If you need, come build your home in me And you know I won't complain And I can't fix what was done to you But I'll shield you from the rain x
Linds: transwoman, shy, lets her wife do most of the talking, loves video games Delphi: the groups mother, also the group's plug, sometimes talks too loud, gets excited about shiny rocks
Nathan: always wearing headphones, is a bit of a ditz, does not like confrontation, welcomes everyone Marcel: constantly picking up after Nathan, will win every argument, always sketching, best dancer of the group
[size14 Emilio was stretched out in the back of an ancient SUV. The back row of seats had been taken out and the entire space, trunk included, had been filled with blankets and pillows. His eyes fluttered open to look at the stained roof, barely hanging on to the frame of the vehicle. He was listening to his friends argue over something completely arbitrary. And he smiled.
Every once in a while this would happen, as he was sure it happened to every single person in this car. It was an overwhelming sense of calm. Happiness. They had made it.
They had all been, at one point or another, in such a low place they never thought they would be able to climb back out. And sometimes, like a soft whisper, Emilio could feel the lightness of his being. Because somewhere along the way, and with a little help, he managed to find himself.
Ten years ago he was taking his first shot of testosterone, wondering how it could all be so simple. All those years in pain because he was denying his own truth…
“Pull over, I gotta piss,” Delphi said, ruining the moment.
“Yeah, me too,” Emilio said, sitting up.
“Dammit, okay. Let me find an exit,” Nathan said. Emilio couldn’t remember how they all collectively agreed to let him drive. He was a hurricane: a disaster just waiting to happen. And if they were going to be driving with someone illegally riding out of a seat, they should probably have someone competent in the drivers.
“There hasn’t been an exit in two hours. I’m gonna piss myself,” Delphi groaned. “Pull over here. There’s bushes.”
Nathan did as he was asked, looking at Marcel like the two people jumping out of the sliding door were insane. Linds just shouted for her wife to be careful before continuing to play games on her phone.
Together, Emilio and Delphi jogged for the bushes lining the highway. There was not a lot of traffic and Delphi was hardly one to be concerned with propriety, so she yanked down her pants and got to it.
Emilio was not so shameless. He found a much larger bush before doing the same. He and Delphi looked over at each other and laughed. Delphi had known him before he transitioned. Before he changed his name. Before he was who was. She was the one person he actually discussed his surgeries with. She went with him to drive him back from top surgery and helped him through his recovery when his parents needed an extra hand.
The fact that her wife was trans also helped her understand a lot about him. He didn’t want, nor care, about bottom surgery, but the world told him he had to. It was why he hadn’t had a lot of luck on the dating front. He was either repulsive, or a fetish. Or just a quick fuck as a queer experiment.
He didn’t know what he would do without Delphi. She accepted him fully.
She tossed him hand sanitizer when they got back to the SUV and he rubbed it into his tan hands as they set off again.
“We should probably switch drivers before the sun sets,” Delphi said. “No offence, Nate, but you have terrible vision at night.”
“Shut up. I’m a great driver,” he said, then paused. “But, yeah. I’ll take the next exit and we can switch it up.”
“And get some dinner. I’m starving,” Marcel added, his hand resting on Nathan’s neck.
An hour later and they were all crowded into one booth at a mom-and-pop diner. Marcel was looking at Google maps on his phone trying to calculate how much time it would take them to get to California if they just never stopped driving and only rotated drivers. They argued about this, all saying they had been over this. They needed to stop at motels at night, if only to stretch their legs. Besides, they would get there too early for the pride events if they drove straight through, anyway.
“Half the fun in the road trip shit, anyway,” Emilio reminded them as he sucked down the last of his coke.
“Yeah, but [i four] days?”
“Michigan to California isn’t a trip for the weak, Marcel.”
That earned Emilio a fry to the face.
“Excuse me,” Emilio said to the waitress as she came by to pick up their trash. “Is that motel across the street okay? Do you know?”
She looked at them a moment. She couldn’t have been more than 20. “Yeah. I mean… It doesn’t have any bedbugs that I’ve heard but…” She looked from him to the others, glancing at their hands held together. “I would go down the street a ways to the Motel 6.”
She smiled at them in a sad kind of way, before walking away. The group looked at each other, then at the motel across the street. Linds slowly released her hand from Delphi’s and let it rest in her lap. Suddenly, at if a spell was broken, they could feel the looks they were usually immune to on them like headlights.
“Let’s go, you guys,” Emilio said, standing. Delphi glared at the faces around them and he wished she wouldn’t. The last thing they needed was to be stuck in a religious town at night [i and] have the residents all actively hunt you down because you looked at them wrong.
They went to the Motel 6. A tired girl was at the counter, close in age to the girl at the diner. He wouldn’t be surprised if they knew each other. Maybe they were even dating and had to keep it a secret in this awful town.
The couples got the beds. There was no cot, so Delphi let Emilio squeeze in next to her, which he was grateful for. Even after just one day on the road and his body was exhausted. Early the next morning, he woke them all, eager to get out of this town, only to find that someone had spray painted over Marcel’s pride bumper stickers in the night with obscene images. And along one side was the dreaded word they hated to see: [i Faggots].
“What the fuck,” Emilio breathed.
Marcels eyes were brimming with tears, but he knew it was anger that caused them.
“Well, go on then,” came a voice from behind them. They all jumped and turned. A large man in his 60s leaned against the building.
“Did you do this, you old fuck?” Delphi shouted and Linds had to pull her back.
“Nope, but I watched the kids who did. We put people like you back in your place around here,” he said.
“Just get in the car,” Emilio said, pushing Delphi back. Doors opened and slammed shut and without another, Emilio was pulling away from the man.
“It- it’s okay. We’ll just wash it off,” he was saying, but his voice was trembling.
“You don’t just [i wash] this off!” Marcel was shouting. He knew what he meant. The paint could be removed, but the hatred couldn’t.
There was a sudden [i ding, ding, ding,] and Nathan cursed. “It’s the tank! Remember? We needed to fill it last night. I was riding on empty.”
Emilio glanced down at the dash to see he was correct. They couldn’t even make it to the next town let alone the next gas station if they didn’t take the first one they saw. “[i Fuck!] He looked up and immediately turned, tires screeching into the next parking lot and pulled up to the closest pump.
“Nobody move. And lock the doors,” he said, opening the door and climbing out. He was aware that all eyes were on the graffitied SUV. On [i him]. It was like a walking [i kick me] sign stuck to his back. He fumbled with his card and struggled to click the payment options.
[i Card read error. Please see cashier.]
“What the fuck. No. Please,” he begged under his breath, feeling a sense of urgency rise inside him, almost like bile. He tried again.
[i Card read error. Please see cashier.]
He was having a panic attack now. He glanced up. Everyone was looking at him from their cars or over their pumps. Some were taking pictures. He took a deep breath to steady himself, headed for the gas station’s doors.
Was someone following him?
“I need twenty-five on pump- uh- three please,” he said, having to peer outside to check the number.
The cashier, luckily, was too bored with his job to notice anything that had been going on outside. He took Emilio’s card and ran it. Then ran it again.
“Do you have another card? It’s not reading this one for some reason.”
[i Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.]
Oh, wait. There it goes.”
Emilio could have died then and there. He snatched his card back and weaved his way back to the doors, only to be obstructed by a huge figure booming with laughter to his smaller friend. “Getting to be more and more like a circus every day around here. I say we just put up signs to keep them all out.”
Emilio was not a tall guy. No amount of testosterone could make his 5’7” frame any taller. So when this man looked down at him, he felt like the smallest bug on earth. He ducked around him and back out into the parking lot, running full force for the SUV.
The entire time he pumped the gas he was hyper aware of everything and everyone. Every gallon the machine counted took centuries. He thought about bailing and taking the loss: getting just enough gas to make it to the next town, but he didn’t know how far away that might be.
When he finally heard the thump that told him it was finished, he replaced the pump, unlocked the door, and threw himself inside. He was just about to slam on the gas to get the hell out of there when a massive truck stopped dead in front of them, cutting them off. Emilio panicked. He started to back up, but another truck stopped him there, too.
“Oh, fuck,” he heard himself say, hardly over a whisper.
The door to the truck in front of him opened and the man in a sheriff’s uniform stepped out, putting on a hat.
“Wh-what do I do?” Emilio asked as he stepped over to the driver’s side window. Everyone was watching.
“Don’t do anything stupid,” Delphi said. “Remember your rights.”
Slowly, he rolled his window down.
“Now, you know driving around with nasty words all over your vehicle isn’t appropriate,” the man said, his gray hair poking out from under his hat. Emilio knew he was trying to get under his skin. He didn’t put the tags there and the sheriff knew that.
He swallowed hard. “We were tagged. We were going to wash them off.”
“You afraid of me, son?”
“Am I being detained?” He asked, knowing he was not allowed to be held here. His hands squeezed the steering wheel. He could not look this man in the eyes.
Emilio was not religious. But he would give anything for an angel to come save him from this moment.
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Blair, really? Get the fuck off me you fat ass"] the male groaned. The pink haired female broke out into a grin as she was laying on her brother's back. [#FF9797 "Come on, I want to go into town, do some shopping. I haven't been able to spend much time with you, and I know you miss spending time with me too"] she whined. The male let out a low growl as he rolled and pushed the younger woman off of his back. He had been laying there messaging Holland back and forth for the last hour.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Kaiser knew that Blair had a point. He hadn't been spending as much time with her as he should have, and it was putting a strain on their relationship. He let out a small sigh as he looked towards the girl. She had a way of making his heart melt. [#ca4812 "Fuck.. Fine. Go get ready"] he said. That made the woman scream slightly, and throw her arms around his neck. [#FF9797 "Thank you!"] she said as she kissed his cheek. She then bounded off to get dressed, and ready for their day. Kaiser shook his head and laughed.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He honestly didn't know what he would do without the girl. She meant the world to him, and he meant the world to her. Their parents on the other hand, were a whole different story. The male let out a small sigh as he looked at the time, and his phone buzzed once more in his hand. [#DB7093 [i I wish you would come over. I miss you. Momma and daddy miss you too. Dinner tonight?]] the message read. He knew if he bailed on Blair he wouldn't hear the end of it.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He thought about his reply. [#ca4812 [i I can't tonight Holland. I promised Blair I would spend time with her. I haven't had much time with her, and I've missed my little sister. I'm sorry, but I will make it up to you I promise you that.]] He read the message over a couple of times and hit send. He didn't know how pissed off Holland would become, but he hoped he wouldn't get his ass chewed out. He could hear Blair in her room getting ready. That's when his father walked into the room, coffee cup in hand.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [b "I see Blair finally managed to pry you away from Holland for a while. Considering I heard her scream of delight"] he said with a chuckle. Kaiser looked up at the older man and nodded a bit. [#ca4812 "Yeah she did. In a way I'm kind of glad. It's been getting tough spending so much time with Holland"] he admitted. Right when he said that too his phone buzzed. [#DB7093 [i Don't bother making it up to me anytime soon. I see she's more important than I am.]] the message read. Kaiser let out a low sigh.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Owen saw the look on his son's face. [b "I take it she's not too happy with that?"] he asked. Kaiser shook his head no. [#ca4812 "She's not. I'll make it up to her though"] was all he said. A moment later Blair came bounding back into the room decked out in a pair of jeans, and a yellow sweat shirt. Her pink hair pulled back into a pony tail. [#FF9797 "Okay, I'm ready"] she said. Kaiser nodded lightly as he pushed himself to his feet. Owen looked up at his daughter and laughed. [b "You two have fun"] he said.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 The siblings bid their father goodbye and made their way out of the house. They walked to the beat up car in the driveway, and Kaiser unlocked the doors and slid in behind the wheel. Blair rounded around the other side and slid into the passenger seat. She shut the door, and buckled herself in. Kaiser tucked himself inside and started the car up. [#ca4812 "Holland's mad at you"] he said with a roll of his eyes. Blair leaned her head back, and looked towards her older brother with a roll of her blue eyes.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#FF9797 "Honestly, she can fuck off"] she muttered lightly. Kaiser was right there with his sister for sure. He started the car and backed out of the driveway and headed into town. Blair started to fiddle with the radio as he drove. [#ca4812 "Honestly, I don't know why she wants to spend so much time with me. It's not like her and I have slept together or anything like that."] he said with a small sigh. He wasn't into women at all, and if anyone found that out, he could end up badly hurt in a way.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Blair reached over and touched his shoulder lightly. [#FF9797 "I know it's hard Kai. But we will figure something out, I promise you that"] she said lightly. The male looked towards his sister and smiled lightly. [#ca4812 "I know, thank you"] he said softly. Blair was the only one who knew about his [i real] sexuality. She wasn't one to throw him under the bus either. He just hoped that sooner or later, the people in their town will realize it's not as bad as it seems. He sighed lightly and focused back on the road.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 As they were entering town he spotted something happening at one of the two gas stations in town. He saw the sheriff there as well. This wasn't a good sign. He slowed down and pulled into the gas station parking lot. He stopped and shut the car off. Blair watched out the front window. Whatever was happening, it wasn't good. [#ca4812 "Stay here"] the male told her. Blair knew to listen when he had that tone in his voice. The male unlocked the doors and climbed out. He made his way over to the SUV and the sheriff.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 That's when he heard another male speaking about being detained. He didn't know what was going on, but then he saw the tags on the back of the SUV. His heart seemed to pick up speed just then. [#ca4812 "What's going on here Sheriff John?"] he asked. The older man turned and looked at Kaiser. [b "Nothing that concerns you Kaiser. Turn around and get back in your car and leave"] he snapped. Kaiser wasn't about to back down. He didn't know the male behind the wheel, and he didn't know what was going on either.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Maybe I can be of some help?"] he asked. The sheriff looked at him again and nodded towards the back of the SUV [b "You know how we feel about people like them. Queer and shit being in our town. We don't take too nicely to them. So I was just asking them a couple of questions"] he finally admitted. That's when it slowly hit him. The sheriff was stopping them because of the word [i Faggot's] on the back of their vehicle. He reached out and touched the older man's shoulder.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "If it's alright with you, I can take them out of town safely, and make sure they fully leave. I'll stop myself and clean it off as well"] he said. He hoped that the older man would agree to it. He stood there and thought about it for a moment. [b "Alright fine. Just make sure they [i never] come back as well"] he said as he looked back towards the people inside the SUV. Kaiser nodded lightly as he looked towards the driver and nodded lightly. [b "Looks like you are off the hook"] the sheriff snapped.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Just follow me"] was all he told the driver. He then hurried back to the car, Blair unlocked the doors and he slid inside. His heart was hammering inside of his chest. Blair knew not to say anything, so she didn't. The male put the car in gear and pulled out of the parking lot. He looked in the rearview mirror to make sure they were following, and he led them out of the heart of town. His heart was still thundering inside of his chest. He was just glad Blair wasn't saying anything right away.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 A little while later he pulled off the side of the road, and waited for the other's to do the same. He then walked up to the driver's side and waited for the window to be rolled down. [#ca4812 "I'm so sorry about all of that.. Do you have anything to wash the back of your vehicle off with?"] he asked. He didn't dare take his eyes off the handsome driver. He was just glad Blair was staying put for the time being. For now he was hoping to keep this under control a little while longer. They were farther away from town, so it was safe to speak freely as well.]]
[size14 The heavens above seemed to open up. The summer sun parted the clouds and issued down a voice that broke the awful stand off between himself and the sheriff… Only to make him wonder if he was being moved out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Emilio didn’t look at the man who was speaking to the cop. He was too afraid to even turn his head too far lest the sheriff take it as an excuse to do him any harm. Everyone in the old car was frozen. No one moved. They hardly breathed. And they listened to the vile hatred spill out of the officer’s mouth.
“Looks like you are off the hook,” he said with a look that told him he would rather stomp him into the ground. Emilio swallowed hard, then nodded at the voice to his left.
As soon at the sheriff’s truck was out of the way, Emilio put the SUV back in drive and turned to follow the old car in front of him.
“Do you think he’s going to kill us?” Emilio asked, breathlessly.
“What!?” Nathan screamed.
“Do you think he’s going to take us out into the middle of nowhere and shoot us?” Emilio asked. “I mean, he gave us no reason to trust him and we’re just following him. What if he’s no better! What if they do this all the time? What if it’s some kind of crime ring? And-”
“Leo, shut up! You weren’t looking at him,” Delphi said. “He looked really worried.”
“Fucking hell,” he murmered, hands still shaking on the steering wheel. He squeezed it tighter so that they would stop and his tan knuckles became white.
“I never thought I’d experience something like that,” Linds said softly. “I thought that only happened years ago.”
“That town is a time machine. They still live years ago,” Marcel said slowly. His voice sounded even shakier than Emilio’s and they all knew why. He was glad he was in the back seat. Emilio was light enough to not bother some of these people, but Marcel… He didn’t want to know how these people would welcome a gay black man.
“He’s pulling over,” Delphi said beside him, tapping his arm.
“I know, I see.”
Slowly, he pulled over behind the car. As if he, too, might be a cop, he waited for him to approach his window. He used a shaking finger to roll the window down. When he looked at the stranger speaking, oddly, he couldn’t make heads or tails of the words. His panic attack was at its finish and the rush was coming over him. He stared, looking quite dumb.
“Leo?” He heard Delphi ask, though it was muffled.
“No, we don’t have anything to wash it off,” he heard someone else answer a question he didn’t remember hearing.
All at once that sound came back to him. The first thing he could remember actively thinking was: [i What a handsome face.] The second: “I’m going to throw up.”
He opened the door, accidentally knocking the handsome stranger back a few paces in his urgency to get out of the car. He only made it to the back tire before he was leaning against the car and bile had risen to the point of no return. He leaned over it, spitting up the last of it. Delphi was immediately at his side with a half-empty water bottle to help him wash his mouth.
“Holy [i FUCK,] Emilio shouted, the adrenaline finally working itself out of his system. He started pacing, running a hand through his hair. “What the [i fuck]. Oh my god, Jesus Christ.”
“Emilio, stop, you’re not religious,” Delphi said. The sliding door to the SUV had been opened and the others were watching as they all came to terms with what had just happened.
Emilio laughed. “Oh, I am [i now!]” he joked. “I knew we we gonners. I [i knew] that sheriff-fuck was going to do something. So I sent a little prayer up to good ‘ol Sky Daddy.” He held his hands together in mock prayer. “I asked him,” he put on a child’s voice, “Dear, God, please send me an angel to take me away from this man so he doesn’t murder my ass for being a faggot, thank you!” He dropped the child act and gestured, almost violently, to their savior. “And He. Sent. Me. Him.”
His act by now was not adrenaline, it was simply Emilio. He knew how to get his friends smiling again and they always loved his antics. So he turned to the man he spoke of. “So I thank thee, dear angel,” he bowed like one might a saint.
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Watching as the events unfolded a little bit, he barely had time to move out of the way before the car door was being thrown open. He had to steady himself, and watched as the male ran to the back of the van and puked. That's when he heard his own car door opening and closing and Blair was right there by his side. Before he had a chance to stop her, she was running to where the two strangers were. [#FF9797 "You poor thing. I'm so sorry you all had to deal with something like that"] she said reaching out to the male.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Kaiser watched as Blair stepped into her motherly role, and knew right then that the handsome man was in good hands. He had two women at his side and knew that he would be well taken care of. [#ca4812 "Let me see if I have anything to clean your bumper"] he said lightly as he turned and opened the trunk. He was worried about the five people in the van, and he was worried about Blair as well. Knowing his sister, she was going to get attached to them right away.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 As he listened to the other speaking about being religious he couldn't help but smirk at the thought. That's when he was being thanked and he got really uncomfortable. [#ca4812 "Nothing to thank me for. I just know how that man works, and he would have done something to harm you. Either just one or all. As you saw, our town doesn't take well to things like this"] he said lightly as he made his way to the back of the van. His eyes never leaving the driver. Blair was standing there rubbing his back.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Are you just passing through? Because if you are, where are you heading? Because I don't want you going back through town if you can help it"] he said. Blair looked towards her brother as he started cleaning their van. [#FF9797 "I think I know who tagged your van as well.. I honestly don't care for this. Neither does Kaiser"] she breathed out. It broke her heart that the strangers had to deal with that treatment. It was tearing her apart. That's when she realized none of them knew the other's names, and she felt even worse.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 As Kaiser was cleaning the van Blair spoke once more. [#FF9797 "I'm Blair Cageson, and that male cleaning your van, and helped get you all to safety is Kaiser. You are rolling through the town of Hell pretty much.. So I just want to apologize for that"] she breathed out. She then realized she might be smothering the driver of the van, and she shoved her hands into her pockets and stepped back. Kaiser took his time listening to everyone around him. He knew who tagged the van, and it was making his blood boil.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "If you guys want to press charges on the fucker that did this, let me know and I can try to get him for it"] he said as he looked up. When it was finally done, he wadded up the paper towels he had found, and carried them back to his car. He threw them into the back seat and then moved back towards the other's. Blair moved to her brother's side, and he wrapped his arm around her shoulders. He was worried about them, and was curious as to where they were going. He looked towards the other's in the van and his heart went out to them.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "If I were you, I would leave and now. As soon as you get the directions you need anyway"] he said softly. Apart of him was hoping that they wouldn't leave right away. Then again they had been treated like total shit, and he wouldn't blame them for high tailing it out of there. He felt Blair lean against him, knowing she wanted to do more for them. She looked towards the other's as well a small, sad smile coming to her lips.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#FF9797 "If there's anything we can do, please let us know"] she said softly. Kaiser nodded as well. He wouldn't mind helping them the best he could. At least they wouldn't be leaving town with [i Faggot's] on the back of their van anymore. He had noticed the pride stickers and wondered if they were all heading to the same place, which it seemed like it. But he knew better than to pry about something like that. He fell silent, kept his arm around his sister, making sure to keep her close to his side.]]
[size14 The girl in his space looked like bubble gum. She [i sounded] like bubble gum. And she was strangely just what he needed to rid himself of the last remnants of nerves. Her soft hand moved in circles over his back as Delphi made him drink the rest of the water. Nathan, who couldn’t sit still for another moment, got out of the car and moved to the back to help clean the graffiti.
Emilio shook his head. “We just pulled over to get some sleep,” he confessed. “We’re going to California. There’s a… a pride thing they do all along the coast.” He watched the reactions of both strangers for any signs of discomfort, but none showed. There was a rather awkward pause before Bubble gum seemed to realize none of them knew any of each other’s names.
When she introduced herself and the man who had stuck his neck out to help them, Emilio nodded at them both. “Hell is a bit of an understatement, don’t you think?” he asked of the town. “Anyway, I’m Emilio.” He spoke mostly to bubble gum girl- Blair- but kept glancing over to Kaiser so he knew he hadn’t forgotten about him. “Nathan is helping you clean,” he gestured, “This is Delphi, her wife Lindsey, but we call her Linds, and Marcel, Nathan’s boyfriend.”
Once again, Emilio waited for the looks. The reaction from that town had really done a number on him. But Blair just simply waved politely at all of them. When Kaiser mentioned pressing charges, every one of them issued a harsh rejection to the idea, Emilio included. Fighting those kinds of wars were just losing battles after losing battles.
“Look, I appreciate it. And I believe you know who did it, but… No one is going to care about a group of 20 and 30-something year old queers getting offended that someone wrote a nasty word on their car.” He sighed. It was just the way the world worked.
He watched Blair approach Kaiser and the large man wrapped an arm around her. For a moment he wondered what they could be to each other. But then he saw the resemblance. They had to be related. Siblings. It hit Emilio suddenly that there could possibly be a reason neither of them were like the rest of their town. When he mentioned directions, Marcel stepped up and held out his GPS so Emilio could see.
Emilio, surprising even himself, reached for the phone, and with his thumb, smoothly tuned it off. “Dammit, Marcel, I keep telling you you need to keep your phone charged!” He said giving Marcel [i the look]. This look was usually reserved for [i please leave me alone I am trying to get laid] but it worked just as well in this context. Poor Marcel, confused, slunk back.
“Let me get the map,” Emilio said, smiling at Kaiser before walking to the cab. He returned with an old map, fading at the edges and a pen in his mouth. He unfolded the map, laying out on the hood of his car. He gave everyone in his group the same look he gave Marcel and no one argued with him or wondered what the hell he was doing.
“Okay, Angel,” he said, beckoning Kaiser. “I have absolutely no fucking idea where we are. Can you show me?” he asked, holding out the pen towards the man. Oh [i fuck] he was tall. Emilio knew he was a short guy, but even to an average man, Kaiser would be on the tall end. “And then put a giant ex through the town’s name so we know to never stop here ever again.” He watched him do as he asked. He tried not to focus on the large hands that dwarfed the pen that looked so normal in his own. “And if we keep taking this road,” he said, leaning in and stretching an arm across the map. He knew this was cruel, but he had to know how Kaiser might react before he risked opening up their small safe world to someone new. “Then it will eventually put us back on track, right?” His arm was slightly touching Kaiser’s. He waited for it. And there it was. A hard swallow in the corner of his eye.
“Okay, cool, thanks,” Emilio said suddenly, pulling back and taking the pen. He bent low and and started to scribble something in the corner of the map before tearing it off and folding the map back up.
As if everyone sensed they were finally on their way again, they all climbed back into the van and said their goodbyes to Blair and waved at Kaiser. Delphi took the driver’s seat, seeing as how Emilio had probably had too much excitement for one day.
Emilio reached out for Kaiser’s hand. It wasn’t a handshake. It was just the gentle press of palms. And he left the scrap of paper there.
“Thank you Kaiser,” he said, then pulled his hand away. “We really might be dead without you.” He looked at Blair. “Thank you Bubble Gum.” This made her smile and he retreated back to the passenger seat.
Delphi put the car in drive and without looking back, they left Hell.
Meanwhile, the note Emilio wrote was still folded in a handsome hand reading:
[center [i Angels don’t belong in Hell Meet us in Cali 555-123-4567 - Emilio]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 It was kind of nice not having them yelling at him. He didn't know what they were doing, or if they would even stick around much longer. He looked towards Emilio as he started rattling off the names of everyone. So they were all homosexual, or transgender, everything their little town hated, and frowned upon. He knew for sure Sheriff John would have done something to all of them now. He wanted nothing more than to bash the whole town's heads in just then. They were complete strangers, and they were already thinking about harming them? He sighed lightly rubbing his face.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Kaiser then realized that Emilio was speaking again. He nodded lightly as he came back to what was happening in front of him. [#ca4812 "Yes as far as I know this is the safest road to get you to where you need to go"] he said. He watched as they fumbled around for some sort of map or something. When it was placed on top of the van's hood, he walked over and started tracing his fingers along the lines. He then crossed out the name Havenwood on the map. He felt Emilio's arm against his.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Something seemed to spark inside of him feeling the other's arm against his. His heart seemed to skip a beat, and he wanted nothing more than to feel more than just that. He shoved those thoughts out of his mind, as he stood up straighter and then shoved his hands into his pockets. [#ca4812 "I think that's everything. I do apologize for our really shitty town and what they were planning on doing to all of you"] he said softly. Blair nodded lightly as she walked over and hugged all of them tightly.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#FF9797 "I would say come back and see us, but seeing as this town doesn't like anything different, and are living in the past it's not safe here for any of you"] she said softly. She wished they could have done something more for all of them. Kaiser slid his hands out of his pockets when Emilio approached him and touched his palm. A spark went through him just now, and he wanted nothing more than to leave with the strangers. [#ca4812 "It was nice meeting you, and I hope you get to California safely"] he said lightly.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He looked down at his hand and realized there was a slip of paper there. Well more like the corner of the map. He wrapped his fingers around the map and slid his hand into his pocket once more. Like he was keeping a small secret to himself so to speak. He watched as the other's climbed into the van and were off. He sighed lightly as he looked towards Blair and nodded towards the car. She nodded lightly as she went and slid back into the passenger seat. He slid in behind the wheel himself.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "I don't know about you, but I just want to go home"] he said. Blair nodded her head lightly as she looked out the window. She wanted to chase after the van and just go with them. It would be a new start for them both. She knew better than to voice that concern though. Kaiser's mind was racing. He had the handsome man's phone number in his pocket, and he had said to meet him in California. Would that be wise? What would his parents think if he up and left? He would think about all that later.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He turned the car on, turned around and headed back into town. So much for their day together. He would make it up to Blair one way or another. Everything that happened, was a little too much. He knew he was living in hell, and he was thinking about meeting Emilio and his friends at this Pride thing they talked about. He was curious as to what it was, and wondered if he'd get away with looking it up later on. He would have to chance it. He sighed as he made his way back home.]]
[size14 Emilio let out the breath he had been holding and a plume of smoke filled the back of the van. He was higher than a kite, but then again, so was everyone else except for Delphi and Linds, who didn’t smoke. Delphi, who brought the stuff in the first place, was only abstaining because she was driving.
She had originally wanted them to wait to get into the stuff until they got to California. But that morning had been stressful as hell and she could not deny them at least one blunt to pass around the back.
Marcel was laid out in the back on the makeshift bed. Nathan was beside him, head tucked into the crook of his boyfriend’s neck. Emilio was on the other side, his head resting on Marcel’s chest.
None of them had spoken in three hours. Until…
“That guy was like… super hot, right?” Emilio asked. The entire van started laughing and agreeing with him through their bouts of giggles. Whether it was actually funny or if it was just the weed, Emilio couldn’t tell.
“Too bad he’s straighter than a rod,” Nathan chuckled. “Or you could have caught yourself a fish!”
“I’m sorry, what?” Marcel said, looking dumbstruck at his boyfriend. “That man? Straight?”
“Yeah, no,” Emilio said, smiling widely, remembering the handsome stranger. [i Kaiser.] That was his name, “He was about to jump out of his skin every time I touched him. He’s been so deprived of male contact he’s blueballing himself for sure.”
That got another round of laughs, but Emilio’s smile faded as he thought more about it. He would hate to be stuck in a town that hated him. The only reason he was alive today was because he was allowed to be who he was.
“I wanted to adopt him,” he said, out of the blue. “Like a little golden retriever. Save him and Bubble Gum from that town.”
“Little?” Someone asked with a scoff.
“Bubble Gum?” Came another.
“Yeah, she was nice,” Linds said. “Blair, right? She was cute.”
There were murmurs of agreement before all talk faded and the blunt was passed around again. Emilio didn’t tell the others about the note he had given Kaiser. He wasn’t sure if they would think it was foolish, but he knew sometimes all you needed was a simple arrow pointing to the exit. And if he had to be that for people like him, then he would be.
That evening, Marcel googled safe places for them to stop. Emilio went onto a subreddit and actually warned people to stay away from the town they had stopped at. They didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what they just had.
That night, staring up at the motel ceiling, Emilio was rather disappointed. He had hoped for a text by now. Even if he wasn’t going to come to California, it would do the man some good to talk to another gay person at least. He closed his eyes and drifted off into restless sleep. He dreamt of homophobic sheriffs and getting high with attractive angels.
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 The moment that he pulled into the driveway, Kaiser unlocked the doors and Blair was out of the car in a flash. No doubt about to let their parents know what happened. Even though his parents hated people like him, he was still their child and his parents had a right to know that he had gotten involved. As the male sat there, he thought about messaging Emilio over and over again. Would it be wise? It wasn't like his parents looked at his phone anyway. He checked to make sure none of his family was coming out the door.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He then shifted a bit and pulled the small map corner out of his pocket. He read the message over and over, and he thought about starting the car back up and leaving. Instead he sent a quick message. [#ca4812 [i So, this is the asshole that saved you. Yes I'm dubbed as the asshole by Blair. Don't ask. But I just wanted to make sure you guys got out of town safely, and that you are on your way. I really do apologize for the sheriff, he just doesn't seem to fully understand.]]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 [i No one understands I suppose. Blair and I on the other hand do. I'm sure you noticed how we just took care of you guys, and made sure you were safe. We aren't like everyone in town. I know I'm starting to ramble so I apologize for that as well. Let me know when you guys get to California? It was nice meeting you Emilio.]] He read the cheesy message over a couple of times before sending it. He then saved the phone number into his phone, and shut the phone off, leaning his head back against the seat.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He didn't fully understand everything that happened. He didn't know if he would take Emilio up on the offer of meeting him in California. Would it be wise? Would his parents even go for something like that? He thought about it a while longer and decided he would leave in the next day or two, and meet up with the small group. Something about the five strangers drew him in. Emilio though was the real reason he was drawn in the first place. He hadn't felt that kind of attraction with anyone before.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He finally climbed out of the car and made his way into the house. As the front door closed he heard his father speaking. [b "They would have deserved whatever the Sheriff wanted to do to them. People like them shouldn't be allowed into this town. It's fucking stupid that there are [i queer] people in the world. You aren't supposed to love the same gender as yourself"] he was rambling on. Kaiser wasn't in the mood to deal with this talk again. He poked his head in around the corner and waved to the three in the living room.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "I'm going to head in for the night. It's been a rough day. I'll see you all in the morning"] he said. His father grunted, and his mother blew him a kiss. Blair looked towards him, and they shared a look between them. He knew she would sneak into his room later, and he wouldn't mind it. He pulled his head back and headed straight for his room. He shut the door behind him, and leaned against it. He felt like he was losing himself all over again. His heart was telling him one thing, and his mind another.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Had he really let something slip by? Someone else he could have trusted with his secret? Had he been in his own head the whole time? The way Emilio had kept touching him, looking at him, had he felt that small spark as well? He wouldn't know. He might have lost his one chance to escape this hell. He sighed as he moved over to the bed, kicked off his shoes and fell face first onto it. He heard his phone ringing, but ignored it. He wasn't in the mood to deal with Holland just then either.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He hated himself for not following after the van, and he hated himself even more for not going after Emilio and the freedom to live his life the way he wanted too. Maybe he might still have that chance, but he would wait to see if the other would reply to his stupid ass text message first, before bringing up any of his thought to Blair. For now he laid there, his face in his pillow, hating himself.]]
[size14 The next morning, Emilio woke to Delphi’s elbow in his ribs. “Wake up. Wake up. Everyone wake up, it’s time to go, fuckers.” Emilio groaned and rolled his face over into the pillow. “Come [i on].” He could hear her moving about, gathering things, and then heard the crack of her hand on his ass before he felt the sting.
“[i Ow!]” He shouted into the pillow and pulled away, leaving a small pile of drool. He made a face and wiped his face, feeling a days worth of scruff on his chin. He would never get over that feeling. A long time ago he had subjected himself to the idea he would never have a beard. Now it grew faster than he knew how to deal with it.
Delphi was still smacking people awake as he sat up, his shaggy hair a mess. They had all slept in a little more than they should have, but considering the events the day before, no one was complaining about time management. He shuffled to his feet and made his way to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Everyone had showered last night so that they could get a move on this morning, as if that did any good.
When they were all awake and headed back to the van, they collectively held their breath as if expecting it to be tagged again. But it was just as clean as Kaiser had left it the day before.
“I need some coffee,” Emilio muttered, taking the passenger seat this time. Marcel took the driver’s seat of his own car. Other’s mumbled in agreement as they piled in. One trip through starbucks later and Emilio was happily sipping away as his coffee and reaching for his phone to call his parents. They made him promise to call every day as if he were a child and not a man of thirty.
When his screen lit up, he saw he had a message from an unknown number. From last night. His heart skipped. He must not have heard it after he fell asleep.
He opened the message and began to read. The corner of his full lips curled upward the farther he got into the message. The man texted in paragraphs and gave more information than he needed to. Like he was going to be graded on the content as well as grammar and punctuation. It was… [i adorable.] Emilio bit his lip, willing his fingers into submission so he didn’t type something along the lines of [i you’ve never texted a gay guy before have you?]
Instead, he typed:
[center [i no idea why she calls you that. asshole and angel are two very different words. you really need to stop apologizing for things other people do. not good for the self esteem you know.]]
He hit send. Then thought for a moment about those last lines of Kaiser’s text. He added:
[center [i i’ll only tell you when we get to cali if you promise youll think about meeting us there.]]
Emilio jumped just after hitting send for the second time. A little bit of coffee spilled on his knee and he was glad he went for iced this time.
“I’ve said you name like twelve times,” Delphi said. “Who could you possibly be texting that is worth that much attention. Give me some napkins from the glove box, my drink spilled!” He was already halfway there, wanting to clean the coffee off his knee. He tossed some back to her. “I swear, if you’re talking to Spencer again,” she said, snatching them out of the air like a pro.
Emilio looked back at her with a horrified look. “Ew, no! Why the fuck would I talk to him again?”
“Um, I don’t know. Because he broke your heart. Not once, but [i twice?] And I’m constantly having to steer you away from looking at his instagram?”
“I mean,” Emilio shrugged, a smirk on his lips. “The only reason I went back for seconds was the se*.”
“Ewww, ‘seconds’?” Marcel exclaimed from the back. “That’s the grossest way to say that,” he said, but he was laughing.
“Anyway,” Emilio said. “It’s not Spencer.” He held up a finger before Delphi could ask. “And I have to call my mom now.” A round of “awws” went up as they usually did when he called his parents. He knew he was lucky to have them still in his life. He wasn’t the only one here who had accepting parents, but they were by far the most tight knit. He blamed it on the Italian heritage. Families were strong and lived in multi-generational homes, [i especially] when your parents owned several vineyards. It’s why they had moved to the states, afterall. To expand their dream. He couldn’t believe how stereotypical he was. If it wasn’t for his Sicilian mother he might as well put on some blue overalls and call himself Mario. At least the accent had almost faded away completely. They immigrated when he was eleven and it had been more than enough time for the accent to fade away.
Except for when he spoke his native language a little too long. It always came back with a vengeance for a while after family gatherings.
He spoke to his mother in Italian, mostly because it was easier for her and also because none of his friends could make fun of him when he told her how much he missed her.
“[i Fai il bravo] (Be good),” she said.
He rolled his eyes, but smiled. “[i Ti voglio bene, mamma] (I love you, mom),” he replied and they hung up. He looked out the window and at the scenery passing him by, glad he was no longer letting life pass him by in much the same way.
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 The males mind was still spinning. There was something about Emilio that he couldn't put his finger on. Something about the male that seemed to [i really] draw his attention. He couldn't really put his finger on it, and he didn't know if he really wanted too. When sleep finally washed over the male, it was a dreamless night, and he was kind of glad of that. When his alarm started going off the next morning, he let out a low groan. He wasn't ready to go back to work quite yet. Then again he had to make a living.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He slammed his hand down on the alarm clock, and rolled onto his back. He put his arm over his eyes, thinking about what happened yesterday. How far would have everything gone if he hadn't stepped in? Would the small group still be here? Would they have been in jail? Those were things he didn't want to think about. Thinking about the handsome stranger behind bars seemed to make his blood boil. He shook his head as he threw the blankets off of himself, and rolled to sit up. He placed his bare feet onto the cold floor.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 That's when he heard the buzzing. He looked towards the nightstand and saw that his phone was lit up. Another buzz, and he finally reached for the phone and checked it. He had a lot of messages from Holland, and two from Emilio. His heart slammed against his chest seeing the man's name on his phone. He struggled putting his passcode in a couple of times. He nearly locked himself out of his own damn phone. When he finally managed to open the messages his heart skipped a beat. Was this really happening?]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Emilio had mentioned him going to California again. Would he really be willing to do that? He knew his parents would ask a lot of questions about him going alone. Maybe he could talk Blair into going with him. His fingers hovered over the keyboard a moment, before he started typing. [#ca4812 [i I mean, if you keep telling me to think about, I should just go out there then? Would it be weird if I brought Blair with me? She seemed to really get attached to all of you in that short amount of time.]]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He didn't really think twice before sending reply. It was a little late now though. He stood and went to take a quick shower. He then got into his uniform for the day, and made sure he had everything he needed. When he was fully ready for work, he grabbed his keys, phone, wallet, and whatever else he would need for the day. He could hear his family down in the kitchen talking about the events yesterday. He rolled his eyes as he walked into the kitchen. He grabbed an apple real quick, and walked over to his mother.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "I kind of slept in a little longer than I wanted too. So I don't have time to really eat anything. I'll see you all later tonight. Oh, Blair you and I need to talk as well"] he said. The pink haired female had food in her mouth, so all she could do was nod. He kissed his mother's cheek lightly, said good morning to his father, and was then out the door. As he opened the jeep's door, his phone started to ring. He knew who it was without having to look at the caller ID.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He pulled himself up into the jeep and shut the door before answering the phone. [#ca4812 "Good morning Holland"] he said into the phone. [#DB7093 "Its about damn time you answered! Where the hell have you been? Is it true you helped a bunch of faggot's out yesterday?"] came the sound of her horrible voice. She had a pretty face, but everything else made him want to vomit. The way she treated people, the way she treated Blair, and everyone else he cared about. He let out a small sigh started the jeep up.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Please don't use that word around me Holland. And yes I did help them out. They were outsiders, and just passing through town. They didn't deserve what was done to them"] he said with a snappy tone. [#DB7093 "Excuse me? You [i really] did help them? That's horrible of you. I can't believe you would help people like [i them]"] she said with the same snappy tone. This was the one thing he really hated about the woman, and why he wished he hadn't agreed to [i dating] her in the first place. He wasn't in the mood to argue with her either.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Listen, I'm heading into work right now. If you want to come and meet me on lunch, we can talk about this face to face"] he offered. [#DB7093 "You best believe I will be there for your lunch"] she snapped and hung up. The male rolled his eyes as he threw his phone onto the seat beside him. He didn't know what everyone saw in Holland. She was a horrible person, but he had to play it cool and pretend he wasn't into men. He was slowly coming to realize that, and was slowly coming to terms with it.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Instead of talking to Blair about going with him, because he knew she would. He sped off to work, pulled into the parking lot and into his normal stall. He then shut the jeep off, reached for his phone and messaged Emilio once more. [#ca4812 [i I will meet you there. See you in a couple of days.]] was all he sent. He then put his phone into his pocket, climbed out, and went to work. He was surprised he had taken that leap, but he needed to get out of this town, and now.]]
[size14 The next time he looked at his phone he had two texts, both from Kaiser. The time stamps for each were just long enough apart that he could tell there had been a lot of thinking involved between each one and Emilio couldn’t help the grin from coming to his face at the thought. He was finally getting through to the stubborn man.
He typed out [center [i she’s not the only one that got attached]] with a wink emoji. Then he tacked on the address of the hotel they would be staying at first in California.
Then he let out a shaky breath, his thumb hovering over the send button. He didn’t want to lead Kaiser on too much, especially since he seemed so reserved. What if he followed him out here and everything just fell apart? What if this was the wrong thing to do?
Emilio looked out the window at Nathan emerging from some unnamed gas station. Linds was picking little flowers in the nearby field. He felt the door behind him open and Delphi stuck her head in, offering him a bottle of coke, which he accepted with a muttered thanks, only to find she was ripping his phone away from him a second later.
“So whose been on your mind [i all] day? First you’re evading the questions, then you’re not even taking part in the pun war. Something is goi- Oh my god, is this? Did you give closet boy your number on the down low?”
Emilio turned around in his seat and reached for his phone. He felt the sweat start to rise, sure she was going to hit send on accident. “Look, it was stupid, okay? I was just trying to get him to meet us.”
Her strong arm reached out and blocked him so she could read their exchanges. “He’s coming?” she asked. “And bringing Blair? She was adorable!”
“Whose coming?” Nathan asked as the others started piling back into the van.
“Emilio’s been talking to that Kaiser guy!” Delphi proceeded to put his texts on display for the others to see. He reached out in vain once again.
“You have to send this, it’s so cute.” And as if it was the simplest thing in the world, Delphi tapped the send button. Emilio swallowed hard, watching it think for a moment before the text appeared. And there was no going back.
“Fuck Delphi! I have no idea how he’s going to respond to that! He’s probably going to change his mind and think I’m a fucking creep.” Emilio whined and sunk low into his seat as Marcel started to drive.
The worst part wasn’t that they all laughed it off. It was that Kaiser didn’t respond. For [i hours]. And Emilio tried to tell himself that he was probably just at his job or something, but the torture he was in caused him to elicit cries of embarrassment for at least two hours until he let himself fall asleep and was only roused when they reached the hotel that night.
By then, he was too [i afraid] to check his phone. The truth of the matter was that Emilio had trouble with Delphi’s “just let things flow” philosophy. Try as he might, he always worried. Send a guy a wink emoji and his mind starts running what-if scenarios. [i What if he’s gay but hates me because I’m trans? What if he doesn’t actually want any of this? Or worse, what if he does and just uses me to experiment with his sexuality?] He had to put the breaks on. It was [i just] a text. It was [i just] an invitation to meet in California. First impressions be damned. He could wind up hating the guy despite his looks and kindness and all over demeanor that had drawn Emilio in in the first place. And his smell… Why couldn’t he get his smell out of his head? He had only stood next to him for a moment after Kaiser had cleaned the graffiti off their car. The smell of his light sweat was mixed with something that reminded him of the oak they used to make the wine barrels back home.
“Do you plan on sharing some of that hot water with the rest of us?” he heard Nathan shout through the bathroom door and Emilio nearly slipped in the tub as he was shocked out of his reverie. He turned off the water, got dressed, and sheepishly crossed the room to watch the television with the girls so he wouldn’t have to think about Kaiser anymore.
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 The day seemed to drag on. Even though his phone was on silent, he would still feel it vibrate in his pocket. He was kind of scared of what Emilio would say. Was he just jumping head first into something he wasn't ready for? He knew that he would have to break things off with Holland before he left. He knew that Blair would want to come along, because she wanted out of this town as much as he did. He was confused on everything. He didn't think he would have been attracted to a male right away.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 It had been driven into his head, that it was a sin to love someone of the same sex. He would be looked down upon, he would be disowned, and he would end up getting kicked out of the shitty, bible thumping town, or worse.. He could be locked up, beaten to the point of death, or he would get shot in the streets. It's been over five hundred years since that happened, but he wouldn't put it past the Sheriff in town. Kaiser let out a small sigh as he realized someone was in front of him.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Sorry about that, what can I get you?"] he asked. The woman in front of him smiled lightly, and tossed her hair over her shoulder. [b "No worries, I hope whatever is on your mind, isn't as bad as I think it is"] she said in a kind voice. The male was kind of taken back by her kindness, and he smiled a little towards her. He couldn't help but wonder why she was so kind to him. He didn't mind it though. At least he wasn't getting yelled at for being in his thoughts.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 The female placed her order, and the male went to work on getting taken care of. That's when he felt his phone buzz in his pocket, and his heart skipped a beat. He couldn't very well pull the phone out to read it. He wanted too, but knew he couldn't. He went about his business, and soon it was time for his lunch break. Sure enough, Holland came in through the door, and his heart dropped into his stomach. He didn't want her here, he didn't want to talk to her.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 A part of him was hoping she wouldn't see him, but she did. She then made her way towards him and tossed her red hair over her shoulder. [#DB7093 "Are you ready for lunch my love?"] she asked lightly. The male cringed when she used those words, and he hated it more than anything. [#ca4812 "Give me five minutes"] was all he said. The woman nodded and went to their normal table in the back. It was more private than any of the other tables. He tried to keep himself as busy as he could for the next five minutes. Soon he couldn't stall any longer.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He went to the back and clocked out for lunch. He had enough time to pull his phone out, and read the message quickly. The male smiled lightly as he read the message. He getting more and more excited about his choice. He had an address of the hotel they would be staying at, and he made a mental note to message Blair about it. He would have to worry about that later. He slid his phone back into his pocket and made his way to the table, and sat down across form Holland.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 The male took in the sight of her, and he wished he didn't have to do this. He took a breath and started to speak. [#ca4812 "Before you start ripping into me, for helping those people. I think you and I need to talk about something else. I know you are planning on getting married to me, but I don't feel right about it. I don't feel right marrying someone I'm not in [i love] with. I've been thinking about this for quite sometime now, and I just... I just can't do this Holland."]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "I know you and I are supposed to bring our families together, but I can't. I don't want to be married to someone I would be miserable with. I'm sorry, but I have to break things off before we really get into planning the wedding"] he said in a soft voice. He sat there watching her face. The more he spoke, the more he saw the anger crossing her features. She narrowed her eyes, as she put her hands into her lap. She looked like she wanted to scratch his eyes out. He couldn't blame her though.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 [#ca4812 "Please, say something.."] he nearly begged. The silence was really getting to him. [#DB7093 "What do you want me to say Kaiser? You are breaking up with me, claiming you aren't in love with me. Well that's fine. I have a feeling it has to do with those strangers you helped, and honestly I'm really upset about it. I thought you were different. You and I were building something together! You and I were supposed to be together till the end of time. But I see that's no longer going to happen. Let me ask you this though..."]]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 She stopped and took a breath before speaking again. [#DB7093 "Are you gay?"] she asked. The question falling from her mouth was enough to make the male pause. Was he gay? He couldn't really answer that question. He knew what it would mean. So he sat there and shook his head. He couldn't answer it. Holland narrowed her eyes as she placed her hands onto the table, and pushed herself up. [#DB7093 "Your silence is enough to tell me the answer to that question. You better watch your back faggot"] she breathed out. She then turned on her heel and stormed out.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 Kaiser sat there in stunned silence. Did she really just call him that? Was this really happening? He knew he would have to leave town tonight, because now that Holland pretty much got her answer, he felt like his whole world was going to crash and burn. He pulled his phone out, and hit Emilio's name and typed out a quick message. [#ca4812 [i I will see you in a couple days. Make sure to look for me.]] and hit send. He was in some deep shit now.]]
[google-font https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Noto+Sans][noto+sans [size12 He had to watch his back for a couple more hours. He hurried and sent a message to Blair. [#ca4812 [i Get your shit packed, we are leaving tonight. I'll explain in the car.]] Was all the message held for his sister. He slid his phone back into his pocket. Cut his lunch short, clocked back in, and finished his shift. He made sure to get his paycheck before leaving. He didn't know what was in store for when he would leave the safety of the building. For the time being he was safe, he just didn't know for how long.]]
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