After enjoying the few days we had left completely together, Derrick and I prepared for today, his first day back at school. We both agreed that it would be best for me to stay away from the high school for a few days, at least long enough to asses what damage had been done over break.
Over the past few days, I had begun to realize that this would not just affect Derrick and me; I had completely forgotten about Ty. He was only a sophomore and still had two years ahead of him in high school. I had no clue how this would affect the way people treated him. To be honest, he was a bit less social and well known than I was back in high school, so most likely he would feel little impact. Still, though, I had only just begun to realize how much a single act of hate can affect so many people.
So I sent off Ty and Derrick to face destiny. I felt bad since they would face the very beginning alone; something I had promised Derrick, at least, that he would not have to endure. Still, we both agreed that the safest course of action was to simply wait, instead of perhaps flaunting our relationship about for all to see. I even hate it when straight couples do that, imagine how they would feel if we did.
College didn’t start up for me for another couple weeks, so I stayed at home, anxiously counting the hours, minutes, and seconds before their first day ended and Derrick and Ty both reported on what had happened. Time seemed to slow to a standstill as I waited at home. There was nothing on TV except soap operas during the day, and I personally was not a fan.
I decided to go running for an hour before lunch. Yes, I nearly froze my balls off in the cold of the Wisconsin winter, but at least it gave me a chance to clear my head. I had only recently discovered running near the beginning of fall. I instantly enjoyed it since it not only was a great form of exercise, which I desperately needed going into the winter months, but it was also the one time of day where I stopped thinking. When I was running, all thoughts completely disappeared, all worries completely thrown to the back of my mind as I focused solely the rhythm and motion of my body.
Afterwards, I warmed myself some leftovers from the fridge for lunch. I then spent the next three hours pacing around the living room, waiting as patiently as possible for Derrick and Ty to get home. Finally, around 3:30, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to let Derrick and Ty in.
“So?” I held my breath looking Derrick in the face for a damage assessment.
“It was worse than we could have ever imagined,” he said with a glum face.
“Oh Derrick, I’m so sorry.”
“I know. Nobody cares.” He was trying to hide a small smirk.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, everyone knows and nobody cares. The only thing people asked me all day was if you were all right. They couldn’t have cared less about us. Well, sure, a few people were uncomfortable with it, but not anyone I really cared about or anything.”
“So everyone’s okay with it?” I was curious, but mostly stunned at what he was saying.
“Yeah, most everyone already knew since the rumors started before break. If anything, you getting shot helped us.”
“How could that be?” I hadn’t even considered this possibility. I had only thought that the whole ordeal would have a negative impact ultimately on us.
“What I mean is, if anything, it got us a crap load of sympathy from most of the students. Most of the girls, at least. The guys at school didn’t seem to care at all. I didn’t get a single gay joke the whole day. I think things are finally starting to turn around for us.”
Of course I was ecstatic, but something bothered me. Ty had gone straight up to his room without even saying hello. I’d have to have a talk with him later. My mind wandered with why he was so unresponsive.
“You okay,” Derrick asked.
I snapped back into awareness, “Oh, yeah, just a little stunned is all. So you think it’s all right if we’re seen together now?”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wanna show you off to the world, and if anyone doesn’t like it, fuck ‘em.”
“Now you’re talking. Any idea how Ty’s day was?”
“Nope, he didn’t say much on the walk home.”
“I’m going to go upstairs and check on him.”
I walked upstairs to find Ty’s door shut as usual. I knocked out of propriety, but I planned on coming in anyway. After a second or so, I opened the door and let myself in. Ty was sitting on the floor with his back against his bed, playing a golf videogame on his Playstation 2.
“So how was your day,” I asked.
He just shrugged in response. I sat down on the bed to indicate that I wasn’t leaving until he gave me a better answer.
“Ty, I need you to be honest with me now. Please.” I was trying to be as sincere as possible without outright prodding for info. “Has anyone been bothering you about me?”
“Not really,” he finally muttered.
“Not really. What do you mean?”
“Well, nothing huge. Just some stupid kids in my class teasing about you and me.”
I had to take a moment to think about what he just said. Suddenly it dawned on me. “They think you’re gay too, don’t they.”
“Just because I’ve never dated or don’t talk about girls all the time, they instantly assume…”
“I know. Look Ty, the point is you know it’s not true. Now I’m sure you’ll start dating when you’re ready, and not a moment before. Don’t let those jackasses bug you.” I waited for a response, but didn’t get one so I asked for a little clarification. “Just how many people are teasing you?”
“Not a lot, maybe a dozen or so.”
“Do you want me to have Derrick beat them up?”
He quickly glared at me. “That would make tings a million times worse and…”
“I’m kidding,” I interjected, “I’m kidding. Settle down. I know everyone says you should just ignore them, but that might be tough depending on who they are. They’re not any of your friends, are they?”
“No, just some dumb jock kids.”
“Well Ty, I just want you to hang in there. This’ll all blow over eventually.”
The truth is, I wasn’t sure how long eventually would be. For Ty’s sake, I hoped it would pass quickly. I gave him a quick pat on the head and headed out of his room, closing the door as I exited. I returned downstairs to find Derrick lying on the sofa, watching TV. Sat at his feet and positioned his legs so they draped over my lap.
“So how did your little talk go?” Derrick asked.
“If you ever see anyone pick on Ty, you know just verbally or something, could you find out who it was and report them to the office at school?”
“Of course. I don’t want to see him get dragged into this any more than you do.”
Over the next few weeks I gradually returned to the high school every so often. Derrick and I still didn’t show any public affection at school, so people didn’t seem to mind or even pay attention. College life started up again with spring semester beginning mid-January. Life seemed finally to be getting back to normal…or at least normal compared to what life had been like recently.
Life, however, had become blissful for one simple fact: Derrick and I need no longer hide ourselves from the world. We began dating in places within the city instead of traveling to nearby ones. It’s impossible to even begin describing what a liberating experience it was!
Mom and dad had also grown more fond and trusting of Derrick. They continued to treat him like a complete member of the family. They even bought Derrick his own bed for downstairs instead of the old mattress he had been sleeping on.
They say that when you're unhappy, time crawls by. When you're happy, however…well my life must had been very happy since months had flown by like a single snow flake in the winter winds. The snows melted, the grass once again reigned upon the ground, and life had returned to the landscape. There was no more a fitting visual metaphor for the change in my life than the concurrent changing of the seasons.
“Does this make my ass look big?”
“Not a bit babe,” Derrick replied.
I turned around several more times to fully view myself in the full length mirror before me. I had to admit, I looked pretty good in a tux, but Derrick was simply HOT!
“Do you have anything similar with slightly smaller lapels?” I asked the clerk at the counter, handing him the tux I had finished trying on.
“Sure, I’ll go take a look in the back.” He disappeared through a door behind the front counter, with the jacket draped over his arm.
“I still can’t believe we’re actually doing this.” I told Derrick, who was now in front of the mirror assessing his jacket.
He turned to me when I finished speaking. “It’s my senior prom. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for me, and there’s no one I would rather go with in the whole world.”
“Not even George Clooney?”
“Do you have his number?” he asked with a sly grin.
“Shut up.” I gave him a love tap in the arm. “Still, you’re not having any second thoughts or anything. I just don’t want you to go as if you’ve got something to prove.”
“I do. I’m proving that I’m just a normal person who wants to spend a night out with the love of his life in the most elaborate fashion available to high school students. And by the way, it sounds like you’re the one having second thoughts.
He was right. I wanted nothing more than to show us off to the world, but ever since that December night, I was still a little wary of being that forthright about my feelings for Derrick in public. This seemed ridiculous since it was almost the exact opposite just a few months ago. Derrick had always been the careful one, but now he seemed completely comfortable out of the closet.
“Excuse me sir.” I was snapped out of daydreaming by the call of the tailor. I turned around and walked back up to the counter.
“How does this one look?” It was incredibly similar to the previous one, but had shorter lapels, just what I wanted. I quickly tried it on to make sure the size was correct. It was a perfect fit.
I walked back to the counter and paid the man for both of the tux rentals.
“You can pick them up any time this week. They’ll be on reserve until then.”
“Thank you very much.”
Derrick came up and laid his tux on the counter for the man to take in the back.
“Ready?” I asked.
“Yep. I suppose this makes it official then.”
“Does anyone know your taking me as a date?”
“Well, since you’re technically not a student at the high school, I had to fill out a form to get approved. It’s all taken care of. As for anyone knowing, I suppose anyone who saw me pick up the form and anyone in the office who approved it knows. Does it really matter?”
“Not a bit. Still, it’s going to be interesting to see all the faces when we, the first gay couple to ever attend a dance here, walk in.”
“Who cares what anybody thinks? It’s going to be our special night.”
I could have sworn he had an odd emphasis on the word ‘special.’