an: A real chapter....O.O Any one who reads this, and read Help Me, and is wondering when I'll start writing a sequel to that, I'm sorry but I wouldn't count on it being this year.... I do plan on starting one. I just can't say when... But at least Ryan's here! Yay!

Chapter 5

It's been a week since the first day of school, and since then Brad's behavior has only worsened. "Hey, Brad!" I say as he walks past Cassie and me in the hallway.

He lifts his head up slowly and looks at us for a moment like he doesn't remember who we are. "Oh. Hi." He waves. "I got to go do that thing that . . ." I don't hear the rest of the sentence because he's walking away.

"That's it! I can't take it anymore! Go slap him or something until he starts acting happier," Cassie says.

"Give him a break. He's still getting over the fact that you don't like him."

"I never said that!"

"That you don't like him that way."

"I never said that either!"

"What? What are you talking about? Are you telling me you do?"

"No, I'm just saying that I'm confused! That's all."

I put a hand to my head because I feel a headache coming. "Let me get this straight. Are you starting to think about dating him?"

"No. I mean, I don't want to because I know you're not gonna be okay with it."

"WHAT?!" I say it too loud and people in the hallway notice. I grab her arm and lead her around the corner, where there are less people. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"See? You are so not okay with it!"

I take a deep breath. "It doesn't freaking matter if I'm okay with it or not. If you like Brad that way, then go out with him! Stop with 'I'm not sure' crap because it's driving me crazy!"

"Ryan, I can't do that. I can't go out with someone that my best friend likes too."

"SHUSH IT!" I can't believe we're having this conversation in public. I look around, paranoid. "Just go out with him."

"No. I'm not going to tear apart this friendship."

"You're not tearing anything apart! I said it was okay! I want you to. I don't care. Anything to make Brad happy."

"But I'm not even sure if I like Brad like that."

I let out a cry. "You drive me crazy, Cassie! Crazy!"

"I just mean, you're giving him up for me because you care more about his feelings than yours. That's just so incredible. I don't know if I'd be able to do something like that."

I stare at her, thinking about what she said. "Don't worry about it, Cassie. I'm a lot more selfish than you think." I give her a smile.

She gives me a hug. "Let me think about it a little. Maybe I'll go on a few dates with him, but make sure he knows that I'm still not sure. I don't want him thinking I'm his girlfriend just yet."

"RYAN!" Brad grabs both my shoulders and sticks his nose into my face. I nearly shit my pants.




He shakes me as he talks. "Cassie. Cassie. Guess what Cassie did!"


"She freakin' asked me out! Like a date! Like a 'date date' and not a 'buy me a soda like every night' date!"

I eye him for a second before shaking me head. "Okay..."

"I'M GOING OUT WITH CASSIE!" He hoists me up and we start spinning. I start screaming again. He pulls me into a hug. "God, man! I don't know what you said to her, but God! I could kiss you."

"Go ahead."

"Naw, I won't do that."

Well, it was worth a shot.

"Cassie! What should I wear? What should I say?!"

"I don't know." I start to walk away; I have to get to class.

"No man. You gotta help with this! I need you!"

"Brad, I'm not the best guy to ask about girls."

"Just because you don't have a girlfriend doesn't mean anything. You could get them if you tried, and you got Cassie to go out with me, so you gotta be magic or something."

I sigh. "Brad . . ."

"Ryan!" he pleads.

"Okay, okay, but class!"


"Should I wear a tie...?"

I look at him and grimace. "I wouldn't. It's just Cassie, Brad."

"But it's a date with Cassie."

I hit my head against Brad's headboard. If he says one more thing about Cassie in that dumb way he has of talking about her, I'm going to have to kill him. I love the guy, I really do, but he's going to have to die. I'm sorry, Brad. I wish there was another way. . . .

"Hey, what's wrong with you, anyway?" Brad finally takes his gaze off the mirror to look at me.


"Then why are you acting like that? You could be happy for me, you know."

"I am happy for you!"

"It doesn't seem like it." Brad frowns as he returns his gaze to the mirror. He puts the tie on anyway. "You're all grumpy, like you don't want me to date Cassie. It's not like you hate her, and you already told me you didn't have feelings for her, so what's the big deal?"

"Nothing's the big deal." I get up and put my arm around his shoulder, staring at our reflections in the mirror. Brad's still frowning, but I like his face nonetheless. My face looks pasty and ugly to me and it's even worse when I fake my smile. "I am happy for you," I say as seriously as I can. "Cassie's the perfect girl for you."

"Hmm, you need a perfect girl, too, Ryan. Then everything would be perfect."

"Naw," I say as I wave it off and head back to the bed. "I don't need girls."

Brad looks at me. "I think you do. Or at least someone. I think you're lonely, Ryan."

I look at him for a second before Brad's mom walks into the room. "There's my boy getting ready for his little date! I always liked that girl, Cassie. I knew it would be just a matter of time before one of you two fell in love with her. Oh, look at my little man in his big grown-up tie . . ."

"Yeah, I was thinking about ditching the tie." Brad takes it off, his face pink. Mr. Worthington come behind his mother. "Now, Brad, remember all the things I taught you about how to handle a lady and be a gentleman. Hold the door open for her, give her a compliment, make sure she knows this is a real date and not just one of your 'hanging out's."

"Dad, I know." Brad looked at his watch. "And I'm late. I better go." He gives me a sideways glance, a plea for me to follow him.

"Goodbye, Mr. and Mrs. Worthington!" I call as I follow Brad out of his room and outside.

"Okay, be honest, do I look okay?" he asks the second we're out of earshot.

"You look great," I say.

"Breath okay?"

I lean close and sniff his mouth. "Want me to kiss ya to be completely sure?"

Brad laughs then pats my back so hard that I almost fall onto his face. That was a close one. "Wish me luck," he says as he opens his door.

"Luck." If it's bad or good, I don't know.

I sit at the kitchen table. Not because I'm hungry, because I already ate. I don't have to clean the dishes -- I did that, too. I guess I could paint, but what would I paint? I'm too lazy to get up, anyway. It's been a couple of hours; Brad's date should be over soon, right? How long do dates usually last? I wouldn't know, since I've never been on one before. Maybe something horrible happened that would cause Cassie to hate Brad. As pleasing as the thought is, I know that would be terrible as well, since then it would break up our trio, our friendship. The three musketeers no more.

But if everything went well . . .

What if Cassie falls in love with Brad, too? Then they'd be spending ALL their time together. They would go on dates ALL the time. I'd be the third wheel. I'd be left behind. I'm so bored. Oh my God, it's starting. The the end of my life is starting right now.


I jump from my seat; I thought I was alone in the house. I look up to see Kelly staring at me nervously. Oh great, just the kind of company I need -- a little devil for my hell.

"What?" I say, a little too loud.

"Um . . ." she starts. "Where is everyone else?"


"Cassie and Brad."

"They're on a date," I say bitterly.

"Both of them have a date on the same night?"

"They're on a date with each other!"

"Oh." She makes her way into the kitchen and slides into the chair across from me. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"Talk about what? It's none of my business, and to tell you the truth, I don't want to know what Brad and Cassie do with each other in their alone time."

"Ryan, the best way to fix a problem is to talk about it."

"What problem?! There is no problem!?"

"And not admitting there is a problem makes the problem even worse."


"Than why are you screaming?!"

"Cause you irritate me!"

Kelly sits there, playing with her fingers. For some reason, all the glaring I'm giving her is not enough to scare her away. "Ryan," she says hesitantly. I do not like where this is going -- of course I didn't like how it started, either, but it appears that this conversation is about to get even more unpleasant. "Maybe . . . wait, w-well you know how you haven't, like, told anyone about this yet?"

I glare at her some more.

"Well, maybe coming out of the closet would be a good thing, because then you can talk about it to people you actually like, rather than me."

"Whoa, Kelly! That's an idea! How about I tell Brad first, and confess my feelings and every fantasy I've ever had of him? I'm sure he'd COMPLETELY understand, and then we can tell Dad. We can be like, 'Hey, Dad, you know how Ryan seems to be an utter failure in your eyes? Like, why he does silly meaningless things like painting all day and seems to have no life? Why he sucks at sports, and doesn't have a lot of friends or a girlfriend or a manly bone in his body? It's because he's gay, so it's okay! I bet we had you worried there for a while, huh, Dad?' And he'll be like, 'That's WONDERFUL son! Now everything makes sense! I was worried for a bit!' And then the rest of the town, they will be the exact same way, because my freakiness has finally been figured out, and they will love me and adore me and turn me into the town mascot, and put me on display and feed me cookies. I'll be a freak, but I'll be a famous freak. 'Oh look! It's Ryan the gay boy!'"

Kelly states at me blankly.


"Um, well, I mean, the whole town doesn't have to know, and Dad doesn't have to know, and you don't have to tell Brad if you don't want to . . ."

"Then who the hell else is left?"

"Um, I mean, just like a few people might know --"


"I only told my friend, because I was all freaked out when you were yelling at me before and she asked me what the matter was, and I couldn't just make something up!"

"YES YOU COULD HAVE! YOU FUCKING LIE ALL THE TIME! This one time, when I need you to lie! You could have just been like, 'Oh, my fish died!'"

"We don't have a fish --"

"THAT'S NOT THE POINT, KELLY!" I slam my fist against the table, and she jumps. She has this look on her face that makes me feel like I'm the bad guy. I'm the bad guy! I sigh. "Okay . . . who'd you tell, anyway?"


"Tina!" I don't know Kelly's friends very well, but if I could remember any of them, it would be Tina. The girl never shuts up. "NOW THE WHOLE FUCKING SCHOOL IS GONNA KNOW!"

"I'm sorry! Maybe she won't tell anyone!"

"Did you tell her not to tell anyone?"

"No, but --" I interrupt her with a scream. I take a huge breath and try to calm down. I don't need this right now. When's the last time I've relaxed? When's the last time I've been happy? I can't remember. I don't need this.

I get up and head to my room.

"Ryan, I'm . . ." But she doesn't finish and I don't care. I'm going to paint.

The next day at school, I can't help but think every girl in Kelly's grade is staring at me. I can't remember which ones are Kelly's friends and which ones are her enemies. I think more, I realize it doesn't matter.

A girl is a girl.

"Hey, you okay?"

"What?" I spin around to the dastardly female voice, but it's just Cassie. "Cassie," I say.


"You're a girl."

"That I am. Thank you for noticing. Sorry I'm not your type."

"Shut up!" I start to realize Cassie is a girl, and just like any other girl, she can talk. "You don't tell people about my . . . thing, right?"

"Of course not. It's your business."

"But you haven't heard other people talking about it, have you?"

"No, of course not. No offense, but you're not the most popular boy in school."

"None taken. Good. I can go on with my life now."

"What's wrong with you? You're acting weird."

"Oh nothing, everything is perfectly fine."

She whispers. "Is it the me going out with Brad thing? I can stop if you want me to."

"No, no, no. It has nothing to do with that. I heard from Brad that your date went well. That's good. I'm glad." I start off for art class. I like art class. Art class will make me happy.

Cassie stares after me, her eyes large and worried.

I'll admit, I'm sort of the teacher's pet in my art class. Most people who take art take it because they need one credit of art to graduate. I think the teacher gets tired of seeing half-assed work all the time.

"Well, I can't wait to see what Ryan's working on!" she always says. She's a tiny woman, with short curly black hair. And she practically sings when she teaches. I can't help but smile when she talks about art. She loves it. I love it. The rest of the class sleeps.

"That's a fabulous color choice, Ryan! I like the deep reds and blues. Very nice use of cool colors. Though it's a tad darker than what I usually see from you."

"Yeah, I guess I've been really stressed out lately."

"I can understand, being a senior and all now. The future . . ."

"Ha, yeah."

"Don't let it stress you out!" She slaps my shoulder. "Everything will turn out fine! And if it doesn't, you learn to grow!"

I started to tune her out. I didn't really want to hear a pep talk about the future right now. I didn't want to think about the future. It was one of those things that tended to make depressed.

After class I head for my locker. I always walk with my head pointed down, my eyes on the ground; I don't know why. I like to watch my step, but I don't get to see anything else that's around me, which I'm okay with. I don't really care what else is going on around me. I just hear the din of the hallway and watch the tiles on the floor. But as I was walking, the usual conversation was hushed to a whisper. I looked up. It was quiet.

Everyone knows that feeling when people are talking about you and then stop as soon as you get close. I'm not that paranoid of a person . . . scratch that, maybe I am. Normally, though, I wouldn't be thinking the whole school was talking about me, except for the little gossipy blonde bitch that I had an incident with last week has made me think otherwise.

I caught the eye of a girl that gives me a weird look back, then rolls her eyes and starts talking to her friend again. Maybe I'm just imagining it.

For the rest of the day, I try to listen to everyone's conversation, acting like a creeper. The only ones I didn't pay attention to were Cassie and Brad. They were probably talking about lovey-dovey stuff anyway.

Near the end of the day, I come to the conclusion that I was just being paranoid. Really, why would people want to talk about me? I'd be surprised if more than half of the school even knows I exist.

Maybe . . .

"That's so gay!"

I turn my head.

"Don't be a faggot! Come on, dude!"

I look away. They're not talking about me. Of course they're not.

I find Kelly.

"Kelly!" She turns to me from her locker, startled. All her friends stare at me like I have two heads. I ignore it. It has nothing to do with anything. "I just want to say that I'm sorry for freaking out on you . . . before. It doesn't seem like anything has come of it. So . . . I'm sorry." I put my hands on my hips and turn my head indifferently. It doesn't help that Kelly's friends can't stop staring at me. Did they always stare at me this much?

"Um, okay," Kelly says, not looking at me either but at the floor. "Cool."

Then one of Kelly's boyfriends comes over. The current one, I think. He takes her hand and pulls her away. "Come on, Kelly, let's get away from your gay brother."


"Don't want to catch his gayness."

"Mike, you can't catch --"

"YOU WANNA SAY THAT TO MY FACE?!" Of course now the whole hall watches us and starts listening.

Mike or whatever the hell his name is completely ignores me and continues to walk. Kelly gives me a pleading apologetic look, but it means nothing because she's going with him and taking his side.

And as I hear the whispers and the comments of the audience, knowing that now they are taking about me, I realize that my life is over. It's completely over.

I'm going to go die now.