Tommy tells his parents he wants to move out.
“Nikki,” I say quietly, “what if they tell us no?”
“Fuck ‘em,” he replies, staring straight ahead. “You’re seventeen, Lee. They can’t really control what you do, not anymore.”
I wish I had his confidence, his charisma. I snuggle a little closer to him as we ride, and he smiles faintly, giving my hand a little squeeze.
When we reach my stop, we get off, and Nikki takes his hand out of mine. “Where’s your house, Lee?” he asks, and I nod in the direction of my neighborhood. It’s about two blocks away, and as we walk, I can’t keep from staring at him, looking all mysterious and lovely in the sunlight. When we’re nearly at my place, I stop, and so does he.
“Is this it?” he asks, pointing at the house in front of us.
I shake my head. “No, but I need to tell you some things before you meet my mom and dad.”
He sticks his hands down into his pockets. “Shoot.”
“All right, well… you can’t curse. You can’t mention drugs. You can’t talk about sex. You can’t—”
“Lee,” Nikki interrupts. “Why th’ fuck are you freaking out? What d’you think I’m gonna do? I ain’t stupid; I know how to make a good impression.”
I feel myself blushing. “I just…”
He shakes his head. He’s starting to look irritated again. “C’mon,” he says. “Let’s just go to your house and tell your parents, all right?” He reaches his hand out, folding his fingers in the spaces between mine. I lead him a ways down the street, and we walk up my driveway. I reach out and ring the doorbell, and we wait.
A moment later my sister, Athena, answers the door. Her eyes take in Nikki, tall and hairsprayed and gorgeous, and she giggles a little.
“Athena, are Mom and Dad home?” I ask, pulling my hand out of Nikki’s before she can notice our intertwined fingers. “I need to talk to them.”
She nods, her eyes still glued to my boyfriend. He gives her a charming half-smile and says:
“You must be Lee’s sister.”
Another nod. More giggling. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to kill her half so much as I do now. I walk inside and find Mom sitting at the kitchen table, drinking coffee; Dad beside her, reading the newspaper. Nikki follows me, keeping his fingers hooked almost casually through my belt loops. Athena is directly behind us; I don’t know how she hasn’t yet noticed how close we are, how intimately we’re touching.
“Mom, Dad,” I say, “I want to introduce you to someone.”
“Thomas,” my dad says, without looking up. “Where have you been?”
“I stayed over at Randall’s. I told you that.” I glance at Nikki, but he looks impassive, almost bored. Swallowing, I try again:
“I wanna introduce—”
“Ever since your seventeenth birthday, you’ve been gone from this house,” my dad continues, as though I haven’t spoken. “We need you here, Thomas. Your responsibilities as a son, and as a student, come before your need to play around as a teenager. Understand me?”
“Yes, sir,” I grind out, my cheeks heating up again.
Then Nikki steps forward, shooting me a brief glance over his shoulder before turning to face my dad. “Mr. Lee,” he says, in that cool, almost-angry voice he has, the one that sends chills straight down my spine.
“You wouldn’t listen to your son; maybe you’ll listen to me.”
“Who are you?” my dad asks.
“Nikki Sixx,” he says. “Your son’s boyfriend.”
I am shocked that he just came right out with it, but at the same time, I’m glad I don’t have to say anything. Behind us, Athena lets out a surprised yelp; my mother finally looks up from her coffee; my dad just stares.
“When the hell did you go fag?” he asks me finally.
My cheeks flame up. “I’ve been gay since I was fourteen,” I say angrily, “and I want to move in with Nikki, because I love him.”
Nikki shoots me a quick, startled look, but I don’t know whether it’s because of the outright way I told my dad I want to move in with Sixx, or if it’s because I incorporated love, which is a huge deal, into the equation.
“You want to move out of this house,” my father says slowly, “so that you can go live in sin with another man?”
I draw myself up to my full height of 6’1”. “Yes,” I say, and I watch my mother’s face crumple. My father’s expression is stony; he turns from me and says:
“Go get your shit, then. You are no son of mine.”
I go upstairs; pack my stuff. There isn’t much; just my jeans and shirts and boxers and a few editions of Rolling Stone. I throw it all into a duffel bag; head back downstairs. Nikki’s waiting for me, looking tense; he holds his hand out and I take it.
“Bye, Athena,” I say. My sister waves, looking sad. I head for the table, but the stoniness of my father’s expression stops me.
“Bye, Mom and Dad,” I say.
“Oh, Thomas…” my mother breathes, tears filling her eyes. “Wherever did we go wrong?”
Anger twists in my chest, making heat rise up on my cheeks. I head for the door without replying, and Nikki follows, still holding my hand. We go outside, but not until we are nearly at the bus stop do I break down, turning in Nikki’s arms, sobbing against his chest. Again, he tenses, but he doesn’t push me away, just strokes my hair.
“Shh… Lee, s’alright… hey, you have me now, you don’t need them…”
He’s right, of course. I lift my head and offer him a shaky smile, and he kisses my trembling, tear-stained lips.
“Nikki,” I say, “I really do love you…”
He nods; kisses me again. His eyes are a bit distant, and he looks, for a moment, almost sad.
“I know you do, kid,” he murmurs, stroking my hair, my back. “I know.”