"So you decided you're going to stick around, huh?" Adam asked as they pulled into the Wendy's parking lot. Ever since their first dinner there they had decided to make it their regular gig, even though Ian had said that they were welcome to eat at the restaurant for free. Silas was clear that he didn't want to take either Ian or Adam's money, but both of them continued to insist that they pay for things, and Silas had reasoned that it was better to spread that generosity out rather than make Ian take full responsibility.
But he also kept a mental record of everything that Adam paid for so that he could be sure to make it even in the future. Ian had said that Silas could start working at the diner soon, and that he would make normal wages. As soon as he received his first paycheck he had every intention of treating Adam out to a nice meal and making sure that he didn't pay for any of it.
"Yep, definitely decided to stay," Silas said as the car stopped and Adelaide barked in excitement as the smell of hamburgers permeated the car. "I had to stay close to Adelaide's food supply."
Adam laughed and turned off the car before turning back to Silas and saying, "Well, I'm glad that you're going to be here. It's nice to have another gay friend for once."
"I was meaning to ask you about that, actually," Silas said cautiously. "Did you know a boy named Daniel Winters? From what I can understand he was pretty close to your age."
Adam paled and looked away. "Did I say something wrong?" Silas asked, but Adam refused to meet his eyes. "Wait, you did know him didn't you?"
"Yeah," Adam said with a whisper. "He was actually my first and only boyfriend. We dated in high school before he, ya know, killed himself . . ."
"I'm so sorry, Adam," Silas said as he reached out and touched Adam's arm. "Really, I wasn't expecting that. I was just thinking that might be why you're uncomfortable talking about being gay."
"It is, but it's not because I'm scared of that happening to me, if that's what you're wondering," Adam replied with a frown. "It's because of what happened that led up to that moment, and then what happened after. I can't stop blaming myself for his death."
"How could it possibly be your fault?" Silas asked.
Adam shook his head and turned back to Silas. "At the time I was a lot less cautious about my sexuality. I was getting ready to come out, and I told Danny that I wanted him to come out with me. After a long discussion he agreed, but said he wanted to speak to Pastor Gregory first. I don't know what happened between that discussion and that night, when Pastor Gregory found him hanging in the tool shed, but I guess I pushed him over the edge."
"I don't think it was your fault, Adam," Silas said as he squeezed Adam's hand. "He sounded like he had everything he needed from you; a supportive boyfriend who was willing to take on the world with him. Something else must have happened to trigger that response. How was his home life?"
"Perfect. His parents both knew about him and supported him completely. They knew about us as well, after finding us making out on his couch one night when they came home earlier than expected." Adam chuckled dryly and reached for the handle to the door, but Silas gripped his arm tightly and held him back.
"That doesn't make a lot of sense," Silas said, shaking his head. "Was school difficult then?"
"No, he was an average student. Got good grades but not amazing ones, and we had plenty of friends," Adam said, narrowing his eyes. "What are you getting at?"
"If the only place that he was struggling was church, and from what I've heard of Pastor Gregory he was a good man, then what was Daniel's reason for killing himself?" Silas asked. "I don't understand at all. Daniel sounds like he had everything going for him."
"Yeah, I couldn't understand it either," Adam replied, shaking his head. "The only thing I was able to reason out was that he might have felt guilty for cheating on me."
"You thought he was cheating on you?"
"Well," Adam sighed, "This isn't something I like talking about, but with you I suppose it's okay. I wasn't ready to go all the way at the time. He wanted to try anal but I didn't want to. I told him that if he came out then I'd be willing to do it. But . . . When the autopsy results came back his parents confronted me and asked me if we'd been having sex. They had asked us to take it slow, and they wondered if we had disregarded that because he . . ." Adam choked back his words and wasn't able to continue.
"His body showed signs of anal sex," Silas surmised. "I get it. Doesn't mean he cheated on you."
Adam turned toward him in surprise and asked, "What do you mean?"
"He could have been raped," Silas said with a shrug. "I've never been raped, but I've had people attempt to do it before, and usually after they find out that I'm gay. If he told someone then they might have tried to take advantage of him."
"I never thought of that, and neither did his parents," Adam said with an angry growl. "Damn, that has to be it! I can't believe I never saw it before. Do you think that he killed himself because he felt guilty about the rape?"
"Maybe," Silas said with a shrug. "But who raped him? That's what I'd want to find out."
"I think I know exactly who to ask," Adam said with a grimace. "It's time to pay a visit to Pastor Gregory. He knows more about what when on at that church than anyone, but I'll take care of that later. Come on, let's go eat."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Silas continued to be bothered by the conversation with Adam about Daniel, and he forgot to look at the menu until he was right in front of the cashier. He hated being indecisive so he picked the first numbered combo that he saw as soon as he looked up at the board and then added some chicken nuggets for Adelaide. It didn't matter what ended up coming on the cheeseburger. He could eat anything with how hungry he was.
But then when he looked back at Adam he was reminded of Daniel Winters and he was able to forget his hunger entirely. Something just didn't seem right about it all, and in light of the revelation of the potential rape he was sure that things didn't add up. While it was true that rape victims often had a higher inclination toward depression, nothing in Adam's description of the events that led up to Daniel's death indicated any signs of depression at all.
When their food was ready they sat down, but Silas wasn't ready to eat just yet, though Adam immediately picked up the cheeseburger and started it toward his mouth. Before it got there Silas blurted out, “Adam, I don’t think Daniel killed himself.” Adam looked up and shut his mouth as he registered what Silas was saying. He set his cheeseburger down unbitten and looked Silas in the eye.
“Then what?” Adam asked as his eyes narrowed suspiciously. He took a drink from his soda, sipping loudly enough that Silas waited a moment before deciding to speak, not wanting to be misheard.
“I think someone killed him, and I think I know who it was,” Silas said with a grim shake of his head. “Pastor Gregory.”
“What? No, that’s impossible. I can’t believe that,” Adam replied, leaning back and pushing against the edge of the table with his palms. “Pastor Gregory was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and there’s no chance he could have done that.”
“But then why did he leave the church after Danny died?” Silas asked as he picked up a fry and pointed it at Adam to accentuate his point. “Think about it, Adam. He had to be hiding something.”
“Maybe, but I doubt it was that. I think he was just so grief-stricken that one of his followers chose to kill themselves.” Adam snorted and looked out the window, a small bit of moisture in his eye. “His death took a toll on a lot of us. He was always so happy, and nice to everyone. It really sucked for me and everyone else who knew him.”
“Then why would he have done it?” Silas pressed. “Why would he have done any of that if things were going well for him?”
“I don’t know, but everything seemed to be in order. The note, the hanging; the shed door was wide open with the chain carefully laid to the side. The only prints on everything were his, the two pastors’, and the groundskeeper.” Adam shook his head and turned back to Silas. “Who would fake a suicide like that?”
“What if it was Pastor Simms? You said that both of the pastors had their prints on the key. I wouldn’t have thought that the junior pastor had that much access, which is why I ruled Simms out,” Silas said with a grimace. “Could you believe that Pastor Simms could have done this?”
Adam hesitated as he considered the question before answering, “Yes, but everything still points to suicide.”
“Doesn’t mean it was one. I think we need to dig into this, and I think we need to do it sooner rather than later,” Silas said with conviction.
Adam stared at Silas blankly for a moment and then began nodding slowly. “Okay, but let’s take it slow, all right? I don’t want to make too many waves right now. Not unless we’re sure. Can we talk about something else?"
Silas shrugged and picked up his hamburger. "Sure, I guess. Though this conversation isn't over."
Adam sighed and the conversation died for several minutes as they concentrated on their food. Once Silas was down to his last bite and Adam was finished with his meal, Adam broke the silence by asking, "Why'd you decide to stay?"
Silas shoved the last bite of food into his mouth and swallowed it before he replied. "Really it's because Amy and Ian finally broke through my barriers."
"Oh?" Adam asked with a raised eyebrow as he wiped his hands on a napkin.
"Well," Silas said with a grin, "they had some help from a few friends I've made over the last few days."
Adam grinned back. "You're awesome. I like your style too."
"Don't tell me that now you're going to start flirting with me," Silas said with a dry chuckle.
"No. I wouldn't do that," Adam said with a smirk. "You are way too young for me."
"Come on," Silas pleaded jokingly. "I turned seventeen yesterday."
"Seventeen isn't eighteen, Drake." Adam said pointedly.
"Oh, are you saying there's hope for me a year from now?" Silas asked as he batted his eyelashes dramatically.
"Drake," Adam said with slowly widening eyes, "Are you really trying to flirt with me?"
"I don't know." Silas shrugged and then leaned over the table so that his face was closer to Adam's as he wiggled his eyebrows and continued, "Maybe. Is it working?"
"Sort of, I'll never be able to deny that you're cute and amazing in many unexpected ways," Adam said as he leaned back and away from Silas, "but I'm serious about the age thing. We should both find someone closer to our age."
"That age thing is going to become pretty insignificant when we're older," Silas said as he settled back down into his seat and crossed his arms over his chest, pouting. "I'm staying in town you know. There aren't exactly a lot of gay boys for either of us to date."
Adam sighed and Silas lost the pout and returned to his more serious demeanor. "Drake," Adam said, "I've got to tell you something."
"What is it?"
"I got accepted into the University of Colorado in Boulder," Adam said with a weak smile. "I'm entering their summer program, and I'm going to be gone in a couple of months."
"Well shit," Silas said with a grin. "Just when I was starting to like you."
"You're not upset?" Adam asked in Surprise.
"Of course I am!" Silas said with a laugh. "But I've also gotten pretty good at saying goodbye to people. I also understand better than anyone that people need to keep moving. I'm happy for you," He added as he reached out and took Adam's hand, giving it a supportive squeeze before adding, "You've been saving up for college for a while, haven't you?"
"Yeah. Thanks, Drake," Adam said as he returned the squeeze. "I'm really happy to have met you."
"Me too," Silas said with a nod. But then his grin turned mischievous as he wiggled his eyebrows and said, "So, that means no possibility of sex, huh?"
"Nope," Adam said with a laugh and pulled his hand away from Silas. "Sorry."
"Damn, I guess I'll just have to find someone else," Silas replied with a wink.
"As good looking as you are, it shouldn't take you long," Adam remarked with a blush. "Don't you have anyone important in your past?"
Silas' eyes lit up as he thought about the folded piece of paper in his pocket. He had been gone from the band for almost a month, and he had to admit that he missed all of them, but especially Brady. Flirting with Adam had only succeeded in bringing those emotions closer to the surface, and while he was thinking about it he had to ack. "You know, you might be right about that." He said as he held out his hand toward Adam. "Can I borrow your phone?"
"Wow," Adam said as he reached into his pocket and then gave Silas his phone. "That was a pretty big leap."
"Yeah," Silas said as he breathed out slowly in an attempt to calm his suddenly active nerves, "and I'm about to take another one."
He hadn't even retrieved Jack's number from his pocket before a voice called his name. "Silas!"
"Ian," Silas said as he looked up to see Ian walking quickly toward their table. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Ian's eyes were frantic, but he was walking with a sense of purpose and control as he nodded to Adam and then looked back to Silas and explained, "Chelsea's in trouble. You should come right away."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Adam asked as Silas jumped to his feet and pulled on Adelaide's leash. She was already up and ready to go, having sensed the urgency in Ian's voice.
"I don't know," Ian said as he shook his head and took a step toward the door. "But you're welcome to come. We'll be at the hospital. Ask for Chelsea Simms' room."
"Hospital," Silas asked as he waved goodbye to Adam and followed Ian toward the door, "What?"Ian waited until they were outside before he looked Silas in the eye and his complexion paled. "Chelsea tried to kill herself."
Author's Note: Uh-oh. Is Chelsea going to be all right? And what are Silas and Adam going to do about Daniel Winters?
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