in love with my breathtakingly beautiful, absolutely amazing, delightfully delicious, horrifyingly heterosexual best friend. Because that's not painful enough, I know. But anyway, besides that drama, I have another problem….well, many actually. One of them being my friend has feelings for me. The WRONG FUCKING FRIEND, and I, obviously, don't return those sentiments. The other is that the other guys at school, some of the jocks, also have feelings for me. And they aren't the warm, fuzzy ones, either. Which I'm partially grateful for that; trust me, after looking at them (or, even more horribly, hearing them), you would agree. But that is beside the point. I don't mean the "hey, you fucking fag" shit, either. I mean the "fucking fag" with an extra dose of "lets bully the nancy boy"….though, trust me, they wouldn't come up with such a creative insult as "nancy boy". It sticks to the three letter word for them, as everything else is beyond comprehension. Terrific, isn't it?

Dam, of course, doesn't know it is as bad as it is. He just thinks that it's the name calling, and he's pretty upset about that, actually. But if he finds out that they've been harassing me, things will not be good. For them. Or for me, either, really, because he won't be happy that I never told him.

It isn't like it's even major things-generally just tripping me, bumping into me, taking my things-plebian, high school stuff like that. Matt and Coll know, but I can't tell Dam. I don't know how he'd react, and I don't particularly want to find out.

My alarm clock is bleeping from my bedroom, and I blink, curious as to how long I've been standing in here, lost in my thoughts. I shrug my shoulders, throw on my clothes, and hurry out to turn it off, stopping in surprise when I note the time; fifteen minutes before I'm supposed to meet Dam. Which means I spent a good thirty minutes in the bathroom, twenty of which I was probably thinking.

Geeze, I officially have to rush.

I slam the Snooze button on my alarm and grab a plaid-blue button-up from my closet before hurrying back to the bathroom, squeezing some gel into my hands and pulling it through my wet curling hair, not bothering to look in the mirror before I rush back to my room, grab my backpack, and rush down the stairs.

Laurie is standing in the kitchen, flipping pancakes at the stove. "Good morning, Cale," she greets me with a small smile, and I give a brief reply, throwing my backpack in the hall and pull on my Vans. "I have to hurry," I inform her as I pour a glass of milk from the refrigerator, "Dam is gonna be here soon." The rest of the stuff is already on the table, so I sit down in a padded chair.

"Okay, well, I'm sure you have enough time for some chocolate-chip pancakes," she responds, pulling a plate from the cabinet and depositing the absolutely delicious looking pancakes on top.

My mouth waters at the mere sight. "Of course I do," I offer with a large grin, syrup in one hand and fork poised in the other, just waiting for her to set it down.

She laughs at me, pushes the plate in front of me, and ruffles my hair before turning back to the skillet.

"Thish ish delicious," I praise around a very large forkful of suitably syrup-drowned pancake.

My plate is empty in record time, and not just because I'm worried about being late. I stand, stretch once more, and dump my plate in the sink, running water lightly over it and watching the syrup inch toward the drain.

Glancing toward the clock, I withhold the curse that I know will get me smacked with the spatula; already eight o'clock. I have to get outside. Kissing Laurie on the cheek, I rush from the kitchen, scooping up my bag as I head for the door.

Outside, I stand below the tree, watching the street anxiously. Dam, however, is nowhere to be seen. I stand there for several minutes, shifting anxiously from foot to foot on the dew-covered grass, before he pulls up.

I know, even before seeing him, the mood he is in. He's late to pick me up, which is rare, and in fact only happens when he gets in an argument with his parents in the morning. Meaning another day of dealing with his PMSing.

Wonderful.

I know, that sounds really bad of me. I do hate that he fights with his parents, and I hate that he always feels so horrible afterward, and I can say and do very little to change that. It bothers him all day. And, therefore, it affects me just as long.

"Good morning," I greet cheerily as I duck into the barely stopped car, hoping that if I act positively, he might take a hint.

Grunt.

For all my efforts, I get a grunt. This is not the Stone Age, and he is not a caveman! So what is with the guttural, not even a word, response?!

"So…" I pause there, knowing that he really doesn't want me to drag him into conversation. The car once again sinks into silence, and I am left to stare out the window as he quietly drives.

I lean my head against it slowly, and almost bang it when he suddenly speaks, startling me, not merely with the breaking of the silence that has built up so tensely around us, but also because of the words themselves. "We were fighting again."

So, yes, I knew that, thanks. Still, I won't voice that thought, as it is so pathetically rare that he even mentions that tiny fact and I want to prompt him, urge him to go into detail, to confide in me, but I don't want to ruin the moment, because I know that it's unlikely to ever happen again.

Still, he seems reluctant to talk about it, so I lightly place a hand on his knee, careful that he knows what exactly I'm doing so I don't startle him (I'm rather fond of my life, and don't want to end it by going thirty into a curb), and kindly prompt, "What about?"

He doesn't move away from my touch, so I hesitantly mark that as a success. "I don't want to talk about it," Is the terse reply I receive, however, and I stay quiet as we continue to drive through the winding streets surrounding the high school.

I watch him silently until he's carefully parked the car in the student lot and sits stiffly, one hand tightly gripping the steering wheel and the other rested gently atop of mine, and let him take a moment to calm down before speaking again.

"What were you arguing about?" I demand, but not harshly, annoyed that he won't tell me but doing my best to hide that emotion.

He hits the steering wheel, and the horn goes off. Some people need anger management lessons. Seriously.

"I don't want to talk about it," he snaps back, furiously brushing an auburn lock away from his heated face.

"Well, apparently you do, or you wouldn't have brought it up," is my less than patient response. Seriously, what did he expect?

"I brought it up because you act like a kicked puppy if I don't tell you something!" he shouts in return, not even glancing toward me as he pronounces it.

Jackass.

"Tell me. Now." My tone brooks no argument; no alternative is given.

He sits quietly, staring hard at the steering wheel but not seeming to see anything.

Jerk!

I pull on my backpack and slam open my door, pissed.

"It was about you," I hear him whisper as I clamor to get out. At his words, I sink back into the seat, collapsing against it, not even noting the way my books dig harshly into my back.

"What?" It comes out a mere whisper. Jesus. He was fighting with his parents. Over me. How many times had this happened? I don't even want to know.

"You heard me," he grumbles back as I quietly swing my door shut once more, and I get the feeling that he really doesn't want to be doing this. I know, how'd I guess? Shocking conclusion to be drawn from his absolute refusal to speak of it.

"What about me?"

He sighs, shrugging his shoulders. Speak, Dam!

"They hate the fact that I hang around you, especially as often as I do. They hate the fact that I'm hanging around with a fag." He spits the word out, but I know that the disgust is aimed not at me, but his parents.

"How'd…how do they know?" They shouldn't know. There's no way they could.

He shrugs his shoulders again, and his shirt wrinkles with the gesture. I itch to reach over and straighten it. "They weren't sure until last night at the country club. We ran into Johnny Kennedy." Repulsion colors his tone. He's hated Kennedy since we were kids; unfortunately, their parents are all great friends, having a lot (money and bitchiness) in common. "And he was saying something about it. Fucking bastard."

Ooh…Dam does not look happy. I wonder what Kennedy said? I'm almost afraid to ask; he hasn't been the kindest about me, and it's much worse than Dam knows.

Dam turns to me then, anguish burning in his green orbs. "Why didn't you tell me that they treat you so badly? Why didn't I know?"

Oh, fuck; maybe my tightly kept secret wasn't as "tightly-kept" as I thought.

"I didn't want you to worry," I placate, even as my heart begins to race. I don't want to say anything more, not knowing how thorough Kennedy had been with his explanation.

Fucking bastard and his huge fucking mouth.

A sharp glare meets my response. "So you'd rather I overhear he and his goons laughing about how they torture you?"

Well, isn't this just fucking terrific. "What happened?" I croak.

He shakes his head. "I left early, to get away from him, much to my parent's annoyance. I was afraid if I didn't, I'd end up breaking his nose. I ignored them when they tried to talk to me that night, so when I woke up this morning, they were fucking pissed. Not only was it verified to them that you were gay, I defended you, threatened Kennedy, walked out of their club, and embarrassed them in front of their friends. Though sadly enough, I think that the last was their biggest issue. Well, and the first, of course." He slams his head into the steering wheel, and I wince.

Pissed, I'm thinking, is putting it lightly.

"What'd they do?" I ask, worried.

Again with the head shake. "They're trying to force me to stop hanging out with you."

Holy fuck. I feel a sharp burst of anger inside of me, but more than that, I'm scared. What if he listens to them? He's dating Tracy because they want him to. What if he stops being friends with me for the same reasons?

Apparently, he senses my inner turmoil (he sucks like that), because he scowls at me as if I'm the biggest idiot he's ever met.

Hurt clouds his tone, and I regret instantly the thought that he'd turn his back on me after over ten years of friendship. "Do you really think I'd do that, Cale? I've never listened to me when they tried to," a grimace, "persuade me to before."

"WHAT?!"

He flinches, both at my loud exclamation and most likely the fact that he hadn't meant to let that one slip.

"They've done this before?" He nods his head, slowly, as if he doesn't want to speak. "Yeah. It's been going on for a while, now. Why do you think that they're forcing me to date Tracy? They're worried that you'll turn me gay." He rolls his eyes, as if the entire idea is preposterous, and my heart sinks. "Yeah," I mumble, more than slightly hurt.

He laughs, as if yet again sensing my feelings. "You know that if I went gay for anyone, it'd be you."

I reluctantly smile, but I'm really not so cheery. The fact of the matter is, he isn't gay, and never will be. That fact kills me.

"C'mon," I finally order, after long moments of sitting in silence and dwelling in our slightly morose thoughts. "We need to get inside before we're late." Perfect way to avoid whatever the hell is going on; go to class. Great.

He raises a brow at me. "You do realize that the bell rang over ten minutes ago."

"No shit?" I glance towards the clock, and am surprised to read that his statement is true; the glowing numbers clearly state 8:10. The bell did indeed ring ten minutes ago.

The final bell.

It makes sense, though, being as he was late picking me up, and then we sat in the car and argued for quite some time. I can't regret drawing the conversation out of him, however.

"Oh, well," I decide with a firm shake of my head.

"Oh, well?" he repeats me, bemusedly. "You do realize that we'll be late to French, and you know how she is."

"It doesn't matter."

He looks rather amused at my statement. "And why is that?"

"Because," I inform him with an evil grin, "we aren't going to go in at all."

He gives me a look that quite clearly screams, "You are mentally deranged, get away from me." And trust me, I know his looks well enough to read this one...actually, i think a blind man could.

Or at least mostly blind.

Lovely.

"And why would we do that? It'd get us in even more trouble."

"No, it wouldn't!" I state back cheerily. "See, if they call home, which I doubt, I can claim emotional distress-you know Linda, she won't care-and then your parents won't ever get it! So it'll be fine."

I sigh at the look he gives me. No, I'm not insane, and I don't appreciate his suggestions that I am, silent or not.

"C'mon, Damien," I plead with him, fluttering my lashes and clasping my hands in front of me, as if pleading with him. "You know you want to."

I can see his resolve weakening, even as he asks with a sigh, "What would we do the whole time?"

Well…. "The mall!" I suggest, bouncing up in my seat at the mere thought. He opens his mouth to offer argument as he pulls the keys from the ignition. "Oh no you don't. Put those keys right back in there, mister. We are going to the mall-you promised me we'd go, after Tracy ruined our trip, and besides, my birthday IS Monday." I stick my lip into a pout, widening my eyes-he can never resist my puppy expression!

And score one for Cale! He sighs and restarts the engine, grumbling as he does, "Fine, but I'm only doing it because you look so damned pathetic."

That's fine, though, because I still won.

The car ride is silent, as neither of us wants to bring up the previous conversation, and anything else would be awkward. So instead, we dwell in our thoughts.

I really am curious as to what Kennedy said to him, and to what he said to Kennedy, almost as much as I hate the fact that he found out. It really sucks, actually; I thought I'd had the situation down perfectly. I managed to avoid Kennedy while with Dam, avoid any confrontation with him all together, so Dam really never witnessed that it was as bad as it was. And things were peaceful, thanks to that lack of knowledge.

Unfortunately, that is ruined for me, now, thanks to stupid Kennedy and his stupid big mouth. Geeze, the only thing bigger than his mouth I think are his fists…actually, it may be a close tie. His brain, of course, isn't even in the running.

There are other good things, however, that came about from this, I idly decide as I stare out at the freeway and the cars we are passing by ; I found out about Dam's arguments with his parents, and while it is certainly not a good thing that they argue about me, I'm glad to finally hear what is going on with him. And I've also figured out something that has been bothering me for a long while; the "Tracy" situation! See, I really didn't think, at first, that Dam would date her just because his parents were forcing to, despite how much he seeks their approval. However, if they were trying to force him to get rid of me, for fear that I was making him gay, then dating him was the only thing he could really do to stay their hand; it was the best option to attempt to go along with what they ordered, to prove to them that he wasn't gay. So, despite the fact that I think she's a scag bag, a disgusting waste of human flesh that I wouldn't even spend a bullet on, I can understand why he did it. I'm not happy, by any means, that they are dating, or that he is almost trying so vehemently do deny the fact that he's gay, but I am glad that we remain friends, despite his parents ill wishes.

Well, either way, at least I get a nice trip to the mall as recompense, I note, attempting to be cheerful, as we pull off the freeway. I note then that I hadn't even bothered to turn on the radio, slightly surprised with myself. I reach up to turn it on, flip through the channels, searching for something good. But no….it goes commercial, commercial, country, rap, country, Mexican channel, and, oh wow, more commercial.

I'm still fiddling with it when we park, and Dam has to yell at me to get me from the car. I laugh at him and step from it, deciding idly that, as the radio offered no song up, I must create my own.

That thought in mind, I began to sing.

"I hate Tracy in the spring time, I hate Tracy in the fall. I hate Tracy in the summer when it's hot, I hate Tracy all year long! I hate Tracy, oh why oh why do I hate Tracy? Because she's a whore, who I hate." I would probably have added in something like "that gets to have Dam." He, however, stands beside me as I sing my little morning ditty and swing my hips (and my ass) around. You know you're jealous of my awesome skill. Either way, my attempt to cheer him up worked, as he grins, even as he rolls his eyes at me and drawls, "You're a bit repetitive…and a bit bitter."

I frown, twisting my head back to lock eyes with him, but continue my slow tread to the food court. I've quite aptly decided that the best fix for the morning was a cookie from Paradise Bakery. Seriously, how amazing does that sound? And there's nothing like sugar to fix the world's problems...well, perhaps Whipped Cream...but that is made from sugar, so I think we're good.

"You know you like it," I retort, sticking out my tongue and shaking my ass. His gaze is instantly drawn downward, and I watch, entranced, as his eyes glaze over, until suddenly his hand swings out of nowhere and I feel him pinch my left cheek. "Slut," he teases as he moves past me, and I realize that I've stopped, in the middle of the street, to stare after him.

He turns around upon noticing that I'm no longer beside him and questions me in a mocking voice, "Everything okay, dear?"

I shake my head and run to catch up with him. "Of course it is! I just didn't expect you to get kinky on me, hun!" I say, adopting a very high, light, rather flamboyant tone.

I ignore the strange looks from passersby we have attracted. I'm used to the attention; with these gorgeous looks, who wouldn't stare at me?

Not that I like the oldies lusting after my hot body.

He laughs, runs a hand up my chest, and gives me a lusty wink. "Of course I would! You know how desperately I long for your body."

Oh, holy Jesus. If he keeps going on this way, I'm going to have to make a pit stop on the way to the food court and sneak into the restroom to deal with a little problem. Not that it's little, or anything.

Either way, though, it's gonna happen.

I flutter my eyelashes at him a bit. "Ah, don't play with me," I pout, jutting out my lip and pushing half-heartedly on his shoulder, "I might get the wrong idea."

He pushes a possessive hand around my waist, brushing fingers over my side. "Or, perhaps, the right one," he murmurs suggestively.

I mock hit his shoulder. Well, not really mock, as I'm rather sure it hurts, as he scowls and releases his grip on my waist to grasp at his arm.

Nancy boy.

"Don't toy with my emotions, you cruel, cruel boy." I stick out my tongue at him teasingly, but there's a sincerity behind it I'm not sure he understands.

Apparently, he does pick up on it, as I should've known. He's only been my best friend for thirteen years, after all.

He steps up and once more wraps an arm around my waist, but this time it's more friendly of a grip, almost a hug. I'm sure that passersby are giving us very bizarre looks, as generally two straight (in this case one) guys don't go walking around places hugging each other in such a fashion, but either way we ignore it.

"You know I'd never do that to you," he assures me, and I want to respond, to yell out, "No?! Then what've you been doing for the past few months, if not fucking with my emotions?" but instead just nod and shrug his hand off. "Wouldn't want someone to see us and think we're more than we really are," I tell him with what I'm sure is a pathetic smile. I walk ahead of him, but I'm almost positive that I hear him sigh in disappointment and murmur bitterly, "No, we couldn't have that."

WOW! I managed to somehow sort of fix this chapter, so now it actually FLOWS (well, to some degree) as opposed to the awkward mess it was prior to this!

Sarrasanne: Thanks for the review! And yeah, that is the situation really...by the way, how did you come by your name? Sorry, mildly curious...

Aki to Tarou: Yeah, they are rather hopeless...and it must get obnoxious for onlookers to see them dance around each other. thanks for the review!

Lost in Thought 769: Well, here's more...not as soon as I would've liked, but here none the less...:D Thanks for the kind words!

Shadowroamer: Yeah, it'd be easier if they admitted it, but nowhere near as enjoyable for those witnessing their torment...or writing it, in my case. Glad you enjoyed!

Kailum: Glad you like, and I will definitely take your words to heart and try to add a bit more description...I don't think I did so well in that department this chapter, unfortunately...

Jadey bear: Thanks so much!

Instant-Soup: Thanks!

False Alarm: Aw, thanks! Yeah, they are rather sweet (and totally oblvious) when they joke around. And yeah, life would be so DULL if Tracy disappeared...trust me, even when they do break up (which will happen soon enough...if I get to writing), she'll still be firmly clinging to the story. Well, thanks for the kindness in the updating area, though I must say I really should be ordered to do it:D

ks darkstorm: Thanks for the review, glad you liked!

Miss Deelylah Rose: glad you enjoyed!

Amindaya: I'm glad you enjoy viewing both sides in the relationship...it's one of the things that I hate most in literature (and life, actually), to only view one character's side or feelings.

Firestar 267: Lol, well, I am rather slow at updating...and it doesn't mean you're stupid, as I do it all the time. And I prefer not to admit any such thing about myself, personally. :D I'm glad you like it...they are rather cute together, aren't they, if not a bit obnoxiously obvious.

Orangeena: Oh, wow, your review certainly was a great source of enjoyment. And you picked my very favorite line from that chapter out, too! Yeah, they both do need to gain some balls (haha...I almost said grab...though in the long run that might work too...)and tell the other. But I think they will accept the other's advances either way. :D

Sithmouse: Well, you now have your answer to your question! But part of it is, despite it all, he desperately craves his parents acceptance. Or did, at one time, and that continues to prompt his actions. I have a really close relationship with my parents, so I've never had this problem, but based on my best friend's relationship with her mother, I have seen that you would be willing to do a lot just to get their attention, their approval, so that factors in as well, on some understated level. And I'm very grateful you asked, actually. In the beginning, upon first imagining this story, I wasn't meaning to make Tracy such a hateful, overbearing character. I was actually not even going to make it as his parents forcing her...just him reluctantly agreeing, to be nice, basically. But then I started writing, and the fact that she was separating these two, and apparently hated Cale so much, kind of took me over, and I ended up absolutely DESPISING her, to tell you the truth! Anyway, I'm really glad you enjoyed the story thus far!

Thanks everyone for reviewing, and hopefully I'll be updating soon! Also, if anyone would like to see my story outline, I would really appreciate a bit of help fixing things here and there, running by chapter thoughts with someone. If you're interested, shoot me an email-my address is lady of masbelle hotmail . com (sans spaces, just so you know...in every part!)- or say something in your review! (Again, subtle hint to review!)

Love you all, and thanks for your continued support, despite the rather slow updates,

dreamerdoll