After an hour of driving in silence, Brent drops us off at our house around ten. None of us want to talk, Angie and I least of all, when we look up at the house and see the living room light is on. Dad is waiting up for us, and he’s not going to be happy.
I raise my sodden cast and groan. He’s going to be unhappy with me most of all. Now we have to face him and get my cast taken care of. Why didn’t I get the waterproof model? That decision has bitten me more times in this last week than I expected.
“Thanks for bringing us home, Brent,” Angie says as Brent puts on the brake and stops in the driveway. She unbuckles her seatbelt and looks at him, waiting for him to respond.
“Don’t mention it,” Brent says distractedly. He then looks at her and scowls. “Seriously, don’t. I’m still pissed, and I . . .” He trails off and punches his steering wheel, grunting in frustration.
I unbuckle my seatbelt and lean forward, a question on my mind. “What are you going to do about Donny?”
Brent turns his scowl on me and replies. “None of your business, kid. Now get out of my car.”
Not needing to be told twice, I get out of the car. Angie is right behind me, and as soon as she closes her door, Brent puts his car in reverse and pulls out of the driveway. Angie and I watch him drive off into the night before we finally feel free to talk.
“So,” Angie says, toeing the ground awkwardly, “I didn’t want to ask while Brent was there, but what happened with Donny?”
I look at her and see her genuine concern. There’s really no use in lying to her, not after everything that happened. I can’t believe we even ended up in this mess together, much less surviving it. A thunderclap above me reminds me that the night isn’t over, and the storm could come back at any minute, so I hurry on with my explanation. “He tried to suck my dick, and I told him ‘no’, but he tried anyway. I hit him in the face and ran off. That’s when I ran into you.”
Angie nods slowly, then asks, “So you really are gay, huh?”
“Cool.” She laughs, and the light sound makes me feel a slight bit better about this night. “You’re gay and vegetarian. Who would have thought?”
Shit. Well, this is the point where the lie comes back to bite me. I guess I have to tell her I’m a meat-eating killer. Her acceptance will probably be short-lived. “Actually,” I begin awkwardly, “I’m not really vegetarian. That was Dad’s way of not outing me to you.”
“Wow,” Angie says, reeling backward as if I’d struck her. “You told Dad before you told me?”
I shiver at the cold which is settling onto me. Even though I’ve been in a heated car for the past hour, my clothes are still damp and the weather is still cold. Though, now that I think about it, my shiver might also be a direct result of the fear of my sister’s wrath. “Um. I kinda had to. It’s because of the locker incident. He needed an explanation.”
Angie guffaws. “How does that explain anything?”
“I was going to pop out of the locker and announce that I had just come out.” I shrug and raise my cast, noticing my arm is starting to ache. “It didn’t go as planned.”
She shakes her head in wonder, then eyes the cast critically. “Yeah, I can see that. That cast is ruined, by the way.”
“I know. Dad’s going to kill me.”
“Probably. But I’ll defend you.”
Her encouraging smile hits me right in the feels. My smile fades, and I feel a lump forming in my throat. She’s only standing a few feet away, but I want her close to me, like when we were kids. “Angie . . .?”
She looks up at me, and her expression becomes a reflection of my own. “Yeah?”
I close the distance between us and wrap my arms around her, burying my head in her shoulder. “Thanks. Seriously . . .” She returns the embrace as I sniffle, then add, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“It’s okay, bro. I’m just glad you’re all right,” Angie replies, hugging me tight and prolonging the embrace. She knows I need it, and I think she needs it, too. “And you know what else?”
“I don’t know what I’d do without you, either,” she whispers, and I hear the same emotion in her voice, that need which so many twins share; it’s a connection which transcends my ability to describe it. We pull apart at last, and I see moisture in her eyes as she grins and adds, “My life would certainly be boring, anyway.”
I chuckle at that and then nod up the steps toward the front door. “Let’s go talk to Dad.”
“Are you in a hurry?” Angie asks in surprise.
I shiver again, in answer, then say, “I’m cold as fuck, so yes.”
She nods and takes my right hand in her left, giving it a supportive squeeze. “All right, let’s get this over with.”
We walk up the steps and into the house. I lead the way through the front door, and that means I’m the first thing my father sees. He’s reading a book in one of the comfortable arm chairs next to our fireplace, which thankfully has a fire already going.
“Clint!” My dad says as soon as he sees me, dropping the book onto the floor as he jumps to his feet. He takes several steps toward me before he sees Angie standing guiltily behind me. “What the hell? And what are you two doing together?”
“It’s a long story, can we talk about it later?” I ask, eyeing the fire hungrily. Its warmth is the most enticing thing I’ve seen all night, and I want nothing more than to strip off my clothes and sit in front of it with a thick blanket draped around me.
Dad closes the rest of the distance between us and looks at my cast, which is starting to fall apart from how wet it is. “We have to get you to the ER. Your cast is soaked!” he scrells. “You’ll have plenty of time to explain along the way.”
I hang my head shamefully and ask in a quiet voice, “Can I change first, please? I’m freezing.”
“Dad,” Angie interjects, “Clint’s really had a rough night. Please lay off?”
“Angie . . .” Dad begins, rounding on her in anger. Then his face softens as he sees the look in her eyes. I glance her way and see it too. She’s not being defiant, she’s crying, but her voice is strong and firm. She looks just like my mother always did whenever my Dad’s yelling got a bit out of hand. Dad turns back toward me, his voice much calmer than before. “I’m sorry I yelled. Clint, of course you can go get changed. We do have to go, though. Angie, you should probably stay, I don’t know how long this is going to take, and you have to get up for school tomorrow.”
“I’d really rather come with you,” Angie says, and this time there is some defiance in her voice. She’s daring Dad to disagree with her.
“Can she, please?” I ask, backing her up. I’d really rather she came, anyway, but if she wants to come, it’s even better.
Dad only considers the request for a moment before he gives us a single resolute nod. “Okay. I know better than to step between the two of you. You can come. Clint, go get ready.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
After all the times I worried about moving my shirt sleeve past my cast, this is the time it really matters. I carefully maneuver it past, though the wet fabric catches on the cast several times, and I wince as the ache in my arm seems to intensify. I really hope I haven’t upset the healing process, and the ache is a result of the weather rather than the cast, but I’m not optimistic.
Once I shed my pants and boxers as well, I take a moment to look at myself in the mirror before getting dressed again. My knees are red and raw, and scabs are forming over the scrapes which I earned on the asphalt when I tripped. Dirt carried by the wind and plastered against my soaked pants seeped through and onto my skin, and I’m completely filthy. And why is my mirror shaking, are we in an earthquake? No, those are my knees, and my whole body. I’m shivering badly. This isn’t good, I need to be warm, and now.
I stumble into the hallway, not bothering to grab anything to cover my nakedness. If my Dad or sister want to make a big deal out of it, they’ll have to do it later. I walk into the bathroom and turn on the hot water, wrapping myself in one of the extra towels while I wait for the water to heat up. My shivering only intensifies until the shower fills with steam and I step under the spray.
And then the heat hits my skin and begins to seep in, and finally my trembling comes under control. I let the water wash through my hair and down my body, carrying away the filth of the day. Carrying away the memory of Donny over me, forcing me to do things I wasn’t ready for. My body rebelled against me then, and I started to get hard. His hands had felt nice; better than nice, Donny’s fingers felt heavenly. Only the moment had been wrong. I didn’t want some guy I barely knew to do those things to me, and certainly not for some ulterior motive. Donny was wrong, and I wasn’t going to reward his attempts at ‘making me feel good’ by jacking off to them.
I willed my erection away as well as I could, and forced myself to think of anything else as I let the heat sink into me. All it took was the thought of my Dad’s displeasure to deflate my eager member. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him more disappointed in me, though I could be projecting. Really, I’m more disappointed in myself than anything.
After I feel sufficiently warm, I step out of the shower and wrap myself in several towels. As great as the water was, I need something dry and warm, now, and the towels do the trick. I wonder if the fire is still going strong downstairs?
I walk back to my room with the towels still wrapped around me, then dress as quickly as I can in a fresh set of clothes, careful again to avoid catching my cast on the sleeve. I add a jacket over my shirt this time, but I don’t push my arm through the jacket sleeve. I let it hang loose on that side, draped over me like a blanket.
Once I’m dressed, I head downstairs and find my sister and Dad waiting for me. They’re standing by the fire which Dad puts out slowly by turning off the gas feeding it. The flames die just as I come around the corner, and I try to hide my disappointment as they turn and look at me.
“Ready to go?” Dad asks, smiling at me though his eyes are hard.
I nod, and he leads the way to the front door, holding it open for Angie and me as we walk out into the night. He closes the door behind us and locks the knob and the deadbolt before following us down the steps toward the car port.
We climb silently into the car, and Dad puts us in motion, driving back toward the same highway we left less than an hour ago. The nearest emergency room is in Springville, and they’re the only ones capable of fixing my cast at this time of night.
Dad doesn’t say anything by the time we reach the highway, and I’m growing anxious again at his silence. He said he wanted us to tell him the whole story, but he’s not asking any questions, and I don’t know why. After several more minutes of this, I can’t take it anymore, and I ask, “Are you going to punish me?”
“That depends,” Dad says slowly, “did you do anything wrong?”
“I wasn’t careful.”
“Dad,” Angie pipes in from the back seat, “he didn’t—”
I stall her with a hand and smile at her appreciatively. “Thanks, Angie, but I have this. He deserves to know the whole story.” I sigh and then stare ahead at the road. I don’t know if I can get through the story if I’m looking at my dad. “I thought Donny was a good guy, and I still think he is, even though he did something really stupid. We both did.”
“He was so nice the entire date, and then I told him how uncomfortable with the idea he wanted our relationship to always remain a secret, and he said he’d make it up to me. I thought I could trust him, but he drove us up to the mountains and . . .” I shudder as I remember how powerless I felt when Donny was over me. “He made some moves on me.”
Dad glances over at me for a moment and asks, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I managed to get away from him. He tried to apologize, and offered to take me home, but I was already standing in the rain at that point and . . .” I shrug and glance over my shoulder at Angie. “Well, that’s when things took another bad turn, because Angie and her date showed up.”
“Angie was on a date?” Dad asks, for the first time in this conversation, his tone is surprised rather than neutral. He looks back at her in the rearview mirror, and I cringe as I worry about Angie’s reaction.
“Fuck . . .” I groan. “I’m sorry, Angie.”
“It’s okay, Clint. I was going to tell him, anyway,” Angie says. She sighs and explains her part of the story. “We were all at Flynn’s when Brent showed up. He said we should go get a bite to eat, then after that we went up to the mountains. He’s Donny’s best friend, and I guess they go up there a lot together, so it makes sense they’d both take dates there, but it’s sheer coincidence that we ended up running into each other.”
“And it ended badly for Donny,” I add.
“How so?” Dad asks.
“Well, Donny ran into Brent, and totally outed himself without meaning to. He was so focused on me, and he . . . well, he ran off with Brent chasing after him, and then Donny drove away, leaving me stranded up there.”
“And since Brent ran off, I thought I might be stuck up there, too,” Angie interjects right on top of me. “We were about to call you when Brent came back and offered us a ride home.”
“More like he felt really guilty after he screamed at you and decided he couldn’t leave us there,” I mutter, rolling my eyes.
“Yeah . . .” Angie says, shaking her head, “he’s definitely not getting a second date.”
Dad is quick to join back in on the conversation. “I’d protest anyway.”
“Dad?” Angie asks, voicing the concern she and I both feel.
“Look, I give you both a lot of free rein, but recently my paternal worries have kicked in more often than I like them to. I think it would be best if you both laid off on the dating for a little bit, just until things calm down.”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
Dad sighs deeply. “Clint, in the last week you’ve broken an arm, missed a full day of school as a result, and will probably miss tomorrow as well. I’m sure this is going to take much longer than it should, and I bet you’re going to be too tired to go to school tomorrow. I won’t blame you, and I’m already giving you permission to skip.”
“Yeah, I’m rambling aren’t I?” He chuckles dryly, but the laughter dies quickly as he glances briefly at both of us. “Tonight, even though I didn’t know what was happening, I ended up worrying about you both the whole time. Your dates, and I use that term loosely, nearly stranded you on top of a mountain in the middle of a thunderstorm, and Clint wasn’t even wearing a jacket. I have a problem with that. I have a huge problem with that.”
Angie clears her throat and asks, “So you are going to punish us?”
Dad doesn’t immediately answer, but after a moment of consideration he says, “No. Not really. I’m just putting in my two cents, actually. I’m still going to give you free rein, but I’m officially logging my disapproval. You both need to be more careful who you date, and how those dates go. Dating is still a relatively new concept for both of you, and I’d just like you to be more responsible with your choices.”
“And so?” I ask after sharing a look with Angie.
“If you’re going to date anyone, I want to meet them first, for starters. Make sure they come inside to pick you up, rather than meeting you in the driveway. Or,” Dad pauses as he looks into the rearview mirror to meet Angie’s eyes there, “at a restaurant.”
Angie withdraws into herself and mumbles, “Sorry, Dad.”
Dad nods to accept the apology and continues his thought. “That really was a bit risky on your part, Angela, and that brings me to my second point.”
“Which is?” Angie asks.
“If you have a date, let me know about it. I don’t want to end up worrying about you every night because I don’t know where you are. Tonight nearly drove me insane.”
“Okay, Dad,” Angie and I say in unison.
“You’re the two best kids a father could ask for, and I love you, but please don’t make me lose any more hair?”
“You got it,” Angie replies.
“Yeah,” I add, “we can see where you’re coming from. We’ll do better.”
“I hear most teenagers would argue,” Dad says, grinning at me.
“Most teenagers haven’t had the night I just had,” I mutter.
The conversation dies down at that as we reach the exit which leads to the Springville hospital. After only one traffic light which stalls us for less than a minute, we arrive at the hospital, a gigantic building with several wings dedicated to different specialties. Front and center is the emergency room. Dad finds the closest parking spot he can manage and turns in, nodding in the direction of the glass doors we’ll be entering in a moment.
“Well, we’re here,” He says, eerily cheerful. “Are you ready to get your new cast? Maybe it won’t be pink this time?”
I smile, then lift the cast and stare at it for a moment. I’ve grown used to it. “Honestly, I don’t mind the pink anymore. But can we please make this one waterproof?”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
True to his word, Dad let me sleep in and didn’t make me go to school. He said none of us had to go anywhere in the morning, and I gratefully slept in as long as possible, relishing the chance to sleep into the afternoon. We didn’t make it back until four in the morning last night, though I am sporting a new, bright pink, waterproof cast. I’m so happy I don’t have to wear a plastic bag over it anymore when I shower.
And, more importantly, the next time I’m stuck on top of a mountain in the middle of a thunderstorm, my cast won’t need to be replaced. Not that I’m planning on repeating that any time soon, but at least I’ll be prepared if it does. Can’t beat that, boy scouts.
When I finally climb out of bed around two in the afternoon, naked and needing to pee, I slip into a fresh pair of boxers and start to walk out of my room, then pause. I select a T-shirt first and slide it over me. Dad doesn’t like me walking around in my boxers, and I should really learn to start respecting him. He’s done so much for me, after all; it’s time I became a better son.
Peeing has never felt better, and when my morning wood goes down I can finally relax. I think about taking a shower, then realize I’ve really only slept since I took my last one, and it’s not like I plan on going anywhere. This is going to be a lazy day, and if the tickle in my throat and the stuffiness in my nose are any indication, I need the rest.
I walk down to the front room and find my sister there, watching some midday talk show. She turns it off as soon as she sees me, and smiles at me warmly. “Hey, bro. How’d you sleep?”
“Well enough,” I say, yawning for extra effect. “I think I’m coming down with something, though. All that water and cold did a number on my immune system.”
She shakes her head and says, “You should have brought a jacket.”
“I didn’t know it was supposed to rain.”
“Don’t you pay attention to the weather?”
“No usually. Besides,” I say with a grin, “I’d rather wear less clothes in the rain, not more.”
She snickers at that and says, “I suppose you proved that last night.”
I cringe at that and my cheeks color. “Don’t remind me. I’m sorry, you probably got an eyeful yesterday.”
Angie shrugs and her smile remains as strong as before. “Meh. I might have joked about it before, but it’s not like I’ve never seen you naked. We grew up taking baths together when we were toddlers, after all.”
“You remember that?” I ask, surprised.
“Not really, but I guess it’s not that weird to me. Besides, you’re always in your boxers, anyway, though you do tend to stick to your room. You’re rather dressed up for today, though. A shirt and everything.”
I shrug. “Yeah. I know Dad prefers I wear clothes in the rest of the house.”
Angie nods at that then glances at my arm. “How’s the new cast holding up?”
I knock on the hard surface of the cast with my right hand. “It’s all right. I’m just excited about what the doctor said.”
“Yeah, that you might get it off a week early? I guess you’re healing well.”
I chuckle at that. It really is a weight off my shoulders, and I still can’t completely believe the good news. “Considering what I’ve been through between then and now, that surprised me. I guess the aching really was just the weather.”
“It’s cool though.”
We stare at each other awkwardly for a moment, and then look away, both of our cheeks coloring at the same time. We haven’t spoken this easily with each other in a long time. I like this new direction we’re headed in, but I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. I decide to fetch a snack while I think about it, but then Angie breaks the silence between us.
“Hey . . . Clint?”
“Yeah?” I ask, turning back toward her.
She’s looking at her lap at first, silently considering her next words, but before I can ask what’s on her mind she looks up and meets my eyes. “How come you didn’t tell me you were gay?”
I wince at the hurt in her eyes, but she deserves an honest answer. “I thought you might make fun of me. We make fun of each other all the time, but that . . .” I reach up with my right hand and grip my left bicep, stroking it in my insecurity. “I worried you’d have a problem with it.”
Angie tilts her head to the side for a moment, considering my response. “I’m not going to lie, I probably would have made fun of you, but it would have just been teasing, you know.”
“Yeah-h . . .” I say, coughing. “I didn’t really want to tell Dad, either.”
“You know I . . .” Angie sighs and begins again. “You know I love you, right?”
I nod and reply quietly, “I do. And I love you, too.”
Angie looks away from me then and stares across the room. I don’t follow her gaze, and instead I watch her face as she goes on, speaking just above a whisper, “It feels weird to say it, though. Even though you’re like my best friend. I’ve forgotten that over the last few years.”
I follow her gaze then and see what she’s staring at. It’s a picture of our mother standing next to Angie and me. We were eleven at the time, and had just finished a hike in Yellowstone when our dad took the picture. “Ever since Mom died,” I whisper.
“I didn’t know how to deal with it, and a lot of my emotions ended up going your way, I think,” Angie says, looking back at me at last.
I cross the room at sit down next to Angie, then redirect my attention back to the picture of our mother. “Probably what happened,” I say, letting the thought linger for a moment as we both remember. Our mother kicked ass as much as our father still does, and she never left us in doubt of her love. She taught us to defend what we believe in, and to always fight for the underdog. I see a lot of her in my sister, now that I think about it. I only wish I were more like her myself.
Dad’s done well with us, considering he’s had to do it alone the past few years. I’m grateful to him, but I definitely miss my mother. Come to think of it, I’m missing both of them right now. I look to Angie and say, “Not that I mind this little heart to heart talk we’re having, but . . . where’s Dad?”
“He’s at work,” Angie replies. “He tried to call in, but Larry said he needed Dad on site. There was a problem with the backhoe or something. You’d think Larry would be able to handle it, wouldn’t you? Isn’t that the point of a foreman?”
“Dad must be exhausted.”
“We fucked up, didn’t we?” Angie states more than ask. I don’t need any confirmation as to whether we fucked up or not. I know we did.
But I can’t help but answer her, because there’s more on my mind. “Just a bit. Why doesn’t he ground us?”
Angie thinks about it for a moment, and then gives the best answer I can possibly imagine. “Because he trusts us to learn from our mistakes. He always has. You know, like when he took us rock climbing. When we slip, he doesn’t tell us what we do wrong, he just encourages us to try again.”
“Deep,” I say, nodding in agreement, “but also true.”
“So, what did we learn?” Angie asks.
“That we should trust our instincts and be more careful.”
“What do you mean, ‘what else’?” I ask, giving her a confused look.
“What did you learn last night, Clint?” Angie asks, smiling warmly. “About you and me?”
I smile in understanding and reply, “That we can rely on each other. That we’ll always have each other.”
“That’s right,” Angie says, nodding firmly. “And don’t forget it next time you want to keep a secret from me.”
“I won’t. Best friends forever?”
I stick my tongue out at her as I have so many times before then say, “Bitch booty.” Then I grin wide and amend my statement. “Nah, Bitch Bestie.”
A wicked grin splits Angie’s face in half as she replies, “Together we’re Seven Layer Bestie Dip.”
“I love it!” I squeal with delight.
Angie snickers at me. “Thought you might.”
Another yawn threatens to send me back to bed, and when it’s over I say, “I want to sleep some more.”
Angie reaches for the blanket draped over the back of the couch and pats the cushion next to her. “Wanna cuddle?”
“Siblings can do that without it being weird, right?” I ask, considering her request. She does look pretty comfortable, and it’s not like we didn’t cuddle when we were younger.
“With my gay brother?” Angie asks, laughing. “You bet. Wanna watch something?” She reaches for the remote with her other hand as she brings the blanket around to her lap.
“Sure,” I say as I slide over to her and lean into her shoulder. She wraps the blanket around us and turns on the television. The talk show’s just about to end, and I settle in for whatever comes next. Before I find out what the next program will be, I’m fast asleep. I was right, Angie is comfortable.
At least until she gasps and shakes me awake anyway to show me the text she just received. Groggy and ready to growl at her for her sudden movements, I lose all thought of anger as I read what she put in front of my face.
Donny’s in the hospital.
Thanks for reading chapter six of “Fearless”. This chapter had one of my favorite scenes in the whole story. I love the reconciliation between Angie and Clint before they cuddle on the couch together. It reminded me of some of the good times I’ve had with close friends in the past, and the emotion was well-needed in my life at the time.
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