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The Talon House

What's the difference between me and you?

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What's The Difference Between Me And You?

Chapter 18 - by Nick

As Nick nervously approached his dad, he ran back over what he had just said and wondered why he let it slip. Jim was sitting on the couch with a calm look on his face, and the fact that he was so relaxed made Nick worry. He wasn't sure if he was about to be whipped or not. Typically, if Jim was calm and collected as he was about to punish Nick for something, that meant a whipping. If he blew up, Nick was safe.

"Son, I want you to come sit next to me," Jim said softly. Nick did as he was told, and as he took his seat, he felt his dads arm wrap gently around his shoulders and give him a small hug.

"I’m sorry, daddy," Nick said as he voice cracked. "I didn't mean it."

Jim sighed and stayed quiet for a moment, and finally he cleared his throat and spoke.

"What are you sorry for, Nick," he asked as if he didn't understand why Nick was apologizing.

"For saying that," Nick said, scared to even repeat the words that had come out of his mouth and landed him in the family room alone with his dad.

"Do you understand what you said," Jim asked softly. "Do you understand what it means?"

Nick looked up at his dad and nodded slowly, then he looked away, too ashamed to look his father in the eyes.

"Nick, I don't want you to be sorry for anything," Jim said. "You don't have anything to apologize for."

"I don't," Nick asked.

"No, buddy," Jim said as he kneaded Nicks shoulder with his hand. Sitting next to his dad made Nick feel his size, and as Jim spoke, Nick trembled with fear. He realized that he wasn't in trouble, and that his dad wasn't upset with him for anything, but the reality of what he said seemed to hit him like a ton of bricks. As many times as he thought about it, and as many times as he and James talked about it, it wasn't the same as his dad finding out how he felt.

"Son, I'd like to know what you think," Jim said in a soft voice that still had a hint of force in it. Nick knew that they weren't going anywhere until they talked about this, and that was final.

"I don't know," Nick said shrugging.

"Well, you said that you were feeling really gay," Jim said, and hearing it again made Nick cringe.

"I know," Nick said ashamedly.

"Son, you don't have to feel bad," Jim said. "I want us to talk about it because I love you."

Nick looked up at his dad and started to cry, so Jim lifted him up into his lap and hugged him.

"Let it out, son," Jim said. Nick cried a little longer, then he collected himself. He had to stop and think about what how all of this was making him feel, and what being gay really meant. Finally, he looked up at his dad and spoke.

"I just feel that way today," he said. "I don't know why."

"You feel what way today, son.” Jim asked softly.

"Gay," Nick said, and as soon as he said it, he felt the same whirl and got the same feeling he had when he told James.

"When you say you feel that way today, does that mean you don't always feel that way," Jim asked.

Nick shrugged his shoulders and thought about his answer. He looked up at his dad and gave him an honest answer.

"Not always," Nick said. "I just feel gay sometimes. Sometimes I don't."

"Well, son," Jim said. "I’m glad you can be honest with me about it. It makes me feel proud of you that you're telling me the truth."

Nick clung to his dad’s chest and stayed quiet for a moment. He was hoping that the talk was over, but it wasn't.

"I can tell that you’re having strong feelings today about some things that you've been talking about," Jim continued. "Is that what you mean when you say that you feel gay?"

Nick looked up at his dad and nodded, so Jim went on.

"Tell me what you think feeling gay means," he said. Nick thought about it for a minute, then he spoke up.

"Feeling like I like boys," Nick said. As soon as he said it, he felt humiliated so he buried his face in his dad’s chest and hid.

"Do you think you like boys on the days when you don't feel gay," Jim asked.

"No," Nick answered honestly into his dad’s chest. "When I don't feel gay, I don't feel like I like anyone."

"What about girls," Jim asked. Nick shook his head but kept his face hidden from his dads view.

"Dad?" Nick asked. "Am I coming out of the closet?"

Nick heard his dad sigh, and then he felt Jim’s hands grab each side of his head and pull it away from his chest so that he was looking at him. Jim leaned forward and planted a kiss on Nick’s forehead and spoke.

"I don't know, sweetheart," Jim said. "Maybe, but maybe not."

"Maybe not," Nick asked hopefully.

"Nick, you're eight years old," Jim said. "I think that you're too young to worry about this. You're just a little boy. You aren't supposed to like girls yet."

"Am I supposed to like boys," Nick asked.

"I don't know, son," Jim said. "I think that you have a lot on your mind that I never thought about when I was your age."

"How come sometimes I feel like I like boys," Nick asked.

"Well, maybe you do like boys, son," Jim said. "If you do, there's nothing to be ashamed of. Do you understand me?"

"Yes sir," Nick said. "Dad?"

"What?" Jim replied.

"Can I be gay sometimes and be straight the rest of the time," Nick asked.

"If that's how you feel," Jim said. "Do you think you really feel that way?"

Nick nodded his head and finally smiled at his dad. The longer he and Jim talked, the more relaxed he was starting to feel.

"Can I come out of the closet today and be gay, then tomorrow if I’m straight again, I can not be gay anymore," he asked.

"If you want to, you can son," Jim said in an understanding tone. "How long have you felt like this?"

"I felt really gay when I woke up this morning," Nick admitted. "I started feeling gay last night when me and Taylor were walking Skalaki."

"How," Jim asked.

Nick thought about it and grinned to himself, and then he confessed something to his dad that no one else knew, not even James.

"Sometimes when I’m gay," Nick started, "I pretend that I’m married to Taylor and he's my husband. Don't tell him, though. He doesn't know."

"Is that what you did last night?" Jim asked. Nick nodded and looked away, feeling like he didn't have anything private to keep to himself anymore.

"When we were walking Skalaki, I pretended to myself that we were married," Nick admitted.

"Do you always feel that way about Taylor," Jim asked.

"No," Nick answered. "Sometimes I feel like I love him like he's my brother. But sometimes I feel like I want us to be boyfriends."

"How does Taylor feel about this," Jim asked, causing Nick to panic.

"I didn't tell him," Nick said in a desperate voice. "I don't want him to know."

"Okay, buddy," Jim said. "I won't say anything to him, but do you think that maybe you should be honest with him?"

"He won't want to be my friend anymore," Nick said, feeling insecure again. "He might not want to be my friend anymore anyway."

"Why," Jim asked, as if nothing had happened in the backyard.

"He heard me," Nick said, feeling like he was about to cry.

"You need to tell him the truth about what you said out there, then," Jim said. "If you don't want to tell him what you told me in here, that's fine. But you really need to tell him about how you feel about being gay."

"Yes sir," Nick said, feeling like he had just been handed a death sentence. "What if he wants to go home?"

"Then he'll go home," Jim said. "You don't need to worry about that unless it happens, though, okay?"

Nick smiled and nodded at his dad. Part of him felt terrible about confessing his feelings to his dad, but another part of him felt proud that Jim was his dad. As he sat with his dad, he had another thought. He remembered how proud he was to be gay earlier when he was cuddling on the beanbag with Taylor, and he smiled. He started to feel that same pride run through him, so he decided to do it right.

"Dad," he started. "Is it still okay to come out of the closet today?"

"Of course it is, son," Jim said softly, then he kissed Nick on top of the head. Nick worked up all of his courage, then he looked his dad in the eyes and said it.

"I’m gay right now," he said, and then he said it again. "I’m gay, dad."

"I love you sweetheart," Jim said, hugging Nick tightly. "I love you more than anyone or anything in this whole wide world. You make me feel so proud of you."

"I love you too, daddy," Nick said as he squeezed his dad’s chest as hard as he could. "Will you still be proud of me when I turn straight again?"

"Yes I will, son," Jim said. Nick felt his dad kiss him on the cheek, so he let go of the hug and smiled up at his dad.

"Are you happy that I came out of the closet today," Nick asked.

"I sure am, sweetheart," Jim said. "I don't want you to keep anything like this from me, okay?"

"I won't, dad," Nick said. "I’m glad I turned gay again. I'll tell you when I feel straight again, dad."

"Okay, buddy," Jim said. "Are you ready to go back outside?"

Nick nodded his head nervously as his dad rubbed his back one more time.

"There's nothing to be afraid of, okay?" Jim said.

"Yes sir," Nick said as Jim scooted him off his lap.

As they walked back out onto the patio, Nick was more nervous than he had ever been in his life. Taylor was staring as they made their way back to their seats. Before Nick could get to his seat, Lori reached out and gave him a hug.

"I love you, honey," she said softly. "I love you too, Miss Lori," Nick answered. They let go and Nick walked over to his chair, where he was sitting next to Taylor and he sat down. Taylor looked at him and gave him a warm smile, so Nick smiled back at him. For the rest of the time they were outside, they sat and talked about a lot of different things, but no one mentioned what had just happened. Nick still felt as gay as he had felt earlier, and he didn't really do a lot to try to keep himself from acting gay in front of everyone. He smiled and talked just the way he had been talking before. He even let his butt swing from side to side when he walked. It felt natural to let it happen, so he didn't try to walk like he normally did.

When the phone rang and Jim got up to answer it, Lori followed him inside. James made his way to the garage to make sure Skalaki had water in his bowl, so Nick and Taylor were finally alone.

"Taylor," Nick started. "Are you still my friend?"

"Yes," Taylor answered in an almost shocked voice. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Well, because," Nick said shyly. "You know. Because of what I said."

"I won't tell anyone, Nick," Taylor said sweetly. "I promise."

"You don't hate me?" Nick asked, starting to feel a little relieved but still nervous.

"No," Taylor answered with the shocked voice again. "We're best friends."

"We're still brothers," Nick asked shyly.

Taylor smiled and nodded at Nick, and when he did, Nick felt like someone had just taken a hundred pound weight from him.

"Do you want to go ride our bikes," Nick asked.

"Okay," Taylor said. "We can build another ramp."

When they went inside, Jim and Lori were nowhere to be found. Nick went upstairs by himself to find his dad and tell him what they were going to do. When he got to the top of the stairs, he heard Jim and Lori talking in Jim’s room. He quietly approached and listened to what his dad was saying. They were talking about him. Nick listened to his dad tell Lori everything, then he crept back down the hallway to the stairs, where he made sure he stomped his feet to let them know he was coming upstairs.

"Dad, me and Taylor want to ride our bikes," Nick said. "Can we?"

"Sure buddy," Jim said. "Just be sure you're home by noon."

"I will," Nick said. He gave his dad a quick hug and kiss, then he ran downstairs to the garage, where Taylor was already waiting for him.

Nick, Taylor and James raced to the trail. James was too fast for them, and as hard as they tried, it didn't take much for James to out distance them and disappear. When they finally caught up with him, he was already gathering the wood and blocks they needed to build a ramp. They got off their bikes to help him, and before long, they were each taking turns jumping their bikes. James started to get bored, so he decided to ride home. Nick knew that he still had some time before he had to be home, so he took the ramp a few more times with Taylor, before they stopped to rest.

"My dad told Miss Lori," Nick said. "I heard him talking to her."

"What did he tell her," Taylor asked.

"What I told him when we went inside," Nick said.

"What did you tell him," Taylor asked.

"Well, we talked about what I said," Nick said. "And I told him why I said it."

"What did you say," Taylor asked.

"Will you still be my friend," Nick asked, feeling nervous about confessing what he told his dad.

"I promise," Taylor said with a sweet smile that melted Nick’s heart.

"I told him that sometimes I feel gay," Nick said. As soon as he said it, he wished he could take it back.

"Was he mad at you," Taylor asked.

"No," Nick said. "He said that it was okay."

"Do you feel gay right now," Taylor asked.

"Yes," Nick admitted in a small voice. "I’m sorry, Taylor."

"It's okay, Nick," Taylor said with a sweet voice. "Don't be sad."

"I don't always feel gay," Nick said. "Just sometimes."

"Like when we....," Taylor started to say but drifted off. Nick knew exactly what he was talking about, and he felt awful.

"How does it make you feel when we do that," Nick asked. Taylor shrugged and looked down.

"I don't feel gay when we do it," Taylor finally answered.

"I only feel gay after we do it sometimes," Nick said. "Sometimes I don't feel gay after we do it."

"What makes you feel gay," Taylor asked.

"I don't know," Nick said shrugging. "Maybe it's when I feel like another boy's cute."

"Sometimes I see cute boys," Taylor said. "I wonder if that's gay."

"I don't know," Nick said. "Maybe it isn't."

"It could be," Taylor said. "If it is, then I feel gay sometimes too."

Nick looked up at Taylor, who was smiling at him. Nick couldn't help but smile back at him. He wondered to himself if Taylor said that just to make him feel better or if he really meant it. Nick looked at his watch and noticed that it was time for lunch, so he and Taylor got up and rode slowly back to his house. On the way, Nick rode side by side with him and as they pedaled, he let himself pretend that Taylor was his husband and that they were going home to eat and spend the rest of the day together.

Nick felt especially giddy as he sat across from Taylor at the table and ate his lunch. The gay feeling he had earlier in the day was stronger than ever, and it was still growing inside of him. His mind was racing with thoughts about how cute Taylor was, and how badly he wanted to feel Taylor’s butt and play with his pecker again.

"What?" a smiling Taylor said more than he asked when he saw Nick looking at him.

"Nothing," Nick answered, but he could tell that Taylor knew that he had something on his mind.

Nick looked around the table at his dad and James, who seemed to be watching but not wanting to interrupt them, and he immediately got shy.

"Boys," Jim said, looking at James and Nick with a serious expression. "We need to get some work done around the yard this afternoon while it's sunny. I need both of you to help me, okay?"

"Yes sir," James answered, looking like he was disappointed but not brave enough to say no.

"Nick, you're going to clean the garage out," Jim said, making Nick sigh loudly.

"Do I have to?" Nick whined.

"As a matter of fact, yes you do," Jim said in a stern and slightly annoyed tone. "I don't expect you to drag your a** around either. The faster you work the faster you'll be done."

"Do you want me to help, Mr. J?" Taylor asked eagerly, bringing a smile to Jim’s face.

"You don't have to help. Taylor," he said. "But if you want to, you can."

"I want to," Taylor said happily. Nick almost had to blink. He couldn't believe that Taylor actually wanted to help. Finally, he shrugged and went back to picking at his food.

They finished the rest of their lunch in silence, and then when they were done, Nick and James got up and cleared the table while Taylor and Jim watched from their chairs.

"Can I help Nick in the garage," Taylor asked.

"Sure, buddy," Jim said. "You can help however you want to. I think it's really nice of you to offer your help."

Nick looked over toward the table from where he and James were loading the dishwasher, and he saw Taylor glowing from Jim’s compliment. Nick knew that Jim wanted him to be more helpful around the house. James always got up and did the dishes without having to be asked. He also cleaned the bathroom and took his laundry downstairs everyday. Nick didn't know how to do any of those things, but he knew that his dad was starting to expect him to learn.

Jim dragged the large black plastic garbage can inside of the garage and showed Nick what he wanted him to throw away and what to keep. As soon as Jim went out the door to see what James was doing, Nick made a face and mocked him, making Taylor giggle.

Nick and Taylor got to work, and they actually finished doing everything Jim told them to do right away. When they were finished, Taylor stacked the boxes neatly and organized some of the other things in the garage, and when he was done, it seemed like the garage was double the original size.

Taylor wanted to go find Jim and show him the finished job, but Nick frantically stopped him.

"He'll find something else for us to do," Nick said in a panic. "Let's just go inside."

Nick led the way into the family room where he and Taylor sat on the couch to watch cartoons. They turned the TV on, found Nickelodeon, then they relaxed. As they watched cartoons, Nick waited eagerly for the commercials to come on. He wanted to see one commercial in particular that was full of cute boys. When it came on, he spoke up.

"Everyone in this commercial is cute," Nick said as he and Taylor watched.

"I think so too," Taylor said back, making Nick smile. He turned his head to look at Taylor when the commercial was over, and when he did, he saw that Taylor was smiling at him.

"Taylor," Nick started, "Did you mean what you said earlier?"

"About what," Taylor asked.

"About thinking boys are cute," Nick said shyly.

Taylor nodded his head and smiled.

"Do you think girls are cute," Nick asked.

"I think my baby cousin's cute," Taylor said. "But I think all babies are cute."

"What about girls who are in our class," Nick asked.

"I don't think any of the girls in our class are cute," he answered.

"What about pretty," Nick asked. "Do you think anyone's pretty?"

"I think Miss Lori's pretty," Taylor said shyly.

"I think she's pretty too," Nick agreed.

"Do you think that girls are cute," Taylor asked.

Nick shook his head and smiled, then he put his finger in his mouth, acting like he was gagging himself. Taylor laughed, so Nick did it again, then he made noise like he was throwing up. Once they calmed down, Nick got up and went to the refrigerator and grabbed two Capri suns for them to drink, then he sat back down on the couch with Taylor.

"Are you still going to spend the night here even though you know that I feel gay sometimes," Nick asked.

"Yes," Taylor answered. "I don't care about that."

"Thanks," Nick said, feeling like he didn't have any more worries.

"Are you gay like James is gay," Taylor asked.

"No," Nick said, wondering if he wasn't fibbing. "James is gay all the time. I only feel gay sometimes."

Just as they were finishing their Capri suns, they heard a loud crack, followed by booming thunder and instantly, they heard rain pouring outside like it was water coming from a faucet. James and Jim came through the back door just as fast as they could, but they were both completely soaked. They both ran through the family room and into the kitchen, where they could drip without getting the carpet wet.

"Is it another hurricane, dad," Nick asked as he and Taylor made their way into the kitchen to see just how wet they were.

"No, silly," Jim said with a smile. "It's just a thunderstorm. Go get us some towels."

Nick turned and raced up the stairs to the hallway closet where he grabbed two large towels and hauled them back down the stairs again. He gave them to his dad and James, who dried off the best that they could, then went upstairs and took showers. It rained the rest of the day, so everyone had to stay inside. Eventually, Lori came back over and they all sat down and had dinner together.

At dinner, James didn't seem to be as hungry as he normally was. He never really ate much, but for some reason, he was just staring at his plate with his arms supporting his head. Nick noticed right away because it wasn't like James to have his elbows on the table.

"What's wrong, buddy," Jim asked as soon as he sat down at the table next to James.

"I don't feel so good," James said quietly.

Jim got up from his chair and felt James' forehead, then he felt his cheeks and sighed.

"You're hot, son," Jim said. "Come on, let's get up and take your temperature."

James got up and followed his uncle out of the kitchen, so Nick, Taylor and Lori sat and waited for a while. From the table, Nick could hear his dad telling James to lay down on the couch while he got him some covers, so he got up from the table to inspect the situation for himself. Nick wandered into the family room where he saw James laying on the couch with his eyes closed. His arm was over his eyes and he looked like he was trying to keep them closed on purpose.

"What do you need, Nick," Jim asked as he made his way back into the family room with a few blankets in his arms.

"I was wondering when you were going to come back so we can eat," Nick said, causing Jim to flash him an angry look.

"Go ahead and start without us," Jim snapped. "You're cousin's sick, and I need to take care of him."

Nick lowered his head and walked back to the kitchen, where he took his seat and picked at his food with his fork, but never took a bite while he waited for his dad. During supper, Taylor and Lori talked about something that Nick wasn't paying any attention to while Nick watched his dad sitting on the edge of the couch with James from the table, getting more and more jealous. He saw his dad looking down at James with a worried expression and his jealousy reached a fever pitch.

Nick got up out of his chair and walked into the family room, glaring at James the whole time. When he approached the couch, James was fast asleep and Jim was watching him closely.

"Dad," Nick said as he tried to wedge himself between his dad and James by almost sitting on James.

"Son, what the f**k are you doing," Jim asked angrily. "Get your motherfucking a** back in the kitchen and eat your damned supper!"

With that, Jim used his fingers to grab the hair on the top of Nicks head and use it to pull him off the couch. He held onto it as he ran Nick into the kitchen and he didn't let go until they were all the way back into the kitchen. When he did let go, Nick turned and walked into the hallway, crying. His dad had pulled his hair plenty of times before when Nick wouldn't do what he was told and there was no belt around, but he had never done it out of anger before. Nick was crying more out of hurt feelings than out of the pain from having his hair pulled.

Jim followed him to the hallway as he cried, and he felt his dads hand on his shoulder guiding him to the stairs. Jim sat down and turned Nick around to face him.

"Nick, I’m sorry that I pulled your hair," Jim said immediately but with a harsh tone. "But god damn, son. I’m getting sick and tired of you being so jealous of your cousin. He's sick right now, and I need to be keeping an eye on him. Do you understand me?"

Nick was still crying, but he nodded so that Jim would stop lecturing him.

"Son, I know you want to spend time with me too," Jim said. "But right now, James is sick and he needs me to take care of him. Are you okay?"

Nick nodded again, still crying. He was still in such shock over Jim’s blow up that he couldn't seem to collect himself. Jim stood up, took him by the hand, and led him through the hallway back to the family room, where Lori was sitting with James. She looked up at Jim with an angry glare, and then she got up and headed for the hallway, walking right past both of them. Jim turned and followed her to the door, and Nick sat down on the love seat and wiped his tears.

"Do I have to go home?" Nick heard as he was collecting himself, and he looked up and saw Taylor standing at the opening between the kitchen and the family room.

"No," Nick answered, feeling embarrassed that Taylor saw him punished by his dad. "I don't blame you if you do, though."

Just then, they heard the front door close, so Nick got up to look down the hallway. His dad and Lori were out front, so he headed to the living room where they could look out the front window and see what was happening. They were fighting. It was the first time Nick ever saw his dad and Lori fight, but he knew for sure that they were fighting.

"Let's go back in the family room, Taylor," Nick said, feeling totally humiliated. They settled back down on the love seat and turned on the TV, but they turned the volume down as low as possible, making sure that it wouldn't disturb James.

A few moments later, Jim came back inside with an irritated look on his face, but it softened right away.

"Dad, are you still mad at me," Nick asked from his seat.

"Son, I was never mad at you," Jim said. "I’m sorry I pulled your hair. I had no right to do that. Taylor, I’m sorry you had to see that."

Jim sat down on the love seat next to them and Nick crawled over to his dad and gave him a long hug.

"I’m sorry I made you have a fight with Miss Lori," Nick said.

"You didn't make us have a fight, son," Jim said softly.

"She's mad though," Nick said, knowing that she was angry with Jim for pulling Nicks hair.

"Son, that's something for her and I to worry about," Jim said. "If it's anyone's fault, it's mine."

"She's not going to come back?" Nick asked, feeling a little upset about the prospect of Lori being gone for good.

"She's going to come back, son," Jim said. "We're going to have a talk later. Right now, I’m worried about you two and James."

"I’m sorry I was jealous, dad," Nick said, feeling a little selfish for the way he had acted.

"It's okay, now, son," Jim said quietly. "But you don't have any reason to be jealous of James or of anyone. You already know that."

Jim wrapped his arms around Nick again and gave him another hug, then he told Nick and Taylor that it was okay if they wanted to go upstairs and watch TV since James was sick on the couch.

When they got upstairs, Nick felt a little awkward. This was the first time that they were actually alone in his room since he announced to everyone that he was having gay feelings. Even though he knew in his mind that they would probably just sit together on the beanbag and watch a movie, Nick still felt like he didn't know what the right thing to do or say was. Finally, he picked the remote control up off his nightstand and turned on the TV.

For some odd reason, Nick decided that instead of watching a DVD, he and Taylor would watch a VHS movie. He picked out Southpark: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, and soon, he and Taylor were relaxing next to each other on the beanbag. Nick and Taylor both sang along to the Terrance and Phillip song, Shut your f****** face uncle fucker, and Nick rewound it so that they could sing it again and dance to it exactly the way Terrance and Phillip were doing. When they were done with that part, they got quiet and watched the rest of the movie, laughing through the whole thing. When Eric Cartman sang his solo, Kyle’s mom is a big fat b****, they got up and sang and danced again.

During the next scene, the sound of loud coughing could be heard coming from downstairs, and Nicks heart sank when Taylor said something.

"Is your dad sick too," he asked.

Nick got up and nervously said he would go check by himself.

"Just wait here, Taylor," Nick said. "I'll go see by myself."

Nick got up and went downstairs. James was sleeping on the couch still, and Nick heard his dad coughing loudly again. The noise was coming from the garage, so Nick walked down the hallway, through the laundry room and opened the door to the garage. As soon as he opened the door, the familiar smell filled his nostrils and he watched as his dad choked on a large hit. He stepped out into the garage and stared at his dad, who didn't notice him at first.

Even though Nick knew what his dad was doing as soon as he heard the coughing from his room, he was stunned. He stood and watched as Jim took another hit from the joint he was smoking and then use spit on the end of his finger to dampen the joint where it was burning unevenly. Jim put the joint back up to his mouth to take another hit when he spotted Nick.

He didn't say a word. Nick was waiting for his dad to yell at him to go back inside, but he didn't. Instead, he set his joint down and simply looked down. Nick turned around and went back inside, where he made his way back to the family room to sit down on the love seat and curl up in a ball. For the first time in Nick’s life, he was sure that his dad was doing something wrong. He knew that his dad was ashamed of himself, too. Nick didn't know what to think about that, either. His dad was always so confident and sure of himself, but tonight, Nick caught him doing something that he had always done. But now, it wasn't okay.

Jim had moved them to Virginia to give them a better life, and he was doing that. He had bought a bigger and more beautiful house than Nick had ever lived in before. He was working from home and he always seemed to be around. He had taken James in and made him his son, even though he wasn't, and was giving him a better life, too. But Nick had somehow figured out in his head that part of that better life meant that Jim wasn't smoking weed anymore. Now he knew that he had been wrong.

Nick didn't look up when he heard the door from the garage into the laundry room open and close, or when he felt Jim sit next to him on the love seat.

"I guess this hasn't been our day, has it son?" Jim said as he ran his fingers through Nick’s hair.

Nick smiled a little when he heard his dad say that. He looked up at his dad, who had a worried look on his face, then he shrugged his shoulders and shook his head no.

"I don't know how many times I’m going to have to tell you sorry today," Jim said pitifully. "I’m just glad this day's almost over."

"You don't have to tell me sorry, dad," Nick said, feeling sorry for his father.

"Yes I do," Jim said. "I owe you an apology for everything."

"No you don't, dad," Nick said, leaning into his dads arms. "I love you."

"I love you too, son," Jim said. "I didn't want you to find me out there like that."

"I’m sorry I came outside," Nick said. "I knew you were smoking. I don't know why I came out there."

"Son, I don't want you to feel sorry for anything," Jim said. "I guess you already know that dad does that."

"I thought you didn't anymore," Nick said.

Jim used both of his hands to rub his face and head, as if he was trying to calm down, then he looked at Nick and smiled warmly.

"I don't do it like I used to, son," Jim said. "But sometimes I still might."

"I promise never to tell anyone," Nick swore. "I know you can get into trouble."

Jim looked distressed when Nick said that, but he quickly shook it off and replaced the look with one of confidence.

"Well, I promise not to be so careless, son," Jim said, making Nick wonder what he meant until he went on. "This is your house and James' house too, and you guys have a right to be able to go into any room you want to and not have to worry about what I might be doing."

"I won't tell James, or even Taylor or Lori or my grandma and grandpa," Nick promised.

"You don't have to lie to anyone you love about this, Nick," Jim said. "I don't want you to run around and just tell people for no reason, but if someone you love and care about asks, I don't want you to lie. Is that understood?"

"Yes sir," Nick said.

"What are you guys watching?" Jim asked.

"The South Park movie," Nick answered. "Want to watch it with us?"

"Sure, buddy," Jim said with a smile. "Let me get James upstairs and I'll come watch with you guys."

Nick sat on the love seat and watched his dad tend to James. Jim sat on the edge of the couch and felt James' cheeks with his hand, then leaned over and kissed him on the forehead before he scooped him up in his arms and carried him upstairs. Nick followed his dad up the stairs and watched as he passed James' room and took him into his room. Nick felt a little jealous again, knowing that Jim was going to let James sleep in his room. He felt like he was the only one who should be allowed to sleep with his dad, but he kept quiet about it. He didn't want to upset his father again and risk getting in trouble.

Nick went back into his room and told Taylor that Jim was going to come watch with them, so they rewound the movie and set the floor up with as many pillows as Nick had in his room. When Jim came in they all lay on their stomachs to watch the movie. When the Terrance and Phillip song started, Nick and Taylor got up and did their dance for Jim, who watched with a big smile and laughed when they imitated Terrance and Phillip during the farting scene.

Nick and Taylor got up and danced to almost every song that played throughout the movie, and Jim seemed to enjoy watching them act silly. When Nick saw his dad laugh, he knew that he was helping him to forget about the day, and that made him feel really good. When they lay back down to watch the end of the movie, Nick snuggled up next to his dad and put his arm over his back. Jim smiled at him and rubbed his back for him, making him feel safe and secure.

When the movie was over, Taylor was sleeping on the floor, but Nick was still awake, so he got up, stopped the tape, and hit rewind.

"Hey, buddy," Jim said. "How about if you and I go downstairs and make some hot chocolate. We'll wake Taylor up when it's ready."

Nick got up and followed his dad out to the hallway. Jim went across the hall to his room, so Nick went with him. He watched his dad feel James' cheeks again, then go into his bathroom and get something for James to take, and a cup of water. Jim shook James gently, then he helped him sit up and take the pill. He made James take a few big drinks of water until he got mad and said he didn't want any more, then he fixed up the pillows and helped him lay back down. When he saw his dad kiss James and tell him that he loved him, a surge of jealousy ran through Nick’s whole body, but he bit his tongue. Instead, when Jim went back into his bathroom to put the cup back on the counter, Nick climbed up onto the bed and waited. When Jim came out, Nick held his arms out so that Jim could pick him up and carry him downstairs.

Nick laid his head on his dads shoulder as they made their way down the hallway and wrapped his arms around his neck as tight as he could.

"Are you feeling jealous again?" Jim asked softly.

"No," Nick lied, hoping to make his dad think he was telling the truth.

"Why don't I believe that," Jim asked.

"I don't know," Nick said, making Jim chuckle.

They made it to the kitchen where Jim set Nick on the counter while he started the kettle. When Nick looked at the clock, he noticed that it wasn't even 9 o'clock yet. Jim got the hot chocolate and the marshmallows out of the cupboard and he started to talk again.

"We haven't really been able to spend any time alone since we've moved here, have we?" Jim said. Nick nodded his head and smiled because his dad was right. The last time that Nick and Jim spent alone in the kitchen was when they lived in California. Nick thought back about the morning routine they had, and how special it made him feel when Jim would wake him up extra early so that they could have time to make pancakes together and talk. When they moved to Virginia, they lived with Tom and Linda for a couple of weeks, then they moved here, but they had never spent even one night alone in their new house. Taylor spent the weekend when they first moved in, and James moved in at the end of that same weekend.

"Son, I have an idea," Jim said. "We aren't going to say anything to anyone else, so you have to promise to keep it our secret. Can you do that?"

Nick smiled and nodded at his dad, who sat three mugs down on the counter and gave Nick a small hug while he talked.

"As soon as James is better, why don't you stay home from school one day and the two of us can do whatever you want," Jim said in Nick’s ear, bringing an instant smile to Nicks face. "But you can't tell anyone, especially James. His feelings would be hurt, and I wouldn't like that at all."

"I promise, daddy," Nick said, pressing his nose up to his dads. Jim smiled and gave Nick a kiss, then he started tearing open the envelopes with the hot cocoa mix and pouring them into the mugs. When the kettle started to whistle, Jim poured the hot water into each one of the mugs.

"Let's go wake Taylor up," Jim said as he backed up to the counter so that Nick could grab on and ride on his back. Taylor woke up and went back downstairs with Nick and his dad. While they were sitting at the table drinking their hot chocolate, the phone rang. Jim picked it up and sat back down at the table. Nick could tell from the way his dad was talking that it was Lori, so he turned his attention to Taylor. They talked about the movie and decided that it was their new favorite. Soon, Jim got off the phone and joined the conversation.

A few moments later, Lori had arrived and the first thing that Jim did was get up and go give her a long hug. Nick tried not to watch, but he couldn't help himself. Lori walked over to the table and sat down next to Nick, where Jim had been sitting, and she leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"I love you, Nick," she said. "I hope you understand that it wasn't you're fault at all that daddy and I had an argument."

"I love you too, Miss Lori," Nick said. "Daddy told me that too. I understand."

"Good," she said. "Taylor, I love you too, and I’m sorry you had to see all of that."

"I love you too Miss Lori," Taylor said.

She got up from her chair and Jim sat back down, then sat on his lap playfully and kissed him on the cheek. Nick and Taylor looked at each other and grinned, and then they all started talking about the movie again.

"That show is terrible," Lori laughed.

"Me and dad went to the movies and saw it last year," Nick bragged. "It's my favorite now."

Nick and Taylor spent the rest of the evening going back and repeating all of the funniest lines from the movie, and Nick sang the Big Gay Al song.

When Nick and Taylor were starting to get sleepy, Jim told them that they could watch TV but that they needed to get ready for bed and lay down. On the way up the stairs, Nick wondered to himself how Lori was going to spend the night when James was sleeping in Jim’s room. Jim and Lori followed them upstairs and while Lori went to check on James, Jim got Nick’s pajamas out for him and made sure that they were tucked in before he left them.

"Nick," Taylor asked with a shy smile on his face. "Do you still feel gay?"

"Yeah," Nick answered honestly.

"I think I do too," Taylor said, still smiling.

"Do you really feel gay?" Nick asked.

"Maybe I don't feel as gay as you do," Taylor said. "But I think I feel a little bit gay. How gay do you feel?"

"I feel like I’m really gay right now," Nick said, snuggling up as tightly as he could with his friend. In response, Taylor smiled sweetly and puckered his lips. Nick leaned forward and pressed his lips to Taylor’s, and the moment their lips met, Nick opened his mouth and let his tongue travel into Taylor’s mouth. When he felt Taylor’s tongue pressing back, Nick felt a jolt run through him and his heart skipped a beat.

When they broke the kiss, Nick sat up for a moment to regain his bearings, then he looked back at Taylor, who was smiling brightly at him and batting his eyes. Finally, Nick crawled back to his pillow and lay down beside him. Taylor turned to face him, still smiling, and Nick leaned in and gave him another kiss.

"Do you still feel gay," Nick asked as he broke the kiss. Taylor smiled and nodded, so Nick kissed him again.

"I’m still gay, too," Nick said. "I think I’m still going to be gay tomorrow."

"Maybe I will too," Taylor said.

"Taylor," Nick asked.

"Huh?" Taylor replied.

"Since we're both still gay right now," Nick started. "Can we be boyfriends? Then when we aren't gay anymore, we'll just be brothers?"

"Yes," Taylor said, almost whispering again.

"I love you," Nick said. "I want to give you a real kiss again."

"Like last night," Taylor asked.

Nick nodded, and Taylor held his lips out.

Nick smiled and grabbed Taylor’s hands, then he leaned forward and pressed his lips to Taylor’s. He moved in with his tongue, and he felt Taylor’s tongue pushing back against his. He wrapped his arms around Taylor’s neck and enjoyed the kiss he was getting from his boyfriend. Finally, Taylor broke the kiss and wiped his mouth off.

"Nick," Taylor asked. "Will we be gay at school?"

"No," Nick said, reaching over to his nightstand to turn his lamp off. "I’m always straight when we go to school."

"Me too," Taylor said. "Do I have to tell Mr. J if I’m feeling gay?"

"No," Nick said.

"Good, I don't want him to tell my mom and dad," Taylor said as he grinned at Nick, and then he leaned in again and kissed him on the lips. "I love you Nick.”

"I love you too Taylor," Nick said. "When I’m not gay, I still love you because you're my brother."

"Nick," Taylor asked as they lay in the dark. "Will we still be boyfriends tomorrow?"

"If we're both gay we can be," Nick answered.

"Will my dad know," Taylor asked.

"Only if you come out of the closet," Nick said.

"I’m not going to," Taylor said. "Are you?"

"I already did," Nick said. "But when I’m not gay, I won't be out of the closet anymore."

"When are you going to be straight again," Taylor asked.

"When we go to school," Nick answered. "I’m still going to be gay tomorrow."

"What if I’m not gay tomorrow," Taylor asked.

"It's okay," Nick said. "We'll just be boyfriends again when you turn gay again."

Taylor didn't say anything else. Instead, he just wrapped his arms around Nick’s chest and laid still.

"Taylor," Nick asked. "Can I give you one more kiss goodnight?"

"Okay," Taylor answered. Nick pressed his lips up to Taylor’s and held them there for a while, letting himself feel gay one last time before he fell asleep.

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