Summary: Christian and Ryan have been groomed to be leaders in the Traditional Values Protection Ministry, and they've wanted nothing more. That all changes when they discover they need something else – each other. Explores themes of homosexuality (slash) and religion.
"I'm not gonna lie, you guys," Christian Evans said, addressing the teenage audience. "I'm a young, healthy guy. I think about sex sometimes. But I don't do it. You wanna know why? Because I'm waiting for the right girl to come. And when I see her, I'll know, gee, that's the girl I want to have children with. Yes," he pointed to a young blonde girl in the front row.
"How do you know if it's love?"
"Well, that's a loaded question," Chris answered, raking his hands through his cheekbone-length brown hair and looking at the sky. "I guess it's love if you…want to spend the rest of your life with that person. If you want to have kids with them, if you hurt when they hurt, if you want to support them at all times – it's love. Remember first Corinthians – love is virtue, and don't forget it. If you think you're ready to get married, your church probably offers marriage counseling both before and after the ceremony. If not, the Traditional Values Protection Ministry can help you find one. Did that help?"
"Yes!" squeaked the girl excitedly, looking as though she were trying to memorize Christian and his response all at once.
"Anybody else?" he called.
"Have you ever been in luuuuuurve?" a young teenage boy asked, drawing out the last syllable as his friends snickered.
He shot me a look that openly said Rescue me. Please.
I grinned back, exaggerated a shrug, and shot him a thumbs-up.
After closing his eyes for a brief moment, Chris opened them and said, "Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. Honestly, I don't know if I'd be able to provide for a wife and a family at this point, and that's one thing you've gotta be sure you're ready for. But maybe later, when I'm not busy traveling around helping the Ministry, I'll be ready for love."
"Sure, why not," the boy laughed, not expecting a serious answer nor taking the question seriously.
"Okay, um," he tried to continue.
Next to me, my dad pointed at his watch. Chris caught the signal with relief. "Well, guys, that about does it for the Cultural Values Initiative's Teen Hour. If you guys till have any questions, you can visit the Teen Voice website. You'll find my e-mail address there, and if it's an emergency, we have a hotline and several online counselors available on chat. See you around!"
The audience began to dissipate. He put the mic back in the stand and caught my eye again. "Ryan! Coke!" he mouthed, making choking motions at his throat.
"Doofus," I grinned playfully as he came up to me. "Here's your coke" – I reached into an open cooler full of melting ice and grabbed a can – "And here's a little something extra." I plucked out an ice cube and slipped it down his shirt.
"What the-?" he gasped.
"From Ryan, with love," I smirked.
He lookd at me in horror and began to jump around, clawing at his light blue polo shirt.
"Jeez – Ryan – I'm gonna – get you back – for this – "yelped Christian, still fidgeting.
My dad came up and clapped us both on the shoulder. Christian did his best not to fidget as the ice cube melted a dark blue circle near the bottom of his shirt. "You guys are great," He said fondly. "A real asset to this ministry. Keep it up and don't let anything happen to that spirit."
"Thanks, Mr. Nelson." Christian smiled nervously.
"Christian, I'll be sure to tell your dad what a great job you're doing. He's stuck at the office, but I'm sure he'll be pleased."
"I appreciate that, I really do," he said reverently.
We began walking towards the door.
"What's that on your shirt? Did you spill something?"
"Oh, nothing," I said sheepishly.
"Whatever it is, cut it out," my dad said, though not unkindly. He left to talk to the resident minister, who looked awed to be in his presence.
"Man," I said. I affected a high-pitched tone of voice. "Thanks, Mr. Nelson. I appreciate that, I really do! Can I shine your shoes for you? May I have that gum after you're done with it? It is so weird and sickening watching you kiss up to my dad," I told him.
"Oh, man," Chris moaned, and punched me lightly on the shoulder. "First of all, my voice does not sound like that. Second of all, you're just jealous because you're stuck in the bureaucracy while I'm actually interacting with people. And I'm getting paid more."
"Please," I said, "I am so jealous of you. Getting to talk to kids about not having sex all day. Isn't that the life?"
"But the wages?" he prodded.
"That's a fair point," I admitted.
"It's okay," he said. He slung a brotherly arm around my shoulder – and dropped something hideously cold down my back. He immediately leapt away. "We can't all be superstars!" he yelled, cracking up and taking off out the door.
"You'd better keep running!" I shook my fist in his direction, scratching at my back.