Ryan pushed his way through the crowded lobby and into the elevator. He'd only lived there a week and already he was sick of the people everywhere. Ryan wasn't really a social person, too many bad experiences.

He was soon crammed into the very back of the elevator by a football player, a nerdy type of guy and a fat lady with too much perfume on. Ryan, unfortunately lived on floor 14 (which -should- have been 13), so he was stuck behind the lady, who also, lived on floor 14, all the way up.

Once he got off the elevator he took in a deep breath of fresh, clean, odor- less air. And made his way to his apartment.

"Ryan's apartment" didn't really suit the place. It was more like "Ryan's cave." The whole place had a dark aura to it, though the owner really didn't mind. While it would've been an almost uncomfortable fit for two, it was spacey for one, especially if that one spent most of his time in his bed, which should've been called a nest.

Ryan curled up in a black cushioned chair and pulled out a cigarette. His eyes drifted to the blank spot where the T.V. should've been. It was irritating him, as it had since he'd decorated the place, but he didn't know what to put there. He had no spare furniture or posters and he hadn't watched T.V. for years. He did have an extra picture, but that picture wasn't coming out of his suitcase for a long while. In fact, Ryan never really wanted to see it again. Closing his eyes and pushing away unpleasant thoughts, he thought about the upcoming week. Monday he had a job interview, Wednesday he was going to have to buy more cigarettes, and Thursday . . .

Thursday was his birthday.

/25 and still a virgin. And a virgin who spent a year living with his boyfriend, his -only- boyfriend, too. Nice going, Ry/

Tossing his cigarette into the ashtray, the brunette got up and sashayed over to his stereo, which he turned on, full blast. After a while he began to sing along.

/Survived abortion

A rebel from the waste down

I wanna thank you, Mom

I wanna thank you, Dad/


Ryan turned the stereo off and stormed to the door. Swinging it wide open he shouted at the being that dared disturb his relaxation, "FUCK OFF!" and slammed the door in the person's face.

Ryan Lee was never known for his good temper.

Turning around and taking a few, deep, calming breaths, he looked out the window and saw that it was night.

Ryan hated nighttime.

It made him remember.

The brunette sometimes wondered why he'd left and why he never went back.

It'd been about four years.

Four years of flitting around, place-to-place. Four years of living in constant regret of what he had lost.

Ryan yanked open the closet door and pulled out the picture. The only one he had from his two years of happiness. He stared down at the smiling face; hating it for the pain it caused him and loving it for the memories. He sat there, staring, and remembering. When it got to be too much, he threw it against the wall and cried himself to sleep.


Rene Smith, soon to be Burns, was also looking at a picture.

"Who's that?" Her fiancé, Matthew, looked over her shoulder at the young man, barely twenty, with Matt's arms wrapped around him.

"Oh . . . that's . . . just an old friend." He hoped she hadn't noticed his hesitations.

"Good," she smiled at him. "Couldn't have you being a homo, now, could we?"

Matt laughed nervously. "No, no . . . of course not."

Rene, failing to notice her fiancé's nervousness, kissed him on the cheek. "See you tomorrow! Tomorrow we're headed to Washington D.C.!" She squealed. "Oh, baby, I'm so excited about living there! Ah, well, I'm on my way now. Bye!" And with that she left.

"Bye," Matt muttered under his breath. He knew he should've broken the engagement off. Not that he didn't like Rene, other then the whole homophobe thing, he just wasn't in love with her. He -had- been. Many years before he asked her out. Before a certain fiery brunette had stolen his heart and run away with it.

He picked up the photo and sat on his bed, fingers caressing what her only wished he could touch. Part of him still believed that the man, now almost 25, would come back to him. Part of him still believed that Ryan loved him.

But that was all worthless thinking about. He was going to be a husband and, perhaps, later a father.

Putting the photograph back in it's place, Matt Burns flopped back onto his bed and began to think, all the what ifs.

If Ryan had stayed, where would he, Matt, be right now?

/A lot happier than I am here/

Matt rolled over on his stomach and held his face in his hands.

/I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not- /

He was crying.

What the hell had he done? He's never hurt Ryan, always made sure he was safe . . . Sure, they'd been in a few serious fights. A few times Ryan had stormed off and refused to come back for weeks, but nothing ever lasted. In fact, before Ryan took off, it'd been totally quiet, almost too quiet. As if Ryan had already been far from him then.

Matt wanted to be mad at Ryan, but he couldn't be. He knew it was his fault. He'd forced the rebellious young man into things Ryan didn't really want to be a part of. And if you pushed Ryan too hard, he'd retaliate. That's one of the things Matt loved most about him.


Yes, yes. It sucks.