Chris went into the art class carrying his portfolio with him to use to protect his picture. Ms. Stephens had said that they would be able to take their pictures home today. Alex waved to him as Chris came in the room. He made his way over to where Alex was sitting. Throughout the room, the student’s art projects were on display. There were pictures from the other classes as well. He saw several that were about as good as his, at least in technique. When he neared his seat, he and Alex bumped fists before he sat down, and leaned the portfolio next to his table and chair. Once everyone was settled in their seats, Ms. Stephens called the roll and class began.
"Good morning class. I had a chance to look your pictures over and I want to tell all of you that you did very well on your first assignment. Well done everyone. You may now collect you pictures. I have written the grade for the assignment on the back of your drawing. If you wish, you may leave them here until the end of the day so that you don’t have to lug them around school for the rest of the day. For the rest of the period, why don’t you look at all the pictures and look at the different techniques used."
The students spent the class walking around and looking at the pictures throughout the room and visiting amongst themselves. Many of the other students complimented Chris on his picture. He seemed to have a permanent blush from all the compliments. At the end of class the students gathered their drawings and put them away. Some had asked what it was about, but he declined to give any information beyond that it was a picture of a friend. The rest of the day was a typical school day. At the end of the school day Travis went with Chris to pick up his picture from the art classroom.
"Hi Ms. Stephens. I came to pick up my picture," Chris said.
She looked up from her desk, "Hello Chris. You know where it is," she said and looked back down to her grade book.
"Sure thanks," he said.
He and Travis went to the back of the room, where there was a rack with several portfolio folders waiting for the students to pick them up. Chris flipped through them until he found his and pulled it out by its hand grip.
"So, let’s see it," Travis said.
"Nah, wait until we get home. I’ll show it to you then. I don’t want to miss the bus, okay?" Chris asked.
"Kay bud, let’s go. I can’t wait to see it."
As they headed toward the door, Mrs. Stephens’ voice stopped them for a moment, "Chris, I just wanted to say once again, excellent work."
Chris nodded in acknowledgment.
The boys quickly left the room, waving to Ms. Stephens as they left. They made their way to the front of the school where Bryce was waiting for them. The three went to the back of the bus and sat down. Chris tucked the portfolio folder in front of him and Travis leaned it against their knees and the seat in front of them. They talked about just general stuff on the ride home. At their stop they got off and all three of them headed to Chris’ house. Bryce wanted to see the picture as well, so he went with them. They got to the house and went inside. After a quick stop in the kitchen for sodas they went up to Chris’ room. Travis flopped on the bed and Bryce sat in the chair at Chris’ computer desk.
"Okay, let’s see it, so we can see what Alex was so jazzed about," Bryce said.
Chris nodded and then undid the clasps that held the folder closed. He took the picture out and placed it face down on his art desk. He adjusted the desk so that the top of the desk was angled up as high as it could go, and then he turned the picture over. The two other boys looked at it for a few moments and then they got up from where they were sitting to get a closer look.
After looking at it for a several minutes, Travis looked at Chris. "That’s you in the picture, I mean the boy," he asked.
Chris nodded biting his lip.
"Then this is the guy who rescued you isn’t it," Travis continued.
Chris nodded, "Yeah, that’s how I remember him," he stated.
"Was it really like that Chris?" Bryce asked.
Chris nodded, "Yeah, it was, at least that’s how I remember it," he said.
"I can’t see his face real good in the picture, but he looks like a teenager," Travis said as he leaned closer as if they would allow him to look deeper into the hood of the teenager in the picture.
"Yeah that’s how I remember him. He had a young voice, well teenage voice anyway. I didn’t see his face very clear, but I remember his eyes and I remember that he was young, well older than we are but not by much."
"Yeah, his eyes. There is something about them," Travis said as he stood back up with a thoughtful look on his face.
"What about them Trav," Chris asked.
"Don’t know, they’re just kind of familiar, like I’ve seen someone with eyes like that before," Travis said.
"Well, Chris, the picture’s pretty cool. Alex was right about it. It’s a little bit like some Anime, but more real. Well, dudes I gotta get home. I’ll see you later," Bryce said.
"Yeah I should go too bro," Travis agreed.
"Kay guys." Chris said.
They walked back out to the kitchen and finished their drinks. They grabbed their backpacks off of the chairs around the dining room table. Chris followed them outside where they all bumped fists. Heather drove up with Chris’ brother and sister. She waved to Bryce as he took off down the street. Travis waved before he headed next door to his home.
"Chris, come help me with the groceries," She said to Chris. "Jessie, Ty, put your backpacks in your rooms and then come back and help bring the groceries in," she said to the other two.
"Kay Mom," he replied.
Chris went to the back of the minivan and started grabbing bags after his mom opened the hatch. Within a few minutes they had the bags inside and quickly worked on getting everything put away. By the time they finished their dad was home as well and Heather got started on getting dinner ready.
"You guys go and get started on your homework until dinner is ready," Michael said to the three kids.
"Kay Dad," they answered.
They went to their separate rooms to work on homework. When Chris got to his room the picture caught his eye and he sat on his stool gazing at the picture. He reached out and gently touched the face of the mysterious figure in the picture. His eyes watered a little bit as he remembered that day.
Once again, like he had so many times since that day, he thanked god that his guardian angel had saved him from those men. He walked over to his computer desk and sat down to work on homework until dinner was ready. There really wasn’t much, because this was the last week before winter break.
His mom called them to dinner just as he finished what little homework he had. After dinner, he went back to his room and watched TV. An hour later his dad was passing by his room and glanced in the room. He started to walk by when he stopped and did a double take.
His sudden stop got Chris’ attention and he looked up at the doorway as Michael entered the room, looking at something beyond where Chris was sitting on the bed. Chris followed his gaze and saw that he was looking at the picture that Chris still had sitting on the art table.
Michael stopped in front of the table and looked at the picture for several moments. In that time Chris moved so that he was sitting on the edge of the bed looking at the picture as well. Michael turned to him and started to say something when the cell phone lying on the bedside table starting ringing. They were both startled by it and Chris quickly picked it up to answer it.
"Hello….oh hi Trav….what?...oh, yeah, I guess so…sure see you in a minute…yeah, see ya."
Michael sat quietly listening to the one end of the conversation. He could hear the excitement in the voice on the other end of the line. He smiled as Chris shrugged.
"I guess Travis is coming over?" He stated with a smile.
Chris nodded, "Yeah, he said he had something important to tell me. So he’s coming over."
Michael nodded and looked at the picture again before he sat down on the stool in front of the desk and swiveled around on it to face Chris, "I take it this is the picture you were working on a few weeks ago. It’s really something. This is…"
They were interrupted by the sound of the front door slamming closed and the sound of running feet.
"Travis, don’t run in the house," Heather yelled.
"Sorry," they heard Travis apologize.
He appeared at the bedroom door. He came in the room and flopped down on the bed to catch his breath. He looked up and saw that Michael was there as well.
"Chris…oh…uh, hi Mr. Hale," he stammered.
"Hey Travis. So what brings you here this evening?" greeted Michael.
Travis looked at Chris, "It’s about the picture," he said.
Michael pointed to the picture on the table and asked, "This one?"
"Yeah," Travis replied.
"What about it Trav?" Chris asked.
"Chris, remember when we were talking earlier and I said something about the eyes of the guy there in the picture," he asked.
Chris nodded, "Yeah, what about it."
"I remember. I remember where I saw those eyes before," Travis stated.
"Where?" Chris asked.
Michael held up his hand, "Wait. Give me a minute Travis. Chris, this is a picture of the guy who rescued you, right? The one you never gave the police any information about?" He asked.
"Yeah Dad, it is. That’s how I remember him, protecting me from those men," Chris replied.
"I did know that you remembered more than you let on, but because of what he did, I never pushed it. Now, Travis, what is it you are talking about remembering?" Michael asked.
"When I saw the picture this afternoon, there was something about the eyes of the guy in the picture, they were familiar, or reminded me of someone," he said.
"Who?" Michael asked.
Travis pointed at the picture, "I saw that guy, I think, or at least someone with eyes like that," he said.
"Okay where did you see him?" Michael asked.
"Next door at my house," he said. "It was late in the afternoon of the next day after Chris was missing. I was sitting on my front porch trying to read a book to get my mind off of you being missing Chris. I was real scared for you. There was a guy, he was a teenager and I thought he was a friend of Troy’s. He was real friendly and he sat down with me and we talked. I remember telling him about you and your kidnapping. I remember it was kinda strange, but I felt safe with him, protected, ya know. When he left, the last thing I remember were his blue eyes and the way they seemed like they were glowing. Weird huh?" he said.
Three sets of eyes were all drawn to the picture for a few moments, as they focused on the bright blue eyes of the teen in the picture that was holding the young Chris.
"What did he look like Travis?" Michael asked as he turned back to look at Travis.
Travis nodded, "The picture looks about right. He was wearing a hoody when I saw him, but he had the hood down. He had black hair and those eyes and he was definitely a teenager about 16 or 17 years old."
Michael stood up, "Wait a moment, I’ll be right back."
Michael left the room. Travis looked at Chris and Chris shrugged, just as puzzled by his Dad’s behavior. Michael returned and sat down on the stool again. He had a folded piece of paper in his hand, "When I found you on the porch Chris, when you were returned, this was with you. I never showed it to the police. You’re parents know about it as well Travis. Take a look."
He handed it to Chris who opened it and started to read. Travis moved next to him and leaned over his shoulder to read it as well. As they finished the note, there were tears in Chris’ eyes. He looked up at Michael.
"So you knew about what he did? When that detective came with the pictures of those three, you already knew that they were probably dead," Chris asked.
Michael nodded, "Yeah, we were pretty sure they were. We and the Graysons talked about it and we kept this information from the police. The detective was good, he knew that you and I were holding something back, because he talked about the danger of vigilantes to me just as he was leaving after interviewing you, but he had nothing to go on and left it at that. I didn’t care, animals like that give up the right to live as far as I was concerned, when they do something like that. Travis do you remember anything else about the kid you talked with?" he asked.
Travis thought for a moment, "No, just what I told you. In fact I pretty much forgot about him until I saw that picture. I knew there was something familiar about the eyes and it suddenly came to me while I was watching TV in my room. So you think the guy I met and the guy who rescued Chris is the same?" Travis asked.
"Yeah, maybe, I think when he was talking to you, he was getting more information about the men who took Chris from you since you were there and then he went hunting for them. Probably him and some others. They found them and rescued Chris," Michael stated.
"Man, do you think that he’s still out there somewhere?" Travis asked.
"Maybe, but he’d be in his twenties now, since he was 16 or 17 then. Anyway, the picture is very good Chris. I’ll leave you boys now. Travis don’t stay long, it’s a school night after all. And Chris, I think you should keep that note. He did us a great service and I can never repay him for saving you. I wish there was some way to thank him, but the best we can do is thank god that he was there." Michael stated.
"Yeah Dad, me too. I wonder if he has done anything else like that since then to other…people like that," Chris said.
"Who can tell. Maybe, maybe not. I’m going to go join your mother. Thanks for telling us about this Travis," he said.
"Sure Mr. Hale, see ya," Travis said.
They watched Michael leave the room and then Travis got up, "I guess I’ll get going. I have some homework to finish anyway, see you tomorrow morning," Travis said while making a mock face showing mock disgust.
"Yeah see ya,’ Chris said.
Travis left the room. Chris got off the bed and sat on the stool staring at the picture. His hand touched the face of the guy who had saved him. He then got up and went over to his desk and took a lock box out of the lower drawer. He unlocked it and put the folded note inside it before locking the box up and putting it away. He turned the light off over the art desk and sat down on his bed to watch TV until it was time to go to sleep.
Friday, the day of the dance finally arrived. It had become a bigger event than it was originally planned. Instead of an invitation only dance, it had become a regular school dance sponsored by the GSA. There were posters about it around campus. During lunch they talked about it.
"So is everybody still going tonight?" Alex asked.
"I can’t, my Dad said I can’t go. He kinda freaked about it being sponsored by ‘a bunch of faggots’. Sorry Alex, those were his words not mine." Wendy apologized.
"He heard about it from Jeannie’s dad, they golf together. He asked me about it and I said that I was planning on going with Travis and he said no." Wendy said.
"I’m sorry too, Wendy. The only difference is we’re sponsoring it. Maybe next time," Alex said.
"Since I can’t go Travis, why don’t you and I go to the movies or something?" She looked at Travis.
"Uh…sorry but I don’t want to leave my best friend as a third wheel to Bryce and Cheryl. So I’m going to keep him company. I’ll be his date," Travis said.
Wendy got a shocked look. "Oh, uh…" Travis laughed, "Ha, gotcha…he he. Seriously, I want to go along to keep him company," he said.
"Gee, thanks buddy. You know you don’t have to Travis. I’ll be fine," Chris said.
"See Travis..." Wendy continued.
"We can go another time Wendy, really. Chris, I already told Alex I would go and I want to go. It’s my way to show support. Besides, I think it’ll be fun," Travis said.
"Okay, if you’re sure," Chris said.
"Of course I’m sure. My best friends are going, so I want to go too," Travis stated.
"Okay." Chris smiled.
"Fine then, I’ll see you later Cheryl," Wendy said a little petulantly.
Wendy gathered the remains of her lunch and got up. Everyone could tell she was not happy with Travis right then, choosing to go to the dance rather than to the movies with her. Travis shrugged, dismissing her attitude.
"Travis, you know you don’t have to go to the dance. You could go to the movies with your girlfriend," Chris said.
"She’s not my girlfriend! I mean we’re just friends," Travis stated.
"Oh. Well, anyway, you don’t have to go with me. I’ll be fine. I’ll have friends there," Chris said.
"No I want to go, so when do I pick you up?" Travis asked.
Chris started laughing and then pitched his voice high when he replied, "Anytime big boy."
Travis punched Chris’ shoulder and they both started poking at each other and laughing. The bell rang signaling the end of the lunch period. They gathered their trash up and left. Cheryl gave Bryce a quick peck on the cheek before the boys headed to the gym for class.
That evening, the three boys made their way to the multipurpose room where the dance was being held. Cheryl was meeting Bryce inside, so it was just them for the moment. They showed their tickets at the door and walked in. The room was decorated in a holiday theme. Crepe paper in red, green and white was strung everywhere. A DJ was on stage standing behind his equipment with head phones around his neck, playing music. The boys had arrived a little early and the music being played was Christmas music for the moment. They looked around and saw Alex and Vince. They saw many gay couples, or at least some that they thought were gay. There were several straight couples around as well. The three of them got a few curious looks and they realized at that moment how it looked to the others there and they colored up a little. Dave Basem was up on stage talking to the DJ, who was nodding at what Dave was saying. Dave clapped him on the shoulder and smiled. Travis turned to Bryce and Chris.
"Do you guys feel what I feel?" Travis asked.
"Yeah, I shoulda waited for Cheryl before we came in," Bryce said.
"Did you see the looks some of them gave us?" Chris said.
"Yeah, well don’t mind them, we’re here to have a good time," Travis said.
"Good evening everyone!" They looked up at the interruption and saw Dave standing on the stage with a mike in his hand smiling to everyone, "Thank you all for coming tonight. For those that don’t know me, I’m Dave Basem, president of the GSA."
There was some scattered clapping which caused Dave to smile, "Anyway, thank you for attending our first sponsored dance. I want to thank the members of the GSA for helping put this on. Also our DJ, Tommy Baker, one of our members who has agreed to lend us his talents to make this a great dance. Since I can think of nothing further to say, I’ll turn this over to Tommy."
He handed the mike to Tommy, "IT’S TIME TO ROCK!" Tommy yelled.
Tommy immediately hit a switch on his console and dance music blasted out of the speaker. He put down the mike and started dancing behind his console as he worked it. The floor started to fill with couples of all types as the music filled the room. The three boys were tapping their feet to the rhythm as they watched everyone else dance when two arms wrapped around Bryce and Chris from behind. They were startled when they looked around and saw Cheryl standing there. She smiled at them and gave a quick peck to Chris’ cheek before letting him go and giving Bryce another one on his cheek. Chris was startled, she had never done anything like that before.
"Hey guys, you ready to dance?" Cheryl asked.
"Yeah," they answered.
"Then let’s go," she said.
She and Bryce started for the dance floor, Chris and Travis staying behind. She let go of Bryce’s arm and grabbed both of them, "I said let’s dance," she said as she pulled them both to the dance floor.
"Us too?" they asked.
"Course, silly. I got three dates tonight and I wanna dance with all of you. So let’s get out there," she stated.
"Okay, cool. Let’s go Chris," Travis said.
They smiled as they hurried after her. Once on the dance floor all of them started dancing together. Cheryl would switch around and dance with each of them as they moved around on the floor. They stayed on the floor for twenty minutes when it changed to a slow dance and they decided to get something to drink and cool down. All of them were a bit sweaty as they made their way to the refreshment table. They grabbed cokes and water and walked around until they found a table to sit at. They sat quietly and watched the couples on the dance floor. There were several same sex couples, both male and female, dancing close together. They saw Alex and Vince, Dave and Loren. They also saw a couple of freshmen boys, Brian and Tad that they knew from school, dancing together. After they cooled down, Cheryl grabbed Bryce’s hand and the two of them went out on the dance floor. Alex and Vince saw them and waved as they made their way over to the table and sat down.
"Hi guys, glad you could make it," Alex said.
"Thanks for inviting us," Chris said.
"So just you two?" Vince said.
"No Bryce and Cheryl are out there right now." Travis pointed to the dance floor.
They looked where Travis pointed and saw the two dancing.
"So are you two going to dance?" Vince asked.
"What you mean together? No, I mean we were all dancing earlier, we’re just taking a breather," Travis answered.
"Good idea," Alex agreed.
"You want something Alex?" Vince asked.
"Sure Vinny, water," Alex replied.
Vince got up and went to the table for a couple of bottles of water and returned handing one to Alex. "Thanks babe," Alex said.
"Anytime," Vince replied.
Vince sat down close to him and put his arm around his shoulders. Alex snuggled up to him a little and smiled. Chris watched all this before he turned and glanced over at Travis. He looked down as he let out a silent sigh. He did not realize that other eyes caught that look and let a small smile cross their face. After refreshing themselves, Alex and Vince got up to dance again. Two good looking girls who looked to be about a year or two older then Travis and Chris walked over smiling.
"Hey guys, you want to dance?" one of them asked.
Travis glanced over at Chris and smiled, "You wanna Chris?" he asked.
"Sure, of course, that’s what we came for," Chris replied.
"Great, my name is Jackie, and this is my friend Liz, let’s go shake it," she said.
Jackie took Travis’ hand and Liz grabbed Chris’ hand. The boys followed the two girls out to the floor and danced. As they danced, Cheryl and Bryce moved nearer to them and all of them got into the music and they were having a good time. A slow song started and the girls moved up close and slow danced with them. They put their arms around the neck of the boy they were dancing with and moved close, laying their head on the boy’s shoulder.
Chris could feel the gentle breath of the girl against his neck as she laid her head on his shoulder. He glanced down and saw that her eyes were closed and she had a smile on her face. They danced like that for a minute or so before there was a tap on his shoulder he looked to the side and saw Jackie with Travis with her.
"Mind if I cut in. I want to dance with my girlfriend," Jackie asked.
"Oh, uh sure," Chris said.
"Thanks, you can have your boyfriend back," she said.
"Uh, we…we’re no…not boy, uh friends…Travis is my best friend," Chris stammered.
"Oh, too bad. You guys look good together, light and dark. Sorry, we just thought you guys were together, you know," she said.
"No problem. Thanks for the dance," Chris said.
Chris was blushing furiously as he stepped back. He looked at Travis for a moment and then quickly dropped his gaze, "I’ll be right back. It’s a…a little warm with all the a…dancing. I’m…uh, going to go outside for a moment. Be right back."
He hurried toward the door, trying to quell the heat he could feel in his face. He got outside and walked a little bit away from the buildings. Trying to calm down, he eyes watered a little as he got himself under control. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder and he jumped a little bit. He was just turning around to see who it was when a muffled cry could be heard around the corner of a nearby building.
"What was that?" Chris turned and saw that it was Travis who had come up behind him. He was looking towards the sound.
"Don’t know," Chris replied.
"Let’s check it out. See what it is," Travis said.
The two boys moved forward quietly to the corner and peeked around, they found themselves looking at the grass covered area where Chris’ art class had done the charcoal sketches. There was a group of figures there. All of them had hooded sweatshirts on with the hood up. Then they heard another cry, "Oww!" The cry had come from a figure that they could see was laying on the ground.
One of the hooded figures put his foot on the chest of the boy on the ground, "Shut up you little faggot!"
Another boy was being held by a couple of other guys, "Please stop. Leave him alone."
The one with his foot on the chest of the boy on the ground turned to the boy being held, "You’re next twinky."
They could tell that the four other boys were older teens. Travis didn’t hesitate and before Chris knew what he was doing Travis started charging the attackers.
Chris followed a couple of steps later. The attackers did not notice the two charging boys until Travis was just a few steps away from one of the ones holding the one boy. He slammed into him from behind, knocking him down.
Chris, being faster than Travis, slammed into the other one holding the boy a split second later. The sudden shock of the tackles caused them to pull the boy down with them to the ground. There was a grunt from the two boys as they hit the ground with Travis and Chris landing on top of them. Before they could get up, Chris and Travis were grabbed and flung off of the two they had tackled
The standing teens then helped their friends up off the ground and pulled them along as they ran off, the two from the ground were stumbling a little as they were pulled along.
Travis and Chris got up and went to the two other boys. The one they had freed from the two they had tackled was holding the other boy as he helped him sit up. They could see it was Tad and Brian, the two freshmen they had seen dancing together earlier. Brian had been the one on the ground. Tad looked at them as they knelt down next to them. They could see that Brian had a bloody nose and split lip, he was also holding his side. Tad was cradling him. Both of the boys had tracks of tears on their face.
"Thanks for saving us." Tad said.
"I’m glad Chris and I could help," Travis answered.
"Yeah, are you guys okay?" Chris asked.
"I’m fine. Brian is the one they were beating on," Tad said worriedly.
"I’m okay, mostly bruised, I think," Brian said from Tad's lap.
"Can you stand?" Travis asked.
Brian nodded, "Yeah, I think so. Tad, give me a hand," he said.
Tad put his arm around Brian’s waist as he helped him stand up. Brian gave out a yelp as he came to his feet. He moved Tad’s arm away from his side and as he hissed. Tad looked concerned, "Let me see Bri."
Tad lifted the shirt up and moved Brian so that a light nearby shined on his side. There was a bright red mark on Brian’s side at the bottom of his rib cage. Tad poked the area gently, and Brian winced. "Let’s get you back to the dance and get one of the teachers. You might be hurt worse than you think," he said.
Brian nodded as they walked back holding Tad’s hand. They got to the multipurpose room and sat down on a bench outside. Chris stayed with the two boys while Travis went inside to get one of the dance chaperones. A few moments later, Mr. Vangor, the health teacher followed Travis out to the where the boys were sitting. He knelt down in front of Brian.
"What happened?" he asked when he got to the boys.
"Some guys attacked us and were beating Brian up," Tad replied.
Mr. Vangor put his hand on Brian’s shoulder to comfort him as he looked him over, taking in the red marks on his face and his cut lip, "Does it hurt anywhere?" he asked.
Brian nodded, "My side mostly," he said.
"May I take a look?"
Brian pulled his shirt up so that Mr. Vangor could see where he had been hit. Mr. Vangor reached out and gently prodded the area for a few moments, causing Brian to wince. He nodded to Brian that he could lower the shirt.
"I don’t think you have anything more than a bruise, but we’re going to have to see about getting you checked out. First, let’s get you in the room and get some water, then we’ll call your parents. Okay?" He asked.
Brian nodded. Mr. Vangor stood up and Tad helped Brian stand. They made their way to the entrance just as Dave and Loren hurried up to the door. They glanced at Tad and Brian before they looked at Mr. Vangor.
"What happened Mr. Vangor?" David asked.
"Someone jumped these two boys here," he replied.
"What about them?" Loren asked.
Mr. Vangor looked around at who he was pointing at, "Who...oh yeah, Travis came and got me and Chris was sitting with the two other boys when I got there," he said.
Tad spoke up, "They broke up the attack by tackling two of the attackers."
David looked at Travis and Chris with a smile, "Great, thanks guys for helping these guys out." He held out his hand, "How many were there?" he asked.
"Four," Travis answered.
"Do you know who they were?" Loren asked.
Tad shook his head, "No, they had hoodies on and it looked like bandanas tied around their faces. We didn’t see who they were."
Brian nodded his head in agreement.
Mr Vangor looked at Chris and Travis, "How about you guys, how did you know about the attack," he asked them.
They looked at each other and Travis related what happened, "We had gotten hot from all the dancing and went outside for some cooler air, when we heard someone cry out. We walked toward the sound, and saw Brian on the ground with two bigger guys ganging up on him, while two other guys were holding Tad. We charged them from behind and tackled the two holding Tad. The two that were still standing grabbed us and threw us off their friends and helped them up before running away."
"Did you see anything, recognize them?" Mr. Vangor asked.
"No, nothing. Like Tad and Brian said, their faces were covered," Travis said.
"Too bad. This kind of thing cannot be allowed to happen," David said.
"Well, first thing, let’s get you boys inside and call your parents, Brian," Mr Vangor said.
Brian and Tad nodded, "Okay."
Brian had recovered enough that he could stand without assistance, but Tad hovered around him ready to step in if he was needed. Brian looked at him and smiled.
"I’ll be fine Tad, don’t worry," Brian said to Tad.
"Well it’s my job to worry, you’re my boyfriend. I want to make sure you’re alright," he said. That earned him another smile as they walked into the hall led by Mr. Vangor and followed by Dave and Loren.
Chris and Travis walked behind them. As they moved through the room, the injuries on Brian attracted some attention. Mr. Vangor had them all sit down at a table. Dave and Loren joined them. Most of the people were still unaware of what had happened and continued to dance. One of the other teachers brought several bottles of water over to the table and some paper towels for Brian. Once they were sitting down, Brian pulled out his cell and made a call.
"Hi Dad…yeah can you come and pick us up? Yeah, we’re ready to go. No…uh, Dad…Tad and I got jumped…no, no, I’m alright, really, just a little banged up…no he’s okay, the guys who jumped us got stopped before they could do much more. No, we don’t know who it was…they had their faces covered…yeah they got away. Okay, we’ll be waiting. Bye Dad."
He closed the phone and put it on the table. "He’s on his way," he said.
"Good. You guys okay here?" Mr. Vangor asked. Everyone nodded. Mr. Vangor smiled, patted Brian on the shoulder and walked away. Brian looked at Chris and Travis.
"Thanks again. So are you guys together too, I didn’t know," Brian said.
"Oh no, no, we’re friends. We’ve known each other all our lives," Chris stammered.
"Oh, sorry, I just thought…you know…" Brian said.
"S’okay. Don’t worry about it. You’re not the first tonight who thought that. So, no problem. Chris and I have been best friends for years, well and Bryce too," Travis said.
"Well, thanks anyway. What we need is more straight guys like you around and less of those assholes," Tad said.
"So, you didn’t see who they were huh?" Brian asked.
"Not a thing. If I could have seen their faces I wouldn’t hesitate to tell who it was," Travis said.
"Did you recognize their voices or anything?" David asked.
"No. I just know that they are older kids. They probably go to school here. They didn’t seem to be old enough to have graduated. They really didn’t say much either, so I don’t think I’d recognize them if I did hear them speak. With the bandanas over the lower part of their faces, their voices were a little muffled." Chris said.
"Well, you’ll just have to watch yourself. Chris, Travis, thank you for helping these guys. Tad is right, we need more straight guys like you who don’t care about who we like," David clapped Travis on the shoulder. "Would you consider joining the GSA? The name is Gay Straight Alliance for a reason. We want everyone to join together to combat hatred and bullying," he said.
"I never thought of it that way. What do you think Chris, maybe Bryce and Cheryl will join too, if we ask them?" Travis asked.
Chris shrugged nervously, "I dunno. Won’t people think, we’re, uh, g..gay too," he stammered.
"Perhaps, but it’s not like we walk around holding hands…and stuff," Travis said.
Travis looked at the others at the table and had an apologetic look. Dave smiled and raised his hand in dismissing what was said. "No offense taken," he said.
"Sorry, I don’t mean that it’s bad for you guys…uh, you know what I mean," Travis said.
"Yeah, Travis, we get it, don’t worry about." Loren said before he turned to look at Chris, "Really Chris, it would be great if you guys would join us. Talk to your friends and come by to check it out. We meet on Wednesday. Come by to Ms. Lyons room, she’s our advisor. Think about it, I really hope you guys will join us, you’re good guys," he said.
"Thanks. We’ll talk about it," Chris said.
"Well I hope you do. I know you’re tough Chris. I’ve seen what Jerry has been doing. I’ve talked to him about it too, but he denies it of course. I’ve known him a long time, he’s been an asshole since he started high school," Dave said in sympathy.
"I don’t let it bother me," Chris shrugged it off.
"Well it bothers me and Bryce too. Just cause you’re better than him, he’s got to pull that shit. He’s just jealous," Travis said vehemently.
"Well at least think about it?" Dave repeated.
They nodded, "We will."
He smiled at them, "Good."
They were interrupted by the arrival of Brian’s dad. Mr. Vangor escorted him over to the table. Brian's dad put his hand under Brian’s chin to tilt his head up so he could look at his face. He scowled at the bruises that were starting to form. Then he gently ruffled his son’s hair before turning to Mr. Vangor.
"So do you know who did this?" He asked.
Mr Vangor shook his head, "No sir, Mr. Helms, we don’t. According to Brian and Tad, they had their faces covered and were wearing hooded sweatshirts with the hoods pulled up."
He looked at the two boys for confirmation and they both nodded. He turned back to Mr. Helms. "That’s all we know. It could have been worse if these two boys here hadn’t broken up the attack," Mr. Vangor pointed at Chris and Travis.
Mr. Helms smiled at them and held out his hand. "Thank you for doing that, you’re lifesavers. What are your names boys?"
They each shook his hand and blushed. "I’m Travis, Mr. Helms," Travis said.
"Chris," Chris introduced himself.
Mr. Helms smiled at them, "Well thank you Travis and Chris. I’m glad you were there and that you decided to step in. You didn’t see who it was either?" he asked.
"No sir, we couldn’t tell who it was, just that there were four of them," Chris answered.
Mr. Helms scowled, "That’s the coward’s way, ganging up on others. Well, I’m glad it worked out okay. Brian, you guys ready to go? I’ll take Tad home, and do I need to take you to get checked out tonight?" He asked Brian.
He shook his head, "No Dad, I’m just sore," he said.
"He did get kicked in the side and it’s all red," Tad spoke up.
"Let’s see," he said to his son.
Brian stood up, he seemed to be able to move a little easier. He lifted his shirt and his dad bent down a little to get a better look at it. Everyone could see that the reddened area had started to turn purple. He stood back up and looked at Brian for a few moments, "Can you breathe okay," he asked.
Brian nodded. "Okay, but I’m going to take you to the doctor tomorrow and have you checked out, just to be sure," he stated. He motioned for the two boys, "Let’s go." He looked at Travis and Chris, "Thanks again for helping Brian." "Mr. Vangor, thanks as well," he said.
"Not a problem. I’m glad Brian will be okay," the teacher said.
"Thank you. Bye everyone," Mr. Helms said.
"Thanks again, Chris…Travis," the two boys said.
Everyone shook hands before Mr. Helms and the two boys left for home. About this time Bryce and Cheryl came over.
"What’s going on?" Bryce asked.
"Some guys jumped Brian Helms and Tad Coughlin. We broke it up and they ran off," Travis said.
"Are they okay?" Cheryl asked.
"Yeah, just a little banged up," Chris nodded.
"You guys okay?" she asked.
"Yep. Anyway, I’m ready to go. What about you guys?" Travis said.
Bryce looked at Cheryl and she nodded, "Yeah, let’s go," she said.
"See you guys, thanks again for helping those two. Hope we see you on the Wednesday after Christmas break," Dave said as they got up from the table.
"Okay, bye Dave," Chris said.
The four of them walked outside as they made the calls on their cells for their parents to come pick them up. When Bryce finished his call he turned to Travis and Chris. "What did Dave mean about Wednesday?" he asked them.
"He asked us to think about joining the GSA," Chris said.
"But we’re not gay, why would…" Bryce started to ask.
"GSA means Gay "Straight" Alliance," Travis interrupted him. Travis did the quotes gesture when he said it.
"Oh," Bryce said.
"You don’t have to be gay to join. He wanted us to think about it," Chris said.
"I think we should do it or at least go check out the meeting. I don’t like bullies, especially since…" Chris started to say.
Chris stopped himself when he realized it wasn’t just the three of them. Cheryl was there too. She had a puzzled look on her face. Travis reached over and put his hand on Chris’ shoulder for a moment and gently squeezed before he dropped his hand back to his side. Chris smiled at him and they both blushed a little. Cheryl watched the brief exchange.
"I, uh, just don’t like people like that. They always pick on those that they think can’t fight back, cause they’re just cowards," Chris stated.
"I think we should go to the meeting," Cheryl spoke up. They all looked at Cheryl.
"I think we should go to the meeting, because I agree with Chris, bullies should not win. If more people are members then it’ll be easier to pick out the bullies since they’ll be the ones left over." She said.
Cheryl’s mom drove up and Cheryl gave Bryce a quick kiss on the cheek and hugged the other two boys before getting in the car with her mom. Mr. Sanders pulled in. The three boys bumped fists and said goodbye. Mr. Grayson pulled up and they went and got into the car, waving to Bryce and his dad as they did.
Nearby, two figures watched the boys leave. One of them turned to the other. "Those looked tasty.
"Those two others would’ve been good, especially if those other boys had been successful in beating the shit out of them. But those three look tasty as well. We should keep an eye on them. I know you’re hungry for a pretty boy like that, my friend, the night is young, let’s see what we can find."
The two figures walked away down the street.