A/N: So, welcome to my little collection of Danny and Matt vignettes. If you haven't already been introduced into their little universe, go read "Confessions and Fireworks" and "Everything." All of these take place after those two stories, so I'd recommend that you read those first to get a real feel for these. :) Enjoy the boys.

Words

"So are the rumors true, Stevenson? Are you a fag?" taunted one of the football
players in the locker room, shoving him up against a wall of lockers. Danny's head banged
against one of the metal locks with enough force to make him dizzy.


"Leave me the fuck alone, Jeremy. My life is none of your fucking business," Danny
replied, shoving back. By now, the captain of the football team and Danny had attracted the
attention of the entire locker room.


"So the dancing fairy has no denial. Well, then, bitch, you deserve this," Jeremy
said, as he let loose a few well-placed punches, splitting open Danny's lower lip and
leaving him gasping for breath on the floor.


"Fucking queer," Jeremy said, kicking him for good measure and walking out of the
locker room, followed by a couple of his friends who chimed in with their own stabbing
remarks.


The rest of the seniors in the locker room who were changing after gym class
pretended that the whole scene hadn't happened as Danny sat up and leaned against the
lockers, willing himself not to break into a fit of tears in front of fifteen of his
classmates. He caught his breath and surveyed the damage that had been done to him this
time. He'd have a few bruises on his ribs, maybe the back of his head and neck would be a
little sore, but his biggest problem was coming up with an excuse for a bleeding, puffy
bottom lip.


One of the boys walking by wordlessly tossed him an ice pack, which he immediately
put on his mouth to try to reduce the swelling. The bell rang for lunch, and Danny didn't
even bother to get up to walk into the cafeteria. If he wasn't at lunch, Holly would
probably deduce what happened and come to find him. He wasn't very hungry anyway.


He shifted positions to make his battered torso more comfortable and adjusted the
ice pack and wiped away blood from his lip. Getting beaten up was nothing new this year. It
had started at the very end of his junior year, after word that he had started dancing
again and the fact that he didn't go to prom with any of the five girls that had asked him
got around.


Maybe one of his friends had leaked it, maybe people had just seen the obvious, but
things had been getting progressively worse, and it was only November. He had gotten in a
few fights, but he soon realized that fighting back was only getting him in trouble and
putting any scholarship or financial aid for college on the line. Not only that, admitting
the reason that he had been getting in so many fights meant virtually coming out the
student body, and he wasn't ready to do that. So he had stopped fighting back and had
started suffering silently, no matter how much he wanted to bash Jeremy's head in, and the
other select few who had started to torment him.


So far, he had been successful in concealing the four times he had been beaten so
bad that he bled. Phys Ed was becoming a nightmare, especially since the captain of the
football team took it upon himself to make Danny's life a nightmare. The coach didn't do
anything about it, he was completely oblivious to the fact that anything abnormal was
happening.


As the last few people cleared out, the tears that had been clouding his vision
began slipping down his cheeks, streaking his cheeks and making his eyes red-rimmed.

It didn't take long for him to hear Holly run into the locker room, her panicked voice
calling his name in an attempt to find him.


"Over here," he called, his voice breaking through the tears.


"Oh, Danny, sweetie, what did they do this time?" she asked, running over to him
and sitting down by him, wrapping her arms around him.


He told her, pausing every few seconds to wipe away tears.


"Danny, you can't go on like this. One day they're going to go overboard and put
you in the hospital…or worse. I know you've heard the stories on the news every once in
awhile. Danny, it's just like being racist, or sexist, or sexually harassing someone. It's
a hate crime, and you have no right to be put through this. None at all. Now come on, we're
going to see your counselor. And don't you dare say you won't, because I'll go if you
won't," she said firmly.


"No. Holly, we're going to dance tonight. I'll tell Mike and see what he says. You
can take me to a counselor tomorrow morning, but not today."


"I want you to swear on that, Daniel."


"I swear."


"Okay, honey, let's get you cleaned up and fed and I'll let you use my cell phone
to call Matt. You could stand to talk to him right now."


"Yeah…yeah, I could," he said, letting her help him to his feet and give him a
reassuring hug.


"Everything will get better, Dan, you'll see," she said, walking with him out of
the locker room. "One day, everything will be happily ever after."