I'd like to be dramatic and tell you that all this stuff happened on a cold winter's night, when the moon was full, and the wind was whistling outside my window, but, really, it was just another night. The only thing that made it different than any other night was the fact that I had a very sexy man in my bed.

I didn't really know much about him. His name was Dan, and he worked in construction, which would explain those very sexy muscled arms that were wrapped around me. I'd spent my whole life being a relationship phobic, and now, at twenty-four, I hadn't had a single relationship to my name.

I kept mostly to myself, worked at a dead-end job (literally), went out to the bars most nights to see if I could get myself laid. I'm a decent-looking guy, so it wasn't always that difficult. I always made him use a condom, and there were never hard feelings at the end of the night, so I was doing fine.

Good sex, no one gets hurt, what's wrong with that?

My fear of relationships and intimacy in general comes from high school. It's hard being the only gay kid in your small-town high school. But as long as I had my best friend by my side, I was fine.

Sam and I were friends since we were little kids. We were like brothers. I mean, we celebrated birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings together, slept over at each other's houses.. He was the first one that I came out to – even before my parents. I trusted him completely and fully.

But when we got to high school, he was suddenly too cool to be seen with me. I was never very good at sports. I was always the smart one, whereas he excelled at just about any sport that was offered to him. So I kept more to myself, and Sam started shunning me to hang out with the other guys on his sports team(s).

Before long, he was one of the active participants in the "Let's torment Alexis" (which would be me), and that just tore me apart.

A couple weeks before the Winter Dance, Sam had called me, told me how sorry he was, and that he'd found someone to go to the dance with me. A guy. I was a little nervous, but he'd been my best friend for so long, I still really wanted to trust him more than anything.

And the guy he set me up with was really, really hot. I was thrilled. I just didn't realize that it was part of the joke.

The guy hit on me, and asked me if I wanted to go to the back room to make out, and blushing and stammering, I nodded my assent. The rest of that night was just a blur. I remember going out of the gym with him, and when I did, the entire football team was there with rotten tomatoes to throw at me before they beat the living shit out of me.

After that, I was the school outcast. I had my locker broken into constantly – so much so, in fact, that I gave up and carried all my books in my backpack. I had "fag!" yelled at me in the hallway, people tripped me in the lunch room, stole things from me when I wasn't looking, and the other boys wouldn't let me in the change room when it was time for gym.

I really wish this had all happened recently instead of seven years ago. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad. But small-town mentality isn't known for acceptance.

I almost had a nervous breakdown, and eventually begged my parents to let me change schools. I did, and spent my sophomore and senior years at a private school. I know it sounds dramatic, but I've never trusted anyone again. And I haven't spoken or heard from Sam since I left school.

I took journalism in college, hoping that I could get right at the papers, working on investigative reports, or the big stories. Instead, I'm stuck in the personals section, doing wedding announcements, baby announcements, and my favorites, obituaries. It's more than a little depressing. But hey – at least there's one announcement I'll eventually have my name in.

So, that's my life. I live alone, except for my cat, I work in the shittiest part of the newspaper building, hoping and wishing for some sort of advancement, I'm not in love, no one's in love with me, and I really don't have any friends.

And that's pretty much where this story starts. Me, naked in bed, with ol' Danny boy.

The pipes weren't the only ones that were calling.

I cracked an eye open and looked over at the clock. ".. who the fuck.." I mumbled. The question wasn't only who was phoning me.. but who was phoning me at two in the morning?

I disengaged myself from Dan and picked up the phone. ".. 'lo?"

There was muffled sound on the other end, and what sounded like crying. "Lex?"

I tensed up. No one had called me that in years, except for my mother, and with her, it was usually 'Lexi'. The nickname didn't fit, seeing as I wasn't a fourteen year old girl.

".. Yeah. Who is this?"

"It.. it's Sam. D.. don't hang up, Lex, please."

I stared at the number on my caller ID, and felt a rush of memories. I did want to hang up, but something made me stop. "What do you want? It's two thirty. And.. how did you get my number? "

".. 411." He sniffled. I could hear a weird metallic clicking noise in the background. "L.. Lex.. I.. I need to tell you I'm sorry. For.. all I did to you. You didn't deserve it.. "

".. Goddamn right I didn't."

"I.. I'm so sorry. I really am. I'm sorry, Lex."

I was about to respond when I heard the click of the phone. I sighed and hung up, climbing back into bed and closing my eyes, but it took me a couple hours to get back to sleep. For a while, I just stared at the phone, waiting for it to ring, wondering if I should call him back. He didn't sound… I don't know. I guess 'stable' would be the right word.

I pushed the worries from my mind and managed to fall asleep. When I woke up, Dan was long gone, but at least there was fresh coffee brewing. Thank you, Dan. I took a shower, grabbed some coffee and went to work.

It was only a few months from Christmas, so the wave of obits wouldn't be pouring in for a while. I was still getting a bunch of autumn wedding notices, which somehow managed to depress me. I really would like to be in love.. but the mind-numbing terror stops me from making any kind of a connection.

It was about three days after Sam's phone call that I had a new obit placed on my desk. My stomach clenched as I read Sam's name at the top of it. He'd shot himself in the head.. right after phoning me. I felt like I was going to be physically sick.

I wanted to phone his parents.. just to offer my condolences, but I just didn't know what to say. It felt surreal, to think that my childhood best friend had killed himself. I kept wondering what I could've done. If I had called him back, would he have still killed himself? Could I have done something?

After work that night, I went to the bar, needing to drink myself into oblivion to get Sam out of my mind again. A very cute boy sat next to me, and I bought him a drink, blindly hoping I could get laid that night. It didn't take too many drinks to convince him, and the sex was better than I'd had in a year or two. I still didn't know his last name, so I wasn't making progress, but suddenly, my terror of intimacy was overwhelmed by my nerve-wracking terror of dying alone.

In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a loud 'thump' in my bedroom. I jumped awake, and looked around the room, wondering what the hell I could use in my room to fight off a burglar. Pants first.

".. where the fuck are my pants?" I muttered aloud.

"At the foot of the bed." Came a voice from near the window.

"Right. Tha—" I turned and stared. Sam was standing by the window.

My dead childhood best friend was standing next to the window.

And that's where the story really begins.