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The Talon House



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Welcome to Collision! This is a round-robin story, written by a wide group of authors. Chapters by the authors listed below will be appearing regularly until the story is complete.

The Collision Crew

From Deweywriter: http://www.deweywriter.com/

James Savik* (Project Coordinator)



From Awesomedude: http://www.awesomedude.com/


From CRVBOY: http://www.crvboy.com/



From The Mail Crew: http://www.themailcrew.com/

Ryan Keith**

Guest Editor (for Ryan Keith's Chapters):

Aaron (of The Mail Crew) http://www.themailcrew.com/

Project Editor:

Talonrider of The Talon House: http://thetalon.ipbhost.com/

Special Thanks:

Robb- Thanks for Encouraging this effort and supporting it!

Dewey, Bubba and Mike- Thanks for your support and assistance!

Movieguy, Thanks for hosting the story.

Jan- Thanks for all of your effort! You made it work!

* - also hosted at Awesomedude.

** - also hosted at Awesomedude.


Chapter 1

Between the Darkness and Light

James Savik

Kelly was surrounded by gray, foggy silence. He could hear the occasional voice but was calmly disinterested. He thought that he was dead. That's the only thing that made any sense.

What happened, he asked himself. Try as he might, he could not focus. Remember, he commanded himself but he simply could not.

A memory did come to him: trig identities from Dr. Johnson's class. He tried to remember as many of them as he could before the darkness took him.

Was it a memory or a dream? He was riding his bike on a rough trail behind his friend. It was more the sort of trail that made the ride a long series of controlled crashes. Another friend berated him from behind to pick up the pace, slacker.

Someone was reading Tolkien in a friendly familiar voice. Oh good he though. One of my favorites.

He listened intently as The Fellowship of the Ring endured the long darkness of Moria and Gandalf fell into shadow while staring down a balrog at The Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Occasionally the voice reading the story would change.

After the disaster at the bridge, the Fellowship found respite in Lothlórien. Ah, Galadriel's land he though as he drifted off to sleep. He wished that he could be there.

Kelly was aware of someone holding his hand. He heard a voice, young and sad. He tried to focus on it but the gray mist shrouds around him were like a thick, heavy May fog. It sounded like his brother Todd.

Kelly knew that Todd would take his death hard. He though of what a cool little brother he had. Pesky and annoying at times but he was a senior now. He had grown up in a lot of ways in the past couple of years.

He heard another voice that had to be his best friend Blake Tanner. Inwardly he smiled thinking of "Too-Tall" Blake. He was so awkward and clumsy when they were kids- all legs and arms it seemed. Now he was still tall but he had grown into a confident and poised young man.

Blake sounded bad. Hang on Kelly, he exhorted. Don't you dare leave me slacker!

Only Blake called Kelly that. He silently wished that he could remember the punch line that went with the nickname.

Kelly's Mom and Dad took turns staying in the room: reading, talking or just tuning the TV to Kelly's favorite programs. Although Kelly loved them dearly, he didn't like the way they sounded. Their sadness made Kelly sad. His mother Sara couldn't hide the edge in her voice.

He knew that his big sister Jessie was there too. Even unconscious, he could still annoy her as he secretly relished the memory of every one of her shrieks and screams that one of his pranks would elicit. The frog stashed here, the white mouse in her dollhouse and that wonderful slime in a can. He wondered if they still made the stuff and made a mental note to get some more of it at his first opportunity. Pranking Jessie was just entirely too much fun.

He woke one afternoon to the sound of his friend Marcus Smith reading a passage from the Two Towers. King Theoden of Rohan had been delivered from Saruman's evil minion Grima Wormtounge and was setting the defense of his kingdom.

Marcus would make a good Ward of the Riddermark. Honorable to a fault, trustworthy and could probably heft a lance with some power. He wasn't bad on a mountain bike either- at least when he was paying attention.

Kelly and Marcus met by literally running into each other riding their BMX bikes on some wooded trails near their neighborhood. They both came around a blind turn and SMASH! They had seen all manner of stars because of the crash but got up laughing all the same. Kelly and Marcus were like that- always crashing into things and laughing about it.

After Marcus's voice had finished reading, another one of his old friends picked up where he had left off. Hiro Ozawa's voice reading Tolkien was the highest comedy. He had been a baby when his family had moved over from Japan but he still had a major accent that made Tolkien sound like anime.

After Hiro, it was Lisa Boyd's turn to read. She was the big sister of Todd's best friend Frank. Kelly had dated her occasionally. They were good friends but things were complicated. Lisa had made it clear that she wanted to be more than friends. She has a very pretty voice but it was very emotional like she was almost on the verge of tears.

Kelly drifted off into unconsciousness again.

When he became aware again he heard his Mom and Dad talking to what must have been a doctor. He told them that Kelly's condition was dicey. Head trauma was very tricky. He could wake up now or next week- there was just no way to know. The Doctor said that all signs were steadily improving and that given his youth and vitality that he was cautiously optimistic.

He drifted off again. Doctors were boring anyway.

The next time he became aware, there were people and voices around him that were unfamiliar. They were having a friendly chat with his family. They spoke in low, hushed tones that were both respectful and sensitive.

Kelly was glad that someone was talking to his parents. He could easily sense how worried they were. The oldest of the Yates boys, Kelly was absolutely fearless on his bike. He could do tricks that would make his Mom faint. Of course he had paid the price learning them in pain and road rash.

He had a dream about the time that he had gotten caught in a sudden storm out riding on trails. He got soaking wet and worse, everything was so slippery that he crashed three times getting home. When he did finally get home, his Mom hosed him off in the yard before she let him back in the house.

Someone brought a jam-box into his room with some of his favorite tunes. They played his favorite Nirvana CD, then Pearl Jam, Korn and Tool. Not as loud as he would have liked but it was sure better than nothing.

That had to be Blake or maybe Marcus. Screw it, bless whoever did it.

Kelly wanted to fall off into his CD collection. He didn't realize how much he listened to music until he missed it. In fact it was almost constant. In his car, on head phones riding his bike, while he was on his computer- all the time.

The next time he zoned back into consciousness, his friends were reading from the Two Towers again. He listened to the saga of the Battle for Helm's Deep.

Ouch! Something stung his arm. There was someone hovering over him doing something- something that has caused pain. Come to think of it, that had been the only thing that he had felt since... when?

How long had he been here? He had no idea. Long enough for his friends to read at least half of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy out loud. A week? Maybe two? There was simply no way to tell unless he woke up to find out.

Drifting again...

Something was in his mouth and he was choking on it. His body told him that he was choking but somehow he was getting air.

Unconscious again...

The Doctor's voice was strong and reassuring. Kelly was off the respirator and breathing on his own. It was an excellent sign. He heard his Dad thank the Doctor and his Mom sobbed softly.

Drifting again...

His friends were reading from the Two Towers again. The Ents were laying waste to Saruman's stronghold of Isengard and Merry and Pippen were enjoying the spoils of the battlefield. He opened one of his eyes and saw Marcus reading and Hiro sitting beside him on a small sofa. The room was dim but there was a lamp behind them. They did not notice his brief foray into consciousness. It didn't last too long and it made him very tired.

Kelly thought about Blake and their history together. He had been a very good friend for a long time. Considering how he felt about hospitals, his mere presence was proof of how good a friend he really was. Blake's mother had died after a protracted fight with breast cancer when he was fourteen. It had been very hard on him. Kelly's Mom Sara had been wonderful to him and had treated him as if he was one of her own.

Hiro had come into their circle when his family moved to Springfield during their sophomore year in high school. His Dad was a representative for a giant Japanese industrial combine that made everything from stereo receivers to dishwashers to heavy industrial machinery.

Not everybody appreciated Hiro. He was so smart that it was scary. In high school a lot of kids hated him for blowing all the grading curves in math. Kelly and Marcus just weren't that type. Rather than alienating Hiro, they gathered him into their small circle of friends where they benefited greatly from his inclusion in their study group- and found that he was a stand up guy despite the cultural differences.

He went back to sleep.

Blake's voice stirred him to consciousness. He didn't like the tone of it. Kelly knew that his old friend was tired, stressed out and sounding frazzled. He was sitting in a chair close to the bed and he was talking in a low voice.

Kelly couldn't really understand what his friend was saying but he knew that his friend sounded exhausted. He opened his eyes and saw him sitting beside the bed slumped over in a chair looking down with his elbows on his knees with his hands on the rail of the bed.

Kelly wanted to speak to him but his mouth was too dry and his throat hurt. He told his hand to touch Blake's hand and miracle- finally something worked.

Blake looked up and saw Kelly with his eyes open and trying to smile.

He grabbed Kelly's hand and said, "'Bout damned time you woke up Slacker." He then punched the nurses call button and said, "I think you might want to send someone down here. Kelly Yates is awake."

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors . Please include the authors name. Thank you.

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Chapter 2

What happened?


Kelly tried to speak, but all that came out was a weak croak. His throat felt like someone had rubbed it with sandpaper.

"Steady, Slacker," Blake said, "It's been a long time. Wait for the nurse to get here."

A long time, Kelly thought. What does that mean?

A nurse arrived soon afterwards. Absentmindedly pushing Blake into the background, Marcy Andrews quickly checked his blood pressure and temperature. Throughout the tests, she fired a series of questions and instructions at Kelly.

"Can you wiggle your fingers?

"Try to blink twice.

"Now try wiggling your toes."

Successfully completing the tasks she'd given him, Kelly decided to take the initiative. When he tried to speak again, though, she slipped a small piece of ice into his mouth.

"Suck on this before you try speaking. It'll soothe your throat."

"How is he?" Blake queried from the corner of the room.

Pausing in what she was doing, Marcy Andrews stared at the young man as she contemplated whether to ask him to leave. She was mildly embarrassed that she hadn't done that when she had first arrived. After a couple of seconds, she gave him a single, slow nod. She and Roberta Green, Kelly's other regular nurse, had observed Blake and his friends' dedication to Kelly and had been greatly impressed. That deserved a little bending of the hospital rules.

"Physically, he seems as good as can be expected."

Kelly pondered that statement. Somehow, it didn't sound good. He was in the hospital, he knew that much, but he didn't know why. Blake's statement had implied that he'd been here for some time.

Turning back to Kelly, the nurse put her arms on her hips and gave him a critical stare.

"Do you remember your name?"

Surprised at the question, Kelly nodded his head. The ice was removing the sandpaper feeling, but he wasn't ready to speak.

"Can you tell me what it is?"

"Kelly Yates," came the still croaky response.

With a smile, she placed a hand on Kelly's head.

"Settle down and rest. It looks like you are over the worst of it. Time to let your body and mind recover," she said gently.

Turning to Blake, she added, "And you should go home and get some sleep; you're having trouble keeping your eyes open. Kelly's out of his coma, so it's time for you to rest."

Wearily, Blake tried to argue, but a large yawn overtook him as soon as he opened his mouth. Conceding the truth in her statement, he nodded. Before he left, though, he stepped forward and gently squeezed Kelly's shoulder.

"Glad to have you back. See ya soon," he said, ending with another yawn. "Sorry, time to go to bed."

That short exchange left Kelly drained. There was a dull ache from his chest, but not enough to prevent exhaustion from dropping him back into a fitful sleep.

The faint sound of a quiet conversation drew Kelly out of his slumber. Eyes still closed, he heard his parents speaking to the doctor. He recognized the voice from the earlier period when he had been drifting in and out, unable to react.

As he heard the doctor say that Kelly was well on the way to recovery, and now it was just a case of seeing if there were any residual effects of the head trauma, Kelly forced his eyes open.

"Mom?" he whispered. He noticed that the sandpaper feeling had decreased to a mild irritation.

"Kelly!" she responded quickly. With a rush, she was at his side and holding his hand.

"Baby..." she began, before stopping when Kelly grimaced.

"Are you still in pain?" she asked quickly, before turning to the doctor accusingly. "You said he should be over most of it by now!"

"Mom," Kelly whispered, though he felt it was as loud as he could manage, "I'm not a baby anymore. Don't call me that."

"Sure, Kelly. Whatever you want," she replied soothingly. Behind her back, Dr. Roberts smiled gently before quietly withdrawing. The young man's family was what he needed now.

"What happened?" Kelly asked.

"You were in a car accident," his dad replied. "That was just over two weeks ago. You hit your head on the steering wheel and were bruised from the seat-belt, but otherwise fine."

"I seem to recall people reading to me," Kelly said faintly, closing his eyes to remove the strain of having to focus.

"All your friends have been here, taking it in shifts. Blake told us you loved Lord of the Rings, so that's what they've been reading," his mom explained, as she gently mopped his forehead with a damp cloth.

"I remember falling into the darkness in the Mines of Moria," Kelly stated in a distant voice. "I'm glad I managed to make my way through it. I wanted to make it to Lothlorian."

Unseen by the young man, his parents exchanged surprised glances. His mom then looked worriedly at her son, while his dad scowled and looked away. They both knew there was still a lot to get through. Coming out of the coma was only the first step. Their son was still confused, and the doctor had told them that any lingering effects from the head injury wouldn't be known until after Kelly regained consciousness.

For the next hour, they conversed on safe topics – how Kelly's siblings were doing and how his friends had rallied around – before a tentative knock on the door interrupted them.

Marcus stuck his head through the door.

"The nurse said we could see him, but only for a short time, and no more than two at once."

"Come on in," Kelly's mom said, rising to her feet. "I'm sure he'll be glad to see you." Turning back to her son, she added, "We'll be back later, son." With that, she leaned over and kissed him gently on his forehead.

Marcus and Hiro entered as Kelly's parents left. Kelly managed a weak smile. He was exhausted and ready to sleep again, but he wasn't going to give in while his friends were there.

"Not the best way of getting out of school," Marcus remarked, as he collapsed into the visitor's chair.

"I don't think that was my intention," Kelly replied dryly.

"When do you get out of here?" Hiro asked.

"They haven't told me yet," Kelly admitted. "I haven't been awake for that long."

"Well, make sure it isn't too long. We've got plans to take you to a game as soon as you get out," Marcus said enthusiastically. He knew how much of a sports fan Kelly was. If there was one thing that would bring his friend back to life, it would be watching sports.

Kelly gave the best grin he was capable of. "I'm looking forward to that. Watching a good football match will really help me recover."

Marcus stiffened in the chair, as his jaw dropped and his eyes opened wide. He quickly looked over at Hiro.

Following his gaze, Kelly saw Hiro frowning at him.

"What's wrong?"

"Football season finished months ago," Hiro answered slowly. He flicked a glance at Marcus before bringing his attention back to Kelly.

"It can't be," Kelly whispered hoarsely in disbelief. "I would remember...."

His voice faded into silence. While he could remember some games well, there was a vague recollection of other games. When he tried to focus on them, he found nothing – just a feeling that they were there, without knowing anything about them.

"What's the month," he asked faintly, afraid of the answer.

"April," Marcus answered.

Kelly lay back, staring at the ceiling. He struggled to recall the last football match. His two friends stayed silent as he thought.

"Six months," he eventually said forlornly. "I've lost six freakin' months."

After a short pause, he added in a lost and distant voice, "I can't even remember Christmas."

"The doctor said this might happen," Hiro said hesitantly. "You might have some problems with your memory. They should come back, though," he finished hopefully.

Kelly closed his eyes. He knew what presents he had intended to get everyone, but did he do it? His relationship with Lisa had been getting complicated. What had he said and done in those missing months? Were they still going out, or had they dropped back to just being good friends? He didn't know, and didn't know how to ask.

The pain of finding a gap in his life had shaken him. He was peripherally aware of Hiro and Marcus leaving, but he was too self-absorbed to say anything. Before too much longer exhaustion had taken matters out of his control, and he was sleeping again.

Over the next few days he started to regain his strength. There were longer periods of consciousness as his energy levels improved. As his dad had indicated, apart from bruising from the seatbelt, his only significant injury was that to his head. After a series of tests, Dr. Roberts announced no physical disability – which was the first time that Kelly learned that they had been concerned about his vision and his fine muscular control. The only outstanding effect was his memory: six months had just disappeared.

Kelly was aware that things had happened in that period, but he couldn't bring any of them to mind. It was like they were just around the corner of his mind – always out of sight, but their presence could be felt. His doctor said that there would be a good chance he would recall almost everything, but there were no promises.

As Kelly lay in bed, reading a book and wishing for time to speed up so that visiting hours would start, he heard a commotion outside his room.

"I'm sorry, sir, but you can't just barge in there," Roberta Green stated firmly.

Kelly smiled. Roberta, as she insisted he call her, was a plump little nurse with an incredibly wicked sense of humor. After he'd promised to deny all knowledge of the source, she'd kept him entertained with a string of dirty jokes that would've had the FCC shutting down any station that ever dared to air them. She was also extremely protective of her patients. With an almost sixth sense, she knew when he'd had enough and would quietly, but firmly, usher any visitors out.

"If the hospital administration had informed me that he'd regained consciousness, I would've been here days ago. This is a police investigation, and you're interfering," an angry voice responded.

Kelly stiffened. What were the police doing here? Was there something in those missing months that he hadn't been told about?

"I'm sorry, but you'll have to wait until Dr. Roberts gets here. Until then, you'll have to stay here. He's not going anywhere."

"Fine!" the other voice spat. "Get the doctor here, now. I've wasted enough time as it is."

Kelly could hear the noise of Nurse Green on the phone, but he couldn't make out what she was saying.

Taking a deep breath, and feeling a twinge from the fading bruises, he tried to be rational. It might not be about me, he thought with a faint hope, I'm not her only patient.

Deep down, though, he knew better. He doubted she had another patient who'd recently come out of a coma.

It wasn't long before things started to happen.

"About damn time," the disgruntled voice remarked, though with less anger than he'd used before. "She's told you what's going on?"

"Yes, Detective. As Mr. Yates' consulting physician, I have to advise you that if I think he can't take any more questions, I have the power to terminate the interrogation," Dr. Roberts said calmly, but firmly.

"I'm not an idiot, doctor! I know the rules. I've questioned witnesses and suspects in hospitals before," the detective responded, his temper clearly starting to rise.

Witnesses, Kelly thought with a sudden surge of hope. Maybe that's all it was. I'm the witness to something, and he's waiting to ask me about it.

He was staring expectedly at the door, when a broad middle-aged man marched in. The suit he was wearing had seen better days, with miscellaneous stains disfiguring both the jacket and the pants. Surprisingly, the shirt was clean and ironed, providing a sharp contrast to the slovenly appearance of the rest of the clothes.

"Kelly Yates?" he asked perfunctorily, as he approached to the side of the bed. A single glance had dismissed the chair from consideration.

Behind him, Dr. Roberts stepped into the room, but remained by the door. He gave Kelly a warm smile, but otherwise stayed silent.

Kelly nodded his head to the detective. He was cautious and didn't want to do or say anything wrong.

"I'm Detective Conner," the man announced, dragging out a small notepad from his pocket, and a pen from inside his jacket. "I'm investigating the crash that put you into the hospital. I have some questions for you."

"I don't remember anything about the accident," Kelly said cautiously, "but I'll answer any questions I can."

The detective scowled. Kelly edged imperceptibly away from the man. There was something about him that made Kelly nervous.

"You expect me to believe that you can't remember anything?" Detective Conner snarled sarcastically. "How convenient."

"Memory loss is not uncommon with head trauma," Dr. Roberts piped up from the corner. "Kelly's statement is quite reasonable."

The detective spun on his heels and took a step towards the doctor.

"I'll kindly ask you to refrain from commenting, doctor. It's bleeding hearts like you that put words into criminals' mouths, and makes my job harder."

Kelly stiffened with fear. What is this about? he wondered.

"There have been no charges laid," the doctor pointed out calmly, despite the intimidating presence the detective projected. "If there had been, we would've been informed."

Detective Conner stepped forward until he was right in front of the doctor.

"This man was the driver of the vehicle that killed his passenger. He was traveling at high speed when the accident occurred. He's being investigated for vehicular homicide. Because of him, Kyle Usher is dead, and I want to know what happened," Detective Conner stated angrily. "Until I learn otherwise, he's a suspect on a criminal charge."

Kelly looked blankly at the two of them, standing nose to nose, ignoring his presence, as they engaged in a contest of wills.

"Kyle who?" he asked, perplexed.

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. Please include the authors name. Thank you.

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Chapter 3

Kyle Who?

By Oz

The question still put Kelly into fits. It'd been three days since he'd come out of his coma, two since that detective had come to see him. He was grasping at straws trying to remember something, anything, from the last six months of his life, but the only thing he'd come up with so far was that he'd given his Mom a poster-sized collage of photos that he'd taken throughout the year at Christmas. She'd loved it. She had tears in her eyes as she gingerly took down the Monet print from over the fireplace in the family room and hung his collage up over the mantel.

What prompted this sudden revelation? She brought it to the hospital one day and he'd just blurted out, "Hey, I made that for you last Christmas!"

Dr. Roberts had suggested his friends and family bring in some familiar things of his to try to jar some memories. Sometimes, he said, familiar things make connections in the brain. So, as he looked around the room, he saw framed pictures of his family and friends covering every available surface.

He looked forlornly at a picture he'd taken at Kepler State Park of himself, Hiro, Blake, and Marcus, wondering when he might be able to get back on his bike again In the picture they were half-standing, half-leaning against the back of a limestone park bench with their bikes propped up off to the side.

That had been a day he'd never forget. It had rained cats and dogs the day before, but Blake called insisting they go out biking. It's what they did whenever there was a slow spot in the day. After much cajoling and a not-too-subtle guilt trip, Kelly had agreed to go. The picture was taken after the hellish ride through the underbrush. Everyone was covered from head to toe in mud and leaves and Blake had a scrape under his left eye from getting a little too friendly with a tree branch. Still, it had been a fun day, and one that Kelly cherished.

He glanced past that picture at all the loose photos of his friends pinned to the bulletin board and the frames that littered the tables to the stack of books and CD's that someone had hauled up from his bedroom. He chuckled to himself as he thought that there must now be more stuff up here than in his real room. It'd take them a U-Haul just to get it all back home.

He decided some music might break the endless cycle of boredom. He stood up, swaying slightly as a dizzy spell hit him, and walked over to the CD player. He put in Pearl Jam's Ten album and adjusted the volume to what he thought was an acceptable level before turning and flopping back on the uncomfortable hospital bed. The damned thing was so lumpy he was sure he'd have to have back surgery before he was even recovered from his accident.

Kyle who? He thought again about this mystery person as the beat of the music put him at ease. He couldn't remember having a friend, or an enemy for that matter, named Kyle. He searched his mind for the umpteenth time trying to bring anything to mind. No Kyle in his college courses as far as he knew, no one he worked with at Home Depot, no neighbors, no friends of friends or friends of relatives, no nothing! 'Kyle' just didn't register.

But it didn't matter that it didn't register. He'd killed him. That's what that boorish detective had said. They were in his car, the Camaro, apparently traveling in excess of ninety miles per hour when the crash happened according to the skid mark analysis. That much had been told to him. Wrapped around a tree, they'd said, impact on the passenger side. Mystery Kyle had been in the passenger seat without a seatbelt on, apparently reaching for something in the back seat when the crash happened.

But as much as he struggled with himself to remember who Kyle was and why he was in his car, he came up with nothing more than a mental picture of his gleaming blue baby under the sun in the driveway, which was not at all helpful.

Kelly was starting to get frustrated with himself. He wanted, no needed, to remember things that happened but his mind just wouldn't work.

Just as his frustration with himself started to turn into anger the door opened and Dr. Roberts walked in. He paused, shook his head once, and walked over to the CD player to turn down the volume.

"Hi, Kelly," he said, running his fingers through his hair. "I knew you were up when I could hear Pearl Jam blasting three floors down in the pediatric ward."

Kelly's face reddened involuntarily. "Sorry, Doc," he replied, "I didn't think it was that loud. I tried to adjust…"

Dr. Roberts laughed and held up his hand to stop Kelly. "That's OK, Kelly, it really wasn't that loud. The nurse called down to tell me you were awake. Just remember that there are other patients in the ward whose musical tastes might not jive with yours. Keep the tunes at or below conversation level, alright?

Kelly nodded as Dr. Roberts continued. "Good. Now tell me, any more memories come to the surface?"

"No," Kelly replied despondently, looking down his feet sticking out from under the hospital blanket. "I just can't seem to remember anything I have a feeling like I know it's there but I just can't grab it. It's like when you hear a song on the radio and you spend the entire day trying to remember the artist but nothing comes to mind. Know what I'm saying?"

"Yes, Kelly, I do." Dr. Roberts stood and patted Kelly lightly on the thigh "Just keep trying, and if you remember anything at all just make sure you let me know about it. You're making good progress, son, believe it or not. Everything will come back in time."

Kelly nodded again in agreement. "I just can't believe I killed somebody, Doc. I mean, if I hadn't been driving and Kyle whoever wasn't in my car, he'd still be alive and talking with his family today. I don't know what to think about that."

"Kelly," Dr. Roberts replied, sitting back down in the chair, "you didn't kill somebody, the car crash did. Remember that. In the mean time, I'm going to send somebody up to talk to you about this. I want you to be as honest about your feelings as you can, OK? It'll help you deal with some of this stuff, believe me. I know it's overwhelming."

"Thank you, Dr. Roberts. I think I need that."

"Get your rest, Kelly," Dr. Roberts said, "you're going to need it."

As the doctor left the room Kelly laid back against the pillow and tried to take a nap, Pearl Jam playing softly in the background.

Kelly looked across the table, laughing at a faceless friend on the other side. He didn't quite know where he was, but somehow that didn't seem important at the moment.

"What do you call a dog with no legs?" The friend had asked.

Kelly chuckled and shrugged. He knew this was going to be a bad, bad joke.

The faceless friend laughed out loud at the punch line even before he said it. "Why call him, he's not going to come anyway!"

Kelly groaned and leaned over the table to punch the faceless guy in the arm. "Dude," he said. "Stop. I can feel the bile rising in my throat already"

"I'm just getting started, Kel," the voice replied. "Where do you find a dog with no legs?"

He didn't wait for Kelly to respond before shouting out the punch line. "Exactly where you left him!"

Kelly groaned again and rolled his eyes. "Seriously, man, I'm going to throw up!"

He pushed his chair back from the table. "I'm going to go get us another beer. Be right back."

So that's where he was right now. In a bar. But with whom? He mentally inspected the guy that he'd just left sitting at the table but the face wouldn't show up. But he knew the voice from somewhere, of that he was sure.

He retrieved two Bud Light's from the bartender, tipping him generously as this was his fourth or fifth trip up to the bar that night. He turned and shuffled his way back to the table through the throng of people in the bar and back to the table

He plunked the bottles unceremoniously down on the table and flopped back down in the chair, taking a long swig from the bottle.

"Thanks, babe," the faceless friend replied. "This is just what the doctor ordered."

Babe? Why would this guy call him 'babe'?

He looked quizzically across the table at the blank space where the guy's face was supposed to be and asked, "Why the hell did you just call me 'babe'?"

Before the guy could answer the bar melted away, suddenly being replaced by the interior of the Camaro.

"Thanks for getting me out of there, babe." The faceless friend was back, this time in the passenger seat of Kelly's car.

"You just called me 'babe' again," Kelly replied, glancing over from the dash to the guy sitting on the other side of the car. "Why do you keep calling me 'babe'?"

"I just had to get out of there," Faceless went on, oblivious to Kelly's questions. "That guy gives me the creeps. It seems like everywhere I go, there he is. I don't know what's up with that."

What guy? Were they running away from something? Kelly wasn't sure, and faceless guy didn't seem to be forthcoming with any more details.

"What guy," he asked out loud, verbalizing his thoughts.

"I mean, it seems like he's following me everywhere. The other day in the bar I got a drink from an 'admirer' for God's sake! Then, I look down at the other end and there he is! I've never even talked to the guy, but here he is buying me drinks and at the worksite and even at the grocery store. He's everywhere and I can't seem to shake him!"

Kelly looked over to ask another question, but before he could get anything out the car was hit violently from behind sending the wheel spinning out of his hands.

"What the f**k was that?" Faceless yelled, spinning in his seat to look behind the car. "s**t! It's that guy! Floor it!"

Kelly was conscious only of shifting the gears, manipulating the pedals, and the sound of metal on metal as the car was repeatedly struck from behind even as his finely-tuned Camaro passed ninety miles an hour.

Faceless guy turned around again to look out the back window. "Go faster, Kelly, he's coming in for another run!"

Kelly shifted the car into third and floored the accelerator, pushing the tach to eight thousand and the speedometer over the one hundred mile per hour marker.

Kelly looked up, frantically searching ahead of him for an escape route. He didn't understand what was going on but he knew in his heart that if he didn't find away to lose this guy, whoever he was, or they were going to die.

He floored the pedal again, trying to put some distance between himself and the car behind him when his headlights swept across something in the road. Something that shouldn't be there.

"s**t! There's somebody in the road! Hold on!"

He jerked the wheel to the right and felt rather than heard the car spinning out of control, and then everything went blank.

Kelly woke up with a start, the stark white hospital blankets tangled around his sweaty torso He closed his eyes and laid back against the pillow willing his breathing to slow down and his heart rate back to normal.

"Have a bad dream?" a gravelly voice asked from next to his right ear.

Kelly shot back up from the pillows, spinning to his right and coming face to face with Detective Conner.

"What the f**k are you doing here?" Kelly asked, shrinking instinctively away from the Detective.

"I wanna know what you know, kid," Conner replied, running his hand over his balding pate. "Musta been some dream. You kept screaming 'Kyle, Kyle' over and over again. Don't give me that bullshit about not remembering. You know something. Spit it out."

"I don't know anything," Kelly spat, throwing his legs over the edge of the bed. "I told you I can't remember. You're not even supposed to be in here without Dr. Roberts' permission. Get out."

Kelly reached over and hit the call button on his bed and spoke into the speaker. "Roberta, get me Dr. Roberts. There's someone here that shouldn't be."

Detective Conner chuckled bitterly, standing and turning towards the door. "I'll find out what I want eventually, either here or on the witness stand, your choice."

Just then the door swung violently open and Dr. Roberts flew into the room, his face red with rage. "I told you you're not supposed to be here without supervision," he yelled, pointing a thin finger at Detective Conner's nose.

"Listen, you white-haired, good for nothing a******," Conner screamed, taking a menacing step closer to the doctor. "This kid murdered somebody, and I'm going to find out why, with or without your help!"

"I didn't murder anybody," Kelly roared, shooting out of his bed to join the argument. "I told you already I don't remember anything I'm sorry he died but it's not my f****** fault!"

"He's dead, kid," Conner yelled back, "and it is your fault!"

Kelly opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. His eyes rolled back into his head and his body collapsed to the floor, his limbs shaking wildly and his body seizing beyond his control. He lost bladder control and the stench of urine started to fill the room.

"s**t," Dr. Roberts yelled, pushing Detective Conner violently out of the way and skidding to a halt on his knees by Kelly's side. "Roberta, get in here! Kelly's having a seizure!"

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Chapter 4

"What have I done?"


"You're going to wear a hole in the carpet, son," Todd's dad said as he watched his youngest son walk back and forth across the emergency room lobby.

"Why haven't they told us anything?" Todd asked for the umpteenth time since they arrived. He stopped pacing for a minute as he looked at his folks, a pleading look on his face.

"They'll tell us as soon as they know something, honey," his mother answered. She held a handkerchief in her hands that she alternated between scrunching up and smoothing out.

Todd went back to his continued pacing as he thought about what brought him and his parents to the emergency room. The late night phone call from the police had woken his folks. He had been awake, only having snuck in a few minutes earlier. Yeah, he had a curfew, just like Kelly and his older sister Jessie had when they were in high school, but by the time he'd gotten to high school they'd not really enforced that rule. Not that it really mattered anyway since Kelly had shown him the ways to sneak into the house without alerting his folks. He hadn't been caught yet. Not even tonight when he'd arrived moments before the phone rang.

He didn't answer the phone when it rang, lest his answering it give away his late arrival. He'd heard his father's voice as the call detailing Kelly's accident came in. He had quickly jumped into bed and pulled the blankets over himself and pretended to be asleep. A rapid knock came seconds later followed by the door opening. His father told him that his older brother had been in a car accident and that they were transporting him to the hospital and then he left. He waited a minute then joined his folks for the trip to the hospital.

His continued pacing was interrupted by the arrival of the doctor. He came over to stand near his parents as the doctor introduced himself.

"Mr. and Mrs. Yates?" the doctor asked. When Todd's parents nodded he continued. "I'm Doctor Shaw."

"What's the word on Kelly?" she asked scrunching up her handkerchief again.

"It's touch and go at the moment. We've stabilized him for the time being but we need to keep an eye on him."

"Will he be alright?"

"It's too early to tell. He didn't have a lot of internal injuries that we could see and no broken bones. He was lucky - he was wearing his seatbelt. His passenger wasn't so lucky. He wasn't wearing his seatbelt and was ejected."

"When can we see him?" Kelly's father asked.

"He's resting now and he's in a coma so we won't know the full extent of his injuries until he comes out of it."

"You mean he might have brain damage?"

"It's possible. He had his seat belt on but he still hit the air bag pretty hard. We've moved him into ICU until we're sure he's stable. You can visit him one at a time but only for a few minutes. I'd recommend you go home, get some rest and come back tomorrow."

"I want to see my baby," Kelly's mom insisted.

"Certainly, but only for a few minutes and only one at a time." With that the doctor motioned the Yates family to follow him. He headed out of the lobby and thru a set of double doors marked ICU. He brought them down a dimly lit hallway. He stopped at the nurse's station and consulted a whiteboard hanging on the wall. "Kelly's in bay four. One at a time and no more than five minutes."

"Thank you doctor," Mr. Yates said taking the doctor's hand

"You're welcome," The doctor responded shaking back. "I'm sorry I didn't have more encouraging news. Goodnight."

Kelly's mom had made her way into the bay where her eldest son lay while the doctor and her husband finished up their conversation. Todd could tell by her sobs that his brother didn't look well. She stayed a few minutes longer than the doctor recommended. His father was next. Todd could hear his emotions as well. Kelly had always been Dad's favorite, Todd knew that. He didn't know why Kelly was his favorite, but he was. His father didn't stay as long as his mother had and like his mother, he asked Todd if he was sure that he wanted to see Kelly. Todd kept insisting that he wanted to see his brother But nothing his mother and father could say prepared him for the sight when he finally entered Kelly's bay.

The soft light in the corner of the room illuminated the bandaged face of his brother The steady beeping and whirring of the machines that he was hooked up to were the only sounds he could hear.

"Why?" Todd asked quietly, lest his parents hear him. "Why did you have to go out tonight? Why couldn't you stay in? Why couldn't you have gone out with Blake or Hiro?" He grabbed his brother's free hand and held it for a few minutes. His mother's arrival at the foot of the bed brought Todd back to the present.

"Honey," his mom spoke quietly. "We need to go now. Kelly needs his rest."

Todd nodded and leaned over the inert body of his brother and kissed his cheek. "I'm sorry," he whispered. He let go of his brother's hand and joined his mother. He took one last look at the form in the bed before he turned to leave.

The sounds of the birds chirping outside awoke Todd from his slumber. His eyes opened and he stretched as he returned to full consciousness. He sat up and stretched some more. The house was quiet, almost too quiet. He'd usually hear his brother in the morning or his folks but not this morning. He was beginning to wonder why he wasn't hearing the usual noises when the events of the previous evening came flooding back.

He jumped out of bed and headed downstairs. A note was leaning up against the centerpiece of the kitchen table. He picked up the note and read it.

"Todd - Your father and I went to the hospital. The doctor called and said they moved Kel into a regular room. See you soon. - Mom"

Todd took the moving of his brother as an encouraging sign and went back upstairs to take a shower before heading out.

Thirty minutes later he walked into the main entrance to Springfield General - "Where the sick get well and the well stay that way." He stopped at the information booth and inquired about his brother's location. Two elevator rides and several floors later he found the room and slowly opened the door. His parents and Doctor Roberts turned as he entered. His mother's eyes were red and puffy - she'd obviously been crying and his father looked forlorn

"Hello, Todd," Doctor Roberts greeted him. Doctor Roberts was a kindly older doctor who had a balding head, and what hair he did have was white. A pot belly couldn't be hidden by his white hospital coat and the bold tie that was his trademark completed his look. He had been his physician since birth.

"Hey Doc," Todd answered. "How's Kel?"

The doc looked at Kel's chart and looked at Kelly. "As I was just telling your folks, Kelly made remarkable improvement after you left to the point where we could move him to this room. He's still in a coma but other than that he's doing 100% better then when he was brought in."

"That's great."

"The ER doctor mentioned something about a passenger who had been in the car and killed. Do you know who it was? It wasn't Blake was it?" Mr. Yates asked.

"No, it wasn't Blake. I didn't recognize the name," Doc replied. "He wasn't one of my children. His name was Kevin or Korben or Kyle I think. I'm pretty sure it started with a 'K'."

"How long will he be out?" Todd's mother asked. Her husband's arm was around her and it looked as though he was keeping her upright If he removed the arm she would fall.

"It's hard to say. He took a good hit to the head so it might be a while The best thing you can do for Kelly is to talk to him, read to him, tell him what's going on outside. Studies indicate that a person in a coma can still process external input even though they don't respond. I'll be back later to check in on Kelly."

"Thank you, Doctor." Mr. Yates responded for his family.

Doc gave Mrs. Yates' shoulder a gentle squeeze and then left the room. She'd just pulled a chair over to Kelly's bedside when the door to the room swung open followed by a knock.

Todd watched as Blake, Kelly's best friend, Jeremy, his best friend and Hiro, a friend of all of them came quietly into the room. Todd moved over closer to them.

"Why didn't you call me, Toad?" Blake asked, his voice fraught with emotion, his face betraying his feelings.

"It just happened last night," Todd responded. "I'd not had a chance to call anyone yet. How'd you find out?"

"Dad heard it on the scanner. He asked me about it this morning. He thought it sounded like Kel's Camaro but he wasn't sure."


"What happened? Is he ok?" Hiro asked.

"I don't know much," Todd confessed. "Just that he was in an accident and was pretty banged up. Apparently there was someone else in the car with him and he didn't survive."

"Who?" Blake asked.

"Doc didn't know who it was. Kyle somebody. Kel's in a coma right now. They're not sure when he'll wake up. But he suggested that we read to him or talk to him. That might help."

Blake nodded and motioned Hiro to follow him. Jeremy stayed behind.

"Hey, bro," he said. "Haven't seen you in a while."

"Yeah, I've been busy. How have you been?"

"Same s**t, different day. You know."

"Yeah, I hear ya."

And so begin the vigil, as Todd would later come to refer to it as. Pretty much the entire visiting hours were filled with someone in Kelly's life reading, talking, playing music, whatever they felt like in the hopes that they'd be the one that would help Kelly to regain consciousness.

Two weeks later Kelly awoke. Todd was relieved when he heard the news. Yeah, Kelly had awoken, but to him it was six months earlier. It was the fall, and football season was in full swing. He was still trying to figure out what he was going to dress up as for his and Blake's Halloween party. He'd developed amnesia and he couldn't remember the past six months.

After Kel had regained consciousness the constant visitors had slowed down. Not for a lack of desire to see Kelly but for the simple fact that it was coming up on May and that meant finals. The teachers at the high school had been pretty lenient with Todd, Jeremy and the others from the High School that had been participating in the vigil but now that he was awake, they wanted them in class instead.

Todd was sitting in his afternoon English class learning about the finer points of grammar when the intercom squelched into life.

"Mr. O'Connor is Todd Yates there?"

Mr O'Connor sighed and put his chalk down. He hated these interruptions, especially when he was about to reveal an important piece of information to his students. "Yes, he is present."

"Would you please excuse him and have him report to the office?"

Mr O'Connor sighed again and motioned to Todd that he could leave. "He's on his way."

Todd grabbed his class materials and exited the class. A thousand thoughts ran through his head. Why did the office want to see him? He hadn't done anything wrong. At least nothing that could be traced back to him. Maybe it had something to do with Kelly. Maybe something had happened to him. Maybe they'd found out who Kyle was. Maybe it was that a****** of a detective that has been harassing Kelly and the rest of the family.

He reached the office still wondering what he had been called for. The secretary handed him an absence card. He looked at it perplexed and looked at the secretary much in the same manner.

"Your father called. Kelly had some sort of trouble and they've taken him in for emergency surgery. You've been excused to go to the hospital."

Todd muttered a thanks as he left and he then headed out to his car, his thoughts on his brother.

Twenty minutes later he arrived at the surgical waiting area to find his parents and older sister already there.

"What happened?" he asked as he joined them.

"Apparently Detective Conner paid a visit to Kelly and was harassing him about the accident. Kelly got up and was arguing with the detective when he suddenly collapsed with epileptic type seizures and he urinated on the floor. That's all we know."

Todd nodded and sat down next to his sister.

"Hey tadpole," she said greeting him. "How's school"

"It's ok." Jessie was the only one in the family that could call him that. She started calling him tadpole soon after Kelly had called him toad when they were younger. Kelly had trouble pronouncing certain letters and words when he was younger and one of the troubles he had was with the double d's in Todd's name. It came out sounding like "toad". The nickname had stuck and he was still occasionally called that by his family and close friends. Jessie had called him that until she had learned about the life cycle of the toad and realized they came from tadpoles.

"Figured out which schools you want to apply to yet?"

"A couple. I like U.C. Santa Cruz and B.C. but I'll probably end up at good ole Springfield U."

"Don't knock good ole SFU." She laughed.

Todd just nodded and they fell into a comfortable silence. Time soon found him in the same position as almost three weeks earlier, pacing back an forth like an expectant father from the old movies. He'd completed his 500th turn and was beginning to consider going pro at pacing when Doc appeared in his hospital scrubs. Both of his parents jumped up when he arrived.

"How is he?" Mrs. Yates asked.

"He's in recovery resting comfortably. He should be moved back to his room later tonight."

"What happened?" Jessie asked, joining her parents and Todd.

"Apparently the force of the crash caused the lap belt to bruise some of his lower abdomen and intestines. His movements earlier with Detective Dick, pardon my French, aggravated the bruises and caused him to start bleeding. The seizure was brought on by the stress of the accident and his general condition. He's not had another seizure and I'm hoping that it was just a one time incident. We had to operate to make sure that there weren't any other complications that hadn't shown themselves on the x-rays and ultra sounds that Doctor Shaw had done when he arrived in the emergency room.

"That's it, I'm calling Chief Lenoch. This has got to stop" Todd had watched his father as he'd gone from showing worry for his son to his showing anger at the detective for the way he was treating Kelly and causing him to require surgery.

"I've already got a call into the chief and I've instructed hospital security to not let detective Dick into his room."

"Thank you, Doctor."

"You're welcome. Now my advice to you would be to get some dinner and come back in a few hours. He should be out of recovery and back to his room around seven. He'll probably be a little groggy from the surgery so don't expect too much out of him."

Todd's stomach growled as if it had heard Doc's advice.

"That sounds like a good idea. Let's go kids."

It wasn't until several days after his surgery that Detective Dick, as Doc called him, reappeared in Kelly's hospital room with Doc in tow. Todd and Blake were visiting with Kelly and they were playing a game of Phase 10 when the two adults came into the room.

"This case gets curiouser and curiouser," Detective Conner exclaimed to the boys.

"How so detective?" Kelly responded. "I still don't know who this 'Kyle' is."

Todd and Blake looked at the detective.

"Well, Kyle was a passenger in your 1996 Camaro and according to the lab guys your car had been rear-ended that evening."

"When? I don't remember anything like that."

"Well, as near as the boys in the accident reconstruction unit can figure out, you were run off the road by Kyle's truck."

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. . Please include the authors name. Thank you.

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Chapter 5

Suspicions and Secrets

By Codey

Kelly looked at the detective with a puzzled look, "He was in my car and we were ran off the road by his truck? That doesn't make sense. How do they know that?"

"Kyle's truck was discovered behind a bar yesterday morning. The bar was a few miles from where you ran off the road. I'm sure you've heard of the Purple Onion."

"Yea, it's a gay bar West of town on the highway."

"It's more than a gay bar. College kids hang out there and hustle older johns to pick up some extra cash. You're a college guy, you know what it's like trying to party on the pittance your parents give you as an allowance. Do you go there often?" Conner asked with a smirk.

"I've never been there." Kelly responded with a hint of anger. "I know money's tight for some of the kids but I work for mine I've worked at the Springfield Home Depot since I was old enough to get a work permit."

"If you can't remember, then how do you know you've never been there?"

"I've only lost memory of the last six months. I know I was never there before then and I can't think of any reason I would've been there in the last six months."

"That's enough detective!" Dr. Roberts interrupted the increasingly heated exchange, "I agreed that you could see Kelly to let him know what you'd learned so far, not for you to upset him again with your attitude If you can't conduct this interview in a calmer and more professional manner, then you'll have to leave."

"OK, OK Doc, I'm just trying to do my job."

"If doing your job includes upsetting my patient again, the interview is over!"

Blake looked at the detective and asked, "Why did it take so long to find this other guys truck if it was involved?"

"We didn't know there was another vehicle involved, at first, so we weren't looking for it. I received an anonymous call yesterday telling me where the truck could be found and who it belonged to. I went out there and found the truck and it had considerable damage to the front end but looked as if it was still drivable. I noticed blue paint on the truck and called the accident reconstruction team."

"Another officer and I searched the truck while waiting for the reconstruction team and found a couple interesting things. There were three baggies of, what looks like marijuana, stuffed in the springs under the front seat as well as a .380 Beretta in a clip holster under the seat within easy reach of the driver. The gun was registered to Kyle Usher. I'm sure a clean cut young man, like yourself, would know nothing about drugs or guns though, would you?"

This brought a glare from Dr. Roberts and the detective quickly held up both hands in mock surrender

Conner continued, "After the reconstruction officers arrived, they found pieces of tail light lens on the gravel guard and evidence of three separate impacts. They went out to the accident site and about a quarter mile from where you left the road, they found blue paint and yellow paint on the guard rail. This indicates that both your car and the truck struck the guardrail. A few hundred feet later there was another spot on the guard rail where your car hit the rail and bounced off. There was yellow paint from the truck here too but it went several hundred feet indicating it stayed against the guardrail for a longer distance. It stopped about fifty feet from the point you left the road and where Usher was ejected from your car."

"It's been a little over three weeks now so there was very little we could learn from anything else at the scene."

Blake spoke up again, "Did you say Usher was ejected from Kelly's car?"


"Did the seat belt break?"

"He wasn't wearing one."

"You're slipping, Slacker." Blake said, turning to Kelly, "That's the first time I know of where you let someone in your car without fastening the seatbelt."

Kelly only nodded to his friend. He had been transfixed by the description of the accident that killed a man and very nearly killed him. He tried pulling up memories of what the detective had told them but they just weren't there. He wondered if they ever would be.

Todd was also affected by the telling. He was trying hard to maintain his composure but the thought of what Kelly had gone through, and was still going through, made it hard to hold back tears. The struggle was evident on his face but went unnoticed by the others.

"We've learned quite a bit about Usher and are learning more everyday." Conner went on, "He was a small time hood, always on the fringes but never one of the major players. He dabbled in drugs, as user and dealer, and also in prostitution, as hustler and pimping for others. He has a record of minor drug offenses but nothing serious enough to draw time for. He's suspected of pilfering from job sites where he worked as a casual laborer for different companies All in all not the type guy you'd want as a boyfriend."

Todd stood up and told Kelly he was thirsty and going to the cafeteria to get a coke and asked if he wanted him to bring him one when he came back. "Sure Toad, sounds good."

He couldn't help but notice the stricken look on Todd's face as he left and put it down to Todd's first encounter with death and the seriousness of the accident that had, nearly, cost him his only brother.

As Todd reached the elevator, the door opened and Jeremy stepped out. Seeing his best friend, Jeremy said, "Hello again stranger. We've seen more of each other in the last few weeks than in the last four or five months. I hope it doesn't take our friends being in the hospital for us to stay in touch." he said only half in jest.

"Yea." Todd answered, with a weak smile. "I was just on my way to get something to drink, want to come along?"

"Sounds like a plan, let me say hi to Kel and I'll be set to go."

"The detective is in there with him now. I'm bringing him back a coke so you can see him when we come back up."

"Ok, dude, let's go. It's been a while since we've talked so this will give us a chance to catch back up too."

In the hallway outside Kelly's room, Detective Conner and Dr. Roberts were talking. "How long will this amnesia, you say he has, last?"

"I say he has because he does. This is a fairly common after effect of head injury The time it will take, for him to recover his lost memories, is hard to determine Each case is different and some never recover them. I suspect, however, that Kelly's memory loss isn't permanent and he will make a full memory recovery. You have to realize, though, that his memory won't just suddenly come back. The normal process is that it will return in unconnected and unrelated chunks. There will be no particular order that it is restored, and it will be as confusing to him as not remembering is frustrating now. His brain will be trying to make sense of the chunks and it is extremely important that those around him not, unintentionally, plant false memories."

"False memories?"

"Yes. As his brain tries connecting and making sense of the memory he recovers, it can pick up on signals from others that it can use to logically connect those memories"

"So he would believe something that hadn't happened had happened?"

"Yes, the brain is logic based and it tries to put things in a logical order. If a part of a memory hasn't returned yet and he picks up a signal that something else happened that makes sense to his brain, it will use that sequence to connect the memories that have returned and the planted memory will be as real to him as the real memory. Since everything is in a logical order now, the brain may even stop trying to recover the true memory."

"So even if his memory returns, we won't be able to trust it?"

"No, I'm sorry if I gave that impression. As long as there's no outside interference, his memory will return at it's own pace and will be perfectly reliable. Or at least as reliable as anyone else's memory"

Detective Conner had a thoughtful look on his face as he turned to leave. "Thanks Doc." he said over his shoulder as he walked off down the corridor.

"I don't like that guy." Blake said after the doctor and Detective Conner left Kelly's room.

"Join the crowd." Kelly responded, "I don't think many people do."

"Well, just the same, I think you need to talk to your dad."

"About what? I don't remember a thing from the last six months. I want to know what happened in those months and the night of the accident just as much as Conner does."

"Yea, but I don't trust him. I think the a****** is trying to nail you for something. You need to talk to your dad about a lawyer to protect yourself. I think you should refuse to talk to him again until your memory is back."

"Look Slacker, your dad's in the insurance business. Your car was probably insured through him. Doesn't it make sense for him to have an insurance investigator look things over? Let him see if he agrees with the police version of how the accident happened?"

Kelly thought about what his friend was saying and had to admit he made a lot of sense. Until his memory came back, he had no way of knowing what he might have done. He couldn't think of any circumstance where he would have done anything grossly illegal but who knows what he might have stumbled into or took part in unknowingly?

"Yea, that makes sense Blake. I'll talk to dad this afternoon when he and mom come up to see me.

"There's one other thing that bothers me an awful lot, Slacker."

"What's that?"

"I don't want to scare you but think about what he thinks happened. If he's right and someone deliberately ran you off the road, someone was trying to kill one of you. You didn't die though so there's a live witness to what happened. Someone has killed once so why wouldn't they try to get rid of the witness too? That a******'s so sure you're guilty of something, he's doing nothing to protect you and your life could be in danger. I don't think you should be left alone until all this is figured out and I'm sure your parents will agree with me."

Kelly was more than startled by what Blake had said. The thought, that he might be in danger, had never entered his mind and was entirely plausible if what the detective had said was true. "Do you really think I'm in danger?"

"I don't know for sure but you could very well be."

"Maybe this is something that I shouldn't wait on. Do you think I should call dad and let him know what we think right now?"

"Yea, I think that's a good idea."

Kelly used the bedside phone to call his dad and relayed what they'd been told by Conner and then told him what he and Blake had come up with. After a few 'yea's' and 'OK's', he said, "OK dad, we'll see you in a little while."

"Well? What did he say?"

"He's going to call Jeremy's dad and see what he thinks and then come up to talk to us."

"Jeremy's dad is your family lawyer?"

"I don't think we have a family lawyer but he's dads lawyer for business deals."

Kelly looked at his best friend and decided to tell him about the dream he'd had just before his confrontation with the detective that had led to his seizure.

"It was just a dream, Slacker, it doesn't mean anything."

"But I remember someone bumping us and he said I was calling 'Kyle, Kyle', just before I woke up."

"You didn't remember anything Slacker, your dream was a reaction to some shocking news you'd been told. Maybe the part about being rear ended was a memory coming back but it was just a dream. Like a nightmare from watching scary movies. You do remember those don't you?" Blake said with an evil grin.

Kelly had to laugh at this. When they were a lot younger, Blake had loved scary movies, and the gorier the better. These almost always resulted in Kelly sleeping with his head under the blankets and trying to stay awake because of the nightmares he got from watching them. He'd finally outgrown this reaction but Blake never missed a chance to remind him of his "wimp days" if he was given an opening.



"If I asked you something personal, would you be honest with me?"

"We've always been honest with each other, Kel, I'm not about to change that now."

"Am I gay?"

"Why in the world would you think you're gay?"

"Well, I was with a gay guy and in the dream he was calling me babe. And I remember what we did when we were younger."

"Kelly, it was a freakin dream! Get that through your head! It doesn't mean anything! As for what we did, it was two friends playing with new toys. It was fun just like all the other things we did for fun. What we were doing was a normal activity for a lot of guys and didn't mean either of us are gay. As we got older, we grew out of that phase and we moved on to the next."

"No, I don't think you're gay. You didn't wake up one morning in the last few months suddenly gay. Being gay, or even confused, would be something you'd remember from before the accident. I don't think being gay is something that happens that quickly."

Kelly thought about this for a while and decided Blake was right. If he were gay, he would have had doubts long before the memory loss and would remember them.

"Besides, Slacker, we have something more important to worry about right now. What are we going to do about the hundred dollars you borrowed from me last month?"

"I borrowed money from you?" Blake was notorious among his friends for borrowing money. He always seemed to have forgotten his wallet or had spent all his allowance He always paid it back the first chance he got and it had become a running joke among the group of friends.

"Yep…don't you remember that either?" he asked with mirth clearly showing on his face.

Kelly, realizing Blake was pulling his leg, responded with a laugh, "Even if I did I'd pretend not to!"

As the two old friends talked about unimportant things while waiting for Kelly's dad, a thought kept gnawing at Kelly. Why the hell wasn't that guy wearing his seat belt in Kelly's car?

Jeremy found them an empty table and sat watching his friend waiting in line to get their drinks The two boys had become, almost, inseparable from their first meeting in first grade and, over the years, their friendship had grown into a comfortable companionship.

Over the years, they had played and fought with each other but the friendship was never threatened It was too valuable to both of them to let a minor disagreement ruin it.

Things had changed over the last few months and Jeremy was at a loss as to why. Todd had been withdrawing and even though they still talked on the phone, it seemed Todd was always busy and couldn't just hang out like they used to. He seemed to be sad a lot of the time and, more than once, Jeremy had noticed him looking at him with a confused expression on his face. Above all else, Jeremy wanted things to get back to where they were. He didn't want their friendship to end and he felt that, if it was going to be saved, he was going to have to, somehow, get Todd to tell him what was going on in his life.

Todd brought their drinks back to the table and sat down with a sigh. "Life is pretty rough these days, huh?" Jeremy asked.

"You don't know the half of it, Jer."

Sensing an opening to bring up their failing relationship, Jeremy said, "I would if you told me, Todd."

"What do you mean?" Todd asked warily.

"I mean we used to share everything. We had no secrets. When we started puberty, you were the first person to know about my hair and I was the first to know when you started growing pubes. You can't share many things more personal than that. These days we barely talk and haven't just sat and talked like this for several months."

"Something's going on in your life that's changing you and you're not letting me in. Has our friendship just gotten old for you and you want to move on? If so, tell me. Don't leave me hanging and worrying about you."

Todd looked stricken, "Oh God no, Jer! That's the last thing I want!"

"That's the direction we're heading, Todd. I can't be your best friend and help you through whatever is going on unless I know what it is. It's tearing our friendship apart."

"Maybe not knowing is best for our friendship. Maybe you wouldn't want to be my friend if you knew."

"There's nothing, short of you pushing me away, that would make me not be your friend. The way you're pushing me away now, makes it seem like you've lost your trust in me. Is that it?"

"No way, Jer, I'd trust you with my life."

"Then let me in. Let me be there for you."

Todd was thoughtful. He really did trust Jeremy and knew, in his heart, that even if he couldn't take the truth, he'd keep Todd's secret. Soon everyone would know anyway and that thought was tearing him apart inside. He did need his friend to lean on and hoped it didn't drive Jeremy away but he was going to learn it anyway. He decided that now was as good a time as any would ever be to tell Jeremy. It would probably be better for Jeremy to hear it from him instead of from someone else anyway.

"OK," he said, "but don't interrupt me until I finish. OK?"


As Todd told his story, Jeremy's face showed shock and compassion for his friend. This had been the last thing he would have thought and could see why Todd had been withdrawn and secretive.

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. Please include the authors name. Thank you.

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Chapter 6

When In Rome…


Things were moving too fast, much too fast for my liking. It was hard enough having to visit my brother upstairs in the hospital. But now, having to have this conversation with my best friend. At least, I hoped he was still my best friend after what I had to tell him.

I always knew I was different. I don't why, but I just knew. It wasn't anything that I could explain either. And I knew enough not to tell anyone that I was different. I learned that rather quickly too. Life can be a vicious teacher at times. It wasn't until I was twelve and Jeremy and I were spending the night at his house, as we often did during the summer that I discovered how I was different.

Jeremy, my oldest and best friend in the world. We'd been "buddied" up that first day of first grade. The teacher did that with the entire class. Everyone had a buddy. Wherever your buddy went, you went with them.

We went through grade school together and our bond of friendship was fortified even further. No matter what, we were together. It got to the point where if one of us was picked for a team, the other was automatically included. It didn't matter what it was, dodge ball, kick ball, soccer, whatever. You name it, we played on the same team.

We told each other everything, well, almost everything. I didn't tell Jeremy about my feelings of being different. I don't know why I didn't, at least not with him. I figured out early on not to tell anyone else, but I couldn't figure out why that extended to him as well. He knew me, or at least it seemed like he knew me, better than anyone. Better than my parents, better than my brother and sister, and even better than myself. But, he didn't know this. At least I don't think he knew. If he did, or at least suspected, he never said anything.

Like I said, I never knew what it was about me that was different, at least not until that night, when we were twelve. It had gotten to the point that our parents stopped trying to get us to go to bed at a decent hour when we slept over, even during the school year. Try as they might they couldn't get us to go to bed. We'd stay up talking, watching TV, whatever. So finally they stopped trying.

Late one night, when we were twelve we were watching TV cause his parents had just gotten satellite TV and they had all the channels. We were flipping by one of the movie channels, HBO, Cinemax, Showtime; I don't remember which one it was. But they had this movie on. It was some British movie called "Beautiful Thing". We watched a small part of it, curious to see what it was about. It was at that point that I realized what I was, why I felt different. Being typical kids, we didn't watch the rest of it, we just flipped around until we made our way back to MTV2 and they had a video on for a band we liked. So we left it there. Neither of us said anything to the other about the movie, but something for me clicked.

The feelings of being different stayed with me as we finished out Junior High School and went into High School. Our high school was huge. We shared it with several of the surrounding communities. We each had our own grade school and Junior High, but they decided to combine the communities for High School. It worked ok I guess. It just meant that the sports teams had to travel further to play opponents since all the closest towns were already together.

I still felt the feelings but I didn't do much about them. I'm not sure why that was, maybe because I was scared of what I was, or maybe it was because I was afraid of being discovered. Maybe it was both, I wasn't really sure. It wasn't until my brother Kelly graduated from High School and went to the local college that I was really able to learn about myself, discover what I could.

You see, we never had a real computer at home. Well, we had a computer, but it was Dad and Mom's work computer. Both Dad and Mom worked out of the house. Dad sold insurance and Mom ran the office. It wasn't until my brother went to college that Dad finally relented and bought a computer for the house. Jessie had moved out, so it was really a computer for both of us. Kelly kept it in his room but he told me I could use it whenever I wanted.

The computer opened up a whole new world for me. I'd used a computer at school and at Jeremy's but I didn't dare look for anything that I really wanted to look for. The last thing I wanted was for someone to come up behind me and see what I was doing. I'm sure Jeremy would have been ok with it, but I wasn't sure about his parents. Plus I wasn't ready to tell anyone yet, not my brother, not my folks, not Jeremy. Hell, I wasn't even ready to tell myself.

I used the computer in Kelly's room whenever I could, especially if he wasn't around. I covered my tracks as best I could. I kept it clean, or so I hoped. I finally admitted it to myself a few months ago, and it was shortly after that I met Kyle. I ended up spending a lot of my free time with Kyle, to the expense of my other friendships, especially Jeremy. It got harder and harder to come up with excuses as to why I couldn't do something with him, or why I wasn't around. I felt bad too, but I wasn't ready to admit this part of myself to him or to my family. When I finally did tell someone, it didn't go well. It was after that disaster that I decided I wasn't telling anyone else. But now with my brother in the hospital, Kyle dead and Jeremy wondering what's been going on, it looked as though my decision is going to be overturned. I just hoped that it would go better the second time.

"Hey bro, you in there?" Jeremy's voice brought me out of my thoughts. He was waiting for me to tell him, waiting for me to give him the reason why I'd been distant, and all that these last months.

"Yeah, I'm here," I answered taking another swig of my soda. It still wasn't helping to calm my nerves. "This is just hard, you know?"

Jeremy nodded. "Whatever it is, you can tell me. We're best friends, right?"


"So what's going on?"

I leaned forward in my chair, getting closer to Jeremy. He did the same thing. "You remember that first night your folks got satellite TV?" I asked, lowering my voice so others couldn't hear me.

"Yeah. We stayed up until like four in the morning just surfing and watching videos and stuff."

"Do you remember that movie we stumbled across?"

"No. What movie?"

"It was called 'Beautiful Thing'."

"Never heard of it."

"I hadn't either, until that night."

"What does that movie have to do with what's going on?"

"A lot. You promise to hear me out, to let me say all I need to say?"

"Of course, I already told you that."

As I got ready to open up my heart to Jeremy, an older couple ended up sitting at the table right next to us. The entire cafeteria was available to them and they had to sit right next to us. "Let's go outside," I said. Yeah, I know, I was delaying. I was having a tough time telling him.

Jeremy nodded and got up. We each grabbed our empty soda cans and headed out of the cafeteria. We walked in silence through the hospital until we came to the main entrance. We walked through the sliding doors and hooked a left. The grounds had a small garden area for patients and guests to get out of the sterile environment of the hospital. We entered the garden area and the rest of the world seemed to disappear. We continued further in until we came to a secluded bench. We couldn't see anyone else around us. Jeremy sat first and then I dropped into the seat.

"So what's going on? Why have you been so distant lately? Is it something I did? That I didn't do?"

I clasped my hands together and then separated them. This was harder then I thought. "You have to promise me that you won't tell anyone what I'm about to tell you. Not about anything."

"You make it sound so serious," Jeremy joked.

"It is serious, I am serious. If you can't make that promise then I can't tell you." I started to get up from the bench.

Jeremy reached out and grabbed my arm. "Ok, bro, I promise I won't tell anyone. Now what's going on?"

I sat back down and looked down at the ground. "I..." I was having a hard time saying it. "Up until the accident, Kyle Usher was my boyfriend."

"Your what?" Jeremy said. "Wait... Does this mean..."

I looked away from him. "Yeah, I'm gay, Jeremy." There, I'd said it. I'd just told my best friend my biggest secret. Here's to hoping it goes better than the last person I told. Jeremy just sat there for a minute or two, but it seemed like forever. I wanted him to say something, needed him to say something, anything.

"How long..." He started to ask, quietly.

"...Have I known?" I finished the sentence for him. He nodded. "Forever I guess. At least it seems that way. I've always had this feeling of being different. But I could never explain it. It's always been with me. It wasn't until that night, the night your folks got the satellite TV that I realized what it was. That short bit of movie explained it all to me. Made me realize what I was."

"So how come you never said anything?"

"Cause I wasn't ready. Hell, I'm still not ready, but given everything that's gone on, I have to get ready. It's going to come out eventually. Plus I was afraid. Especially after I started learning more about it."

"Afraid of what?"

"Of what people would say, what they would do." I paused. "Of how you'd react," I added, quietly.

"How I'd react?" He responded. "How did you think I'd react?" His hurt in his voice showed his feelings.

"I don't know. I'd hope you'd react and say it's no big deal and that we'd still be friends. But all this stuff I found on line, all these news stories I read showing how people react to having a gay friend kept me from saying anything. The last thing in the world I want is to lose you as a friend, especially as a best friend. You've always been there for me, and I want that to continue. Especially now."

"So is that why you've been so busy, so distant recently?"

I shifted my position on the bench. Like the seats inside, these weren't that comfortable and not made for sitting for more than a few minutes. "Yeah. I'd finally had enough and I started hanging out in some gay teen rooms, and other rooms like that on IRC. I started talking to other kids like me. It was in one of these rooms that I met Kyle. We chatted a lot at first on the computer and then via cell phone. I wasn't ready to come out to you, and I'm still not, so I kept my distance. I hated it, but I didn't know what else to do."

"Why did you think you couldn't tell me?"

"Cause I was afraid, afraid of how you might act, of what you might say. I was afraid of you rejecting me, of hating me for something I don't have any control over."

"I wouldn't reject you, Todd. You're my brother."

"I know, and I appreciate that, but I didn't know that for certain. And it's not like I could find out without telling you about myself. I've seen what the high school kids are like; I've seen what can happen. Look at Matthew Shepard. Look at what happened to him."

I stood up, stretched and walked across the walkway to the maple tree that shaded the bench. A slight breeze had picked up and had dropped the temperature a few degrees. "I couldn't risk that happening to me. I can't risk that. I took a big risk in meeting up with Kyle and I'm taking a bigger risk in telling you."

"Why is telling me a bigger risk then meeting this Kyle guy?"

"Cause until the accident, nobody I know knew who Kyle was. There wasn't any chance of him running into someone that I know. There wasn't any chance of someone I know seeing me with him. We were always careful about where we met, where we went. He was only out to a couple of people. I met them once. They seemed nice but we didn't spend a lot of time with his friends."

"You still haven't answered my question." Jer sounded a little angry.

"Cause I couldn't predict what would happen, I couldn't tell what you'd do. If you hated me because of what I am, look at the damage you could do. You could tell my family. You could tell our friends. My life could become a living hell because I told you."

"I'm hurt that you'd even think that."

"I'm sorry. I know it doesn't sound like a friend to think that way, but this isn't like I took your bike or I took the last cherry Popsicle. This is bigger than that, bigger than us. I wanted to think that you'd be ok with it, but I didn't know for sure."

I stopped talking and he didn't say anything. I stood looking at the tree and he was still on the bench. How he could still be sitting on that, I'd never understand. Maybe cause he's not as tall and I am. I was pretty tall, on the basketball team you know. Maybe that's got something to do with it.

"Since we're being honest here," he finally said, quietly. "I've been wondering if you were."

I turned around to face him. His expression was a mix of concern and guilt. "You have?"



"Cause of the fact you seemed to shut down toward me, blocked me from your life. Besides the fact that you've not dated any of the girls in school, nor shown any interest them."

"Am I that obvious?"

"Only to me bro, only to me. I don't think anyone else had noticed." He paused. "Did you love him? Did he love you?"

"I don't know. I liked him, I really did. He was funny, sweet and had the cutest smile. I think I might have been falling in love with him, but I'm not sure. And now I'll never know. This sucks. I can't say anything about Kyle, unless I want to give myself away, but I have a feeling I'm going to have to. I can't publicly morn him otherwise people will know. I can't attend his funeral cause then people would know. I can't do anything but cry privately."

I moved over to the bench and sat back down. Silence fell between us once again. I don't know what Jeremy was thinking but I was thinking about the fact that I had shut him out, that I hadn't had the guts to trust him with this. I should have known that I could trust him. I think I did but part of me didn't want to believe it. The part that read all the stuff on the web about kids who came out and lost everything because of that.

"Can I ask you something?" He finally said.

"Of course," I replied.

"Have you ever thought about killing yourself?"

"What? Why would you ask that?"

"Cause like you, I've spent some time on the computer too. When I first started thinking that you might be, I did some digging around on the web and one of things I kept finding was that gay teenagers had a much higher rate of suicide then straight teenagers."

I looked at Jer again, his previous expression was replaced by one of fear. "I saw those statistics too. No, I never considered suicide. I'm too much of a wuss to. You know I hate pain and the thought of doing something painful like suicide doesn't appeal to me." I looked down at my watch. We'd been out there longer than I expected. I stood up and Jer stood as well. "We should probably get back in before they wonder what happened to us. We ok?" He leaned into me and grabbed me in a hug.

"Of course."

I hugged him back before releasing him. We started heading out of the garden and back to the hospital entrance.

"I do have a question though," he said as we reached the entry doors. "What was Kyle doing in Kelly's car?"

I turned to look at him. "That's a good question. I don't know."

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 7

Who Knows Kyle?


Jeremy and I stood there, in the middle of this long hallway of Springfield General, staring at each other. I suppose he was also trying to figure out one of many reasons why Kyle had been in Kel's car.

While I thought, how did they know each other? Was it just a coincidence?

When Jeremy touched my arm, I looked at him again. His lips were curved into a soft smile

"Let's go, bro. We'll talk about it later. Kelly's probably wondering where we went?"

I had a lot to think about, but I didn't know where to start.

As we turned the corner, I saw Dad speaking to a guy. Dad looked tense. I heard the tail of their conversation, and figured out this guy was a cop, too, and Dad was thanking him.

"Dad, what's going on?"

"Detective Conner said they think someone hit Kelly's car."

"I heard that. I was there with Kel."

"Yes, apparently Blake thought if someone wanted to kill both your brother and the other kid, your brother might still be in danger if their attacker returns. I was speaking to the cops to get some protection for Kel until they find the criminal."

I looked at Dad dumbfounded. I never thought of that. And Dad didn't look good at all. I could see the lines around his eyes hardening, his eyebrows creased together. I heard Jeremy speaking.

"Why would anyone want to kill Kelly?"

"I don't know, Jeremy. It might be the other kid who they wanted to kill. Maybe Kelly got caught in the middle?"

I felt my stomach rolling. I needed air.

"I'll be going back to the office soon. I have to talk to Thomas to investigate Kelly's car for insurance. He'll be able to let me know if he found anything unusual"

We both nodded.

"Jeremy, Todd, please stay with Kelly until the cops arrive. Blake is also staying here. Detective Johnson said the cops will be here in a few minutes."

We both nodded again and Dad hugged both of us before slipping into Kel's room.

I saw myself standing at the foot of a dark mountain. I touched a rock to steady myself. Cool winds blew around me as if nature wants to push me back. My instincts told me to look back and then I looked down. I could see the valley down there where I'd stood just a minute ago. I stood on top of the dark mountain.

A faint sound of a muffled cry jerked my body as I looked straight ahead.

"I told you, what you think about yourself is not really you! It's just a phase, an emotion you are going through. You must understand!"

The boy, surrounded by dark clouds of the mountain, still cried, his head in between his knees and hands bracing his torso.

For some reason, I yelled at the boy, with no comprehensible of what I was yelling about. My face crunched in disgust.

Suddenly I felt peace. I calmed down. I spoke very slowly. My own words sinking in my mind.

"One day you will understand what I'm saying is right. Now you should think and stop hanging out with Kyle."

"Kyle would never hurt me."

"He will. He's not someone you want to be with. He's trash! Useless! And he will use you. Don't go to him, or I will have to tell everyone."

"You'll never do that. You care about me!"

"I do care about you and so I'll do what I have to do. Kyle is no good. He never will be."

I turned to climb down the mountain and heard the boy, screaming repeatedly at me to leave them alone.

Startled by the intense screams, I jerked back only to find myself falling and then I felt someone hit me hard on my head. My head spinning and mind not working, I saw a body fly out of my car as I drifted into the darkness.

I jerked up and looked around me, frightened about where I might be. I never wanted to be in the dark again. I looked around and sighed in relief. Today's my first day at home, in my own bedroom. The doctor allowed Mom to bring me home on condition that I'll go for a check-up after two days. Mom had made me my favorite chicken soup. I'd gone to bed after inhaling a full bowl and must have instantly dozed off. I guess I was tired, or it must be all the painkillers I was swallowing.

I tried to think about my weird dream. What did it mean, anyway? Was someone I knew well actually friends with Kyle? How did I know about it? Where did I find Kyle?

Frustrated, I wanted to check my emails and favorite links to get some clue of my lost six months but the need to use the washroom seemed more important.

I was walking back to my room when I noticed light coming from Todd's room. Maybe talking to him would refresh my mind.

Knocking lightly on his door, I remembered all the times I've walked into his room without knocking, pissing the hell out of him! I'd just laugh at his expense. This time, when I didn't hear anything, I just walked in. Hell, why knock now?

Todd was lying on his bed, an arm covering his eyes and the other on the bed, lightly holding the discman. No wonder he didn't hear me. Probably listening to a song I hate the most! I sat heavily on his bed and shook his shoulder, startling him from his peace.


"Hey. How are you feeling?" Todd smiled talking off his headphones.

"Are you upset?"

"No! Why would I be?"

"Your face looks puffy. And so are your eyes. They're red, too."

"Oh, it's allergies."

Allergies? Todd never had allergies.

"Since when? I don't remember you having any allergy."

"Oh, it's a recent case."



Todd looked down, he seemed too busy trying to find a hole in his hands. I know he just lied to me. I've always caught him when he's lied to me. Even Mom could never catch him like I did, like I do.

"It's okay, bro. Now, move a little!" I didn't want to bug him now. Maybe he will tell me later.

Todd and I used to share a room when we were little. He was a pest, but I took care of him It always bothered me when he was upset for any reason. I used to ask him if he was upset and next thing he always did was to climb on my bed, lay next to me and download all his problems. From wee little Jeremy losing one of his Lego blocks, and now they couldn't build the fire station, to how he hated his high school Physics teacher because he was just an a******. Even when we got our own rooms, this never changed.

"Toad, I think someone I know knew Kyle."

My whole day had been really bad. I couldn't concentrate in a single class. Mr. McBride, the a******, told me if I wasn't too distracted by my brother's accident, he would've given me 2 hours detention for not completing his stupid homework and not paying attention in his class. He caught me sketching a mole. Luckily, he caught me right before I was going to write MCBRIDE with an arrow pointing the mole.

Jeremy stayed near me all day. Even said he will count every single tooth of Jones and his gang if they ever bothered me. Apparently, no one knew, yet, that a fag was killed while sitting in my brother's car. When they did, I knew they'll be asking if my brother was a fag.

When I came home from school mom told me Kel's home. I went to check and saw him sleeping. I never felt such relief in my life knowing my brother was going to be okay. Now, seeing him sleeping there peacefully made me realize how close I'd come to losing him.

I remembered Kyle. Why did he have to leave this way? It hurt so much. I couldn't stop the tears We were finally starting to be happy. Finally hoping for a future. We were so close to resolving our problems. So close to getting him out of all the bad things he was involved in. So close to telling everyone that we loved each other. And now, my only brother being questioned, my love's gone, and some killer is running free, I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to hurt my brother anymore. I couldn't tell him now about me and Kyle. But I couldn't get it either how he knew Kyle.

I didn't hear him when Kelly walked in. He caught me off guard but glad I managed to say I had allergies.

Kelly and I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. I didn't know what he was thinking but I remembered the last time we lay like that, Kel had been trying to make me understand how my love for a boy was absurd. I couldn't forget how he reacted that time.

As I remembered, Kel spoke. My body stiffened as I wondered what was he about to say...

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 8


By Plasticreality

I tried to hide the look of fear on my face, throwing my arm back over my eyes, when Kelly told me that he knew someone who knew Kyle. I figured he would remember eventually, and in a way, I wanted him to, because then we'd know what happened. I didn't want Kelly to go to jail, and I'm sure he didn't do anything to Kyle. Maybe they didn't like each other, but Kelly wouldn't kill anyone.

But still, I was hoping that maybe we could solve this whole thing without Kelly remembering that I'm gay. It was obviously a mistake to tell him last time. Or maybe it was just that I jumped right in with Kyle? Maybe if I'd given him time to get used to the idea before I brought a boyfriend into the mix, it would be better.

"You do?" I ask with a sense of dread, still screening my eyes.

"Yeah, I had the weirdest dream," Kelly says, pulling my arm from my face. "Me and someone else, I don't know who, were up at the state park, on Screenland, that trail we keep meaning to check out? And I was arguing with them, telling them that Kyle was bad for them. I think maybe it was Lisa." He sighs and looks at me, "You said we broke up, right?" Shaking his head and looking down, Kelly looks so lost.

It's weird to realize that he doesn't remember their breakup. He'd been miserable for weeks after; she really hurt him The doctors told us not to force his memory, especially after the seizure; but I felt like I had to tell Kel when he asked me why she was so distant, not touching him. It was hard to keep the hatred out of my voice when I told him, and he looked so confused. How strange to not remember your own life. Although, I wish I didn't remember mine right now, this huge mess and somehow I know I'm at the centre.

I sit up and look at Kelly, he seems so exhausted and scared. "I dunno Kel, I never knew about it if she was with him. I think you would've told me. And plus, Lisa rock climbing?"

Kelly sighs again, rubbing his temples as he chuckles ruefully. "Heh, yeah, I guess you're right Toad. Everything is such a jumble in my head right now. I keep remembering things, or at least I think I remember them, but then the next second, they're gone again." He lifts his head a bit and looks at me "So now that I've unloaded on you, how about you tell me what's really wrong? We both know that allergy line was a lie."

I don't know what to say to him. I was sure, when I said it, that he wouldn't believe me. I was hoping he'd let it go, yet I really need to tell him something, start explaining myself before he remembers and the truth comes crashing down around me. But all I can say is "I'm just relieved Kel, and scared, and happy all that the same time." It's the truth but not what I was really thinking about. Kelly looks at me, a curious expression on his face, so I continue, "I was so afraid you were gonna die , and I'm still scared you're gonna end up in jail. But I'm so glad you're alive, and home. When I walked by your room earlier and saw you laying there, it was such a relief." I reach out and put my arm over his shoulder, squeezing him to me and resting my head against his. "I love you bro."

He smiles and I feel his arm wrap around my back "I love you too Toad. I think I'm gonna grab some food, wanna come?" he asks, shifting away from his emotions, just like he always has.

"No thanks, I think I need to just relax by myself for a little while." I smile back. I may have said that stuff to hide what I was really thinking about, but that doesn't mean any of it isn't true. I'm so glad he's home.

Kelly gets up and walks, slowly, out my door and down the hall. I can hear him talking to Mom in the kitchen. Once they're involved in their discussion, I reach over and grab my cell phone off my nightstand and go through the phone book, finding Mark's number. Mark is one of Kyle's friends, maybe he can take me to the grave. I feel like I need to go, to have a chance to say goodbye. My finger shakes as I push the "call" button. What do I say to him? 'Sorry your best friend died in my brother's car, and I couldn't go to his funeral because I was afraid of being seen, but can I visit the grave?' I sure hope Mark doesn't think Kelly killed Kyle. I don't want to have to defend my brother to him.

On the third ring, Mark answers. "Todd?" I can't tell whether he's surprised or concerned.

"Yeah, it's me." Everything else I was going to say just disappeared as soon as I heard his voice. I close my eyes and try to calm down a little, hoping he can't hear the shake in my voice. "Do you think I could meet up with you and Steve? I need to talk to someone about all this, and I can't talk to anybody here."

Now I do hear the concern as Mark answers. "Of course, where do you want us to meet you? How about Jean's?" Jean's is a coffee shop halfway between Springfield High and the college that we all used to meet up at, me and Kyle, and Mark and Steve.

"Yeah, that would be ok. Is an hour all right? I have to hang out with the family a little before I can get out of here," I reply, lost in memories of me and Kyle at Jean's.

"Sure dude, see you then." Mark's surfer talk makes me smile. He thinks, just because he's from California, he's the only one allowed to say 'dude.' I snap my phone shut and toss it on the bed as I stand up to stretch.

I'm standing in the kitchen with Mom, having an almost argument about whether or not she should stay home to take care of me when Todd walks in and announces that he's meeting "some friends" in about an hour. Turning to me he smiles, "Kel, let Mom take care of you, she won't get any work done anyway, she'll just be sitting there worrying if she's at the office."

"Yes daddy," I smile back. I know he's right, I just hate to have her hovering around me, I want some time alone to think and try and see if I can jog my memory at all.

I need to figure out what happened with this guy Kyle before I end up in jail. I couldn't have killed him. At least, I don't think I could have. But then, I don't remember anything about myself for the past six months, I could've joined a cult, or finally gone bungee jumping, who knows?

Todd grabs a bottle of Coke out of the refrigerator on his way out the door and I stand, slowly sliding off the stool, trying not to put too much strain on my sore ribs.

"I'm gonna go back to my room, call me when dinner's ready, Mom?" I ask as I head down the hall. Maybe reading through my email will give me some clue as to who Kyle was.

"Kelly, remember what the doctors said about getting enough rest! Don't spend too long on your computer!" Mom yells after me. The reminder is annoying, but I'm glad she's here and worrying about me, in case I need her. That seizure really scared me. The doctors said they don't think I'll have any more, but they also didn't expect me to have one in the first place.

Sitting down at my computer, I turn it on and type in my password Mom told me that the police were here and wanted to take my computer but Dad wouldn't let them since they didn't have a warrant and hadn't charged me with anything yet. I'm glad my Dad stood up to them, I don't want strangers reading my personal things.

I open my email program and click the "get mail" button, waiting for it to download all... holy crap, 500 emails?! I've been out of the hospital for less than a week, what on earth could make me have that many? I usually only get two or three a day with my spam filters on. Clicking through, I delete the hundred or so pieces of spam that got through the filters, and set to reading all of the "hope you're feeling better" letters from everyone. There's a note from Lisa, asking me to call her when I can, and another from Blake asking the same. The whole football team set me e-cards. Thompson sent me one with the "Man hit in the groin with football" animation from "The Simpsons" in it. I smile as I read his note

Hey, at least your jewels are all ok. Get better quick dude,

we need to get back to our routine.

He's talking about our morning off-season workouts, we've been doing them together since high school.

Now that I've read through all the new ones, I get back to what I was really planning on doing. Lisa's old emails are all saved in a folder on my computer. There's one almost every day up until two months ago, and then they drop off almost completely, only one or two in between then and the one I got today. Working backwards, I open the next oldest one.


I wanted to see how you're doing. You keep avoiding me, and

maybe things didn't end on the best of terms, but it's been a

month, I'm sick of having to pretend I don't know you when

we're in class together. James keeps asking why you won't

hang out with him. He's your friend too, you know, stop

ignoring him, that was one of the things that was wrong in

our relationship, you never have time for anyone but your

family and Blake. Don't screw up your friendships the

same way you messed up what we had, Kelly.



Me spending too much time with Blake is something we always fought over, but I never thought she'd dump me over that. And who does she think she is telling me how I should act? She dumped me, so why should she have the right to control me any more?

The sad thing is that even though I'm mad about that email, I really want to just call her up and beg her to take me back. I don't know what I did wrong, but it has to be something I can make up for. I need someone to hold me, and tell me that everything will be ok, to help me figure all this out, and Lisa would be so good at that, except now I can't ask her. I don't want to just start asking for things, or even talking to her much until I figure out what happened between us. She wouldn't tell me at the hospital, even when no one else was around, so I doubt she'd tell me now.

The next one back is just plain weird.


I can't believe I saw you going into Alley's last night! I thought

you didn't want anyone to find out? Anyone could've seen you

guys! People are going to think that's why we broke up. Do

you have any idea how bad that would make me look? And plus,

I thought you said you were going to stop all of this "gay" business?

Going to a gay club doesn't seem like stopping to me!

What would I have been doing in a gay bar? She makes it sound like I'm gay and she wants me to keep it a secret. But I'm not gay. I guess there's nothing wrong with it but, two guys? It's pretty nasty to think about. I don't think I could've just suddenly become gay in the past 6 months. You don't just "turn" gay I don't think.

I've had enough of reading emails, so I click over to my web browser and open up a new window. The news page that I have set loads up with all of the latest, bombings in Iraq and people being kidnapped, bitten by sharks, the works. At least none of that has happened. I wonder if I made any headlines? Probably in the Springfield Courier, but I don't think I made CNN. I hope not, I don't want to be famous for crashing my baby.

As I go to type in the web address for my favorite site, b3ta, the list of all the recently typed web addressed pops up and adds to my confusion. The list is:










CNN and The Onion, ESPN, even Jeremy's journal, those are all normal. I have no idea what the acronyms are, and I don't understand the gay sites. Was Lisa's email right? Did I decide I was gay?

I click on "pflag.org" and wait for the site to load the front page reads "Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays." Maybe someone I know is gay? But I don't know anyone who's gay. All my friends are normal, none of them act like girls or anything, hell, most of them play football!

Next I click "comingout.net" it's instructions on how to come out, a section for friends, family, your job. Makes me wonder how my boss, Mr. Potter would feel about me if I told him I was gay? I don't know why I'd be looking at this site unless I was gonna use it, but I don't feel gay. This whole thing is so confusing.

Maybe I've been lying to myself? Maybe I really am and I just never noticed, or repressed it? I go to "chrisfisher.com" and it's disgusting, gay p***. I must be gay, there's no way I'd be looking at gay p*** otherwise. I would never take helping out a friend that far. I know it wasn't anyone else on my computer, unless someone hacked my password, and why would they?

The keyboard tray slides shut as I bump it with my torso, leaning forward a bit onto the desk to help me stand. Pushing the chair back, I walk the few steps over to my bed and flop down. I guess, if I'm gay, no wonder Lisa and I broke up; and it's pretty understandable why she'd be angry. I just wish I remembered something, anything other than my fuzzy dreams I don't exactly want to go to sleep. I'm afraid of having another weird half-nightmare; but I'm so exhausted.

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 9 – "Playing Detective"

by Ryan Keith


Lying back on my bed, I tried to piece things together one by one. Me…gay? That just can't be. Being in a coma wouldn't make me stop being gay, and I know I don't have any sort of feelings towards guys. I admit, Blake is really good looking, but I don't have any feelings for him.

Is that why Lisa broke up with me? She thought Blake and I were a couple?

My stomach rolled, giving me a sick feeling. It can't be true. I can't be gay. I don't want to be gay. Everyone would hate me; everyone knows it's wrong. Even I know it's wrong. Even if I were gay, I could fight it, couldn't I? People can suppress it, I'm sure…but I don't feel any attraction to guys…none at all.

How would I be able to live? Everyone would be talking about me behind my back. I'd get the s**t kicked out of me for sure if some damn homophobes found out. Mom and Dad would be… How would they feel? Not too proud, I bet. How would Blake and Todd react? Would Blake care? We go way back…he wouldn't ditch me for something like that. And Todd…he's my brother…he'd support me.

I vigorously ran my hand through my hair, feeling irritated.

I don't even know for sure whether I'm gay or not! I told Blake about that dream while I was in the hospital and he said it didn't mean I'm gay. And he said the stuff we did together when we were younger was just a normal phase. He doesn't think I'm gay, but have I been hiding something from him? Did I not grow out of that phase like he did?

I sat up at the sudden thought. Suddenly not so afraid, but at the same time troubled, I opened my e-mails again, going back to the last e-mail I had gotten from Lisa before the accident.

I can't believe I saw you going into Alley's last night!

I know the place; of the place, at least. Gay people go there. It isn't far from the university. She might have seen me on her way to school or on her way back, on a night that she went to study at the library.

People are going to think that's why we broke up.

I read those words over and over again.

She was worried people would think we broke up because I'm gay. But I'm not gay! That's clearly not the reason we broke up. Before I knew it, my lips were curving into a smile. For some reason, I felt so liberated. Then, I continued reading.

I thought you said you were going to stop all of this "gay" business?

I leaned back against my chair to think of any "gay" business I had. Should I dare ask Lisa? I flew forward and read the e-mail again. I realized I had two options. One of them was that I could simply ask Lisa. But do I dare call her up and ask her how we broke up, and if she knows what I was doing at a gay bar? My other option was going to the place called Alley's. If I'd had "business" with anyone there, someone would eventually recognize me.

I stood up and headed for my closet. It would be really insensitive of me to approach Lisa and ask her why we broke up. I was afraid I'd even break down and beg for her back. From the sound of her e-mail, the breakup might have been mutual. I decided I had to check out Alley's for myself.

"I'm going out for a bit!" I called out before running out the door.

All I heard was the beginning of my mom's objection. I knew if I hung around she'd make me stay, but staying at home in the midst of my confusion was the last thing I wanted to do.

I jumped on the bus that took me in the direction of my university, and the gay bar beyond that. I tried to figure out what I should be hoping to accomplish by going to that place. Anyone could see me going in, but that apparently hadn't bothered me before. Why should it now?

By the time I got off the bus, I was feeling reluctant to follow though with my half-assed plan.

"You got this far, go for broke!'"

I smiled at the thought of what Hiro would say. For some reason, I felt a sense of confidence wash over me. I flashed my ID at the man at the door and he let me though.

It was not the sort of bar I had imagined. I'd expected to see things really out of the ordinary. There were young guys everywhere. A handful of girls were around, too, but the place was mostly dominated by guys. A few older men were among the crowd, but they were together; friends, I suppose. I'd had a conception of a bar like that being filled with gay old men waiting for some young person they could proposition.

I guess I stood around at the entrance longer than I realized, because someone from behind bumped past me and joined up with his friends. I didn't know where to go, so I headed to the bar.

"What'll it be, cutie?" the girl bartender asked with a wink.

I had imagined some topless guy would be tending the bar, and then I saw one.

There were actually two bartenders, and I felt lucky that I'd walked up to the girl.

"Just a Coke, please," I smiled at her.

After the exchange, I settled at a small table for two, ready to start my waiting game.

The bar wasn't even half full, but I guess that's what you'd expect at nine at night. It had a different atmosphere than straight bars. I sometimes went with Blake and the gang to have a couple of drinks. I even snuck a drink in between classes now and then; at least I did before the missing six months.

I sat around for fifteen minutes before someone finally approached me.

I felt my heart beat faster. It was like I was getting close to the truth. I didn't realize how desperate I was to remember what I've forgotten.

"Lonely night, man?" the guy asked. He was probably around my age, but it was hard to tell.

I was lost on how to reply. If he did know me, how should I bring up the subject of the last time I was there?

Apparently, the guy noticed my predicament. "Speechless, eh?" he said, taking a seat. "The name is Andrew Fornes. What's yours?"

I felt anger boil in me as the fool sat without my permission.

"Does he- that I-… BASTARD!" I thought with rage.

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" I asked coldly.

He winked and sat back a bit. "I don't think so, but would you like to?"

"I'm waiting for someone," I lied without hesitation. "Going to be here shortly."

I wasn't aware where that had come from. My response had been almost automatic.

"That's a shame," he said with a fake frown. "Well, if it doesn't work out, do you want to give me a shout?"

"No chance, man. I'm not gay," I told him.

"Well then, you're in the wrong bar!" His features weren't so kind anymore. He stood up and walked away.

I was bewildered. Somehow, I had known what to say, and stayed calm. It was like I had done something like that before.

"I must have broken quite a few hearts here with that line," I said to myself.

I felt myself smiling but forced it down. I had no intention of giving false signals. Smiling might cause another wrong person to approach me.

I left the bar around eleven when it seemed that nothing was going to happen. The place was much more packed by that time. Before I got out, I had already denied several others. I was flattered that they approached me, but I'm straight. I knew that, by then. It was impossible for me to be gay. My attraction to girls is always accompanied by a fast heartbeat, incoherent words, and lack of coordination. That's how I acted when I first met Lisa, and any other girl I've been interested in, for that matter. With those guys, who were easily as good looking as models, I felt nothing. I am straight!

So, I had one less worry, but still no clues about why I had ever been to that bar.

I suddenly felt like a detective. I have to become one to solve my own mystery. I really can't depend on Detective Conner. He's pretty much set on pinning the death of that Kyle guy on me. Nurse Green at the hospital heard him telling me that I kept calling out "Kyle" while I was having that dream, but she said she was there and she heard me calling out "Kyle who?" Why didn't Conner tell me that? Was he trying to put wrong ideas into my head?

I hate this. It's like playing a game with half of my brain missing. I feel like I'm useless at putting these stupid clues together. Out of everything I've found out, none of it has anything to do with the accident.


"Kelly!" Dad called out when I returned home.

He strode into the front hallway with a mask of worry on his face.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Son, you can't go running off in the middle of the night like that. You just got out of the hospital. And besides that, I told Detective Johnson that we would tell his department when you're leaving the house and where you're going. Remember, there's still the possibility that someone wanted to kill both you and Kyle Usher, and the cops promised protection for you."

"Nothing is going to happen, Dad!" I answered back furiously as I kicked off my shoes. I wasn't mad at him; I was mostly just frustrated with everything.

"Think of your mother, then," my dad whispered. "She's worried sick about you, Kelly. She didn't think you'd ever come out of that coma. She's really fragile right now, and will be for a while."

The anger in me died away. Dad is always able to diffuse Todd's or my anger in an instant.

"At least for now, bear with her, okay? She knows she can't stop you, but she just needs reassurance that you'll be safe. Telling her where you're going would really put her worries to rest. Next time just tell her where you're going, okay?"

I felt pretty shitty. Dad was right, and I should have known Mom would be worried sick about me. It was like I was acting like a kid. I nodded and Dad left me alone in the hallway.

I heard him talking to my mom in the kitchen as I headed up. I could hear her crying and couldn't bear it. I'd probably made her cry for the last three hours.

I wanted to check my e-mail before I went to bed, so I opened my account and waited for any mail to come in. I really didn't expect to have a new message, but the sound went off and I opened the new letter.

Sup Kelly!

Lincoln here. Glad to see you're better now. Don't know if you remembered or not but you asked me to make your bro a fake ID. If you don't remember well don't worry about it. There was a problem with the one I gave you for your brother. It worked at some places but not at other places. I promised to get him a new one. Well it was done a while ago but I haven't given it to you yet since the accident thing happened. Thought this would be the last thing on your mind but just want to put it out there that it's done. You or your bro can pick it up anytime. Remember, if you know anyone else who needs ID's send them to me. Tell your bro too.


"Fake ID!" I almost shouted. I really don't remember it happening, but it must be true. I remember Lincoln making me a fake when I first entered Springfield U. Blake and I couldn't get into anywhere without being twenty-one. I must have asked Lincoln to make one for Todd, recently.

At that moment, Todd knocked on my door and entered my room.

"Hey, Kel," he said as he took a seat on my bed.

"Hey, Todd, what's up?"

"You just get home?"

I nodded. "Went to do a little investigating on my own. I'm pretty sure I can probably piece this together faster than that a****** Conner who keeps harassing me." I felt safe in telling Todd that. I knew he'd do his best to help, and I needed all the help I could get. He would remember things I did before the accident. Anything could turn out to be a clue.

Todd didn't say anything, but looked like he was considering something.

"By the way, the guy who made your fake ID e-mailed me. He said he made a better one."

From the looks of it, Todd was surprised I even remembered Lincoln.

"Didn't know I ordered you a fake through him, but I can see why. You're at the age where you should be doing stuff like that, right?" I said, jostling him up a bit.

He gave me a proud smile. He enjoys it when I acknowledge him for something like that. Todd is growing up. He deserves fun with his friends. I honestly think restricting the drinking age to 21 is overboard. I used to wish we lived in Canada, where it's legal to drink at 19. That makes it easier to use a fake ID if you're a senior in high school. It's easy enough for me, now that I'm in college.

"Have you gone to any clubs yet with that?" I asked.

My little bro blushed and I felt like howling with laughter.

"Don't tell me you haven't been able to go yet?" I grinned.

"I can't go alone, and my friends backed out on getting one. They were scared of being caught."

"Your real name isn't even on it," I laughed. "Oh well, at least you can go to the bars with Blake and me sometime."

I remembered the bar I'd just come from and decided Todd could probably piece things together better than I could.

"Hey, ever heard of a place called Alley's?" I asked.

The smile froze on Todd's face. I guess that place is fairly well known around town.

He looked troubled and didn't meet my gaze. "Isn't that like a gay bar?"

I realized why he was looking so worried. "Don't worry, I'm positive I'm not gay. It's just that Lisa sent me an e-mail about me having some business I had to attend to at that bar. She seemed upset because she was worried that it would ruin her image. I mean, her ex-boyfriend comes out of a renowned gay bar. It would look bad. Of course, I can't remember…"

Apparently, that was too much information for Todd. It looked like he'd seen a ghost. I felt a chuckle coming up, but I pushed it back down.

"You went to Alley's?" Todd asked, looking horrified.

"Well, I guess I must have, but I can't figure out wh-…why are you looking at me like that? I told you I'm not gay. I'd know if I was, man!"

"I didn't say you were," Todd replied worriedly.

"Sorry, I shouldn't snap at you like that," I apologized. "I thought maybe you could help me out a bit. Do you know anything about why I would go to a place like that?"

Todd shook his head.

"I guess not. Well, anyway, I went there tonight. I thought maybe someone who knew me would recognize me and tell me what the f**k was going on. But no such luck. Can't give up now, though. Something is bound to happen there if I keep showing my face. Maybe I'll be able to remember some things."

"You can't go back there!"

I was surprised by Todd's strong objection. "Why not?"

It took a while for Todd to answer. I thought it bothered him that I'd be going back to the gay bar.

"Someone might think you're gay," he said quietly.

I felt grateful for Todd's concern, but what people might think was the least thing I was worried about. "Todd, at this point I really don't give a s**t about what people think of me, 'cause if I don't figure out something soon, that a****** Conner is going to somehow pin Kyle Usher's death on me. I'd rather deal with rumors than go to jail and be someone's b****. Quit looking so scared! I'm not going to jail, man. I'll figure it out before then. If you hear anything suspicious, or know anything, a little help is better than no help at all."

I watched my brother for any other odd reactions. He was acting really strange about the whole thing.

"Hey, mind coming with me next time? We'll go pick up your new ID. It wasn't too cool for me tonight when a guy approached me. I guess that was the other proof I needed to know I'm not gay, though. I sorta felt repulsed. I mean, I have nothing against gay guys, but…yeah, you understand."

For the first time since I'd mentioned Alley's, Todd smiled. "I'd rather not…"

"Fine, if you feel that uncomfortable about it," I told him. "Honestly, you'd think you're gay, or something," I said jokingly. "I'll ask Blake to go with me. He's trying to figure out this whole mess, too. I should give him a call. It's about time we compare notes, because I could easily have one part of the puzzle he needs, or vice versa."

I turned to my computer and opened up the messenger to see if Blake was online. Todd stayed quietly in my room for a couple more minutes and then left. Todd had been acting weird, and I wished he would tell me what was really bothering him. He used to come to me every time something had him upset.


"You actually listen to this stuff?" I ask the older boy. I'm lying perpendicular to Kyle and resting my head on his stomach. The rhythmic motion of his breathing is relaxing and at the same time…intimate.

"I can't help it," he says, with a chuckle. I feel his body move and feel his hands run through my hair. "I grew up with him, and I really like his songs."

"Aww, come on, Bryan Adams? My mom used to listen to that," I joke. I turn my head slightly to look into his eyes. His kind, embracing gaze catches me and refuses to let me look away.

"Are you making fun of me?" he asks with a hint of edge to his voice.

I feel an indescribable mixture of joy and excitement flow through me. "Of course not. I'd be way too scared to make fun of a gangster."

"I'm not a gangster," he says in a low voice, "and I'm done with that stuff…"

"You're such a good liar."

I feel Kyle's fingers stop and he breaks away from my stare.

"How much do you know?" he asks sadly.

"I know you've been lying to me," I whisper. Kyle closes his eyes and I know I'm right on target. "And Mark seems to know much more. He's not that great at keeping things secret, especially when he slips up and I grill him for more. He's a good friend. You should have seen what's-his-face. He looked like he was going to s**t an egg. I don't like him as much. Kind of scary, you know?" I'm trying to be funny, but it doesn't look like Kyle is picking up on it.

"Todd, I don't know what to say…" he finally says as he looks down at me. "It's good money, and I can't just walk away from it all, you know? I need to survive."

"But your new job is enough, isn't it?" I know it's hard for Kyle, working almost three jobs, but I know he's better than some of the people he's involved with.

"It is...but, man, it's not enough to really get out of this, you know? It's just enough to survive. I want more for myself," he says gloomily.

I understand perfectly. Kyle is a proud man. A man with dreams and ambition. If he had the opportunity like me, he'd easily become successful. I know what he does is necessary. I just hate the fact that he has to associate himself with the wrong people.

"I'd like to help, but I'm just a kid," I tell him.

"You're not 'just' a kid. You're much more than that; to me, anyway. I want to do this by myself. I'll stop, just as soon as I can work something out. I'm getting sick of this illegal s**t. Well, what I'm doing now is not really illegal, anyway."

"But the people you are friends with are doing something illegal, and you might be guilty just through association."

Kyle stares at me hard. I'm mesmerized and can't look away. After another moment, he releases a sigh. "Then I'll stop. I've been looking for a reason to quit. I think I've found a good enough reason."

I feel overjoyed, but I'm at the same time curious. "Oh, really? Let's hear this reason."

I notice the scarlet shade Kyle is starting to darken into. I can hear the rapid beating of his heart, and his breathing is going off rhythm. "I'm not telling you."

"Are you blushing?" I ask. I sit up and turn to him. "Tell me!"

"No…" Kyle says bluntly.

"Please!" I beg. I give him my most pitiful look and it seems to work. He can't keep looking at me.

"Shut up! Leave me alone," he says, trying to hide his face. I can tell he's smiling, and I'm enjoying it way too much.

"Make me," I retort with defiance.

In an instant, I'm on my back with Kyle pinned up against me. I feel my heart speed up and I'm suddenly lost in my lover's eyes.

Without warning, his lips are pressing against mine with such delicacy. I feel my body shudder. I'm in heaven.


I tore away from the dream like it was a nightmare. I couldn't breathe. My face was soaked with tears. A pain so sharp tore at my bare chest. I was gripping my shoulder as tight as I could, scraping my nails across the skin, hoping that would overcome the pain that pounded within.

God! Please…Kyle…

In a flash, the pain subsided, and I was left with the burning sensation under my fingertips. The only sound besides my pounding heart was my clock radio. I clamped my eyes tightly closed, trying to block out everything. It was too much. My body refused to move. I wanted to scream, but I couldn't.

Instead, I sat on my damp sheets, holding my scratched shoulder and letting the song's emotion overcome me.

"Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here, waiting for you.

Whatever it takes, or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you"


"So, tell me again why I'm here with you?" Blake asked for the millionth time. "You know our asses are dead if your dad finds out you lied about spending the night at my house so he wouldn't have the cops trying to protect you."

I grinned at him and tried to keep him from going sour. "You're here to keep gay guys away from me, and to help me piece this stuff together. You know that I think this place has something to do with everything, and especially with why I had that guy Kyle in my car that night."

"If Lisa knows why you were here, why not just ask her?" Blake asked as a couple of guys passed our table and winked at us.

"Sick!" Hiro said excitedly. "Did you guys see that? We're like gold in this place! If I ever need someone to stroke my ego I'll know exactly where to come."

"And why did we bring Hiro?" Blake asked.

I smiled at our Japanese friend, who was watching the gay population with fascination, as if he was doing a science experiment.

"Because you told him we were coming here, remember?" I shook my head. "He insisted on coming with us."

"Well, it's not fair that I never get to hang out with you guys. I mean, how long is it since you came out of that coma? And how many times have we gotten to hang out for more than ten minutes?" Hiro complained. "Besides, this is so cool!"

I was glad that Hiro wanted to chill with Blake and me, and he was right. Since I got out of the hospital, I really hadn't been hanging out with my friends. Even though we were at Alley's, it still felt like we were hanging together in our normal way. I was thrilled that even Marcus decided to join us after Hiro spread the news to him of what we were going to do.

"Yeah, but next time let's not come to a gay bar to hang out. My beer has a weird taste to it," Marcus complained.

The last time I had seen Marcus was when I was leaving the hospital, and even that seemed like a long time ago.

"In Japan, if the sake tastes bitter it means you have a conflict within," Hiro said with such seriousness. "Maybe someone's been in the closet for too long…"

Our table exploded with our laughter, with the exception of Marcus, who was glaring spitefully at Hiro. People turned in our direction and we seemed to attract even more wandering eyes.

"Let's keep it down," I said, lowering my chuckle. "I don't want to draw too much attention. Imagine what people will think if they see us."

"I'll tell them to go f**k themselves," Marcus swore as he took a healthy chug of his beer.

"Anyway," Blake said, still smiling, "as I was saying, wouldn't it be easier to just ask Lisa?"

I was hesitant in telling them, but out of everyone I know, I trust those guys the most. "I'm trying to avoid her. We broke up, and I know she feels weird being around me. She probably knows I don't remember the breakup, and I'd rather not get her involved. I caused her enough problems, it seems."

"I knew you still liked her, man," Hiro said with confidence. "You never really told us the details, so we know nothing about your breakup, either. You just came in one day and announced you and Lisa had split."

"Yeah, well, all I know is that it was mutual. At least, I think it was, so I guess it's for the best."

That was good enough for them, and I was glad they didn't dig for more. It was like a regular hangout with my buddies, except we were in a gay bar.

Like I'd expected, no one approached us to flirt. I was happy and was glad I had brought my three friends. It seemed so long since we had been able to do something like that. I had missed it.

"Hey, isn't that… the nasty detective guy?" Blake asked suddenly.

I turned to where he was pointing and sure enough, Detective Conner was standing at the bar talking to the shirtless bartender.

"Yeah," I said, as Detective Conner turned to me and stared for a good minute before he started to walk in our direction.

"Now, this looks suspicious. I must say, it's not working in your favor," he said as soon as he reached our table.

I was starting to get sick of his threats and accusations. With Blake, Hiro and Marcus there, I felt a sense of safety. I hadn't even looked away as he approached.

"Didn't know you swung this way, sir," I said with defiance.

Marcus and Hiro exploded into laughter, leaving Blake and me to stare challengingly at the detective.

Detective Conner was great with his eyes, because he immediately stopped Hiro and Marcus from laughing.

"Let me guess, you found another clue and you couldn't wait to try to pin something on me, so you searched every bar in Springfield to seek me out," I said with an edge.

He just watched me. "Be that as it may, it's my job to draw conclusions."

"Is it your job to accuse the victims?" Blake retorted.

I noticed Blake sink a bit in his seat when the detective's eyes cut across to him.

"Actually, I did discover something new," Conner said.

"And here it comes," I spat. "Instead of coming up with half-assed conclusions, why don't you do your job and gather facts? What do you do, wait to hear that someone else has noticed something? Do you sit in a room trying to fit together the most obscure events? Do you even take the time to consider that maybe you've overlooked something?"

It shocked even me that all of that had come out of my mouth, but Detective Conner didn't even budge.

"Actually, while doing some extensive investigation on Kyle Usher, one of the things I found out was that he came to this bar quite often. The bartender told me that Kyle and two friends were seen having an argument with someone on the night of the murder."

"So now you're calling it a murder?" Blake asked. Marcus and Hiro were totally silent and just taking in the scene.

"Well, the bartender couldn't give me a precise description of the fourth party in that argument, so I asked him to call me in case that party came in here again. I must say, I've been quite upset at not being called for all these weeks. I was certain the mystery boy would come by here again, and I was right," the detective concluded.

"So he's here?" Blake asked, looking around.

I felt myself swallow.

It couldn't be…

"Still going to pretend to be innocent, Kelly?" Conner asked in a harsh voice.

"You're the one Usher had the argument with on the night of his death."

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors . Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 10

Family and Friends

Kelly looked up at the detective looming over him.

"I think it's about time you came down to the station to answer some questions," Detective Conner growled.

"How many times do I have to tell you? I just don't remember anything about that night!"

The desperation with which Kelly spoke was crystal clear to everyone.

"Really?" Conner sneered. "And you expect me to believe you, when you returned to the scene of the crime?"

"If you're that sure about him, why aren't you dragging him off now?" Blake snapped. "You're bluffing!"

Conner stared down at Blake, forcing him to slouch back into his seat. The detective turned back to Kelly.

"The only thing that's stopping me is there's one piece of the puzzle that's not fitting. Once I work out where Usher's truck comes into the picture, I'll be having you charged with murder, Kelly Yates.

"I've got the rest figured out. You and Kyle Usher had an argument, and you went off somewhere to finish it. As you drove along, you pushed him out of the car, but lost control yourself and crashed.

"All I need is whoever was driving the truck to say they were trying to stop you from killing Usher, and you're gone. I'm even happy to promise that they won't be charged for leaving the scene of an accident, if they come forward."

Kelly sat frozen as he thought about what he'd just been told.

"Now, how about getting out of that seat and coming back to the station to answer some questions? Or do I need to get someone to drag you out of here?"

* * *

Jessie was frustrated. This trip home had been a disaster from the start. Just before they got into the car to drive to Springfield, her boyfriend had received a phone call from work. They were very apologetic, but they needed Ryan back in the office. They offered him a bonus to postpone his leave and work instead.

The discussion on that had been short. Money was going to get tight in the future and the extra money would come in handy. Jessie didn't have the option to shift her leave, especially after the problems she'd caused by taking leave without notice at the time of Kelly's accident, so she headed home by herself instead of as a couple.

To top it off, when she got to her parents place, her cellphone rang. Her boss told her that he needed a particular report by that Monday. He knew she was away, but he said it wouldn't take her long and then she could email it to him....

Growling to herself, Jessie typed away at her laptop. Stacey from work had the right idea: when going on vacation, make sure you go somewhere that you can't be tracked down. Otherwise, the boss will find you and ask you for "just one small thing," as if you had nothing better to do with your time.

The trip had been all planned out. Ryan and she would arrive to wish her mom an early Mother's Day, and then pass on the happy news that next year, she'd be celebrating it, too! Instead, she arrives home by herself, gets work to do from her boss that she can't afford to refuse, and find that Kelly's still in trouble with the police. He'd been questioned for hours before he was released. The cops were just waiting on one more piece of evidence before they charged him with murder.

She still hadn't found a chance to tell her parents that she's pregnant. She knows her dad will ask about wedding plans, but she and Ryan are more worried about the financial costs of the baby. Being an accountant, Jessie was very much aware of the strain a new baby would be placing on their resources, and the cost of a wedding and honeymoon were out of the question, at least for now.

"Jessie? Can I have a word?"

Jessie looked up to see Kelly hovering uncertainly in the doorway. She seized the excuse for a break with both hands.

"Sure, Kel. Come in and take a seat."

Kelly stepped in, closed the door, and sat on the edge of the bed. He was nervous, but Jessie could appreciate why. Being investigated for murder when you can't remember anything that happened would upset anyone.

"I need to remember something, Jes, and I'm hoping I've told you," he started hesitantly.

"What is it? I'll help, if I can."

Kelly looked away, as if he was uncomfortable making eye contact.

"Did I ever tell you if any of my friends were gay?"

Jessie stiffened and then forced herself to relax. She was glad that Kelly hadn't seen her involuntary response to the question.

"No, you never did. Why do you ask?"

He shook his head sadly and looked up at her.

"I've been having weird dreams, and I've found strange stuff on my computer. For a while I thought I'd turned gay, but I figured out it must be someone I know. The other thing is that I'm sure they knew Kyle Usher, so I really want to talk to them to try to find out what happened that night."

She pursed her lips and thought hard and fast.

"Why do you think they knew Kyle?"

"I've a few dreams where I keep telling someone to stay away from Kyle, that he's bad for them. I just can't work out who I'm talking to. I know Kyle was gay because he was regular at a gay bar in town, so whoever it was must be gay, too. They must've told me, or I found out, but I can't freaking remember anymore!"

Jessie could hear the desperation in his voice and almost said something, but snapped her mouth closed at the last second. It wasn't her place to tell him, at least not yet.

"Sorry, Kel. I can't help you."

Kelly sighed and stood up woodenly. "Thanks anyway, Jes. Oh, and welcome home."

He sounded so despondent, that Jessie stood up and pulled him into a hug.

"Take care, Kel. It'll all work out in the end."

He held on for several seconds before letting go. Jessie sensed he needed the physical comfort, but was too much of a man to ask for it. When he ran a hand across his eyes, she was sure.

"Thanks, Jes," he said appreciatively, before opening the door and stepping out.

Jessie stood there for a moment, staring at the now empty doorway. She glanced down at her laptop and made a decision. Family was more important than work. If she had to, she'd tell her boss that her laptop crashed on her and she was so sorry, but she was in the middle of nowhere and couldn't get it fixed until it was too late.

Stepping out, she walked down the hallway and rapped on a door. When there was no answer, she opened it and peered inside. Todd's room was empty.

Jessie growled a few choice words under her breath before moving on, looking for someone who could tell her where Todd could be found.

"Mom? Do you know where Todd is?"

"He went out not too long ago. He said he'd be back in a couple of hours."

"Thanks. I'll catch up with him later, then," Jessie replied, turning away. She'd have to get back to her report. She couldn't do anything about Todd until he came home.

* * *

Todd knocked on the door. This was the first time he'd been to Steve and Mark's place. Previously, they'd met at coffee shops or Alley's, or at Kyle's apartment if they wanted privacy. None of those places were appropriate anymore.

He swallowed hard to try to remove the lump from his throat at the thought that he'd never be going back to Kyle's apartment again.

"Hi, dude. Come on in," Mark said, when he opened the door.

Todd stepped in and looked around. The entrance opened up directly into a living area. Steve was just getting to his feet. "Hi, Todd. Welcome to our humble abode."

Todd nodded, but nerves kept him from saying anything. Steve's characteristic scowl was softened, but Todd still felt uneasy with the big construction worker.

"Are you all right?" Mark asked, concerned.

"I'm okay," Todd said, after swallowing again. "I'm sorry to annoy you, but I need to talk to you."

Steve waved a hand towards an empty chair. "Have a seat, Todd. Any friend of Kyle's is always welcome here."

A sense of sadness and regret hung between them. Both were missing Kyle deeply.

Todd took the offered chair, while Steve and Mark sat together on the couch opposite.

"You said you needed to talk to us about something," Mark prompted gently, when the silence started to stretch.

Todd nodded. "Kelly's in more trouble with the cops, and I'm hoping you can help me."

Steve scowled. "I know he's your brother, but it's because of him that Kyle's dead. I'm sorry, Todd, but he can rot as far as I'm concerned."

Todd rocked back at the venom Steve had spoken with. He'd been expecting polite sympathy, at the least, and Steve's hatred had come out of left field.

"Excuse us, Todd," Mark said quickly. "Steve, can I see you in the kitchen?"

Todd watched as Mark and Steve disappeared. His body started to shake as he wondered if this was a good idea or not. He heard angry voices coming from the other room, but couldn't make out any words.

While he waited, he looked around. He guessed the photos of surfers on the wall were Mark's, taken back home in California. Unable to sit still, he got up and started looking at them closely. When he started to think that one of the guys looked particularly hot, memories of Kyle hit him hard and he had to look away. He wasn't ready to think of anyone else; he was still getting over losing his boyfriend.

"Sorry, Todd," Mark apologized. "Kyle was a really close friend of Steve's and he's still very upset about the whole thing. He didn't really mean it about your brother."

Todd just stood there, without turning around. "Kelly is my brother, but Kyle was my boyfriend," he whispered, as he hung his head and let yet another flood of tears loose. He knew he was somewhere safe and didn't try to suppress them.

When he felt Mark's hand on his shoulder, he spun around and buried his face into Mark's shoulder. He lost all control of his emotions and just hung onto the blonde surfer as if his life depended on it.

Finally, Todd pulled himself out of Mark's arms and looked up at his comforter. "Thanks," he said quietly.

Mark smiled, but it didn't make it to his eyes, which were still filled with sadness. He gestured back to the couch, where two cups of coffee had appeared.

Todd looked back at Mark in surprise.

"Steve might be upset, but he knows you are, too. He said he'll stay out of it and let you speak with me in private."

"Thanks, and thank him for me, if I don't see him before I go," Todd said with genuine gratitude.

When they were seated, side-by-side, Mark asked, "Now what did you want to talk about?"

Todd sighed deeply and took a sip of coffee before he started.

"The cops have told Kelly that he was seen arguing with Kyle and two friends at Alley's. I'm hoping you might know who the two friends were. Kelly doesn't remember it and the cops are accusing him of murder. He needs to find out what they were arguing about," he said, looking down at the coffee table.

When there was no immediate response, he looked up to see Mark frowning sadly.

"I'm sorry, dude. We really haven't had a chance to say anything previously. Remember, you can call us, but we can't call you.

"The two friends were Steve and me."

Todd's eyes opened wide in surprise, and then he grinned. "So you can tell me what really happened!"

Mark looked away.

"The cops have already questioned us. We told them that Kelly was arguing with Kyle about supplying weed to one of his college mates. Kelly wanted Kyle to stay away from him. The cops asked us who it was, but we said that the two of them didn't mention any names. We also told them that we didn't know anything about it."

Todd stared. "But Kyle wasn't doing that anymore! He stopped doing it months ago. He told me he did it for me!"

Mark nodded, still looking down at the floor.

"We know. We lied to the cops, Todd. We did it to protect you. We weren't prepared to out you to the cops and probably your whole family."

He looked up with moist eyes.

"Kelly was really warning Kyle to stay away from you, dude. He wanted to break you and Kyle up."

Todd was stunned. "But Kelly didn't know about us."

Mark shook his head. "You didn't think so, but he did. He threatened to go to the cops, if he had to, and get Kyle charged with rape, if Kyle didn't stop seeing you. I can remember him calling Kyle the faggot that turned his brother gay. I'm sorry, Todd, I really am. That's the other reason Steve doesn't like your brother."

Todd looked away, eyes brimming with more tears. He could imagine Kelly saying that. His brother had been having a hard time accepting that Todd's gay. He'd kept saying it was a phase, and that it'll pass.

"Kel told me of a dream he had; how he was telling someone that Kyle was bad for them. You must be right. I'd been thinking he'd just been confused, but Kelly knew, somehow.

"What happened next?" he asked dully.

"We don't know. Kelly and Kyle left, still arguing, and we went home. We heard about the accident the next day," Mark replied

Todd just stared at the floor.

"I'm sorry, Todd, but Kyle was a really good friend to me," Steve said quietly from the kitchen doorway. "We've been working together in construction for a while now, and I still can't believe he's gone."

Todd looked up and noticed that Steve was distressed. He was hurting, too.

"You and me both, Steve. You and me both."

* * *

Jessie opened Todd's door.

Todd was lying on his bed, headphones on, listening to his discman. His eyes were closed. It looked as if he'd been crying.

She stepped into the room and closed the door quietly behind her. Silently, she picked up the chair by Todd's desk and placed it next to his bed. Sitting down, she contemplated her youngest brother.

Taking a deep breath, and hoping she was doing the right thing, she reached over and switched off the discman.

Todd's eyes snapped open and his whole body jerked when he saw his sister looking down at him. He slipped the headphones off his head.

"Hi, Tadpole," she said gently. "I'm sorry, but there are some things we need to talk about."

"Hi, sis," he sniffed, struggling into an upright position on the bed. "What's up?"

"I've been talking with Kel about his problems. He's mentioned some things I want to discuss with you," Jessie said, trying to keep her tone calm and quiet. This wasn't going to be easy.

Todd looked at her and waited silently for her to continue.

"I've been pretty sure for quite a while now, Tadpole, but I've been waiting for you to say something. Because of Kelly, I can't wait anymore. He's told me that he's sure that someone he knows was seeing Kyle Usher."

She paused when Todd stiffened. It was the final proof she needed.

"Was Kyle your boyfriend, Todd?" she asked gently.

Todd's head jerked stiffly up and down. A new stream of tears threatened to fall.

"Oh, Todd," Jessie cried, as she suddenly realized the implications. She'd been concentrating so much on Kelly's problems that Todd's pain had been missed.

She reached over and gathered him into her arms. He resisted for a moment and then collapsed against her. She held him tight and let him cry. When he seemed to be calming down, she let him go.

"I think you need to tell Kel…" she started.

"NO!" Todd interrupted, panic on his face.

"Why not?" Jessie asked, trying to keep calm and quiet.

"I've already told him once, and I don't want to go through that again. It was horrible! He didn't say anything to anyone else, but he kept telling me that I wasn't really gay; that it was just a phase I was going through," Todd said without drawing breath, as if the floodgates had been let loose. "He was starting to get better near the end, and almost seemed to accept it when I told him I had a boyfriend, but now he's back to where he was. He doesn't remember any of it and I don't want to go through it again. Please, don't say anything to him!"

"Okay, Tadpole," Jessie said soothingly, while trying to piece together the jumble that Todd had thrown at her. "You'll need to tell him eventually, but I won't say anything."

"I know," he whispered, "but just not yet. I can't do it, not on top of everything else. Once he knows I'm gay, he'll work out that he killed my boyfriend. That's when everything really hits the fan."

* * *

Kelly sat down at the table in the school cafeteria.

"Thanks, guys, for coming. I've found out something that might help me figure out what really happened that night, but I need your help."

"No problem. What is it?" Marcus asked.

"Can I check something first? I had a dream last night and I want to see if my memory is starting to return," Kelly said, leaning forward eagerly.

"Sure, go ahead."

"Did we all go to the homecoming game this season?" Kelly asked. "I can remember sitting with you guys near the middle of the stands."

"Yeah, we did," Blake answered, flicking a smile to the others around the table.

"And Springfield won the game in the last minute?"

The others nodded their heads, grins spreading across all their faces at the evidence that Kelly was, slowly, regaining his memory.

"And McArthur scored the winning touchdown!" Kelly finished triumphantly.

"Er… no," Marcus replied apologetically. "He didn't play that game; he was out injured."

"Aaarggghhhh!" Kelly cried, raising clenched fists to the sky. "Why can't I remember things properly? I've got bits and pieces, but they're all mixed up!"

His friends were silent for several seconds.

"You said you found something out?" Hiro prompted, changing the topic.

Visibly calming himself down, Kelly reached down and pulled some papers from his bag. He then distributed them to Blake, Marcus and Hiro, putting one copy in the middle of the table.

"I think I knew Kyle from before the night of the accident, but I can't remember anything about him. Well, last night I did a search on my computer for any files that had 'kyle' in the name. I found one called 'kyle-mark-steve', but I couldn't make sense of it. When I realized it was some sort of temporary file left over by the photo editing software we have, I tried renaming it. It turned out to be a bitmap file."

Kelly indicated the papers he'd handed out.

"That's what was in the file."

They all looked at their copies. It showed a picture of three grinning guys on a couch. The background was too dark to make out where it was taken, but the way the three of them were clowning around, they were clearly good friends.

"From the photo that the detective showed me, the one on the right must be Kyle," Kelly stated.

"So that's what he looked like," Blake mused. "It's been strange, having a name and no face to put it to."

"I could be wrong," Kelly admitted. "Detective Conner showed me a police mugshot, trying to get me to admit I knew the guy."

"A mugshot?" Hiro asked quickly, straightening suddenly. "Do you know why?"

"Apparently, Kyle had a record, but only for minor stuff. The detective left it vague, but I got the impression it was for petty theft and weed."

"Where do you think this photo came from?" Blake asked, taping the paper in the middle of the table.

Kelly shrugged. "No idea. Maybe someone sent it to me. Maybe it's a piece of a large photo that I took of them secretly, and I was using the editor to crop it down to just these three. I just don't freakin' remember! All I know is I have something, and that's a start."

"That's all very well, but it doesn't seem to help much," Marcus stated.

"Yes it does," Hiro interrupted. "The detective said that Kelly argued with Kyle and two friends! It may not be these two, but if we find them, they may know the others. Then we can find out what really happened that night."

Kelly nodded. "That's what I was thinking, too."

He reached over and tapped the blonde guy in the middle of the picture.

"I'm positive I've seen this guy around at school. I can't remember where, but I'm sure of it. If we find one, we may find the others."

"Do you have any ideas on how to find one guy out of the thousands that go to Springfield U?" Marcus asked, slightly sarcastically.

"That's why I need your help," Kelly stated simply.

"It's a guess, but can we assume he's gay?" Hiro queried, looking around the table. "He might not be, but it's worth checking out."

"Do you mean hanging out at Alley's, just waiting for him to show up?" Blake asked. "I don't know if I could stand that for too long."

"Well, that's one possibility, but I had another," Hiro replied. "I think it may be time to join the school's GSA."

"GSA?" Kelly asked.

"The Gay/Straight Alliance."

There were general nods of the head from everyone. They had a plan, even if it wasn't much of one.

"I vote that Marcus goes as the 'Gay'," Hiro suggested mischievously. "All those in favor?"




Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors . Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 11


By James Savik

Five years ago, Detective Mike Conner had made his spurs by catching a budding serial killer targeting coeds at Springfield University. Jack Yarlboro was hardly a mastermind. In fact, he was a pathetic psycho. Conner caught an easy break in the case when the dumb a** snatched a victim under a security camera. His reputation as the resident homicide genius was set. He had caught all of the most difficult cases ever since. If ever there was a proof to the old axiom that no good deed goes unpunished, Mike Conner was it.

Conner sat alone at his kitchen table drinking scotch, smoking camels and looking at case files until long after midnight like he did every night. It helps for a good homicide detective to be an obsessive-compulsive. The drawback is that it wrecks the rest of your life.

His wife Holly couldn't take it. She had split with Little Mikie a few years ago and lives on the East side. Holly said that Homicide changed him. She had said that she married a man with a badge. Now all that is left, is the badge. Women say a lot of stupid s**t but if there wasn't some truth to it, it wouldn't sting nearly as much.

Conner earned his desk in the Robbery/Homicide Division of the Springfield Police Department He had the respect. He was a cop's cop. He was the biggest fish in a small pond with a caseload that left him glowering in frustration. The duty board in the squad room showed eleven open cases. Five of them were his.

Orlando Jones was set for trial in the murder of Mrs. Jones. The District Attorney's Office would probably plead it down to Murder 2. That one was in the bag.

The other cases were a real mess. He would have to get really lucky to have any shot at making any of them pan out.

Two years ago last October, Janine Sanders, a 24 year old grad student, never returned home from a laundry-mat. Her nude decomposing body was found the following February under a rural bridge four miles out of town. No leads, no clues, no suspects and nothing to go on.

A year and nine months ago, Travis Hardy, 19 year old suburban teen, was found dead in his car in a grimy West side alley with a 9mm slug in the head. He had been robbed in what looked like a drug deal gone sour. No leads, no clues, no suspects and nothing to go on.

Nine months ago, Heather Sommers, a pretty 15 year old, had been found dead in a ditch, raped with her throat slit. No leads, no clues, no suspects and nothing to go on.

A month ago the Usher/Yates file had landed on his desk. At first it looked like a dead bang case of vehicular homicide. It looked like Usher had been in the Yates kid's car and Yates had been raising hell. Yates is 20; Usher is 22— happens all the time, another sad statistic.

There was always pressure from the seventh floor to close the case. However, given the evidence, it just didn't add up.

Conner had visited Usher's apartment early on. It was a sparsely furnished one bedroom in the community that catered to University students. The only remarkable thing about the place was how unremarkable it was. There was nothing there to give him any insight into just who this Usher fellow was- no pictures, no old high school yearbooks, and no letters from home. It struck him that Usher's apartment was almost unnaturally clean for a 22-year-old male.

The accident investigators discovered that another vehicle had been involved. The second vehicle, a truck, had belonged to Usher. The accident scene was so complex that the lab guys wouldn't sign off on the report and shipped what they had off to the State Crime Lab. They in turn bumped it up to Quantico to let the Feds take a look-see.

Once Usher's truck was found, things got a lot more interesting. The lab reported finding residue from Pot, X and cocaine in various locations in the truck. Conner asked the guys in Vice and Narcotics about Usher. They said that Usher had been seen around some interesting people but they had never gotten a line on him.

A .380 Beretta automatic was also found in the truck. The serial number matched a shipment from Beretta International to the Brazilian Policies in 1994. It was complete with the pre-Brady 14-round clip. This aroused Conner's curiosity as one of the ways that "the Mob" and some of the more sophisticated and organized gangs got their hands on weapons was to buy or steal them abroad and then smuggle them back into the country. How did a punk like Usher get his hands on a cold gun? A nice piece like Usher's Beretta would run an easy $1500 after it had been imported under the table.

Usher and Yates were seen arguing the night of the accident. Who were those two putzs from that gay bar- Steve and Mark? They said that Yates was furious at Usher for selling weed to one of his college buddies. Something about their story reeked but there was one thing that stood out: Yates retreated and Usher followed.

Like any good detective, Conner could read people very well. His gut told him that the Yates kid just wasn't a killer. Yates had no priors and everybody that he had interviewed spoke well of him. As far as he could tell, there was no link between Usher and Yates at all.

So the whole range of options was open: negligence, malice or self-defense. It was all clear as mud. The pieces were there but Conner just couldn't make any of them fit.

He stuffed the files in his briefcase and slammed it in disgust. If this case was a dog, he would shave its a** and teach it to walk backwards.

But not until after he had another drink.

Springfield University's Gay-Straight Alliance met every other Tuesday night at 7:00 in the back room of a popular coffee shop in the University District Despite the liberal nature of the academics that ran Springfield U, the alumni were rather conservative about such matters. Every spring the GSA applied for a charter from the University President and every year he came up with a different and nebulous excuse not to grant them one.

Despite lacking Springfield U's official stamp of approval, the GSA was kept alive in an ex officio capacity off campus with the support of friendly faculty members, a hand full of gay-friendly business sponsors, a small but dedicated group of students and a webmaster.

Blake had easily discovered the GSA's web site. It was a very professional site that discussed the organizations community service projects and mission to promote diversity and tolerance. If they were going to find Mark and Steve, a visit to the GSA was their best bet in the short run.

Kelly, Blake and Marcus made plans to attend the next meeting. Marcus groaned loudly but relented and agreed to go. Hiro couldn't make it because he had a lab Tuesday nights. He was devastated that he would miss a golden opportunity to torment Marcus.

The Counter Culture was a very nice coffee shop that had once been a defunct restaurant a few blocks from the University campus. The new owner had done a very nice job fixing the place up. It had a nice, relaxed atmosphere with comfortable furnishings, good music and even a wireless hot spot for nerds. There was a variety of activities hosted at the Coffee Shop: poetry readings, live music, private parties and meetings for various liberal activists.

The three of them arrived a few minutes before seven. The GSA met in the back in a banquet room that was used for the gatherings hosted by the coffee shop. They took seats in the back of the room. Marcus was noticeably anxious while Blake looked like he might nod off at any moment.

Over the next few minutes, an eclectic group of people arrived: in pairs or groups but a few as individuals. The thought that struck Kelly: these people look so normal If he didn't know any better, the meeting could be the Chess Club or the Debate Team.

Once about twenty people had arrived, a pretty young lady with unnatural exuberance and a clipboard sat on the edge of the conference table with her feet dangling. She cleared her throat to call the meeting to order.

"Hi everyone! I'm Tiffany Rogers, Springfield GSA's Chairperson and I'm calling this meeting to order. First, I want to welcome our guests and thank you for coming."

The group acknowledged Kelly and his friends and Tiffany continued, "Getting down to business, I want to ask our charter petition committee how we are doing."

A studious looking guy with glasses said, "We've got over four hundred signatures The school requires five hundred but I'm shooting for seven-fifty to make our point. We should be able to file it before the end of the term so we have a shot at a charter by next fall."

Tiffany smiled and said, "Thanks Craig. Amy, how is our food drive going for the Westside Homeless Shelter?"

A cute girl in glasses and curls answered, "We delivered 12 boxes of canned goods and 14 boxes of dry goods this month. Remember guys, they really need our support and we can't slack off."

"Thank you Amy. Is there any new business?"

A tall guy wearing a Tool t-shirt spoke up. "Tiffany, I think we should look at helping the Springfield Animal Shelter. They need volunteers to help out and donations of dog and cat food. If we could come up with two people to help out twice a week and 40 pounds of dry food, we could really help them out."

Tiffany looked around the room and then replied, "That is a good idea Kirk. The more community service projects we put on our resume the better our chances of getting our charter but I'm a little concerned that we might be spreading ourselves too thin. What do you guys think?"

There was a general murmuring and nodding of heads around the room. A guy with long blond hair and a goatee said, "I move that we put it to a vote."

Someone seconded the motion. Tiffany called for a vote,"All those in favor of taking on the Springfield Animal shelter as one of our projects say aye." There were a number of "ayes". Then Tiffany said, "All opposed, say nay." There was none.

Tiffany said, "The motion carries. Kirk, would you mind heading up the project?"

The tall guy in the Tool t-shirt beamed and said, "Sure. No problem Tiff. I was planning on putting in some volunteer hours there anyway."

The meeting continued for another twenty minutes or so. Kelly and his friends were a little mystified. Blake whispered to Kelly and Marcus, "These people don't have time to be gay. They are hyper-active do-gooders."

By 7:30, the formal part of the meeting was winding down and a Scott Baio look-a-like with a dazzling smile carrying a stack of pizzas under one arm and a case of soft drinks under the other.

Tiffany exclaimed, "Well, Angel is here with the pizzas guys. I move that we eat All opposed can have cold pizza."

Blake tapped Kelly to get his attention and gestured towards Marcus. He was looking right at the pizza guy and he was literally pale.

Kelly asked Marcus, "Hey dude, what's wrong?"

Marcus didn't answer and kept staring at the guy Tiffany had called Angel who was laying out the pizza and drinks while the rest of the crowd was preparing to graze.

Kelly gently touched Marcus's arm and asked, "Marcus, is something wrong."

Marcus looked at Kelly and Blake and said, "I think I know that guy."

Blake said, "We know most of these guys, I've got classes with half of them."

Marcus shook his head and said, "No, you don't understand…"

Angel walked up to Kelly's group and said, "Hey Marcus, I'm glad to see you here."

Marcus looked down at the floor and said, "Angel, I'm sorry man, I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry I was such an a******."

Angel smiled and said, "Dude, we were 13. I won't say that I wasn't hurt but it's all water under the bridge."

Kelly and Blake were shocked by Marcus's reaction. He had tears running down his face. He said haltingly, "Angel, we were best friends for years. I owed you better than what I did."

Angel's smile disappeared and he said, "Yeah, I would have to agree with you about that. We were kids and I've forgiven you. Maybe you should forgive yourself. Let's get some food and we can talk."

Kelly and Blake were mystified about what was going on but they picked up some pizza and the four of them sat in a cluster. Marcus's two friends were a little concerned. They had never seen anything so completely rattle their friend.

Marcus took a bite of pizza and had a drink. It looked like he was collecting himself. Then he said, "Before I knew you guys, Angel and I were best friends from like second grade. We rode in the same BMX league together, won hell of a lot of trophies. We were like brothers. For a long time, we were inseparable. Then towards the end of seventh grade, Angel came out to me and I freaked. I told him to get lost. Worse than that, I told everybody at school and turned his life into a living hell."

By now tears were rolling down Marcus's cheeks. He took a drink and continued "I… f***** over my best friend and hurt myself as much as I hurt him. It's like I lost a brother—no worse. I threw him away."

"Kelly, when I ran into you on that trail a long time ago, I wasn't being a spaz. I was crying and I couldn't see. When I saw what the other kids did and said to Angel, it tore me up." With that Marcus lost it and completely broke down.

Conner showed his badge to Murphy, the Evidence Technician who manning the property room and was buzzed in. The Detective gave Murphy the case number and was led into a room with a large table. In a few minutes, Murphy returned with two boxes marked with the case number and a set of latex gloves.

As was departmental policy, to insure the integrity of evidence, two officers had to be present whenever evidence was viewed. Conner signed the chain of custody document and put the time and date of the viewing. Murphy also signed the document as a witness.

Murphy asked, "Is there anything I can do to help Mike?"

Conner replied while he was putting on the gloves, "I don't think so I just want to look at it again to see if there is anything I missed."

Murphy pulled up a couple of stools. Conner muttered, thanks, as he removed the lid to the first box. He pulled out a plastic bag containing Usher's Beretta and put it on the table. Then he pulled the notebook with the lab report on the weapon out of the box. There was nothing special about the pistol itself other than its curious and circuitous origin. The lab had fired off a few test shots and compared the slugs to both the state and FBI ballistics database's to see if they matched any other crimes. Nothing.

A forensic analysis of the gun revealed that it had not been fired very often, certainly not recently and had been lovingly maintained.

He put the gun back into the large zip-lock bag and put it back in the first box.

He opened the second box that contained the clothes that Usher had been wearing. The box contained Levis, a black leather jacket, a black Korn t-shirt and some boots.

Conner removed one of the black combat boots that many college aged kids found so stylish That amused Conner somewhat. After he had taken off a pair just like these at Fort Bragg, he swore he would never wear them again. Usher kept his boots in decent shape but not nearly good enough to pass muster with a Drill Sergeant.

The boots were shined but scuffed up a bit which was perfectly understandable since Usher had died in them. He noticed bluish scuffs on both the boot and the elbows of the jacket. When he looked at the sole of the boot, he saw an irregular rusty colored powder. While it was all the same material, the granules were everything from dust to small pebbles.

Conner asked, "Murphy, what do you make of the stuff on the soles of these boots?"

The evidence tech answered, "The lab guys were interested in that too. Turns out it is brick dust which makes sense. The guy did work construction."

Conner said, "Thanks. I'm done here. I need to take another look at both vehicles."

Kelly couldn't help but like Angel. He was grateful for the way he was treating Marcus. In the state that Marcus was in, Angel could have cut him to pieces if he had wanted to. Instead, he did his best to mend fences despite the damage that Marcus had done. It took a little while for Marcus to get it back together which was a side of his friend that Kelly had never seen.

The four of them had found a nice quiet booth in the coffee shop and sat talking quietly It turned out that Angel's family had moved from Springfield to a small town called Fort Charles a couple of hours away the summer that Angel had been outed. Angel had gone to Clark County Junior College his freshman year and had returned to Springfield University in the fall of the previous year.

It was easy to see that Angel and Marcus were old friends. Given a little time to shake off the shock of their abrupt reunion, the two friends were chattering on about old times and asking the inevitable what-ever-happened-to questions.

Given the drama of the moment and his concern about Marcus's emotional state, Kelly almost forgot their original mission.

When things had abated somewhat, Kelly decided to bring up the subject of Mark and Steve He took a copy of the picture that he had found on his computer out of his wallet and handed it to Angel. "Do you know any of these guys? It is kind of important."

Angel looked at the picture and said, "I think that I've seen all of them around. I know this one for sure." He pointed at the guy that was labeled Mark.

Blake perked up and said, "Really? What is his name? We think that he witnessed an accident and we need to get in touch with him."

Angel replied casually,"This guy's name is Eric Keys. I met him when I was at Clark County Junior College. He graduated last year with a degree in Criminal Justice. I heard he went to the State Police Academy last summer and is a Cop now"

Kelly was stunned. Marcus said, "It's very important Angel. Are you sure?"

Angel laughed and said, "Yeah I'm sure. He was real gung ho about being a Cop. It's all he ever talked about."

Kelly looked at Marcus and Blake in bewilderment.

Detective Conner took his maglite out into the police impound yard. It was dark but the Yates kid's Camaro and Usher's Ford F-150 were sitting side by side under one of the lights.

First, he looked at the Ford Truck. It had significant front-end damage but was still drivable. He shined his maglite into the bed of the truck and saw small chunks of bricks and lots of red, rusty colored dust.

He walked over and looked at the Yates kid's Camaro rear end. The Ford had obviously hit the Camaro. The Camaro was such a mess that he had missed the scuff marks on the roof and hood when he first looked at it.

Dammit, he thought. How did I miss that? He jumped up into the bed of Usher's truck and looked at the chrome roll bar. He didn't even need a fingerprint kit to see where Usher's hands had been.

Usher had been in the back of his truck. Yates had braked unexpectedly and the Ford had rear ended him. Usher was thrown over the cab of the truck and landed on the Camaro, which lost control and hit the rail.

Conner asked himself, why did Yates brake?

On a hunch, Conner walked around to the front to the mangled Camaro. He got down on one knee and looked closely at the air dam. There was a black stain like dried blood and some light colored fur in a messy splatter.

It looked like Rocky Raccoon had met a very bad end.

He stood up and dusted himself off. Yates wasn't his perp after all. He was looking for the driver of the truck.

After hanging out at the Counter Culture until after ten talking, the guys all split up to go home. Marcus asked Angel for a ride home.

On the way, there was an awkward silence and then they both tried to speak at once. Marcus said, "We always used to do that."

Angel just nodded.

Marcus took the initiative, "Angel, I'm really sorry about what happened What we were doing and the feelings I was having, they terrified me."

Angel said, "Yeah, I know. I'm sorry that I pushed you. I thought you enjoyed it as much as I did."

Marcus sighed, "I did… like it. I liked it a lot. It's just when I figured out what we were doing, I couldn't handle it. I freaked I didn't want to be..."


Marcus replied meekly, "Yeah. It scares the hell out of me."

Angel laughed, "That is not the Marcus I remember. He was fearless."

Marcus shrugged, "I don't know Angel."

Angel pulled up in front of Marcus's house and asked, "What is it that you don't know."

Marcus was quiet for a minute. "I don't know if I'm gay but I am certain of two things. I've regretted f****** things up between us for years."

Angel asked, "What is the other thing?"

Marcus turned to Angel and said, "That I've always loved you."

The two friends embraced, finally reunited and began the process of healing of an old, deep and painful hurt.

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors . Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 12



Kelly looked down at the worn legal pad again appraising the list he had painstakingly scribbled out, making sure nothing was missing.


1) I knew Kyle Usher before the accident

2) I was arguing with Kyle at Alley's before the accident

3) The two guys in the picture were apparently with us when we argued

4) My car was rear-ended by Kyle's truck

5) Kyle was in my car when the accident happened

6) Someone I know is or might be gay

Kelly peered down at the list, chewing the end of his pencil, pondering if there was anything else he needed to add to it. His brow furrowed before he put pencil to paper again and added:

7) I am NOT gay

He mulled over his list for a moment before drawing a heavy line across the paper and starting another one.


1) Why Kyle was in my car

2) Who the two guys in the picture are

3) Why I was at Alley's the night of the accident

4) Why I was fighting with Kyle

5) Who I would know that's gay

He looked at that list again and tried to work out the questions in his mind. Obviously Kyle was in his car because they hadn't finished their argument at the bar. But where the hell were they going? Kelly had absolutely no reason to be on that road.

The two guys in the picture had obviously known Kyle. In the photo they had those looks on their faces that speak of years of friendship. Plus, they were obviously comfortable with each other the way they were clowning around.

The third one was a little easier to work out. He obviously had a beef with Kyle over something or other. The only question was, what was it? Had Kyle hit on him? He didn't think so. Maybe that tied in with number five. Maybe he had a beef with Kyle based on the fact that whoever he knew that was gay had something to do with him?

"s**t!" He exclaimed, slamming his hand down on the desk. This doesn't make any f****** sense!

He picked up the pencil and, in a moment of rage, scrawled I'M GOING f****** INSANE across the bottom of the page.

Detective Conner sat at his desk going over the Yates/Usher file for the hundredth time, looking for the missing piece of the puzzle. Something about this puzzle doesn't make sense, he thought, it's like I've got two different puzzles I'm trying to put together into one and it ain't working!

The realization that Usher wasn't in the car with Kelly had thrown him for a loop. He was so sure he needed just one last shred of evidence to connect the little rat to Usher's death and he could close this file and get the hell on with his life.

He'd already decided he'd keep Kelly Yates out of the loop on that for now Good to make the kid sweat. Maybe he'd get scared and drop some little tidbit of information that could be useful. Hell, maybe he'd even "remember" something and incriminate himself!

He looked down at the folder again, thinking of anything he could use to tie the pieces together The accident report still wasn't back from the Feds and the insurance investigation hadn't turned up anything more than a small smear of Usher's blood on top of the hood, reinforcing the theory that Usher was in the back of the truck.

He idly sifted through the contents of the folder, examining each page again for some detail he missed. Coming across Kelly's medical records from the hospital, he paused "Something's missing here," he grumbled to himself

A shocked look came over his face as he realized something that was here before was missing Somebody had been messing with his file!

Conner spun around, snatching the beat-up receiver of the base of the phone, and spat at the operator, "Get me the coroner's office!"

Kelly, Hiro, and Blake sat wedged around a small table in the back of the Purple Onion, the horribly unskilled DJ mixing techno records that nobody ever heard of from a ratty DJ booth in the back.

This bar was definitely nothing like Alley's. Where Alley's tried to pull off a chic, trendy look that made the place look just a little too fake and gaudy, the Purple Onion was nothing more than a trashy meat market. The entire room, bar and all, was painted a hideous shade of dark purple with garish posters of what Kelly guessed classified as "erotic art" stapled directly to the walls. Behind the bar, various small plastic stick-on figures posed in mind-bending sexual positions were stuck to every available surface, highlighted by blacklights attached to the warped and sagging black ceiling tiles.

The tables were all chipped and scarred, with some of them so rickety that you couldn't set your drink on them for fear of it sliding off the table and onto the floor

The air hung thick with a great plume of smoke and, from where Kelly was sitting, most of it didn't smell like it had come from cigarettes.

Blake cringed and slumped down in his chair as a thin, waif-like boy who looked no older than fourteen dragged a skinny finger across his shoulders on his way by.

When Kelly had called up his friends demanding that they come with him on another fact-finding mission, they had no idea that they'd be crammed into the back of a rat trap being hit on by everything in the place.

A greasy old man, wearing clothes that were out of style twenty years ago and stinking of cheap cologne and alcohol sauntered by for the third time that evening, eying the fresh meat warily. Leaning over, he put his mouth right behind Hiro's ear and slurred, "Come into the back, you hot little man. I can suck a bowling ball through a straw."

Hiro stiffened visibly and shrank away from the old man, wiping the side of his face as if that alone would rid him of the entire encounter.

"I'm giving you fifteen more minutes, Kel," Hiro hissed, crossing his arms and staring down his friend. "I've been hit on more times in the last half hour than I care to count, by guys old enough to be my Dad I understand you need to work this s**t out and all, but this is seriously creeping me out. Memory or no memory, I am not sitting here one more minute and being mentally undressed by these freaks!"

Kelly shot Hiro an angry glare. "Hiro, I came here looking for information and I intend to find something if it kills me! Stop acting like a spoiled little kid!"

"Hey," Blake interrupted, putting a hand on Kelly's shoulder to calm him down. "Even you've got to admit, Kel, this place is kinda creepy."

Kelly's expression softened as he looked from Hiro to Blake, not realizing until that moment how uncomfortable his friends were. He was so intent on finding out something that could help him he'd completely ignored the effect that this "environment" was having on his friends.

"OK," he reluctantly agreed, "fifteen minutes and then we're out of here. I know I'm grasping at straws here, guys, but I just don't know what else to do. I'm about to go out of my mind trying to work all this s**t out."

"We're not asking you to give up, Kel," Blake said, shooting a sharp look at Hiro. "If you think you can find answers here that's fine, we'll stay."

"He said we could go in fifteen minutes, Blake," Hiro spat, now doing his best to stare down both of them.

"Shut up, Hiro! Listen, if Kelly thinks…"

Blake trailed off when he looked over at Kelly and realized that he was no longer paying attention to the conversation, instead staring dumbfounded at the bar, where two guys had just walked in and were bumping hands with the bartender.

"Kelly," Blake barked, snapping his finger in front of Kelly's face to get his attention, "what's…"

At the sound of Blake's fingers snapping in front of his face, Kelly vaulted out of his seat towards the bar, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a crumpled piece of paper.

"You," he roared, stalking up to the bar and confronting the newcomers, "I want to know who you are and how the f**k you know me!"

The shorter of the two men visibly shrank from the enraged stranger while the taller one puffed out his chest and turned, squaring up with Kelly as if getting ready to defend himself. The patrons in at the other end of the bar were now glancing nervously out of the corners of their eyes at the scene unfolding a few feet away from them Even the shitty DJ in the back corner missed his cue on the next song trying to watch what was unfolding.

"Whoa, what the hell," the bigger man replied. "Who in the hell are you and why the hell are you screaming at me and my boyfriend?"

"First of all," Kelly replied, squaring off against the guy in front of him, "I want to know who the hell you are, how you know me, and how the hell you know Kyle Usher!"

"OK, wait," the man said, trying to slow Kelly down a little bit, "who are you? And Usher, what? I'm not sure what you're asking here."

"I didn't say who I am," Kelly spat, "but you know me. I know you do. And I know you know Kyle Usher!"

"How do you know we knew this Usher guy, and what makes you think I know you from f****** Adam?"

"Because," Kelly stated, pulling out the crumpled paper and unfolding it in front of the guy's face, "I had this picture on my computer and you guys are in it with Kyle!"

The bigger guy's face turned from a sneer into a stone mask instantly, while the smaller man visibly paled and gaped at the picture.

"Where the f**k did you get this?" he asked, pointing at the picture in Kelly's outstretched hand.

"I told you, a******, it was on my computer. And now, you're going to tell me why I have a picture of you and your boyfriend!"

The bigger man spun around and confronted his companion. "Mark! Where did this picture come from?"

At the mention of the name Mark, Kelly's brain flashed back to Alley's and the fight with the mysterious guys. He placed a hand on the bar to steady himself as part of a memory came flooding back with such clarity that it made him dizzy. Mark…Mark…and Steve!

"You're Mark and Steve," Kelly blurted out, shocking himself and both men. "You guys and Kyle Usher are the people I was fighting with at Alley's the night of the crash!"

"You're not supposed to have that picture," Mark stated, finally making himself known from behind Steve. "I sent that to…"

"Mark!" Steve shouted, interrupting him before he could finish the sentence, but Kelly finished for him. The only other person who used that computer was…


Before anyone knew what was going on, Kelly sprinted out the door and out into the street.

Detective Conner sat at his desk, replaying the conversation with the Coroner's Office over and over again in his head.

"What do you mean you don't have an autopsy report for Kyle Usher?" he had screeched into the phone, "I had a copy of it in my file here the other day!"

"I'm sorry, Detective," the voice on the other end had replied, "we have no record of a Kyle Usher being in this facility at all. Are you sure you have the right name?"

"Of course I have the right f****** name," he had snapped, venom dripping from his voice, "I've been working this case since the accident and I know there was an autopsy done on this corpse the very night it was brought in!"

"Detective, I'm telling you there's no record…"

"Get me the M.E. then. Maybe he'll remember autopsying the corpse that made headlines for weeks!"

And when he had gotten the Medical Examiner on the phone, the conversation had gone exactly the same way. No record of Kyle Usher ever being in the facility. No body, no remains, no paper trail, no nothing!

He rifled through the dog-eared case file on his desk again, hoping he'd missed it before.

Just as he was slamming his hands down in frustration on his desk, Captain O'Brien walked through the door.

"Whoa there, Mike," he said, perching himself on the corner of the worn desk, "Take a chill pill. I understand that you had a…conversation with the M.E.'s office this afternoon."

"Cap, I just don't f****** understand it," Conner replied, shaking his head. "One minute, I have a copy of this autopsy in my investigation file and the next, not only is it missing from here, it's missing from the M.E.'s office, too. I know the kid's dead! I saw his grave! I don't know what the hell is going on here, but I'm going to get to the bottom of it ASAP!"

"No, you're not, Mike. As of now, the Yates/Usher case is officially closed"

"Closed," Conner yelled, shooting up from his desk, "Closed? What the f**k are you talking about?"

"It's closed, Detective," Captain O'Brien snapped, "end-of-story. No more questions, no more investigations, no more anything. It's closed."

"I don't understand, Cap, what…"

"It doesn't matter, Mike," O'Brien replied. "None of it matters. This case is officially dead in the water."

Conner watched his Captain walk back into his office, seething with rage.

"Closed," he muttered under his breath, "we'll see about that…"

The front door of the Yates house flew open as Kelly stalked into the hallway and made a beeline for the stairs.

His mother looked up, startled, from her perch on the couch as her older son steamrolled his way across the living room intent on reaching the stairway.

"Kelly," she inquired, "what are you doing home? I thought you guys were staying at Hiro's."

Kelly flung his hand up at her as he continued towards the staircase indicating that he would not be stopping to talk to her.

He stormed up the stairs, not stopping to knock before he burst into Todd's room, screaming at the top of his lungs, "All right, Todd. I want to know just how the hell you know Kyle Usher, and those guys Steve and Mark!"

Todd visibly stiffened in his desk chair before spinning around slowly to face his enraged brother


"Don't play stupid! Mark and Steve, and Kyle Usher," he yelled again, pulling the crumpled picture back out of his pocket. "I found this picture on our computer, and I sure as hell know it's not mine!"

Todd's eyes started darting around the room, searching frantically for an exit.

"Todd, I know you know who these guys are," Kelly pleaded. "I'm trying everything in my goddamned power to piece together what happened on the night of the accident! You know who these guys are, and you let me sit here like a monkey f****** a football knowing exactly who was at the bar while I'm trying to find out what the hell happened to me!"

Todd slumped in his desk chair, tears springing to his eyes and threatening to spill down his cheeks.

"C'mon, Todd," Kelly pleaded, "tell me what you know! Please!"

Todd sighed heavily, not at all ready for this conversation, again, and not ready for what he knew would come after it, again.

He nodded his head slightly as he began to speak. "Mark and Steve were Kyle's best friends. He knew them forever."

"And how do you know them and Kyle," Kelly demanded, waving the picture in the air.

"Up until the accident, Kel," Todd stated, tears now streaming freely down his face, "Kyle was…my boyfriend."

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address,Collision Authors . Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 13

Lather. Rinse Repeat.


I was just sitting in my room when he burst in. I'd been trying to do my homework, but I couldn't. I just couldn't concentrate. Between losing Kyle and what happened to Kelly. Plus, I knew what was coming. It wouldn't be long before Kelly got his memory back and he remembered. I was hoping that he'd not remember that I'd already come out to him when I came out to him again and that when I did, he'd take it better. Given the seeming rage he was in when he burst into my room, I'd say he wasn't going to take it any better.

Kelly just stood there after I dropped my bombshell on him again. We'd already had this conversation, but obviously he still didn't remember. He kept looking at the picture and then at me, as though he was fighting some internal battle. He looked like he wanted to say something several times but nothing came out. He finally looked ready to say something when Mom interrupted us.

"Kelly, Todd?" Mom asked knocking on my door. "Everything ok?"

Kelly whipped around to look at her. He had the picture in his hand, seemingly ready to thrust it toward her.

"Everything's fine Mom," I answered before Kelly said or did anything "Jer and I had played a joke on Kelly and he finally figured it out." I hated lying to her, but I wasn't ready to come out to her, and I wasn't about to let my older brother do it for me.

"Todd," Mom reprimanded me. "You shouldn't be doing that, not while Kelly's still recovering."

"I'm sorry," I said. "It won't happen again."

"Just see that it doesn't young man." And with that, she left us alone. I got up and went to the door with every intention of shutting it.

Kelly finally found his voice. "Kyle was your what?" His voice was still a little loud. I didn't want to have this conversation with him in the house. Not where Mom could hear us. I pulled the door open the rest of the way and motioned to Kelly to leave. He looked at me but didn't move.

"Not here, not now," I replied in a low voice. It was bad enough that I was going to have this conversation with him again, but I'd be damned if he controlled the situation any further. "Outside, where we can be alone."

Kelly gave me a questioning look but headed toward the door anyway. I followed him and shut my door behind me. We made it downstairs without running into Mom and went outside I headed into the backyard, to the old swing set and sandbox that we had.

I sat down on one of the swings. It had been years since I'd actually used the set I don't know why Dad kept it around. Maybe he was hoping that he'd have some grandkids he could push on the swings and watch make sandcastles in the sandbox. I starred at my feet, not daring to look at Kelly.

"Ok, we're alone. Happy?" Kelly leaned against one of the support poles. "What's this about Kyle being your boyfriend?"

I moved the swing a bit using my feet. The back and forth motion was somewhat comforting. It brought me back to a time when I was younger, when I didn't have a care in the world, unlike these days. "Yeah, Kyle Usher is my boyfriend. Or I should say was, until the night of the accident." I chanced a look at Kel. He had this look on his face that was hard to pinpoint. It could have been horror, it could have been shock, or maybe outright disgust. I couldn't tell. My stomach became full of butterflies and I felt like I did the day of the accident. That was the last time I'd had this conversation with my big brother.

"But how, how could you date a guy?" Kelly finally asked, his voice more quiet. "It's just not right."

"How can you date a girl?" I shot back.

"But that's normal."

I snorted "Who are you to decide what's normal for me? Dating girls is normal for you, dating guys is normal for me."

Kelly gestured with his hands as he spoke. "But it goes against nature."

I shot up out of the seat. We were starting down the same path again. "Goes against nature? If it went against nature then I'd be dating girls." I moved over closer to him. He pulled back a bit. "Mother Nature wouldn't have decided that I'm gay. If it went against nature then other animals on this planet wouldn't be gay. Did you know that there is a zoo that has a pair of gay penguins? That's right, two male penguins that only show interest in each other. They ignore the female penguins and all the other male penguins." I backed off.

"But why Kyle? He's so much older than you."

I sat back down on the seat rather heavily. I still hadn't completely accepted Kyle's death. "What does that matter? He's dead."

"It matters! You're under eighteen!" He gestured again.

I started swinging again. "Yeah, so? I'm over the age of consent."

Kelly got this look of absolute disgust on his face. "Does that mean you two did it?"

I stopped my swinging and got up. "That is none of your business," I responded in a low voice with as much force as I could muster. I suppose I could disgust him, let him know what Kyle and I did, and how often we did it. I could even make stuff up, he'd never know.

Kel shook his head. "I can't believe you never told me." It was obvious he didn't want to think about the sex part, or discuss it any further.

"How do you know I didn't?" I asked him. "With your memory of the last six months gone, you don't know do you. You don't even know why my boyfriend was in your car or why you killed him."

Kelly shuddered "Don't say that."

"What? That you killed my boyfriend? Or is it the word boyfriend you don't like?" Kelly shuddered again. "Boyfriend? What's wrong with that word Kel?"

"It's not something a guy says. It's what a girl says."

Kel shuddered for a third time. "Yeah, well, I guess I won't be saying much in the future, now that Kyle's gone."

We both lapsed into silence, each not looking at the other. Kel finally moved over to the swing set and sat down. I sat down again. "Did you ever tell me?" He finally asked. "You know, during the six months that I've forgotten?"

I sighed. "Does it matter? You know now."

"Of course it matters. I'm trying to get my memory back, Toad. I'm trying to get those six months back. To figure out what I forgot, and why I ended up in the hospital and why Kyle was in my car. Did you tell me?"

I sighed again before I answered him. "Yeah, I told you. You were the first person I told."

"Others know?" He sounded incredulous and surprised that I'd tell others.

"Yeah, they do now. I wasn't going to tell anyone else, especially not after what happened the last time." I resumed my swinging.

Kel stopped swinging. "What do you mean the last time?"

"Let's just say that you were even less receptive to the idea then you are now and leave it at that."

"Was I that bad?" He sounded shocked.

"Yeah you were Kelly. You were a real a****** about it, about everything. So much so that I decided right then and there that I wasn't going to come out to anyone else. I couldn't handle it. I didn't want to go through that again."

"But you obviously changed your mind."

"No, not really."

"What do you mean?"

"If it wasn't for the accident you'd still be the only one who knows, or at least the only one I'd told."

"How'd the accident change that?"

"Think about it. My brother had been in a major car accident and some other guy was killed. Nobody we know knew who he was. Me. I was the only one who knew him. Nobody knew what he meant to me. I had to grieve privately for him. I couldn't go to his funeral; I couldn't talk to anyone about it. Nothing. Jesse finally figured me out a few days after the accident. I slipped up or something, but she figured me out. I came out to Jeremy while you were in the hospital. We'd kinda drifted apart. I'd been spending a lot of my free time with Kyle and not seeing so much of Jeremy. He couldn't understand what had happened and why. I had to tell him, I had to take the chance so he could understand."

Kelly sat there for a couple of minutes before he spoke again, just moving ever so slightly back and forth. "Did he take it better than I did?"

I let out a small chuckle. "Yeah, he did. He took it like I was hoping you'd take the news." I paused. "He had already been wondering about me so it didn't come as much of a shock to him. He later told me that he had a cousin who lived in Kansas who was gay. His father kicked him out of the house. He ended up living with his boyfriend and his' boyfriend's brother and the brother's boyfriend."

He turned to look at me. "Why did you tell me?"

I paused for a few seconds before I answered him. That was a good question. Why did I tell him? "Why? Cause you're my brother, that's why. I figured if anyone would understand, would accept me for what I was, my older brother would" Yeah, that sounds about right.

"And I was a real a******?"

"Yeah. Fortunately I waited until we were the only ones home. Although with the way you yelled and screamed I was surprised the neighbors didn't call the cops."

He looked at me guiltily. "That bad, huh?"

"I've never been afraid of you Kelly, never in my whole life, except for that night. That night you scared the ever-living s**t out of me. You yelled, you screamed, I thought you were going to hit me. You called me every name in the book and a few that I had never heard before and I hope I never hear again."

Kelly stood up. "I don't remember any of that," he said softly.

"Well, I do." It was my turn to shudder thinking back to that night. "I remember it vividly."

"I didn't hit you, did I?"

"No, not at that point."

Kelly whipped around to face me. "I hit you?"

I nodded. "Well, more like punched. My stomach still hurts on occasion."

"When did I hit you?"

"Shortly before you took off. I just thought you needed to think, to cool off. I was wrong of course." Yeah, was I ever wrong.

"How were you wrong?"

"Cause that was the night of your accident. Apparently you took off to the Purple Onion after punching me. What happened after that and up until Dad got the call, only you and whoever was driving Kyle's truck knows."

Kel stopped moving and fell onto his a** on the ground. I moved over to him. "Kelly! You ok?"

It took him a second or two but he finally turned to look at me. "Yeah, I'm ok. I just had a memory come back at me full force. I remember being angry, very angry."

"Yeah, you were rather angry that night. You were very mad at me."

Kelly shook his head. "No, I don't think I was," he started to say "I don't know who I was mad at, but I don't think it was you. Why'd I take off to the Purple Onion?"

"Probably because you thought that's where you'd find Kyle."

"You told me about Kyle?"

"It kinda slipped out. After your reaction to my telling you I was gay, I wasn't going to say anything about Kyle. But it kind of slipped out. You threw a nutty, punched me in the stomach and took off."

Kelly got up and grabbed me in a hug. "Oh god, Toad, I'm so sorry!" I held onto him tightly and I hugged him back.

"Why the different 'tude this time bro?" I asked him when we finally separated.

"What do you mean?"

"When I came out to you last time, you were an a******, this time, you're much calmer."

He stood there for a couple of seconds before he answered. "Guess I was more prepared this time."

I gave him a questioning look.

"Ever since I awoke from the coma I've been trying to get my memory back, figure out what I was missing, what happened and why. I was trying to figure out why I was at a gay club, why I had some guy in my car that I don't think I ever knew. I talked to Blake about it and he assured me that I was straight, but still I wondered if maybe I was hiding it, even from him. So I started to do some investigating and that lead me to the computer."

My face fell "Oh."

"Yeah, the computer, Toad. I found stuff on there, pictures, stories and all this other stuff. Stuff that I'd never seen before, at least, not that I could remember. Maybe it was mine, maybe I was gay, but I couldn't figure out why I'd not remember that. I'd printed out the picture and Hiro, Blake and I camped out at the Onion. That's when I saw the two guys in the picture. I confronted them about it and it came to me. It wasn't me who was gay, but you."

I couldn't think of anything to say to him, so I kept quiet.

"Did you love him?" Kel asked me after a couple of minutes of silence.

I returned to the swing before I answered. I chuckled as I sat down. "Jer asked me the same thing after I came out to him." I used my feet to give me some small momentum on the swing. "I don't know. We'd not been dating long enough for me to know for sure. I felt something, that much is certain but was it love? I don't know. I cared about him, that's for sure and I know he cared about me, but love? I don't know."

Kelly just nodded and we lapsed back into silence. We'd been absentmindedly swinging for about ten minutes when Kelly spoke again. I couldn't hear what he said so I simply replied "Huh?"

"I asked 'Why?'."

"Why what?" I was confused with what he was asking.

"Why you? Why are you gay?"

I looked toward him. "Does it matter?"

Kelly turned to look at me before he answered. "Yeah, it matters. I want to know why"

"Well, I'd love to know why too, Kel. I was asking that question a lot when I figured out I was gay. Why was I gay, why would Mother Nature make me that way?"

"Mother Nature? You mean you didn't choose this?"

"I didn't choose this, I am this," I answered him somewhat angrily "Why would I choose this? With the way people think of gays, the way they're harassed, and treated, and discriminated against why would I choose this? No I didn't choose this; I am this. Whether it's a genetic fluke that happens by chance or it's Mother Nature's way of controlling the population I don't know, but I do know that I definitely didn't choose this. I'd always felt different, that much I know, but it wasn't until puberty hit that I finally figured it out."

Kel didn't respond to that. After a couple of minutes he got up and motioned me to follow him. "You got your keys?" He asked as we headed back toward the house.

I got up and followed. I started to reach into my pocket. "Yeah, why?"

He held out his hand. "Give them to me."

I stopped "Why? Where are we going?"

He motioned with his hand for the keys. "You'll see. Just give them to me"

I tossed the keys to Kelly and we headed off to my car. He got in the driver's seat and I got in the passenger seat. As Kelly started the car, the stereo blared He turned it down and backed out of the driveway.

"What song is that?" He asked as we headed down the street.

"It's a remake of a song by The Smiths. The group that redid it is called Love Spit Love. The song is called 'How Soon is Now'. It's from the movie 'The Craft' and from the TV show 'Charmed'. I've always liked the song but it wasn't until after I had come out to you the first time that the words really hit home. I've been playing it almost exclusively since then."

Kelly hit the back button on the CD player and turned up the volume.

"I am the son

I am the air

Of a shyness

That is criminally vulgar

On a summers day like

Nothing in particular

You shut your mouth

How can you say

I go about things the wrong way

I am human and I need to be loved

Just like everybody else does

I am the son

I am the air

Of a shyness

That is criminally vulgar

On a summers day like

Nothing in particular

You shut your mouth

How can you say

I go about things the wrong way

I am human and I need to be loved

Just like everybody else does

There's a club if you'd like to go

You could meet someone who really loves you

So you go and you stand on your own

And you leave on your own

And you go home and you cry and you want to die

When you say it's gonna happen now

When exactly do you mean?

See I've already waited too long

And all my hope is gone"

As the song ended Kel pulled my car over to the side of the road. He turned to look at me. "Oh Toad, I'm so sorry." The words of the song, and our conversation obviously had sunk in.

"It's ok Kel."

"Really?" He sounded scared. Afraid that I might reject him for the way he acted.

"Yeah really."

"So you're not mad at me?"

"No, not any more."

He turned to look out the front window. "But you were."

I paused before I answered, trying to get my thoughts of that evening together. "Yeah, I was. I was rip s**t at you Kel. I was so angry that night." I swallowed. "I was angry at you for the way you acted, the way you treated me, but I was also angry at myself. Angry that I lost control of the situation, that I thought I knew you. But then the accident happened and your coma and they weren't sure when you'd wake up and being angry at you just seemed to be unimportant."

Kelly nodded and threw the car into first. He stepped off the brakes and clutch and gave the car some gas. He pulled back onto the road cutting a car off in the process. "a******!" he yelled as he accelerated away.

"Where are we going?" I asked again.

"You'll see in a few minutes."

We continued heading out of town and I finally figured out where we were going. Kelly pulled into Woodlawn Cemetery and we drove up and down a bunch of the streets before we saw a group of people gathered around a grave. They had a small backhoe and some shovels and they seemed to be bringing dirt out of a grave.

As we slowed down to watch a guy in a rumpled trench coat turned to face us. "What's Detective Dick doing here?" Kelly asked as we continued past

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors . Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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Chapter 14

Running to Stand Still

by The Zot

"I should've figured you'd turn up, Yates," Detective Conner sneered as he caught sight of Kelly and Todd. "Regular goddamn bad penny." He waved at Todd. "How many sidekicks do you have, anyway?"

Todd had gone pale and wobbled a little as he realized what the crew were doing. They were digging up Kyle's grave. The smell of damp earth and the exhaust from the back hoe were making his stomach churn, and the 'chunk' the shovels made as they cut into the dirt cut into him. Kelly grabbed Todd's arm to steady him. "It's OK, Toad," he said. "Be strong."

Kelly guided Todd across the grass and back towards where they parked. There was a stand of old oak trees there, one of a number of copses of them that were scattered throughout the cemetery. He wasn't sure what else to do, but getting Todd out of the sun and sitting down would only help.

The phone in Conner's jacket pocket rang as they started walking away, Todd's distress slowing their pace. Conner pulled it out and answered. "Yeah, Conner here. What?"

There was some squawking from the other end. Kelly and Todd couldn't hear the words over the noise of the backhoe, but it was pretty clear from the detective's expression that he was even less happy than usual. Kelly got a little bit of pleasure from that, before the thought that whatever was going wrong would be blamed on him turned the pleasure to discomfort.

"What?" Conner yelled into the phone. "There's evidence missing. Someone took the drugs and gun from the lockup. This isn't over. Goddamn it, why?" Whoever was on the other end was yelling now. Kelly could see Conner wince. Kelly did too. Missing evidence meant the case would drag on longer, and make it even harder for him to prove his innocence.

"Yes, sir," Conner said finally. The fury on his face didn't make it to his voice, which was probably the only reason he still had a job.

"Knock it off!" he bellowed at the guys digging at the grave. The driver of the backhoe shut it off, and an uncomfortable silence spread over the gravesite. Sounding like the words were nearly killing him, Detective Conner said "fill the hole back in."

"But boss," one of the men with a shovel said, his face smudged and his overalls covered with the dirt from Kyle's grave, "you just told us you needed the grave dug up quick!

"Shut up," Conner snapped as he stuffed the phone into his pocket hard enough to make the seams strain. "Plans change. Fill the damn hole back in."

The phone in his pocket rang again. "Now what!" he snapped into it. Kelly slowed down further, straining to hear the conversation, easier now that there was no noise but the squalling of seagulls off in the distance. Todd wasn't paying any attention, his private grief drowning out nearly everything.

Conner's face softened a little as the person on the other end started talking. "You got the security camera tapes finally? Good." He frowned again as his caller said more.

"What do you mean the tapes for my office are missing? How the f**k can those things go missing? We're the police. Nobody's supposed to steal from us." Conner was furious, nearly shouting into the phone he now held in front of his face. His caller must've said something he liked, since the fury drained from Conner's face, replaced with a kind of glee.

"You do? From the hall cameras?" Conner shoved the phone into the crook of his neck, where it was nearly lost in the flesh. He pulled out a notebook from his pocket and started scribbling. "Brunette, male, early twenties, built like a musclehead? You sure? In and out of the office? Good. Get a couple of good frames and send 'em to the printer in my car." Conner snapped the phone shut again, shoving it and the notebook back into his coat pocket. Clearly glee was as dangerous for his clothes as fury.

"I should've figured you'd be involved in all this, Yates," he said as he stormed past Todd and Kelly.

Kelly shook his head, not knowing what the man was talking about. He was paying more attention to Todd anyway, as his brother was barely holding himself together.

"Don't worry, Todd," he said, trying to sound soothing. "We'll wait until they're done. You can take all the time you need."

Kelly wasn't nearly as calm as he sounded. Inside he was in turmoil. He wasn't comfortable being here, not comfortable having anything to do with Kyle Usher, definitely not comfortable with the thought his brother was gay, and something the detective had said was nagging at him. His brother was close to losing it, though, the desecration of his boyfriend's grave almost more than Todd could take. Kelly pushed his own feelings aside – he'd failed his brother once, and badly. He wasn't going to do it a second time, no matter how he felt about Kyle.

With the backhoe, it only took a few minutes for the workmen to fill the grave back in. The result was a mess, dirt heaped over the grave and the surrounding grass torn up by the treads of the machinery. Kelly took a deep breath and tried hard to steady his voice. "Go ahead," he told Todd. "Take your time. I'll wait here."

Todd stumbled across the grass towards the headstone as the workmen left. Kelly took the opportunity to pry.

"Hey," he said to one of the workmen, waving as they walked past, "what was all that about?"

"Ah, waste 'a time," came the reply. The man stopped by Kelly. He took a second to knock some of the loose dirt off his overalls, then dug out a pack of cigarettes from the bib pocket and lit one up. "Some cop wanted to dig up some drug dealer," He said, the lit cigarette bobbing as he spoke. The workman shrugged. "Guess he didn't really."

"Thanks, man," Kelly said as the men left. He felt dizzy then, and sat on the ground before his legs gave way. There was something nagging at him, something…

"Hey, man, wanna score some weed?"

Kelly had ducked into the bus shelter after he'd gotten off the campus shuttle at the far parking lot he'd gotten stuck in today. It had been raining and there hadn't been a spot closer than a half-mile from campus. He hated parking here – the campus cops never patrolled it, so the lot seemed to attract the stoners and the homeless, especially when the weather was bad. And today the weather was very bad, the cold rain sheeting down.

The guy who'd propositioned him was about his age and size. He looked a little ratty, his jean jacket needing a good washing and his combat boots dull and desperately needing a shine. Probably someone paying their way through school selling pot. Kelly wasn't impressed.

"No thanks, dude," he said, digging his umbrella out of his backpack and trying to brush the guy off. Without much luck, he was persistent.

"You sure?" he asked, hovering right next to Kelly. "Got some prime stuff, it'll make you feel real nice. Maybe some X? Or crystal? Show your girl a good time this weekend…"

Kelly tensed up as the guy said that, his blood boiling, half tempted to swing out with the cheap folding umbrella, not that it would do any damage. Pot was one thing, but Kelly'd seen the results from meth use, watched the brain dissections and seen the MRI scans in class. Meth f***** you up good, and it did it permanently.

He kept his cool, though he had the umbrella handle in a death grip, figuring maybe he'd turn this guy into the campus police. "Nickel bag of weed," Kelly said, trying to keep his voice steady. "Payday's not 'til next week."

"That's cool, man," the dealer said, digging into a pocket and pulling out a small baggie. "I understand." Kelly pulled out his wallet and traded cash for the bag. He tried hard not to let their hands touch. The thought of it creeped him out.

"Catch you then, maybe?" Kelly was trolling for a name, he only hoped the guy he was talking to was too stupid or too far gone to catch on.

"Sure," he said, grinning. "Ask for Kyle Usher. People know me."

'I bet they do,' Kelly thought to himself, as he committed the name and face to memory before opening the umbrella and running out into the pounding rain.

"Hey, Kelly, you OK?"

"What?" Kelly started awake. Todd was kneeling in front of him, looking concerned. Kelly could see the tracks of Todd's tears on his face, his eyes red and his cheeks puffy, little smears of dirt on the arms of his shirt, as if he'd been clutching at himself. He probably had. His brother had been crying. Over Kyle. Kelly fought down a wave of anger – Kyle may have been scum, but that didn't matter. He was dead, but Todd wasn't.

"You don't look so good," Todd said. That he could be so concerned when he felt so bad himself, and after what he'd said, was touching.

"It's OK, Toad," Kelly said, starting to get up. "Flashback. They're kind of weird."

Back at his car, Detective Conner tore the page of the cheap black and white printer the department had equipped him with. It went with the cheap laptop and cheap cellphone, but it worked well enough, and beat having to go back to the station to pick things up. The quality of the picture stunk, a single blurry frame from a cheap security camera, captured on reused video tape, printed on a printer that on a good day didn't work half the time, but it looked familiar.

Conner dug out the Usher file from out of the pile of folders and hamburger wrappers on the passenger seat of his car. The official one was filed away somewhere when the case had been closed, but after having things go missing from it he'd made his own copy. He was glad for that now.

Flipping through it he found what he was looking for, photos. Or photocopies of photos, but that was good enough for what he needed. It took a minute but he found what he was looking for. Steve Perkins, construction worker, friend of Usher's. Conner remembered him. Big guy, but shifty. He was hiding something. At the time Conner didn't think much of it – everyone thought they had something to hide when the cops talked to 'em – but now there was obviously more. He didn't have an address, though.

Normally Conner would've called into dispatch and have them look up what he needed, but right now he didn't think that was a good idea. Files were missing, evidence was missing, someone had tampered with the precinct security tapes, a homicide case was shut down. Conner smelled a rat, and where there was one rat, there usually were others.

He pulled out his other phone, his personal one, and made a call. The phone only rang twice before it was answered.

"Livingston Security." The voice was gruff and no-nonsense.

"Mac, it's Conner," he said. "Listen, I need a favor. Got a Steve Perkins, white, mid-twenties, construction worker. Lives in or around Springfield. I need an address and anything you can dig up on him."

Conner heard a pencil scratch for a minute. "Yeah, got it. What's up, Conner? Why not run it through the department?"

"Part of a dead case, Mac. Something stinks, and I want to know what." The implication was unsaid, but clear to both of them.

Conner put the file back in order as he talked. When he looked up he saw Yates and his brother by Usher's grave. He frowned and pulled out his binoculars. The younger brother walked over to the grave, while Yates hung back. Conner wondered if something was still going on. Yates might've been off the hook for the murder, but he sure as hell was involved somehow. Conner itched to know how.

"Anything I should know about?"

"Not sure. Part of a f***** up homicide case." He saw Yates sit. Through the binoculars it was clear the kid was in a bad way. Too damn bad for him, and maybe it'd shake out more from his head. He knew more than he was telling.

"I'll let you know, Conner. Shouldn't take too long."

"Thanks, Mac," he said, snapping the phone shut. He saw the kid come over and tend to Yates. Conner frowned, then started his car. He wanted to head back to the station before he went any further.

Something nagged at Kelly as he drove back to his house. He'd heard what the detective had said at the cemetery. Someone had stolen evidence from the cops, evidence about Kyle's death. And something was important enough that they were digging the body back up again. Kelly'd watched enough TV to know that something was very wrong. Kyle was involved, and he was worried that Todd was involved too.

The description of the guy who'd taken some of the evidence was familiar too. Brunette, muscled, mid-twenties. Dammit, if only his brain was working better! He was still a little foggy, and the gaps in his memory were bothering him. He hoped it would come to him. In the mean time he had more immediate things to worry about.

Todd hadn't said anything since they left, and Kelly had been too wrapped up in his own thoughts to say anything, but the silence had gone on too long. He still wasn't comfortable thinking of his brother as gay, and while it wasn't freaking him out as badly this time as it apparently had the last time Todd had told him, he still didn't like it. Still didn't want to think about it, really, though it was tough to deny, coming back from visitng his brother's boyfriend's grave. The thought of his brother having a boyfriend was just so… wrong. Especially slime like Kyle Usher.

Still, Usher was dead, and maybe this time Todd would find a nice girl or something. Or at least another boy who was better than… him. Whatever, it had hit Todd hard, and Todd was his brother, no matter what. It wasn't too long ago that Kelly thought maybe he was gay. That made it a little easier. A little.

"Get a chance to say your goodbyes, Toad?"

Todd turned and smiled at Kelly. You could still see in his face that he had been upset, but there was a sort of calm that hadn't been there before.

"Yeah," he said. "Thanks, Kelly. I really… I really appreciate it, y'know? All of it."

"I know, Toad," Kelly said. He reached over and gave Todd's shoulder a squeeze. "I really f***** up the first time. I'm trying not to the second."

Todd didn't answer him, but he put his hand on top of Kelly's. That was enough – Kelly knew that they weren't OK, not yet, but they would be.

"So, was Kyle…" Kelly swallowed. He didn't want to talk about Kyle, but he had to. Dead or not, Kyle had secrets he needed to know, had done something that ended up trashing Kelly's Camaro and taking away his memory. "Was he good to you? Treat you right?" He had to force those questions out. He really didn't want to think of how Kyle treated Todd, and especially not what they were doing together.

The smile on Todd's face got huge, though there was a streak of pain underlying it. "He did, Kelly, he really did. I, um… I think I loved him." Todd gave Kelly an appraising look. "You sure you want to hear this?" Kelly was uncertain, but he smiled back anyway. He wanted to know.

"You're my little brother, Toad, and he was your…" Kelly's voice caught on the word. "Your boyfriend. You're supposed to let me check out the people you date before you do. It's like a law or something. So, um… tell me about him."

The expression of happiness – of gratitude – on Todd's face when he said that blew away any reservations Kelly might have had. He didn't understand this whole dating guys thing, he didn't even want to think about the sex, and he sure as hell didn't like what he remembered of Kyle Usher, but he knew that look. Jessie had it the day she told everyone she was getting married, he was pretty sure he had it when he was still dating Lisa, and now Todd had it. He was in love, and it was the real thing.

"He was the nicest, gentlest person I've ever met," Todd began. "I knew he was doing things he shouldn't have, but…" And for the rest of the drive back, Todd poured out his heart. Months of hiding, sneaking around, pretending, all flowed out. Kelly didn't learn much about Kyle, but he learned an awful lot about his little brother.

There was nobody home when Kelly pulled the car into the driveway of his house. He was oddly happy about that, like having other people around would spoil something special.

"Uh, Todd," Kelly said as they got out of the car. "If… when you start dating again... I'm…" he stopped, trying to think of how he wanted to say this. "I'm not sure I like it, but… I'm OK with it, y'know? I get to meet them first, though. Make sure they're good enough for my little brother." And it was even true, Kelly realized. Mostly.

"Thanks, Kelly," Todd said. He looked happier than Kelly could remember. "That means a lot to me."

"I'm going to go shower," Kelly said, walking into the house. "Maybe get some lunch. Want anything?"

"No," said Todd, as Kelly walked down the hall to his room, "I'm good. Thanks."

"No problem," Kelly replied. He grabbed a clean pair of pants out of his drawer when he caught sight of the picture on his desk. It was the photo he'd printed out a few days ago, the one with Mark and Steve in it. Steve. Brunette, mid-twenties, musclehead. Kyle's friend.

Kelly's eyes widened as he made the connection. He grabbed the picture and ran back out to the kitchen.

"Todd," he said urgently. "This Steve guy. What do you know about him?"

Todd was startled, dropping the milk carton he'd been drinking out of. Milk splattered all over Todd and the carton lay dribbling milk onto the kitchen floor. "He was one of Kyle's friends. They worked construction together. We used to hang out in his and Mark's apartment when, you know…"

"You know where he lives? Show me," Kelly said, dragging Todd back out to the car.

Detective Conner was back at the precinct, digging through the mound of paperwork that perpetually hid his desk. He was looking for notes he'd made, copies of receipts and ledgers. So far in the Usher case the coroner's report had gone missing, the drugs and gun that'd been found in his truck were gone with no trace they'd ever been checked in, and the security tapes for his office were gone. He glared up at the camera in the corner. He half expected the damn truck was going to vanish next.

His phone rang, his personal phone, not the one the department gave him. He pulled it out, saw the number on the caller ID, and grinned. He was finally getting somewhere.

"Conner," he said, answering the thing.

"Got your details," said the voice on the other end, wasting no time. "Steve Perkins, 23, works construction for Burns General Contracting. Started eleven months ago. Current address is listed as 447 Montgomery Avenue, apartment 3B. There's another guy same address, Mark Larsen, also 23."

"Got it," Conner said, scrawling down the details. "Anything else?"

"Yeah, one thing. Records on this guy all start last summer. All of 'em. Driver's license, social security payments, apartment rental. Before that, there's nothing. No license, no school, no work, no nothing."

Conner grinned a very nasty grin. "That's what I wanted to know, Mac. Thanks."

He put the phone back in his pocket, checked his gun, and grabbed his keys. Conner had a feeling this was going to be the break he needed in the case.

"You had to come all the way out here when you wanted time?" Kelly asked Todd as they pulled into the parking lot of the apartment complex. They hadn't spoken the whole drive over.

"Yeah," answered Todd. "Mark and Steve were friends. It was safe."

Kelly winced at the safe comment, remembering what Todd had told him about how he reacted when Todd had come out, and he had been one of the people Todd had thought would understand. There was more going on than Todd knew, he was sure of that, but Kyle was dead and there was no point in saying anything.

"Have I… been here?" Kelly asked. The complex didn't seem familiar.

"No," Todd said. Hesitating a little he added, "You should know, Steve… he doesn't like you."

"That's OK," Kelly said. "The feeling's mutual."

Todd frowned. "If you don't like him, what are we doing coming over here?"

Kelly debated what to tell his brother. Things were fragile right now – Todd still looked like he was waiting for Kelly to freak out again, and Kelly himself was really uncomfortable with the whole gay thing. He was tempted to lie, but was afraid that might backfire.

"It's just… something the detective said back at the cemetery. I think I remembered... It's probably nothing, but I want to check it out. I'm tired of having to look over my shoulder all the time," he said as they exited the stairwell and started down the hall.

Looking over his shoulder is exactly what Kelly should've done. If he had, he would've seen Detective Conner at the end of the hall, leaning against the wall and waiting for something. He didn't, though.

"Well, I don't know what Steve would know," Todd said as they stopped in front of the apartment door. Todd knocked, the sound echoing hollowly behind the door. The two waited for a moment, Kelly fidgeting and Todd frowning.

"That's weird," Todd said, looking at his watch. "Steve's normally here around now." He knocked again, but there was still no answer.

"Huh," Todd said. "He must be out or something. Are you really sure you need to talk to Steve?"

"Yeah," Kelly replied. "No matter how much I don't want to," he muttered to himself.

Todd grabbed the doorknob and started to turn it. Kelly stopped him in alarm. "Are you sure we should just barge in? They could be…" He didn't finish the sentence, the thought of what Steve and Mark might be doing that wouldn't let them answer the door making him a little queasy.

Todd caught the meaning quickly enough. "Don't worry," he said, "they would've yelled if they were in the middle of something. Just in case, though," Todd said, feeling the need to needle his brother, "don't look behind the couch until I check first."

Kelly gave a weak grin, but moved to one side of the door, just in case. "Maybe it's not even open," he said.

"Probably is. Steve always forgets to lock it." Todd turned the knob and, sure enough, it was unlocked. "See?" he said, turning the knob.

Conner decided this was the time. He'd knocked earlier, but there was no answer, and he didn't have cause to just go in, no matter how much he wanted to. That worked for cops on TV, but he'd get his a** busted hard, and if there were dirty cops there was no way in hell he wanted to give any of them any way to get out of it.

"Breaking and entering, Yates?" Conner said, coming up behind them. "Not looking good, kid."

Kelly and Todd whirled, to see Detective Conner behind them. Kelly frowned. "Are you following me or something?"

"Nah," Conner drawled. "I just know I'm on the right track when I see you around. Don't tell me, let me guess. You're here to see Steve Perkins?"

Todd stiffened in surprise. "How…?"

"I'm a detective. We know things, kid," he said. Conner waved them forward towards the open door. "After you."

"Holy s**t," Todd said, looking in.

The apartment was completely empty.

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors . Please include the author's name. Thank you.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Chapter 15

And So It Goes…


Detective Conner let out a low long whistle. Not only was the apartment empty, it was immaculate. It had been freshly painted and the carpet cleaned. We all stood there staring into the room. The last time I was here it was a mess. A real bachelor pad.

"What happened to your buddies?" Detective Dick asked Kelly.

"I don't know," Kelly responded somewhat angrily. "I've never been here before."

Conner grunted and was about to step inside when a voice behind us asked. "Are you and your sons here to rent the apartment?"

The three of us whipped around. Sons? You've got to be kidding me. I'd be hoping that my mother had an affair if this guy was my father. I heard Kelly mutter under his breath "If this guy was my father, I'd shoot myself…"

Detective Dick just grunted and pulled out a business card and handed it to the little old woman. She had to be in her eighties. She had white hair pulled back into a bun and wore a faded flowered dress. She had a white apron over that. She definitely had the look of a Grandmother. She took the card and read it over.

"What can I do for you Detective? If you're here about the two boys that rented the apartment all I can tell you is that they just up and disappeared a few days ago."

"What can you tell me about them?"

"They seemed like nice boys when they rented the place. They never gave me any trouble and always paid the rent on time, in cash. But they kept the strangest hours. Always people coming and going at all hours, or they were."

"Could they have been dealing?"

"That's what I thought but I never found anything. That apartment has the access to the main water shut off valve for this part of the building and I had to get in several times with a plumber to shut it down for repairs to other units. They knew about it and knew that I went in, but not until after the fact. I never saw anything that indicated drugs."

"What about prostitution?"

"No, I don't think so. They didn't have very many girls over. It was mostly boys."

Conner pointed at Kelly. "What about him? Did you ever see him come over here?"

She turned and studied Kelly for a minute. "No, not that I recall."

"See, I told you I've never been here before," Kelly said interrupting the landlady.

She pointed to me. "But I did see him here a few times."

Conner raised an eyebrow and looked at me and nodded, as though he was putting together a puzzle and just found a piece that fit. He reached into his rumpled trench coat and pulled out a small piece of paper. "What about him? Did you see him here?" He showed her the picture. It was a picture of Kyle. My heart skipped a beat or two as I realized once more that I'd never see him again.

"Oh yeah, I saw him here quite a bit. Quite often with him," She replied pointing to me again. "And many times without him. What's this about?" This isn't good. I've got to get out of here. But how?

"Just doing follow up for a case. Thanks for your time," Conner responded putting the picture away. "If you think of anything else, give me a call. Good day ma'am."

The landlady walked off, leaving us with the detective. I knew what was coming next. He was going to start questioning me about Kyle, and then Mark and Steve. That would of course lead to questions about my relationship with Kyle. The last thing I wanted was to get into my orientation with Detective Dick.

"See," Kelly started before I had a chance to do or say anything. "I've been telling you that I don't know Kyle Usher. It's as much a mystery to you as it is to me as to why he was in my car."

The detective looked at Kelly and just sort of grunted. It was obvious that he'd figured out something about me and Kyle. Fortunately for me, just as he was getting ready to speak, his cell phone went off. "Conner," he said into it rather gruffly. He paused while he listened to the voice on the other end. I couldn't hear it. "I'm just following up some stuff on the Usher case."

As soon as he finished speaking, I could hear the voice on the other end, and the voice didn't sound happy. He tried to speak a couple of times but couldn't get in a word in edge wise. "Yes, sir, I'll be there shortly," He was finally able to say when the bellowing voice on the other end stopped. He slammed the phone shut and shoved it back into his pocket. He turned to face us. "I'm not done with you two yet." And with that, he stalked off to his car.

We started back to my car shortly after the detective left. We had just settled into the car when Kelly punched me in the arm. "DRUGS?" He spoke rather loudly.


"Are you into drugs?"

"What? No, I'm not, you know that."

"I thought I did, but I also heard what the landlady said and I'm starting to put stuff back together. It was obvious that Kyle was either dealing or using."

"He wasn't using, Kel," I replied defensively. "I never saw him use, and I never saw him deal."

"What were you doing over here then? Some big gay orgy or something?"

"What? No, it was nothing like that. It was a safe place to go. A place we could be ourselves. We'd hang out with Mark & Steve and watch movies, talk or whatever. They were just friends of Kyle's. Nothing more."

"What do you mean a safe place?"

"Well, think about it Kel," I turned more in the seat to face him. He'd put the key in the ignition at some point but hadn't bothered to start the car. "I wasn't out to anyone at that point. It wasn't like I could bring Kyle home and we could curl up on the couch together. And it's not like I could exactly hold his hand in public, not without being harassed or possibly worse."

Kelly sat there for a couple of minutes, obviously in thought. He started the car and we headed back for the house.

"Wonder where they went?" Kel asked after driving for a few minutes.

"I don't know. I'm surprised they disappeared so fast. They had a ton of crap in that apartment. There was trash everywhere. Pizza boxes and empty beer cans littered the kitchen and the living room. The trash was always overflowing. It was kinda gross."

"So why did you keep going over there?"

"Cause I told you, it was a safe place."

"Did you ever have sex with them?" Kelly asked me. "No, wait, I don't want to know," he spit out before I got chance to respond.

"No, Kelly, I didn't have sex with them. Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I'm going to sleep with every guy I see, even if I think they're cute."

"You thought they were cute?"

"In a certain way, yes. But they weren't as cute as Kyle."

Kelly didn't have a response to that. What he was thinking about, I don't know. We rode in silence the rest of the way home. Kelly must have been doing some heavy thinking because there wasn't even any music playing and that was always on.

Kelly got out of the car and I followed him. Kelly punched in the code to the garage door and we stood back while it opened. Neither car was in the garage, which meant we had the house to ourselves. We entered the garage and Kel hit the close button as we passed through to the mudroom and laundry area. We came out into the kitchen. Kelly opened the refrigerator and grabbed a couple of sodas. He motioned me to follow him into the TV room attached to the kitchen and I did. He turned on the TV to one of the music channels and sat down on the couch. I sat on the other end of the couch, facing him.

"Tell me about Kyle," He started.

"Why do you want to know?" I asked, a little wary. Even though Kel seemed to be handling my being gay a little better, I was still cautious. Considering his reactions the first time I told him. He might have memory loss, but that couldn't mean that it would come flooding back.

"Because I want to know about the guy who stole my little brother's heart. It's my role as big brother to make sure the guys you date are worthy of you. Of course, I always figured it would be girls."

"Yeah, well, I guess that won't happen," I responded as I repositioned on the couch. "What about him?"

"How did you meet? What did you like about him? What kind of person was he, what kind of things did you guys do, and I'm not talking about sex, either. That I don't want to know." A nervous laugh escaped as he said that last part.

"We met at the video store."

"The video store?"

"Yeah, I'd stopped in there to get a movie for Jer and me to watch one night. The store was kinda dead so I took the opportunity to check out the gay movies. I figured nobody would see me. So I'm checking out the movies, when all of a sudden I realized that someone was standing beside me. I started to panic, figuring that I was going to get harassed or worse. The guy was big, bigger than I was. He has muscles. I was about ready to drop the movie and take off when he spoke. He said 'That's a good movie, but I like this one better.' And he pulled a movie off the shelf. One that I'd heard about but never seen. I told him thanks and he introduced himself. We talked for a little bit before I realized what time it was and that I had to get to Jeremy's house. I was definitely interested in getting to know him and he seemed to be the same way. We exchanged cell numbers and went our separate ways. I called him the next day."

"Did you know he was older than you?"

"Yeah, I figured he was, he definitely looked older, but I don't care Kel. I like older guys. I'm definitely into guys who are in their mid twenties. I ended up calling him the next day and we met for ice cream a couple of days later. He knew of this place in the next town where we could get ice cream and just sit and talk, and we did. We probably sat there for a good three hours. We just sorta clicked. Even if there hadn't been any sort of physical attraction we would have been friends, and probably best friends at that."

"What about Jeremy?"

"What about him? Jer and I have always been best friends and always will be. But remember, at this point I wasn't out to anyone, not even Jeremy. Hell, I hadn't even admitted to myself that I was gay. I was pretty certain that guys were my thing, but I wasn't one hundred percent sure. Or maybe I was still trying to convince myself that I was straight, I don't know. But after that first meeting with Kyle in the video store and the date at the ice cream parlor I was pretty sure I was. We had a lot in common, from growing up to how we figured out things about ourselves. We also shared a love of the same type of music and books. To look at him, you wouldn't think that he was reader, but he read more than I did. I did visit him at his apartment a couple of times when his roommate was gone for the weekend and pretty much every free inch in his room was taken up with books. Stacks of books everywhere, from fantasy like Lord of the Rings to Science Fiction by Arthur C. Clarke. I thought I read fast and read a lot. He put me to shame. And those areas of the apartment that weren't covered with books were covered with CDs, and vinyl. He's a big vinyl buff. His favorite artists were Billy Joel and Hootie and the Blowfish. We were going to see Hootie this summer too."

"Was Kyle out to anyone?"

"Just Mark and Steve. At least around here. He'd told his best friend back where he grew up and his best friend took it like you did the first time. Kyle hasn't been back there or talked to him since."

"Why did you decide to tell me?"

I was about to answer Kel's question when all of a sudden my cell phone went off. I pulled it out of my pocket and looked at it. The number was one I didn't recognize. Kelly looked at me and raised an eyebrow as if to say "Who is it?" I gave him a shrug and opened it. "Hello?"

"Turn on the radio to QUR…" CLICK

That was it. "Turn on the radio to QUR" and a click. I hung up the phone and stared at it for a second before getting up.

"Who was it?"

I grabbed the remote to the TV and shut it off. "I don't know," I replied getting to the radio. I turned it on. It was already set to the station, it was my favorite after all, and we listened as a commercial for a local car dealership came out of the speakers. "The voice on the other end just told me to turn on the radio and then hung up."

Kelly was about to respond when the voice of the DJ came on. "Well this is a strange one. I just got a call asking for a song and to make a dedication. But there was no from. Just a to. The caller didn't even tell me their name. So here it goes. This goes out to Toad."

In every heart there is a room

A sanctuary safe and strong

To heal the wounds from lovers past

Until a new one comes along

I spoke to you in cautious tones

You answered me with no pretense

And still I feel I said too much

My silence is my self-defense

And every time I've held a rose

It seems I only felt the thorns

And so it goes, and so it goes

And so will you soon I suppose

But if my silence made you leave

Then that would be my worst mistake

So I will share this room with you

And you can have this heart to break

And this is why my eyes are closed

It's just as well for all I've seen

And so it goes, and so it goes

And you're the only one who knows

So I would choose to be with you

That's if the choice were mine to make

But you can make decisions too

And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes

And you're the only one who knows

As the song ended I dropped to the floor bawling my eyes out. I knew whom the dedication was from.


"And So It Goes" © Billy Joel All Rights Reserved. Used without permission.

Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. Please include the authors name. Thank you.

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  • 3 months later...

Dear Reader,

This is the last chapter Collision. I hope you have enjoyed this story and you have let the authors know.



Managing Editor


Editors Note: If you would like to contact the author of this chapter, you may use this email address, Collision Authors. Please include the authors name. Thank you.

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