"Hey," Trevon said. He met me in the hall near the front doors. "Seen Alex yet?"
"No and he didn't call me last night after his date like he said he was going to," I said. "Did you hear from him at all?"
Trevon shook his head. Jason passed nearby at that moment. He hadn't noticed us yet. He smirked as he looked at the front doors. It was a look I had never seen on him before and I didn't like it.
Alex walked into the school building at that moment looking like a zombie, in a daze. He bumped into Mr. Zhao and didn't even apologize. He froze when he saw Jason. Jason's mean smirk grew even wider. He started walking towards Alex, but Alex quickly avoided him. Jason shrugged and walked away.
Trevon and I exchanged a quick glance before we walked after Alex. I grabbed him by the upper arm and pulled him into the nearest classroom. Mrs. Harris looked at us from her desk and frowned.
"Can you give us a minute please, Mrs. Harris," Trevon said politely.
From the scowl on her face she was about to scold us, but paused when she saw the state Alex was in. Instead she exited the room and left us in peace.
"What's wrong?" I asked Alex.
His eyes didn't focus, didn't even look at me. In a stupor, he took out his phone and handed it to me. I waited for him to say something - give me some instruction, but there was nothing.
I looked at his phone. A text from Jason was open. There was a thirty second video attached to it.
MyJason: if u dont want this to get out give me $100k
I opened the video just as Trevon came around to look over my shoulder.
I was glad the sound on Alex's phone was turned down low because the first thing I recognized was the sounds of passion. Everyone out in the halls would have known what we were watching if the sound had been turned up. Then I recognized the naked bodies of Jason and Alex, Alex underneath Jason clearly having sex. I immediately covered the screen with my hand when I realized what I was watching.
"Why are you showing us a video of you having sex with your boyfriend?" Trevon asked. He hadn't seen the text message. I uncovered the screen so I could exit out of the video and showed Trevon the message. Trevon's entire body stiffened beside me.
"I'll kill him." I didn't recognize the voice. It was low and guttural and it came from me.
It was at that moment that Alex collapsed completely to the floor. His entire body shook with violent sobs. His breath came in great wheezes and his face turned pale except his cheeks seemed extra red as tears wet his flesh and his eyes quickly became bloodshot.
Trevon and I were instantly on the ground next to him. I cradled his head to my chest as Trevon patted his back.
Trevon said, "It's going to be okay, Aley. We're going to take care of this. Nothing is going to happen."
It was at this moment that Mrs. Harris came back into the room. She rushed over to us and bent low over Alex when she saw the state he was in.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
But how could any of us answer that?
"You'd better take him home," she said when none of us answered.
I nodded and Trevon helped me stand Alex on his feet.
"Stop crying now," Trevon said. "Don't let the other students see you like this. You can cry when we get you home."
I wiped the tears off Alex's cheeks. He tried to stop sobbing, but he couldn't stop completely. He did stop enough that instead of racking sobs it was just a few quiet tears. That was going to have to do. Trevon and I stood on either side of him as we guided him out of the classroom and headed towards the front doors.
Toby suddenly stopped in front of Trevon. He hadn't spoken to us since the third grade, but now he suddenly wanted to talk when we had a crying Alex between us?
"Hey, Trev," Toby said in a mocking tone. "I heard from Jason that Alex is a real animal in bed." And then he made a noise so similar to what we had just heard in the video clip that I was sure Toby had seen it too.
Trevon didn't hesitate as he stepped forward and hit Toby hard enough in the jaw that Toby fell to his butt as he held his reddening cheek.
Trevon took a threatening step towards Toby, but Mr. Zhao was suddenly there holding Trevon back.
Toby smirked. He stood up and straightened his shirt. "I knew your true colors would come out sooner or later," Toby said. "Your race is always violent."
Students in the hallway around us gasped. Mr. Zhao's mouth opened in surprise. Hurt sprang up in Trevon's brown eyes. Alex started sobbing again.
Everything seemed to be at a stand still. Except me. I stepped forward and hit Toby on his other cheek. Pain racked down my knuckles, but it was worth it. Toby stepped back and stared at me in surprise. I grabbed him by the shoulders and bent him forward to bring my knee up to his stomach. He fell forward onto his knees. I was about to kick him, but Alex was suddenly in front of me. His hands on my shoulders as tears ran down his cheeks.
"Please," his quiet voice said, "no violence."
I was torn. Toby had just hurt Alex and Trevon. In my rage I wanted to pummel Toby so he couldn't get up, but Alex was my best friend and he was in pain. I wrapped an arm around Alex's shoulders, grabbed Trevon by the wrist and pulled him away from Mr. Zhao's slack grasp. As we walked out, Toby yelled out after us, "I'm going to sue you for assault."
The three of us walked out of the building.
I sat at the little table as I completed my business calculus homework. My phone rang. It was Trevon. I quickly answered. "Hey, Trev." I finished the last problem and put the pencil down on the table.
"Are you seriously trying to break up Alex and his new boyfriend?"
"I haven't heard from you in such a long time and this is what you call me about? No, hi, how you doing? How's school? How's family? How's life?" I got up and went to my bed. I readjusted the pillows and then sat on the bed with my back propped against the pillows.
"You haven't called me either," Trevon pointed out.
"I've been busy," I said weakly.
"Me too. But I've been busy with school work. Not trying to break up Alex and his boyfriend."
I sighed. "I'm just trying to protect Alex."
"He is his own person you know. And from what he tells me, Mateo is really nice."
"We thought Jason was nice at first too. Did he tell you that Jason has contacted him again and released part of the video?"
There was a long silence. "No," Trevon's voice was strained. "He didn't tell me that."
"Is he going to try to break us up too?" a male voice asked in the background.
"No," Trevon said to someone other than me.
"But he's already trying to break up your other friend."
"Not because our other friend is gay. Don't worry."
"Let me say hi."
"No," Trevon said, "No, Arthur!" But Trevon's voice got further away.
The other voice - Arthur - said, "Hiiiiii," really drawn out and cheerful into the phone.
"Hello," I said.
"I'm Arthur, Trev's boyfriend. You're not going to try to break us up are you because I'm going to tell you right now I won't stand for that."
I smiled. "No. I won't try to break you up."
"Good," he said sounding quite satisfied with himself.
"You're too far away," I added just to tease. Trevon had called me before he came out to his family as bi to tell me all about his new boyfriend about a month ago. He was a ballet student and was already well off financially. I had no problem with him.
"What?" Arthur sputtered.
"He's teasing," Trevon said as his voice got closer and Arthur's got further away again.
"How do you know he's teasing? Give me back the phone. I need to talk to him again."
"Art, I've known him since the second grade and I can tell when he's teasing."
"Well, tell that white boy that he should stop trying to break up his gay and bi friends. It's hard enough as it is to come out when you have this big secret. To not have your friends support you is worse. I bet he's never even had a big secret he's needed to reveal." Then Arthur gasped. "Oh no," he said. "What if he isn't white? I just assumed he was. What if I just made a terrible faux pas?"
Trevon laughed. "Don't worry, Art. He's white."
"I'll tell you a big secret I've been keeping," I said to Trevon. I had always felt guilty that I had told Alex I was bi, but not Trevon. That guilt had only intensified when Trevon called to tell me he was bi and had a boyfriend. Even as I said the words, my heart began to pound against my chest and my stomach began to turn. The more people knew about it, the more likely it was that my family would find out. I trusted Alex and I trusted Trevon. I didn't trust anyone else. At least not with this. "But I want only you to know. Not your boyfriend."
"You have a secret you've kept from me?" Trevon asked astounded.
"He's going to tell us a secret?" Arthur asked excitedly.
"Not 'us'. Just me," Trevon said.
"But we don't keep secrets between us," Arthur said.
"This isn't my secret. It's my friend's and I will keep his secret."
Arthur sighed over dramatically. "Fine," he said. "I'll just wait for you then...on the bed."
There was a pause and a door shut in the distance. "Okay. I'm alone," Trevon said. "Tell me this big secret."
"I'm bi." My chest seemed to twist as I waited in the silence that followed for some kind of answer.
"You don't need to tease me," Trevon finally said. "It's okay that you're straight. You don't need some big secret to understand us. Just ignore what Arthur said."
"I'm not teasing," I said.
"But I've never seen you check out a guy," Trevon insisted.
"Trev, you know what my family would do to me if they found me checking out a guy."
There was more silence.
"Hunh," Trevon finally said. "So Alex is gay and you and I are both bisexual."
"I guess so," I said.
"So, has there been any guys you've checked out in secret?"
"Do you remember that exchange student from Taiwan when we were sophomores?"
"Oh yes. He was hot. I checked him out myself. I heard he's an actor now or something. Anyone else?"
"I had a small crush on Levi until he turned out to be jerk," I said.
"Me too," Trevon said. "Do we have the same taste in guys? When you meet Arthur, you better not hit on him."
"Don't worry. I won't. My family can never find out I'm bi."
"No offense, but I kinda hate your family. Well, at least your mom. Your grandma was always nice to me and your dad was nice too. Your brother was kind of a jerk, but I think all brothers are a little. But your mom. Remember what she said to me at that Christmas party when we were 14?"
"Ugh, don't remind me. I was so embarrassed."
"Yeah, that's when I knew she was racist. Sorry, man, but I do not like her."
"It's okay. You don't have to like her. Your family was always nice to me and your cousin, Jasmine, seems really nice. Honestly, I can't figure out why she is dating my brother."
"I don't know either," Trevon said. "She said he's nice."
"Are you done yet?" Arthur's voice called from far away.
"Almost," Trevon called back. "Anyone you currently have a crush on? Girl or boy?" he asked me.
Chet. What? No. Brain, don't be crazy.
"No," I said.
"Okay. Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me."
"I know it is," I said. My phone buzzed. I pulled it away from my ear long enough to look at it. "Alex is calling me," I said into the phone.
"Okay. I'll let you answer it. Don't wait a month next time to call me."
He was the one who called me, but I didn't remind him of that. I hung up and answered Alex's call.
"It's actually Mateo."
My entire body tensed.
"Alex let me borrow his phone," Mateo went on. "I wanted to try this again. I hope you give me the opportunity to prove myself to you. You mean a lot to Alex so I would like it if we could eventually be friends."
Yeah. That wasn't going to happen. He paused, but I didn't say anything.
"There is a home game Wednesday night. I'm inviting you to come watch it with Alex and then maybe we can all go out to eat after or something." There was another long pause, but I still didn't say anything.
"I'm trying," Mateo finally said. "I hope you'll try too." And with that he hung up.
Trevon's phone call had lifted my mood, but now that was entirely destroyed. My phone immediately rang again as if it couldn't stand that I had a moment of happiness.
I stared at the phone as it kept saying mom was calling. I didn't want to answer, but it would be worse later if I didn't.
"Hello, mom." I tried to make my voice sound upbeat and happy, but I didn't think I succeeded.
"Hello, son. How is school?" I opened my mouth to answer, but she went on speaking. "Wednesday night is the retirement party for your grandma. I don't know why they decided to do it on a Wednesday night instead of Friday. I guess some important people are going to be out of town on a business trip this weekend. Whatever. It is what it is. It's at seven. I'll send you the address. Bye. Love you."
And she hung up before I could say anything else. Two invites for Wednesday night and I didn't want to go to either one.