It started when I was young. I'd always thought he was so perfect. When we were little, he could do flips off the monkey bars. He could swing higher than anyone else on the swing set. His mom packed pudding in his lunch every day, and he ate it without a spoon. Haeden Brunswick was a demigod to me.

As we got older, it only got worse. He was Jewish; he had such curly hair. When we were young and he didn't have much of a choice, he wore it short. In a crew-cut, actually. But as we got older, he let it grow out. He wore it long; the longest bits touched the tips of his shoulder-blades. At the root, it almost pretended to be straight, but towards the bottom his hair wound in tight curls. It was really dark, but not quite black. Anyone else with Haeden's hair would look like a fool, but he looked amazing.

His eyes were wonderful too. They changed color on a whim, and it took me years to figure out the pattern. Blue when he was happy, gray when he was sad, green when he was sleepy, almost black when he was mad. (The rhyme was intentional. I made it up to remember the pattern.)

We'd been friends since before we could talk, and so had our mothers. Our grandmothers had taken piano lessons together when they were nine and had been best friends the rest of their lives. They'd died within a week of each other. Our mothers had been friends too, as a result of their mothers' friendship. And Haeden and I were a result of our mothers' friendship. Haeden's father had walked out before he'd been born, and mine had died of pneumonia when I was three. Our dads hadn't gotten along well at all. Mine had socked Haeden's in the face at the bus stop just before he left because Haeden's mom had been too busy crying and my mom had been too busy comforting her. Things had gotten tough when Dad died. Real tough. Like, 'we aren't going to make the rent, can we bunk with you?' tough. And they always let us, and we always let them. Our moms were just that close. So were we.

Haeden made me promise him that if we ever had kids, they'd be close like us. I knew I'd never have kids, but I made the promise anyway.

Haeden was three weeks and four hours older than me. Some odd amount of minutes too, but I didn't bother keeping track of those. We always had joint birthday parties, and he always invited more people than he was supposed to because I never invited enough. I never had many friends.

When we were twelve, I began to realize that my feelings for Haeden were beyond those of friendship. I cried when I told him, but we were close enough that I told him just as I realized it. He held me the entire time and made sure I knew he wasn't upset that we're both boys. I don't know how he knew that was the reason for my tears. He didn't tell me that my feelings were unreturned; he didn't have to. I'd known before I told him.

I didn't cry in front of Haeden again until we were thirteen and I saw him give his first kiss to Suzie Northman at the ice rink after hockey practice. I hated Suzie after that; she had both my dreams, Haeden and a figure skating outfit.

I could never explain why, but I loved to skate. My father had left me a pair of beaten skates, and even though I couldn't fit them until I was fifteen, they were my reason for trying it the first time. When Haeden and I turned six, I begged our moms to have our party at the rink. It was the only time I ever picked the venue for our party.

From the moment my skate hit the ice, I fell in love. I clung to both Haeden and the rail on the wall for dear life, but I loved it. In the roped-off center of the rink, I saw girls doing flips and spins, and I'd never wanted anything more in my life. Excluding Haeden.

I crossed the rope and tugged on the sleeve of the only stationary woman. I bombarded her with questions, all of which she was happy to answer, once she took me out of the roped area.

She told me that I could learn to do what those girls were doing and even more, if I really wanted to.

I ran to my mother, which was a feat for a six-year-old in skates for the first time, and begged for her to sign me up. My mother, and accepting but cautious woman, signed me up for hockey instead. I would never have stopped getting teased, had I learned to figure skate, but I think it would be worth it.

Not that I wasn't grateful. Haeden's mom signed him up too, and we fell in love with the sport. Haeden could never understand why I wasn't satisfied. I was better than everyone else on the team, even him, but I wanted more. He didn't understand my desire to be a figure skater. And I couldn't explain it to him, because neither did I.

That bugged him. Everything he didn't understand bugged him.

For example, and my favorite example at that, he had the hardest time understanding why I wasn't interesting in girls. By the time we were fifteen, he'd always point out the really pretty ones to me, and the weird ones too, and he never understood why I didn't show any interest.

I didn't like labels one bit, but declaring myself gay was the only way he would get it. And I suppose it wasn't a lie. He didn't point out girls to me after that, just guys.

He told me when he lost his virginity. To Suzie Northman. I wanted to kill that bitch. He'd never even dated her!

After that, it wasn't a stretch to say that Haeden was a pig. He slept with so many girls I lost track, and I wasn't the type to lose track of Haeden-related statistics.

He liked sex. Girls liked him. He didn't pay attention to the specifics beyond that, really.

It wasn't horrible though, not until junior year. In September, Haeden and I were sixteen. We were really starting to get excited about our birthdays in November, because our moms gave us a joint gift early. It was a car, one of those huge 70's style vans. We even put in a beaded curtain and an air mattress. I thought we did it for aesthetics and bragging rights, but I was wrong.

It was 8:49 a.m. when I saw Haeden outside the door of my physics classroom. He made eye contact and that was all I needed. I secured the bathroom pass and met him in the hallway.

He drug me by the hand to the bathroom, the broken down one by shop class. It was the prefect place to talk; no one ever came in and no one in the halls could hear us over the power tools.

"God, Shep, I'm so fucked."

Shepard is my name, by the way. Shepard Dylan Jameson.

"What's wrong?" I asked, keeping my voice lower than his. Power tools weren't as loud as he seemed to think they were.

He didn't answer; he just thrust a cell phone into my hands. After a moment, I looked down at the screen. It read, 'From: Summer. im pregnant, hayden. i know its urs. i gess the antibiotics i was takin fcked up my b-control. wat do i do?'

I frowned at the mispelling of Haeden's name before asking, "Summer? Like, daughter of my dear-late-granny's preacher, Summer?"

"The same."

"You're so fucked," I muttered.

"I know! Her dad's going to castrate me and nail me to a cross or something. And I don't give a damn what her daddy does for a living, no child of mind is growing up Methodist. Or anything but Jewish, for that matter. I don't know about your dear-late-granny, but mine would come back to haunt me if she had a Methodist grandbaby," Haeden ran his fingers through his hair.

"Did you reply to the text?" I asked quietly.

"I told her to do what she thinks is right," Haeden said, "But…I don't want her to have an abortion. I didn't tell her that, because it's her decision…but I really don't want her to have an abortion."

Despite what most people would believe about a guy that slept around so much and ended up knocking up a preacher's daughter, Haeden really did have morals.

I saw the tear fall down his cheek, but I pretended not to notice. I reached out for him carefully, and he let me pull him into my arms. He cried and I held him for the rest of the period. I texted a buddy and had him bring me the stuff I'd left in the classroom.

I texted Haeden's mother and then mine and had them call to sign us out of school. I drove Haeden to my house, where we changed into cotton pajamas, ate saltines dipped in peanut butter, and fell asleep on my bed reading comic books and watching soap operas.

Dr. Phil doesn't know anything about therapy.

Three days later, Summer texted Haeden to let him know she'd gotten an abortion. Her parents didn't know. Her friends didn't know. The only people that knew were her, her sister, and Haeden. She made it clear she wanted it to stay that way. I guess he didn't tell her he told me.

I don't know whether I love or hate Summer, but her decision started the roll of what I call the Comfort Kisses. When Haeden was depressed he was needy. He wanted peanut butter and something salty. He wanted sprite with lemon juice in it. He wanted to read comic books and watch TV about people whose lives were worse than his. He wanted to fall asleep next to someone that would put up with his whining; nine times out of ten it was me. He was clingy and dependant. And he liked to give me the sweetest, most tender kisses I would ever receive in my life.

As soon as Summer sent him that text, his face turned white and he ran into the bathroom where he proceeded to puke. He dropped his phone, and after I was done holding his hair, I read the text. Haeden couldn't talk, he couldn't cry, the boy wouldn't even open his eyes. I had to cancel a date for him and do his English homework.

When he finally wasn't shocked anymore, he was angry. Not at her, but at himself for being stupid enough not to use a condom. I didn't bother to say I-told-you-so like I did when he got that funny rash.

Then he was so, so sad. I hadn't seen him that sad since our grandmothers passed away when we were eleven.

I did everything I knew to do. We watched his favorite movies, listened to his favorite music, we ate his favorite foods and drank his favorite drinks. I got him wasted, and that was stupid. That made the poor guy's depression worse.

When he sobered up, he was unusually clingy. We were always close, but he was being clingy.

Finally, we were going to bed one night, and I was letting him sleep in mine, the way I always do. He cuddled up to me and wrapped the blankets around us tightly.

Then he whispered my name. "Shepard? Are you awake?" My real name, not some shortened version or nickname.

"Mhm," I whispered back without opening my eyes. The next thing I knew, his lips were on mine, and I had to open my eyes to make sure it wasn't a dream. I closed them again quickly, though, and immersed myself in the moment. I'd never kissed anyone else before that, and gods, was I shocked. My heart skipped a beat when I felt his tongue brush my lips, and I think he heard me swallow hard, because he giggled. Not chuckled, giggled. Cautiously, I parted my lips, and it didn't take him long at all to take advantage of it. He was like warm silk, not velvet like romance novels say. He traced over every part of my mouth before I worked up enough courage to move. My tongue met his, and though I didn't think a kiss could get deeper than this was, it did. I found my head swimming, but before I knew it, it was over.

I looked at him, and the look in his eyes told everything. He didn't care. He didn't love me. He didn't want me. He needed me at that moment; he needed anyone and I happened to be here. I was willing.

It tore me apart. It really did, but that kiss was gold, and there would be more to come, though I didn't know it at the time.

I didn't care that my heart was in two. I wouldn't have given my first kiss to anyone but him.

a/n: I'm going to try and tone down author's notes for this one because it's more serious...This is my therapy. In writing this, I hope to get over my Haeden. A lot of things in here are symbolic, though no one would ever pick up on the symbolisms. Like Shepard's name. His name is so full of symbolism that it's almost ungodly. Speaking of names, I haven't decided whether I love or hate Haeden's name. There isn't as much symbolism in his, but not a single other name fit. I toyed with a million other spellings before picking the one I did. Writers never take into consideration how much a character's name shows about their parents...Anyways, I'm rambling. Enjoy, reveiws would be nice. Happy 2010.