I've posted 2 chps. in this entry. I hope you enjoy, I hope I can finish posting this for all of you soon enough. Please review!

Twelve

(Written to "Lie to me" by Bon Jovi)

The apartment was dark when Gerald came home. It had been a long day; after Michael hit Sean they both had refused to talk about what happened. Trent took care of his boyfriend; calling Michael a beast and placing some ice on Sean's swollen jaw. Sean was lucky Michael didn't put his whole force into the punch or there would have been a trip to the dentist.

Gerald felt very uncomfortable and out of place, he was itching to leave, as he watched Trent tend to Sean's injury. Gerald had turned to Michael to demand an explanation, but Michael had rushed past him and out of the house before he could get a single word out. Trent was with Sean and Gerald just stood there. When he tried to leave Sean hadn't let him, saying that his brother's tantrums wouldn't ruin their day. Trent kept worrying about Sean and Sean pushed him away, his tone of voice was annoyed when he reassured Trent he was fine.

After a few minutes of tense silence they left the house, and after aimlessly walking for near an hour Gerald unconsciously steered them towards the beach. Trent complained he didn't like the sand, that he found it to be one of the most annoying types of dirt ever. Sean laughed at his boyfriend's complains and silenced him with a kiss on his nose. Gerald ignored them hypnotized by the waves that seemed to call him.

Trent continued to talk, he complained about the water being too cold, about how there had been an oil spill not far from the coast, how other animals and even humans sometimes used the water as a bathroom. Trent also continued to complain about the sand, how it's warmth would give him blisters if he took his shoes off, how if he didn't take his shoes off he would never get the sand in them out, he complained about the tar that was spilled around the beach and how he was sure he'd be the one to step on it.

Sean didn't hear any of it. He nodded along with him and gave him the appropriate smile or pout here and there, but he wasn't listening. Sean was staring towards the water the sun still high in the sky, its orange rays reflecting into the water. Truthfully Sean was paying attention to more than the beautiful setting, his eyes were trained on the small boy sitting on the sand. The boy whose shoes had been tied together and thrown over a shoulder, whose toes wiggled when the water hit them and didn't care that his pants were getting wet.

Sean cut of his boyfriends complain with another kiss, a quick kiss broken before Trent even knew what was going on. When Trent opened his eyes his boyfriend was sitting on the slightly wet sand, next to Gerald.

"I'm going to the coffee shop across the street," Trent called out. Sean looked back at him and smiled, assuring him they would be right there.

"I heard what you said to your brother." Gerald broke the silence. It didn't surprise him that Sean knew. He was a very attentive person and he never looked the other way. "It isn't his fault." Gerald didn't look towards Sean, his eyes stayed on the water, on the waves he wished were hitting against his body.

He explained to Sean that a part of him never wanted anyone to know, and even worse Michael. Michael had been his refuge, were he went to when he needed everything to be ok.

"I don't know exactly when everything changed. Maybe the day I noticed I had fallen in love with him." Gerald risked a look at Sean; he again found that the boy wasn't surprised at all. "Sean you can't blame him for not knowing things I never wanted him to."

Sean took a deep breath; feeling the salty sea air fill his lungs and for once knowing why it was that Gerald loved the sea so much. It calmed you.

"It's not about what he knew or what he didn't. It's about who he has become. He is so desperate to fit in with his so-called friends that the Michael you and me love and remember is gone. He used to be there under the surface, but now? I don't think he exists anymore."

They stayed silent watching the waves kiss the shore. There was nothing they could do. Sean was not going to forgive his brother, and Gerald? Gerald had given up.

It didn't take long to inspect the apartment and discover it was empty. Worry settled in the pit of his stomach, were could she be?

Gerald felt guilt growing in him; he was so lost in his stupid teenage drama that he had forgotten that his mother was sick at home. He should have been here to make sure she didn't leave; he should have been here to convince her to go see a doctor. Now, thanks to his stupidity she was out there, putting more poison into her body.

He needed to go search for her, he needed to stop her, because he couldn't live with out her. It wasn't time to sit home and wait for her to return, there was fresh blood on the toilet seat.

He hurried back out the door almost forgetting to lock it in his hurry. He stopped by Mrs. Harrison's to ask her to keep an eye out for his mom, but the door never opened. The street lights were on, she was always home once the sun was down.

Something deep in his heart told him that something was wrong, something was very wrong. Gerald ignored it finding reasons to justify Mrs. Harrison's and his mother's absence. Mrs. Harrison could have gone out with her son, and his mom went out almost every day. Nothing was different, nothing but the blood.

He pressed the elevator call bottom one time after another. The doors opened and he stepped in; his small body collided with a broad chest and his eyes looked up into infinite blue.

Yes he'd given up on him, but the relief he felt at having him near he couldn't deny. The flood of tears let out and he felt the strong arms hold him.

Something was wrong, he knew something was wrong and having someone else support his weight allowed him to cry his fears into the cotton shirt.

Michael didn't know what to say, so he just held his friend. With each sob he felt his heart break, with each tear he felt his resolve breaking.

"Why do you care so much for the freak?" His girlfriend's, his ex girlfriend's voice echoed in his head.

'Because I care about him more than I've ever cared for anyone.'

The elevator door closed and they stayed there holding each other.

"I need to go find her," Gerald said when he finally found his voice. "I need to bring her home."

"Calm down, tell me where to look for her and I'll help you." Gerald stepped away from Michael, wrapping his own arms around himself to replace Michaels.

"I don't know," His hand went to his forehead, trying hard to keep the tears at bay. There were so many places she could go to, even thinking she had stayed here in the Port, but she could have easily left, she could have gone to Oxnard, Ventura, Santa Barbara or even L.A. It'd be almost impossible to look for her; he didn't even know how long she had been gone for, how far she could have gone.

Michael pulled him back into his arms and pressed the open doors button. He practically carried Gerald back to his apartment. He said he'd stay there with him until his mom came home and that if by tomorrow afternoon they knew nothing of her they'd go to the police.

Gerald had grown up fearing the police, with the knowledge that they would take him away from his mother ingrained in him since very young. He shook his head no, panic surfing through his blood, he again wanted to go out and look for her. Michael held him close.

"We'll go," he agreed. He would drive all night long if he had to.

The moon was high in the sky and they continued to drive. They stopped at places Gerald knew his mom visited. They checked in alleys, the beach, and the pier and soon left the Port. In Ventura Beach Gerald spotted Ray. He had Michael stop the car and ran down to ask if he had seen his mother.

Ray gave Michael a curt nod and Michael returned a grimace. Ray had them follow him as he went to different bars and clubs he knew she frequent. The shops were beginning to close and the sun was peaking through the horizon when Michael with cold fear in his stomach suggested checking the hospitals.

They drove quietly back to Gerald's apartment Ray following them on his bike. Michael dialed the operator asking for the phone number to the closest hospital to the Port. The operator asked him to wait as they were connected and Gerald told Michael his mother's full name.

Michael wanted to say so many things, he wanted to apologize for even more, but he didn't think it was the appropriate time, so he kept quiet as the phone rang.

There was no need for Gerald to ask Michael what the hospital had said. He heard him asking what her condition was and he noticed that instead of right he had made a left. Tears welled up in his eyes; these things aren't supposed to happen.

Gerald kept quiet his eyes trained on the window.

"They said she was stable and that no other information could be released through the phone." Gerald nodded, wishing they could speed up.

When they arrived at the hospital, Ray was there to open Gerald's door. Michael bit his lip holding in his jealousy and willing his anger away.

'I've been selfish enough,' he thought. They moved into the building. Ray and Gerald stood back as Michael asked about Nina. The nurse pointed them down a long hall to the elevators.

Back in the metal box the air was tense. Ray kept and arm around Gerald's broken form and Michael searched for the right words. The ding came all too soon; Michael directed them towards the nurse station.

In the waiting room Mrs. Harrison and Arthur were waiting for Nina to be brought back from some test. They had spent almost all night in the hospital with her.

Gerald ran towards Mrs. Harrison falling into her like a small child. She held him close.

Nina had collapsed outside the apartment building sometime the day before while Gerald was out. Mrs. Harrison called the ambulance and then Arthur so he could go look for Gerald. Gerald wasn't at work and they didn't know were else to look. Arthur had gone by the apartment last night and left a note for Gerald.

Gerald figured the note was left sometime after he had left with Michael.

Nina had a bleeding ulcer in her esophagus, the reason for her vomiting blood. She had gone into shock from blood loss, but was doing better now after a transfusion. They were running different tests because the doctor had noticed an unnatural yellow tone to her skin and had confirmed it was due to Jaundice; they now had to check her liver.

Arthur quietly studied Gerald. He had Nina's eyes, well the slight almond shape, not the color. Arthur didn't want to but he tried to find anything in the boy that reminded him of himself. The color of their hair was the same, but then brown was very common color and the sun caused the slight highlights. He looked at Gerald's lips but that defined shape and pouting bottom lip was clearly Nina's. His jaw was square like Arthur's and they had the same dimples on the left cheek by the top lip.

When he saw the blond boy glaring at him, he noticed that it seemed like he was checking the teenager out. Arthur immediately removed his eyes from the brunet and offered to go fetch a nurse so she could better explain Nina's state to Gerald.

Michael offered to go get some coffee, but his friends pleading eyes begged him to stay. He took a seat next to Gerald, he wanted to place his arm over his shoulders, to pull Gerald towards him and say some words of comfort. He couldn't because the Gerald's shoulders were occupied by Ray's arm.

Arthur returned with the nurse while she explained what test Nina was getting done and what they were for, Arthur convinced his mom it was best if she went home to rest. She said good-bye to Gerald with a kiss and a hug making him promise that as soon as he heard something he would call her.

Gerald told his friends that they were free to go, they had been up all night and he was thankful, but didn't want to abuse their kindness. Michael completely refused to leave; he would only leave when Gerald left. Ray wanted to be as headstrong as Michael, but he had class in the afternoon and he didn't think just being there asleep in a chair would help anything; he offered to stop by Gerald's work and tell his boss he would be absent for a couple of days.

Gerald nodded adding to his list of worries what would he do with out his whole paycheck and now, a hospital bill.

Nina was returned to her room, she was heavily medicated and only managed to smile at her son before falling asleep. Gerald sat by her bed holding her hand. Michael gave them some privacy with the excuse of fetching more coffee.

Gerald cried against his mother's hand, telling her she needed to get well soon. Nina opened her eyes, maybe she heard his sobs or maybe she felt the wetness of his tears, but she awoke. She petted his head and shed a few tears herself. There was no doubt in her heart that she loved him, but there was also no doubt that she hadn't been the best of mothers.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered. Gerald wiped the tears off his eyes with the back of his hand and tried to smile at his mom.

"Just get better," he said. She smiled nodding back. She regretted her desire to never grow up; she had tried so hard to remain free and happy that she had forced her baby to grow to soon. She looked at Gerald as he rested his head on her lap, wishing she had been a better mother.

"I've loved you so much Gerald, don't ever doubt that." A yawn escaped her and Gerald stood to kiss her forehead.

"Rest I'll be here when you wake up." It wasn't like she had much of a choice her eyelids were too heavy to fight against.

Michael came back with two hot cups of coffee and a chocolate chip muffing. Gerald took the coffee, but he really didn't feel like eating anything. Michael insisted that he needed something in his organism if he planned on staying by his mother's side.

"They won't let you be here if you get sick."

"It's a hospital," Gerald answered rolling his eyes at Michael.

"Exactly and why would they want you here when you have your defenses low because you don't eat?" Gerald didn't have the energy or the will to continue with the discussion he took half of the very large muffin and ate it with his coffee.

They were silent for about fifteen minutes when Gerald decided to talk.

"You and Sean can't keep fighting like this. You guys use to be so close."

"I know. I need to apologize." Gerald was genuinely surprised, he thought Michael would … he didn't know what he expected but definitely not that. "I've been one big jack ass. I have to apologize to you too. That is why I was at your place."

"You don't need to apologize to me. What ever happened to our friendship was both our fault." Michael nodded. He looked into Gerald's eyes and knew there was much more he wanted to say. The words seemed lost, like someone had come and erased them from his mind.

He leaned in and Gerald didn't move. Michael moved closer and still Gerald didn't move. Michael kissed Gerald, and Gerald kissed him back.

Maybe it wasn't the right time or place to do it, but by god it was the right thing. Never had Michael felt a kiss like this. He never wanted it to end, he wanted every single lost word to be transferred into the kiss, every feeling, everything, but he wouldn't deepen it; they were in a hospital room.

Chills ran down his entire body when Gerald's small hand rested against his cheek. He sucked in the boys bottom lip and tasted love over Gerald's top lip. A surprised gasp escaped him when he felt a timid tongue slide between his lips. Gerald took the opportunity to explore Michael's mouth.

This had to be a dream; this had to be a hallucination. How could he have been so close to loose someone who meant the world to him, to simply regain the other being his world revolved around?

The kiss had to end and Michael rested his forehead against Gerald's. He felt the boy's warm breath against his lips and the whispered words thundered to his soul.

"I love you too." It came so natural, so real. It was the response Gerald deserved; it was the truth Michael had been hiding. "I love you too," he repeated, because god his lips loved saying those words and finally meaning them.


Thirteen

(Written partly to Teenagers by MCR)

Nina had liver cirrhosis, all the signs were there and a biopsy confirmed it. The news was devastating for Gerald. His knees grew weak and his breath short. Strong arms held him together and he had never been so grateful.

Their friendship had gone back to square one where they were always together, always laughing and telling each other, for the very first time, absolutely everything.

After Nina had been discharged from the hospital, the sleepovers from their child hood were transferred to Gerald's apartment. They both took care of Nina making sure she took her medicine and stayed away from alcohol. It was hard at times; they had to keep close watch on her. When she finally fell asleep the boys would sneak into Gerald's room.

They lay in bed kissing each other, exploring and tasting the others skin. Michael's experience helped him discover every sensitive spot on Gerald's body bringing the boy to the brink of insanity, but nothing more than touching happened.

They didn't only kiss they also talked. They talk about the past, Gerald told Michael about his mother about the crazy things she would do to 'make up' for disappearing or forgetting special dates like birthdays.

Michael would confess of all his jealousy driven stupidities, would tell him funny anecdotes about football practice and embarrassing things that had happened with girlfriends.

Gerald's whole world once more was Michael. He didn't have time for art or his friends. Michael wasn't ready to come out to everyone, still trying to come to terms that he was in fact in love and very, very attracted to another male. Gerald completely understood and never dreamed of forcing Michael to come out, he knew how hard it was. And so all his free time was dedicated to waiting for Michael to have time for him.

Michael bought him a cell phone; the whole paranoia thing with his mom would have been avoided if there were an easy way to contact him. It was a prepaid phone, and Gerald made sure to pay the premium before Michael ever had a chance.

The cell phone became something Gerald's friends grew to hate. Michael called Gerald every 10 minutes, to make sure he was ok, if he needed something, who he was with, and where he was. It wasn't short calls either Michael liked to keep Gerald on the phone for at least 10 minutes; he didn't care what Gerald was doing. He wanted to hear the boy's voice, to feel that he was just as important to Gerald, as Gerald was to him.

The first to know about Gerald and Michael was Sean. Michael left Gerald with his mom and went home to sleep and go to school the next day, he was also going to talk to Gerald's councilor at school and explain the absences.

Michael arrived home with a wide smile. He couldn't hide how happy he was. Sean was sitting in the family room playing a video game, he saw his brother enter from the corner of his eye, but did no motion to imply he had noticed him. Michael stood by the door watching Sean; a large smile on his face.

He sat next to Sean and stole the remote right out of his hands. Sean didn't know how Michael did that, he never saw it coming and it didn't matter how tight he held the damn thing. The channel was switch and Sean instead of bickering with Michael over it simply growled lowly and moved out of the room.

"I'm his boyfriend." Michael slowly moved his eyes from the TV towards Sean's frozen frame by the door. "Not only is he my best friend, I am also his boyfriend."

Sean turned narrowing his eyes at Michael. He tried to read his brothers expression but all he could see was smugness.

"Liar."

Michael smiled turning the TV off before standing up and moving towards Sean.

"Nope and my boyfriend asked me to apologize for that bruise" Michael pushed against Sean's sore chin. "I'm sorry," sarcasm dripped from the words.

"What are you playing at? Haven't you hurt him enough?" Sean felt an immense sadness, he always wanted Gerald to be happy, he wanted him to have anything he wanted even his brother if that was what would make him happy. "Don't hurt him anymore Michael, he's gone through enough."

Michael turned serious, somehow not expecting that reaction from his brother. He was expecting jealousy, screams. Not this acceptance.

"I won't hurt him. I want to protect him. Sean, Gerald is mine now and I'm going to take care of him. I love him." Michael smiled down at his brother, a genuine smile. "I really am sorry for hitting you." There was no sarcasm in the words this time.

"Eh," Sean shrugged. "I'm glad to hear you love him; I know he loves you too." They both smiled a small understanding between brothers. "Just, Michael, be careful with him. You're my brother but I will kill you if you hurt him, he's my friend."

"He doesn't need your protection anymore. He has me now. So no more hugs to comfort him, no more trips to your room…nothing more Sean. You are my brother but I will kill you if you touch him, he is mine."

Sean shook his head but didn't say anything. His brother wasn't a bad guy, he was just a little screwed up.

'He'll eventually figure it out...' Sean thought moving into his bedroom. 'I hope so'

Gerald missed several days of school to stay home with his mom. Ray was kind enough to find her an A.A group to join and Mrs. Harrison helped keep an eye on her once Gerald returned to school.

Nina promised her son she would quit drinking this time, but Gerald wasn't naïve, he could seem it, he could have endless hope but he wasn't naïve. He knew his mom could easily fall back, he knew that after so many years of abuse it would be almost impossible for her, but he still hoped.

On his first day back Gerald walked directly towards Sean's locker. Michael wasn't coming out to anyone and Gerald didn't want to put him on the spot. Sean and Trent as expected were putting up a little show by the open locker. Gerald cleared his throat.

Trent had a wide smile and took Gerald into a hug. Gerald was surprised looking towards Sean for an explanation, Sean just shrugged.

"Congrats," Trent said letting go, "it was about time."

Gerald didn't know what he was talking about and it took him a few minutes for everything to click together. Sean told him his brother had told him about it and he had told Trent.

Gerald smiled not hiding even in the slightest the fact that he truly was happy. He thanked Trent with a kiss in the cheek and asked them not to say anything, because he didn't want Michael to be outed or to feel pressured into coming out.

Michael walked by his brother's locker, he smiled at all three boys, he didn't look the other way, and he actually looked at them. He didn't say hello, but at least he smiled and gave Gerald a little wink.

Frank was standing by the bathrooms surrounded by his little group of friends. He called Michael over.

"We need to talk." He moved before the blond could answer down the hall and out to the back of the school. Frank was co-captain of the football team with Michael as the other captain. Frank turned a cigarette on and took several drags before turning towards Michael.

"There has been talk around school." Another drag, "You were absent several days last week…as well …as…" He cleared his throat, before dropping the cigarette and putting it off with the tip of his dark blue sneakers. Michael stood beside him, his hands in his pockets and eyes on the sky, the light blue sky.

"You have a position in this school," Frank continued. "The football team has an image and we as captains are expected to uphold it."

Michael couldn't help scoffing. An image, what image was Frank talking about, Sexist pigs, cavemen, and drunks?

Frank looked at Michael but didn't say anything about the noise.

"Heard you broke up with your girlfriend, my cousin still wants you."

"I'm not interested Frank." Michael rested his back against the wall. He kept his eyes on the sky and his mind on Gerald. He would take Gerald to the beach tonight watch the sunset together maybe take a swim. He smiled a bit thinking about how Gerald would laugh when the first cold wave of water would hit his warm skin.

"Dude, this last week or so you've pulled away from the team. Don't fuck around, we need to stay together and we need to stay strong. We've been doing good this season and I want to fucking win this year. It's our last and you know scouts will be here to see us. Don't fuck this up."

"My personal life will not intervene with football." Michael turned around deciding he'd had enough of Frank.

"Don't fuck up," Frank yelled behind him. He didn't like this; he didn't like this at all. Frank knew that a lot of his popularity depended on Michael, he would never admit to this, but he knew Michael was better looking. Most of his girlfriends were thanks to Michael, friends of Michael's girlfriends. Frank was seen as an extension of Michael and no chance in hell Frank was going to let his friend ruin their reputation.

Gerald's smile didn't go unnoticed by anyone. Everyone asked him about it, he would blush and avoid the question, but everyone knew someone special had entered his life.

Art class was his second to last period. He was humming while he broke up some blue glass he had found. He had a sketch of what he wanted to create, but he knew that no matter how much he planed a picture it would always take a life of its own. The bell rang and he didn't move lost in his thoughts as he separated the too large pieces from the too small. The classroom emptied, Sandra said bye to Gerald, but he didn't hear anything at all.

The teacher came up to him startling Gerald when he touched his shoulder. He looked around and blushed at the empty classroom. Mr. McCracken smiled and offered Gerald a pass for the next class, but first he wanted to talk to him.

"What are your plans for after high school?"

Plans for after high school? Gerald didn't have plans for after high school, he didn't have time to be thinking about after high school. College never even crossed his mind. How would he pay for it? The only thing he knew is that from part time in the coffee shop he would go into full time, hopefully get some benefits.

The teacher handed him some brochures.

"You have talent and I would hate to see it go to waste. There is an art show in four months; the winner gets a scholarship in to The Art College. I want you to enter it. I've already filled out the entry form. I need your signature and for you to start working on something or maybe even choose one of your pictures."

Gerald stared at his teacher; he couldn't utter a single word. A scholarship, college, talent, had he entered some parallel dimension?

The Art College was one of the most prestigious schools in the country, but it was in the West Coast.

"I can't," Gerald said dropping the pamphlets. He couldn't move across the country, what about his mom? What about Michael? He didn't know what Michael had planned for the future, but he doubt he would move away.

The teacher took everything and placed it back into the boy's hands, "Read it, think about it. Even if you don't take the scholarship winning this contest, even if it isn't first place would look great in your portfolio, it put your name on the map. Don't let your talent go to waste."

Gerald thanked the teacher and walked out with the papers. Not only had this conversation put College in Gerald's mind, but had also put the idea of making Art his profession. Could he do it? Did he really have the talent for it?

Gerald had won several contest held by the school, but this was different. He wouldn't be competing against his classmates; he'd be competing with thousands of artist from around the country; kids who had dedicated their lives to art who attended specialized schools.