Sam, my boyfriend and I went out the other night. It was just like every other time when we went out together. A little sad, a little romantic. We started at the usual place, and had dinner at our favorite seafood place. It's a great place, dim light and warm cushioned seats with a lot of privacy in the booths. Very romantic.

He asked for our reservations under "Apollo". People would look at him and smile like he was kidding but that was really his name, or at least his surname. The server that night looked up at Sam and smiled with a big white smile. She was a very pretty girl and flirted with Sam for a minute or two, unconcerned with my presence. I didn't mind particularly, I was proud to have a boyfriend other people would flirt with and I trusted him even though she was an exquisitely pretty teen, not beautiful but exquisitely pretty. I would have liked to have her pose for a teen-ad I was working on but before I could say anything to her, Sam took my hand. Then her smile turned completely around and she looked at me as if she was seeing some harmlessly disgusting monster for the first time. She wasn't as polite after that and ushered us to our table in the corner without looking back.

There was a family at a table near us that glared at us most of the time. They weren't talking to each other so they probably had nothing better to do. The older woman, I guessed she was the mother, talked in a hissing whisper into her son's and then her daughter's ear looking at Sam and I. That was before... no that was after Sam leaned across the table and kissed me.

I've told him before not to do things like that in public, but he doesn't listen. I would rather that people continue to think we're siblings or friends or what ever they think when they look at us. But usually, I like his kisses too much and I forget to push him back.

When the family left the restaurant the mother came over to our table and glared at us, leaning on the table and trying to knock over our glasses of water. I felt like she was going to drill a hole though my soul. "People like you shouldn't come to places like this where they have such impressionable children. That's not right."

I blushed and glanced down, but Sam grinned wide and I knew he would retaliate. He roped an arm around my shoulder and smiled charismatically. "Madam, I might say the same about you."

The woman's face puckered with indignance and it made Sam laugh. I had to chuckle along with him... Sam has an irresistible laugh.

I put my head on his shoulder and wished that I could laugh with him and not feel something angry under that laughter.

Sam wasn't about to let something like that ruin an otherwise romantic evening. So after dinner he drove me to the movies. I prefer to let Sam drive. I never had a lot of confidence in my own ability to drive and Sam always looked grumpy when he had to sit in the passenger seat. I liked to tilt my head back and watch the moon and the stars slide in and out of my view. Even when he traveled back on the city roads. I liked to look out the window as we talked. It was easy to talk to Sam. He was a teacher and could make any topic interesting.

When Sam and I were standing in line to buy popcorn, he felt like hugging me close. I loved when he had his arms around me and over the years I've gotten used to the people staring at us. Some with genuine disgust, others with mocking interest, some with happy little smiles like they're proud to see two of us together. The first time Sam and I went on a date as a couple, I thought I had something on my shirt because of the way people

stared but after a while I realized I was the stain, the blemish, the mark of shame on my fair and lovely Sam.

Ever since our first movie night nine years ago, Sam and I sit in the back of the theater. I told him that first night that I prefered to sit back there and he remembered. Really, I was afraid to sit where the other people in the theater could see me sitting with Sam.

It was a great movie. I don't even remember most of it because I was cuddling with Sam the whole time. Nine years together and we still cuddle in the movie theater.

Outside the theater... I don't even remember what Sam and I were talking about. Something that loaned itself to conversation of a flirtatious nature. I thought we were alone or I would never have flirted back. But there was a group of others somewhere. Some young kids. Maybe they had Sam as a teacher when they were little children, he taught elementary science. That's how we met; I was photographing his school science fair.

I don't remember the kind of insulting things those kids said to us. Sam and I don't really care about verbal insults. They didn't hurt us. He just grabbed my hand and we walked faster. I got scared when the group, I guess some kind of gang, circled around us.

They didn't have any kind of weapons but no body knows better than me how effective a weapon a fist can be. I wasn't in any real trouble until some of the kids pulled me away from Sam. I guess I was never in any real trouble. They were just having a little fun at my expense. The ones holding Sam back were having a real tough time of it but they weren't going to cause any serious damage, just stir us up a little...

When they pushed me into the road, even I didn't see the car coming.

I woke up, I don't know how many hours later, in a small white hospital room. Sam was there holding my hand his forehead pressed over my scabbed knuckles. I think he had been crying, I smiled and stared at him a minute. Seeing him there helped to lessen the pain aching through my body. "Sam..."

His eyes jumped up to me and a warm happy smile spread over his face. "Hey, babe."

I chuckled before I realized it hurt to laugh.

Sam smiled sadly at me and patted my hand. He said it was a minivan that had hit me but apparently I was going to be fine which was reassuring.

"How did you get in?" It hurt to draw in the breath as deeply as I did.

He shrugged. "Why wouldn't they let your older stepbrother in to see your broken body."

I smiled. The hospital was the only place he would hide who we were. "I'm glad you're here, Sam."

"Why wouldn't I be here." He smiled, and lay his head against mine. "I love you, Dave."

Sam looked at me and sighed quietly, happily. We smiled, in spite everything, we smiled.