The last time I wrote in this, my mom was alive. Which is a really depressing and shit thing to say, but you know, it's mother's day the day I upload this chapter, and I was thinking it.

AlatumCloud- Hey, I can't just have a Marty Stu character who just automatically thinks the smartest thing. That's Aiden's problem, I guess. He reacts without thinking first, which has happened a couple times before, so at least it wasn't out of left field. And if he stayed with Brian, if he got hired somewhere else, it might look bad if they found out he was still with the kid he had been in the illegal relationship. Or maybe not. Since that confirms they are in love and not just doing the sex. Goes both ways. Either way, it mostly is just because he reacts like a mother trucker.

Red Dove- Thank you. I want you to know that it really does make me happy to see your name, and know you've stuck with me this long. I'm not just saying that.

Nugget- That's nice of you to say, whether it's true or not. *randomly throwing in some self hate*

Drumline- I hope you don't mean literally, because if so I just forced you to go through withdrawl. And speaking as someone who has gone through that (because of anti-depressants, not drugs) I really don't want to inflict it on someone else lol.

Islanzadiblack- Thank you for the kind words. And if you ever want to PM the name of that Harry Potter fanfic, I'm totally down for that.

Chi- Thank you for the hugs and kind wishes. *hugs back* I hope you'll stick around a little longer.

Dancinglo627- Thank you! I'm always happy and very flattered when someone tells me I was the one who introduced them to m/m, since it means they liked my stuff enough to stick around in the subgenre. Though Still Suffering is a hell of a way to get introduced. And don't worry, even if you were stalking me, I'd probably just be so happy to have someone that likes my stuff that much that I'd stalk you back. But even for my stalker, I can't give away the character motivations just yet. Unless you kidnap me and keep me against my will like that Stephen King book, then I'd cave.

Sorry the insuing chapter isn't very long after your wait.

I hope you like it anyway.


Chapter 27

Keep running.

I tell myself this as I go past Bri- Mr. Lewis' house.

Keep running.

I say it again as I go past the school, which still has students inside, going about their day, unaware, and uncaring, if my world has changed so irreversibly. Andrew might still be somewhere inside. Though I doubt it. He probably came after me and Bria- Mr. Lewis. He's probably just getting to the station. He'll be so happy when he sees...Mr. Lewis, free and he'll ask him about me.

Mr. Lewis will tell him.

And they'll come looking.

I have to hide.

I have to run.

There's nowhere to go, but that's what I have to do. My mind reels with what happened today, and what was happening now. There was no money in my pocket. Returning to retrieve what little I had was not an option. What was I going to do? Where could I go? There was nowhere for me. My dad had kicked me out, he'd never welcome me back in. Khloe was never an option to begin with. In my state of panic, I go over everyone I know, and one person I at least know of, is Billy Brill. But. I'd have to be very near death before I even considered considering Billy Brill.

The only person I could think of that maybe I could go to, that might take me in, was Joseph. And he was really, really far away. And even if I did somehow make the journey, there was still no guarantee that he would help me, and I would have made the trip for nothing and then I would be stuck in a place I didn't know. If I was going to be homeless,wasn't it better to at least least to be homeless in an area I knew? That way, if I died of illness or starvation, it would be easier to identify me.

Which was worse? Traveling all the way to my ex and hoping he could even take me, or staying here and being homeless?

Where could I go?

Where could I go?

There was nowhere.

I suddenly become aware that my phone (the one I was given for my birthday) is vibrating in my pocket. Now that I've noticed it, I realize it's been ringing for quite some time. It was harder to notice when you were running, but now that I'd come to a momentary standstill, it was obvious. I don't want to look, because there are only two people it could be, but I do anyway.

Brian. Thank God they hadn't checked my phone and asked why I was calling him by his first name in my contacts. But I guess I could have just said it was my because of my crush on him. But still. It would have been suspicious. Small, small miracles.

Andrew.

Andrew.

Brian.

Andrew.

Brian.

Brian.

Brian.

Brian.

Andrew.

Andrew.

The current call is Brian. His name stares up at me, begging me to answer it. I see that I also have multiple missed texts. They're from Bri- shit, Mr. Lewis, and my brother, of course, asking me where I am, telling me to come back, that everything would be okay, even though they both knew that that wasn't true. We all know it isn't fucking true. We all want it to be true so badly that we're saying it anyway, hoping that will make it so. They don't want to admit that we're up a creek without a paddle. Our brief haven of bliss and contentment has been shattered, pierced with an arrow that had long been flying at us.

I don't want to admit it either. But I've always seen things not as they could be, but as they are. I always knew the worst thing that could happen probably would happen, and will probably always happen.

It happened.

I turn the phone off, briefly considering dumping it. But really, what's the point of that? It's not like the police are going to come looking for me. It's not like Brian can walk up to them, and tell them that my guilt was so overwhelming that I took off. Well, he could, but wouldn't that make him look more suspicious? Or just like a concerned teacher? My brother definitely would, but I don't think the police will try very hard to find me. I'm a boy. I'm eighteen. I'm a runaway. They might keep an eye out for me, but they aren't gonna break out the search dogs.

In the end, I pocket it, just in case I might need it for emergencies. If I'm really gonna start a life on the street, shit is gonna happen, and I might have to call for help very suddenly. Having it off kind of defeats the purpose though. By the time I got it back on, unless my assaulter or whatever was kind enough to wait for me, the deed would be long done. But I still feel more secure having it on me.

In the distance, I spot a dollar store. I'm far enough away (but not nearly far enough) that there's no way they'll check this random dollar store miles away. I head there, wanting some time to catch my breath. And breakdown in private. I go behind the building, just in case ,by some freakish collaboration between the gods, Brian drives by brick wall is hard and uncomfortable when I lean back against it, sliding down to sit, but it's fine. I shut my eyes, breathing slowly, trying to sooth my rapid breathing and pacify my burning lungs. Maybe I was skinny, but that didn't mean I was healthy. Running nonstop was not something my body was capable of doing, even on my best days.

With nowhere else to go, I stay put longer than I should. I become afraid that if I walk out into view, they'll be right there, and see me. Are they looking together? Or did they split up? I shut my eyes, holding back tears that are knocking at the back of my eyelids, breaking out without any permission from me.

Even though I would have thought it beyond impossible, I find myself dozing off and on. It isn't really sleep at all, and it feels more like I'm just slipping in and out of consciousness. I take the quick reprieve. I understood. I'd cried myself to exhaustion, worked hard to lie, and then pushed my body further anyway, running as far as it could hold out. It I wanted to keep going, I would have to rest anyway.

I don't realize how long I've sat and dozed behind this dollar store until I start to hear teenage voices as they go home from school. I'd been in third period when the police had come. I'd been at the police station for at least an hour, probably a bit longer. Then I ran for thirty minutes, maybe a bit more. But that still meant I'd sat here for like, three hours. I could have been using that time to get further away.

But I was scared.

And tired.

They're too far away for me to hear what they're talking about, which is for the best. They're probably talking about what happened today at school, because how could you not? I didn't want to hear that.

But now that I've put the thought into my own head, I have to know. Maybe I want to hear that they aren't talking about it, that maybe somehow it wasn't a big deal, so that I can know that Bria- Mr. Lewis won't be fired, and I can go back. The voices go into the dollar store, and after pulling up my hoodie and ensuring that I look like a shoplifter, I follow them in.

It's hard to get close enough to listen without being spotted, but after trying for a couple minutes, I realize it's pointless, because they're so wrapped up in their conversation that they aren't bothering to look my way.

"Yeah, I saw the whole thing." says one of the teenagers, a boy. I guess one that saw the whole thing.

"Did the gay kid really try to punch a cop?" another voice asks. This one is also male.

"No, he just went after Markus."

"Why?" asks another voice. This one is female.

"I dunno."

"My guess, he's the one who tipped off the cops." says the second male voice, who I guess is the smart one is this trio.

"Probably." the girl says. "Markus has had it in for him for like, forever."

"Do you guys believe it?" the second boy speaks again, and the first boy, who saw the whole thing, makes a quick noise of affirmation.

"Dude, you should of seen him." I'm guessing the him is me. "He was flipping his shit." Definitely me. My hands curl tightly around whatever object I've been holding to try and look like I'm shopping and not listening. I was too obvious out there. Everyone who saw it knows the truth. They know I love him, at the very least. And that's enough for them to assume the truth.

"But I heard they let Mr. Lewis go." says the girl. "They wouldn't have done that if it was true."

"They would if Aiden denied it." says the fucking smart second boy, who has gone from referring to me as "the gay kid," to my actual name all of a sudden.

"That's true." says the first boy. Their voices start to move away, as they finish up gathering snacks and shit. Instinctively I start to follow them, but then pull myself to a stop. What's the point in listening further? I've already confirmed my fears. Everyone is talking about it. It's a big deal. Which means Brian will be fired, whether they know it's true or not. No school is going to keep around a teacher who was arrested for sleeping with a student, even if he was released. Especially not a school where the principal is Markus' fucking father.

Without even knowing why, I grab a candy bar off the shelf and shove it into my pocket, then stomp out of the store without looking back. If I'm going to be living on the street, might as well get used to stealing again. Just like the old days, when Andrew and I would pull our dine and dashes. Except worse.

Much, much worse.

Back then, I had someone with me, someone who made it easier, more fun.

Back then, I'd had someone to steal for.

Someone to fight for.

The only one I have now is me.

And the truth that I'd always known, but started to forget, because of him, because of the shit he told me, came back to me, a small whisper at first, that quickly became louder, until it was shouting, shouting on repeat, again, and again.

I wasn't worth fighting for.