[SLASH] Raising a gay teen is never easy. Jared Adams, a sarcastic, self-declared loner, has been dragged to spend a few weeks with his parents and their old college friends. Unfortunately for Jare...
I'd never been a big fan of summer. The weather was either too hot or too dry, and the scorching heat of noon usually found me in short sleeves. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but I had the misfortune of being a particularly stupid teenager, and I had the scars up and down my arms to prove it. I hadn't met a person yet who didn't stop to stare.
All I had to say to that was: Fuck you. I fell off my bike. A dog attacked me when I was five. My neighbor's cat had a bad attitude and sharp claws to match. I toppled headfirst into a thorn bush yesterday. Anything but the truth.
The only thing I liked about summer was the peace. With school out and no friends to speak of, I had no one to bother me. Well, except for my parents, but that was assuming I was even listening to them, which nine times out of ten I wasn't. Not that I had an exceptionally bad relationship with my parents or anything. I wasn't a bad kid; no one ever made angry phone calls concerning my behavior, and every six weeks without fail my name appeared on the honor roll at school. My only flaw was that I had a strong dislike of certain people. Unfortunately, the term certain people applied to most everyone I met. If I ever majored in anything at college, it would be misanthropy.
So I thought it was completely justified that I reacted poorly when my parents told me we were going to fucking Missouri, of all the places in the world, to spend two weeks with some old college friends of theirs.
"I don't believe this. Remind me again why you're dragging me to St. Louis?"
"Visiting Aunt Morgan and Uncle Jason in Chesterfield," she chirped with a beaming smile as she looked up from the turkey sandwiches she was packing into our cooler. "It'll be fabulous! It's been so long since we've seen those two. Since you were about five, I think. Isn't that right, Tom?"
"Mhmm." My father didn't even look up from his newspaper. "Yes, dear."
"Well, I think it's going to be a crappy vacation."
"Watch your mouth, Jared," he said and casually flipped to the sports section.
I rolled my eyes, sighing, "Dad, crap's not a bad word."
"It was when I was a kid."
"Yeah, well, you know what? You're old, and-"
Mom interrupted us, "Why not, honey? I think it'll be good for you."
My mouth stretched downward in a firm frown and I folded my arms across my chest, scarcely hesitating one second before I snapped, "Are you kidding me? Watching you run around with Aunt Morgan like you're some kind of goofy teenager again isn't exactly my idea of fun. And why do we call her that, anyway? Aunt Morgan," I lingered distastefully on the word aunt, "isn't even related to us, and you just said it's been over ten years since we last saw her!"
"Because she's my best friend." Her smile resurfaced, brighter than ever, and she resumed packing our lunches for the drive down. "I talk to her on the phone every week, you know. We've been planning this for months!" She expertly arranged the sandwiches between the Coke, still keeping them cool but somehow managing not to squish them, a skill that I was certain only mothers possessed. "Relax, dear. It won't be so bad."
"Yeah," Dad commented, finally glancing up from the paper. "All you do sit on that couch and play video games, anyway. I hear their kid Bryan is quite the same way."
"Ryan, dear," Mom corrected absently.
"Oh, right," said Dad somewhat sheepishly. "Ryan."
"Dad..." I paused to pin him with a frown. "Ryan always beat me when we were kids."
"Yeah, losing a game of Lemmings can really scar a kid, can't it?" he mused absently. I narrowed my eyes in a glare.
"That's not funny and you know it." My gaze abruptly turned pleading as I faced my mother. "Mom, come on, don't make me go! From what I remember, Morgan is the weirdest person I've ever had the misfortune of meeting, and I'd rather not stay cooped up all day with her nutcase of a son."
"Oh, hush," Mom scolded me, but I could see she was barely suppressing a smile. It was no small secret that her oldest friends were also her craziest friends. "You know you love them. We're visiting them for a reason."
"Yeah," I muttered, sinking dejectedly into a chair at the kitchen table as I spoke, "so you can run around the mall with Morgan and pretend you're seventeen again."
She frowned, eyebrows bent and eyes narrowed in the shadow of severity, and admonished me in a strict tone, "Didn't I tell you to hush?"
"Yes ma'am," I said with a pout and fiddled distractedly with the hem of my sleeve. Long sleeves, of course. It was only 80 degrees that day, and I was known to withhold any real summer clothing until it hit at least 90.
"Good. Now, as I said, Morgan and I phone each other fairly frequently, and this summer we decided that it would be a good idea to get together and-"
"And what?" I snapped unhappily. "You know this is just some excuse for a big gossip session between you two..."
She lowered her chin to meet my gaze, something firm and strict crackling in the blue eyes hidden beneath her thick, dark eyelashes. "What did I say about hushing?"
I, however, was not so easily swayed. "But Mom, seriously, I can't believe-"
"Let your mother finish," Dad interrupted us both. I stomped my heel against the tiled floor in frustration and transferred my moody stare to the bare kitchen wall, somehow managing to bite my tongue.
Mom cleared her throat. "Anyway," she carefully snapped the lid down on the cooler and handed it to me with a little difficulty, "I don't want to hear another word out of you on the subject. It'll be nice to see some old friends again, and that's that." She paused and shot me a stern look, as if waiting for some sign that I had conceded.
"Uhhh," I said as intelligently as I could, unable to disagree for fear of what would happen. Her face split in a smile, completely unaware of my discomfort, and she looked around the kitchen for anything she'd left out of the cooler as she continued,
"So, let's try to have a pleasant drive down and make the most of our vacation, shall we?"
Satisfied that she hadn't forgotten anything, she picked up her suitcase and opened the screen door to the side of the house, leading to the driveway where our minivan was parked. Swaying a little under the weight of our lunches, I trailed after her as she made her way to the trunk of our Mercury Villager. It looked to me like she'd packed enough for a couple months, but she insisted that she was packing light.
"Girls are so weird," I muttered to myself under my breath.
"Excuse me, young man, what was that?" She blew a piece of mahogany hair away from her eyes as soon as she had set her bag on the concrete, one hand perched on her hip in annoyance.
"Er, nothing." I ducked my head at her disbelieving glare, silently cursing God for giving my mother such impeccable hearing. "I'm shutting up now."
She laughed at that, and I felt a little better. "Good," said Mom happily. "Now, help me with this suitcase, would you?"
"Um, sure." Shuffling forward, I lifted it for her - Jesus, it was even heavier than it looked! - and together we managed to maneuver it into the trunk relatively unharmed.
"Great," she paused and dusted her hands off on her jeans somewhat absently, "now if we can just get your father away from that newspaper, we'll be on our way."
"I don't believe this!"
"Jared, honey, please calm down."
"No way. I demand justice!"
"Jared, it's just a song-"
"Just a song? /Just a song/? If they could market this, they'd sell it as some kind of death tool!"
"Actually, son, they do sell it. It's called a CD."
"I hate you," I grumbled, only half under my breath, and turned to stare dejectedly out the window.
We'd only been on the interstate for about four hours when my parents had done the unthinkable, the unforgivable, and had switched the radio to the oldies station. I was rebelliously spreading potato chip crumbs across the back seat when Mom wasn't looking, and Dad was sitting in the passenger seat, indulged in, you guessed it, the newspaper.
"Now, Jared," he stopped to clear his throat, "if you're so opposed spending time with any of the family while you're there, why don't you try going into town? Maybe you'll meet some nice girl there."
"Dad..." I gritted my teeth. "I've already told you like fifty times. I'm gay."
"Now, son," he folded his newspaper and shook it in my direction, "we've talked about this! It's just a phase, you know. Why, even I was curious at your age-"
I groaned, "Oh, God, I don't want to hear this..."
"-but look at me! It's just a matter of waiting until you meet the right girl." He paused to tilt his head and smile adoringly at Mom, who was driving. "Trust me," he added softly.
I rolled my eyes and slumped in my seat, head resting against the window as I watched the highway roll by. Ever since I'd come out to my family, Dad was convinced that I was only going through a phase, or that I was at least mistaken with my sexuality, seeing as I'd never had a boyfriend.
Well, maybe I'd never dated a boy, but I was pretty fucking sure that I'd been attracted to them.
"Listen, Dad," I sighed and drew patterns on the window with the pads of my fingertips. "I don't know how else to explain this to you..."
"Son, there's nothing to explain." He reached back to squeeze my shoulder comfortingly. "You'll get over it."
I shook him off with a growl, "Dad, I'm trying to tell you-"
Mom interrupted us quickly, "Oh, both of you, stop it. Honey, your son is gay. Jared, your father's slow and extremely stubborn. Now be quiet, I can barely hear Cher!"
"Lucky," I muttered bitterly into my sleeve. "I wish I couldn't hear Cher."
"What did I say about being quiet?" snapped Mom from the front seat.
"Yes, Mom," I mumbled quietly.
I refused to make eye contact with my father for the rest of the ride.
By the time we finally made it to St. Louis, I was asleep with my cheek against the window, and I had to wipe away the smudges after I woke up before Mom killed me. She hated a messy car, especially smudges on the windows. Like I could help it, or something.
We stopped for gas about twenty miles away from Aunt Morgan's house, so I scrounged around for pocket change under the seats and ended up scraping enough together for a Reese's. Hallelujah. My parents seemed pretty happy about it, too, because it meant I was too busy eating for the rest of the ride to complain about anything.
Ha. Like that would stop me when we got to the house. Morgan couldn't conceivably have enough Reese's at her house to keep me quiet for the entire visit. It was impossible.
Something in the back of my head - probably my stupid conscience or something - was trying to tell me to actually enjoy this trip, but I ignored it. What the hell did it know, anyway? It was just some dumb voice in my head.
When we finally arrived at the house, I decided that it could have been a hell of a lot worse. I couldn't make up my mind on whether it was really light yellow or just a variation of cream, but I either way I liked the way it complimented the green door, shutters, and matching mailbox. It was nice, especially compared to the dry lawn and boring white siding we had back in Texas. A lot bigger, too.
The first thing I said to my mother on our way up the walk was, "You never told me they were rich."
"Shh," she hissed and smacked the back of my head gently. How she managed to do that while carrying her overstuffed suitcase, I would never know. Must have been another one of those abilities only mothers had. "Don't say that to their faces, all right? You have to be polite this week. I just hope it doesn't kill you."
"Funny," I remarked dryly as I lazily dropped my luggage at the front door. I loved ringing doorbells, so I batted Mom's hand out of the way and pressed the buzzer before she had the chance. I could hear complex chiming from inside the house and raised my eyebrow as if to say, Okay, anyone with a doorbell like that has /to be rich/.
Mom caught the look and cuffed me on the back of the neck again. "Honey," she began in a warning tone, "what did I say about being polite?"
"Yeah, yeah, I know," I grumbled in submission. I shuffled my feet awkwardly at the sound of footsteps inside the house, fidgeting with anticipation, and braced myself to meet my doom.
A/N: Originally posted on fictionpress.com, but I'm growing less and less fond of that site, so I've decided to settle down here, as well. I have about twelve more chapters of this, so I hope you like it. Please review.