We didn't technically have soccer practice anymore, but most of us on the team met up to practice on the field anyway. It was just weird not to and we needed to stay in shape for next season. I had just showered and dressed. I was tying my shoe trying to get out of there as soon as I could so I could go meet Alex in the parking lot. We were going to look at apartments today.
I paused when Tim went up to Chet. Tim showed Chet his cell phone. They both looked at it a moment before Chet quickly covered it with his hand. They both glanced at me. They quickly looked away when they saw me watching them.
Tim said something to Chet that I couldn't hear. Chet's shoulders visibly dropped as he sighed. He took Tim's phone away from him and approached me. I finished tying my shoe.
"What's up?" I asked afraid of what the answer would be.
"I'm not sure how to say this," Chet said as sat next to me on the bench.
"Just say it."
Chet looked back at Tim who waved from a safe distance for Chet to say something.
"I think the video of Alex got released," he said.
My fingers went numb. "Part of it was released," I said. "Alex's lawyer is working to get the videos removed.
"I don't think this is just part of a video," Chet said. "I think it is all of the video." My heart dropped.
"Did you watch it to know for sure?"
Chet shook his head vigorously. "I don't want to watch that, but it's not just 30 seconds long or a minute long. It's longer than that."
I didn't want to, but I had to know for sure. I took the phone from Chet. On the screen a video was paused. Alex sat on a bed with a boy. They were in the middle of a kiss. They were fully clothed and the kiss wasn't too heated, but my heart ripped into tiny pieces. I looked down at the bar at the bottom of the screen. The video had just started and Chet was right, it was a longer video.
I couldn't look at it anymore. I handed it back to Chet. "Can you just click through the video and make sure it is the full video and not just the same snippet put together back to back?" That was a possibility, wasn't it? I pleaded to whatever force or being was out there that this was the case.
Chet shook his head. "I don't want to see the video."
He tried to hand the phone back to me but I refused to take it. "Do you think I want to see it? I can't, Chet."
Chet sighed, stood up so his back was to the lockers so no one else would be able to see it either and he began to skip ahead in the video. He didn't say anything, but I could tell as his expression got darker and sicker that it was the full video.
I bent over with my head in my hands. Life was about to get permanently harder for Alex. My stomach was heavy like I had swallowed stones.
"It's the full video," Chet said quietly. "How did this happen? I thought they arrested Jason?"
"They did," I said still with my head in my hands.
"So it is Alex," Tim said. I hadn't realized he had approached us. "I was hoping it wasn't."
I finally looked up as Chet handed Tim his phone.
"How did you come across it?" I asked him because as far as I knew Tim was straight and had a girlfriend.
"Sarah was watching gay porn videos and..."
"Why is your girlfriend watching gay porn?" Chet asked.
"She's making an online yaoi comic and was watching for reference." Chet and I exchanged a glance. "Anyway," Tim went on, "she thought that looked like your boyfriend, but she also thought he didn't know he was being recorded. We thought we should let you know if that was the case."
"Does anyone else know?" I asked as I looked around the locker room. No one else seemed interested in us.
"I didn't tell anyone but Chet," Tim said. "I would have come to you first, but I was afraid you would kill me. I didn't think you knew about the video."
"Alex didn't know the video was being recorded," I said. "The guy tried to blackmail him later with it. Alex refused and went to the police. The guy is now in jail awaiting his trial. I don't know how this got out."
"Should I do anything with this?" Tim asked. "I mean, will the police want it for evidence or anything?"
"Send me the link to it," I said. "I'll tell Alex and he can tell his lawyer."
"Okay," Tim said.
"And Tim, please don't tell anyone else about this," I said.
Tim nodded, typed something into his phone and my phone beeped alerting me to a message. I left him and Chet.
Alex stood next to his car as he waited for me. He smiled brightly when saw me approaching, but the smile disappeared as I got closer.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
I motioned to his car and we got inside. He didn't start the car yet. He just waited for me to speak.
"I don't know how it happened," I said, "but the full video was released. Chet and Tim brought it to my attention. I haven't seen it, but I know it's the full video. I have the link if you want to call your lawyer and tell him so he can get it taken down."
Alex slowly nodded. He swallowed hard. His hand shook slightly as he brought his phone up to his ear. "Yes," he said into the phone. "This is Alex Lundquist. I need to speak with Mr. Smith please. Yes. Please have him call me as soon as he can."
He hung up and looked at me. I reached out and took his hand. He clasped mine desperately.
"Is the office going to close soon?" I asked. I wanted and I knew Alex wanted this to be resolved as soon as possible.
"He told me before he would return my calls as soon as he could. Day or Night."
I nodded. "I'm sure we'll hear back soon then. Should we call the detective to let him know?"
"Mr. Smith will contact him to give him any pertinent information."
We sat there in silence a moment longer before Alex withdrew his hand and started his car. "I guess we should go to the first apartment then," he said. "Unless you want to postpone this to another day."
I shook my head. "I don't want to postpone. Let's go."
He pulled out of the parking lot and we went to the first apartment. It was located close to my current apartment. Gareth had suggested he just move out and Alex could move in, but I wanted a complete change. And Alex and I wouldn't need a two bedroom. We could live together in a one bedroom. Gareth was all ready to move into the dorms next semester.
We met the manager in the office and he led us to the 1 bedroom available. I liked it. It was clean. Fresh white walls, a clean carpet. The kitchen had been well maintained. I liked the bathroom and the bedroom would be spacious enough. It even had a small balcony. And by small I meant just big enough for us to stand by the railing and look out at the little courtyard. I didn't think even chairs would fit out there. Well, maybe if we turned them to the side instead of looking out over the courtyard. I liked it. The only bad thing was that it was on the fifth floor and the one elevator was on the other side of the building. I could tell by Alex's face that he wasn't too impressed. He wasn't rude about it or anything. It just wasn't what he was used to. He wanted an extravagant lifestyle and I couldn't afford that yet. Maybe someday after we graduated college we could move into luxury apartments like he wanted.
Alex's phone beeped with a message. He pulled it out of his pocket and looked at it.
"What is it?" I asked him.
"Vincent," he said. "Chet told him. He's asking if I'm okay."
The manager waited patiently a few steps away pretending like he wasn't listening to our conversation.
"Are you okay?" I asked him.
He shrugged. Moisture sprang into his eyes, but he quickly blinked them away. "I have to be," he said.
I left it at that as I didn't want to go into too much detail with the manager standing right there. Alex typed a response to Vincent, but I didn't ask him what it was.
We thanked the manager and went on our way to the next one. We just arrived at the parking lot when Alex's phone rang through the car. Alex answered immediately when he saw that it was his lawyer and since it was through his car, I heard everything they said.
"I had a message you called me, Mr. Lundquist. What can I do for you this evening?"
"I'm sorry to disturb you," Alex said. "I'm sure you just want to go home to your family, but I just found out the entire video was released."
"Do you have the link you can send me? I will have it taken down and submit this information as further evidence."
"My boyfriend, Mateo Lopez, has the information. Is it alright if he sends it?"
"Of course. Do you still have my business card with my email address on it or would you like me to provide you with that information again?"
"I have it," Alex said.
They said their goodbyes. Alex turned off the car, dug out his wallet from his pocket and took out Mr. Smith's business card. He handed it to me. I quickly sent the link. I breathed a sigh of relief when that was done. It was no longer my responsibility.
The second apartment we looked at was a little further away from the university, but still close. The apartment was on the first floor so that was a bonus. There were a few stains on the carpet though that I thought the manager hoped we wouldn't notice.
The third apartment we looked at was even further away and on the second floor. There was nothing visibly wrong with it, although I liked the vibe of the first apartment we saw better. When I checked the water pressure it was really weak.
It was dark outside by the time we were through. We went back to his car, but instead of getting in right away, he stood by the door. I waited not sure what was happening and if he would need me.
"Mat," he said quietly.
"Yes?" I stepped up close to him and took both of his hands in mine.
"Can I have a hug?" he asked even quieter.
"Of course," I said. I wrapped him in my arms and held him close to me. He dropped his head onto my shoulder. He was silent. The only way I could identify he was crying was by the way his shoulders would hitch every once in awhile.
"It's going to be okay, babe," I said. I knew he was upset about the video. I was too if I was being honest. "Even if it's not okay, it's okay. I'm here with you always. We'll get through this no matter how many times it comes up."
He nodded against my shoulder and took in a deep breath. He let it out slowly. His head came back up and he pulled away from me just enough that he could look at me. He wiped away the tears on his cheeks while my arms still held him around the waist.
"You can always count on me too," he said. "Even if it's just a simple thing like asking help on a homework problem. You know this, right?"
I faked a smile. "Of course," I said. But I couldn't let him find out how weak I was. I couldn't take the chance he wouldn't like me and break up with me.