Apollo knelt by his bed, packing the last of his belongings. The end of the semester came quickly. Everyone was returning home for the holidays. He would be back here in just a few months to finish his freshman year. He had come out feeling like a different person. He didn’t know he could change so drastically in such a short time. It wasn’t a change for the better. He came into university feeling excited, nervous and fearful. He was leaving with a hole in his heart. It had only been a few months, but life had a funny way of throwing punches. Tommy had been avoiding Apollo. At least until last night. Apollo was amazed that it was even possible considering they lived in the same building. Lynette had been spending most of her time with Mason, despite Apollo’s warning. Apollo went out of his way to avoid Katherine. She had caused him enough pain, he didn’t want to have to look her in the eyes again. That left Damian. Damian had offered quite a few more words to Apollo. They would even occasionally have full on conversations. Damian was weird, there was no doubt about that, but thats what gave him his charm. Apollo would actually miss his strange behavior. Upon placing his last item in his suitcase, Apollo shrank down to the floor. He tried to do as much as he could to avoid thinking of what happened last night with Tommy. His mind was in shambles and his heart beat fast whenever he thought about it. When he was alone with his thoughts, it was torture.
He was so deep in thought that he didn’t notice the familiar face who sat down next to him.
“What’s with the long face? Are you going to miss university that much?” Lynette asked.
Apollo looked up at her and shook his head. “It’s nothing.”
“Nothing? We’ve lived in the same building for three months straight. We’ve practically spent everyday together, don’t tell me it’s nothing. What’s on your mind?” Apollo contemplated telling her what was on his mind, but he was terrified. What would she think? He didn’t even know what to think. “Did Tommy tell you that we were moving?” She frowned.
He shot a look in her direction. “What? You guys are moving?”
“Oh, oops. Nevermind. Forget I said that.”
“Lyn, you guys are moving where?” Apollo’s sadness grew with every word.
“To Twinbrook. Our dad got a new job and he’s relocating. The move is costing the family a lot of money. Tommy’s got a scholarship here, but it’s still not enough to cover the full year and our parents can’t afford tuition for both me and him. I thought about taking out a student loan but why bother for some stupid arts degree? Tommy wants to join the military and my mother knows someone who works in an art studio there so I should be covered.”
“Some stupid arts degree?” Apollo frowned. “How could you say that?” Even more though, he was upset that Tommy decided to join the military and not tell him.
“I don’t need a degree to be an artist. It’s my passion and talent that will decide that for me. Are you confused about whether or not you’re doing the right thing with your degree?”
Apollo shook his head. “I…I’m thinking about….Tommy.”
“He’s still mad at you?” She frowned.
“I…I don’t think so…”
“Why are you so hesitant?” Lynette asked. “What happened?”
Apollo bit his lip and stared at her nervously. He didn’t want to hold this in all to himself, but he didn’t want to upset Tommy by telling his step sister either. Apollo took a deep breath and let his heart pour out to Lynette. He told her everything from the beginning.
He started with the call he got from Tommy around 10 PM.
“Hello?” Apollo asked almost too excitedly.
“Apollo? Can you meet me by the lake in an hour?” Apollo thought about it. Should he? It seemed kind of suspicious to him, but he wrote it off. He had to see Tommy and tell him he was being stupid for starting a fight over something so small. Mason was winning right now, 2-0 a game Apollo shouldn’t have been aware he was playing.
“What’s wrong? Your voice… have you been crying?”
“Just meet me at the lake,” Tommy pleaded before hanging up.
The area was dark. Nobody was around. They had all either been packing up their belongings, scrambling to hand in their last minute reports or trying to cram in one last party before they returned home. It wasn’t long before Apollo spotted Tommy. He was hunched over on a bench, visibly upset. Apollo approached him cautiously.
“Is everything alright?” He asked softly.
Tommy looked up and wiped the last bit of tears from his eyes. “I’m sorry I look so pathetic.”
“Don’t apologize. You’re human.” Apollo sat down next to his friend. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Tommy nodded solemnly. “But first I want to apologize again. I shouldn’t have been such a jerk to you, you didn’t even do anything wrong at all. I just got overworked for no reason.”
The tough exterior seemed to all be stripped away. Tommy sat with such pain on his face. Apollo wanted nothing more than to make his pain go away. “Don’t apologize. You’re human.” Apollo repeated.
“Shut up dude, you sound like a robot.” They both laughed. “You’re probably wondering why I called you out here so late right?” Apollo nodded. There obviously was a good reason if Tommy was so upset. “My cousin, he got beat up pretty bad last night. The hospital called, he listed me as a contact on his record.” Apollo wondered why he wouldn’t list someone older. It didn’t matter that much, did it?
“I’m so sorry.” Apollo placed a hand on his shoulder which made him squirm and scoot further from Apollo. He didn’t think anything of it though.
“It’s alright. He’s got a few broken bones, but he isn’t dead. Do you know why they beat him up?” Tommy didn’t even look up at Apollo. His eyes stayed on the dark ground. “Some guys were harassing his boyfriend. They didn’t like the idea of gay guys invading their club. My cousin stood up to those drunken bastards and they beat the crap out of him. All because he is in love with a man and not a woman.” Apollo tried to process the information. It was a lot to take in. How could people be so cruel? Wasn’t love blind? Why was it ok for someone to dictate how you were supposed to live your life? Tommy continued, “He lives all the way in Apaloosa Plains. I remember when I was ten years old, he came and visited us. He was so excited to surprise us with the news that he was engaged. My father was so proud because he practically raised him, that was until he found out that he was marrying another man. My dad flipped out and told him never to talk to this family again. I remember crying so hard and my cousin Drew came over to me and told me that it was ok, he knew that we cared about him. He thought that my dad would change his mind. It’s been eight years and he hasn’t changed his mind. I’m not even supposed to talk to my cousin because he’s gay. Like it’s contagious or something. I have to call him in secret and I’m not even supposed to be telling anyone this at all. My dad would be so pissed.”
“Tommy, that’s…terrible.” Was all that Apollo could muster. What was one supposed to say to that? He couldn’t formulate the right words even if he tried. His heart was heavy for the burden that Tommy had been holding his entire life.
Tommy got up and stood by the lake. He stared into the water as if it would have all of his answers. Apollo quietly slipped next to him, as if the scene was glass and the slightest movement would shatter everything around him.
Tommy let out a long sigh. “I lived my whole life thinking that being gay was unnatural. I was taught to look down on those that were. How could I spit at my own cousin that just a few months ago I was laughing and joking with? I couldn’t do it. He was still my cousin. his sexual orientation did nothing to change him. If anything, his love for his boyfriend made him even more of a compassionate and considerate person.” Apollo could do nothing but listen in silence. He was terrified of the vulnerability being shown. It wasn’t something he was used to. He remembered being the one always complaining about not having his father around yet the entire time Tommy was facing this even bigger inner battle. He couldn’t imagine a father denying his son contact with his own cousin. “Apollo,” Tommy looked directly at him, trying to analyze his expression. “Am I making you uncomfortable?”
“A little bit, but I want to be here, for you.”
“Thank you.” He stayed silent for a few moments before he spoke again. “I’d be lying if I said that was all I wanted to tell you.”
“There’s more? I don’t know if I can handle it.” Apollo joked.
Tommy cracked a smile. “I just want to let you know why I was so mad at you before.”
“Mason was probably twisting the story around. Damian warned me that he does that.”
“No, it’s not that at all.” He shook his head. “I was jealous and so I took out my anger, fear and anxiety on you.”
“What was there to be jealous of?” He asked himself more than he was asking Tommy.
Tommy diverted Apollo’s attention with another story. “I never really loved Katherine. Growing up, society shoved down my throat that I was supposed to date a girl. I didn’t care much in middle school, but in high school it became everything. I was the cool kid, I had an image to protect. I just got a girlfriend to shut my friends up. I didn’t really care at all. That was until one day. I started to think about this guy. I was so afraid, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about this guy. He was everywhere in my mind. I saw him in school and I couldn’t even look at him. I was so afraid people would say something to me and accuse me of being gay. I didn’t want that. My parents would hate me and my friends would abandon me. Even Katherine would leave. She only dated me because I was popular. I knew from the beginning that she had a wandering eye. She was in love with you from the beginning and she still is. That’s why I was jealous.”
Apollo let out the breath that he didn’t know he was holding. Tommy had just admitted that he was gay. It shouldn’t have been a big deal, it really shouldn’t have. But Apollo couldn’t stop his head from swimming. He felt even more sorrow in his heart for his friend who was being taught to look down upon a group of people that he was a part of. The weight on his shoulders must have been immense. Apollo stared at him with a baffled expression.
“You still don’t get it, do you?” Apollo felt the ground shift as Tommy came closer to him. “I was jealous because I thought you were in love with her too. That would just kill me. The boy I watched stroll the hallways in secret was you. It was always you. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I joined all of these stupid clubs to busy my mind, but still the thought of you trumped them all.”
Apollo felt his heart beat faster and he didn’t know why. He was afraid to let himself go into the moment. He could preach all he wanted about how love was blind but what about when it came down to him? Was it still blind? Was this feeling in his gut natural? Tommy was always his favorite in the group, whether it be romantic or not. He had always preferred to be around Tommy. Could he let himself love Tommy Bryson?
“I love you, Apollo Gray.” Apollo felt Tommy’s breath on his lips and could only squeeze his eyes shut in anticipation of the kiss that was about to come. The contact of Tommy’s lips just felt right. He forgot that the one who was holding him in their arms was a man. In that moment it didn’t matter. He savored the sweet taste of his lips until both had to pull away for air.
“Tommy…” he began. He was confused at the terrified look on Tommy’s face. Apollo had felt something so surreal. It was something that you made fun of those people in the moves for admitting, but now he understood. How knew Tommy felt the same thing from how tightly he had held Apollo. As if realizing something, Tommy violently shoved Apollo from his arms and began to run.
“Tommy wait!” Apollo called out but it only caused him to run faster. Apollo kept shouting for his attention until he couldn’t see him any longer.
“Damn it!” Apollo hit the tree next to him. The only thing he could think about was the sensation of Tommy’s lips on his. It wasn’t until the next day when he was alone with his thoughts, packing up his stuff, that his mind began to wander towards the opinions of others. He tried to convince himself that last night was just a fluke and that he really wasn’t in love with a guy. Could he really be gay?
“What’s the problem then, Apollo?” Lynette asked after his story was over.
“I’m not supposed to be gay…” He bit his lip nervously once again. “I don’t even know if I am…”
She scooted closer to him and held his arm comfortingly. “I’ve never heard you talk about how hot a girl was, but I haven’t heard you talk about how hot a guy was either…hmm. How did it feel when Tommy kissed you yesterday?”
“Like magic.” He blushed the minute he said it. He felt so stupid saying it out loud.
“Then what’s the problem?” She repeated.
“I…how can I be gay?” He asked.
Within seconds, Apollo felt himself being pinned to the ground. He tried to prop himself up on his elbows as Lynette clutched his jacket tightly. She moved her lips closer to his until they were just hovering above his. “How do you feel?” She whispered.
“I…I don’t know,” He whispered back.
She violently pushed him towards the ground and kissed him with all of her force. Lynette felt his heart beating under the force of her body. When she pulled away she looked at him straight in the eyes. “Whose lips felt better, mine or Tommy’s?”
“Tommy’s…” Apollo whispered without thought.
She rolled off of him and took her seat again. “Apollo, you’re gay.”
“Holy shit, you’re right. I’m gay.“ Apollo’s eyes widened.
“It’s not a bad thing,” She grinned. “I may say that my step brother is a jerk, but he can’t be that bad if you like him so much.” She got up and started to dust her clothes off.
“Where are you going?”
“To break up with Mason. Your story just made me realize that there isn’t a spark between us. I want someone that’ll love me like you love Tommy. You can tell it’s real between you guys. Just by the way you told me that story.”
“Don’t mention any of this to Tommy!” He called out as she was leaving.
A playful smirk played on her lips, “Not even the kiss? I’m going to miss you Apollo. Please keep in touch, even if I’m all the way in Twinbrook. Remember, I am Tommy’s sister.”
“I will Lyn. I’ll miss you like hell.”
Apollo tried to contact Tommy, but he had been avoiding Apollo yet again. Lynette advised him that he might need some space. The last person he had to say his goodbyes to was Damian. “Please tell me you’re coming back to Uni next semester. Tommy and Lynette are leaving.”
“And you can’t bare to be with Katherine and Mason on your own?” he smirked.
“I might be back.“
“Might?” Damian just nodded in response. “Thanks for everything Damian. I had a surprisingly good semester because of you. I hope we cross paths again.”
“We will.” They continued their conversation and bid each other goodbye. “Watch out for Mason.” Was his last response which Apollo promised he would. It was a strange sentiment but Apollo figured he wouldn’t ignore it. Damian had yet to be wrong. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but Apollo left his dormitory and walked into the arms of his father who had been waiting for him outfront.
“Was your first semester everything you thought it would be?” Noah asked.
“Not really, but that’s what made it such a great experience.” He smiled to his father. Despite the fights, Apollo enjoyed every moment of his first semester. It definitely wouldn’t be he same next semester, but life had a funny way of working out.
What do you guys think of Apollo and Tommy? This was definitely a hard chapter for me to write. I wanted to try something different with this generation and do something unpredictable. I hope I conveyed enough emotion into this chapter. Thanks for reading as always 🙂