Okay, this is seriously very long, but if you get all the way through it, I swear, you won't regret it.


He couldn't stop his love. Blake had always been that way. Whenever he fell in love with somebody, it was almost impossible for him to stop loving that person, no matter what they did. Because there had to be some reason that he'd fallen in love with them in the first place. And when he was betrayed, and dumped, that was what he told himself. That he would always love that person, for that very special reason he'd loved them in the first place.

He'd fallen in love with Dante when he was only fourteen, and Dante was twenty, going on twenty-one. They had been forced to move to a poor neighborhood, after his father had left his mother for a younger women. His mother, a bigoted, ignorant, women, had told him over and over not to go outside, because the streets were overrun with...he shuddered as he thought of the word...niggers.

Her word, not his. He would never, ever, say such a thing. He was nothing like his mom. She would accept nobody who wasn't white, straight, and slept only with one person, the person they were married too. So, she would never accept him if she knew he was gay. Which was why he kept his mouth shut. They were so different that sometimes he didn't even think she was really his mother. After all, they didn't even look alike. She had black hair, he was strawberry blond. She had brown eyes, he had blue. She was tall, and he seemed to only grow an inch a year.

He went out anyway, wandering the streets for a good hour before he was suddenly stopped.

"Hey, kid." a voice had called out, and when he turned around, he was shocked to see a group of teenagers surrounding him. "These are dangerous streets to be wandering around."

A gun was suddenly in his face. Blake didn't understand what they could want with him. He could give them nothing. So, what could they want? His mother was right. These were dangerous streets after all. But here was the kicker.

They were all white.

Like him.

The gang, with at least seven guys, was made up of entirely white kids. His mother was wrong about that.

"I see that." he answered, and the guy holding the gun frowned, and motioned to the guy next to him. That guy jumped in front of Blake, and with the speed of a snake, punched him in the face. Blake stumbled backwards, hitting the chest of one of the guys behind him.

"That kind of snark is only gonna make this worse." the guy holding the gun said, and Blake spat out the blood he felt in his mouth.

"What's the point in this?" he asked, and the guy laughed.

"The point? The point is I'm bored out of my fucking mind."

"That's it?"

The guy shrugged. "That's it. I just feel like beating the shit out of somebody today."

"You'll have to kill me. I'll identify you."

The man frowned, confused by his seeming lack of fear, and obviously not happy about it. Truthfully, Blake was terrified. He thought he might pass out before they even touched him. But he wouldn't let them see it. If he was going to die, he would die a man.

"Suit yourself." the guy holding the gun said, and he laughed, and the gang started closing in on him. One grabbed him by the arms and pinned them behind his back, and the others circled him, pumped up, ready to kill him.

"Man, some cold shit when white folk start turning on their own kind." a voice suddenly said, and the group turned to see who it was. Blake couldn't see whoever it was, because he was way too short to be able to see over them.

"Dante." the guy holding the gun said, pointing it him. The rest of the gang followed his lead, and his arms were free. He stumbled, a few feet from the men who had just been holding him captive, where he was greeted by a strange sight. Standing a few feet from the white gang, leaning against a wall, was a black man, smoking a cigarette. He was surrounded by other men, no doubt his gang, who were nodding in agreement to what he'd just said.

The man smoking turned and looked at him. His eyes narrowed and he shook his head when he saw the bruise forming on Blake's pale white skin. Blake stared at him. He was tall, well-built. The one thing about him that was surprising was his hair. Blake usually wasn't stereotypical, and he tried his best not to be, but most black guys usually didn't have any hair, and if they did, it was just that caterpillar fuzzy kind that was fun to touch.

But this guy had a full head of black hair, slicked back like he was some kind of mafia boss. It was cool. It was kind of sexy.

The man, Dante, dropped his cigarette to the ground and stepped on it, blowing out the last ring of smoke. Then, suddenly, he had a gun aimed right back. Blake, blinked, surprised. He hadn't even seen him move. Within a second, the rest of his gang had their guns up too, and suddenly, Blake was standing right in the middle of a mexican stand-off.

"Might want to get over here, kid." Dante said, and Blake was shocked into movement. He ran over to the man who'd just saved his life, not protesting when the man got up from the wall and pushed him behind him, shielding him.

He closed his eyes. He really didn't want this to happen. He wanted to run, but that was cowardly and pathetic. These guys had just saved his life, and he wasn't about to ditch them. He opened his eyes, pushed past Dante, so that he was standing beside him, and slid into a fighting position. Next to him, Dante's eyes widened in shock, and he shook his head again, an amused grin on his lips.

"Damn crazy ass white kids." he said, and Blake grinned up at him. It was at that exact second that they heard the police siren.

"Cops!" one of the white kids shouted, and everyone stared at each other for a second, and then they all scattered in opposite directions, like some agreement had been made. Blake darted after Dante, following him for blocks, into a run down bar.

When they were all catching their breath, Dante started calling out names, checking to make sure everybody was there.

"Steve!" he said.

"Here, man."

"Brock!"

"Yup."

He went on and on until all were accounted for, and then he noticed that sitting on the stool next to him, was Blake, who had turned around in his seat and was talking to the women running the bar.

"Thanks, cutie." she said, as he'd just complemented her top. "You want a drink?" she asked, and, wanting to seem cool, Blake nodded, reaching out for the glass she's offered him. It was intercepted by Dante, who said, "What are you, like, eleven?"

"Fourteen." Blake said, reaching out for the drink. Dante chugged it all down.

"Too young to be drinking. To young to be getting involved in gangs, come to think of it."

"That wasn't my fault. I was minding my own business."

"I know. We were watching."

"Oh. Well, thanks for saving me."

Dante didn't say anything back in reply.

That was when he met Dante, and fell in love with him.

Time Skip

"How many times have I told you to stop coming here?"

Blake was grabbed by the back of his shirt and pulled off his stool, where he'd been talking to Gina, Steve, and Brock. Dante was pulling him by his shirt over to the door, getting ready to kick him out like he did everyday.

"See ya, man." Brock called after him, and Blake waved.

"No you won't." Dante said, and Brock rolled his eyes.

"Whatever you say Dante."

When they were standing outside, Dante said, "How many times have I told you, get your ass to school."

Blake shrugged. It had been a year since he had met Dante, and every day since that day, he had come to the bar, since that was were they were most of the time when they weren't out on the streets. His mom still had no idea about what had happened that day, and what happened everyday after. She'd kill him if she figured out.

He didn't care.

"School's boring." Blake said, and Dante rolled his eyes.

"Get in my damn car. I'm driving you there."

Blake sighed, though he was secretly happy, and got into the passenger seat of the car, not protesting as Dante drove him to school. They got there with only a few minutes for him to spare, and while Blake was getting out of the car, he ignored the looks from the kids around them. He was used to them. He knew people were curious about how he'd ended up with Dante, a well-known gang member, not somebody to be messed with, as his driver.

"If I found out you ditched, I'll shoot you, got it?" Dante shouted after, and Blake grinned.

"Got it."

At lunch, his friend Kon found him, and she said, "Saw you with your boyfriend this morning."

He blushed, as he always did when somebody said that word. No matter how many times he told her it wasn't like that, even though he wanted it to be like that, she always refused to stop saying it, always following with, "But it will be like that."

He said it now, and she said her piece back. Once she had, he followed with what he always said.

"You really think?"

"Totally. He wants your scrawny white ass."

"Then why aren't we together?"

"You want him to get thrown in jail, bro? Cause that's what'll happen if he goes out with you at this age."

Blake nodded. "Yeah I gu-"

"Excuse me, young man." a voice said, and Blake looked up. The tall, skinny, blond white woman standing next to him was the principal, Mrs. White. They'd never spoken before, so he was curious about what she could want with him.

"Yes ma'am?" he asked, hoping that if he was in some kind of trouble, being polite might make her go easier on him. She smiled, but it seemed customary. "You're Blake Hurley, correct?" she asked, and he nodded.

"Please follow me to my office, Mr. Hurley."

Kon gave him a look, and he shrugged, just as lost as her. But he got up and followed after Mrs. White, who he had a strange feeling he was about to start hating. As they crossed the cafeteria they got a few looks, but not too many, so he couldn't have done anything big.

Once they were in her office, Mrs. White didn't offer him to take a seat, so he just stood behind the chairs that were mere inches in front of him, mocking him. Damn, he thought, I must have done something pretty bad after all.

"Mr. Hurley, who was that man who dropped you off at school this morning?" Mrs. White asked, and Blake was shocked. That wasn't what he'd expected at all.

"You mean Dante?" he asked, and she nodded.

"Yes Mr. Hurley. It's come to my attention, due to a few students at this school, that this, Dante, is a well known gang member."

"So?" Blake asked in a clipped tone. "All he did was drive me to a school. Is that a crime?"

Mrs. White sighed at him. "No, Mr. Hurley, but I'm sure I don't need to point out to you that being around such a man reflects badly on you."

"So?" he asked again, and she frowned, obviously starting to get angry with him.

"I don't want one of my students being seen with such a man." she said. Blake's head was spinning. He knew for a fact that there were other kids in this school who had relatives who were in gangs, and some who were in gangs themselves. Last year, he'd even met the cousin of the white gang leader, who he avoided, so as not to cause issues. So why didn't she talk to that kid? Why Dante?

Suddenly, Blake wondered something. At the thought, anger swelled in his chest, and he wanted to punch something.

"What kind of man, Mrs. White?" he hissed. "A black man, is that what you mean?"

Now, he was remembering when he'd seen her around the halls. Every time, she was scolding a student. And every time, that student was black.

Same, he thought, she's the same as my mom.

Mrs. White was stuttering, like she'd be somehow scandalized.

"N-now! I won't stand to be accused of such a thing! The only reason I have any problem is because he is a gang memb-"

"A black gang member. I know for a fact that there are other kids in this school who are involved in gang activities, but I've never heard of you scolding any of them. That's because they're all white gangs, right?"

"Mr. Hurley! I would advise you to stop talking, right this instant!" the principal shouted, seeming insulted, but Blake could see it in her eyes. He was right.

"And I'd advise you to get with the times, you racist bitch." he said coldly.

Which is how he got suspended from school.

*(*)

"You don't know how to listen, do ya?" Dante asked as he walked into the bar, only to find Blake sitting in one of the booths, joking around with his gang. The teen glanced up and smiled.

"I can't go to school." he said. "I got suspended."

Dante frowned. "How?"

Blake looked away from him then, eyes shifting across the wood of the table. Dante raised an eyebrow, watching as he clearly tried to come up with some sort of lie. To his surprise, Brock, who was sitting on Blake's left, spoke for him.

"He punched a kid."

Blake looked up at Brock in surprise, then quickly masked it, and nodded.

"Why?" Dante asked, not convinced.

This time, Will spoke, ruffling Blake's hair. "The kid tried to pick a fight with our boy."

Blake nodded again.

"Why?" Dante repeated, lighting a cigarette and taking a huff of it.

Not to his surprise, the answer didn't come from Blake. This time, it was from Steve.

"He wanted Blake to do his work for him, and he refused."

Blake was still nodding, agreeing with everything they said.

"Why would he want you to do his work? You're a dumbass."

Now Blake finally spoke, huffing offendedly, "I'm smart! I just gotta get my head in the game."

"Funny how you guys seem to have all the answers." Dante said, now addressing his gang. They all, "pshed," and waved their hands, blowing his words off. Dante decided that for now, he'd let it go. He motioned with his head for the others to make space, and they obediently let him take the space next to Blake. He plopped down, running a hand through his hair.

"Gina!" he shouted, and she looked over from the bar.

"What?"

"Bring me the usual!"

"Come get it yourself, you lazy ass!"

Dante nudged Blake. "Go get my drink."

Blake nudged Will.

"Go get it."

Will nudged Steve.

"Go get the drink."

So on like that until the nudging made a full circle, and Brock nudged Dante. "Go get the drink."

Dante sighed, and Blake laughed.

The bar door opened, and a young black women walked in. The guys looked over with interest, including Dante, and Blake looked away then. He knew Dante liked girls, and he knew he slept around a lot, but it still bugged him.

"Out of the way boys, this one's mine." Dante said, forcing everyone out of their seat. Blake watched him with dismay as he grabbed the drink Gina had placed on the bar and offered to the girl. He couldn't hear what was being said, but he knew he was charming her, because she giggled and accepted the drink.

"Don't know what you see in him, Little Boss." Brock said, and Blake sighed. "I mean, I know what you see, like, looks and all, but on the inside...naw, you could do so much better."

"He's a good guy." Blake protested, and Brock nodded.

"Yeah, a good guy. But he's still self-centered, and sleeps around more then a narcoleptic. That might not change, you know, even if he got with you."

"I know."

He did know. He knew he couldn't change everything about Dante. Even if they did get together, he would probably still sleep around, and he couldn't stop that. He couldn't stop that he was a dangerous gang member either. He'd long ago accepted this.

He loved him anyway.

The door opened again. But when they all looked this time, Blake gasped, shrinking into the booth, behind his friends, hoping they'd shield him.

It was his mother.

The people in the club were watching her, curious and confused. Her eyes swept across the room, and when they settled on Blake, they were blazing.

"Blake!" she shouted. "There you are! I've been looking for you all afternoon. I got a call from your principal, saying you'd been suspended."

The gang was now looking at him, waiting for him to say something. He motioned for them to let him through, and once they had, his mother instantly was upon him, grabbing him by the arm tightly.

"She said you called her a racist bitch!" his mother said. "Is this true?"

"Yes." he said, voice shaking. "S-she is! She wanted Dante to stop driving me to school, just because he's-" he stopped himself. Why had he said that?

"She also told me you've been running around with some nigger gang!" his mother hissed, and Blake gasped in shock. Angry grumbles instantly went up, but she didn't seem to notice.

"Mom, don't say that!" he said, but she ignored him too.

"Is that true too?" she asked, but then she looked around, and her question was answered before she could say anything. She turned to him, face contorted with rage. "How long has this been going on!?" she hissed, and he tried to pull away from her, but she yanked him back. "How long!?" she screamed.

Blake was breathing quickly, all kinds of emotions flying around inside of him. "Since...since the day we moved in." he answered her, and suddenly, a stinging pain erupted on his face, and he lifted his hand to his hurt cheek. She'd slapped him.

Blake saw Dante pushing through the people that were crowding around him, and they let him. When she saw him approaching, his mother looked up at him with contempt.

"You must be Dante." she said coldly.

He didn't say anything to her, just grabbed Blake's other arm and pulled him from her grip easily. Blake grabbed onto him, hands shaking. He didn't know what to do. He had never imagined his mother would find out about Dante, and his friends, who were now stepping up behind Dante, glowering at his mother with anger.

"You alright, Little Boss?" Brock asked. Blake didn't answer him, just turned back to his mother, who was looking at the group behind her son with surprise.

"I'm not like you, mom." Blake told her, heart pounding. "I'm not racist. And I'm...I'm...I'm gay."

His mother's eyes widened, and she then she raised her hand up again to hit him, and suddenly, Blake felt himself being pushed back until the gang was between him and his mother.

"I think you'd better leave." Dante said from the front, and Blake covered his ears. He didn't want this to be happening. Why did his mother have to be this way? Why? He felt somebody hug him tightly from behind, and when he looked up, his misty eyes met the concerned ones of Gina. She smiled down at him sadly.

He heard her voice, and she was shouting, so he figured she must be talking to him. He unplugged his ears.

"...an hour to get your stuff or I'm throwing it all out!" she was shouting. His heart squeezed. She was throwing him out.

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she turned and left the bar, slamming the door behind her. Instantly, the gang had turned around, and were surrounding him, asking him if he was okay. He did something he didn't want to do.

He started to cry.

They let him, quiet, except for Gina, who whispered to him soothingly. He felt a hand in his hair, and when he looked up, he was still enough of himself to be pleased when he saw that it was Dante, looking down at him with eyes filled with guilt.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, and Blake just kept crying.

Once he calmed down, the gang had a new issue to discuss.

"Where's he going to stay?" Steve asked, and as one, their heads all swiveled to look at Dante. Blake's heart filled with hope, but Dante put his hands up.

"You guys know that's dangerous." he said, looking at Blake apologetically. "A lot of dangerous people know where I live." he explained.

"I...I don't care!" Blake said. "I wouldn't get in the way, I promise."

Dante shook his head. "Sorry, kid." Blake wanted to start crying again. He had been hoping that this would be the chance he needed to get Dante to fall for him.

"He can stay with me."

They all looked at Gina, who smiled at him gently. "I've always wanted a kid."

His eyes filled with more tears. "Thanks Gina." he said, and she nodded, accepting his grateful hug. "Let's go get your stuff." she said. And so they went. As they walked, Dante came up next to them.

"I'm coming too." he said, feeling like Blake was his responsibility.

He nodded, and said to him, and the rest of the guys, "Thank you guys. For everything. You're always saving me."

His mother wasn't home when they got there. The door was open though, so they took that as the invitation to go in. They quickly collected his stuff, and drove to Gina's, where she gave him the guest room, since she lived alone. As he was setting his stuff away, he promised to help work at the bar as a way of paying rent. Her and Dante helped him with his stuff, and when they were done, Dante asked Gina if they could have a moment alone.

"Alright, but no funny business." she said, making them both blush.

Once they were alone, Dante sighed. "Thanks for sticking up for me today, at your school I mean."

Blake smiled. "No problem."

"I'm sorry. This happened because of me."

Blake shook his head. "It's not your fault. My mother never really...loved me. Besides, the reason she threw me out was because I was gay. That's way worse then being a, "nigger lover," as she described guys like me."

Dante sighed again. "Maybe you should stop hanging around us, kid. One day, you're going to get hurt because of us."

Blake smiled, and worked up the courage to lean up and kiss Dante on the cheek. Dante's eyes widened, and he blushed, clearly caught off guard.

"That's okay. I like danger." he said, and Dante looked at him seriously, locking his eyes with him. Blake waited, wondering what he would do if Dante told him to stay away. Probably, he wouldn't listen, but it would still hurt to hear. But, Dante just sighed for a third time.

"Damn crazy ass white kid."

Time Skip

"Blake, can you get that table?" Gina asked, and Blake, now sixteen, nodded.

"Sure thing!" he called, heading over to the table. As he did, the door opened, and the gang piled in. Blake gasped in worry when he saw them. They were all bruised and bloody, clearly having just gotten out of a fight.

"Are you guys okay?" he asked, running over to check and make sure everybody was there. To his horror, Dante wasn't there, and he pushed past them to the door, where he looked out, hoping he'd be there. To his relief, Dante was coming in at that moment, and he exhaled the breath he'd been holding.

"What happened?" he asked Dante, following him back into the bar. Dante fell heavily into one of the chairs, and Blake quickly ran into the bar's back room and got the medical kit they kept handy. He came back out, handing out ointment and bandages to the gang, saving the last of it for Dante. Dante pulled his shirt over his head, and Blake set to work on dressing the wounds as he listened to Dante tell him what had happened.

"It was Terry and his gang." he said, and Blake's nose wrinkled in disgust. Terry was the name of the gang member who'd pointed that gun at him years earlier. Lately, he seemed to be stepping more and more into their territory, trying to fight them over it. This was the seventh fight the two gangs had been in this week.

"Again?" Blake asked, then apologizing a second later when Dante hissed in pain from the ointment he was rubbing on him. The older man nodded, leaning back in the chair he was sitting in so that it was standing on two legs. He pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it up, puffing on it to release his anger. The whole room felt tense. If things kept going like this, somebody would get killed, and Blake really didn't want any of his friends to die.

He reached over suddenly and pushed Dante's shoulder, hard enough that the gang leader tipped backwards, shouting out, "Woah!" as he went down. When he came up, rubbing his head, he cussed out, "You little fucker!" to Blake, who was running across the room, laughing as Dante got up to chase him. As he ran around, he was relieved to see that the others were laughing too, and he was glad that he was able to get rid of the tension like he'd hoped he could.

*(*)

At school the next day, Blake was walking down the hall when he suddenly was jostled from behind, hard enough that he hit one of the lockers next to him. He turned to see who had pushed him, thinking it must be somebody he knew, but he actually didn't recognize a single one of them. The group of boys all were giving him death glares, and he gave one back, staring the way the gang had taught him when he was going up against others. He tensed up, preparing to fight them, but luckily, they saw a teacher coming up behind him, and they went on. He was relieved. He'd never actually been in a fight before, and he wasn't sure how he'd do.

Kon was suddenly beside him, and she motioned to the bandana around his upper arm, which was red and gold in color.

"People are going to keep picking on you if you're going to keep wearing those." she informed him, and he nodded. A few months ago, he'd started wearing the gang's colors. Not to advertise that he knew them to others, but because it made him feel closer to them. Plus, Dante- even though he'd told him not to do it- had smiled proudly once he had.

Truthfully, he didn't even think the kids in his school would know what the colors stood for, but more and more these days, they did, and while some of them, mostly his black classmates, would nod his way, giving him admiring glances, some of them clearly didn't like who he was representing, and it was becoming increasingly harder for him to walk down the hallway without being harassed in some way.

Okay, maybe he did want some people to know who he was representing, but only people like the principal, and any who shared her views.

That moment, Edd, the cousin of Terry, the gang leader, rounded the corner. Like his cousin, he was a natural leader, and behind him was eight or nine boys, all following behind him, trying to look tough as they walked through the hallways. The two of them had never spoken before, and honestly, Blake thought the other boy probably wasn't aware of his existence. And maybe that was true before, but on this day, Edd's eyes went to Blake, and a second later, slipped down to look at the band around his arm.

The other boy stopped walking, facing him. Blake put his fighting face back on, a clear, I will fight you, being passed to Edd. He could tell Edd understood it.

"You the boy Terry told me about." he said, half a statement, half a question. Blake rolled his shoulders, trying to release some of his building tension. To the guys behind Edd, it came off as a fighting stance or something, because they all started moving around, grumbling, and cracking their fingers. Kids around them were slowing down to watch, recognizing Blake from his infamy around the school.

But Edd held out his hand to his friends, jerking his head towards the classrooms, indicating that this wasn't exactly the best place to beat somebody up and get away with it. He looked back at Blake, narrowing his eyes.

"You still causing them problems?" he asked, and Blake snorted.

"They're the ones causing us problems, actually. So it would be fantastic if you told them to get the hell off our territory and stay in their shit hole."

Terry curled his lip, and then barked a laugh. "All right, I'll pass on the message you self hating faggot."

The words burned him in anger.

"I don't hate white people. I hate white people like you. Any people like you." he said, shoving Edd back as strongly as he could. Edd instantly surged forward, and he heard the kids around them gasp in anticipation, but Edd didn't get his chance, because Kon slipped in front of Blake, blocking him, giving him a mocking smile.

"You gonna hit a girl, tough guy?" she asked, and even though Blake wouldn't put it past him, Edd backed off, putting his hands up to signal peace to her. He spoke past her to Blake.

"So you argued against being self hating, but not against being a fag? Why's that?"

Despite the fact that he knew who he was, and was not ashamed of it, the way Edd was saying it made him feel embarrassed, and he felt his face flaring at the accusation. That was all the boys needed to confirm it, and a second later they were laughing at him, grouping around him, starting to shove at him, calling him a faggot.

Kon tried to come to his defense again, but one of the guys grabbed her and pushed her out of the circle. Her tiny frame was no match his bulk, and she stumbled away, turning around to say, "I wouldn't do this. Not unless you want to mess with a real gang."

Edd laughed and said, "Yeah, I know. Friends in high places."

One of Edd's friends joked, "More like low places."

They laughed, slapping each other high fives.

Blake fumed in resentment.

"You're the low one, not him. He saved me from your cousin, who was going to kill me out of boredom."

"Woulda saved you from a lifetime of being Dante's bitch."

That was enough of this. His left hand shot out, grabbed Edd's wrist, and he put his right hand on Ed's bicep. He knew this wasn't going to be easy, since Edd was bigger then him, but he didn't care. He hand to try. Besides, he'd been dying to try this move out. He flipped around, so that his back was to Edd, moved quickly to his right, and pulled Edd into him with his right arm hand.

"What the hell?" Edd said. Blake bent his knees, kept his back fairly straight, then slammed his butt into Edd's thighs right as they were about to make contact with him. This knocked Edd's legs out from under him, so Blake put the slightly larger boy's weight on his hip.

His heart was racing. This was the first time he'd ever tried to fight. But you had to know how, when you running with a gang, and he was glad he'd learned. This fucker wouldn't talk bad about him, Dante, or his friends, as long as he was around.

He straightened his legs a moment after impact. This lifted his opponent off the ground, and at the same time, Blake pulled Edd's arm straight toward the ground like he was chopping wood.

Edd flipped over his shoulder, and slammed into the concrete floors of their school. He gasped instantly as the wind was knocked out of his lungs, clutching at his stomach when he realized he couldn't breath. The other boys looked at their fallen leader in shock, then back up at Blake, who cursed under his breath when he saw Mrs. White coming toward them all.

Something told him that even though he hadn't started this, he would be the one punished for it.

Which is how he got suspended from school for a second time.

*(*)

Blake walked home from school on his own. Usually either Dante or Gina could make the trip, but Gina's car was busted right now, and he didn't want to bother her or Dante with picking him up anyway, since this was kind of his fault anyway. Walking back to Gina's house, he was forced to walk straight by his old home, and he looked at solemnly for a minute, standing across the street. He knew she still lived there, because he'd sometimes see her outside, sitting on a chair, just looking out at the world.

As he was staring, the door opened, and she stepped out a second later. She saw him too, and they stood there for a few seconds, just staring, looking to see how much the other had changed.

He lifted his hand in a weak wave, and for a second, he thought her eyes softened. But then she turned around and went back in, slamming the door behind her. He didn't call out to her. Just kept walking. Afterall, what could he do? An unfimiliar car went by him, and he watched it with no interest, until it turned into his driveway. Then he stopped walking, watching a man get out.

He was big and tall, short cropped brunette hair, mustache, five o' clock shadow. Tattoos. When his car door slammed shut, the front door opened again, and he realized that this must have been who his mother had been going out to wait for. She went down the stairs with a big smile on her face, reaching out to hug him, planting a kiss on his lips.

So she had a new boyfriend. That was good. He was glad she was getting over his father.

At least he was until he saw another figure get out of the car, his mother smiling widely at him like he was her son instead of Blake.

It was Terry.

Gang Terry.

He gave her a toothy grin back, waving.

Blake quickly and smoothly made his way across the street, over to the neighbor's yard, where he ducked behind their bushes, heart beating in his chest as he listened in.

"...so nice to see you Terry." his mother was saying. "I haven't seen you in a whole week! Richie and I missed you!"

Her tone was so warm, and sweet, and happy. He'd never heard it like that before. Never.

"Sorry, I've been busy hanging out with my cousin, Edd. He's interested in getting to know me a little better. But dad said I should come see you again."

Interested in getting to know the family business, no doubt, he thought. What was this all about? Was it pure coincidence? Or was his mother being targeted, because of him? He had to find out, and warn her. But he couldn't expose himself right now, could he? He was outnumbered, three to one, since no doubt his mom wouldn't take his side. He had to get the guys to help him out.

Once they went inside, all laughing and smiling, he started running for the bar, thoughts racing.

Before he reached the bar, a voice suddenly called out to him, and a car stopped next to him. He looked, and was glad to see Brock in the driver's seat, giving him a confused look.

"What are you doing out here, Little Boss? Shouldn't you be in school?"

"I got suspended again." he explained, getting into the passenger seat.

"You're getting good at that, aren't you?"

"He deserved it."

"Who?"

He explained what had happened, and by the end of his tale, Brock was smiling proudly.

"God job, Little Boss." another voice said, and Blake jumped, then whirled to see Steve laying down in the backseat, rubbing his eyes like he'd just woken from a nap.

"How did you get back there?" Blake asked, and Steve laughed as he sat up.

"Magic."

"Oh. Alright then, magic Dante in love with me." he joked, and Steve reached over and ruffled his hair from the backseat.

"Don't need magic for that, goofball. Just gotta keep being yourself." he said, and Blake rolled his eyes, but the words made him happy. Steve and Brock were always looking out for him, and the only two he felt 100% comfortable talking to about his feelings for Dante.

They'd never said anything, but he had a sneaking suspicion that the two of them-Brock and Steven-may have had a secret thing going. If they did, he didn't understand why they hadn't told anyone, since they knew the gang would always accept them. But he'd give them their time, since they seemed to need it.

He suddenly realized that they weren't heading in the direction of the bar, and he cocked his head, looking around to see if there was any place familiar around them.

"Where are we going?" he asked.

"Dante's." Brock said, turning into an apartment complex. Blake's mouth dropped. He'd never been to Dante's, since the gang leader was adamant that he never stop by, insisting that he didn't want Blake in such a dangerous neighborhood. But apparently today, Brock and Steve didn't feel like listening, and were taking him there. This was why he loved them.

"Why?" he asked, trying to mask his excitement.

"Quick meeting."

"Good. I have something I need to tell you guys." he said. He'd tell them about his mother, and they'd all figure something out together.

They got out of the car, and went to an apartment on the bottom floor. From the outside it looked normal.

Steve knocked on the door, and they heard somebody shuffling around, coming toward the door. Quite suddenly, Blake felt nervous. After all, he'd been told not to come here. And here he was. He moved from his previous position, which had been bravely standing right in front of the door, to a new one, which was standing behind both of his friends, peeking around Brock's sleeve.

The door opened, and he felt the urge to duck behind Brock, but managed not to. Dante's frame filled the doorway, and he was yawning, running a hand through his unruly hair, so Blake figured he'd just woken up from a nap.

"Hey boys, glad you could make it." he said, moving aside for them to come in. They started in, and Blake had no choice but to appear right beside him, stepping into his apartment. Instantly, he felt Dante's hand come down on his shoulder, grabbing his shirt.

"What are you doing here?"

Blake looked up into Dante's stern face, and tried to smile innocently.

"They brought me here." he said, and Dante turned to glare at Brock and Steve, who whistled and looked away, heading over to the kitchen to find some food.

"Okay, second question. Why aren't you at school?"

"Oh, yes, well, as it turns out, I've been suspended again." Blake said nonchalantly, and Dante narrowed his eyes at him.

"What for?" he asked, and instantly, Brock was standing near them, saying, "Well you see, he was walking down the hall."

"And this kid just came out of nowhere." Steve.

Dante held up his hand, cutting them off. "I'd like to hear the story from Blake this time. The real story." he added, glaring at Blake. "By the way, you guys should get new material."

Blake shrugged. "Well, they weren't wrong, I guess. I got in a fight."

"With who?"

"Terry's cousin, Edd."

Dante tensed up. "Why?"

Blake motioned to the bandana around his arm. Dante gritted his teeth, eyes sweeping over the younger boy, checking him for injuries. Realizing this, Blake smirked.

"He didn't land a hit on me. I just flipped him onto his back."

"You flipped a guy on his back?" Will asked, coming into the doorway at that second, followed by Trace, the newest member of the gang. Blake gave him a thumbs up, and Will slapped him on the back.

"Did I tell you that would come in handy?"

"Sure did. I'm so glad Trace taught me how to do it." Blake said back, smiling gratefully at Trace, who shrugged modestly and followed Will silently into the living room. As they went, Dante sighed and said, "We'll talk more about this later."

Blake nodded and ran around, checking around the apartment. Two bedrooms, living room, dinning room area, kitchen, two bathrooms. Slightly messy, but nothing he couldn't live with. Some locked drawers that he'd have to get the key to. He came back into the living room, the rest of the group already there, and turned to Dante with a smile.

"Plenty of room for the both of us in this place." he said, and their friends burst into laughter instantly. Dante ignored him, getting their meeting going, sitting on his chair. Instantly, Blake went and sat next to his chair, leaning with his back against the side of it. As they were talking, he felt something that made his heart skip a beat.

Dante's fingers were gently stroking the top of his head, like he was his dog, sitting loyally at his feet. And in a way, he kind of was, but it didn't bother him. Dante just needed time.

He leaned his head back into the touch, closing his eyes so that he could enjoy the sensation more. As they talked, he listened lightly, waiting for a pause in the conversation so that he could bring up his mother. After a minute, he opened his eyes, and saw that Dante was looking down at his face. He smiled, suddenly feeling shy, and Dante kept peering down into his eyes.

The conversation seemed to stop around him, and all that they could both focus on was the other. But then Blake realized that the talking really had stopped, when Brock said, "Jeez you two, get a room."

"Yeah, we don't need to see the two of you undressing each other with your eyes."

Blake blushed, but Dante managed to maintain looking calm, going back to talking like none of them had said anything. Blake was afraid he'd stop touching him, and they'd move backwards from this giant step, but he didn't. His fingers swept through his hair even still.

When it was his turn, Blake addressed them all seriously, standing in the middle of the room.

"My mother's in danger," were the first words out of his mouth, and they all blinked in surprise. He quickly filled them in on what had happened at school, and what he'd seen in front of his old home. They all gave him a round of applause as he told them about the fight, but by the time he got to the part with his mother, they were silent.

"Damnit." Dante finally cursed lowly, standing up and pacing the room. Some of the others joined him, anxious.

"They're targeting Little Boss, Boss." Brock said, and Dante nodded, walking circles around all of them. As he passed Blake, the young boy reached out to grab his hand and still him, but then he pulled back.

"Why?" Dante asked out loud, and he instantly saw the eye rolling that swept through the room.

"What?" he asked, and the eyerolls repeated. Still on the floor, Blake tried to hide his smile. Even though this wasn't a funny situation, it still made him strangely happy to realize that other people could see how important he was to Dante. Cause if that many people thought it, maybe it was true.

"They know you'll come get him, that's why," someone said, and Dante shrugged.

"So, why him? I'd come get any of you."

"Cause he's special to you, Boss."

It was quiet in the room for a second as Brock said the words that they were all thinking, and that Blake had always wanted to hear. He tried not to smile again, but this time, he couldn't contain it, and unfortunately, Dante saw it.

"Why are you smiling, huh? You're the one in danger!" he said, voice rising at him. The smile instantly wiped off his face, and Blake nodded quickly, hoping to calm him down.

"And how many times have I told you to not fuck around with those guys?" Dante continued, keeping his attention on Blake, who frowned.

"I did! This is the first time anything has ever happened!" he yelled back, despite knowing that his would only escalate things.

"Well, even one time means you didn't listen to me, doesn't it?" Dante yelled, and Blake scoffed and rolled his eyes, crossing his arms across his chest.

"Oh my God, like this whole gang mess is somehow my fault!?" Blake asked, and he could see their friends watching them worriedly. Next to Brock, Steve elbowed him and mumbled, "Way to go."

Dante narrowed his eyes at his words, and then, motioned with his head towards the door.

"Get out of my house, kid." he said, and Blake froze.

What?

"W-what? How is this-?" he started to say, but Dante grabbed him by the arm and started pulling him to the door. The gang got up and followed quickly, trying to calm Dante down.

"Come on man, calm down."

"Just take a deep breath, bro."

"Shut up." Dante told them, or maybe Blake, or probably all of them. Blake tried to pull away, but Dante was much stronger then him.

"Wait, I didn't mean it was your fa-" he started to say, but again, he was interrupted, Dante opening the front door and pushing him out. A second later, the door was shut in his face. He stood there, not sure what had just happened. It had all been so fast. He stood there, thinking it over for a second, but he got too upset to think about it, and even though he waited for a minute, thinking Dante, or somebody else, would come out for him, nobody came.

Holding back his tears of frustration, he whirled around, feet slapping the pavement as he ran. Not to Gina's, or to the bar, but to his mother's house. He didn't need Dante, or any of them to protect his mother. He could do it himself.

It didn't take him long to find his old home, and he quickly ran up to the back door, since that was the way he'd come from, and opened it without knocking. It looked mostly the same, only a few things changed, such as the curtains and some furniture. He bet that if he went up to his room, everything would be different. Different carpet, walls, anything he left behind thrown out.

But he didn't have time for that right this moment, so he just shouted out, "Mom! Mom, I need to talk to you! It's important!"

She answered instantly. "Who're you?" her voice came from the living room, and a moment later she appeared. When she saw him, her eyes widened, and then narrowed to slits.

"What are you doing here, Blake?" she asked, and he ignored her icy disposition, and grabbed her arm.

"Mom, you're in danger, okay? Richie and Terry are gang members, okay? He's only getting close to you so that he can-"

"Hun, whose this?" a voice asked, and Blake gulped, realizing he'd shown up at a bad time, when both Richie and Terry rounded the corner, arms crossed, looking down at him threateningly.

"This is my son." His mother said, pulling her arm away from him, glaring at Blake. "I don't know what he's doing here, after I told him he wasn't welcome here."

This was the first time he'd seen her in over a year, and her words were hurtful. But still, he was glad to see her. Despite everything that had happened, he still loved her. He remembered the days when they used to hide in his bedroom closet together, waiting for the pounding on the door to stop, as his father screamed at them, not even drunk, just mean. He remembered when she had come in one night and handed him a weapon, a large bat, and told him to hide it under his bed. He remembered she did the same.

They were soldiers back then, on the same side, fighting the same enemy. Now, she was in the enemy's army, fighting him, her son. It hurt to think about. Why had she ended up this way?

His thoughts were cut off when Terry stepped forward, smirking down at him smugly.

"Do you want me to throw him out, Hazel?" he asked, calling his mother by her first name. Terry was taller than him, it wasn't like he shrunk over the years, so Blake stood up straighter, hoping it would make him a little taller. Terry's smirk grew wider, and he winked at Blake when his mother turned away.

"Mom." Blake said, trying to sound calm. "Come outside. I need to talk to you about something."

"What?"

"I can't say it here."

"Anything you can say to me, you can say to Richie and Terry."

Not exactly.

He glared at the two men with hate, and he could tell that they were enjoying this, lording the power they were holding over him. He should have waited for Dante.

Dante.

He'd call Dante.

"Nevermind." he said, turning around and going right back out the door he'd just come through, pulling his cellphone from his pocket. He hoped his mother would be alright, but he knew he would be no match for the both of them. And even though he was mad at Dante, and they were fighting, he needed him.

His phone was ringing. He stood outside the door, listening to it ring and listening for his mother at the same time, afraid he'd hear her scream, or the sounds of struggling. Thankfully, nothing.

Unthankfully, he was getting the same from Dante.

His cell rang a few more times, and he whispered, "Pick up, pick up, pick up, I need you, pick up."

No such luck.

Dante's voicemail picked up, and he was just about to hang up and call Brock when suddenly, a hand reached out and grabbed his arm. He ripped away without looking to see who it was, and took off running down the street, speeding up when he heard footsteps behind him.

"Gonna finish what I started, little boy!" the person chasing him shouted. Terry. Terry, who killed out of boredom. He didn't call back anything, just kept running, looking back at his house, hoping his mother was still okay. Terry was close behind. Blake kept running. Maybe he could take Terry down, but he knew Terry was probably armed, and he'd stand no chance against somebody with a gun.

Realizing he was still on voicemail, he hung up, and hit redial. It rang, one, twice, three times, again, each one long and echoing, making him feel like he really was very alone right now.

But then, the ringing stopped, and an irritated voice came on, the same voice he loved he so much.

"What do you want?" Dante asked, and he gasped in relief, "Dante!"

Dante instantly heard the panic in his voice, and when he spoke, he sounded much more alarmed, and worried.

"What's wrong!? What happened? Where are you!?"

"He's chasing me!" he huffed out. "I went...to my mom's to warn her! Th-they were there!" he panted out, and Dante cussed loudly, and Blake could hear the sound of many running feet, which he figured was the gang coming for him.

Suddenly, a loud shot rang out, and a hole appeared right next to his running feet. He screamed in alarm, and on the other end of the phone Dante said, "What happened!?"

"He's gotta gun!"

"Fucking, hold on, you hear me!?"

He was going to answer, but then somebody came out from a car that had been parked, door blocking his path, and a second later, a human was too. It was Edd, and he instantly grabbed the phone and ripped it from his grip. Blake stopped running for only a second, then started again, willing to lose his phone, but then Terry tackled him.

"Get off me!" he shouted, struggling in Terry's grip, but Terry sat on his back, trapping him under him.

"Been waiting for this day, Blakey." Terry chuckled, and Blake shouted, "Dante!"

On the other side of the phone, he could hear a hoard of screaming and shouting, and angry curses. Edd smirked down at him, then put the phone to his ear.

"We've got your little bitch, Dante." he said, and Dante was so angry that Blake could hear him through the phone.

"I'll kill you, you son of a bitch! You're dead!"

Edd laughed. "Not exactly in the position to be making threats, are you Dante? I need you to listen calmly to what I'm saying, or else."

"Fuck you, why would I listen to anything you say!?"

"Because." Edd said, and Blake turned his head just in time to see him nod his head at Terry, who cackled, then wrapped his hands around Blake's neck, starting to squeeze slowly, and getting tighter and tighter every second.

"What are you doing!? Let...go!" he gasped, and a second later, Edd was crouched beside then, and he had the phone held up to Blake, so that Dante could hear him struggling for breath.

"Blake!" Dante screamed, "Blake! Let him go! Let him go now!"

"Dan..." Blake gasped out, but that was all he could manage. Black started seeping in through the side of his vision, and his lungs were started to burn.

"Blake!" he heard, and the was the last thing he remembered hearing.

The last think he remembered thinking was, That's the first time you've called me by my name.

*(*)

When he woke up, he wasn't surprised to find that his hands been handcuffed behind him, and his feet cuffed too. He looked around, but there was nothing to see. He was in an empty room, with hardwood floors, with nobody inside it.

He rolled onto his back, and sat up. There was a door, but he was willing to bet that it was locked. A window a few feet away. Maybe he could break it and get out somehow.

Before he got the chance to try, he heard the door unlock, and a second later, the door opened. Edd, Terry, Richie, and a bunch of guys he vaguely recognized as being there the night he was almost killed came in. Terry was the one who spoke to him, crouching down so they could be at eye level.

"Glad to see you're up." he said. "Dante's on his way. Alone, of course. Unless he wants me to cut your pretty little neck."

Blake didn't say anything back, but a second later, Terry had him by the shirt, and he pulled him up, then slammed him back into the wall behind him. It was next to the window, but looking out it, Blake was dismayed to see that he was on the second floor.

"Pay attention when people talk to you." Terry snarled, and Blake looked back at him.

"Why are you doing this? What do you want from Dante?" he asked calmly, though inside he was burning with red hot rage.

"I want to kill him."

His eyes widened at the words. "W-what? Why?"

Terry smiled, leaning down to whisper in Blake's ear.

"Because, I want to."

This man truly had no heart. He was a soulless demon. It wasn't even for reasons like, he wanted his territory, so he could make more money selling drugs and stuff. It was just, "I want to." That was it.

"Burn in hell." Blake whispered back, and Terry pulled away.

"Not yet. Not till I'm done with you and Dante. But before I get my turn, my cousin Edd, you remember Edd right? Yeah well, he's got a grudge to settle with you."

He let go of Blake and he and his guys started leaving the rooming, leaving Edd and Blake alone. As soon as they were all gone, Edd pulled his hand back and punched Blake as hard as he could, right in the face. Blake slammed back into the wall, grunting on impact.

"Only way you can take me on..." he panted, "Is by cuffing me?"

Edd only laughed, and lifted his foot, kicking him in the stomach. The air went out of Blake, and he sunk to his knees, wheezing for breath. Instantly Edd was there, kicking him again and again, and Blake screamed in pain when he heard a crack, followed by a searing pain in his chest.

"Does that hurt?" Edd laughed, putting his foot on Blake's rib and pressing down hard. Blake's mouth opened to scream, but nothing came out.

"Sorry, can't hear you." Edd said, pressing down harder. Blake's body spasmed from the pain, and that only made it worse, and he screamed again, louder, and Edd's eyes glinted down at him sadistically.

"Scream like that when Dante's fucking ya?" he asked, but Blake couldn't answer. He thought he was going to die from the pain.

Dante, hurry up, he thought, but then he remembered.

No, stay away, he thought. I don't care if I die here, just don't come. Or...you'll die.

And I'll truly be alone.

He didn't want to be alone. More than anything, he never wanted to be alone. When he was a child, he had his mother, when he was at school, he had Kon, when he came home, he had Dante, and Brock, Steve, Gina, Will, Trace, and everybody. His whole life, he always made sure there was somebody he could be with, and belong with. It's what he wanted. Needed.

Right now, he was physically alone, but in his heart, he could feel his friends, a part him. As long as they were with him, he wasn't afraid.

Edd's assault didn't stop. He remembered Terry saying that he needed him for something else, but at this moment, Edd's body was consumed with anger, rage, and hate, and Blake knew he wasn't going to stop, not until he was dead.

It got black. The door opened. It was Terry, pulling Edd away from him.

"I didn't say you could kill the little fag!" he heard Terry shouting at Edd, and he thought, Gee thanks.

Suddenly, a loud pop drew all their attention.

"Was that a gunshot?" Terry hissed, and instantly, they wiped their guns out, and he, Edd, and the five guys that had been with him all ran out of the room, guns ready to shoot. Terry turned as he locked the door behind him, saying, "You better hope that's not him with the gun, boy. Or you're dead."

And then he shut the door, running off to join his friends.

"Dante!" Blake screamed. "Run, Dante!"

Don't let Dante die.

He had to get out of here. The only way all of them could survive this was if he got out. But the door was locked. The only way out was through the window. He looked at it, teeth clenching in fear. He took a short breath to steel himself for the task. He would have taken a larger one, but he was pretty sure he had a few broken ribs, and taking large breaths hurt really badly.

He stumbled up, panting and bleeding, going over to the window. He curled his hands into fist, and, knowing it was extremely stupid, he started hitting the glass with all his hands. One the third hit, his hands came back, and the glass had blood on it.

He hit again. He felt a crack.

Again. Pain in his hand. When his hand came back this time, he saw tiny shards of glass in his skin.

Too bad, he thought. Keep going.

His hits became more and more frantic as he heard shouting downstairs, and the sounds of gunshot, punches, screaming. Dante was down there.

The pain in his hand was bad, but it was nothing like the pain in his chest.

Or the pain in his heart.

"Dante!" he screamed, hitting the glass, hoping Dante could hear him past all the chaos.

"DANTE!" he screamed again, because it gave him strength.

And this time, the glass shattered, falling down to the sidewalk below, showering some innocent passerby, who looked up at him in horror.

"Out of my way!" he yelled at them, sitting on the glassy edge of the window, ripping his pants, and his skin. This was going to hurt, but it was his only choice. And besides he was tough. He was one of Dante's gang. He was theirs, and they were his.

"Look out below!" he screamed, and his voice, despite his thoughts, was high in terror. He pushed himself off, and the people below instantly started screaming, dashing to get out of his way.

He fell, and the world flew by him in seconds. Sharp pain surged up his feet and legs as he hit the pavement, and he tripped over his own restraints. He heard another crack, but this time in his leg. He screamed in pain again, and fell down, rolling on to his back to breath. Instantly, he was surrounded by people, but none of them Dante.

"Help me up!" he ordered, and a young man's hand darted out to grab his. He pulled him up, and Blake nodded at him in thanks, then, he jumped up the three steps to the door in one swoop. He fell against the door. From here, the chaos was deafening. Why was nobody doing anything? Maybe they had been. He had no idea.

"Dante!" he screamed, throwing the door open. Inside, he was greeted by the sight of Dante, backed up against a wall, face bloody and bruised. Clearly they'd been having as much fun beating him, as Edd had had with him. And since he thought Blake was upstairs, defenseless and scared, he'd let them.

"Blake!" Dante shouted, "How'd you-!?"

"Window." Blake said, smiling, reaching his cuffed arm up to wipe away some blood that was dripping into his eye.

"You-!"

"Come on, Dante. Let's go."

Dante's eyes grew serious, and he suddenly reached over, grabbed the man who was standing closest to him, twisted him around, grabbed his gun, threw him to the ground, and pointed it at the second closest person to him.

Terry.

"You bastards!" Terry screamed. "I'll get you!"

"Don't think so." Dante said, and he brought the gun down on Terry's head, knocking him out cold. Apparently his men weren't as completely as cold hearted as Terry himself, because they ran over to check on him. Dante pushed past them, and picked Blake up, who whimpered in pain that the movement caused.

"You look..."

"I'm not...a pretty picture..."

Dante hushed him and slammed the door shut, rushing him quickly to his car. He wanted to beat the hell out of Terry and his gang, and usually he would, but right now, Blake was in serious danger, and that came first. He could always come back later for them.

"Where are...we..."

"Hospital." Dante answered, putting him gently down in the backseat.

Blake didn't argue, his body was in more pain then he ever wanted to feel again. He shut his eyes, trying to control his breathing. Vaguely, he heard Dante talking to somebody, but when he opened his eyes, he saw that he was lifting his phone up to his ear, so he closed them again, figuring Dante must be calling their gang.

The car went over a bump in the road, and he hissed in pain as it jostled him. In the front seat, Dante clenched his teeth at the sound. Every beat of his heart surged more anger through him, until he was so furious that his hands were shaking on the steering wheel, knuckles white from the pressure he was using.

"Boss?" came Brock's voice on the phone, frantic and relieved at the same time.

"I got him." Dante said. "We're going to the hospital."

"Hospital? Is he okay?"

"No."

"We'll meet you there."

"No. I have another job for you guys." Dante said, turning and looking over his shoulder to see if Blake was listening. The young boy looked unconscious, and almost dead, but Dante could see his chest rising and falling.

"What is it?"

"Revenge." Dante said simply, and for a few seconds, it was quiet on the other line. But then Brock came back on, and his voice was quivering with anticipation. "You can count on us, Boss."

They hung up.

*(*)

At the bar, Brock turned and looked at his friends, who were all waiting for him to say what had happened, huddled close together. Closest to him was Steve, who had practically plastered himself to Brock's side in an attempt to hear the other end of the conversation. Their tension and anger was rolling through the air, they were ready to rip somebody apart.

"Little Boss has to go to a hospital. It's bad."

"Fuck!" Steve cursed, and he was echoed all through the room. Will punched a wall, leaving a hole in it the size of his fist.

"Calm down." Brock said. "We got a job to do."

"Job? What job?" Steve asked, looking back to him.

"Payback."

It was quiet for a second, and then they all began to grin sadistically, readying to let out their fury on their enemies, who had dared to hurt Blake.

"Let's get em!" Will shouted, lifting his fist into the air, and all around, fists went up.

"Nobody hurts our white boy and gets away with it!"

"For Little Boss!"

"For Little Boss!"

They grabbed their guns, though they didn't plan on using them. They were just their for backup. No, they wanted to use their bare fists to unleash the fury they had inside them. They burst out the bar door, screaming a battle cry of pure rage.

*(*)

Dante sat by his bed side for almost an hour, ignoring the different doctors who told him to go home, and that they'd call him when Blake woke up. Finally, they'd left him alone, and now he was here, looking at Blake's face, all cut up and bruised, but still beautiful.

"Stupid kid." he mumbled. Why had he he gone to save his mother without any backup? What in the world had made him think that that was a good idea? He didn't stand a single chance. Why did this kid think he was invincible?

But the bigger question, at least to Dante, was why had he let Blake walk out of the house? He'd known Blake was upset, and experience told him that Blake didn't do well when he was angry. He made poor decisions. And Dante knew that. But, because he'd been embarrassed, because of the topic of conversation only seconds before the argument, he'd decided to take it out on Blake.

Before Blake, Dante had always told himself that he was strong, and that nothing could change him. But this kid, this stupid ass white kid, just burst into his life, superglued himself to Dante's side, and made Dante rethink everything he knew about himself. All of a sudden, he was blushing when a gay comment was made about them, and flying off the handle with barely suppressed rage when Blake was in danger.

The longer he knew this kid, the less and less composed he became. And he didn't like that. Didn't like it all.

And because of his stupid pride, Blake had been hurt. Almost killed.

And they were going after him anyway, so they could corner Dante. He'd always known that Blake would get hurt hanging around him, and now it had happened. It was far worse then anything he'd ever imagined. As long as Blake stayed, he was in danger.

"Dante." Blake suddenly said. His eyes were groggy with sleep, pain, and morphine. But when he saw that it was indeed Dante sitting next to him, he smiled weakly.

"Hey kid. How you feeling?" Dante asked, trying to sound like he didn't really care either way.

"Like I fell out a two story window."

"More like jumped, dumbass."

Blake just kept smiling, and didn't say anything. Finally, Dante started to get embarrassed, so he frowned and asked, "What the hell are you smiling at?"

"I'm smiling at the guy who saved my life."

His words were kind. The kid was so naive. He was so stupid, and reckless, and dumb, and he was a trouble magnet. He was more trouble then he was worth, and he was brave, and adorable, and...

Dante cursed internally. Before he'd met this kid, he'd also never had problems with his sexuality, but now all of a sudden, everyone was waiting for him to confess his love to a damn child, who was young enough to be his little brother.

And the crazier thing was, sometimes, he wanted to.

But he knew he wasn't right for this kid. First of all, he was way too old for him. Second, he liked the ladies. Nice, dark chocolate ladies, with curves. Not pasty skinned, skinny ass, not to mention dumb, teenage boys.

And he definitely didn't want to see him hurt. More important then anything, more then his confusing feelings, was Blake's life. And as long as he was around him, he could die.

"Kid. I think you should stay away from me. From all of us."

Blake's eyes got a twinge of sadness, but he didn't look surprised.

"I had a feeling you were going to say that."

That was all he wanted to say?

"And?"

"And fuck you."

Dante's eyes widened. Hadn't expected that.

"What?"

"I'm not leaving. First of all, I'd see you at the bar everyday anyway."

That was true.

"I can find another place to hang."

"I'd find you."

Dante clenched his teeth. The boy was so stubborn, and did he mention, dumb?

"Why would you want to be near me?"

"Because I l-" Blake cut himself off, but Dante knew what he was about to say. It was worse then he thought. "Because I don't care what happens. I want to be with you guys. Besides, I could never ditch the guy who saved my life."

"The one who endangered your life."

"By saving it."

"Huh?" Dante asked, confused, and Blake smiled at him in a way that said Dante was the dumb one, not him.

"Being around you put my life in danger. But the only reason I had a life to endanger, was because you saved me."

Dante clicked his tongue.

"I wouldn't have saved you if I knew you were going to be this much trouble." he lied, trying to look cold again.

"If I had known how much trouble I would be, I wouldn't have asked you to." Blake said, switching it around on him, and now Dante was glaring at him, and saying, "Don't say dumb stuff like that."

"Okay." Blake answered simply, like it was no big deal.

Dante nodded, like it was settled. And even though Blake was afraid he'd keep up his previous topic, he didn't, so maybe it was settled.

"Dante?" Blake said.

"Hmm."

"You know that I love you, right?"

Dante sighed, and shook his head. "Yeah I know."

"So why do you let me stay then?"

Dante knew what he wanted. He wanted him to say something like, "Because I love you too," or whatever. He snorted.

"Cause you'd just come back."

At that second, the door burst open, and the guys rushed in, all crowding around his bed in seconds, all asking him if he was okay. There was a pack of worried doctors and nurses behind them, apparently scared that this all black gang had been planning to kill the weak little white boy. But they started backing off slowly when they saw how easily Blake smiled at them.

"Are you guys okay?" Blake asked, "You're all bloody."

The guys all smiled at each other, and Steve said, "We made a quick pit stop."

Blake scolded them for a few minutes, telling them they shouldn't have done it, but he was really very happy they had. Maybe this would teach that dumb gang to stop messing around with them. Because no matter how strong they thought they were, they would always be second to Dante's gang.

"Don't have to do that for me." he said, and they all started scolding him for saying it. A few minutes later, they were all fighting over his bedroom remote, apparently planning on being around for awhile. Dante rolled his eyes at them, and then smiled down at Blake, who smiled back, happy, even though Dante still hadn't told him he loved him.

Maybe he never would.

Blake would still love him.

Time Skip

He was walking down the school hallway, arms full of books he needed for a project that was due in two days, but he hadn't even started. Suddenly, somebody walked right into him, and all the books he'd been carrying fell to the ground, sliding across the hall, and a few going down the stairs.

He instantly got defensive, sure that it was another gangster wannabe, but when he stood up, fists clenched, there was another person getting off the ground too. The guy was tall, and broad, with short brown hair. Probably a jock.

"So sorry, man!" the guy said, and he sounded honest, so Blake let it slide.

"It's okay." he said, leaning down to start picking up his books. The guy said, "Let me help," and went around the hallway, getting the books closest to him.

"I wouldn't do that if I was you." Blake said, getting the books that were on the stairs."

"Why not?" the guy asked.

"You new here?" Blake responded. He had to be. There was no other way that the guy hadn't heard of him.

"Yeah. Just got here yesterday."

"Well then, wait a few more days. You'll figure it out." Blake said, grabbing the books from the guy, and smiling thankfully. "Thanks for picking up my books."

And then he walked off, leaving the guy in the hallway.

*(*)

That night, Blake went over to Dante's. Ever since he'd figured out where it was, Dante had stopped telling him to never come over, so now he went over quite often, and sometimes spent the night, though nothing ever happened. He walked in without knocking, like he always did, but when he looked around, he didn't see anybody.

"Dante?" he called, going towards his bedroom. He heard somebody shuffling around, and a second later, the door opened. But instead of Dante, it was some chick. She waved without looking at him, called back to Dante, "Call me if you ever wanna do this again," and left.

Blake watched her walk out, and when he turned to look, Dante was standing in his bedroom doorway, smoking a cigarette.

"Hungry?" he asked, and Blake nodded. Dante moved past him to go into the kitchen. Blake bit his lip. Even though he'd told Dante how he felt, and even though he knew Dante knew, nothing had changed between them. Dante was still sleeping with girls, and still not showing interest in Blake.

"I..." he said, and Dante looked over from the kitchen.

"You?"

Blake stood there, thinking. He was getting tired. He was getting tired of following Dante to the end of the world, and getting nothing in return. Why didn't Dante like him? What was it about him? Was it really that he as a guy? Was that all?

He loved Dante so much. How long did he have to wait for Dante to love him back?

"I'm...gonna go." he said, and he started for the door.

"Huh? Wait!" Dante said, surprised, and he went to intercept him. He blocked the door, forcing Blake to stand there. "What's wrong?" Dante asked, but Blake knew he knew what was wrong.

But he lied. He didn't need to cause Dante anymore trouble.

"I don't feel well."

"Well maybe you'll feel better after you have something to eat." Dante said, grabbing him by the wrist and pulling him towards the tiny kitchen. Blake let him pull him, and took a seat on one of the chairs that had randomly ended up in there.

"How was school?" Dante asked him as he started cooking.

"The same."

The same thing every day.

*(*)

The next day, he saw the guy again. But instead of avoiding him, or giving Blake a nasty glare, he ran over instead. "Hey. I guess I know what you were talking about yesterday."

"Yeah?" Blake asked, smiling at him. "You know I'm a self hating faggot now?"

"Well, that's putting it nicely, compared to some of the stuff I heard." the guy said, laughing. Blake laughed with him, and nodded. "Yeah, a lot of the kids here don't like me."

"Well, a lot of the trashy white kids. But who cares what they think?"

Blake smiled at him gratefully. "What's your name?" he asked, and the guy smiled and held out his hand to shake.

"I'm Cade."

"Nice to meet you Cade. I'm Blake."

"I didn't see you in any of my classes. I guess we don't have any classes together."

"Seems logical."

Cade smiled and said, "Well do you play any sports? On any teams?"

"I just joined the baseball team this year." Blake said. It had been a random whim of his, to be on some sort of team. He'd actually wanted to join basketball, but Edd was on the basketball team, so he'd taken his second choice.

Cade nodded to himself. "I could get into baseball." he said, winking at Blake. Blake looked at him astonishment. Was he hitting on him? What was he supposed to do? Hit on him back? Run down the hall? Before he could decide, Cade asked, "So is it true that you run with an all black gang?"

"Since I was fourteen."

"Woah. Epic. How'd that happen?"

"They saved my life." Blake said, smiling at the memory.

"Saved your life? That's really cool."

"Yeah. From an all white gang."

"Spreading trash about us again?" a voice suddenly asked from behind them, and Blake and Cade both turned. Blake clenched his fists when he spotted Edd coming at him from down the hall.

"Don't start shit with me again, Edd." Blake warned. "I'll slit your throat."

Cade looked at him in shock, wondering where the friendly little guy he'd been talking with a few seconds ago had gone. This kid was kind of scary.

"No you wouldn't. You'd send Dante to do, like the chicken shit you are."

"You think I need Dante to defend myself from you? I flipped you on your ass, and we both know it."

"Yeah. But what happened afterward? Which of us had to go to the hospital?"

"The only reason you were able to lay a hand on me was because you cuffed my hands behind my back, and had all your little gang friends to watch your back."

Cade's eyes widened, and he realized that what was going on here was serious. Cade was easily taller then all the kids that were ganging up on Blake, and so he stepped in front of Blake and raised his fists threateningly.

"I think you guys better move on." he said, and Edd glared at him, then laughed.

"Wow Blake, player status. You got guys lining up for you left and right, don't you?"

"Fuck off."

"Calm your gay ass down. We're going." Edd said, going past him. When he was close to Blake, he reached up and patted his cheek in a gesture that was both soft and incredibly threatening. "I wouldn't fly off the handle if I was you, Blakey. Remember that pain you were in? I can make it so much worse."

Blake just stared straight ahead, not even looking at him.

"You don't scare me." he said.

"I think you're lying."

"Whatever helps you sleep at night."

Edd laughed, but suddenly Cade gave him a violent shove, and he hit the ground. Blake looked at his new friend in surprise, and smiled at him. The smile vanished when he saw Mrs. White coming down the hall.

"Gotta fucking be kidding me." he said. Even though he hadn't even touched Edd, and it was clearly Cade being the violent one, he had a sinking suspicion...

Which is how he got suspended from school for a third time.

*(*)

"Let me guess." Dante said as he opened his door. "You got suspended."

"Yep."

"Why?"

"Ask him." Blake said, stepping into Dante's apartment. Behind him, Cade smiled and waved, following him in. Was this going to happen to him every year? Well, this was his senior year, so it's not like it could happen again next year, but still, three years in a row.

"Hey," Cade said, "I was defending you."

"Defending?" Dante asked, shutting the door behind them. He didn't ask who Cade was, or seem the least bit jealous, which kind of pissed off Blake, since it was the reason he'd asked Cade if he wanted to go with him and meet Dante.

"Yeah. Some creep was messing with him."

"Who?" Dante asked, looking at Blake, who rolled his eyes.

"Do you have to ask?"

Dante sighed, and looked at Cade. "Did you get suspended too?"

"Yeah."

Dante shook his head. "I swear, crazy white kids multiplying."

Blake looked at Dante, and laughed when he got a look at his hair, which was sticking up all over the place. "Have you brushed your hair since you woke up?" he asked, and Dante shook his head in an uncaring way.

"Yeah well, you should. It looks like a grenade blew up on your head." Blake said, and Cade laughed at his joke. Dante whacked Blake on the back of his head as he made his way over to the couch, and Blake quickly took the spot next to him. Cade sat next to him, and Blake could see him observing them when he thought they weren't looking.

"Here, I'll brush it." Blake joked, putting his fingers in Dante's hair and pulling them through. He thought that Dante would push him away or something, but to his joy, Dante tilted his head, allowing him better access. Behind him Cade said, "Here, I'll do you," and a second later, Blake felt his fingers in his hair, pulling through gently.

He laughed like it was a joke, but a part of him was wondering if Cade might like him.

Then he saw Dante's eyes flash over to Cade, and he felt a flicker of hope at the look in Dante's eyes. Was he jealous?

Then Dante's phone rang, and he went into a different room to talk, which instantly let Blake know that it was a girl. If it had been one of the guys, Dante wouldn't have bothered. Cade noticed his face fall, and asked, "Girlfriend?"

Blake looked at him, and asked teasingly, "You calling me gay?"

Cade smiled at him. "You won't be winning the, "Straight Guy of the Year Award."

"You either." Blake said, pushing him lightly.

"So," Cade said, and suddenly the air was different. He was looking at Blake in a different way. Probably the way Blake looked at Dante.

"So?" Blake said.

"You like baseball?"

Confused at the random subject change, Blake just nodded. "It's okay."

"Do you pitch or catch?"

Blake laughed at the dirty joke, but inside, he felt weird. Cade was a nice guy, and he clearly liked Blake, didn't he? Enough to defend him from his enemies, and make flirty comments. And so far, being around him felt nice. Not stressful, light, like maybe he had a chance. He was getting tired of chasing Dante. He loved Dante, he knew, without a doubt, but did Dante love him back?

And if he didn't, didn't that mean Blake deserved to find somebody else?

"I'll uh, get back to you on that one." he said, avoiding the gay implications. Cade smiled and shrugged, leaning back in the couch. A second later, Dante was back in the room, and he said, "If you guys don't mind, I have someone coming over."

"Oh, no problem." Cade said, getting up and smoothing his clothes. He looked at Blake, who was trying his best not to glare at Dante. He muttered, "Whatever," and got up, grabbing Cade by the wrist and pulling him out of the door.

As they were walking down the street, Cade said, "You really like him, huh?"

Blake didn't respond.

"But he doesn't like you back, does he?"

Blake sighed. "I don't know."

"Don't you think it's about time to move on?"

Blake stopped walking, and Cade looked at him seriously. Blake tried to smile, to make it all a joke again.

"To you?"

Cade shrugged and said, "I'd treat you good."

"How can you even be crushing on me? We just met yesterday."

"You don't believe in love at first sight?"

Blake thought back to the day he met Dante. "I do believe in it, actually. I've had it."

"With Dante." Cade said knowingly, and Blake nodded.

"Well, how about you just try one date with me, and we see if it goes anywhere?"

Blake stared at him, then looked back the way he'd come, at Dante's. For almost four years, Dante had been all he wanted, and he'd wanted to be all Dante wanted. How could he just move on? If he could just move on, didn't that mean he didn't love Dante as much as he thought? But how could he not love Dante, after everything they'd been through?

He sighed, feeling torn. He looked at Cade apologetically. "Let me think about it, okay? Four years of love can't just be washed away, you know?"

Cade nodded understandingly, and reached into Blake's pocket for his phone. He punched his number in, and slid it back into his pocket.

"When you've thought about it enough, give me a call."

*(*)

Later that day, he was back at Dante's, and the guys were there too. They were all crowded around the TV, watching a new episode of their favorite show, "Don't Tell." Dante was the only one not there, he was in one of the backrooms, talking on the phone again. When he'd answered it, Blake started to get increasingly worried. Was it the same girl calling? Was something about her special?

"So, heard you got suspended again." Will said, and he nodded, but didn't go into details.

"What else happened today?" Brock asked him, and for some reason, he just blurted it out.

"I got asked out on a date."

"By that Cade guy?" Dante asked, suddenly in the room. Blake looked at him over his shoulder a second, then back at the TV.

"Yeah that's right."

"Makes sense. He couldn't have been more obvious."

Blake scoffed, starting to get mad. "What are you talking about? We were only here for like, a minute, before you kicked us out so you could talk to your girlfriend. How can you judge a person in a minute?"

Dante pulled out a cigarette, lit it up, and started smoking. Around them, the guys were quiet, watching with interest.

"Oh please. "Pitcher or Catcher?" He might as well have just written it on his forehead."

Blake blushed at the thought of Dante hearing that, but he didn't know why.

"Yeah well, I'm going to tell him yes." he said, a split second decision. He honestly hadn't been thinking about it too much, but Dante's attitude was starting to rub him the wrong way.

Dante shrugged like he didn't care. Maybe he didn't.

"You don't care, do you?" Blake asked, and his tone was harsh enough that the guys started looking at each worriedly, realizing that something was about to go down, and they may need to intervene.

"You just like watching me chasing you, don't you?" Blake asked, starting to shout. He stood up and went over to Dante, so that they were standing face to face. "But you have no intention of ever being with me, do you!? You're just playing with me!"

Dante glared down at him, took his cigarette out of his mouth, and said, "Don't bring that guy over here. My place is just for my gang."

My gang. Like Blake didn't belong here at all.

Blake shoved Dante as hard as he could, and Dante hit the wall behind him. "Yeah, the gang and your fucking sluts! But I'm not allowed to bring a friend over?"

Dante's glare got worse, and he stood up straight, so that he towered over Blake.

"It's my house. I can bring whoever I want into it."

Blake felt his anger rising with each and every second.

"Why am I wasting my time on you!?" he screamed. He was vaguely aware that the guys had started moving around them, preparing to intervene. "You're a waste of my time, and space, and love!" he said, and the anger he felt surged through him, and he clenched his hand into a fist, and he he raised his hand to punch Dante.

Almost instantly, Dante was holding his wrist in a death grip, squeezing it so tightly that Blake thought there would be bruises. He tried to pull away, but Dante just tightened his grip.

"Let go!" Blake shouted. It actually hurt more then he thought it would, but he didn't want Dante to know that, so he just twisted some more, making it hurt worse, shouting, "Let go!"

Dante just held on, letting him run out of wind, until Brock stepped up and said, "Boss, you're hurting him."

At Brock's words, Dante frowned, and looked Blake, who was trying to use his other hand to force Dante to let go of him. Dante released him, and Blake stood there, realizing that somewhere along the way, he'd started to cry.

He turned and ran out of the house.

*(*)

He tried to go to Gina's, but the door was locked, which probably meant that she would be gone for another hour. He had nowhere to go, no one to to talk too, nothing that mattered.

He tried calling Kon, but she didn't pick up, even though he called like, five times. Eventually, the only one he had left to call was Cade, but that felt wrong. After fighting with Dante so recently, it would be pretty fucked up to just zoom over to a different guy, who happened to be interested in him.

He sighed and put his phone in his pocket. Maybe a walk by himself would cool his head, and clear his thoughts.

But somehow he ended up in his mom's yard, on the porch, hand raised, poised to knock. He missed her. He loved her, despite everything. He wanted to fix things. And at times like these, he could really use some motherly advice.

He knew for a fact that none of Terry or his gang members came around her anymore, since that had all been a trap, but he wondered if she knew, or if they had just left, and never given an explanation. Maybe, if she would listen to him, he could tell her. And maybe she'd feel bad, and say sorry, and he could forgive her, and introduce her to Dante, in a proper way, and they could all be happy, and she'd accept their love.

Except that Dante didn't love him.

He dropped his hand and stepped backwards off the little stairs.

"Love you." he whispered, even though he knew she didn't hear him.

"Aw, ain't that sweet."

Blake turned, and was not surprised to see Edd standing a few feet away, grinning at him mockingly.

"What do you want? Is this seriously about what happened at school?" Blake asked with an exasperated sigh.

Edd shook his head. "Actually, it's about something different."

"What? You finally gonna confess your love to me?" Blake asked. But even though he was joking, and the thought disgusted him, Edd smiled.

"Something like that." the other boy said, and Blake frowned.

"Yeah well, not interested." he said, and he quickly cut across his mother's lawn, hoping Edd wouldn't follow him. But when he turned, he saw that Edd was following him, and that he was pulling a gun from his jacket.

Damnit. Blake thought. I really need to start carrying a gun with me.

"Stop right there." Edd ordered, pointing the gun right at him.

"Yeah right." Blake said, not even looking back. Suddenly, a shot rang out, and when he looked back in shock, he saw that Edd had shot a warning fire up into the air, and was looking at him seriously. "I'm not kidding." he said.

"Go ahead. Shoot as much as you want. People will hear you."

"But nobody will do anything."

Sad thing was, it was probably true.

"Go away Edd." Blake said, turning away again.

And then there was a loud crack, and an unbelievable pain in Blake's leg. He fell to his knee, screaming in pain. When he looked, he saw that Edd really had shot him, and blood was dripping onto the sidewalk.

"Told you I wasn't kidding." Edd said, coming up behind him. Blake hissed in pain, glaring at him.

"What do you fucking want? Something with Dante? Yeah well, news flash, he doesn't love me. So it's pointless."

Edd laughed, and shook his head. "Naw, this doesn't have anything to do with our gangs. This here, is just about you and me. Me finally getting to do what I've always wanted to do to you." Edd winked.

And then Blake got it. He was here for one reason. Sex. He wanted sex. Blake didn't hold back his laugh. "Oh, this is just rich. All those gay taunts, and all along..." he trailed off with a mocking chuckle. "Well, you know what they say."

Edd narrowed his eyes, but smiled anyway. "I wouldn't piss me off. I don't see any of your friends around, do you? You're kind of fucked, aren't you?"

Blake pressed his hand to his leg wound with one hand, considering grabbing his phone and trying to call for help. Doing it right here though would be stupid, because he would have no way to fight of Edd, who could easily reach over and take it from him. So maybe if he didn't say anything about, Edd would think he didn't have it, and he could call for help later.

But apparently Edd wasn't as dumb as Blake thought he was, because he reached into Blake's shirt pockets, searching for his phone. Blake jerked back, hand going instantly to his back pants pocket, since that's where his phone was. He grabbed it, and only had time to dial the 9 i before Edd ripped it out of his hands and chucked it across his mother's lawn.

"So you can't call your pimp." Edd said, and he reached down and started Blake up.

"Let go of me, you sick freak!" Blake shouted, trying to push himself off. Edd just laughed. Blake wanted to punch his lights out, but he was starting to feel weary from blood lose, so he just started to shout instead, "Somebody help me! Help!" He saw lights turning on in houses, but nobody actually came out. And it started to hit him, how much danger he was in. He was going to get raped.

"HELP ME!" he screamed, but nobody came out. They knew he was out here, and they could hear him screaming, so why weren't they helping him?

He suddenly found himself in the trunk of Edd's car, and he lifted his good leg to fight back against the trunk door, but then pointed the gun at that leg too, and he quickly lowered it, letting Edd slam it shut.

"Let me out!" he ordered, pounding on it harshly. "Somebody, get me out of here! Help me!"

But nobody was coming.

*(*)

Dante was laying in his bed, looking up at his ceiling. Everything with the kid was getting out of hand. Why had it bothered him so much when that damn Cade kid came over? Sure he knew he had special feelings for Blake, but it certainly wasn't something he was going to act on. So why had he gotten jealous, and gotten mad when Blake said he was going to accept the date offer?

Because he...liked him. He liked him. But he didn't...love him...did he?

He sighed. Of course he loved Blake. He could argue with himself all he wanted, and he could sleep with as many girls as he could find, but nothing would change the fact that the one Dante dreamed about at night, and the one he thought about all day, was Blake. So why didn't he just tell him that?

Next time he saw him...he would.

At that second, his cell phone rang. He looked at, and wasn't totally surprised to see Blake's number. He accepted the call, saying, "Whatcha want kid, I'm trying to sleep."

"Dante?"

It wasn't Blake's voice. It wasn't even a boy's voice. But it sounded like somebody he vaguely recognized.

"Whose this?" he asked, sitting up in his bed. "And why do you have Blake's phone?"

"Dante...this is Blake's mother."

So that's why she sounded familiar. "Is he over at your house?" he asked. Maybe they were working things out. That would be good.

"No..." she said, and then she burst into tears.

"What?" Dante asked, shocked and confused. "What's wrong?"

"Oh God, Dante, you have to help him!" she sobbed, and Dante's heart started speeding. Blake was in danger.

"What happened to Blake?" he asked harshly.

"He...he was going to knock on the door! I was standing on the otherside...listening to him, but he didn't know."

"What happened to him?"

"That kid, Terry's cousin..."

Dante's blood boiled, and he hit the wall next to him, cursing loudly. "The gang got him again, didn't they?" he asked, half shouting.

"No...it was just Edd...he said he was going to...oh God, it's horrible! He shot him, and carried him, stuffed him in his trunk!" she wept, and then he couldn't understand her anymore.

"He's been shot!?" he repeated. "What did Edd want with him!? Tell me!" he demanded.

It was quiet for a few seconds as she tried to gather up all the strength she apparently needed to say what she was going to.

"Rape. He's going to rape my son."

*(*)

Blake had no idea where he was. When the trunk had opened, Edd had instantly brought a cloth down on his eyes, and blindfolded him. He'd yanked Blake out of the trunk, ignoring Blake's scream of pain. When it became apparent to Edd that Blake couldn't walk, he'd picked him up, thrown him over his shoulder, and a few minutes later, dropped him on the ground, tied his hands behind his back, which is where they were at now.

"Edd," Blake panted, trying to speak past the pain in his leg. He hadn't noticed it much earlier, because he'd been so occupied trying to fight off Edd, but now he was beginning to realize how much it hurt. "My leg..." he said, sitting up, shaking his head to try and knock the blindfold off, grabbing where he could tell the blood and pain was coming from.

"Shut up Blake. Live with it." came Edd's cruel reply, and a second later, his foot was pressing into Blake's leg, make his whole body scream in pain. Blake felt deja vu, but this time, he wouldn't scream, not if he could help it. Edd laughed at watching holding back, and a second later, the blindfold was gone, and Blake was looking up into Edd's face.

"You ready?" he asked, and Blake spit at him, the saliva hitting him right in the face. Edd wiped it away angrily, glared at Blake, and then punched him in the face with enough force to knock Blake onto his back.

"You're going to have to kill me once you're done." Blake said as he stared up at the ceiling, speaking to distract himself from the pain. "Because if you let me go, I'll kill you."

Edd shook his head. "Who said anything about letting you go? I could just keep you tied up here, and nobody would ever find you."

Blake inhaled sharply.

"Where are we at?"

"My house. Duh." Edd said, and Blake looked around. It was a small apartment, with barely room for the mattress that was pushed up against the wall. Other than that, there was not much else, just a chair, a small kitchen, and a tiny bathroom that looked from his point of view, like it could do with some cleaning.

"Your house sucks." Blake said through the pain, and he lay back, staring up at the ceiling. Edd's house. Dante would think to look here, right? It was an obvious place to check, wasn't it?

Edd just laughed quietly, like Blake had made some kind of joke.

"Alright." Edd said then, leaning over Blake, who's eyes widened, and he pressed himself back into the floor, like he would be able to get away. Edd laughed again, pulling a rope from seemingly out of nowhere, and used it to start tying Blake's hands behind his back. Blake didn't fight back, too wrapped up in the pain, but he swore that the first chance he got, he was going to kill Edd. He was more fucked up than Terry.

Once his hands were firmly behind his back, Edd whipped out a knife from his pocket, and slowly started cutting into Blake's shirt, ripping it right in half.

"You're sick." Blake whispered, and then he felt the cool tip of the knife pressing into his neck.

"And you're gonna learn to control your mouth." Edd whispered back. "Understand?"

Blake forced himself to nod silently when it became apparent that Edd was waiting for an answer, but it wasn't enough for the phsyco, because he forced the tip of the knife past the skin of Blake's neck, and a second later, Blake felt blood slowly dripping down his neck.

"Understand?" Edd repeated, and Blake nodded again, and forced himself to say, "I understand."

Edd patted his cheek gently with the knife. "Good." Blake felt his other hand slide inside of his shirt, and he looked away and closed his eyes. This...this wasn't good.

Help me Dante.

"Now, just lie back, relax, and prepare to scream."

*(*)

Dante kicked down the door to Terry's house. Literally. It was no longer attached to the hinges. He stomped through the darkness of the house, looking for Terry. He'd known for years where the gang leader lived, and now, he was glad he'd taken the time to learn, especially since he was the only one he knew the location of.

There were no footsteps running down to greet him, so either Terry wasn't home, or he was a heavy sleeper. The answer was given when he opened the door to the master bedroom and found Terry still sleeping soundly.

Dante stalked over, pulling the gun out of his pocket, and leveling it right at Terry's face. The sleeping gang leader didn't move at all.

"You got ten seconds to wake up Terry, or I shoot you in the face." Dante growled, and Terry's eyes shot open. When he saw the gun, his eyes narrowed and he snarled, "What the fuck are you doing here?"

"Where's Edd's house?" Dante asked right away, and Terry looked confused.

"What the hell do you want with Edd?" he asked, but Dante wasn't in the mood for questions, and he just grabbed Terry by the shirt and slammed him against the wall, inching the gun closer to his face.

"Where the fuck is his house?" he asked lowly, words dripping with threat, warning, anger, and rage.

But Terry was stubborn.

"I'm not going to fucking tell you were his lives, you psycho."

"Then I guess I'll have to force the answer out of you." Dante said, and he aimed the gun at Terry's arm, and without hesitation, he shot. Terry screamed in pain, but Dante wasn't fazed by it at all. He would kill all this scumbags if it meant saving Blake. Losing all of them was the best thing that could happen to him anyway.

Actually, Blake was the best thing that could ever happen to him.

Which was why he would kill Edd tonight.

"Let's try that again, Terry." Dante said when Edd was quieting down, clutching his bleeding arm in pain. "Tell me Edd's address, now, or next time, the shot goes in your face."

Terry sighed in frustration.

"Fine." he said, and he told Dante his address. Dante had no way to write it down, so he made sure to memorize it. When he was done telling, Terry's eyes suddenly widened in understanding. "Wait a second." he said. "Don't tell me. Edd's got his hands on Blake, doesn't he?" he asked, but Dante didn't need to answer for him to know that he was right. Nothing else would make Dante act this way.

"Hmm. I had a suspision that he was a faggot. He and are gonna need to have a talk, face to fist." Terry laughed, but Dante interrupted him, saying, "Trust me, you're not going to need too. Because I'm going to kill him."

Terry stared at him silently for a second, and Dante wondered if he was going to defend his cousin, but Terry was just as fucked up they had always thought, because he just laughed again. "Fine by me. Take him out."

Dante dropped Terry back onto his bed.

"I will. And then, I'll be back for you, you disgusting excuse for a human."

As he ran from the room, heading for Edd's house, he heard Terry laughing.

*(*)

Blake tried to calm his breathing as he felt Edd's hands on him. This was not what he wanted. He wanted these things to be done with Dante. Knowing that this was who it was made him want to vomit.

"Stop." he whispered, but Edd didn't answer him, and Blake suddenly felt his pants being slid down his legs. He started to scream, kicking his legs, and he felt his foot connect with Edd's chin, and he heard a loud thump as Edd hit the ground. He looked up, and almost sobbed in relief when he saw that he'd knocked Edd out.

He got up, forcing himself to go to his enemy on his injured leg. It took some serious manuevering, but eventually he was able to grab the knife, and he quickly stumbled over to the door.

He flipped around so that he could open the door, but the second he did, he froze. Edd was back up, and was picking up his gun. If his hands weren't tied behind his back, Blake would smack himself in the forehead for being so stupid as to not take away the weapon. He'd forgotten.

"Back on the ground, Blake." Edd ordered darkly, and Blake didn't have much of a choice. Not when his only weapon was a knife that was behind his back, and Edd had a gun. He slumped back onto the ground, and Edd came over and snatched the knife out of his hands.

"Someone's gonna need a punishment." Edd hissed, and then he lifted the knife, and plunged it into Blake's other leg, digging it into the skin. Blake screamed in pain, trying to get away, but when he moved, Edd just dug the knife in deeper, and said, "Stop."

And so he stopped.

Pleased that he was following his orders, Edd said, "I think that I deserve an apology."

Blake didn't say anything for a minute, but then when Edd moved the knife, he quickly said, "I'm s-sorry."

Edd grinned, and pulled him away from the door, back toward where they'd been before.

"It's gonna hurt even worse now, bitch." Edd promised darkly, and Blake had no doubts that he meant it.

"Dante!" he screamed as Edd ripped the material of his pants, having learned not to try and use his hands, unless he wanted to get kicked again.

At that second, the door flew off it's hinges, and when the two boys looked, neither were surprised to see that it was Dante. Edd sprang up, lifting his gun up at Dante, and dragging Blake up, pointing it at his head. The pressure on his legs made Blake scream again, and when Dante heard it, and saw the reason for it, he lifted his gun too, aiming in directly at Edd's face.

"Put the gun down." Edd ordered, but Dante didn't.

"Kid, if you don't put that gun down in three seconds, I'll blow your face off." he promised, starting to step forward. Edd started backing up, pulling Blake with him, and Blake had to bite his lip to stop himself from screaming again.

When they stopped moving, Dante said, "I'm gonna kill you kid. You better kiss your ass goodbye."

"I guess you don't care if I take Blake with me in the process, huh? Because I swear to you, I will be able to shoot him in the head before that bullet reaches me."

"Oh yeah?" Dante asked. "I don't think you could."

"Only one way to find out."

"You're right."

And then there was a bang, and Blake screamed, because what if it was Dante who got hurt, but a second later, blood was hitting him, and Edd was falling, and he was falling with him, but before he could even hit the ground, Dante was grabbing him and lifting him up, crushing him into his chest.

"Did he get you?" Dante asked, and Blake could hear the panic in his voice. "Did he..."

"No." Blake whispered, slumping into Dante's hug. "He didn't get me. Is he..." he trailed off too, turning his head to look at the fallen boy. To both his relief and horror, the other boy was alive, starting to groan and moan in pain, holding his stomach as blood pumped from it.

"He's alive. Not for long." Dante said darkly, and he pushed Blake's face into his chest, so that he wouldn't see what he was about to do. Blake's heart was pounding. He didn't know what he wanted. If Edd lived, he might come after him again. But if he died, Blake would always feel guilty about it, like maybe there was something he could have done to help him. After all, Edd and him, in one way, were the same. They grew up in abusive familes, and he knew that Edd's family was abusive for a fact, because over the years, he'd seen him get hit by his father, and by Terry. Not only that, they were apparently both gay.

If only he'd met somebody he loved, like Blake did.

And he didn't want Dante to be this way, a man who would kill somebody in cold blood.

"Dante." he whispered, grabbing his shirt and pulling on it to get his attention. When Dante didn't say anything, he tried again, pulling harder. "Dante."

"What?" Dante said lowly, not taking his eyes off the boy below him.

"Don't kill him."

"Why not?" Dante growled, shocked that the boy wouldn't want this kid dead after what he was about to do.

"Just don't." Blake answered. "Please. "

Staring down at the figure below him, his eyes blazing, Dante said, "You're lucky he stopped me. If you ever come near him again, I'll kill you."

He swept Blake off his feet, holding him to his chest, and carried him out of the room, asking, "Are you okay? Please tell me you're okay."

"I'm okay, Dante." Blake answered. It was a lie, and Dante knew it. He could see the slight fear in the strawberry blond boy's eyes, and the growing horror as he comprehended what had almost just happened. He could feel him starting to shake, a delayed reaction to everything that happened.

"I'm taking you to the hospital." Dante said, and Blake looked around for his car.

"Where's your car?" he asked, and Dante smiled weakly. "I forgot it." he said, and Blake shook his head, and then his head fell back, and Dante said, "No, don't do that Blake. You gotta stay awake."

"It...hurts..." Blake said, and when Dante looked down at Blake's legs again, he wanted to turn back around and kill Edd anyway.

"I know. Just hold on."

Blake tried, spinning in and out of consious, listening as Dante rambled to try and keep him occupied. He only picked up on every few words, but it helped.

As they were walking, Dante suddenly saw an ambulance sitting in the parking lot of a fast food joint, and when he looked into the windows, he saw two male paramedics sitting at a table, eating. He started running, even though he knew it would hurt Blake.

"Hold on, Blake." he said. "I found help."

Blake mumbled a response, but Dante didn't know if he'd actually understood what he had said. He ran faster, heart pounding. He was losing him.

Dante burst into the joint, and ran over to the paramedics table, ignoring all the screaming around him as people saw Blake.

"Hey! Help him! He needs help!"

The two paramedics looked up, eyes widening as they saw Blake, and they both got up without protest, running back to their ambulance, shouting for Dante to come with them. The fast food customer's followed eargerly and curiously, but luckily, their was a cop their too, and he forced them all to move back. The paramedics started pulling out their equipment, and Dante stood there, holding Blake, whispering to him, "You'll be okay now."

Blake's eyes searched for the sound of his voice, his glassy eyes looking around. He was slipping. One of the paramedics reached to take Blake from Dante's arms, but when he realized he was being transferred, the barely awake Blake shook his head, and tightened his grip on Dante.

"Dan...Dante...stay with..."

"I will baby, I promise." Dante replied, and it took him a second to realize what he'd said. He would have blushed about it, but right now, it wasn't the time. Even in his injured state, Blake seemed to realize it too, and his eyes landed on Dante's face, and he tried to smile. Dante smiled back. "But you have to let go of me, okay?" he whispered. "You have to go with them, so they can help you."

Blake tilted his head to look for who Dante was talking about, and when he saw the paramedics, he seemed suprised, and Dante realized he was so far gone that he hadn't even realized what had been going on anymore.

"H-hello." Blake said to the paramedic, smiling. The paramedic smiled back gently, and said, "Hello there, son. What's your name?"

Blake seemed to think about the question for a second, and then he said, "B-Blake."

"Well, it's good to meet you Blake. Now if you'll just reach over here, I'll get you set up, and we'll go fullspeed to the hospital."

"Dante...come?" Blake asked. He'd lost so much blood, and he was so dizzy, that he couldn't even make full sentences anymore.

"Yes, of course Dante can come." the paramedic said, and Blake nodded, and only then did he allow himself to be moved. Dante jumped into the ambulance too, listening as Blake tried to answer the questions the paramedics asked.

"S...shot." he said, to the question about his leg, and about the other, "S-s-stabbed."

Another minute later, he wasn't answering questions anymore, and the paramedics sped up even more, and Dante was calling everybody, panicing, telling them to hurry to the hospital, because Blake needed them.

*(*)

His mother came. Dante recognized her instantly, and she recognized him too, coming over, and looking up at him with eyes full of guilt. Around him, the gang stared at her, eyes burning with contempt. They remembered her too.

"T-thank you." she said, tears sliding down her face. "I'm...I'm so sorry..."

"Don't apologize to me." Dante said, and he meant it. She nodded in understanding.

The gang crowded around each other, Gina there too, all of them swearing dirty revenge on Edd. Steven and Brock practically ripped the vending machine from the floor, so Dante had to tell them to calm down, and that they were scaring everyone.

Finally the doctor came out, and said that Blake was fine, but that he wasn't going to wake up tonight, and that they should all go home. Dante was going to protest, but Gina dragged him out.

"He'll be safe here." she said, and Dante let her pull him away.

The next afternoon, he was sitting in his couch worriedly, waiting. Gina had gone to pick Blake up from the hospital, and he was sick with anticipation. He was going to call the guys over, and let them know, but then he decided against it. There were some things that he needed to say to Blake, alone.

Almost an hour later, her car pulled up, and he rushed out to help her. His heart squeezed in pain when he saw the wheelchair that Blake would be stuck in until his legs healed. It wouldn't be forever, but it was still sad.

When Blake saw him from the passenger's seat, he smiled and asked, "Hey, mind lifting me to my chair?"

Dante went over and smiled. "Why don't I just carry you to the couch?"

Blake smiled and pretended to consider it. "I don't know. The doctor said I should get as much practice as I can."

"Fuck the doctor." Dante answered, pulling Blake up, making sure to be careful with his legs. He carried him into the house, and behind them, Gina rolled in the wheelchair. Once they were all set up, Gina said, "Call me when you want to come home," kissing Blake on the forehead, then leaving, smiling once her back was turned.

When she was gone, Blake asked, "Where are the guys?"

"They don't know you're home yet. I...um...wanted some private time with you."

"Oh." Blake said, and Dante saw him trying to supress a smile. "I see. And what's the private time for?" he asked.

Dante looked at him, and even though it was embarrassing, and even though he wasn't the right person for this kid, he said, "I love you, Blake."

Blake's eyes widened, and he looked like he was going to cry. He looked at his legs, and asked, "Love me like, a brother? A friend?"

"No." Dante answered, turning Blake's face back to him gently. "Love you like this." And he kissed him gently, kissed the stupid crazy ass white kid that had flipped his world. Blake was too stunned to react for a second. Was this really happening? Had all these of waiting actually paid off? Had his wildest dream come true?

When Dante pulled out of the kiss, laughing at the look on his face, Blake asked, "And...the girls?"

"No more girls." Dante said, and Blake bite his lip.

"You promise?"

"I promise."

"Pinky promise?"

And the little brat held out his pinky. So Dante linked it with his.

"Pinky promise."

Blake smiled, and he thought he really might cry. Even though he'd been waiting for this day, part of him had stopped believing it would happen, and now that it actually had, he couldn't believe it.

He leaned forward, and kissed Dante, pouring all his love into it. If Dante ever left, he'd probably die from heartbreak, now that they were finally together.

At that second, his phone rang, and when he looked at the caller I.D, he looked up at Dante with a smile. Dante looked to see who it was, and frowned when he read the name. It was Cade.

Before he had the chance to answer it, Dante had taken the phone and answered.

"Hello? No, this is Dante. No, Blake's..." he eyes the boy sitting beside him, and grinned. "Busy." And then he hung up the phone and went back to kissing him.

*(*)

A little while later, Dante was on the phone again, telling the gang that Blake was home, and then he was calling to tell Gina to bring Blake's stuff here, because he wasn't planning on not letting the kid live here.

While they were waiting for everybody to arrive, Blake wheeled into the bathroom, and looked at the tub.

"We should probably take a bath together tonight." he said, looking at the tub seriously. "For my sake. "

"For your sake?" Dante repeated, coming in. "When have I ever done anything for your sake?"

Blake had a few examples. He'd saved his life, not once, not twice, but three times, and even though it had taken a very long time, and a lot of broken bones and cuts and bruises on his part, in the end, nothing had mattered.

Not the color of his skin.

Not his age.

Not his gender.

All that had mattered was that he had been in the wrong place at the right time, and thanks to that, he'd met the one person that he'd always want to be with, no matter the consequences.

He'd had to go through alot to get here. His mother kicked him out, he'd been beaten, almost raped, shot, stabbed, and gone through countless emotional roller coasters, but he wouldn't take back a single second of it.

"I love you." he said again, still staring at the tub, and Dante ruffled his hair.

"I love you too."

And even though he tried to stop it again, this time, Blake couldn't hold back the tears.


If you actually managed to read this all the way through, then I humbly thank you! I never imagined this story would be so long, but I couldn't bring myself to divide in into chapters.

Also, I plagarized myself at one point in this story! Yay!