A/N: This is the very first gay romance story I've ever written, so if I get anything - and I mean anything - inaccurate, then please let me know. And another thing: just because this is a gay story does not mean there's smut. Barring a few innuendos and implications, there is nothing sexual in this book. The M-rating is present solely for strong language.

Chapter 1: Christopher Eugene:

Getting ready for school that morning went by in the blink of an eye. I know most kids (teenagers especially) don't enjoy going back to school, but I was quite the opposite growing up. Personally, I believe that summer vacation lasts way too long. Every year, I would always plan out what I would do over the three-month break, only to end up getting it all done within a week or two. And thus I was left bored and with nothing else to do for the rest of the time.

For me, school was like a seven hour vacation that I would go on every day for five days a week. An escape from my outside life. It was only at school where I could truly be myself. I was told that I had a very good sense of humor with an adult edge to it, and I was equally known for my occasional displays of cynicism. The thing is, though, my widowed mother didn't allow mature subject matter in the house, and if I were to act too cynical around her, she'd most likely be driven to insanity.

I rapidly changed into my usual combination of a graphic tee and athletic shorts and briefly checked the mirror. Olive-green eyes stared back at me, sparkling with excitement in spite of the bags hanging from them. My chestnut hair was short but untidy; I decided I'd fix it up after breakfast. Hurrying down the stairs, I made my way into the kitchen and made myself a PBJ with cream-cheese on a white bagel, before pouring a tall glass of high-pulp orange juice. As I ate, my eyes casually drifted into the adjacent living room, where my mother was standing in front of the fireplace. She was just barely tall enough to lean onto the mantle. Positioned above it was a massive photograph encased in a fools-gold frame, consisting of herself, a five-year-old me, and my father, who I had unfortunately lost not long after taking that photo.

"Well Ike, I honestly can't believe my eyes. One second, they're keeping you up every night with their incessant whining. And the next, you're... sending them off to high school." I heard her say, somewhat somberly, "Oh, if only you could see what's happened in the almost ten years since you left us. I'm sure you'd be more than proud."

I brought my dishes to the sink and turned around, watching as Mom brought her right middle and index fingers together, kissed them, and gently rubbed them along Dad's face. It was quite obvious how much of an impact he had on her life, and how crushed she was when he passed away. I remember when I was still in my single-digits shortly after his death, and Mom had taken up binge-drinking in a desperate attempt to cope with her loss. She eventually wound up in a short coma, and upon waking up, she claimed to have seen him in the afterlife while she was out cold. Ever since then, she would frequently place letters on his grave and slip them into his stocking on every Christmas Eve, as a means to keep him updated on our situation. Even to this day, she still does this.

While I admit it was a nice gesture, I honestly never believed that much in the afterlife. Every time I saw Mom do something like that, I just rolled my eyes, convinced that she had a bolt loose.

After finishing my morning routine and saying my final goodbyes, I headed out the front door and took a ten-minute walk up my street towards the nearest bus stop. Saying that I was excited as hell to go back to school was the understatement of the century. Nonetheless, I kept my cool, casually strolling along the sidewalk and admiring the homes along the street, their lawns neatly trimmed and a few of them being watered by their sprinkler systems. I was listening a constantly growing playlist of 1990s R&B and soul, my crimson earbuds clashing significantly against my clothes. My hands were loosely tucked into my pants pockets, along with my Android phone.

I simply stood there patiently, all alone at the bus stop. I was usually alone at this bus stop; all the other kids on my street were older, and either drove to school, or weren't even in high school to begin with. I was lost in both my thoughts and my music when I noticed someone approach me out the corner of my right eye. He looked to be about my age, but at least six inches shorter (I was about 5'8" at the time).

"Er... excuse me, dude." I thought I heard him say, his speech just barely audible above the Boyz II Men flooding my ears.

I ignored him and kept staring at the road, occasionally looking to my left - the direction the bus usually came from. I heard the guy clear his throat about three or four times, growing progressively louder as time passed.

"Excuse me?" He called out again, and this time I heard him clearly.

I paused the current song on my playlist and looked to my right. The boy was staring directly at me, his expression calm in spite of the minor frustration I'd likely implanted in him. He was somewhat portly, wearing a polo shirt, cargo short and sandal combo. His slightly chubby face was peppered with an uneven mixture of freckles and jet-black stubble, and his skin quite literally paled in comparison to mine. Crowning his head was a massive jet-black jew-fro, with the top slightly pressed down as the result of a yarmulka pinned to it. Finally, he was also wearing some thick coffee-colored glasses with large lenses, which served to draw more attention to his conspicuous hazel eyes. Those striking... beautiful... hazel eyes... wait! What the fuck am I doing?!

"Oh, uh... hi." I began awkwardly, "How can I help you?"

What was I saying? That didn't sound normal. I couldn't believe I was talking like a hotel concierge in front of this guy, who for some odd reason was making me pleasantly uncomfortable.

"Well, uh, I just wanted to know if the bus here was going to Kicksburg High." The boy said, his voice polite. He had one of those stereotypical Jewish accents, though not quite as pronounced as it was on adult sitcoms.

"Well that's the only high school in this entire town, so yeah." I replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Ah, okay. Thanks." The boy replied, before he suddenly took me by surprise as he stepped closer and held his hand out to shake mine, "The name's Christpher Eugene, but you can call me Chris."

"Lucius Van Dyke." I replied, reciprocating the handshake, "But please, don't call me Luke."

As expected, Chris let out a small chuckle before we disconnected our hands. I could feel my own hand get slightly moist, but I wasn't sure if it was nervousness or the tightness of our brief handshake.

It didn't take too long for the bus to finally show up. The overweight black driver pulled the lever to open the door, allowing me to instantly recognize him.

"Mr. Wallace, is that really you?" I asked in awe, "I thought you only drove the bus to the middle school!"

"Well Lucius, over the summer, the district had me swap jobs with someone else, so it looks like you're stuck with me for another four years." Mr. Wallace replied with a chuckle as the new kid and I filed past him, "I take it this is a new kid you brought with ya'?"

"Yeah, this is Chris." I introduced him politely.

"Charmed." Mr. Wallace replied, shaking his hand too.

The two of us then proceeded down the aisle before Chris abruptly spoke up.

"Hey, uh, Lucius. Er, wanna sit together?" He asked, almost awkwardly.

"No problem, dude." I replied, slightly unsure about what was to come next.