A/N Thanks to all of my reviewers, I was super-motivated to get this chapter out quickly. It's sort of an apology for taking so darn long to update last time…. :( Sorry! Uh, in order to get this to you right away, it's yet again un-edited. Also, it turns out I lied in my profile. I haven't edited chapter 9 yet either. Sorry again! Anyway, on with the story.

I've got my back against the passenger's side rear tire of Oren's car. He's kneeling in front of me. Every once in a while a car passes; it's the only thing that differentiates one moment from the next. I'm not looking at Oren, and he stopped trying to talk to me a while ago. I'm not in full-blown panic mode, but for a while I was close. I've been able to live my life because I always assumed that even though my dad was out there, he wouldn't want anything to do with me. I thought he'd forgotten about me. I've kept all my memories of him locked up inside of myself so carefully, but one phone call was all it took to bring everything back full force. It's the one thing the hospital taught me, how to ignore the past. It's why I was able to semi-handle my confrontations with Oren, before I started trusting him.

My gaze locks onto his ratty black converse. I tilt my head back against his car, finally looking at his face. He looks curios. He doesn't really seem concerned, and for a second I remember my words to him at Morgan's party where I accused him of toying with me, of trying to pull me apart to figure out how I work. I feel cold.

"So, who was it?" he asks.

"I don't want to talk about it." My voice is raspy. I think it's a residual effect of my vomit fest a little bit ago.


I frown, "Look, I just… just leave it alone."

"No." I wonder if he should be more concerned about me. I don't know how I should expect him to act.

"It's not important."

He snorts, "Yeah. I'm sure it was the dry-cleaners. The thought of them ruining your favorite pair of pants made you want to throw yourself out of a moving vehicle, and your shoddy suicide attempt made you vomit in self-disgust. Totally unimportant."

"Jesus Christ, could you just give me some fucking time? I don't want to talk about it!" I'm taking my fear out on him, but I really don't give a shit.

He's pissed now too, "Whatever. Let's go." He stands up and gets in the car, slamming the door behind him. He starts the engine, and I'm not sure he won't leave without me, so I stand up shakily and get in the car. I don't bother with my seatbelt. For some reason I'm having a hard time dealing with him being mad at me. Every second I want to tell him it was my dad, like a dog bringing a tennis ball back to its owner. It makes me fucking revolted with myself. The only reason I haven't burst out with the whole damn story now is pure obstinance.

I slouch down in my seat and Oren cracks the window, pulling out a cigarette. "Where are we going," I ask.

He blows smoke out the window before answering, "The park."


He glances over at me. "Look, are you gonna be alright?"

I grin a little at that, "I've never been alright."

"You know what I mean."


"Yeah, you know, or yeah, you're going to be alright?"

"I don't know. Both I guess." I need him touching me right now, grounding me to something, but I don't know how to reach out to him. It's something I've never done before. And he's still mad at me. I don't understand why he got so irritated. He can be completely, annoyingly patient sometimes, but then these small things seem to set him off. I mean, he held me for at least half-an-hour outside of the gym earlier this morning without saying anything.

I don't notice that we've arrived until the engine stops. It's a nice park. There's a decent play area, big trees, a lake. It's small, but secluded, and empty for now. Oren gets out of the car and stands with his back against the door. I get out slowly and go around to stand in front of him. I don't know what he wants from me. We just look at each other again. He looks so remote, untouchable. My eyes drop to his faded, red t-shirt.

I let him kiss me. It wasn't horrible. I liked it. I want him to do it again. I want to say I'm sorry. Why won't he just…. Suddenly he uncrosses his arms and reaches out, grabbing my shoulders and pulling me into a hug. I stiffen in shock for a second before bringing my arms up around him and burying my face in his collarbone. He runs a hand through my hear and rests it on the back of my neck. He pushes his other hand against my shoulder, so I pull back a little and look at him.

"I'm sorry." He seems sincere. I wonder if he is.


He pulls me back and pushes my head against his neck. We stand there for a minute and I listen to the trees rustling. "It was my dad." Telling him that was probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life, but I can't take it back now. He stiffens a little.

"You mean your real dad?"


"What did he want?"

"I don't know." I hadn't even thought about it.

"You want me to call him back?"

I think about it for a minute and realize that I do, I really do. If Oren talks to him, maybe I won't have to, ever again. "Yeah," I say into his neck.

"Alright." He kisses the top of my head and takes his left arm from around me to reach into his pocket. He pulls out my cell phone. I hadn't realized that he had it. I watch him unlock it and go to the "calls received" page. He dials the last number.

"Hello? Caleb?" I can her my dad answer.

"Yeah. What do you want?" Oren sounds stiff. His hand tightens against my neck.

"Caleb… I'm sorry."

"Sorry doesn't do shit. How did you get this number?" He's toying with the hair at the nape of my neck. It feels good.

"I… son, I," he's so hesitant. It's not like him. He was always either high, drunk or pissed off, or sometimes a combination of the three.

"Don't you fucking call me that," Oren's whole body is tense.

"I… okay. Listen, I'm calling because I need your help."

"Then you can forget about it."

"Caleb, please. Just listen; it's important. My son is… he's dying."

"Your son? As far as I know, I'm fine."

"No, I… After I left your mother I… I got sober. I'm married. I have a son now."

"You had a son before." His voice sounds cold. He's good at pretending to be an outraged son. I wonder what other roles he's good at.

"I know that, and I'm sorry, but my son needs a bone marrow transplant. My wife and I, neither of us are close enough matches to donate, neither is his sister."

Oren snorts, "Well then, kiss your kid goodbye. You've done it before. Oh, wait. You haven't."

"Please Caleb!"

Oren hangs up the phone and throws it against a tree a few feet away. My phone breaks into three pieces.

"Sorry," he says into my hair, "I'll buy you a new one."

"It doesn't matter. I hardly use it anyway."

"Your dad… he said"

"I know."

"You heard?"


"Are you okay?"

"I guess so."

"Caleb." He pulls my head up with his hands on either side of my face. We look at each other for a minute and then his lips are on mine again. Thank God. It's all I can think. I needed this. This kiss is just as desperate as the last one. My teeth are mashed against my lips and I can feel his tongue asking for entrance. I don't think about it; I just let him in. He's running his tongue along the inside of my mouth, but I push back, needing to taste him. He lets me. I stumble closer to him and his hands tighten on my face. He runs a thumb across my closed eye. I'm straddling his leg, and I can feel him getting hard against my left hip. It sparks a reaction in my dick. I push myself hard against him, instinctually looking for friction. He groans, releasing my mouth and wraps one arm around my waist, pulling me tighter against him. I let him pull my head to the side, exposing my neck. He starts sucking and nipping his way down when all of a sudden it's too much. I'm feeling too much. I'm too exposed. I can't let him do this to me.

I push back, stumbling away. He's panting, and he looks like a cat about to pounce, completely predatory. He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and pulls himself up. I watch him warily, wondering if I'll see a return of the silent, pissed off Oren I shared a car with a few minutes ago. When he opens his eyes he seems normal.

"Sorry, I kind of lost it," he says. I wonder if this is how he is with all virgins, if he's completely mastered the art of seducing the naive and needy. I know I shouldn't be with him, especially alone, but I can't help myself. Some part of myself allows me to be drawn to him. I'm unable to walk away.

"I can't… it's too fast," I mumble shakily.

"I know. It's alright." He pushes away from the car and walks over to me. "Come on," he says, holding out a hand. I grab it and follow him to the swing set. He leads me to one swing and takes the one next to it for himself. He idly moves back and forth while I sit still, leaning my head against the chain. "You wanna tell me about your dad?" he asks.


Silence for a minute, then, "Will you anyway?"

"Will you tell me about your sister."

He sighs, and stops moving. "I told you that my brother's in town."


"They were twins."


"Yeah. Her name was Abby. I was 12 when she died. She was 16. She drowned. "

"You told me. Did you like her?"

"She was my sister."

I frown. "I don't understand."

He chuckles. "Do you like your sisters?"

"Not really."

He grins at me. "You wanna go to a movie tonight?"

"As like a date?" I ask hesitantly.

"I guess. It's more like I think it would be fun to go to a movie together, but since we're sort of secretly together I guess it is a sort of date."

"If the school calls my parents, I'll be grounded."


"So, I probably can't go."

"Sneak out." He says it like he's reminding me to put my clothes on before leaving the house, like it's the simplest thing, and I'd have to be completely out of it to not realize that sneaking out is a viable option.

"No." I can feel angry Oren coming back.

"I don't get you. You don't care about rules. You don't give a shit for people. Why do you try so hard to fit in?"

It hurts. "I have to."

"Why?" His eyes are flashing.



"Don't. Just don't Oren. I can't deal with this today. Can't you just keep your nose out of my goddamn business for one day? Christ! For one hour?"

"So I'm not allowed to want to know about you?"


"That's bullshit." He stands up and moves in front of me. My heart starts beating fast.

"Jesus Caleb. I'm not going to hurt you. Can't you just trust me?"

"Why should I?" I stand up, confronting him angrily. "Are you going to break up with Kelsey?"

"What does that have to do with anything?" He growls out.

"You're not, are you?"

"I told you. I can't do the boyfriends thing."

"I know. I don't care. My point is, it's so easy for you to lie to her. How do I know you're telling me the truth?"

He casts his eyes down. He looks guilty, but I don't know if it's because he lies to Kelsey, or because he's lying to me. "Fine. Whatever," he says gruffly. "So you won't sneak out tonight." He looks up and grins, "Is it alright if I sneak in?" And like that, he's back to himself. He seems so emotional all the time, but in a way I think he has better control over his emotions than I do. He can sort through his, push certain ones away and keep others. I just have to try and wrestle all of mine into hiding, and if one breaks out, the others follow.

Despite myself I smile shyly back, "Fine. Okay."

"Alright. Hey, chocolate or vanilla?"

I look at him confused. He just laughs, "What? It seems like something I should know."


"I thought so. You can be so fucking easy to predict." I frown at him. That sounds like a bad thing. "Shut up," he says.

"I didn't say anything," I respond.

"Not to me, but you're having some kind of warped internal debate. Come here," he pulls me toward himself. "Let's get out of here."

"We just got here," I say, following him anyway.

He slings an arm around my shoulders, "So? Let's go someplace else. Why should we stay in one place?" I never realized before how restless he is. I don't think it bodes well for our future together. We get in the car and he asks me, "Will you take me to your lake?"

I think about it for a minute, it feels like a test. "Not today."

He just says, "Okay," as he starts the car. He seems alright with my answer.

We end up driving around town for a while, listening to music, talking about random shit. Movies, books, people at school, and later on politics and a bit of philosophy. He's surprisingly well read, and it becomes even more obvious that figuring people out is fascinating to him. We end up eating lunch at some weird little hamburger shop I never knew existed. After lunch we drive out of town a ways. We pull off the road at some random field. We go out and lie in the grass, looking up at the sky. It's a perfect day; the weather is warm, but not hot. The sun is shining, and there's a slight breeze.

We keep talking for a while, but then we just lie there, just being together. For the first time I can remember, I don't feel alone. It's a nice feeling.

"How long do you think this is going to last?" I ask him after a while.

"What do you mean?" We're lying close to each other, but not touching.

"I mean you and me. Us. Whatever this is."

"Well, at least until tomorrow." He sits up, groaning, then stretches his back, hands behind his head. He looks over at me. "It's 4 o'clock. I should take you home, that way you're not grounded for the rest of the school year."

"My car's at school."

"So what? I'm sneaking over tonight. I'll take you to school in the morning."

"What will I tell my parents?" I ask, sitting up and turning to face him.

"That you're getting a ride."

"Yeah, and I should tell them that I left my car at school because…."

"Fuck. Fine. Whatever. I'll take you to get your car."

I feel myself smile at him, "Thanks."

He grins back and then leans over to kiss me. It's sweet and quick, and not enough, for either of us. He's back almost instantly, claiming another, deeper kiss. It's slower and less hungry than before, but it still scares the shit out of me. Finally he pulls away, and my face is flushed, I can feel it. I shouldn't let him do that. Not when I can't even trust him.

He stands up. "Come on," he says, extending a hand to me. I grab it and he pulls me up.

When we get to the parking lot at school, my car is one of the only ones left in the lot. I wonder what happened to my school things, and if they're still in my biology classroom, but I guess I'll find out tomorrow. Oren pulls up next to my car. I look over at him, "Uh… see you, I guess."

He grins. "Yeah. I'll see you later tonight. Maybe around eleven. It depends."

"Alright. Just… I was gonna say 'call me'," I frown; he laughs.

"I'll just throw rocks at your window, again."

I roll my eyes. "Don't break anything. Please."

"I make no guarantees."


"Psycho." I look over at him, shocked, but he's smiling softly at me. I wonder why he said that.

"Yeah," I sort of whisper.

He laughs. "It was a compliment. If you weren't a total whack-job, I wouldn't have looked twice at you. You're the most interesting person I've ever met."

It's not making me feel any better. I don't want to be interesting. I want to be normal. "Don't be so serious, Caleb," he says. "And get out of here! You have to go home."

"Alright. Bye." I get out and shut the door before he says anything else.

I drive home slowly. It gives me a little time to think. I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to say to my mom when I get home, but by the time I pull up, I still haven't thought of anything.

She's waiting for me when I walk in, and she is royally pissed. She stalks into the living room from the kitchen, hands on hips and eyes narrowed. "I got a call from your school today."

I don't say anything.

"They told me you left right before first period."

I look at her.

"And were gone for the entire day from what your sister told me."


"What were you thinking? Why did you do that?"

I say the first thing that comes to mind, "My dad called."

"Your, Oh." Her eyes widen, "Oh," and she deflates. "Oh, Caleb, honey. Are you alright?" She asks, coming over to me. "What did he say to you?" she asks, wrapping arms around me. I wonder if it's strange that all I can think of is how much better it felt to be wrapped in Oren's harder embrase.