I skated with Derek and Ethan for about an hour, and it was a wonderful stress relief. Skating was my thing; I tried to skate any time I was upset. Usually it helped.

After Derek and Ethan left, I started to think about everything they had said. Started to think about what my mother had said. It made me angry, and I started skating faster and jumping higher. Why couldn't they understand that we were different? That Haeden and I were different? I didn't care what anyone else said. I didn't care what was normal or acceptable.

So sometimes I got hurt. Sometimes some of the stunt he pulled were really asinine. But when it came down to it, I loved him enough to endure his dependence and womanizing. If I loved him it was worth it, right?

I entertained thoughts like those for another hour or so, and when my phone rang I saw that it was just past ten. Haeden's number flashed on the screen and I answered it as I skated smoothly to the edge of the ice. "Hello?" my voice was softer and more strained than I wanted it to be.

"Shepard? Hey, I just stopped off at home and your mom is kinda going crazy. She said something about you," Haeden said all in one breath. He drew another and continued, "I'm sorry, Shep. For everything. I didn't want to hurt you."

I forced myself to laugh. "Mom's being dramatic. I'm fine."

"I dunno. Miss Cindy tore me a new one. It was intense."

"Really, I'm fine," I tried to reassure him.

He sighed, obviously not at all reassured. "Where are you?"


He laughed. "Point for me. I'm waiting outside."

I didn't think about how he got there; I just gratefully shed my skates and stuffed them into my bag. I pulled on my shoes and ran out the door, waving at the girl behind the counter. She was waiting for me to leave so she could close up.

I didn't have to go far; Haeden was leaning up against the wall next to the door with his phone to his ear and his eyes closed. I watched him for a moment, like I was on a nature walk and I was scared of scaring him off. He closed his phone without opening his eyes and I followed suit, walking forward in strides. When I was centimeters from his face he smiled and I kissed him.

It made me nervous, but I was sure it was exactly what he wanted from me at that moment. He wanted the reassurance. He wanted the affection. He wrapped his arms around me and squeezed. I ran my fingers through his wet hair. I tried not to think of him showering at some girl's house.

Nothing but our lips moved for a long time and when I pulled away from him the cold air on my face felt foreign. He looked at me and I felt like he was digging his fingers into my very soul.

"Haeden," I said, afraid to speak any louder than a whisper, "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For making things complicated."

"Complicated? You didn't do anything to make things complicated," Haeden's eyes were cloudy and distant, "I started all of this."

I didn't want to argue or try to claim blame. At that moment, I didn't even want to exist so I let myself melt into Haeden's arms until I was only mildly aware of my surroundings. When he scooped me up and carried me to Bumblebee I couldn't even will my eyes to open. I felt his warmth next to me.

"Comfortable..." I murmured.

"Yeah, I bought a mattress. Got it cheap at a yard sale."

I was too tired to ask him if he'd cleaned it. He was so warm and his breathing was even. I felt myself drifting off to sleep.

The last thing I heard him say was, "Goodnight, Shep, I love you."

I wanted to say something but I was already too far gone.

When I woke up, I was laying in my bed in my room alone. I wondered for a moment if the previous night had been a dream, but taped on my lamp was a note. It read, "Shepard, I took Mom and Miss Cindy to the bus station. Didn't wake you up. Your mom is pissed. Be home by lunch. -Haeden. P.S. Moved you into the bed. Car was too cold."

I looked at the my phone to see that it was half past ten. I had two messages as well, one from Ethan and one from Haeden.

Haeden's message instructed me to text him when I woke up, to which I replied, 'Morning.'

Ethan's read, 'OMG! I've got two tickets to this awesome show. It's a bunch of underground bands and it's kickass. Wanna come?'

My heart leapt at the idea. I hadn't been to a concert in a long time. 'For sure. When?'

I put my phone down and thought about texting Shirley, but she was probably in school. So instead, I ran a warm bath and poured half a bottle of children's cotton-candy bubble soap into it. I dug out my favorite jeans and t-shirt from my dresser and turned my stereo all the way up. I turned my phone off and undressed in front of the mirror.

I felt like I looked different but I couldn't figure out what had actually changed. Aesthetically, nothing about my body had changed so I decided it had to be my perception that had changed. I couldn't find any differences in that either. I was lean and in shape from hockey but small. I was toeing the line between lean and scrawny, in fact. My hair was a little too long and a little too messy. I needed to cut it. I could have used a tan.

I gave up and sunk down into the sudsy water. It was hot and my skin pinked immediately. My muscles released tension I hadn't realized they were holding. A long hot bath was so much more relaxing than a quick shower.

I closed my eyes and ducked my head under the water. My hair feathered around me and I almost felt like I could fall asleep. I smiled. Falling asleep under water would be a really bad idea. Though the music sounded really cool, all muffled and distorted.

I began to feel the need for air and brought my nose above the water. I heard a noise and turned to see that Haeden was using the restroom, standing shamelessly with his pants down even though I was in the room. I looked away.

It wasn't totally abnormal for Haeden to use the bathroom while I was in there but usually I wasn't caught unawares. It made me uncomfortable.

I retreated to the sanctuary under the water in a rather pathetic attempt to cover myself with bubbles. I closed my eyes and focused on the music. I heard a flush and peeked up from the water, but to my dismay, Haeden was leaning against the door frame with a smirk on his face.

"Why so embarrassed?"

"You...I..." I wasn't even sure what I wanted to say.

"It isn't like I've never seen you naked before, Shep. Lighten up."

I felt my face heating up and I said, "It's not that."

He crossed the room with a strong, deliberate strides and crouched at the side of the tub. "What is it then?"

"Nothing," I lied.

"I think you're lying." He was right. "Are you really so uncomfortable in front of me?"

I thought about it. It didn't really make me as uncomfortable for Haeden to see me naked as for me to see him. That realization hit me like a slap in the face and I searched my memories for a time I had seen Haeden totally naked. I couldn't think of one. I told him so.

He looked at me with a look of disbelief. "How do you sleep with someone and not see them naked? Did you have your eyes closed?"

"No! It's not like I didn't look at you...I just didn't look down there..." I replied, flustered and still embarrassed.

"Not at all?"

"No, not at all." My bubbles were disappearing.

"Why not?"

"It just makes me uncomfortable, all right?" I huffed, "It's nothing against you."

"Are you sure you're gay?"

"Yes! It's...it's just that you're...you're my best friend too, Haeden. Some things are still strange."

He looked at me solemnly for what seemed to be an eternity before he stood up and extended his hand to me. I looked at him incredulously. Did he expect me to stand up? He did. My face got even hotter but I took his hand and stood up.

The water swished and I felt it dripping off of me. Haeden's eyes were fixed on mine and they shone with a fire I hadn't seen before. I wondered if anyone had. He took a step back and pulled me; I followed.

I was nervous and he wasn't talking, but I knew nothing but to trust him. Something in the core of my being refused to let me doubt him.

He led me out of the bathroom and into the bedroom where he reclined onto the bed and pulled me down with him. As we were lying there, he wiped droplets of water off of my face and shoulders. "You aren't very subtle, you know."

"What do you mean?" I asked, trying and failing to keep a layer huskiness out of my voice.

"Just like that. You always let me know what you want whether you mean to or not."

I nodded, though I hadn't really processed his words. I was more focused on the fact that I was naked and soaking the sheets and Haeden was fully clothed underneath me. He was wearing layers. My hands found the hem of his jacket and pulled it off. He smiled at me, encouraging me to continue. So I did, removing each article of clothing with deliberation. When I reached the last, his underpants, my heart raced but I didn't lose my resolve. I removed them without looking away and even went so far as to place a kiss on his hip bone, looking up at Haeden's still fiery eyes.

"You shouldn't do things like that, Shepard," he said, his voice filled gravel and a wanton edge.

"Why not?" I asked, bringing myself up to be level with him. I laid kisses at the base of his neck and the dips in his collarbone.

"It makes my brain scramble and I don't want you to suffer the consequences of that."

"Mmmm," I hummed against the hard line of his jaw. "S'pose that makes sense."

I felt his lower regions stand up intently and knew that I had lost any chance of escape. I was okay with that. He flipped me over easily and set to kissing and nipping at my neck in a feverish manner that put my previous actions to shame.

"You make me so nervous, Shepard," he whispered in my ear, his tone contradicting the meaning behind his words.

"You make me nervous too," I admitted through gasping breaths.

With a devilish smile, Haeden set to torturing me in a way that I had never experienced before. His hands were everywhere and nowhere, making my entire body feel like it was on fire. He left hickeys and bites all over my torso and I didn't have the presence of mind to even ask him not to. I was lucky that our mothers were gone.

Every nerve in my body felt sharp and alert but my mind was swimming and I was only really half aware of everything that happened next. I registered the cap of something popping, but I didn't look at it and wasn't sure what it was. Then, I felt an intrusion that was still foreign to me; I wasn't sure it I would ever get used to it. It felt a lot better than it had after Halloween; I suspected that the popping cap was some sort of lubrication.

"Are you okay?" Haeden asked.

I forced my eyes open and nodded my head.

"Are you-"

I cut him off with a strangled gasp of frustration. "Shut the fuck up, okay?"

That was apparently the only encouragement he needed because before I had time to close my eyes again, his lips were against mine. His mouth moved, warm and wet, against mine as his fingers moved inside of me. I was scared I'd burst apart at the seams.

Just as I felt I could handle absolutely no more, Haeden removed his fingers and replaced them with something very different. I braced myself but was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't as painful as it had been. I tried to make mental note to tell Haeden that later.

But my mental notes scattered when Haeden rocked his hips against me, making my eyes flash white. I cried out and then tried to force my mouth firmly shut.

"Don't..." Haeden panted out, "It's just us right now."

Something inside of me growled excitedly and I shed just a few of my inhibitions. I pushed my hips forward to meet him and, again, he made quick work of me. Everything in me felt all jolted up and hot. In spite of myself, I tried not to muffle my voice; at first it was for Haeden's sake, but quickly it became effortless.

With one hard thrust, Haeden came with a sharp cry and I followed suit, and we both slumped down further into the bed.

"Not...not a bad way to start off the vacation, huh?" he asked though ragged breaths.

"We aren't on vacation," I reminded him.

"Mhm. Sure," his voice was clouding up with sleepiness.

I chuckled and laid my head on his chest. I let him fall asleep and soon enough, his even breathing put me to sleep as well.

a/n: Okay, so there's something I want to get out in the open. Is it super obvious how uncomfortable I am with male genitalia? I'm gay, which is part of the issue (haha). So the question arises, why do it? I think it furthers the story and portrays a level of intimacy that can't otherwise be be portrayed. (that's just my opinion) However, I wouldn't blame anyone for skimming the dialogue and skipping to the end; I know it's bad.