A/N: The usual stuff...I'd be really mad with joy if you reviewed this ^_^
Flames will NOT be tolerated.
Please tell me if I should write a sequel to this story.
Daniel groaned and let his rucksack slide onto the floor next to his seat. He swiped his hand across his forehead, breathing heavily.
"Damn these books," he muttered, sitting down at his desk and unzipping his bag, hauling out his fat history books. Dale, his classmate who shared his desk, looked at him with slight amusement. Daniel slammed his agenda on the table.
"I think they want us to break our backs," Dale remarked as he watched his best friend trying to get back his breath.
"I agree with you," Daniel said, an indignant look in his green eyes. He ran his fingers through his short, black hair as he let out a loud moan.
"What's the matter?" Dale inquired, raising one eyebrow.
"I've forgotten to do my history homework...and I've got a full day. And I've got to study for that stupid maths-exam. And..."
"And?" Dale prompted delicately, not wanting to sound indiscreet.
Daniel got up. He hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his jeans and walked towards the blackboard, his posture straight and stiff. He stood before the teacher's desk. His eyes moved from one person to the other. People stopped talking and focused their attention upon him.
"I think everybody is present," he said. "I've got a small announcement to make. Nothing really important for you. Important for me, though."
He paused, and again his eyes summed up the whole class. He leaned against the blackboard, his hands folded.
"I'm gay. That's all."
Silence. Dale, however, smiled at him.
Daniel nodded and slowly returned to his place. He resumed his seat next to Dale. The bell rang, and the teacher entered.
"It's my birthday next week, and you're invited, of course," Dale said, handing Daniel a colourful invitation-card during the school break.
"That's cool! I'm coming. Sweet nineteen."
Dale nodded, grinning.
"You'll be my age, then. The last year of being a teenager."
"Yes, that's true. I'm really going to have to make the most out of it," Dale said.
"Sex, drugs and rock'n roll?"
"Very funny. I've got better things to do than that."
"I share your point of view."
The next day Daniel came to school lots of people turned to look at him; a few girls started to titter, other pupils nudged each other, and others simply didn't care. That was all.
When school was over, Daniel went home. He had just finished eating lunch when the doorbell rang. Daniel rushed to the door. When he opened it, however, he was astonished to see that no one was on the doorstep. His eyes drifted down to the doormat. A single flower was lying upon it. He stooped and picked it up. It was a beautiful red rose. Daniel's lips parted with amazement. He quietly shut the door and returned to the dining room. He sat down and placed the rose on the table.
"This is really weird," Daniel muttered, his fingers playing with the silky rose-petals. At length he got up and went to his room. Tenderly he put the rose in a small bottle. Then he lay down on his bed, his arms behind his head, wondering who could have given him the rose. Or maybe there had been a mistake? The wrong house-number, for instance. Daniel sat up abruptly and passed his hand over his eyes. But now people knew he was gay. Was it possible that a male admirer had been the deliverer of the rose? Daniel lay down again, chewing at his lip. He reckoned that that was what it was.
"Hey Daniel, what's up?" Dale asked a very silent Daniel in the afternoon. They had two lessons of French during which they had to work in pairs. Dale and Daniel were busy examining the extract from a very interesting text; but Daniel was absent-minded.
"I think I've got a secret admirer, Dale."
"A secret admirer?" Dale asked, looking very interested.
Daniel nodded. After hesitating a little he told the story in a series of low whispers.
"Wow! I'd be overjoyed if I were to find a rose on my doorstep!" Dale breathed.
"But I'd like to know WHO-"
"But that's the fun of the whole thing! You've got to find out on your own!"
"Maybe the person who did it is too shy to talk openly to you."
"That's very evident," Daniel observed. With a sigh he pulled the textbook towards him, then he pushed it away.
"I'm going to sum up all the guys in this class," he said, grinning mischievously. However, he was still puzzled by the end of the lesson.
"May be someone from another class," he grumbled.
The bell rang for the break of ten minutes. Daniel went outside, his hands in his pockets, still wondering about his anonymous admirer. Dale, who was drinking a bottle of water, winked at him. Daniel sighed again, slightly exasperated. Dale seemed to find the whole affair funny. At home Daniel tipped out all his books on the floor. A piece of plain paper fluttered out from between them. Daniel's eyes widened. It read:
You haunt my dreams,
I want to be yours by all means.
The note was hand-written; however, the letters were all written skilfully in Gothic characters. There was no way of recognising anything revealing about the writing. Daniel turned the paper around. There were two hearts drawn on its back. Daniel could not help laughing softly beneath his breath. He reached for his mobile and dialled Dale's number.
"The unknown admirer strikes again," he announced as soon as Dale answered his call.
Daniel informed him about the note.
"Daniel, I'm starting to envy you! Any idea who it is?"
"I'm not a step further than when I got that rose."
"I suppose you'll just have to keep waiting for more notes and clues..."
"I wish I could engage a detective," Daniel said dryly.
Dale laughed: "Well, you're going to have to solve the problem yourself."
Three days passed without any gifts from the anonymous admirer.
Daniel became restless, wondering if the person had decided to give up. He stared at the rose and the poem as if hoping to extract some information from them. However, on the evening of the seemingly uneventful fourth day the doorbell rang. Daniel irritably closed his maths-book and strode over to the door and opened it. As once before, no one was standing outside. But again there was something on the doormat. This time there were two roses tied together with a red piece of ribbon. There was a card fastened to the ribbon. Daniel picked up the offering but didn't go indoors. He opened the front-gate and stared into the street, turning his head to the left and then to the right. There was no one except for an elderly couple walking along slowly. Daniel shook his head and went back inside the house, frowning. He opened the card. Three red hearts were painted inside. Daniel carefully placed the roses next to the solitary one in its bottle and put the card in his drawer. He sat down and buried his head in his arms for a moment.
"This admirer never leaves a clue!" Daniel stated to Dale on the phone.
"As I said before, maybe he or she is too scared-" Dale said, but Daniel interrupted him.
"I don't mind getting roses and bits of poetry, but this is slowly getting on my nerves. At least a hint would be welcome! It would definitely make everything more interesting. Or the admirer could tell me to my face that he fancies me."
"That's not so easy..."
Daniel threw a last glance at his reflection in the mirror; it was the day of Dale's birthday and the party. Daniel settled his plain black shirt. He put the present he had bought for his friend in his bag and left the house, stuffing the keys in his pocket. He swung himself on his bike and cycled briskly to Dale's house. So far there had been no gifts from his unknown "worshipper" since the arrival of the two roses.
The birthday-party was highly enjoyable. Dale was so happy about Daniel's present for him-a book by his favourite author-that he put his arm around Daniel and gave him a warm hug ere pulling back, flushed and smiling. Afterwards everyone simply hung around the place, dancing to music, chatting, drinking and flirting.
Two days after the party Daniel found the following poem, carefully tucked inside an envelope, in his agenda:
You've conquered my heart
With the aid of love's dart.
It's so hard to tell
-although I know you so well-
You how much I love you.
"Any news from your fan?" Dale asked Daniel during the school break.
"Yes," Daniel said. His face was grave. He held out the poem.
"Maybe there's a boy who has, thanks to your coming-out, seen his chance to win your heart...but he's too shy to proclaim his feelings openly," Dale said, his voice full of feeling, as he curled his fingers tightly around the piece of paper.
"Yes, he is indeed shy."
Something in Daniel's voice made Dale's face go very still.
"It's you, Dale, isn't it?"
"Yes, it's me," Dale said softly, looking into Daniel's eyes. Daniel answered his gaze calmly.
"I'm sorry, I'm not sure if I can love you back," Daniel said. Dale's eyes filled with tears. He jumped up, shoving back his chair roughly, and bolted from the classroom. Daniel followed him.
Dale rushed out of the building, sobs constricting his throat. There was a bench nearby; no one was around; he sank down upon it, burying his face in his hands.
"Dale," Daniel said, sitting down next to him and taking both his hands. They were cold. Daniel raised one hand and placed it on Dale's cheek. His tears were hot. Daniel put his arms around him.
"It...yes, it was me, it was me! I saw my chance...I have loved you for ages, but I thought you'd never be able to love me in return!" Dale gasped.
He swiped at his eyes.
"You don't know how many days and nights I have spent thinking of you..."
"Dale" Daniel said very gently. He chafed Dale's hands.
"Thank you for everything, Dale. I'll keep your poems. It was very sweet of you."
"I understand if you can't return my feelings," Dale said softly. "But it hurts so much."
"Yes, I know. I'm sorry I'm the cause."
"It's not your fault."
"It's neither my fault or your fault," Daniel said. "However, I didn't say that I can't return your feelings. I need time to think things over."
"We are best friends."
"Dale, it doesn't mean we have to be lovers."
Dale's tears wrenched at his heart.
"I know that! But I'm in love with you!" Dale burst out, his eyes blazing. Daniel didn't know what to say.
"Are we still best friends?"
Daniel didn't say anything.
Dale stared at Daniel.
"I know what I want. You've got my friendship. You've got my love, now. Have I lost your friendship? Will I ever get your love...?"
"I told you that I need time. And so do you."
"I said that I know what I want! I want you!"
"But I don't know if I want you!" Daniel nearly shouted. He turned away from Dale and walked back. Dale followed him, hastily wiping the tears from his face.
"Daniel, wait, please."
Daniel turned, his green eyes gazing into determined, steely grey ones. The autumnal sunlight played across Dale's features, and his eyes, bright with tears, were heartbreaking. With an unexpected movement, Dale seized Daniel's face in his hands and pressed his mouth to his. Daniel responded to the kiss, and passionately pressed the back of Dale's head with one hand.
"Oh my God, Dale," he whispered when Dale broke the kiss. And this time it was Daniel who melded their lips together again, stroking Dale's cheek with his thumb. Behind him he felt the trunk of a tree. He leaned against it, his arms around Dale. They ended the kiss. Daniel caressed Dale's lips with his index finger, feeling the soft texture of the delicate skin.
Dale stepped back from Daniel.
"Think well, Daniel, because I have thought a lot. And yes, I know that a kiss is just one thing. But you know me."
Daniel closed the space between them with one big step and kissed Dale hard.
"I'll think about it," he whispered, staring into Dale's eyes.
Dale nodded slightly and turned away.
A soft mat on the veranda floor. The summer sun is shining obstinately from behind the lowered sunshade. Two hands, locked together. Two pairs of large eyes gazing at one another. Daniel smiles. Dale smiles back. The image fades away.
Dale is sitting on his bed. Tears are on his cheeks. His arms are across his face, his mouth drawn in a grimace of grinding grief. A notebook is lying next to him. There is a single line scrawled in it.
Daniel said no.
A/N: Sequel or no sequel? ;-)