The Shores Of Freedom
by HYPERFocused

Seth has known he was gay since he was twelve years old, and he's pretty much okay with it by now. It's just another thing to add to the list of things that make him different. It's a long list, and really, who he fucks -- or wants to fuck, since it hasn't actually come to that yet -- is only midway between "Painfully shy" and "still had accidents at nine."

He doesn't date. Even his parents have stopped setting him up with the slightly chubby, or plain daughters of his mother's clients. And they certainly don't suggest he could land a truly pretty girl.

"Oh honey, if you just projected more, showed some confidence, you could have anyone you wanted," his mother says, but he knows she doesn't mean it. His father seems to believe in him more, but Seth isn't sure how he'd feel if he really knew him.

He pretends to have a "thing from afar" for Summer, who despite the bright and sunny name is the most chilling bitch he knows. Even if he had the chance with her, he doesn't think he'd take it. Fake aspirations to the unattainable are easier, and safer than going after someone he wants.

What he wants right now is sitting next to him in the pool house, nursing a matching bruise to his own. He still can't believe Ryan stuck up for him. He's only known him for a day. There's something between them, though. He felt it from their first meeting.

Seth can't stop thinking about the way Ryan had stood in his doorway, just looking at him as he sat on the floor in his pajamas, playing videogames. Seth felt assessed, and from the expediency Ryan had used in sitting down right next to him, he didn't think he'd been found wanting. It didn't seem likely that the appeal was just in the Playstation, either.

He wants to run a slow hand down that reddened cheekbone, see if Ryan would flinch, or lean into the touch. It doesn't look like Ryan's been touched enough in his life, and certainly not in comfort. He wants to be that comfort. He wants to feel it returned.

It isn't that he's never been touched by a guy. He's done the usual adolescent furtive fumbling. And Luke's "Suck it, queer" is more telling than not. They know each other more intimately, but less well, than anyone knows. Seth really needs to stay away from guys who blow him behind the boat house one minute, and kick the shit out of him the next. He's damned sick of "I'm not a fucking queer, and if you tell anyone I'll fucking kill you," as foreplay. Sometimes afterwards he laughs at himself, and tells himself he should give Luke his therapist's number. Obviously Luke needs it more than he does.

Then again, how sane is it to be screwing around with someone you hate? Seth owes himself better treatment than that.


Ryan wonders what Seth's parents have told Seth about him. Sandy's probably said "he's just a mixed up kid, try and be nice to him," like he's one of those "can you spare the price of a cup of coffee" kids he's seen on the TV. He doesn't want to be a charity case, or somebody's pet project from the projects. He gets the feeling, though, that Sandy actually likes him. Feels something fatherly towards him, which is a totally unfamiliar sensation. Father figures, in his experience only make contact with fists and furious words. He's had more fathers than Marissa has shoes, probably. None of them fit.

Kirstin hates him, he can tell. He tries to win her over the way he's always placated his Mom. Cooking. Cleaning up after himself, and sometimes the rest of the house. But she's got people she pays to do that for her, and she doesn't pay them any more attention than she would the waitress at the restaurant where she shmoozes her clients. Shmoozes, there's a new word for him. He feels dismissed. A few days later he is dismissed, in fact. A plate of bacon can't make up for how he's supposedly wronged them. Nothing new there.

He doesn't know how to say good-bye to Seth. He guesses he should be grateful to have the opportunity. Kirstin could have just thrown him out on the street, or made some pretense to call the cops. He can take the loss of a place to stay, the riches never seemed like his to enjoy. He's slept well in tiny dank apartments, and even on the street. He's nothing if not adaptable. The house is just a house. Huge, and really rather cold. It was Seth's welcoming smile, and even more welcoming arms that made it feel like home.

Seth is still asleep as Ryan comes in to say good-bye. The blankets are half off the bed, and Ryan can see part of his exposed leg and backside. The rucked up T-shirt makes him look about twelve, but the curve of back and buttock makes Ryan want to crawl back in bed with him.

Seth makes him feel tender and turned on. He's never had a friend he wanted to fuck before. He hasn't had many real friends at all. Seth isn't the first guy Ryan's been with, but he's the first one that was more than an emotionless release. They've only known each other for three days, but already Ryan knows Seth is special to him. He'd steal a thousand cars if it meant meeting him again.

The drive back to Chino is awkward, and nearly silent. Ryan tunes out most of what Sandy is saying. It doesn't mean much. Promises to check into scholarships and "I'll keep an eye out for you" and "I know you're a good kid" all pale in comparison to the sense memory of Seth's arms around him when they hugged good-bye. Odd to think that this g-rated memory is stronger than the one of Seth's hand on his cock, that night after the fight on the beach.

"This isn't over," Seth had whispered into his ear. "It means too much." Ryan had agreed, and promised to find a way to keep in touch. He figured by now his mother would have sobered up. She'd keep a tight leash on him for a while, until he proved he wasn't going to do anything stupid again. He'd lay low, and maybe even try harder in school.

Steeling himself for the inevitable confrontation, he insists on going into the house alone. He's not sure what he'll find. From the outside, it looks like his mother's boyfriend trashed the place. He'll have to drag the mattresses back inside. He hopes the asshole is gone for good this time.

Well, yeah, he is. And so are his mother, and the rest of the fucking house. Nothing left but garbage on the floor, and a red scrawled note on the counter he's shaking too hard to read. After a moment, he notices Sandy standing at his front door - what used to be his front door - looking just as stricken as he must

He hardly feels it as Sandy takes him by the arm, and leads him back to the car. 'We'll figure something out, son," he says. :"Once she hears - I wouldn't worry about it. It's going to be fine." Sure. He's back to being a charity case, assuming she'll even allow him back to the house. Maybe he can offer his services as an actual pool boy, and earn his keep. Maybe he can sleep in their car, so he doesn't taint their house with his presence.

"Seth will be really glad to see you," Sandy tells him. Ryan can't help smiling at that. It's the only thing he's willing to bet on.

"Oh, that's only because I beat him at Grand Theft Auto," he says. They both laugh.

"Maybe you shouldn't be playing that particular game," Sandy says. Ryan breathes again for the first time in hours.

Sandy stops at a convenience store, and sends Ryan in with a twenty for sodas. Ryan knows it's just an excuse to get him out of the car so Sandy can call ahead to warn Kirstin of their return.

He's only a little bit scared that Sandy's going to drive off without him.

When he gets back in the car about ten minutes later, Sandy's face is smiling but strained. They get back to the house awhile later. Sandy goes in ahead of him, while he takes a minute to gather his courage.

Seth sees him just sitting there. He walks out to the car to welcome Ryan home.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Plain Style / Fancy Style