“How was that?” Madison asked, wiping his mouth.
“Amazing,” I sighed with a drunken smile as I slung my arm over my eyes. “Pure Nirvana.”
I felt the pressure of his body leave my lower abdomen before I felt his lips on my nose and I moved my arm so I could see him. “Told you I’m a miracle worker,” he beamed. “Was that your first time?”
“First time I’ve enjoyed it: yes. First time: no,” I answered. “But it should definitely happen more often.”
Madison laughed as he got off of me and offered me his hand. “Come on. Practice starts in a bit over an hour and you haven’t even showered.”
“After that you expect me to still go to practice?” I chuckled. “You’re insane.”
“This is an exchange, Bruno,” Madison laughed before he motioned me to get up again. “Come on. We don’t have time to waste.”
I slung my arm over my eyes again. “I’ll get up in a sec, I just need to collect myself.” I was still shaking a bit.
“Noah, there’s no need. I already collected all of you,” Madison said, the suggestive tone in his voice causing me to throw a pillow at him in order to hide my raging blush.
He merely laughed as he gently tossed it back to me. “Well when you’re ready, I’ll be in the bathroom and I’d love it if you’d join me.”
“We’ll see, Williams,” I said as he walked out before I let myself fall back on the bed.
He was amazing.
After a few minutes, I’d finally stopped shaking and my knees were strong enough to keep me upright. I climbed off his bed before I made my way to the bathroom where Madison was brushing his teeth as “I Want To Break Free” by Queen was blasting through his phone speakers. I effortlessly slid past him and turned on the shower before I took my place right next to him at the sink and began brushing my teeth with my designated brush.
I would give anything to do this every morning for the rest of my life.
He wrapped his free hand around my waist and we began to sway to the sound of the music, all while brushing our teeth without saying a word. After I was done, I silently slid into the shower, relishing in the feeling of the warm water cascading over me as Madison hummed along with his music. My perfect world.
I made sure not to lollygag in the shower for too long. The sooner I left, the sooner I could get back to Madison.
As soon as I exited the shower, Madison was waiting for me with a fluffy towel in his hands. I offered him a smile before I took it from him and began drying off. “Do you want me to take you by your house to pick up your uniform?” He asked as he ran his fingers through my messy wet hair.
I instantly nodded. I was out to my Nona and I didn’t care what she thought of me being gay or my relationship with Madison. He smiled and kissed my forehead. “Alright, I’ll leave you alone so you can finish up.”
“That’s probably for the best if you still want me to make it to practice,” I said as I ran the towel over my body.
“The more I look at you, the less sure I am that I want you to go,” he teased as his eyes looked over me while I dried my hair. I didn’t care that he was looking at my bare body. I felt safe and comfortable around him, and after everything we’d been through together and how well our bodies had gotten to know each other, I don’t think I can ever be shy around him again. He made me feel beautiful.
His eyes locked with mine before he smiled and shook his head then he walked out while mumbling, “That boy…”
I continued running the towel over my body until I was mostly dry before I wandered back into Madison’s room where he was sat criss-cross on his bed with his sketchbook in his hand and his eyebrows furrowed as his pencil moved desperately across the page. “Whatcha drawing?” I asked as I crashed on the bed next to him, causing him to defensively shield the precious notebook from my sight.
“Don’ look,” he demanded. “It’s a surprise.”
I rolled my eyes and smiled before I pushed myself off his bed and put on some of his comfortable clothes while he opted to merely stay in his pajamas and sketch on his bed. “It should be done by the time you get back from practice,” he announced as he wrapped his arms around me, his various bruises and cuts still standing out against his skin. Despite how little he claimed it hurt him, I hated seeing him like this. It destroyed me. “Are you ready?” he asked as he grabbed his phone, wallet, and keys off the nightstand, still not bothering to put on a shirt.
“Almost,” I said as I grabbed my phone and keys as well. “But first, come with me.” I grabbed his hand and led him into the kitchen where his medicines were. He rolled his eyes.
“Noah, I promise you I’m fine-”
“For piece of mind?” I asked. “I’m a worrier and how do you expect me to even remotely enjoy this practice that you’re forcing me to go to if I’m too worried about your pain since I won’t be here to look after you, which I’d much rather do by the way.”
Madison chuckled and shook his head as he took a bottle of painkillers and opened it. “You’re going to be the death of me, Noah Bruno.”
“Let’s hope not. I love you too much to kill you.”
After he finished his pain killers, I rubbed some creams on his bruises and changed the bandages on his cuts before I was satisfied, then we were in his car with him in the driver’s seat and our intertwined hands resting on the middle console. I used my free hand to text Connor to let him know that I’d in fact be at practice today, to which I instantly got a response.
Connor (17:05): Hey man, srry I won’t be there. Abby’s grandmother is in the hospital, might not make it. I need to b here 4 her. U got this on ur own, right?
Me (17:06): Yeah, no problem. I’ll pray for the family and give Abby a hug for me, okay?
Connor (17:08): K. Thanks
I found myself sighing. I hadn’t been to the last handful of practices and now to be thrown back in by myself felt unusually stressful. But I shook off the feeling. I’d be fine as soon as I got back into the feel of things.
It wasn’t long before we pulled in front of my house and as soon as Madison killed the engine, his questioning eyes were on me. “Are you okay with going in there?”
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. Can you just please stay in here? I don’t want to start another argument. I don’t have the energy for one today, but maybe another day.”
Madison gave me an understanding nod. “Of course,” he gently said before he brought our intertwined hands up to his lips and kissed the back of mine. I liked how Madison knew exactly how to calm me down.
I smiled and kissed the back of his hand as well before I reluctantly broke our grip on each other and exited the car and walked up to my front door, and with every step I was trying to formulate every possible thing my Nona would say to me and exactly how I would respond, but the moment I slid my keys in the lock and unlocked the door they all evaporated and I was filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger and confusion toward her.
I quietly closed the door behind me, wanting nothing more than to avoid a confrontation, but when I walked past the living room on my way to my room, there she was, almost as if she hadn’t moved since the day of our fight. Despite how badly I wanted to simply walk past her and ignore her gaze on me, I found myself stopping as if to speak with her or listen to what she had to say like I normally did.
“Noah, you’re home” she said. She opened her mouth to say something more, but quickly shut it again.
“Nona,” I acknowledged with a slight nod before I forced my legs to carry me to my room as I furiously blinked away the moisture that viciously began plaguing my eyes. I needed to get out of here. Now. As soon as I entered my room, I grabbed my backpack and threw in both of my soccer uniforms and cleats before I threw in some other clothes such as underwear, some pants, shirts, etc. I even grabbed my school backpack as well. I looked around my room one more time, making sure that I got everything I needed since I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t see it again for a while when something caught my eye. It was a picture of me and my parents at my first soccer game. They were holding me on their shoulders as I held the first place trophy and dawned a huge smile, showing off my two missing front teeth. I found myself smiling as I held the picture, memories flooding back in my head as I’d done so. I remembered scoring over ten times and the rush I felt when we’d won. It was intoxicating. I remember the proud look on my parents faces’ and wanting to do anything to see that look again and again. And now I was holding their immortalized smiles in my hand. I carefully slid it in my backpack along with the necklace my mother had given me that I hadn’t worn in a while before I surveyed the room one more time and hurried out. As I walked past the living room, Nona called out to me, but instead of stopping and leaving myself to the mercy of my emotions as I had when I entered, I pressed forward and ignored her, opting to go straight back into the car where Madison was patiently waiting for me.
“How did it go?” Madison gently asked as he took my hand once more and started the car after I’d thrown my various things in the backseat.
“Honestly harder than I thought it was going to be,” I sighed. “I mean, I didn’t really talk to her. I couldn’t or I’d get too emotional and angry, but just knowing that she was there, just knowing what she thought made it ten times harder. I don’t know, that didn’t even make sense.” I shook my head and sighed again. “But it’s whatever. What’s done is done.”
Madison merely gave my hand a squeeze. “Trust me, I know the feeling. I’ve got the scars to prove.”
I mutely nodded and rested my head on his shoulder. “Yeah...can we stop talking about this, it’s making me depressed. Let’s head to practice.” Madison mutely nodded before he pulled out of the driveway and headed back toward the fields. We rode in a comfortable silence all the way to the fields, and as we drove I stealthily changed into my soccer uniform, but opted to wait until I was at the fields to put on my cleats.
“We’re here,” Madison announced as his thumb started gently rubbing circles into the back of my hand. We were parked in the back where no one parked, like we usually did in order for us to have privacy.
“That we are,” I acknowledged before I looked at my phone. “But we still have ten more minutes.”
“Oh do we?” Madison playfully asked. “Whatever shall we do with all that extra time?”
“I don’t know,” I played along as I ran my fingers through his hair. “But whatever it is, it better count.”
Madison merely smiled and leaned over the console until his lips were on mine. It was a tender, controlled kiss with no hint of an underlying want or intention. He gently cupped my cheeks, his fingers feeling like feathers across my skin. All intimate contact with Madison set my soul on fire and every kiss we shared showed us how much we loved each other.
As the kiss slowly deepened, he unbuckled his seatbelt so he could have the access to me he wanted. I did the same. I found my hands gently running up the sides of his rib cage and spine. After a few moments he pulled away slightly so that when he spoke, our lips brushed together. “You better go,” he whispered, his lips teasing me.
“We still have a couple minutes,” I whispered. I really didn’t want to leave him.
“You better go,” he pressed again as he nuzzled his head into the crook between my neck and shoulder, “before I won’t let you.”
I smiled. “You’re the one who’s forcing me to go.”
“Noah,” he groaned, obviously wanting me to go before his mind changed and he held me hostage with him, which I wouldn’t mind.
“Fine,” I sighed, pulling away. “But call me if anything and I mean anything happens, especially with your dad, okay? I’ll have my phone on me all practice.”
Madison nodded. “Go have fun, Noah. I’ll be fine.”
I grabbed my soccer bag from the backseat before I waved Madison goodbye and climbed out of the car and toward the soccer field where a majority of the boys were already gathered waiting for me. I offered them a smile as I jogged over to them. “Hey boys. Look, sorry I haven’t been here for the past few practices but I’m back now. Connor won’t be here, but practice will still go on as-”
“Noah,” a guy named Trey said, cutting me off. “We need to have a talk.”
“Okay, what about?” I asked as I began digging in my bag for my cleats.
“We don’t want you on this team anymore.” That caught my attention and caused me to straighten up.
“I know I’ve missed some practices lately, but I’ve had some personal issues going on and I need some time-”
“With your boyfriend?” Trey asked, causing my heart to drop and panic to rise in my chest. I guess my shock and horror must have shown on my face because Trey scuffed. “Yeah, we know.”
“H-How?” I asked, confused.
“The owner of the pizzeria you used to work at told us.” Mr. Williams. He said he would out me. And he did. Anger boiled within me. First he went after Madison, and now me. “At first we didn’t believe him,” Trey continued. “But then he showed us the tape...Noah, you’re not a man. You’re a fag and we don’t want a fag on our team, let alone leading it. So you have two opinions: you can leave on your own or we can make you leave.”
Despite the fear and betrayal that I felt building up within me, I set my jaw and I looked out across all the boys on my team. “Is that how you all feel?” I asked, and based on their facial expressions I could tell that some of them were uncomfortable, whether it was with me or the situation, I didn’t know. I locked eyes with Henry who always invited me to parties and would hang out with me and Connor sometimes, but he averted his gaze as if he were ashamed. My chest tightened even more.
I really wished Connor was here.
“Yes,” Trey spoke up for the group. “We do.” He moved toward me until we were chest and chest. “So what are you going to do, fag?” He spat.
“This is my team,” I lowly stated. “I’ve put in more blood, sweat, and tears than any of you combined. This means more to me than it does to any of you. Connor and I have put effort into keeping this team together without a proper coach, so I’ll be damned if I just walk away from it now.” By the end I was shaking, not out of fear, but out of anger.
“So be it,” Trey said, and before I could blink, his right fist came into hard contact with my cheek, causing pain to spread throughout my face as I staggered back. I’d barely gotten my balance when another punch landed itself into my stomach, knocking the wind out of me. I barely had enough time to ball my hands into fists before I was on the ground with at least three people or more kicking me in the legs, ribs, and head, but I couldn’t see because I was trying to shield my head. “Not so tough now, are you faggot?” Trey sneered as his landed another kick to my ribs, causing pain to move through me in intense waves. My ears were then bombarded by insults and threats as the attack became more vicious. And no matter how hard I tried to force myself to get up and fight back, I couldn’t. I was paralyzed with fear and pain. I thought I heard a few voices saying “He’s had enough” or “Stop” but everything was drowned out by the boys attacking me.
I was terrified.
Between the cracks in my fingers, I saw Henry telling the boys to stop as another tried to pull Trey away, but Trey merely shoved him off and said, “What are you a fag too?” To which the boy, Riley, quickly shook his head and backed off. Henry looked down at me before he turned around and ran away.
I couldn’t help but mentally curse him for running away instead of helping me as blood quickly filled my mouth and my head began to spin and throb. My body was on fire and the assault was still going strong and as I was slowly fading from consciousness, the sting of betrayal moved through me. These boys that I’d known for most of my life, who’d come to my parents funeral and said they’d look after me were now the ones beating me because of something I didn’t choose. Something that had zero effect on them.
In the distance, I heard someone calling my name, but I couldn’t hear who due to the intense ringing in my ears. “Here comes your little boyfriend, cocksucker,” Trey said, though it sounded like I was underwater. But I didn’t have enough time to fully process what he said when his foot came into hard contact with my head and I was thrown into a silent, painful black void.