At school on Monday, Travis walked with Chris to his locker. When they opened it, they looked for any new notes, but there were none.
"No note," Chris looked at Travis and shrugged. "It usually shows up later. I don’t think anyone does anything until school has started. Besides, it’s not like I get them every day, I’ve just gotten a couple of them anyway," he said.
"Well you be sure to let me know if you get another one," Travis said.
"I will," Chris reassured him.
Travis glanced around, "Chris, are you going to tell Alex today?" he asked him.
"I don’t know, maybe. It kinda depends on what we’re doing in class today. If we can talk without anyone hearing us then, yeah, I think so, otherwise, I’m going to wait. I don’t want anyone else to hear what we’re talking about," Chris said.
"Okay, remember I said its okay for you to mention me, if you want," Travis reminded him.
"I remember, if it comes up, then I’ll tell him, otherwise I won’t," Chris told him.
Travis nodded, "Fair enough, let’s get to class bro."
They hurried off to class where they met up with Bryce. In art class that day, he found that there was a substitute in class that day. She told them to work on whatever they wanted that day. So most of the class were just halfheartedly working on things while they socialized. Chris figured this was as good a time as any. He looked around the room and saw that no one was nearby so he leaned toward Alex and spoke in a low voice. "Alex, can I ask you something personal?" he asked.
Alex looked over towards Chris with an eyebrow raised. He just looked for a few moments and didn’t say anything before turning back to his work. He worked for a couple of moments before answering in a low voice.
"Yeah, I guess. As long as I can choose not to answer," Alex replied.
"Sure, don’t answer it if you don’t want to," Chris reassured him.
Alex nodded, "Fair enough. Go ahead and ask."
Chris started to get nervous now, as he thought about what he wanted to say and how to say it. He looked around once again to make sure that no one was near. When he was certain the coast was clear he leaned close again.
"Alex, can we go talk somewhere private at lunch. I’ve got something important to ask you about," Chris asked nervously.
Alex stopped what he was doing and slowly turned his head to look at Chris. He looked at Chris and saw how serious he looked.
"Yeah, sure Chris. Whatever you want," he agreed.
Chris nodded his head in thanks. "Did you bring your lunch or were you going to the cafeteria?" he asked Alex.
"Cafeteria," Alex answered.
"Then let’s try to hurry there and get something you can take outside, somewhere away from everyone. Something quick and easy," Chris suggested.
"Okay," Alex agreed.
Alex nodded and they both got back to their work. They had been watching the clock so when the bell rang, they already had everything put away and were ready to leave. They had not said anything to each other for the rest of the class and they silently got up and hurried out of the door before the bell finished ringing. They quickly got their food and went walking toward the sport fields. They ended up at the baseball bleachers. No one else was nearby, so they felt that they had the privacy they sought. They ate in silence for a few minutes before Alex looked over at Chris.
"So what is it that you want to talk to me about?" Alex asked.
Chris looked down at the apple he had bought before replying, "When d…did you, uh…know, uh that…you were…g, uh, um…g-gay," he stammered.
"When I…wait, you? Are you telling me what I think you’re saying?" Alex asked with a little bit of a shocked look.
Chris couldn’t trust his voice and nodded slightly as he starting eating the apple. Alex waited as Chris looked out over the field as he ate.
"Are you sure?" Alex asked.
Chris took another bite and nodded again as he talked with a mouthful of apple, "Pretty sure."
Alex looked at him for a moment, "When did you know, Chris," he asked.
Chris finished the apple he was eating and looked out over the baseball field before he answered Alex, "I think I kinda knew a couple of years ago. I mean, I think it was then. Some of my friends started talking about the girls in the class and yeah, I could see they were good looking and all, but I didn’t feel the same things that they were talking about when I looked at the girls. Then last year, I noticed that I started seeing something about a good looking boy that would make me stare. I caught myself before it was obvious, but I knew that I was looking at them because I liked the way they looked. I couldn’t seem to help myself," he continued, "Then of course I had my two best friends around, who are both awesome looking."
Alex nodded, "I’d have to agree with that, they are pretty hot," he said with a smile.
"Yeah so, we were always together and I realized this last summer how much I liked looking at them," Chris continued.
"Well, you put on a good act, going with Jeannie like you were," Alex said.
Chris scowled, "I was never going with her. It was just that she was with Cheryl and Wendy, and they were going with my friends so I went along," he explained.
"So is that why you sorta broke up with her," Alex asked.
Chris waved dismissively, "There was nothing to break. Besides she’s so bigoted I wouldn’t have wanted to be with her anyway even if I did like girls," Chris said.
Alex nodded in agreement, "Yeah she is that, at least when it comes to gays. So are you going to come out?" he asked curiously.
Chris shook his head, "No, we decided to keep it quiet for now. We don’t know what’ll happen if we come out," he said.
"Wait…we?" Alex did a double take.
"Uh, yeah, my, uh boyfriend and I," Chris stammered.
"Boyfriend. What about your friends, Travis and Bryce, do they know?" he asked.
Chris colored a little, "Well…one of them does anyway," he said quietly as he looked at the ground.
Alex opened his mouth, but didn’t say anything for a few moments. Then a smile broke out on his face, "It's Travis isn’t it, he’s your boyfriend?" he asked.
Chris couldn’t help the blush that came to his face as he grinned and nodded, "Yeah, he said it was okay to tell you, but he asked, well both of us want you not to spread it around to anyone else. We trust you," Chris stated.
"You know I won’t say anything. It’s your tale to tell," Alex reassured him.
"Thanks," Chris said.
"But I thought Travis was going with Wendy," Alex was confused.
"He told me that he wasn’t going with her. He said she was nice and all, but he said they weren’t together, at least he said he wasn’t," Chris stated.
"How is he going to handle that?" Alex asked.
"He said that the two of them haven’t really done much together lately. So maybe there is nothing that needs to be done. He doesn’t want to hurt her feelings, but he thinks she knows that he’s not interested," Chris said.
"Well I hope it works out okay for you guys. So how long have you two been together?" Alex asked.
"Since this weekend," Chris replied.
"Congrats," Alex smiled and they bumped fists.
The bell rang at that time. "I guess it’s time to get back to class. Anytime you or Travis need to talk, let me know. I’ll help any way that I can, and you know you guys have the backing of the GSA too."
Chris nodded, "Yeah, we know. Thanks."
Chris and Alex gathered their stuff and hurried toward their classes. At practice that afternoon, Travis came up next to him as they walked out to the baseball fields
"Where were you at lunch?" he asked.
"Alex and I came out here to talk about, you know," he countered.
"Oh," Travis nodded.
"I…told him about us," Chris said.
"Okay, but you also told him that we are not planning on coming out, right?" Travis questioned.
"Yeah, he was cool with it, he won’t tell anyone. He said it was our choice who to tell and he’d be there for us if we needed him," Chris reassured him.
"Cool," Travis nodded.
"He also said congrats, he thinks you and Bryce are both hot. I happen to agree with him," Chris smiled.
"Well I think you’re hotter," Travis said with an answering grin.
They quit talking as they neared the field. The coach started them on calisthenics to warm up before sending them out to their positions. Travis and Chris went to the second and shortstop positions. They started infield practice. After twenty minutes of practice, the coach called a halt for a water break. They lined up to get a drink of water from a nearby fountain. Chris was the last in line. When he stood up after getting a drink he looked over toward the locker room and saw an older teenager with long hair looking in his direction. Chris felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and he felt real uncomfortable for a few moments as he and the teen looked at each other. The older teen then turned away with a smirk on his face. Chris watched as the teen walked away. Chris had a feeling that he somehow knew the guy, but he didn’t know how he knew him since he could not remember ever seeing him before. Once the teen was out of sight, Chris shook himself and returned to the practice field. As he reached the edge of the field, he looked back once more. Travis was suddenly at his side looking in the direction that Chris was looking.
"Hey Bro, what are you looking at," he said as he tried to see what Chris was looking at.
Chris turned to Travis and smiled, "Nothing much. Just thought I saw someone I knew."
Travis looked again, but shrugged when he saw nothing there and clapped Chris on the shoulder, "C’mon, let’s get back to work."
The rest of practice was pretty normal. From time to time however, Chris looked to where he had seen the older teen, to see if he had returned, but he didn’t see him again. The three friends got a ride home with Chris’ dad after practice.
During the home game that week, the game was tied in the top of the 7th inning, a ground ball was hit right back up the middle before the pitcher could grab it. Chris got a jump on the ball and just as it was about to cross 2nd base, Chris made a diving catch and landed on the base, putting the runner from first, out. That made the third out for the inning. His team cheered him. Travis put his hand out and helped him up. While Chris brushed himself off, Travis slapped his back, "Awesome catch. We got ‘em now," he said.
The other players slapped him on the back as well, as they trotted to the dugout. Chris felt eyes on him and he looked toward the stands. His eyes locked with his friend Jack, who was standing and clapping. When their eyes met, Jack nodded his head as he smiled in approval and stopped clapping long enough to hold up two thumbs. Chris smiled back before he ducked into the dugout. He was clapped on the back or bumped fists with everyone as he moved to his seat. The coach gave him a high five.
"Great catch Elkins. Good hustle out there," the coach said.
"Thanks coach," Chris replied.
Chris sat down next to Travis and he felt some extra pressure from Travis’ leg. They smiled at each other. Bryce, who was the top of the order for their team was up, and perhaps inspired by Chris’ saving catch, he got up and after letting a couple of balls go by, he swung and hit a home run, ending the game in their favor. As Chris was leaving the dugout with Travis and Bryce, he saw Jack wave to him from the direction of the parking lot before he turned and walked away. Chris raised his hand to wave back and Travis looked in the direction that Chris was looking.
"Who’s that?" Travis asked.
"That was Jack, you know that guy that I told about a little while ago. You know that guy that I met at the arcade, remember?" Chris asked.
Travis nodded, "Yeah, I remember now."
"He sometimes watches our games. He told me that he used to play and likes watching baseball, so he watches a game when he happens to be in neighborhood," Chris replied.
"Cool. You’ll have to introduce us sometime," Travis said.
"Sure," Chris replied.
They got changed, showered in the locker room and met Mr. Grayson; who was waiting to give the three of them a ride home.
School was the same for the next couple of weeks. On the weekends Chris and Travis spent as much time as possible with each other. Other than some cuddling, they didn’t do much of anything else, because they didn’t have much privacy and they were still getting used to the idea of being together as boyfriends. Also they had to be careful, especially at Chris’ house, because they never knew when Tyler might burst in on them, so they just enjoyed each others company.
At school, they did their best to act the way that they always had as friends. Occasionally, one or the other would casually touch the other by laying a hand on the others arm or something like that, but they usually stopped themselves before it got too obvious to any others. Travis still continued his habit of dropping his arm over Chris’ shoulders, but now it had even more meaning to them than it did before. Chris had to control himself from leaning into Travis when he did it. A few times he started to lean in, but stopped himself in time.
Sometimes all it took was for them to look at each other and they would giggle a little, although they usually suppressed that when they were around the others, like Bryce and Cheryl. Wendy occasionally joined them at lunch, and she would sit next to Travis, but it wasn’t like it used to be when they were ‘going together’. However, as careful as they were, there were people who noticed how they were with each other, some friendly and some not so friendly. One afternoon after a GSA meeting, they were heading out to the locker room to get changed for practice, when they heard someone calling out to them.
"Hey Chris, Travis." They turned around and saw Alex hurrying to catch up to them.
Travis waved to Bryce, who was with them. "We’ll catch up to you after we see what Alex wants," he said.
"Sure see you in a few," Bryce nodded.
Bryce walked on, while they waited for Alex. "Hey guys," Alex said.
"Hey Alex, what’s up," Chris asked.
Alex looked at them for a moment, and then looked around before he answered.
"You guys are, that’s what," he stated.
"Huh?" Travis said as both of them got a confused look.
"You guys need to watch it a bit," Alex warned.
"What do you mean?" Chris said.
"Chris, you two are like acting like you’re together, you know, a couple," Alex explained
They both got shocked looks on their face, "Shit. It’s that obvious?" Travis asked.
Alex shook his head, "Well, no, not exactly, at least not to everyone and maybe it’s because I already know about you two, that I can see it. To some people, especially those that know you guys, it might start being obvious. I’ve noticed the change in both of you," he said.
"Like what?" Chris asked.
"Well, it’s nothing big, just subtle things, like you sit close to each other and sometimes the way you look at each other. Most of the time, you guys stop it before you really start staring at each other that way, but every once in awhile, I can see what you feel in your eyes. I just wanted to tell you, so you can be on your guard about it. If you keep it up, others are going to notice," Alex warned.
"Oh, okay, thanks. We’ll try to work keeping it cool, but it’s so hard," Travis whined.
"Yeah I know. It’s hard. Vince and I try to keep the PDA to a very low level, especially at school, even though people know that we’re a couple. It just keeps the problems down," Alex said.
"It still sucks, but okay, thanks for telling us. We don’t want to be out right now, maybe later, but not now," Chris said.
"Good enough, I just wanted to let you know. Part of the reason was that Vince asked me if I thought you two were together, last week. That’s why I’ve been kinda watching to see if I could see what he saw and I could, hence the warning," Alex told them.
"Cool, thanks, we’ll try to be more careful. We gotta get to practice, so see ya," Travis said.
Alex waved, "Yeah, later."
They bumped fists and they continued to the locker room to get changed for practice.
The next weekend Travis went with Chris and his family to watch Tyler’s Little League team play. They were mindful of what Alex had told them and put a few inches between them as they sat and watched the game.
In a small copse of trees and bushes, Leo Marks leaned against a tree and split his time between watching the progress of the baseball game and looking at Chris and Travis sitting with Chris’ family in the bleachers. He was suddenly startled by a hand slamming down on his shoulder and gripping it tightly. With a low snarl he twisted out of the grip and crouched down ready to fight. Standing before him, leaning casually against a tree, he saw a teenager with spiky blond hair and brown eyes standing with his arms folded smiling at him.
"Hello Leo. What brings you around here?" the teen asked him.
"A fuckin’ Furginson," Leo snarled.
"No need to be nasty, Leo. I just want to talk," the teen tsked regretfully.
Leo stood up from his fighting crouch and tried to match the casual demeanor of the teenager.
The teenager chuckled a little as he saw a little of the nervousness that Leo tried to hide.
"So what do you want Furginson?" Leo sneered.
"Just curious as to why a member of the Marks clan was hanging around here, so far from home?" he asked Leo curiously.
"None of your fucking business." Leo growled.
"Now Leo, I’m not being nasty to you. I’m being pleasant and friendly. Come Leo, let’s talk like two gentlemen. Please, tell me what you are doing around here? You’re not planning on doing anything to any of those young boys out there are you?" the teen said with a gesture toward the ball players. "That would not be very nice, and might cause my family, and I, to be a little um, cross," the teen warned.
"I have as much right to be here as you do. So what are you doing here Furginson?" Leo said.
"I always loved baseball and this is baseball at its purest, these boys are playing because they love it, not because they are being paid. Now you wouldn’t be planning on doing anything to any of these boys are you?" the teen asked him again a little more sternly.
"Of course not, I’m just watching the game like you. I like baseball too," Leo said unconvincingly.
"Oh, of course, a fellow baseball fan," the teen mocked him.
The teenager pushed off from the tree and moved closer to Leo still smiling. Leo tensed up ready for a fight, but the teenager only smiled as he came up even with Leo. He motioned toward the field, "Since we’re both such baseball fans, we should enjoy the rest of the game. It’s a pretty good game."
Leo nodded and tried to keep Jack and the game in sight. "Yeah, okay," he agreed.
They both stood there silently watching the game. After a good play by the third baseman, who had just made a good stop right on the line, the teenager turned toward Leo, "Good stop huh, that would have been extra bases if he had missed it."
Leo just looked at him and grunted. He received a slight smile in return.
"I guess that means yes?" the teen said before nodding, "Yeah, I agree, he’s pretty good. Cute too, don’t you think?"
"I didn’t notice," Leo snarled.
"Oh, c’mon Leo, you’re not blind are you. He’s a pretty cute kid," the teen admonished him.
Leo barely saw the movement and suddenly he found himself pushed so hard against a nearby tree that the tree shook a little. There was a forearm hard against his neck and the teenager’s face had changed to an angry scowl. The teenager had his face within inches of Leo’s face, his teeth were clenched.
"Like I said, he’s a cute kid. So is his older brother. You know who his older brother is, don’t you Leo?" the teen snarled, as he increased the pressure. "Of course you do, he’s the older boy over there with black hair sitting next to the blond haired kid, there in the stands."
Leo’s eyes flashed toward Chris and Travis.
The teen continued, "Yeah, you know, I can see it in your eyes Leo, you know who I’m talking about. Got a newsflash for you Leo, and I’d like you to pass this onto the rest of the Marks clan; that boy and the rest of the family are untouchables, got it? Un-touch-able! No touchee. You and any of the rest of your family should find some other place to hang around. They are off limits. I will of course be letting Robert know as well. You wouldn’t want to be the cause of any unpleasantness. That’s not good for anyone. So this is your one and only warning, stay…the fuck…away…from them. Oh, and I wouldn’t bother any of their friends either. That would also be unpleasant," he warned Leo.
He quickly pushed away from Leo and fell into a ready stance in case Leo felt like retaliating.
Leo rubbed his neck and growled at the teenager, "Fuck you Furginson. It’s a free country, I go where I please."
The teen pointed at him, "Fine, but you stay away from them, they’re protected, especially the older boy. He’s marked. Robert would prefer that there not be any unpleasantness, so I think you should move on and find another baseball game to watch," he snarled.
"Fuck off Furginson," Leo said as he backed away in the opposite direction of the game before he turned and walked away.
The teenager smiled and waved to Leo, "Have a nice day, Leo."
Leo didn’t say anything; he just raised his left hand and flipped the teenager off as he walked away. He continued to watch Leo, until he was out of sight, before turning back to the game, just in time to see the teams going out to shake hands with each other at the end of the game. Tyler’s team had won. The teenager looked over to where Chris was standing up and giving Travis a hand up from his seat. His parents had already made their way down the bleachers to wait for Tyler to be released by the coach. The teenager watched the two boys as Chris pulled Travis to his feet. Once he was up, Chris was still holding his hand for a few seconds, before they both smiled and let their hands drop. The teenager’s eyebrow went up as he noticed their actions.
"Hmmm, so that’s how it is. Well good luck with that, guys," he said under his breath.
Tyler was with his parents and Chris and Travis soon joined them as they walked back to the car and got in to drive home. The teen watched them get in their car and drive away before he turned around and left the park, to head back to his home.