Chapter 1: Prologue
The summer Simmons turned eighteen, he went for many reasons. He went to keep his sanity. He went to prove he could. He went to heal his heart and spirit. He went to show his father he was a man who could take care of himself. To show his mother that he’d survive out in the world. To show his sister he was, in fact, cooler than her. The list went on. He looked out the window of the plane as it landed. Palm trees blew in the wind. Sun beat down on the hot black top of the airport runway.
He could still here his father’s voice in his head.
“Hawaii huh? Well, your eighteen in a couple weeks. Not like we could stop you. I’m proud of you, son. Never knew you had it in you to plan something like this by yourself.”
Then there was his mother.
“There are jellyfish in Hawaii! And SHARKS! My god, Dick, you barely know how to swim! Are you even listening to me?”
And of course, Karen.
“Say hi to the hot island boys for me. Loser.”
It was just for the summer. His uncle had left his mom a vacation house on one of the smaller islands after he’d died. That was where he’d be staying. He stepped off the plane with nothing but his army duffle full of cloths and an old cigar box with all the money he had. A blond girl with a lei greeted him with a smile, “Aloha, welcome to Hawaii!”
“Car rentals and taxi services to the left.”
“Thanks… Know where-” He checked his ticket, “Gate 4G is? I need to catch a commuter.”
“Ah, where you headed?“
She grinned even wider, “Getting away?”
“You’ll be heading right then. Just follow the signs. Aloha.”
Simmons walked through Honolulu International Airport doing his best to cover his awe. The place was huge with traveler and flight crews bustling about then his heart sank. He saw the sip of a plane that would be taking him. He wasn’t really religious but his Catholic upbringing cried to St. Joseph none the same. It didn’t however relieve his doubts. Darn saints. As he boarded and clicked his seat belt he didn’t take comfort in the fact he could see the pilot. He almost wished he’d gone with Lu-
“No.” He whispered, taking a deep breath. He just had to relax.
“Flight crew, departure check.” The sound system squeaked with the proximity.
Simmons glared and called, “You know, we can here you just fine.
“Sorry, kid. Procedure.”
Simmons groaned. It was going to be a long thirty minutes.
He took out his journal. Brand new. Just bought in the Seattle Airport Bookstore. Leather bound and perfect.
When one starts out on a journey they cannot see the end. Sometimes that's for the best.
Simmons has landed on the island. He meets some interesting characters his first day.
Simmons jumped out of the plane like it was on fire, followed by several frazzled passengers, “LAND!” He laid down and embrace the solid world beneath him. “Land. Dear sweet lovely land!”
“’Fraid of flying, boy?” The pilot called out.
“More like afraid of dying.” He grumbled, standing and picking up his duffle. The airport had a grand total of two runways. They seemed to be the only plane there.
“See you in August, son!”
“I’m taking the boat home.”
“Aww, don’t be dat way.”
Simmons hurried toward the building. He was tired. It was nearly six in the afternoon here. And just now, seven hours of air travel later he was hailing one of the two taxis and handed the Asian man in the front seat the address. He blinked at it then grinned, “Old Holst’s place! You’re his kin?”
“Yeah. Nephew. You knew him?”
“I did. Drove him home from the bar every other night!’ He laughed and hitched a thumb towards the back. Simmons climbed in, “No body has been up to the house since he died, I think.”
“He left it to my mom but… She’s a little anxious.”
“About what?” The man asked pulling onto the road.
Simmons shook his head, “Everything.”
“She didn’t want you coming out here?”
“Nah, thought I’d be eaten by sharks.”
“Haven’t had a shark attack in years.” He smiled, “And Freddy is still kicking without.”
“Try telling her that.” He laughed, “You know any guides I can talk to?”
The driver grinned at him in the rear view, “You’ll be wanting Peter Anchor. He’s got a business of about three of them. He’ll help you learn your way around all the good spots.”
“Oh and just yesterday I brought down a group of young girls to the Hotel Molokai.” He waggled his eyebrow and Simmons laughed.
“I didn’t come here for that.”
He shook his head, “Every man comes here for that.”
“Well not me. I just want a relaxing vacation. Make some memories. Then leave. I don’t need the extra baggage of a summer fling.”
He seemed to be eyeing him through the rear view mirror, “We don’t get many like you out here.”
“But a little summer love never hurt nobody. I just wouldn‘t go after the local girls. You‘ll either never be able to come back… Or never be able to leave.”
“Thanks for the warning.” they pulled up to a dirt path and stopped. Simmons looked around. “Umm…”
“This is as far as the car can go. No way out but the way you came in. Holst drove his car up there backwards.”
Simmons laughed, “Sounds fun.”
“Yeah well this land down here is his too. So if you use his car just park it there.”
Simmons paid him and shook his hand, “Thanks. I didn’t catch your name.”
“I’m D-” he stopped, “Rick.”
“Good to meet you Rick.”
“Like wise.” He gave him a little salute and the taxi drove off. He turned, only the roof of the house was visible behind all the foliage. He heaved his bag over his shoulder and carried it up the road. When it came into view it was just as Simmons remember from the photo his mother showed him. Two stories, blue trim, a red Jeep Wrangler parked under the second floor deck. He hoped that deck faced the ocean. The key was buried in the potted plant just like the will said. Looking old and forgotten. The original had been locked inside. The sun was still pretty high in the sky. He figured that was thanks to being so close to the equator. Sighing the door clicked open and Simmons inhaled sharply.
“Oh snap.” He closed the door and dropped his bag. The inside was almost all wood. A big screen TV, satellite, a computer hooked up to the TV and, to his delight, an Xbox 360 and a whole slew of games. He ran upstairs to what the floor plan had label master bedroom. The bed was HUGE. Bigger than any King size he’d ever seen. It was four post and white cotton sheet. Simmons immediately stripped down to his boxer and crawled in. “Bed, bed, bed, bed, bed!” Snuggling in he relaxed. Traveling turned out to be exhausting. “Totally worth it.”
Simmons woke up at four am, cursing jet lag. He debated going for a run but that was shot down quickly by the fact that it was still pitch black and he was sure to get lost. Instead he unpacked his duffle and found some old clothes that belonged to his uncle. They weren’t anything to important, just whole mess of worn out cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirts. A lot of them Simmons recognized from past visits by his uncle. He’d always been Uncle Max favorite and Karen knew it. When he’d died he left the house to his mom, the condition was she’d leave the house to Simmons in her own will. She did. One day this house would be his. He scavenged the kitchen and sure enough it was practically empty save for coffee, canned foods and a whole mess of alcohol (did he mention he loved his uncle dearly?). He brewed a pot checked his email. Sure enough there were seven from his mother.
Where are you now?
Are you okay?
Does your phone even work outside the Continental US?
It was one of those super Blackberries- of course it did. He told his mom that he’d only email her once a week and if he didn’t that she shouldn’t worry. He was about to get a shower when the sky started to grow light. Curious he stood out on his deck and watched the color slowly creep into the sky. Brilliant red’s and yellows, painted the sky in a slow abstract. The stars giving out to a bright blue. And the ocean. It reflected the brilliance back like a blurred mirror. The waves crashed together. Then there was the foliage. He was practically on the side of a mountain, able to see all the way to the ocean. It was probably one of the most beautiful things he’d ever seen. Suddenly, he was rejoicing his strange sleep schedule.
He showered quickly and grabbed some clothes; A dark red t-shirt and khaki cargo shorts he found in the closet. Slathering on his SPF50, he loaded up with his wallet, keys and phone, and headed out. The Jeep’s engine protested a bit but started and spurted a little as he rolled out of the driveway. Today he was just going to drive until the road ran out. It never failed him before. He started East on Kamehameha Highway and just watched the world go by.
That Highway ended at a place called Halaway Bay. It was impressive, as far as beaches go. It had some of the best waves he’d seen yet on the island, just like his uncle told him. He was completely alone and decided playing tourist wouldn’t hurt. He took pictures of the bay and the treats and just marveled at how gorgeous it all was.
However in the middle of taking a picture of a bird he was smacked in the back of the head by something, “Ouch! What the fuck!?”
“Watch it, shoebie.” It was a guy about the same age as him with a surfboard. Blond hair hung in his eyes and his skin was a dark brown. Had he been there a minute ago?
“I was standing still. You watch it.” He snapped back turning back to the bird in time to see it fly off into the bush.
The guy made a face, “I don’t like the mouth on you, mainy.”
“Well, I don’t like the face on you, but you’re still hanging around.” That was SO lame. But it seemed to have the desired affect.
“Why I oughta-!”
“HEY!” Both of them looked to see a group of surfs walk onto the beach lead by a blond tan girl. She wore a yellow bikini and pigtails, glaring at the guy. “Play nice, bro. He’s obviously new around here.”
The guy looked at Simmons with a death glare, “Doesn’t excuse him loitering on our beach.”
The girl glared at him, “The beach belongs to everyone, Dex.” Her brother seemed to look a little guilty at that and backed off. The girl looked to him as the others watched the scene unfold. “You came in Holst’s Jeep.” The others seemed to study him after that, four guys looking slightly weary.
“Yeah. Uncle Max left it to my mom…” He didn’t go on. If they knew his uncle, they knew why he wasn’t driving it himself. The girl’s brother turned a light pink under his tan, looking embarrassed.
She smiled at him thoughtfully. “I’m Kaikaina. But you can call me Kai.”
She shook her head and gave Simmons one last once over. “I’ll see you around?”
Simmons shrugged, “I don’t know, probably.” he was glaring over her head at her brother.
Kai giggled, “Alright then. I got to go. Bye. Welcome to the island!”
Her brother gave him one last look before stalking off towards the beach, “I don’t have time for Holst’s long lost nephew, I have to be at work in two hours.” the rest of their pack followed him.
One of them barked up, “But you seemed all for meeting him when Holst talked about-”
Simmons huffed and walked back towards the car. Fuck him, he had shopping to do anyway… Cockbite.
Simmons goes out for a run in the forest bringing only his poor sense of direction.
By the time he put the groceries away and changed into his gym shorts, Simmons was itching to run. The forest was calling him. Karen liked to call his prerun edginess “the runs”. Oh yes, she was a clever fifteen year old. It was the one thing he didn’t care if she mocked. He’d joined the soccer team freshman year, despite it not being a “real sport” in his father’s eyes. In went the earphones and he was out the door. He’d found a path out behind his Uncle’s house. It looked like a good start. He took a deep breath and sped off through the woods. God he loved to run. There was such a free feeling to it as he flew past the tree watching out for roots, concentrating on his breathing. He was taking it relatively slow, wanting it to last. Running was probably the thing he did best. He’d run forever if he could. His sister said if he was smart he’d have joined track.
However soccer had Coach Larson.
Larson was probably the only person who was not surprised by Simmons’ skill. His parents had been genuinely astounded after watching his first match. Coach Larson just huffed when they asked how he created a soccer star out of their son. He knew Simmons was good and expected the best. Mostly, Larson believed in him. So when Simmons proclaimed he was going on a summer long trip, Larson let him slide on summer practices… As long as he could still out run his teammates when he got back. Some days, Simmons really wished Larson would adopt him. This year he was hoping to make captain of the team…
He was good at running. Look where he was spending his summer.
That thought brought him back down to Earth. He’d lost track of how long he’d been running… And where he’d run, by the look of his surroundings. He was deep in the forest now. “Damn it.” He was still on the trail. But it seemed to wind in a bunch of different directions. He was just starting to flip out, when he hear the sound of a motor. Peering through the trees he saw a four wheeler heading down a larger path a few yards down the trail. “HEY! WAIT!” he called running after them. The vehicle stopped and the rider got off unstrapping their helmet, “Thank goodness! I just realized I was lost and I’m so gald to see-”
“Mainlandy?” They removed their helmet to revel blonde shaggy hair.
“Oh shit. You again?”
Dex smirked, “First our beach, now our forest? Man you’re just trying to wreck all thats good about the isle.”
Simmons glared, “What are YOU doing here?”
He pointed to a badge on the vest he was wearing, “I work here. You’re on the Molokai forest reserve.”
Simmons rolled his eyes, “So you can lead me out of here right?”
Dex inspected his nails, “I guess I could do that… Or I could just leave you here to be eaten by the wildlife.”
Simmons glared, “Oh, come on-!”
“I’m kidding. Sheesh… But first there one thing I need to make clear.” He walked closer and poked Simmon’s chest, “Touch my sister, and you’ll lose you dick. Understood?”
Dex sighed, exasperated, “My sister is a slut most of the year but during the summer… She picks one guy and pursues him with all her being. You’re this year's pick. Congrats. But if you so much as look at her funny, I’m gonna break your dick off.”
“Alright. I won’t go after your sister. I don’t even want to. Now, please, can we get out of here before the “wildlife” shows up?”
“I promise, on pain of death and all that is holy and good that I will not fuck your sister. Can we please go!? I think I heard a twig snap!”
Dex eyed him the shook his head, “M’kay, let’s go.” He climbed back on and Simmons slide behind him, not really holding on. “This is gay on so many level.”
“Whatever. Some hero you turned out to be.”
“So what’s wrong with my sister?” he asked as they walked out of the Reserve’s garage for park vehicles.
“You said you don’t even want to go after my sister.”
“Yeah, so? It’s nothing against your sister. I just-…. Summer flings can be messy. I like it here. Want to be able to come back, you know.”
“You sounded like Max for a second. You probably haven’t even been here a week.”
Simmons raised an eyebrow, “You knew my uncle?”
“Yeah, he practically raised-” Dex stopped and coughed, “He taught me to surf. Hell, he taught all the local kids. He was big on supporting the locals. He practically funded the Reserve with all his donations. And all his money was donated or left to the island and us locals. Best outsider to ever set up shop around here.” Dex demeanor had changed completely from the beginning of his little speech to the end. He sounded almost giddy by the end. Then he eyed Simmons suspiciously. “They never sent back his ashes.”
Simmons went ridged. “My mom… Thought it best we bury him back home.”
Dex gave him a skeptic look, but he sighed, “If you can’t respect the wishes of the dead what can you respect? Max was ALWAYS talking about you.” he rolled his eyes, “I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
Simmons glared, “Shut up. You just ruined it. We were starting to get along a little.”
“GRIF!” A man in a similar vest to Dex’s stormed up, “That’s no way to treat park guests!”
Simmons smirked, “Well, it was nice meeting you. I hope the wildlife eats you.”
Grif rolled his eyes, “I never got your name. Holst wasn’t very detail oriented.”
“Rick. And you’re Dex.”
“Smartass.” He mumbled, “Later, loser.”
“Wait, what’s this I hear about Holst. He died.”
“Boss this is Holst’s nephew.” The other man glared at Dex and rolled his eyes. “Rick this is Don Tago. Don this is Rick.”
Don shook Simmons hand vigorously, “Well, it’s mighty kind of you to come visit our reserve, Mr. Holst.”
“Max meant a lot to the people of this island. Any family of his is family of ours. Right, Dex?”
“If you need anything -Anything at all- you let me know.”
Rick smiled, a bit touched, “Well I would like someone to show me around the islan-”
“Consider it done. GRIF! Show the boy the sights.”
“WHAT?” Dex’s voice had hit an octave he was sure only dogs good here.
“Hey, you aren’t on pay roll. No one will notice if there’s a little extra money in the donation fund this week.” He turned back to Rick. “You tell me how he was and I’ll pay him accordingly. It was good meeting you. Drop by any time.” He glared at Dex, “And you remember: family.”
Dex glared, “Great. I’m stuck with the newb.”
Rick suddenly grinned, “Fine. I’ll just tell Don you did a shit ass job and you won’t get paid.”
Dex flinched, “You wouldn’t.”
“Is that any way to speak to family?”
“I hate you.”
Simmons is REAL popular on this island.
It was two days later, and Don had insisted that Dex keep leading Rick around the island. Though honestly there wasn’t much to it. They’d just gone up the mountain to an old leper colony. Dex trudged back down the mountain with an indignant huff. “The LEPER colony. Of course. Fucking tourist.”
Rick glared, “Hey, in exchange for my mom not calling me every fucking FIVE MINUTES, I agree to take pictures of where a saint lived, okay?!”
“… You’re mom’s Catholic.”
Rick rolled his eyes, “No, she’s saint crazy as a hobby.”
“Ha, ha… Are you Catholic?”
Simmons snorted, “I’m the worst kind of Catholic. I go to church with the bible cover on my Star Trek novel.”
“because if I don’t I get the lecture on how god-fearing pagans have a one way ticket to Satan town.” He said with an eye roll. “Seriously, with my mom, if you don’t believe in the Christian God you’re a pagan. She said it about Islam once! She is the personification of the stereotypical Catholic intolerance!”
Dex’s eyes were wide, “Dude, that’s rough.”
“Yeah, well she‘s still my mom…” But Rick shrugged, uncomfortable talking about his views on religion with a complete stranger.
“She was there though… I think you should give her more credit.” Dex was staring straight ahead watching the path.
“Nothing. What you want to see next, tourist?”
Rick glared. “What you got against tourists?”
Dex stopped poking Rick in the chest, “Tourists surf on our beach, flash all there money, order people around like servants, litter the reserve, and nine out of ten sleep with my sister. I. Have. Problems. With. THEM.” With that he turned around and trudged on.
Rick winced. “… I haven’t done any of that. ”
Dex stopped. His shoulders slumping, “I‘m powerless. All I have is my complaining.”
Rick blinked. Thinking about his parents back home. How he’d just been talking about his mother… “Yeah, I know the feeling.”
Dex looked back at him, then groaned. “Okay, you know what? Fine, I’ve been an ass. I get it. BUT if you promise not to be LAME… My band has a gig tonight… Maybe I could get you in if you give a good report to my boss.”
Rick snorted. “What are you? Bipolar or something?”
Dex flinched. “Look if you don’t want to GO-
“NO! I want to go!”
“Good. You’re staying at Holst place right?”
“Then I’ll come get you at nine.” He studied him for a minute the headed back down the path, “And if you show up in THAT outfit I’m not going to vouch for you with the bar keep.”
Rick followed. “What’s wrong with my outfit?! I was going to go for a run before you decided you weren't to busy to take me to the leper colony!”
“You any good?”
“Fastest on the soccer team.”
Dex turned and grinned as the land started to level out, “Race you.”
“You’re on.” And they were off.
Day 5- If something goes terribly wrong, I would like written record that this wasn’t my idea… It wasn’t.
Rick pulled back his brown hair into a ponytail. And huffed in frustration. Red button up shirt, faded black jeans, and his uncle’s biker boots, and he STILL felt awkward. God he looked ridiculous her took off the biker boots and changed to blue jeans. Throwing the jeans and knocking some clothes off their hangers in the closet. There on top was black vest. “Hmm…” He pulled in on and let his shoulder length hair back down. “Better but…” He knew better. Dex was going to think he was a dork... And he'd be right. Rick was still a socially awkward frui-
The blare of the horn outside stopped him from finishing his thoughts and he grabbed his wallet and house key. Outside Grif had pulled up in a monster conversion van. Dex came out and yanked hard on the passenger’s side door. The fifth time it jerked open. Rick was stifling giggles. Dex turned and glared, “Shut up! I didn’t stuff you in the back with the equipment and band.”
Rick climbed in as Dex rounded the van once more. “Hey!” Came a chorus from the back. Three guys sat holding instruments steady in the back.
“Okay back there is Leo-” A islander raised his hand, “Joe-” An asian, “and Cory.” A platinum blonde who hadn‘t even looked up from his copy of 'Interview with a Vampire'. “Boys this is Holst's nephew, Rick. Rick, the band.”
Cory’s eyes shot up and his jaw dropped. “Oh god he’s-!” Joe kicked him.
“A lot like Holst.” Cory finished, nursing his side.
“Anyway.” Dex continued, “We are the Junior Degenerate Lizard Crusaders.”
Cory had abandoned the drum set to kneel between the captain‘s chairs, “JDLC. Our first names.”
Rick grinned. “That’s clever.”
Cory grinned. “I thought of it.” He turned to Dex accusingly. “You said he was an ass!”
“Give it time.”
“Tonight is a good night to come see us play. It’s all covers, so we aren’t playing any of Dex’s whiney bad love sucks songs.”
Rick snorted, “Nice.”
“Shut up, Cory. They aren’t whiney!” Dex whined.
Cory cleared his throat, “Love is just game for fo-oo-ools, It’s easy to play cause there are no ruuuuuuuuuules.” He wasn’t bad but Dex winced anyway. “You wrote it.”
“Yeah, yeah, you girls eat that shit up.”
Rick turned his attention back to Cory, “Nothing original tonight then?”
“Nope. We’ve got quite a line up though. All songs originally sung by chicks!” Cory said with an excited clap of his hands. "My idea, but Dex refuses to sing any with the word 'he' or 'him'." He pouted at that but Dex ignored him.
The pulled up to a bar and turned in the adjacent ally. He got out and Cory grabbed his arm, leading him inside. Dex followed behind. And came in just long enough to talk to the bartender and leave out the back again. The bartender gave Rick a beer and went back to his customers. Cory grinned, “So were did you say you were from?”
He laughed, “Holst only said the west coast. Are you from California?” He asked resting an elbow on the bar watching him closely.
“Washington.” He took a sip of the beer as Cory received a toxic green colored drink.
“Yum! Anyway I have family back in the mainland. On my aunts side. We don‘t talk to them though… I‘m not even sure of their names really. I‘m told I‘m a lot like my cousin.” He sipped his own drink and let out a giggle. Rick raised an eyebrow but swigged his beer. “So Dex says his sister is after you. Is this some kind of bribe to get you to back off? Taking you to the bar, putting you on his tab.”
“Nah, he wants to keep his day job at the reserve. This week his boss made him my personal tour guide basically. He hadn’t been very nice to me, so now he’s trying to bring me back in his good graces.”
“Would you really have given Don a bad report?” Cory asked, suspicious.
Rick looked to see if Dex had come in yet and leaned in a little so no one could hear, “Nah, to be honest he was a lot of fun, even when he was being an ass.”
Cory snorted into his drink, “That’s Dex, alright. Real charmer.” They laughed together and he was suddenly yanked by the elbow, “Hey!”
But he was being pulled through the crowd by Dex, “Yo, where’s the fire?”
Once a good distance Dex stopped and turned, “Cory’s gay.”
Rick blinked, “Huh?”
Now Dex seemed frustrated, “Gay, homo, a fruit, a fairy, a queen, an Agent of the Department of Homoland Security. Seems you’re popular with the local sluts, Rick.”
“That’s ridiculous he wasn’t coming onto me-” But Rick stopped and blushed, “Oh Jesus he was coming on to me, wasn’t he?”
Dex smack his forehead, “Duh.” Dex sighed, “Just… Don’t get to drunk around him.”
“Just trust me. You don’t want to find that out the hard way.” With that Dex headed towards the stage leaving Rick extremely confused.
Rick spends most of his fun night out trying NOT to get raped.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
They took the stage at about ten thirty, and Rick was lucky Cory had to help them set up. Seemed, Joe was the drummer, Cory the bass guitar, and Dex and Leo were on guitar. Dex stood in front and Rick watched from the bar, on his fourth beer.
“Hey, how you enjoying ladies night?!” Dex yelled over the mic with a grin. “Well in honor of the best night of the week, we have a special cover set for you! We‘re starting out with a bang! Let me hear you scream!” The roar from the crowd was defining as the guitar came in heavy, “What you get is what you see, it won’t take long to get hooked on me!” Rick had never heard girls scream that loud in his entire life. “So shoot me right into your skin, and I’ll be your heroine! The side effects are sexual and your dying for a taste! The side effects are sexual and you love the way I say, ‘I'm your favorite drug! Your favorite drug! Just one hit is never enough!” Rick had to give Dex credit for a dude singing a song original sung by a chick, he had a way of making the ladies in the audience forget that. Rick decided he was dissecting this performance a little to much and ordered another beer. It didn't take a genius to know Dex was h-
“Hey you!” He heard over the music. Right in his ear to be exact.
Rick jumped, “Holy shit, don’t scare me like that.”
Kai slid on the bar stool next to him, “You looked pretty deep in thought. What were you thinking about?”
“I like the music.” He said absently, as he took a swig from the dark bottle. The bar tender handed her a highlighter pink drink and Rick was having a sense of déjà vu.
“I didn’t expect you to be here. What with my brother’s great welcoming and all.”
“Actually, he invited me.”
She raised an eyebrow, “Really?”
“Yeah, wants to stay on good terms with Don.” Rick was staying as far away from her as he could without outright getting up.
Kai was grinning, “I love this song.”
“Yeah, it’s a good one.” Rick was staring up at the stage.
“He get’s really into whatever he’s playing, you know?” Dex did seem lost in the music, eyes transfixed out over the crowd at a spot just over the bar.
“-You want it from me on both knees, but not until you beg me please!-”
Kai giggled, “Even when it’s about giving head.” Rick nearly choked on the beer he was drinking. “See, I finally got you to laugh.”
“Yeah… Something like that.”
“You have a girlfriend?”
She raised an eyebrow, “Really, I’d think the girls would be all over you.”
“Subtle.” Rick leaned in a bit making sure she could hear, “You’re not my type.”
Kai laughed, “Nonsense. I’m EVERYONE’S type.” With that she leaned in close but Rick stood, heading for the stage. “Where you going?”
Dex was grinning at his audience, “Alright this next one’s a throw back with a kick. This is all Cory’s doing.” He struck a guitar chord and started with a familiar beat. Then, “I've been cheated by you since I don't know when!” A hug group of girls screamed in front. He moved through the crows and Rick finally made it to the front of the stage, “Just one look and I can hear a bell ring. And one more look and I forget everything! Sing it with me ladies!” He caught Rick’s eye and seemed to pause, then he shook his head, “Mamma mia! Here I go again. My, my how can I resist ya!” Suddenly he felt someone grab his arm and hank him away from the stage.
“There you are, hun! Dance with me!” Kai yelled over the music. Rick stood still, looking around frantically for an escape. Dex was glaring at him and Rick mouthed a help me, causing Dex’s face to screw up into an expression he couldn’t read. Dex turned his attention back to the girls up front, “I get angry and sad about things that you do!” Rick knew he was a lost cause, so he looked to Cory now, who nodded towards the men’s room. Salvation! He practically ran for it when Kai did a spin. Once he was tucked securely away, he caught his breath. There was a guy at a sink washing his hands. He turned around and raised an eyebrow.
“How’d you guess?”
“You look scared for your life.”
“Dex doesn’t scare me.”
He grinned, “Kai herself is the one you should worry about. She always gets her man. ALWAYS.”
“Well, random stranger, thank you for the advice but I’m breaking this chain.”
“Yeah, by hiding in the men’s room.” He sighed, “Can I get you a drink at least while you wait for rescue.”
Rick poked his head out the door to see Kai looking around frantically, “Better make that two.”
Eight songs and three shots of whiskey later thanks to Random Stranger Man. Rick stumbled out of the bathroom managing to make it to the bar. He knew there was an important rhyme he should be remembering about the order of alcohol consumption but he just couldn’t quite- “There you are!” Cory was next to him with a grin, “Haven’t seen you in the crowd since you ducked into the little boys room.”
“Aren’t you suppose to be up there?” But when he looked Leo had switched to bass and it was just the three of them up there.
Dex did not look happy, “I am extraordinary, if you'd ever get to know me! I am extraordinary, I am just your ordinary! Average every day sane psycho!….Average every day sane psycho!”
“Yeah, but Leo’s just as good and this song only has one guitar anyway. Let’s get you another drink.”
Rick leaned in giggling from the alcohol pumping through his veins. “I was told not to get drunk around you.”
Cory smiled, “Nonsense! You make it sound like I’d date rape you or something. I’m not Kai, Rick!” He said with a laugh. Cory looked up at Grif and raised an eyebrow. “He does look a bit mad. Oh, he’ll get over it.” The bar tender set down a jack and coke which Rick gulped happily. “Now I’ll be right back.”
Rick looked back to Dex. The death glare had waned a bit as he turned back to his adoring fans.
“See me lickin' my lips, need a primitive fix! And I'll make, I'll make you love me!” The room was spinning but Rick tried to get closer. To meld with that crowd. No one here knew him. No one here cared if he stared just a little longer than he should. But as he stumbled forward someone caught his arm and was dragging him off to lord knows where. He was pushed into what he could only assume was a dark closet and onto a cushioned chair.
“I found you. Playing hard to get are we?”
Rick tried to wrap his brain around what was happening as His eyes adjusted. Kai was walking towards him. There was an unnecessary amount of sway to her hips. When she reached him she straddled his lap and kissed him. Rick attempted to shove her off but his limbs wouldn’t cooperate. He turned his head away, “Geh’ off.”
“It’s bound to happen eventually.”
“I’m geh.” He tried hard to say. “I don’ wan’ this.” Of course that came out right.
Kai stopped, her face a bit concerned. “What?”
“I said NO!” with the he shoved Kai off as hard as he could causing her to stumble back just in time for the door to fling open.
“You son of a bitch I said-” Dex stopped taking in the scene. Rick felt a terror boil up in him, even in his drunken state, “Get out, Kai.” She fled without a look back. He came forward in a hurry and he curled into a ball on the chair to protect himself.
“I told her no.” Dex hand stopped an inch from his head.
“Damn it.” he heard him hiss.
Rick looked up and wondered why his vision was blurry, touching his face. It was wet. He let out a laugh. “You must think I’m such a fucking pansy.” He wiped the tears away clumsily as Dex stared at him. The other boy’s face was hidden in shadow as Cory came to the door.
“Help me get him to the car.”
“Come on, he’s done.” Dex put one of Rick’s arms around his neck, Cory did too, helping support his weight. He didn’t know how they got him to the van. He did here Cory say something about how cute he was wasted. “Shut up.” Dex said loading him into the passenger’s seat. Simmons curled up there. Hearing a door slam.
“I told her no.” He said softly again Reaching out and clutching Dex‘s jacket sleeve. “You believe me right?” Dex didn’t say anything. The last thing he remembered before passing out was the rumble of the engine as they pulled out of the alley and the radio playing an old Elvis song.
Yes, Kai is a bitch for a couple of chapters. SPOILER: She learns the error of her ways. It just... takes a while.
Rick wished he could spend the rest of his vacation curled up under his uncles bed and dying of embarrassment and shame. But it seems that Hawaii has other plans.
Simmons awoke long enough to wonder why he was still fully dressed before the nausea hit him. Beer Before liquor gets you sicker, chimed a mocking voice strangely like his sister. Once he calmed down he slowly went through what happened the night before. Dex picked him, Cory flirted with him, the band started to play… The night slowly came back in pieces. He was sure he was missing chunks. But remember distinctly Kai kissing him and he… “OH GOD!” He threw up again.
He’d TOLD her.
He’d never, no matter how boozed up and wasted blabbed before. No, only one other person in the world had known that before last night and there was no way he was talking. He’d been safe before last night. She’d tell. She’d tell everyone just why she couldn’t get in his pants. She’d tell and they’d stare and point and laugh. Once his stomach settled, he called Don and told him that Dex had been a more than sufficient guide and he’d no longer require his services.
“Well that’s good to hear. Dex really is a good kid. His heart’s in the right place, you know?”
“Yeah. Well, thanks.”
Rick stayed hulled up in his uncle house, both to embarrassed and scared to leave. It wasn’t like there wasn’t plenty to do. He only left to go for runs, staying close to the house.
He was convinced Dex hated him, not wanting to think about what would happen if he saw him again. All he knew was it wouldn’t be pretty. Kai must have gotten the message because she didn’t try and come see him. He was thankful for small miracles. He was surprised how lonely it was now. Back home he at least had his family around but here it was to quiet. A deafening silence seemed to echo off the walls.
It had been a little over a week when he woke up one night to a crash from outside. Rick rolled over sleepily and checked the clock. Two thirty. He listened and waited, there was a sharp rap at his door then silence. Throwing on a t-shirt he padded down stairs, grabbing a frying pan from the kitchen. He was already almost raped once this week, so the blunt object was totally justified. He slowly opened the front door, ready for anything.
Except perhaps, Dex sitting on the porch stairs with a beer bottle in his one hand and a cigarette in the other. He looked back at him when he opened the door, and Rick blinked at him dumbly, setting down the pan and sitting next to him. They were silent a minute when Rick finally turned to him. “Those things cause cancer you know.”
Dex took a long drag from it and chuckled, “I only smoke when I drink. I admit I usually only drink alone anymore. Not since what happened at Cory’s… I’m still not allowed over there.” He sighed, took a swig from the bottle. “How you been?”
Dex looked at him eye blood shot from the alcohol probably swimming in his veins, “Outstanding.” He looked down at the bottle in his hands, “Hey… Anyway… Um… Kai threw a party and Joe and Leo live a lot farther from here and Cory‘s mom won‘t let me sleep there any more. Not after the last time…” He was rambling drunkenly on about a time he walked all the way to Cory’s, but Rick didn’t pay that any attention. He opted for staring at him dumbly until he got to the point. “So, anyway, my old man kicked me out of the house and I kind of need a place to crash.” Rick stared at him in even more shock. Dex seemed to take this as a no, “I don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Rick snapped out of it and waved him in, “Yeah, sure, you can have the couch”
Dex nodded, taking one last drag from the cancer stick before stomping it out. Rick’s disgust must have been apparent on his face. Grif practically fell on the couch, it might as well have been his own bed he looked so comfortable, “Holst pretty much raised me you know. Taught me to read, surf, drive, not burn the house down when using the stove. He took me in all the other times my father kicked me out. After Holst died I just stayed in my room when he was home. Then I come home from some moonlight surfing and He‘s yelling, blamed me for not being home to watch Kai. And well… Thanks.” He said drunkenly, watching the ceiling fan spin. Rick sat in a big armchair across from the couch. “Max wouldn’t shut up about you. Soccer star, straight A student and a first class Star Trek geek. You were his ideal kid.” He laughed at that, “Said he hoped I could meet you. Not sure why he’d think you’d like me.”
“Is a drunk bastard. Luckily he only goes after me because I look too much like him. But he wouldn’t go after Kai. She's practically mom‘s clone…”
“What happened to her?”
Dex rolled over to look at him, “She skipped town with some tourist from Hollywood when I was five. Said he’d make her a big star.”
“I’m sorry, Dex.”
“Ah, don’t be. She was psychotic anyway. Bipolar.” His eyelids began to drupe. “Why’d you come here, Rick?”
Rick started, surprised, “What?”
“Why’d you come all the way to Hawaii, alone, without knowing anyone. What‘re you running from?”
“Who said I was running?”
Dex chuckled, “You’re running. You’re always fucking running. You can see it in your eyes man. Scared shitless of going back.”
Rick shrugged, “Well, there are a lot of reasons I came. It just-”
“Don’t give me that bull shit.”
He couldn’t help it, Dex’s glazed over blue eyes could see through him, “Last summer I- I hung out with this guy named Lucas who‘d just moved to my neighborhood… We got really close. Hanging out everyday, that sort of thing. But when school came around he-’ He stopped at leaned back, staring at the ceiling fan, “He ignored me. The first day he walked right past me in the hallway with all the football players. Turns out they wanted him to be Captain since the old one had just graduated. I guess I thought- you know, we were- friends… Or something. But he ignored me all year and then. Last day of school the bell rings, I walk to my car, and there he is. Says he wants me to go with him on his trip to Paris this summer. Like the entire school year never happened.”
Dex was watching him closely, now and Rick held his breath. “What an asshole.”
Rick laughed, nervously, “Yeah, I was pissed, so I kind of told him I had planned to go to Hawaii instead. By the time I got done telling him all I’d do on this fake trip I actually kind of wanted to come. I mean, it’s Hawaii for Christ sakes. And what would I look like if he found out I didn’t go?”
“So here you are then.”
“So here I am.”
Dex’s eyes were completely closed now, his breathing going shallow. “I’m sorry about my sister…”
Rick took the blanket from the back of the couch, laying it over him with a soft laugh. “It’ll take a lot more than eighty pounds of beach bunny to rattle me, Dex. I was just about as drunk as you are.”
“I’m still sorry…” It was barely a whisper. “I never tell my sister’s boy toys I’m sorry.”
Rick smiled, shaking his head as he turned off the light and head upstairs. It looked like Kai had kept her mouth shut. Now all he had to do was do the same.
Dex awakens to the best breakfast ever and his sister says something smart for once.
When Dex woke the next morning on a familiar couch, he was both relieved and angry at himself. A full week to get up the nerve to tell the guy you were sorry? What a pussy. He wondered briefly if he could sneak out without waking Rick and as he rolled over, he was surprised by the lack of a headache and dizziness as he stood. Instead he smelled bacon and his stomach growled. Cautiously he made his way to the kitchen. What he saw made him simply stare. Rick was in a pair of gym short and running shoes, flipping a pancake then opening a waffle iron. A stack of about six alternating pancakes and waffles was on the kitchen island and a sizable amount of bacon was already there. Rick turned around to deposit the waffle and saw Dex and jumped almost dropping the waffle, “Holy shit! Don’t fucking do that.”
“Sorry, forgot. I’m a ninja.” Dex slid onto one of the stools of the island. “Look, um… Thanks for last night and everything… I-”
“Give it a rest, I wasn’t about to let your drunken ass wander the street. Especially if your only other option was Cory’s.”
Dex glared, but Rick merely set the pancake on top. Soon Dex was eyeing the pancakes and Rick raised an eyebrow, “What? Now you want to be fed? Do I have ‘Mainlander Rick’s Bed and Breakfast’ stamped across my forehead?”
Dex did NOT pouted… Much. “Who said I was hungry?”
Rick rolled his eyes and got out another plate giving Dex about half the stack, and some bacon. He let out a mock sigh, “Now I’m going to have to make more.”
“Why?” Dex asked, greedily lathering his in butter and syrup. “There’s still like… four there.”
Rick rolled his eyes, “Well looky here, folks, it can count. I run remember. I burn through calories like it’s nobody’s business. That and my already super metabolism, I barely have anything left after a run.”
Dex took the opportunity to really look at Rick. He wasn’t wearing a shirt and it looked like he was starting to get the beginning of a tan. The top’s of his shoulders were a bit pink though. But what really got Dex was he was practically zero body fat. He was no bodybuilder but his muscles were long and lean… When he turned back around he didn’t have a six back his stomach was relatively flat. When Rick raised an eyebrow he merely stuffed pancake in his mouth, “Ow gahd'is delishous!" He said cramming more pancake in his already full mouth.
"Slow down. No ones going to steal it from you."
"S’ere‘ve’oo’been?” Dex asked as he gulped it down and snatch the milk glass Rick had poured for himself.
Rick sighed getting the milk out and pouring another glass. “Right here.”
Dex nearly choked on his food. “But this is MOLOKAI, man. You got to get out and really SEE her.”
“And how do you propose I do that? Wander the wilderness until I’m eaten by the wildlife?”
“I’ll take you.”
Rick took a bite of his colossal stack. “A week ago you were sick of me.”
“Well that’s when I was convinced you were like every other mainlander who comes here over the summer and fucks my sister.”
Rick smiled at his breakfast, “Okay.”
“Sweet.” Dex had finished off his breakfast. “Hey, can I borrow some of your clothes? My dad’s still at the house.”
Rick nodded his head/ “And while you're at it? Get a shower. You reek of stale booze and B.O.”
Dex smirked. “Ha. Ha. You are hilarious.”
Rick studied him a moment as he got up, “Why are you being so nice?”
Dex shrugged. “Anyone ever tell you not to feed strays?”
“Yes but I hardly see how that-” But Dex was already out of the room.
“Not much farther.” Dex huffed.
“You okay? You sound about to pass out?”
“I’m fine. We’re almost there. Then I’ll take a breather.”
Rick looked at him skeptically. “Fine. But if you die, I’m not dragging your body back to civilization.”
“Same goes for you.” They’d been walking for what felt like an eternity. The sun was high in the trees and Dex’s lungs were on fire. Yet up the hill he trudged. He was an idiot, yes, but no way he was going to admit that. Nope. It would be worth it in a minute. It had been months since he’d been up this way. The tree opened up to a pond and- “See, worth it.”
The look on Rick’s face as his eyes traveled upward made the climb worth it. He never got tired of the wonder on somebody’s face. It was a waterfall, five stories tall with a rainbow of brilliant colors refracting everywhere. “Oh wow.” He just stared for a minute, “Just- it’s… Wow.”
“Told you, you had to get out and see Molokai.”
“I won’t doubt ever again.” Dex peeled off his T-shirt and headed for the water, “What are you doing?”
“Swimming. You coming?” Rick was looking up at the water again, “Earth to mainlandy, come in. Respond if you read me.”
Rick didn’t look at him, “I think I’ll stay away from the water if that’s okay.”
Dex looked him over, “Ohhhh, you can’t swim is that it? Because the pools mostly only four feet deep.”
“No!” Rick said indignantly, “I just… Don’t like the water, that’s all.”
Dex grinned, “Don’t have to play tough for me, big guy.”
Rick glared, but he somehow knew he’d take the bait. “Alright, that’s it.” He took off this shirt, slowly he made his way in. “See, look, I’m already waist high.” Dex took a running start and jumped off a rock, the resulting wave soaking Rick’s remaining dry half. He resurfaced still grinning. “Bastard.”
“Actually my parents never really married, so it’s not really an insult.”
“….. Kinky.” Rick splashed him and Dex sputtered as he got a mouth full of water. “Worth it.”
Rick drove up to his house as the sun was going down, and Dex wished he could become one with the jeeps upholstery. Compared to Holst’s place his house was a fucking SHACK. It was no bigger than a double wide for Christ sake. He probably thought he was a fucking bum or something. But Rick seemed preoccupied. “You’re SURE you should go home? He’s not there?”
“No. I’ll just be getting out here okay? I’ll… I’ll see you tomorrow.” I scrambled out of the jeep and resisted the urge to run inside. When he turned at the door, to look back, Rick was still watching him. He nearly floored it when Dex saw but he barely noticed as he unlocked the door and ducked inside, locking it behind him. Taking a breath he walked to his kitchen.
He jumped, “Shit Kai! You know better than to ninja me right when I get home.”
“Yeah… Sorry about last night. Did you find a place to crash?” She studied him a second and snorted. “And what’s with the Beatles shirt? You hate them. Call them evil British bastards out to destroy all that was good about 20th century rock and that Yoko was a savior to us all… Or something like that.”
“Oh. I borrowed it.”
“Who do we hang out with who like the Beatles?”
“Your latest rape victim, apparently.” He said with a glare.
“I told you! Who fucking says no to this?” She did a twirl in her mini skirt and yellow halter. Dex rolled his eyes, “Anyway I’m sure your date went super but I have one of my own to get to.”
Dex did a double take. “What?”
“Yeah, me and Karl. I told you last night at the party.”
“No, before that!”
She blinked at him innocently. “Nothing.”
“It wasn’t a fucking date! You know I don’t do that gay shit!”
“Not what Cory’s mom says.”
“We were high and drunk and Cory had long hair back then and he‘s a con man, said it‘d be just like banging a chick! Fucking liar. I wasn’t in my right fucking mind!”
“It was a fluke, you got me?”
“I got you…. No need to get defensive.”
“I’m not defensive!”
Kai sighed. “Later.” She took her leave and Dex glared after her.
“Not defensive.” He mumbled to himself, as he willed himself not to think about Rick anymore than necessary.
Dex needs to write a new song, Rick helps, and Kai isn't SO terrible.
The song I wrote for this is absolutely terrible, but they're a couple of high school kids in a garage band, so I think it's allowed.
So apparently what he had meant by see you tomorrow was I’ll see you everyday for this week. Dex didn’t know why his friends were so concerned. He showed up for practice. So what if his timing was a smidge off and he was spacing out. And if every other conversation was about something funny Rick said or did, well… That was just a coincidence.
Joe let out a frustrated groan, “You’re suppose to be finishing that new song! Not gallivanting all across the island like Dora the fricking Explorer!”
“I thought all my songs were junk?!” Dex accused.
“Yup, but at least it was something! Our next gig is this weekend! It was suppose to be all originals stuff, remember?” Cory and Leo sighed, walking to the fridge in Leo’s garage to grab soda’s and kick back. These arguments take a while.
“We have eight songs. We can just fill it in with covers right?”
“Not the point! You’re not taking this seriously!”
“I am too! I’m here aren’t I?”
“You act like there’s someplace else you’d rather be!”
“Well, maybe-!” But Dex stopped. “You know that’s not true, Joe.”
His band mate sighed, “Alright. I believe you but that song had better be done.”
“And… It’s not junk… It’s just not my style I guess.”
“I hear you, man… We cool?”
“Always.” They both turned to their other two band mates, “Well?”
“Are you two finished bickering?” Leo asked, setting down his Sunkist.
Joe rubbed his hands together, “Well alright, let’s get to practicing.”
Cory bounced excitedly, “Can we do Prince covers!”
Dex was drumming his pencil watching the rain, when Rick did get back from the store. “How was practice?” He asked setting the groceries on the counter.
“Why? You actually have to work?”
“No, I need to come up with a new song by the weekend!” He DID NOT pout. “Help me.”
“Fine. What you got so far?”
“The dawn broke early that morning‘?” Rick winced. “What?! It’s one of those story song you know?”
He sighed and started putting the dishes away. “Alright, the dawn broke early that morning. Why?”
“Why did it break early THIS morning?”
“Mocking another night he spent alone.”
“Okay. I’m beginning to see the whiney love sucks pattern forming again.”
“Alright fine. Who am I to question your artistic integrity?” Dex stuck out his tongue. “Mature.”
“The dawn broke early that morning, mocking another night spent alone. He’d drank up all the whiskey, worn deep to the bone.”
“His heart wasn’t up to facing another day in the sun.”
Dex blinked. “That’s good.” He pointed his pencil at Rick excited, punctuating the words with a jab in his direction. “That is very, VERY good…” Dex wrote it down, “Okay… How about; But deep down in his broken soul, he knew he wasn’t the only one.” Rick gave him an exasperated look. “Oh come on, first thing that comes to your head! We’ll go back and forth.”
“This is stupid.“ Dex really did pout this time. “Fuck it. Um… That’s when you know you’re… still alive? Everything’s gonna be alright. These shadows won’t haunt you until you die.”
“It‘s not as hard as you make it to be, there’s something out there beyond the sea, and you’ll never know if you don’t leave the shore.”
“Just keep the hope and you’ll find something more.”
Dex was grinning. “Yes. Yes. Yes. You are a fucking life saver. Where’d you learn to write like that?”
Rick blinked at him, “Um… I read?” But suddenly Dex was writing faster and faster. Then erasing and writing the same thing over. He didn’t see Rick give him a soft smile and start making dinner.
Rick sat down at the bar while Dex got set up. He was excited to hear his new song. Dex was very insistent he come listen, since he apparently co-wrote it. The band was just finishing setting up and Dex said they were playing it first. “Alright ladies and gents, we have a new song for you all tonight, are you ready?” The crowd cheered and Dex grinned, “This ones called ‘Finding Something More‘… ”
“The dawn broke early that morning,
Mocking another night he spent alone.
He’d drank up all the whiskey,
and was worn deep to the bone.
His heart wasn’t up to facing another day in the sun.
But deep down in his broken soul, he knew he wasn’t the only one.”
Dex was looking his way as he sang their the chorus. The crowd was eating it up and you could tell the boy loved it. Every minute all eyes on him. What came next was the part Rick was curious about. The second verse.
“Another night with a nameless stranger,
she lights a cigarette between her fingers,
smoke rings swirl away into the dark.
She might as well be alone,
No place she can claim as home,
An empty feeling creeps inside her heart, but…
That’s when you know you’re still alive.
Everything’s gonna be alright.
These shadows won’t haunt you ‘til you die.
It‘s not as hard as you make it to be,
There’s something out there beyond the sea,
And you’ll never know if you don’t leave the shore.
Just keep the hope and you’ll find something more.”
The grin slowly slid from his face
“The dawn broke early this morning,
Shining it’s like on you and me,
As long as this big old world keeps turning,
There’s hope for you and me.”
Rick jumped. “Holy shit! Don’t do that!”
Kai looked embarrassed. “Sorry, sorry, I just… I just wanted to talk.”
Rick gave her a wary look. “Alright.”
“Look… I’m sorry about… You know, nearly jumping your bones.”
Rick nodded, still looking a bit skeptical. “Okay.”
She sighed, “AND I get it’s not just because you’re not into girls- girls like me.” She corrected quickly.
Rick nodded some more, this time saying nothing.
“I realize I may have been a bit too… Overzealous.”
“Okay, yeah, a lot. But I think I’ve come to terms with you not being attracted to me… Ever. And that I can’t single mindedly pursue men like prey.”
“Good for you.”
She looked at him with big sincere eyes, finally sounding serious. “What I did was wrong and I am really sorry. So… If you’re up for it, I’d would like to start fresh... I understand if you don't want to and I'll leave you alone.”
Rick thought about that for a moment… Well, no sense burning bridges with people he may never see again anyway right? “Okay.”
She grinned. “Alright.” She cleared out her throat offering him her hand, “Hello, I’m Kaikaina Grif and it is very nice to meet you.”
“It’s very nice to met you too.”
As it turned out- when she wasn’t trying to get in your pants- Kai was actually very fun. By the end of the Dex’s set they were giggling like school girls at the bar with a pair of appletinis.
“SO he walks in and yells, ‘fuck the pope! I’m going surfing!’”
They laughed together loudly. “Oh my gosh, what happened?”
“Nothing. But the clergymen still give him funny looks. Dex never liked church anyway, he was always like ’if there is a God his glory isn’t in a man made cement building. It’s out in the world and I intend to see it.’”
“That’s pretty profound.”
Rick looked up at Dex on the stage. “Touch if you will my stomach! Feel how it trembles inside! You've got the butterflies all tied up- Don't make me chase you! Even doves have pride!” He tore his eyes away, raising an eyebrow.
Kai giggled, “I tell him he should start a cult but he won’t listen to me.”
“I’d join. Tree Cult? How bad ass would that be on a college application?”
“I know! And the admittance essay?”
“’You should accept me into your college because if you don’t you will suffer the wrath of the Great Shrubbery.’”
“At this rate my brother’s never going to need to write one.”
“Well, he’s a huge slacker in school. He failed junior year. He’s both smart and really really dumb.”
“That’s a little contradictory.”
“That’s Dexter Grif.”
“What are you up to, Sister?”
Both of them jumped at Dex’s sudden arrival. Rick laughed. “So you’re a family of ninjas right?”
Dex was looking between the two of them, looking confused. Kai groaned. “I was just telling him I was sorry. Then we got to talking. I can see why you like him. He’s a lot of fun. OH!” She turned back to Rick. “You have to come to the Summer’s End Luau! It’s August 12th!”
Rick winced. “Wow… I kind of have a flight the next day.”
Kai gasped. “Why so early! It’s summer
“I need to get home for Soccer tryouts.”
“Oh well, you can still come. Just leave early. It’s an all day thing.”
Dex rolled his eyes. “Kai, it‘s a month away. You and your cheerleading friends need to chill.”
“But this is my year! If I do this right I’ll make the elite squad! Do you know how many Juniors have been on the elite squad?”
Dex sighed, “None.”
“Exactly. The more people there the more likely I‘ll make it! And Rick is awesome so he practically counts as two!”
Rick snorted, “Thanks. I’ll come.”
“Awesome.” Kai looked at her brother and they had a bit of a stare off. Then she turned to Rick with a smile. “Well, I should be going. I expect I’ll be seeing a lot of you.” She grinned and left.
Dex took her seat at the bar. “She wasn’t harassing you again was she?”
“Nope, we had a lovely conversation. Lasted most of the time you were on stage.”
That seemed to be the moment Dex noticed his drink. “What’s with the girl drink, dude?”
Rick looked at it, “Oh! It’s an appletini.”
“I know what it is.”
“Tastes like candy.”
“It’s toxic green!”
“So? I like it. It’s sweet.”
Dex was shaking his head. “Why do I hang out with you?”
“Because I’m charming.”
Dex snorted and ordered a beer.
Rick's brain jumps ship...
Simmons waved to Marc. “Thanks, man.”
“You sure you don’t need me to take Grif too.”
“Nah, it’s fine. He can crash on the couch.” He picking Dex up princess style. “Night.”
Dex wasn’t as heavy as he’d thought he’d be. Then again he was a couple inches shorter then him and he could bench his own weight last time he checked. Dex gripped his shirt in his sleep, mumbling incoherently. Simmons smiled softly. Setting him down on the couch. He stumbled to his chair, watching Dex sleep, however his eyes suddenly went wide. “Crap.”
Yes, crap. With a capital C. Sure he was more than a little tipsy since this town didn’t seem big on the set drinking age of the rest of the country. But he wasn’t that drunk. Not drunk enough to be even considering this. “Damn him.” This wasn’t part of the plan.
But he’d been watching Dex all night from the bar as he’d chatted up his sister. ABOUT Dex no less. This couldn’t be happening. And yet it was… How had he missed it? “Shit.”
Shit was right. Could he not simply be friends with someone for the summer? Why did it always end up this way. He got up and got a blanket from the hall closet. Dex practically snatched it up and tugged it under his chin and Rick bit his lip. That bastard. There he was, asleep on his couch, curled up like a cat… And god help him it was so adorable it was criminal. There should be laws against guys doing such cute things. Fate was out to get him. First throwing him a hot jerk, now a hot not-such-a jerk who does undeniably adorable things? If anything the forces that be were upping the anti. He should have learned after Lucas and now he was paying the price.
It wasn’t really fair. Oh well, no point in thinking about it now… Maybe it would go away in the morning. He tore himself away from his sleeping friend and went to bed. “You’re drunk, Dick. Let it go.”
But something told him he was already doomed.
Rick awoke at his normal time, still half asleep. He changed to his gym shorts and running shoes, walked down stairs and got a water, as if nothing were out of the ordinary. But when he turned from the fridge there in the doorway was a sleepy looking Dex letting out a big yawn. His hair all tussled from sleep and still in his clothes from the night before, “Morning.”
Rick blushed scarlet. “Morning. You’re up early.”
“I get better sleep when I’m drunk. Don’t need as much.” He yawned again. “Where are the Cornflakes?”
Rick pointed to a cabinet and turned to the sliding glass door, “I’m going for my run.”
Rick ran away from that house so fast he was sure he was going to get pass out. It was an accident. He hadn’t set out to like this guy. He hadn’t been paying attention. The signs were there, the song, the looks, the inability to deny him something when he pouted. Damn him.
By the time Rick took any notice… He was already falling. Dex was a fucking ninja sneaking up on him and his poor heart. Damn him. He couldn’t be in love with him. Love never worked out for Rick. Never. To him love was a perky elf dancing a merry little jig that would suddenly turn on him with a miniature machine gun. It always ended badly, first with April. She started out pretty normal, then she slowly started to go bat shit crazy. She made a Voodoo doll of him for Christ sake!? Then there was Steve, Steve the foreign exchange student from Brazil, slept with his cousin Cindy over Spring break. Then Lucas, the grand daddy of them all. He was all lovey dovey love you always until other people were around. Then suddenly Rick didn’t exist. But after school was over he just wanted to go on as if nothing had happened.
No, he wasn’t in love with the Hawaiian; enamored, attracted to, but not in love. He’d only known him a couple weeks. This was ridiculous. He was far to careless with his emotions. There was a reason they called it falling. Falling was all fine and dandy, until you hit the ground.
Grif was sitting on the couch in his burrowed clothes when Rick got back from his run. “Hey!” He called with a smile. Rick thought he was going to melt into the floor. Stop being such a girl, said a voice in his head that sounded vaguely like his father.
“Hey.” He was impressed at how even his voice was. “What you watching?”
“Nothing. Nothing. Just that movie… that movie was terrible!”
“So? The cars are awesome!”
“You’re such a child!”
“I like what I like.”
Rick didn’t reply because he was suddenly very aware he was shirtless and sweaty and he probably smelled too. “I’m hitting the shower.”
“Good. What you want to do today?”
“Not to much. Last night was brutal. Something easy.”
“Sunbathing day it is.” Rick turned red, and walked briskly up the stairs. That was not what he’d meant by easy. He almost wished Grif would notice his crush so he wouldn’t suggest activities that involved so little clothing. When he came back down in a white t-shirt and swim trunks Dex raised an eyebrow. Rick shrugged, “I burn easy.”
Dex nodded, “Oh yeah, that happens to fair skinned people. Keep forgetting.”
“You’re a riot.”
“Yeah, I know.” They went outside to the deck where there were two lounge chairs. “Oh I never thanked you for helping me with that song.”
“It was nothing.” Dex pulled off Rick’s ‘I do all my own stunts’ from his tan chest and Rick had to actively stifle the squeak. The view is thanks enough.
SHUT UP BRAIN.
I don’t care. Put on you're 50 SPF.
You’re no fun.
Why did Dex have to be so kind? Why hadn't the world beaten it out of him yet? If he kept this up he'd kill Rick with kindness alone.
If Dex noticed that Rick was keeping him at arm’s length, he didn’t say anything to Rick. He was taking naps, catching up on summer reading, and hanging out with Kai and Cory. Dex came and went like a stray cat most of the time anyway. He was beginning to understand what he’d meant by feeding strays. But spending time with him made him both unbearably happy, and absolutely miserable.
Then he started not feeling so hot.
“Achoooo!” Rick sneezed while pouring his Cheerios.
“Dude, you feeling okay?” Dex asked entering the kitchen. He was dragging sand across his floor. Having just come from surfing. Rick’s house was on the way to the preserve. No use going six miles out of your way right?
“I’m fine.” He sniffed rubbing his eyes.
Dex squinted, “You LOOK like hell.”
“Oh sweet. Just what I want to hear.” He opened the milk and sniffed it. Then checked the use by date. Sighing he handed it to Dex, “Is this still good?”
“Don’t know.” He took a swig and the look on his face was just priceless. He twisted the top on and put it back in the fridge. “That’s a no.”
“Great. No milk for my Ohs…” He pouted sleepily down at his cereal.
“You sure you’re alright?” Dex asked, pressing the back of his hand to Rick’s forehead.
“MmHmm…” he replied, in more of a sigh. “You’re hand is cold.”
“More like you’re a hundred degree! Go lay on the couch and sleep dumb ass!” He shoved him in the direction of the living room, where he fell on the couch laying there. Moving his arms would be to much effort. Dex came in and laid a comforter over him. “I’m running to the store for some medicine and some oatmeal, okay? I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
“Wha’bout your job?”
Dex blinked, confused. “Oh… Right one sec.” He pulled out a phone and pressed the speed dial. “Don? Hey it’s Dex. Look I’m going to be late coming in today….. Yes I know I said I’d-… Look! If Rick dies from the flu it’s all your fault!… Yes he’s ill. Listen.” He held the phone to Rick’s mouth, “Say hi, man.”
“Ehh, Doun, wuzz uh-pa?” He vaguely thought he sounded like his head was stuffed full of cotton.
“See?… Thank you… Yes I know; Treat him like family… I’ll be in later. Call if you need anything… You have Leo’s cell? He can help you with that fallen tree… Alright. Bye, Don man.” Dex hung up and shook his head, smiling, “You know, catching viruses they didn’t have immunity’s for is what killed off the Indians.”
“Nice. I’ll be back in a bit.” He left the house and Rick pulled the blanket tighter, ignoring the tug of loneliness he got when he hear the door shut. He hated being sick. It kept you inside, alone and you slept all the time. He drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
“Hey! Meal time. All good plague victims need to sit up and eat their food.”
Rick groaned. “Don’ wanna.”
“Up. Doctor's orders.”
“’our na a doctor.”
“Blah humbug.” He yanked Rick up into a sitting position and set a bowl in front of him.
“I don’ ‘ike oatmeal.”
“Good.” Dex sat in the chair and Rick gave him a sidelong look. “Well?”
He picked up the spoon and pout looking down at the strange food skeptically. He ate a spoon full… “It doesn’t tase ike anything.”
“No duh. A lot of taste comes from smell so stop being a baby.”
“’kay ba I’m makin a funny face the ‘ole time.” Oh god was that a Gilmore Girls line?
“Lovely.” He ate most of it before Dex chuckled. “Okay, no falling asleep in the oatmeal.”
Dex laughed harded, handing him a little green pill and some water. “This should help with the fever. Which should help you sleep.”
“Meh.” He took it and laid back down. Yawning.
“Anything else you want before I head to work? Last call.”
Rick flinched. “Nah.”
“Why don’t you sleep a while? I’ll lock the door and stick the key in the plant.” He stayed silent. I don’t want to bother him. I don’t want him to think I’m such a pansy. He heard the door open but didn’t hear it shut at first. Then he hear the hinges slowly close and the clash of the keys on the counter. “You know what? I bet I could milk this a little more. I mean… Don won’t miss me for a little while longer right? Besides…” He sat back in the chair. “It sucks being all alone when your sick.”
“Vat wuz tolly gay.”
“Shut up and go to sleep.”
Rick smiled, closing his eyes he drifted off to sleep again, dreaming of waterfalls, running, and cold hands ruffling his hair..
Rick woke up to Dex sitting in the chair still a book open and his legs draped over the arm. He blinked a few times, “Weren’t you suppose to go to work?”
“Good morning to you too, Sunshine... I did. It’s six o’clock.”
“I slept nine hours?”
“Mmhmm, but you sound better. I can understand you again.” Dex reached out for his forehead and Rick recoiled. “Dude, just checking your fever. Chill.” He relaxed a little as Dex’s cold hands met his skin. “Not so bad. Still too hot though.”
“You’re a regular nursemaid.”
“Shut up. Kai… Get’s sick a lot.” Those words sounded carefully chosen but he let it go. “She whines more than you do though.” Dex took his hand from his forehead and he felt the fever heat his skin…
Rick shook it off. “What you reading?”
“Waiting for Godot.”
Rick’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.
“It was on the coffee table.”
“You like plays?”
“… I guess. This one is pretty funny.”
“It is. In a sad sort of way…”
“Yeah. We’re all waiting on Godot, aren’t we?”
“You’re sister was so right. You have you’re moments.”
“I read it for summer work. I need to start Paradise Lost.”
Dex bit his lip then shrugged. "I guess I could read it to you. Get you a head start for when you’re feeling better.”
Rick nodded sleepily.
He grabbed the book from the pile on the coffee table, “Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast brought Death into the World, and all our woe, with loss of Eden, till one greater Man restore us, and regain the blissful Seat…” Rick wished Dex would touch his forehead again. What was that saying? Cold hands, warm heart… Rick smiled into his pillow. Yup… That was it. Why did Dex have to be so kind? Why hadn't the world beaten it out of him yet? If he kept this up he'd kill Rick with kindness alone.
Rick's still trying to avoid Dex. And he's failing miserably.
“YOU are coming with us to the beach and that is final.” Kai huffed.
“But I’m still a bit feverish-”
“Nonsense! Don’t lie to me. You’re avoiding being with my brother so much.”
Rick went pale. It’d taken a week to fully recover from his summer cold. Dex had taken care of him all week, feeding him, picking up after him, reading him Paradise Lost. It had been so… Domestic. Now he sat at the bar as Dex and the guys wrapped up another set. Kai had seen right through him. If she could, what was stopping Dex?
“I’m not blind, Rick. Besides my brothers been particularly pouty. Course he’d never admit that.”
Rick sighed. “Or maybe it’s all in your slash fangirl head.”
“It’s NOT. He’s just being stubborn. Just come to the beach with us. You’re sober! Offer to drive us. Then you can drive him back to our house. Walk him up the front steps-”
“I’ll drive but I’m not doing any of that.”
“It’s not going to kill you. It’s just a little campfire some singing among friends. Very intimate setting-”
“You said you know a song on the guitar right?”
“Well… Yeah, but that song’s totally gay-”
“The way to that boys heart is through his ears… And dick but that’s out of the question or he’ll run for sure and that’s not what you want.”
“If you knew what I wanted you’d stay out of it.”
“Fine. Deny it. But I’m going to keep nudging my brother in your direction-”
“Maybe I should just tell Cory you said you were into him. He’d be driven to the breaking point with jealousy!” She let out a mad giggle.
Dex came up to them looking suspicious. Then again Dex never seemed to believe Kai wasn’t after Rick anymore. Of course he didn’t know what she knew and if he knew he’d have to be watching his own ass more… Literally. And it was a nice ass too-
Brain what did I tell you about those kinds of thoughts?
They aren’t virtuous. Well to that I must say: Fuck you. I’ll do what I want.
You are so childish.
I know you are but what am I?
“-So he’s finally agreed to come with us. Right Rick?”
It took him a second to realize that the siblings were talking to him.
“Oh I don’t-”
But Dex face lit up like a Christmas tree. “You’re coming?”
Rick’s shoulders slumped in defeat, “Yes.”
Kai grinned as Dex hurried over to the others. Rick glared, “Not a word.“
“You are going to be the best brother in law.”
“I’ll bet wearing white would still be legit for you.”
“Not Dex though. Not even in the gay sense. Though he doesn’t remember most of that night.”
Turned out Rick did offer to drive Dex and Kai. Rick noted that Kai was explicitly silent the whole time, just watching them. It made Rick extra fidgety. Dex just laughed and joked like they weren’t the center of his sister’s attention. And who was she texting every two minutes? By the time they got to the beach Rick was so tightly wound up he was about to snap. Joe and Leo were on the beach with a couple of girls he’d never met. Cory and them were talking as they watched Joe and Leo build up a campfire. With a couple acoustic guitars. “Hey!” Kai ran to Cory and the girls.
That sneak was giving Cory a play by play via text. The other two girls didn’t seem to notice the look they shared. But Rick saw.
“Your sister is either sweet and stupid or and evil genius.”
Dex raised an eyebrow, “Huh?”
Cory looked over at Rick and winked.
“Never mind. Evil. Just… Evil.”
Dex laughed, “Come on. Cory‘s harmless.” He did see the glare in Cory’s direction though.
He sat down across the fire from Dex, between to Leo and Kai. He didn’t trust himself over there and if he sat next to Kai he could keep an eye on her. Leo and Dex sat the guitars on their laps. Leo grinned at him, “This is kind of our own little private jam session.”
“Oh these are Harley and Quinn.” He gestured at the two girls next to Kai but they weren’t paying him any attention. “Quinn is my girlfriend and Harley is Joe’s.”
“She’s my EX-girlfriend.” Joe protested.
“Oh right, ex. Forgot. Sorry dude. Still chasing C-” Joe nudged him.
“Shut it.” Rick blinked at him and Joe caught the look, “What?”
He looked away, “Nothing. Just speculating why you’re always at Dex’s throat.” Cory tugged at Dex’s arm flirtatiously and Joe’s grip on his knee tightened. They had a strange little love polygon going one. “This is so high school.”
As far as he could discern, Harley was giving Joe the look but Joe liked Cory who liked Dex who was Rick’s secret crush who Cory also liked but only to sleep with and Kai had liked him but now she was desperately trying to hook him up with her brother after seeming real spiteful about it at first. It made his head spin.
Only Leo and Quinn seemed outside the madness. But every time Leo wasn’t talking he was looking at her.
It was endearing actually.
Dex was trying to shake off Cory. Rick wished he had a more menacing death glare. Cory just flashed him an apologetic smile.
“I think Joe’s got a chance.”
Joe went ridged. “Shut UP, noobie.”
Dex started strumming, a few chords.
Kai grinned, “Rick knows how to play a song.”
“Really?” Again with the face light up.
Rick grimaced, “Well yeah… But…” Dex was pouting again. Damn it. “Okay.” Kai clapped and Leo handed over the guitar, “But if any one of you laughs I burn it.”
“That’s fine. It’s Dex’s anyway.”
Rick cleared his throat and began to strum the beginning. He’d learned this for the talent show freshman year. He’d won second place after the guy who spray pained a painting in under eight minutes.
“I'm not surprised, not everything lasts. I've broken my heart so many times, I stop keeping track. I talk myself in- I talk myself out. I get all worked up and then I let myself down.” Cory was swaying in his seat and Dex seemed to pick up a chord that fit for a second guitar by this point and he was strumming along. Quin and Kai danced as he played, and he did his best not to look at Dex. But his eyes drifted and Dex was already looking at him. Rick smiled. “I just haven't met you yet.” He then quickly looked back at the guitar.
“Mmmmm .... I might have to wait. I’ll never give up. I guess it's half timin', and the other half's luck,
Wherever you are, whenever it's right, you'll come outta nowhere and into my life.And I know that we can be so amazing‘. And baby your love is gonna change me. And now I can see every possibility, mmmmmm....
Quinn sang along with the chorus. And sat on Leo’s lap. Harley was watching Joe who was watching Cory who’s eyes were closed. Dex seemed to be watching him through his bangs. As the song began to end, everyone was singing along, but Dex.
“So doy day ay ay ay, ay ay yeah…..I just haven't met you yet!” His eyes met Dex’s again. As he let the last chord hang in the air.
Dex broke the stare as everyone clapped.
Cory clapped excitedly. “I love that song.”
“Yeah.” Rick blushed now. Somehow, that song put him at ease. This would all work out… Somehow.
... Let's just say Rick isn't getting invited to dinner at the Grif house anytime soon.
Kai went over to Cory’s that night for a sleep over, leaving Rick to drive Dex home alone… In silence. When he pulled up he got out the Jeep too and walked Dex to the stairs without thinking. But once he started up the steps he couldn‘t stop himself. He had to walk him the rest of the way. Dex gave a nervous laugh, “You aren’t such a bad singer you know.”
“Yeah… Not as good as me of course.”
“Well… I’ll see you tomorrow.” Dex reached for the doorknob a little slower than necessary. Rick felt like such a coward.
“Is that you, you dumb ass son of a bitch?!” Both of them jumped, “Where the fuck have you been?! You’re sister better be with you! If you let her run around like a slut again I’m busting your face in.”
“You’d better go before.” But instead the door flung open.
“Get you’re pansy ass in here boy!” The man in front of him could easily look the way Dex would in twenty years… If he drank himself under the table for all of them. “Who fuck’s this? You’re new boyfriend?”
“He’s just a tourist, Dad.” Dex gave a half smile to him, trying to convince him it was alright but it didn‘t reach his eyes. Rick glared at the intoxicated man. Not amused.
The man looked between the two of them as Rick slowly walked to his car. “Oh no… I’m not letting another fucking mainland faggot screw up this family.” Rick froze.
“You’re drunk.” Dex said trying to get past him and into the house.
The older man stopped him. “So? Doesn’t mean I can’t still beat your fairy ass.” Rick looked back to see the swing just as Dex fell to the ground.
It only took five steps for his foot to collide with Mr. Grif’s face. He flew back and hit the wall of what looked like a living room. Dex looked about to cry with embarrassment. Rick turned his attention back to Dex’s Father, kicking him in the stomach. Then he bent down inches from his face, “Never EVER touch him again. I don’t want to hear you even looked at him funny you worthless piece of shit.” He stood and kicked him again then turned back to Dex. He pulled Dex to his feet and back into the Jeep. Slamming shut both doors. Rick wanted to ask why he never said, never hinted about this man. Did no one guess?. Maybe Kai did but she spent so few nights home and sober…
“Rick, it’s really not-”
“’Beating your fairy ass‘?”
Dex didn’t respond. They pulled up to Rick’s house and he slammed his door, storming inside. Dex followed tentatively. “You’re mad.” he said as the door clicked shut behind him.
“OF COURSE I’M MAD! HE HIT YOU! HE APPARENTLY DOES IT REGULARLY AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME!” He hadn’t meant to yell. But once he started there was little he could do to stop, “AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO DOESN’T KNOW?!”
“No one knows.” Dex didn’t look him in the eye.
“THAT FUCKING BASTARD! I WANTED TO-!” Rick stopped as Dex watched him. A bruise was starting for form on the cheek that had been punch, “God damn it, I was ready to kill him.”
Dex’s eyes went wide. “Why?”
Rick gaped at him, “WHY?! BECAUSE I-” He stopped abruptly. What the fuck was he about to say? “Because I give a shit. You dumb ass.”
Dex ducked his head, “Thank you. For giving a shit I mean. A lot of people have tried but it’s never…” He didn’t finish instead he toed the ground.
“Promise me you won’t go back there.”
“Promise me… Please.”
“Here. I mean- you’ve been sleeping on my couch five days a week anyway. Right? I mean… Damn it.” Rick sat on the couch.
Dex was turning red, “Can I answer you in the morning?”
“Yeah. Whatever you want.” Dex sat down on the end of the couch, picking up Paradise Lost. “Don’t know how you’ve lived in that house and still be so kind.”
Dex blushed some more, “No more talk like that from you or it’s a definite no!” Rick smiled and kept silent as Dex opened it to the dog earred page.
“My dad doesn’t look so terrible when compared to your’s.”
Dex stared at the book for a beat, “What does your dad do?”
Rick stared off into space. Thinking back to his family. His life back home seemed so far away. “He ignores me.”
Dex grip on the book tightened. “That can be worse.” Rick looked at Dex curiously, “That’s just… Unforgivable! You disserve better than that! I mean you’re-” He tucked his head between the pages. “You’re you.”
Rick blushed, “Yeah well, I’m not exactly the son he’s always wanted I mean I’m-” He stopped. How many times would he stop short of outing himself tonight. “What about you? I think you deserve better than HIM.”
Dex smiled setting the book back down, “It’s me or Kai. I’d rather it be me. Kai could never handle it. Even with the meds-”
Dex blinked. “Oh, umm…”
“She’s bipolar too.” Simmons knew it was true before Dex even nodded.
“Don’t tell her you know… It wasn’t always bad. I mean I had Holst.” He frowned, “I never told you much about me and him did I?”
Rick shook his head, “Only that he taught you to surf.”
“And ride a bike and drive and went to parent teacher conferences and let me and Kai crash here when dad found it easier to talk with his fists.” His eyes began to tear up and he stubbornly wiped them away. “That first week after he died I was convinced my Dad would kill me. Sometimes I still think that. Maybe not today or tomorrow. Unless something changes.”
Rick’s fingers twitched. He wanted to grab hold of him and never let go. “Well I did just kick his ass pretty hardcore.”
Dex snorted, “Yeah. Who knew you had it in you?” He sighed, “What am I going to do when you’re gone?”
Rick flinched. He didn’t want to think about that. “We’ll think of something.” He got up and stretched, “I’m going to bed.” Before I pin you to the sofa and show you just what I have in me.
Brain, NOT THE TIME.
Just saying. No need to get all bitchy about it, man.
Because not just the good die young.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Rick awoke with a bad feeling. Something was off. Something… He stood and went to check on Dex. He was still asleep on the couch. His cell phone flashing missed calls. “Dex, your phone.”
“You check it. I’m sleeping.” He mumbled sleepily. Rick flipped it open 6 missed calls, 6 voicemails. Alternating between Don and Kai.
“Dude, seriously get up.”
Rick groaned and dialed voicemail, putting it on speaker. “Dex where are you! Dad just called and sounded seriously pissed! Call me!”
“Dex, it’s Don. Answer your phone kid. Frank called and sounded like he was on the war path. Call me.”
“Dex seriously this isn’t funny.” Dex sat up at the desperation in Kai’s voice. “Tell me you didn’t stay home.”
“Okay kid now I’m pissed. If I find you I’m tearing you a new one you hear me. Those bruises weren’t from rock climbing and I know it.” Dex went pale.
“Dex, Dad’s gone off the radar. No one has seen him. I don’t… God Dex you better have gotten lucky or I’ll be seriously pissed!” Rick snorted.
“Well kid, when you get this head over to the hospital. There‘s been an accident. The bastard may not make it.”
Dex’s eyes went wide.
“I’ll drive you.”
Dex nodded grabbing his shirt and phone, heading for the door.
Rick flushed, “Dex!”
“WHAT?! MY FATHER IS DYING! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY-!”
“Pants.” Dex looked down at his blue boxers.
Rick hated hospitals. Ever since he was a kid. It was a place of endings. It was a place of illness. The sterile smell was as harsh and unnatural as the florescent light. Yes, this hospital was beautiful but you can put in as many plants and aquariums and fancy tiles as you wanted, but at the end of the day, it was what it was. He wasn’t family. He wasn’t allowed back despite Dex’s pleading. The nurse said she could lose her job. Dex had looked back at him and he’d gripped his shoulder, “I’ll wait right here.”
The worst thing about hospitals- other than the closed in, cold detachedness of it all- was the waiting. He couldn’t stand the waiting. All it leaves you with is your thoughts and that sinking feeling. He waited almost an hour. The longest almost an hour of his life. How had last night ended up this way? He’d been so close on that doorstep. So close. And now he felt like he was back at the beginning. When had he started out in the first place. And Dex. Oh god, if Dex didn’t come out soon he’d go fucking insane.
When Dex came out he looked… Lost. His eyes were dazed and he just stared at Rick with this helpless look. He knew.
Dex looked about to break. Rick wouldn’t- couldn’t let him. He stood grabbing Dex’s wrist. He didn’t resist. Instead he just let himself be towed down the corridors. Left, right, following signs. He stopped in front of a large glass window. “Rick-”
“This is the only part of a hospital I’ve ever been able to smile in.” Babies. At least a dozen. Dressed in pink and blue pastels.
Dex stared in wonder.
Rick read the tags on the cribs, “Four of these were born in the last hour.”
A man walked up to the glass, looking in with a smile at a little girl. Dex watched him carefully. Rick watched Dex. A nurse entered the room behind the glass and waved the man in. “We use to be happy.”
“It’s not your-”
“I know. I don’t think I knew just how not my fault it was, you know?”
“I don’t know what’ll happen to me and Kai. They’ll probably cremate him. I don’t have the money to claim the ashes…” They watched the man let a baby wrapped in blue grip his finger lightly.
“Now you don’t have to live on my couch.” Rick offered.
Dex didn’t take his eyes off the man in the room. “Yeah…”
“I’m not sorry he’s dead.”
“I know. I am though… But then again, he been dead for a long time now.”
They stared at the newborns for a long time after that, their shoulders barely touching. It took all his willpower not to hold him.
That night the band canceled their show and just hung out at the bar. Dex downed one shot and went to the dance floor. Dancing with girl after girl while Rick just sat at the bar. Kai was in a corner with Cory, her head on his shoulder and a beer held lazily in her hand. He was pretty sure she was stoned. About nine girls in, Dex stumbled back to Rick at the bar. And grabbed another shot.
Rick raised an eyebrow, “Didn’t know you danced.”
“I hate dancing.”
“Well, then I’m a bit confused because that’s all you’ve done for the last hour.”
“Yeah…” But Dex was looking at him through bleary eyes. It was soft and there was the beginning of tears. “I’m not drunk.” He whispered. True, he’d only had two shots so he was probably relatively sober. Why Dex sounded so defeated about it he couldn’t guess. “Take me home…” He whispered and Rick nodded. As they walked to the door, Rick jumped finger laced his own. He didn’t look at Dex for fear he’d see how red he was. What the hell?
When Rick pulled up to Holst’s house, he realized he hadn’t exactly taken Dex HOME like he’d asked. But Dex got out of the car as if he didn’t even notice. When they got in the door Rick shrugged off his jacket and hung it up. He turned back to Dex and froze. Tears were falling freely now and his sobs were loud and harsh. And when Rick wrapped his arms around him, he couldn’t have stopped himself if he tried. Dex gripped his shirt. “Damn it. I hate him.” Rick smoothed the back of Dex’s hair and let him cry. Damn, it felt good to hold him. He smelled like cocoa butter and motor oil… Weird. He relocated them to the couch, letting Dex just cry until he fell asleep, his head on his lap. Rick absently stroked his long blond hair. It reminded him he could use a haircut.
Damn it, he loved him.
You ever write a character and just automatically HATE THEM?
Well, that's what happened here. Grif's dad needed to die... and he did.
The night of the party has arrived... Then Rick is off for his old life.
The night of Kai’s party rolled around far too quickly. Dex leaving so he could pack was the first time they’d been apart since the hospital. Rick didn’t know what to do. He didn’t feel right just leaving but he had a life of his own waiting back home. He couldn’t just drop everything… Then again, all he had waiting back home was the team. Just more running. Hadn’t he sworn to stop running? Then again, he was running from his feelings for Dex every minute. But Dex did seem to be… Better. It hadn’t been an over night thing. The first two nights Dex wouldn’t say a thing but ‘stay with me’ and he only said that when Rick would try to go upstairs to bed.
Then he couldn’t shut him up. He kept going on about what a jack ass his father was and how he was happy he was gone. After that he talked about his childhood. How his mother got worse after his grandmother died and how his father got worse after his mother left. His father tried to keep it together at first, convinced she would be back in a week. But when a week turned into two years, he just seemed to give up. He worked and drank and beat his son. That was all he did.
Every time Dex had opened up to him about his dad over the past few days it took all his will not to hold him. Just like right now, he had to stop from kissing him hello.
“So you're going to the party then?” Dex asked. He stood in the door. Waiting.
“Yeah.” Rick stood over his packed bag… Waiting. “You sure you don’t want to come.”
“I-… A lot of my classmates will be there and… I don‘t know I just don‘t think it‘s a good idea.” Grif looked at the floor.
“Please? It won’t be fun if you don’t come.”
Oh God that sounded gay. Cover it up! Cover it-
Grif’s ears were turning red, “Well…”
Brain! Say something else! Anything!
Yes! Anything! Get him to agree!
“I won’t let anything happen to you. I just want to spend my last night here with you..”
Great line, Brain. I’m sorry I doubted you.
Grif turned quickly, “Okay whatever! I’ll go! Don’t need to be such a girl about it.”
We’ll see who’s the girl tonight.
…I’ll let that go.
When they did arrive at the party, it was already packed. It was taking place at a local park, under a huge pavilion decorated with tiki torches and streamers; over all it was tacky. Rick hadn’t expected anything less from a gang of high school cheerleaders.
Kai was the first to greet them, along with a flock of girls he’d never seen before. Rick cringed, as there was a large group squeal. “Oh! My! Gosh! He IS so cute! You're right he definitely counts as two!”
“Look at his hair!”
One of them came up and grabbed his arm, “I call first dance!”
Another grabbed his other arm, “I call second.”
Suddenly Rick was yanked out of their grip. “There is no way I’m letting you vultures anywhere near him!” Dex snarled. They all looked genuinely surprised. Even Dex. ”Its- I mean- Its just my last night to hang out with my friend! Yeah, so- No. Come on, Rick.” Rick didn’t miss the group ‘damn’ as they walked away. He couldn’t help but laugh a little. Grif turned back, glaring, “What the hell? You were just going to let them monopolize you all night?!”
Rick bit his lip in an attempt to stifle his giggles, “What are we? On a date?”
Dex turned red again but still managed to leer at him, “Of course not! But you said you wanted to hang with ME tonight and damn it I’m holding you to it!”
“Okay, okay, no need to get your panties in a bunch.”
“Hmph.” He then turned and walked towards the crowds, stopping when he realized Rick wasn’t following him, “WELL?”
They met up with Cory and Joe sitting just off the dance floor. Joe was death glaring all guys who glanced their way. Cory looked confused as to why he wasn’t dancing. “Hey guys.”
Cory lit up, “Dex!” He grabbed Dex’s arm. Before he could think, Rick put an arm around his shoulders and yanked him close.
“Not tonight, Cory. Hey Joe, you look itching to dance. Take our favorite fairy for a spin around the floor.”
Joe joyfully grabbed a bewildered Cory’s hand and lead him out on the floor.
Dex looked at the arm still around him, “What are we? On a date?”
“You get to monopolize me. I get to monopolize you.”
They took the now empty seats and watched Joe and Cory dance to some hip hop song the DJ was playing. “Did you know about Joe’s crush on Cory?”
“Is that a no then?”
“Joe doesn’t-!” But Dex looked at them and gasped, “Oh.”
“That’s why he’d been so bitchy towards you. You’ve already gotten in Cory’s pants.”
“Look here! I barely participated in that! He-!” Dex blushed and didn’t finish.
“What’d he do? Ride you against your will?” Dex looked away. Not answering. “Well?”
“I wasn’t aware it was Cory at the time. I was drunk. Doesn’t count.”
“Alright. I believe you.” They watched the others dance a while, letting the silence reign for a bit. “Wanna dance?”
BRAIN! WHAT THE HELL-?
Rick blinked… “Is that a yes?”
“I-” Dex looked to the floor. “It’s a whatever.”
“Then it’s a yes.” Rick grabbed him and pulled him on the dance floor as Sexy Bitch blared from the speakers.
“They’ll talk you know.”
“… So I’ll need a drink after this.”
“That can be arranged.”
Brain… I love you.
Rick walked Dex up to his door. The party had ended a and Rick had drove him back to his dad’s house… No, his house. That would take some getting use to. “I can’t believe this is your last night here.” Dex admitted. There was a dull feeling in his limps from coming down off that buzz. Damn, he was jumpy. He shouldn’t have had that last beer.
“Yeah… Me neither.” He knew Rick was watching him as he dug for his keys in his book bag. He was VERY aware that Rick wasn’t walking back to the jeep. “You coming to see me off in the morning?”
“Maybe. I do have to work.”
“So this is…”
Dex dug a little more frantically, “Yeah, I guess it is. You should come over winter break. The waves are amazing. Maybe I could teach your clumsy ass to surf. Oh, and bring your parents if you do. If this islands good for something, its loosening people up. Maybe she’ll stop freaking out about you going off to college! I mean it was bound to happen eventually - A HA! There those slippery bastards are. How do they get to the bottom so fast?”
He unlocked the door and threw the keys back in the bag. “Well, I guess this is it then-” Rick practically slammed his hand on the door keeping it shut, “What-?” Suddenly he was spun back and pressed into the door. It was over before his brain even caught up. Rick’s lips were on his, he was pulling back to look at him, Dex’s eyes were wide, and the look on Rick’s face was… Heartbroken. Dex felt around frantically for the door knob, unable to stop staring. It was all just too much and his mind could only think one thing.
When the knob was finally in his grasp he yanked the door open and slammed it shut behind him. Too much. He leaned back against it and slid to the floor. Head between his knees.
What the hell?
Rick just- He- I-
“Dex, I know you can hear me.”
Don’t say my name like that.
“Dex… I’m sorry. I just- I-… I get it… Thank you.”
Don’t thank me.
“Please come see me off tomorrow.”
I can’t take this. If your leaving just go. Stop being so kind to me…. I don’t even like guys.
“I love you.”
“Dex, I love you… I’m sorry. Please come.”
Dex hadn’t realized he had stopped breathing until he started to feel lightheaded. He was waiting for him to say something else. But nothing came. He scrambled to his feet and flung it open. Rick was gone. Once they started he couldn’t stop. They hit the ground, glistening in the glow of the porch light.
“IDIOT!” It seemed to echo off the walls, as if to mock him.
Dex ran to the bathroom, suddenly feeling nauseous. He caught his reflection and stopped.
'You’re running. You’re always fucking running. You can see it in your eyes man. Scared shitless…'
That night. He’d been thinking about Rick all that week. Couldn’t stop. Just Rick’s face in his mind as he pleaded with Dex that he’d said no. His crying. Him reaching for his arm. He’d been sorry.
He was even sorrier now. “Coward.” He whispered at the pale little orphan Hawaiian in the mirror. He knew him all to well. “Hypocrite. Liar. Piece of shit. You’re a fucking spineless faggot!” The soap dish collide with the mirror as Dex let out an angry scream.
Rick stood at the airport staring at his watch. Five minutes.
Kai was gripping his shoulder in support. The others had left and even despite Dex’s notable absence, Rick couldn’t help but smile as Joe took Cory’s hand when they walked away.
“Rick, I’m sorry. Maybe he-”
“It’s my answer, Kai.” He chuckled grabbing his duffel. “I didn’t really think he’d show. But it was fun to dream. I did scare the shit out of him.
“But not to even come say goodbye!”
“It’s fine. Really. I understand.”
“I’ll kill him.”
“Let him be. I’m a big boy. I can take a hint.”
Kai hugged him, “Why did you have to be gay?”
Rick laughed, “The universe is a cruel mistress.”
“I’m going to miss you something terrible.”
“You too, sister.”
She smiled as he walked toward the little plane. The pilot saluted him, “Good to see you, sonny.”
“Good to see you too, sir.”
“Going home, then?”
“Naw. Just back to reality.”
“Yeah. This place is real behind the times. A little slice the past. Before all those techno-do-hickies and wars.”
“Life’s got to move on sometime.” He boarded and never looked back.
Rick looked back on it all bitter sweetly. Not a week after he’d returned home his mother ransacked his room and computer. She found all his gay romance and porn and his “Bare” ticket stubs. She suggested Catholic school, but his father didn’t like that. He spent his senior year of high school at military school. No more soccer. Wasn’t as bad as he thought, to be honest. It kept his mind off things. Dex never called or wrote. He didn’t expect him to. He let Dex drift to the back of his mind. Tucked neatly away in the ‘Don’t go there’ section. Once the war broke a out it was even easier. Military sounded like a sound option at the time; Pay for school and housing, get you away from your psychotic mother. There had never been another Dex. How could there be? He was lost.
He threw the polishing rag down and put on his helmet. The clasps latched in place as he walked out his room. “Simmons!” Sarge called from the door. “Front and center! I’d like you too meet our latest recruit; Dexter Grif.”
Simmons head spun so fast it hurt. He just stared at the Orange armored soldier before him. It couldn’t be. Couldn’t possibly. The odds were 18574580924579482507849 to 1.
“Simmons? What kind of name is that?”
“Shut up, son. Dick Simmons is the best private I’ve ever had and you’ll mind your tongue with him you here.”
Grif snort, “Dick.” He lazily offered his hand, “I’m sure we’ll be best friends.” Simmons stared at the extended hand. Shocked. “Earth to Dick.”
Simmons swallowed, “Umm… Yeah.”
He’d never told Dex his last name. He’d called himself Rick that entire summer. His voice had finished changing that next year… Dex didn’t recognize him... He saw no reason to tell him.
Everything is not always as it appears.
Donut ran upstairs with a small worn journal in hand at full speed. He crashed into Simmons room like the building was on fire, “Oh. MY. GOD!”
Simmons rolled his eyes as he cleaned his gun, “What new bit of two year old celebrity gossip did you get from Vic NOW, Donut?”
“WHY HAVEN’T YOU TOLD HIM!?”
Simmons looked around to see what in Blood Gulch Donut was talking about and nearly had a heart attack. “Where’d you get that?”
“The basement. Remember you said you may have an exact-o-knife in your personal storage? Well this… Fell open, but not the point. WHY HAVEN’T YOU TOLD HIM!?”
“There’s nothing to tell.”
“You and Grif spend an amazing, heart wrenching summer together where you fell in love with him and had your heart stomped under his boots and crushed into a bazillion pieces and you say there’s NOTHING to TELL!?”
“No. If you read that you’ll know everything that happened. I hid it down there just so Grif wouldn’t find it. And you bring it up here. It’s ancient history.”
“I always thought you two hated each other! But here you are, still in love with him.”
Simmons glared daggers, “Donut, let this go. I’m warning you.”
“You going to kick me in the face?”
“That’s not funny.”
“No, it was absolutely amazing!”
“Fine. Do whatever you want with the stupid book. I don’t give a shit.” he turned back to his gun.”
Donut crossed his arms, “Well, then you won’t mind if I just show this to-” Simmons got up and crashed Donut into the wall, snatching back the journal. He dropped it on the floor and shot it.
“Grif! What in tarnation?”
“That was me, Sarge! Was cleaning my gun and the safety slipped.”
“Did you at least shoot Grif?”
“Sorry sir. That would be a negative.”
“Damn. One of these days you’ll get him.”
“We can only hope, sir.” Donut gapped at Simmons like he’d just slapped him. “What?”
“How can you say stuff like that about him?” Simmons sighed and went to the door, looking both ways before closing the door.
“Me and Sarge… Have a deal.”
“He let’s Grif live and I play good solider boy. The only order I won’t carry out is killing him. We had a conversation very close to the one me and Grif’s father had that night.”
“You kicked his face?!’
“Punched. Sarge still believes one day I’ll change my mind.”
“Why not just tell Grif?”
“He rejected me ten years ago. I can’t. I told him I loved him. That I LOVED him and he… He didn’t feel the same, okay? Besides... We‘ve changed and we can‘t go back. Let it go.” It was a weak argument and He knew that Donut knew it. Grif hadn’t change enough for him to let go.
“Fine. Your life. But my heart breaks for you buddy.”
With that the pink soldier left his room, shaking his head.
Grif sat in the living room watching the TV and trying not to smash the remote again. He sometimes forgot how powerful this armor made him. It was probably getting late. But he didn’t want to sleep. It was that time of year again. The time the dreams came up from under the nicotine and booze. Then there was Simmons. For some reason he was always nervous around him. He would act like an idiot and get defensive and argue with him all the time yeah but… It was like he‘d known the guy his whole life sometimes. The way he‘d just know things. How to make him laugh. Or get angry or embarrassed. It was like he had known him in another life. Sometimes it was a little frightening. It made him question his own sanity. He flipped through their movies recorded on an old school DVR. That’s when he stumbled upon one of his favorite movies from back in the day. “Holy shit, yes!”
He turned the volume up and danced with excitement. It had been years since he’d seen it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d watched it all the way through. Well, that wasn’t entirely true once he thought. He did remember-
“What you watching?” Simmons asked from the door way.
“Nothing. Nothing. Just that movie… that movie was terrible!”
“So? The cars are awesome!”
“You’re such a child!”
“I like what I-” Dex stopped. His brain felt like it’d been kicked in through the back of his skull… Déjà vu. Hard and heavy in the air… Like a dream. Suddenly Grif stood. “Take off your helmet.” It couldn’t be.
Simmons tilted his head, “What?”
“You never take it off. Take it off.” He couldn’t be.
“Grif you’re being ridiculous.” Grif stalked forward removing his own helmet. It might just be all in his head. But if it wasn‘t- Dick Simmons… He’d never seen his face. Never talked about his past. Why? “I’m serious, what’s up with you.” Simmons seemed unnerved by his face.
“Take it off.”
“Take it off!” Grif grabbed the helmet undoing the clasps with a hiss and yanking it off. A billow of brown hair fell around Simmons shoulders and Grif stared. The maroon helmet fell to the floor with a clatter, “You.”
“Me.” When he didn’t move or say more Simmons stepped back, trying to retreat. “Look I can explain-”
But he didn’t let him say anymore when Grif’s arms flew around his neck, “Finally.”
Dex was running. Running for all his worth. In a race with the Earth beneath his feet. For the first time he was running because he wanted to run. His broken down van disappeared from view behind him as he ran up the hill. He prayed to every god that any man had ever believed in that he wasn’t too late. He prayed for speed, he prayed for a miracle. Just one itty bitty miracle. He knew he’d already had one in his life time but he wondered if maybe he could cash in on the one his father never received. The airport was just up ahead. Almost there. He hadn’t heard the plane take off yet. He could make it. He had too. If he didn’t then it would be over. He couldn’t let it be over.
But then he heard it. The roar of the engines, the whirl of the propeller. No. No. No. No. He skidded to a halt next to Kai, “NO!” But there he was, flying off into the clear blue Hawaiian sky.
Kai said he should call him. Immediately. Leave a voicemail, apologize, explain. But he chickened out. Instead he drank himself under the table. He was an idiot and a coward and he deserved to miss seeing off the most amazing person he’d ever met.
It was a week before it all caught up with him. Just call, said a Cory like voice in his head, he’ll forgive you. He’s Rick for Christ sakes. He said he loves you.
At about five o’clock in the morning he gave in and called him, as drunk as he was he was sober enough to be appropriately nervous. It rang three times, before he heard a click. “Hey, it’s me and before you say anything I have some stuff to tell you… About uh…. Seeing you off. I’m sorry. My van broke down and… It didn’t mean I don’t… You know… it’s just. And the way I reacted- I mean it doesn’t mean I don’t… I was just surprised and it’s like quarter after five here and the whiskey is wearing off but sober or drunk-… I miss you. God, I miss you. And I-… I don’t now whether to punch you or hug you sometimes but I do know that I- I need you, alright? I can‘t promise you more just yet.” he waited. He heard breathing on the other end but nothing else. That worried him, “Rick?”
There was a slight pause, “Never call this number again. Ever. Do you hear me, young man?” Then they hung up.
“… Oh god.” That had been a woman.
Simmons was a bit shocked. “That is an interesting story.” Simmons let a nervous laugh escape.
“They sent you to military school?”
“Yup. Not the worst thing in the world. In fact, I’m a bit glad.”
“It lead me here, didn’t it?” Simmons smiled, “I wish you had called again. I never get a new cell phone number. “
“I thought you’d hate me for outing you to your mother like that.”
Simmons laughed, “You’re such an idiot.”
“I am not!” Simmons stopped laughing as tears streamed down Grif’s cheeks. “You fucking come for a summer and turn my whole fucking world on its ear! You weasel into my life, then you listen, and protect me, and love me, and then just disappear! Who the fuck did you think you were! Making me-… Making me fall in love with you like that? You son of a bitch.” Simmons leaned forward and kissed him. Like he’d wanted to do from the beginning. Just lips but he held them there. When he pulled back Grif had stopped crying, his face blank.
“I’m Richard Fucking Simmons.” Grif punched his arm, and he laughed.
How had he ignored how much he missed this? Simmons gripped Grif’s hand. The orange soldier jumped.
He leaned close to Grif’s ear, “How is it that after all this time you can still make me love you?”
Grif’s ears were red now. “Because I’m charming.”
Simmons snorted, “True… Very true.”
Lounging in the after glow.
This used to be a smutty epilogue, but it wasn't very good smut so I shortened it to post sexy times.
Simmons laid with Grif’s head against his chest. Well, THAT was amazing and damn it if he didn't love cuddling with a naked Grif. “Did you know I’ve never done that before?” Grif asked, tracing a lazy circle on Simmons' stomach.
Simmons kissed the top of his head. “Yeah. But I kind of like it better that way.”
“Possessive.” He accuse. Nuzzling closer.
“And you’re not?”
“Okay, that was just that one time because those hoes would have given you five STDs a piece. Safe sex was not a staple of most of their high school careers. Their is sexual freedom and there is unnecessary risks.”
“So you wouldn’t want to here about my boyfriend at military school I assume?”
Grif glared up at him. “You made your point.” He kissed his shoulder. “So it wasn’t terrible? Military school. Not the sex.”
“No, it wasn't really. But once I was away, my parents had bigger problems. Like my sister getting pregnant.”
“You have a sister?”
Simmons closed his eyes and sighed. “Yes. Another detail I failed to mention?”
“How is Kai? Staying out of trouble.”
“On abortion number seven.”
“Lovely. Is she going for a record?”
“Sometimes I think so.”
“Married. To Quinn.”
“Good for them. Joe?”
“… Well… He went to jail for a bit.”
“But it was-”
“No, that’s where you say you’re kidding.”
“Someone… Assaulted Cory.”
“Why do you think?”
Simmons opened his mouth to insist he didn’t know. But he stopped.
“Joe beat the shit out of them.” Grif’s voice was shaky. “But… The damage was already done. Cory tried to kill himself.” Simmons arms wove tightly around him. “Damn it. It’s old news, and he’s alive. Why am I crying?” When he looked up at Simmons he was crying too.
“I’m sorry. I’m so so so so so sorry. I wish-” But all he did was hug him tighter. He hadn’t been there to hold him then. But he could hold him now.
“Don adopted us. Even though we still lived in my dad’s house… And I saw my mom.”
“On the senior trip to Disneyland.”
“Yeah… She worked at the castle gift shop.”
“Did you talk to her?”
“Yeah… It was a bit awkward because I looked up from digging for my money to buy a gift for Kai and there she was, giving me this look like I rose from the dead. All I can say is ‘MOM?’ Like I was special ed or something.”
“What’d she say?”
“'That’ll be thirty-two fifty three.' I gave her the money and she said she'd gets off in an hour and asked me to meet her at the castle gate. We went and got ice cream. Turns out what the man meant by 'big star' was she would be Cinderella at the park. She said she never got the courage to come back for us.”
Simmons stroked his hair. “Damn it.”
“It was for the best. He may have lied but she did love that guy she ran off with. She said she knew my father would rather die then lose us. That’s why he drove into that tree.”
“Now you’ve lost me.”
“The more I think about it the more sense it makes. My dad was scared. And in the past he’d been able to scare me into staying. But then you came. You showed up on his doorstep with me and he knew. He knew you’d be able to take me away. And once I left Kai wouldn't have a reason to stay. The thought of losing us too… Pushed him over the edge.”
“How to they know he did it on purpose?”
“He passed the tree. Put it in reverse. Maneuvered the car so it was align, and accelerated.”
Simmons titled his head towards him and kissed him. “that is a twisted kind of love. I'd still have killed him if he touched you again.”
“I know.” Grif paused. “Then why do you let Sarge-”
“We have a deal. Remember the second day you were here and he smacked you upside the head?”
“I pulled him back into base and punched him.”
Grif stared at him in shock.
“It’s true. I told him ‘If you touch him again, I swear to God, I will rip off your arm and jam it so far up your ass you’ll be shaking hands with your tonsils.’”
“He said he’d order me to kill you. I told him I never would.”
“Why does he still tell you to?”
“Thinks I’ll get sick of you someday.”
“I hope not.”
“Never.” Grif kissed him, lazily wrestling his tongue. He pressed close to Simmons’ side and he giggleed. “Like my overprotective side do you?” Simmons rolled onto his side and took Grif in a full body hug. “Mine.”
“We should get a shower.”
“We’re sticky and smelly.”
“Sticky and smelly with sex. That’s the best kind.”
“What if I promise to suck you off in the shower?”
“…Get your pants on. We’re moving this party to the bathroom.”
SO going to fuck him into the shower tiles.
Ten years and you still come up with the best idea.
Love you, Rick.
Back at you, Brain.