Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18-December 1992-21 December 1992)

Three

 

20 December 1992

Jonathan’s eyes were sore, but he kept them on Claire as she spoke to the Fort Worth police officer. When the clock had finally hit the forty-eight-hour mark, David’s mother had reported him missing. Almost two hours later, a car had arrived at their home, bringing two detectives to ask questions of all of them. Jonathan found it strange the police spoke very little to him, since he’d been the last one to see David. Stranger still, they spoke the longest with his own parents, who’d not seen David in forty-three days, while the person who knew him the best—no, the people who knew him the best—stood by, information completely untapped.

Growling, Jonathan whirled on his heel and stomped back to his bedroom. Trailed by Amy, Chad, Travis, and Bailey, he flung himself onto the edge of the bed, rubbing his face harshly. Amy was first to speak. “I can’t believe they won’t even really look at you—”

“I swear it’s like they think I did it or something. Every minute they let tick by is a minute he won’t get back. Should we start calling hospitals?” Jonathan glanced over at the bare nightstand, his eyes burning.

“I can do that with Mama Claire and Mama Abby, you boys and Bill need to be the boots on the ground, okay?” Amy slanted a glance in the direction of the police officers. “It’s kind of obvious they’re not talking to us because who wants to help the gay boy?”

“It’s true about their views on us homos,” Bailey commented. “I mean, this is Texas, not someplace like San Francisco where gay people are far more commonplace.” He lowered his voice to finish, “They’d be more likely to help anyone but a homo.”

“Jonathan?”

His friends parted like the Red Sea when Claire peered around the hallway and called his name. Jonathan sniffled, answered, “Momma Claire?”

“I told the detectives they needed to speak with you since you were the last person to be with David, other than his “alleged” attacker.” She sniffled. “They also confirmed Jonah was on base at Fort Hood when the “attack” happened, so it couldn’t have been him.”

Jonathan shook his head. “Nothing else makes sense, and I’m not trying to—”

“I know.” She nodded in the direction of the living room. “They want to speak to you.”

Almost an hour later and they’d spoken with all five of them, making it clear they were not to return to the crime scene nor disturb it again, and they confiscated the flannel shirt for evidence. When the detectives left, Amy looked over at Jonathan, saying, “Fuck what they said. They won’t look for him, we will. You boys go out and look for him. Mamas and I will start a freaking telephone tree. Papa Bill, can we get Jonny’s phone hooked back up before you leave with the fellas?”

They searched for hours.

It was almost ten o’clock when Bill pulled the Suburban into the drive, Chad and Travis behind him. Bailey squeezed Jonathan’s shoulder, murmuring, “We’ll find him. I promise, Shea. We will find him.”

Jonathan nodded miserably. “I know, Bay.”

“He’s right, Jonathan. We will find David. You have my word,” Bill vowed. “We will find him and bring him home.”

 

The boys had dog-piled in the living room, surrounding Jonathan in effort to keep the nightmares back, and the search resumed immediately the next morning, dragging in the parents of Jonathan’s friends. Amy’s mom, and Chad’s and Travis’ parents, and Bailey’s dad all joined in the search for David Blackthorn. A little past five o’clock, they hit a stroke of luck with calls again to the hospitals in the area. Abby was told a patient had been brought in late Friday night, that he’d not woken, and that he bore tattoos all up and down his arms. When Abby asked his age and color of his hair, all the nurse would tell her was that the police had installed two guards around the clock outside his door and that until he woke, they would let no-one in the room.

For over an hour, they tried to devise a feasible way to get into the room to see if it was David. They attempted to talk to the police to see if the detectives had even looked at the patient in the hospital, and ended up leaving a message on their answering machine. Abby cooked dinner as the group of them continued to try to get onto the floor with the possible David, and as they were eating, one of the detectives called back and reprimanded them for trying to glean confidential information from a charge nurse. He told them to let them handle it, that if they wanted to put his photo on milk cartons and fliers, they could, but to stay away from that hospital room. They would be notified as soon as the patient awoke.

As Bill hung up the phone, Jonathan left the table, not waiting for anyone as he threw his bedroom door shut behind him. Stripping out of his clothes, he crawled under the sheets and pulled his pillow over his head, willingly succumbing to sleep in hopes he’d hear David’s voice. Torment with David present was better than torment without him, because at least Jonathan would get a chance to save him. In reality, every avenue was thwarted by the people tasked with finding David.

But I will find you. I promise… and come what may, I will make a way for us to be together, side by side, forever.

Sleep swept over him in heavy waves, dreamless when he needed to see David’s face, and the shadows holding him under were faceless, a terrific undertow holding him under when he tried so hard to surface. Jonathan’s hand caught on something, jolting him up from sleep, but not rousing fully until his mother swatted his rear. Her words reached him—“Jonny, scoot over and sit up! I need your help getting David into bed.”—and he snapped to full awareness in a split second.

“I’m—I’m okay—”

Jonathan’s voice, muffled by the pillow, formed a hallowed name. “David…?” His eyes flew wide as he turned to see a silhouette he’d know anywhere… and then as Abby helped David to perch carefully on the edge of Jonathan’s bed, he finished, “Oh, David… oh, God… oh, babe!

All the air seemed to go out of him and those incredible eyes looked past Jonathan for a long moment before David gasped, and tears spilled down his cheeks. Bruises seemed to be everywhere, he wore a cast on his left arm, and when he stumbled as he tried to stand, his stiff movements spoke volumes to Jonathan of the marks he couldn’t see. Jonathan and Abby caught David and steadied him before he could fall, and as Jonathan helped David into the bed, propping pillows up behind himself and tentatively curling his arm low around David’s belly, his love reached for Abby’s hand, whispering, “Can you call my mom? I don’t want her to worry… and… and thank you.”

Abby smiled, shaking her head. “Oh, honey, you are like a third son to us. I’m just sorry we got hung up on silly details. What should matter is you.” Pressing a kiss to his golden hair, she glanced up at Jonathan before smiling gently at David. “Now relax. I’ll call your momma and get her and your brothers over here. For once, Christmas will fill the house.”

As she disappeared out the door, Jonathan could not stop the silent tears, and he nuzzled David’s hair, breathing him in as his boyfriend hissed, “My apologies for leaving you—”

“No, no…” Jonathan shook his head vehemently, “Baby, you don’t need to apologize. We all looked for you when you didn’t come back. The guy at the popcorn stand said he saw you arguing with an older guy in a green army jacket and that he dragged you away by the wrist. It was all he had to say for me to know what happened, but I still wasn’t able to find you afterwards and then your phone rang off the hook. Momma Claire called me the next day asking after you and that’s when I got worried. I told her you’d left during the movie and that I’d tried calling that morning. She said she’d not heard your phone ring, but that you’d never come home. I called up Travis and Chad and we all went looking for you, but we couldn’t find you.”

David gently pressed his cheek to Jonathan’s when Jonathan leaned in to kiss David’s shoulder, his voice again a whisper when he spoke. “According to the lady that brought me here, some guy called 911 after finding me. I was taken to a hospital and apparently had hypothermia enough they needed to put one of those Quantum Leap-looking blankets on me to get me warm enough to take blood. Also this—” David held up his broken arm. “—broke the skin in two places and three ribs are fractured.”

“Oh, babe—”

“Are you going to be okay, David?”

Jonathan smiled gently at his little brother, Cody, poking his head through the door. His eyes were so wide and shiny, Jonathan knew he was as worried about David as Jonathan. David patted the bed in front of him. “You can come in, Cod.”

In seconds, Cody was carefully crawling across the mattress and then inching backwards to curl into the line of David’s body, ever-so-slowly laying his head on David’s belly so as not to hurt him. Sound asleep moments later, David’s lithe fingers threaded through the wispy gold locks as he lifted his face up, meeting Jonathan’s gaze as he said aloud, “I know I look a mess—”

Jonathan blinked, exclaiming, “Don’t use your voice! I know it hurts!” One hand tenderly cupped David’s jaw, tears slipping down Jonathan’s face.

“I want you to hear me. I want you to know that I love you, that I’d never leave you, that you’re my world, Jonathan Shea.” David pressed a kiss to Jonathan’s lips, allowing his voice to drop back down to a hiss. “I didn’t think… I didn’t think his anger at me would last so long! Why can’t he be like your dad? Why does he think I’m bad? Am I bad? Jonny, am I?”

“Oh, babe… no, we’re not bad! We’re not doing anything wrong! We’re not… we’re just being who God made us to be! He made us this way!” Jonathan kissed David thoroughly, deepening the kiss this time. “God made us to love one another and He does not make mistakes!”

I am so glad he’s here. I’m so glad he’s in my arms and I’m not letting him go. I’m not ever letting him go. Jonathan kissed David’s mouth again, saying against his lips, “I will never ever let this happen to you again, love of my heart. Never ever again. I’m going to ask my parents if you, Momma Claire, Josh and Lij can stay with us after the holidays.”

“You think they’ll—”

Jonathan nodded. “Oh, I’m pretty certain Mama will make Dad agree.”

David sighed, the corners of his lips lifting. “Told you.”

“Yeah, you did.” Jonathan chuckled. “Sleep, babe. I will make certain no-one touches you while you rest.”

As David succumbed to his fatigue, Jonathan watched over him, making a mental vow to the one he loved. I will never let any unkind hand touch you again. You will only know joy and love so long as I’m around, beautiful man. Tears slid down his cheeks. If we taste salt when we kiss, like Mama’s cross-stitch says, it will be because you are so happy, you can’t contain it. I promise.

Pressing a kiss to David’s golden hair, Jonathan closed his eyes and breathed. “Oh, you’re home!”

 

–FINIS–

Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18 December 1992-21 December 1992)

Two

 

19 December 1992

Jonathan stalked through the house, his eyes open wide to keep the emotion swelling in his throat and sending tremors through his body, from raining down his cheeks. Crawling up the ladder and into the treehouse he and his father had built when he was eight, Jonathan flopped backwards.

The last time I was up in here, David, you were with me and we made out. We nearly got caught, but we managed to convince my mom we were just playing around. That was before forty-two days of hell.

Pulling the moleskin journal out of his back pocket, Jonathan hiccupped and grabbed the pen from the inside pocket of his coat. Bending over the journal as he opened it, he scribed the song exploding in his head. He knew the Bowie influences would be obvious, but he made a mental note to put it only in his journal.

Night bleeds into day
I am spun out of orbit
Day blazes into night
It’s been so long
Well, it’s been so long

My eyes scan the stars
Cold on earth and broken too
The stars blaze bright for me
It’s been so long
Well, it’s been so long

Forty-two days I waited
Forty-two nights I died
Forty-two days I froze
Forty-two nights I lied

And it’s been so long
You’ve been gone so long
I’m so afraid of losing you

Stuffing the pen in the journal, Jonathan shoved it back into the pocket as he heard someone on the ladder. Scooting over into the corner, he wrapped his arms around his shins and pushed his face into his knees. The tears were so close he wasn’t certain he could keep them back much longer, but the time ticked by relentlessly and still they had no lead on David. They were still under the forty-eight-hour mark, which meant the police could do nothing.

Even if he’s been hurt before and it’s likely he’s been hurt again. It doesn’t matter, right? Not at all!

“Dammit!” Jonathan shouted, slamming his fist into the wall. “Dammit! Dammit!”

“Hey, man! Hey, hey, Shea, chill out! This ain’t gonna help shit!” Travis wound around Jonathan, pulling his head down to his chest and rubbing Jonathan’s side. “We’ll find him. Promise. We’ll find him. Just calm down.”

“He’s been gone, Cap, he’s been gone for—” The image of his watch flashed through his brain. “9:32. That was when he left for the bathroom last night. He left at 9:32.” His mind worked the calculations and he lifted his face to look up into Travis’ eyes. “He’s been gone sixteen hours and forty-three minutes, Cap. It only took eight minutes for him to be taken. I didn’t even know he was gone because I thought it was just a really long line for freakin’ popcorn!”

“Jonathan! Stop torturing yourself!” Travis hissed. “Just stop. This won’t help you to focus. There is nothing on this earth could keep the two of you apart. He will come home.” Tears shone in his friend’s eyes, and Jonathan knew they reflected the pain he felt at trying to empathize with him. “He will.”

Jonathan nodded, allowing himself a moment of weakness, and he broke down for a moment. Travis held him, rubbing his back in long slow strokes.

As they descended the ladder a few minutes later, Amy and Chad walked across the patio, the former asking, “Why don’t we go back to the drive-in?”

“For what?” Jonathan answered, sniffling as he tugged his toboggan onto his head. “You don’t think he’d go back there, do you?”

“Maybe there’s something there that could tell us something about where he went?” she suggested. “Retrace our steps, and without people there, we can see more of what is there. Maybe see what he could see?”

Jonathan nodded. “I have to do something. I can’t just sit here and wait. Let’s go.”

The ride over to the drive-in passed in sporadic conversation, and they picked up Bailey on the way. Jonathan loved his friends, all of which made a point to hold onto him on the drive, and he knew he was not alone.

But you are, babe. I don’t know how or why, but I know that somewhere out there, you are alone. I pray you aren’t—

The truck came to a stop, rousing Jonathan from thought and he looked up to see the empty drive-in in the daytime, stripped of the magic it bathed in at night, standing forlorn before the truck.

—but I know you are, and I’m coming for you. I will find you, love of my heart.

They unloaded from the truck, and Jonathan followed his friends at a dead run through the ticket booth’s arch and down the dirt road to the field. Orienting himself a little, he ran over to the stall they’d parked in, faced the screen, then slowly turned his eyes to the closed concession stand. Squinting at the bright sunlight, Jonathan murmured to himself, “Watched you turn and look at me as you were heading over to the bathrooms. You smiled, told me you loved me.”

“Came from there, Opie said,” Travis said, coming to stand on his right, pointing one gloved hand toward the bathrooms at the rear of the concession stand. “Over there.”

Jonathan nodded. “So many people were here last night. Between here and there, and if Jonah showed up, no-one would’ve noticed.”

“It’s a family-oriented place. There were a lot of kids here last night, so between the movie and the kids—”

“Fellas!”

Jonathan and Travis looked over at where Bailey and Amy stood by the bathrooms. They ran over to their friends, Amy leading them around the back of the building to the dumpster just beyond the propane tank. “Check it out, Shea. I’m pretty damn sure that’s your shirt.”

Jonathan knelt down, reaching for the flannel sleeve poking out from behind the dumpster. “It is. It’s my shirt. David—” His hands shook as he tugged on the fabric and the rest of it pulled free. As he took in a stiff brown stain discoloring some of the side and much of the left arm, his eyes widened to keep the tears from falling. All the air went out of him as he took his gaze to each of their faces. “He’s hurt. He’s not here, and he’s hurt.”

Amy knelt to wrap him up in a tight embrace. “Shea, we’re gonna find him. I give you my word.”

 

He was running.

He was always running, but this time, it was night, and the shadows were thick… deep. They enveloped any light Jonathan drew near, consuming it entirely until he ran by touch and by need. His breath came in heavy puffs, the chill freezing the back of his throat to an almost painful state, and the stitch in his side nearly felled him.

HELP ME! PLEASE, HELP ME!

Jonathan tripped and sprawled on his belly, skidding for a good four feet before he came to a stop. Spitting out dirt, he rose to all fours, a stinging in his elbows and knees telling of the scrapes he’d taken in the fall.

Another scream, but this one was his name. His heart pounded hard in his chest, and he vaulted into a run once more.

David… David, I’m coming! I’m so close! Hold on, babe!

Jonathan careened around a corner, light blinding him temporarily even as he threw one arm up to shield his eyes, sending him to the ground again. He heard the bone snap as pain lanced through his right arm. Jonathan bit back a shout as he cradled it to his chest, launching himself forward on unsteady legs, and every single movement sent his jaw tensing to get through the pain.

David… have to get to you. I’m coming, baby. I’m coming to save you!

Jonathan blinked as black spots appeared in the edges of his vision, still he pushed forward, finally catching sight of that golden hair. Crimson seemed to be everywhere, and he slipped, curling up to protect his injured arm. He tasted copper, but on the air, the faint scent of David’s soap touched his nose. Jonathan’s eyes flew open, and for a moment, he forgot about his own pain and pushed up onto his hands. Fire shot through his ruined arm, sending a shriek tearing from his throat, the noise rousing the broken butterfly beneath him to lucidity.

“Jon-ny…?”

Jonathan sat back on his haunches, gathering David close to him, but blood seemed to be coming from everywhere, and as precious words tumbled from his lips—“David, I love you! Please…!”—those beautiful blue eyes lost their sight—

NO!”

Jonathan jerked awake so quickly, he tumbled from the couch, banging his elbow on the corner of the coffee table. Gentle hands lit on his shoulders, a calming voice murmuring, “Baby boy! Hey, hey, hey! It’s Mama. Jonathan! Wake up, honey!”

He jolted upright, rubbing his elbow as his face creased with pain, but then strong arms caught him up, a large hand threading fingers through his hair as his father’s scratchy chin brushed his own, Bill whispering, “I gotcha, son. I got ya… and I’m sorry I made you feel—”

Jonathan didn’t wait to hear the whole apology, he lost the tenuous hold he had on his fear and crumbled in his father’s arms, allowing the man who’d always protected him to be the stronger.

Those beautiful blue eyes lost their sight—

 

 On to Bescreen’d in Night: THREE

Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18 December 1992-21 December 1992)

One

 

Jonathan shivered, hugging his arms. He glanced down at his watch, tears burning in his eyes, but he didn’t let them fall. A hand fell to his shoulder, and he jerked, sniffling. Chad wrapped around him, hugging him tightly, and as he pulled back, Bailey did the same, apologizing.

“Man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lose sight of him. I didn’t think—” He broke off, pushing his face against Jonathan’s shoulder in an uncharacteristic move. “God, I’m so, so sorry!”

“Not your fault, Bay,” Jonathan told him, his voice hoarse from their initial search for David. “We thought we were safe here, the whole big group of us.”

Travis jogged over to them. “Okay, just talked to Opie over at the popcorn stand. He said he saw David arguing with a guy in a green army jacket. The guy was older, Opie said, and grabbed David by the wrist and dragged him out towards the entrance.”

Jonathan let go of Bailey and ran over to the concession stand. The door was closed, but he could see the kid Travis had spoken to inside, wiping down the counter. He banged the flat of his hand against the window to get his attention, and when the red-headed pimply kid unlocked the door and opened it, Jonathan let out a breath he was unaware he’d been holding. “My boyfriend. You said you saw a guy in a green army jacket drag him away? What time was it then? Do you remember?”

The kid smiled softly, nodding. “It was right after I put the dogs on, so 9:40. The guy was older, kinda dad-like, it seemed. They began arguing loudly as the young man came from the direction of the bathroom. The young man was beautiful. Glowed, almost, like an angel. He reached up a hand to push his hair from his face and that’s when the older guy grabbed hold of him and dragged him towards the entrance, towards a white truck, I think it was.”

Jonathan nodded. “Thank you… Opie, Travis said your name was?”

“No, it’s Chris, but everyone calls me Opie. They say I look like the guy on The Andy Griffith Show.” Chris smiled. “I don’t mind. Hope you find your boyfriend.”

“Yeah, me, too. Thanks, Chris.” Jonathan turned away, rubbing his face with his hands, and welcoming the comfort Travis’ arm falling onto his shoulders brought. “When is this nightmare going to be over with?” he asked no-one.

“You have the power to change it, y’know.” Travis’ voice was low. “I’ve told you before you fellas could come stay with me.”

“I know.” Jonathan sniffled. “We may have to do that. I’ll let you know, man.”

Chad’s arm fell over Travis’ and he ruffled Jonathan’s hair. “Babe, why don’t I drive him home, and Bay can take you back to my house? I’ll meet you there, but I need to make sure Jonny gets home okay and I’ll be there to help him tell Abby what happened, too.”

“All right.” Travis pressed his forehead to Chad’s for a long minute before whirling to call out to Bailey, “Bay! Gimme a ride to Chad’s place?”

Jonathan watched his friend run over to Bailey’s truck and he asked Chad, “Do his or your parents know about you two yet?”

“Only people that know are you fellas, Amy and Bay.” Chad smiled tightly as they climbed into the truck. “And that’s ’cause you’re all the same as us.”

“Bay is gay?” Jonathan blinked. “I didn’t know that.”

“Yep. He’s got his eye on someone, but I ain’t got a clue who.” Chad turned over the engine, and paused to back safely out of the stall. “But he likes dudes.” Flashing a comforting smile at Jonathan, Chad murmured, “I think it’s normal for us all to be super-cautious about coming out. Watching what’s happened with you two, it’s taught us we ain’t always right about who to trust with our lovers’ identities.”

Who to trust indeed.

For most of the ride back from the drive-in, they listened to KSCS, a local country station, and most of what played was Garth Brooks and George Strait, with just a dash of Reba and Brooks & Dunn. Jonathan heard the music playing and his friend singing along, but other than the hand that moved between the gear shift and his own shoulder, Jonathan stayed lost in thought.

David, I hope you’re okay. God, please don’t have given him to me just to take him away. Please, please… I beg you. I beg you!

Before he knew it, they were walking up to his door, and Jonathan let himself inside, pulling the door shut after Chad. Turning the light on in the kitchen, he motioned for his friend to stay put and he let himself into his parents’ bedroom. Moving over to his mom’s side of the bed, he knelt down and lightly ran his fingers over her hand, whispering, “Mama?”

Lifting her head, she blinked sleepily. “Baby boy?”

“Mama, I gotta talk to you. It can’t wait.” Jonathan’s voice broke, though he tried hard to keep it steady.

“Okay, baby. Give me a minute to get my robe and I’ll come out to talk to you.” Abby reached back to pat Bill’s arm. “Billy, lemme up. Back in a minute, love.”

Jonathan hurried out of the room and whirled on his heel to lean against the kitchen counter. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he lifted a worried gaze to Chad. What if he kills him?

“Try calling him,” Chad suggested.

“At this hour? His phone ringing would cause a murder, and it’s likely been pulled from his room like mine was,” Jonathan answered, but he moved over to punch in the number. Putting the receiver to his ear, he sat down at the table and listened to it ring.

And ring.

And ring.

And ring.

His parents’ bedroom door opened, and both his parents came out in their robes. Abby reached for Jonathan as he tried to call David a second time, and when he hung up after the fifth ring, he pushed his face into her shoulder and shook for a moment. Calm would not come, and when Jonathan lifted his face it was wet, his eyes glittering as he took them to his father’s worried set.

“I figured you already knew, ’cause you always do, but in the slim chance you don’t—” Sniffle. “—I went out with the team tonight and David went with us.” Sniffle. Bill blanched, shock clear in his features. Jonathan continued. “Jonah showed up. He grabbed Dave and they fought. No-one saw them leave and no-one can find Dave.”

“Perhaps the reason you can’t raise him on the phone is because Jonah did the same thing I did to affect the same conclusion—” Bill took a step towards Jonathan, who stepped back, steadied by Chad.

“Or perhaps the bruises he’s sported, sir, for the last six weeks, are soon to be worse. It ain’t fair or right, the way you two fathers are treatin’ your sons. Jesus always preached love and tolerance, not fear and anger. Even His rage in the temple was righteous, and he loved everyone, even the thief on the cross at the end.” Chad wrapped an arm around Jonathan’s shoulder. “But you know that, I know, because you’re a student of The Word. So check it out, and love your son, and when you get the chance to earn his forgiveness, I’d take it, were I you.” Pressing a kiss to Jonathan’s temple, he cupped his face, taking his gaze captive. “I’ma call you in the morning, and we’ll start looking at David’s house. Maybe your dad’s right and he’s just had his phone privileges revoked. Okay? Nothing else we can do tonight.”

“What if—?“ Jonathan started, his hands hooking on Chad’s forearms.

“Don’t bend your mind on it. You have to focus on the positive, Shea. Got it?” Chad smiled. “The other’ll drive you mad.”

 

Jonathan did not find an easy sleep. He dreamt the same dream sleep had given him for the last forty-one nights. He woke with the sharp lurch of his belly and he ran to the bathroom, losing the few contents he’d put in there the night before. He gave himself sixty seconds to lose his mind before he forcibly took hold of his emotions and shoved them down.

Tonight, in my mind, I became your husband and you became mine.

Amor meus in aeternum.

Babe, I’m going to marry you someday. I promise you. One day, I’m going to give you Shea.

Amor meus in aeternum.

I love you.

Jonathan washed his face and shaved, brushed his teeth and straightened the rat’s nest a disturbed sleep had made of his hair. Putting on clothes, he made his way out to the kitchen to find his father cooking breakfast. Jonathan glanced over at Cody, who gave a one-shouldered shrug in reply. Jonathan smiled at his little brother before turning to their dad and asking, “Would it be all right if I called David?”

“I still think you’ll meet the same—”

The phone rang, and Jonathan ran to it, checking the Caller ID to see Jonah Wolff above the Wolff home number. Grabbing it up, he answered breathlessly, “Hello?”

“Jonny?” Claire, David’s mother, and their champion, sounded worried. “Is he with you?”

Jonathan hit his knees. “No. I was just about—” He broke off, his heart pounding so hard in his chest, it hurt. “I was just about to call his phone, but when I did last night, it just rang off the hook.”

“That’s odd.” He heard Claire moving around, heard a door open, and then the sound of her forehead hitting the doorjamb. Her sigh had a hitch in it, and then she spoke again. “Jonny, his phone is gone. That’s why he didn’t answer, apart from never coming home last night.”

“He left during the movie to go to the restroom and the popcorn stand. He never came back and all of us looked everywhere.” His voice broke. “The guy at the concession stand said he argued and left with a guy in an army jacket, so I assumed Jonah came to get him when Eli told on us.”

“Eli?” Claire echoed. “That little shit!”

“Eli’s been keeping my dad informed, so I assumed he was telling Jonah, too,” Jonathan divulged. He didn’t come home. He didn’t come home! God, please, please let him be okay!

“All right. I’m grabbing my jacket and heading over to you—”

“And I’ll call the guys and get them here, too. We’ll start a search party,” Jonathan finished. “See you soon.”

Jonathan didn’t unleash his panic until the calls to their friends had been made. As soon as he hung up the phone, he ran to the bathroom and splashed water on his face. His insides roiled, but he kept himself in check, allowing himself only the time it took to slide down the door to the tile floor to freak out. Lifting his eyes to the sky he could see out the high window, he murmured, “All he’s ever done is love, Father. He loves and he sparkles and he holds to hope even when everything seems so hopeless! He’s a star in the night sky and the sun during the day. He’s warm and loving and, God, he’s wonderful! Please, please, send someone to keep him safe! Please, please, I beg of you!”

Knock on the door.

Getting to his feet, he shut off the light as he left the room, nodding as his mother told him Claire had arrived. Crossing the living room carpet, he threw himself bodily into her hug. Pulling back just as quickly, he nodded curtly. “We got work to do.”

 

On to Bescreen’d in Night: TWO

Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18 December 1992-21 December 1992)

Proem

 

18 December 1992

Jonathan felt his lips upturn in a lazy smile as he watched David tug his own flannel up his arms, covering the mystical Celtic henna patterns traversing his skin. Jonathan reached out one hand to slide up his boyfriend’s chest, murmuring, “I hope I didn’t—”

David blushed, shaking his head. “You didn’t.” Leaning down, he slanted his mouth over Jonathan’s in a reverent kiss. “But I can—” He cheeks flushed a deeper red.

“You can what?” Jonathan pressed, tucking David’s halo blonde hair behind his ears. “Tell me.”

David leaned in to whisper, “I can still feel you inside.”

Jonathan bit his lip to still the tremor those six words sent thrumming throughout his whole body. When David straddled Jonathan’s legs, stealing another longer kiss, Jonathan wrapped around him, holding tighter to him as they sat up. “Tonight needed to be special. Tonight reflected the strength of our bond.”

“Tonight, we tied ourselves together in the oldest way possible.” David’s hands fell to Jonathan’s chest, he leaning in to hold Jonathan’s gaze captive, amber to blue, as he pressed a kiss to Jonathan’s lips. “Tonight, in my mind—”

“I became your husband and you became mine?” Jonathan finished, quirking an amused eyebrow.

Tears of joy sparkled in David’s eyes, his smile shining like a sun as he answered, “Yes!”

“Babe…” I love you so much. “I’m going to marry you someday. I promise you. One day, I will give you Shea.” I am so blessed. You have blessed me, Lord, by giving to me this man as my soul’s mate. I will do nothing to mar such a wonderful gift, and I will work to serve you each day of my life for the gift of him!

A hand waved in front of his eyes, a thumb passing across his lower lip only to be replaced by a full pair he’d never be able to stop kissing. Jonathan opened his mouth to deepen the kiss, one hand burying in the back of that warm golden hair. “Bathroom, right?” he asked as they came up for air.

“Then concession stand, then back to you.” David stole another kiss. “Amor meus in aeternum.” With a wink, David climbed out of the back of the truck and whirled around to mouth I love you at him before turning on his heel and jogging towards the bathrooms.

Jonathan collapsed backwards onto the pillows as he snuggled down in the sleeping bag and blanket pallet, pulling his clothes on and together. Joy filled him, tumbling out of his mouth in peals of quiet laughter. We made love. We made love. We didn’t just frot, or go down on one another. We made love and we didn’t hurt one another. We did it right—we made love! Running his hands through his hair to straighten it, he closed his eyes, replaying all of the words and the day itself, over in his mind.

High King Peter the Magnificent… and his Faerie King David.

Kisses in the back bathroom.

The dream at naptime.

Holding and kissing David.

I love you! So much… I’m in love with you… and one day… one day, I want to marry you, Jonathan.

Lovemaking.

Laughing lightly, Jonathan rubbed his face with both hands, opening his eyes on a clear night sky as he whispered, glancing at his watch so as to note the time later in his journal, “9:32… Babe, come back to me! I miss you already.”

 

On to Bescreen’d in Night: ONE

 

Halley’s Comet: A Covenant Short

Promo with Quote SMALL

(Takes place during the months of October to December 1992)

“ORBIT”

18 December 1992

Jonathan woke up with a headache.

He made it out of bed, ran to the bathroom and emptied the contents of his stomach twice before his eyes opened fully. Throwing up made him feel better, and oddly, the pain in his skull wasn’t quite so piercing. He brushed his teeth and washed his face, shaving off the fuzz David never allowed himself to have.

“Jonny?”

Jonathan looked over to find Cody in the doorway, dressed in green corduroys and suspenders, long-sleeved white button down shirt, and a red bowtie. “Hey, buddy, what’s up?”

“Are you dressing up today?” Cody asked him, his expression one of hope. “I mean, in case you see David?”

Jonathan nodded. “Yeah, I’m going as High King Peter from the Battle of Aslan’s How.” He gave a small smile. “Remember?”

Abby smiled as she leaned around the door. “You’re still looking like my Jonathan. I thought you were supposed to be High King today?”

“Yeah, yeah… I’m getting there.” Jonathan pushed past them and moved to his room. Opening his closet door, he took down the costume he’d pulled together. It didn’t take him long to change out of his pyjamas into his faux Narnian battle dress. Slinging a silver shield emblazoned with a crimson lion in a defensive pose, to his back, he tightened his sword belt and stood. Moving over to his dresser, he inspected his reflection for flaws.

“High King Peter the Magnificent, I believe he was called,” his mother commented. “And you are indeed magnificent.”

“I’m doing my best to breathe. The irony of my choice in costume is not lost on me, Mama. Peter was a warrior… and I’m—”

“You are fighting the only way you know how, baby,” Abby interjected, crossing the room to his side. “And if I have to keep fighting to keep you breathing, then I will. Jonathan, baby, please—”

“Mama, it’s been forty-one days apart—minus three infractions that all but one lasted less than half an hour. I think we know by now that nothing is going to change Dad’s mind on this—”

A finger pressed to his lips, coupled with an arch of a slender eyebrow, stopped his words. “You will fight. You will be reunited.” Abby stepped close to him, holding his gaze captive with her stronger one. “I believe this. Now, get your butt in gear or we’re going to be late getting you to school.”

Christmas carols the accompaniment on the drive to drop off Cody at school and then himself, Jonathan remained lost in thought, never speaking a word outside of the “Thanks for the ride, Mama, I love you” as he got out of the car. He joined up with Chad and Travis, dressed as Rudolph and Hermie the Elf from the stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special. Bailey joined them, and Jonathan chuckled, seeing he’d dressed as Linus van Pelt from Peanuts, sporting the red and black striped shirt under a tan jacket, a green knit pom-pom beanie on his head, carrying a blue blanket.

“He here yet?” Jonathan watched Bailey’s face for the answer, but his friend’s headshake was honest. “Do you even know what to look for? He hasn’t given a single clue as to his costume.”

“Nova!” Travis hissed. “That’s Mrs. Wolff driving, man. That’s him!”

Jonathan pushed through them to watch the emergence of a slender beauty. He bore tight leggings, boots, and a vest the color of soot and ash. On his arms were shiny gossamer sleeves up to his elbows, and on his back were stunning gray and white faerie wings. To complete the look, a navy cloak trimmed with pitch attached to his shoulders with some kind of silver broaches. Henna ink dipped and swirled in Celtic patterns down his arms onto the backs of his hands, while he wore his hair loose around his shoulders, though warrior braids had been plaited in various places. Jonathan swallowed as he watched his boyfriend stride proudly up to the front doors and let himself in through the ones closest to the choir students dressed as Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby at the beginning of White Christmas when they lip synced “Sisters”. He took a deep breath, his voice low as he told his friends, “That man… that man is mine.”

Bailey took off after David, still watching after him to keep him safe. Travis and Chad flanked Jonathan, the latter asking, “Anything we can deliver?”

Jonathan handed him a card. “Please, get that to my babe.”

“You got it, man. And here’s your Christmas from us.” Travis offered a gaily wrapped package and card to him. “Oh, and we’re talking about going to the drive-in tonight. You are coming. Team requirement!”

 

First period was required because roll was taken during class. Second period, they watched The Charlie Brown Christmas Special. David had sent a letter via Chad and Travis, and he’d included a poem on the envelope, called “Wish” and written about the day they made love at Travis’ house. He read it three times, committing it to memory as he thought about spoken of day. During third period, Jonathan stared out the window at the snow flurries, daydreaming about that night and hoping they’d be able to finagle David to go with the team to the drive-in.

The bell rang, signaling the start of the school Christmas party in the cafeteria. He gathered his books and trudged to the boys’ bathroom at the opposite end of the third floor. It’s the closest one and I need to get this shield off my back… and I might actually need to pee, too. Slipping out of his shield, he set his bag down in front of it to hold it upright. Detaching the sword, he stuck it in the space between the wall and the shield. Crossing to the sinks, he splashed his face with cold water, staring at his slightly gaunt face and the circles under his eyes. I really do look terrible—

“Hey!” Travis snuck into the room with him. “Chad and I got you something awesome this Christmas. I just need you to get into the stall and wait there. Can you do that?”

“Is this a joke?” Jonathan furrowed his brow as he watched his friend crack the door and look out. “Cap?”

Travis whirled on his heel. “No! Get in there. Go!”

“Okay, okay!” Jonathan shook his head, but did as instructed, leaning against the wall and listening with intent for any clue as to what was happening. The door opened suddenly, a sorely missed voice filling his ears, “What’s going on?”

He stood up straight as the stall door flew open and a faerie was shoved inside with him. Chad and Travis left the room in a hurry, pulling the main door shut behind them, leaving Jonathan and David alone together. All Jonathan could do was stare as David shook his head before looking around him and jumping as he caught sight of Jonathan, whose lips spread in a happy smile.

David tossed himself into Jonathan’s arms, laughing with the joy they both felt. “I don’t know how they did this, but I’m not asking questions. I’m just—”

“I’m going to kiss you, so shut up!” Jonathan tried to wrap his whole body around David, his lips finding David’s as his boyfriend gasped out a “Yes!”

Their hearts pounded in time as Jonathan deepened the kiss, loving the way David melted against him. Only breaking the kiss to breathe, his fae-dressed love whispered, “I miss you so much! Not being able to touch you or kiss you—seeing you is a tease that is so hard to endure!”

Jonathan breathed in David, breathed his breath, his hands lighting on David’s chest, slipping up to his hair as he divulged between kisses, “My parents are talking about getting a divorce because they can’t agree on what to do with me. Cody doesn’t sleep in his own room anymore. He barely sleeps now. He’s afraid Dad will stop loving him if he turns out like us.”

“Dad’s kept me all cooped up—”

“But you made this kick-ass costume while you were!” Jonathan broke the kiss when David tossed his head back to blush, exposing the slender column of his neck. Unable to resist, Jonathan smothered it in kisses, his teeth nipping at the vein pulsing visibly beneath the skin. A light moan tumbled over David’s shiny lips when Jonathan bit him, his hands moving to Jonathan’s hair, and for a moment, Jonathan could only stare at the marvelous young man he loved. “You’re breath-taking, baby… and watching you from afar, all I’ve kept telling myself the whole morning is—” he smoothed one hand up David’s throat, sliding it back to cup his skull as he lifted that incredible blue gaze to his own “—that man is mine… he’s mine!”

David climbed Jonathan’s hips, holding his stare. “All yours, Jonathan!”

“And I’m yours!” Jonathan vowed, one arm bracing David, his other hand cupping David’s face, his thumb tracing David’s cheek. Time… it’s running out.

They heard the door crack open, Travis’ voice hissing, “Five minutes until we have to be down in the cafeteria!”

“Five minutes?” David’s eyes glossed over. “This isn’t fair!”

Jonathan leaned back against the bathroom wall, lifting his other hand to frame David’s face when David’s ankles locked at the small of Jonathan’s back. “No, it’s not. Not having you is killing me, and I don’t know how much longer I can do it. Go with me to a movie tonight.”

David brushed his lips over Jonathan’s. “How? How are we gonna do this? I’m still grounded!” He took another kiss from Jonathan’s mouth, pulling Jonathan closer to him as he deepened the kiss briefly. Jonathan followed, his fingers threading through David’s warm hair. I need him… I need him like this, every day. I need him every day, not just… not just once in a blue moon.

Jonathan broke the kiss, breathing David’s breath as he whispered, “Travis and Chad are going with the team and a bunch of their friends—the ones that keep Vince off of us—to the drive-in. They’ve offered to take us with if we wanna go, to give us time.”

“Two minutes!” Chad called this time.

“Yes!” David murmured. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get there!”

Their mouths crashed together, David deepening the kiss as far and as fast as he could. Both boys tasted salt when the kiss broke, Jonathan feeling a tremor shimmy up his spine as David let his legs down. “Jonathan—”

Jonathan nodded disjointedly. “I know.” He forced a smile to lift his lips. “You go out first, and I’ll follow in about five minutes.” Jonathan ran the pad of his thumb over David’s full lower lip. “Fix the lips, babe… and god, but you’re gorgeous.”

“Time, fellas!” Travis called, and Jonathan watched as David took a brightly wrapped gift and card out of his Santa bag, handing them to Jonathan. He stretched up Jonathan’s body to press a brief kiss to his mouth. “Know that you are the love of my heart, my whole world. I can’t live without you—you are everything.”

Jonathan followed David to the door of the stall, watching as his love ran to the sinks, removing and reapplying his lip color and gloss. David stopped at the bathroom door, turning a merry smile to him. Jonathan held the gift to his chest, unable to stop the smile as David mouthed, Tonight.

 

Jonathan got ready, slipping a thick blue, white and black plaid flannel shirt over a white turtleneck. His thick acid-washed denim jeans clung to his legs and he wondered again if David would really be able to make it. The doorbell rang and Jonathan looked at himself in the mirror, muttering to himself, “I’m so going to freeze my butt off tonight.”

“Not if you take your sleeping bag and these blankets, you won’t,” his mother answered, crossing the room to whisper next to his ear, “and not if you snuggle close to him in the bed of that truck, tonight.”

Jonathan met her gaze in the mirror, furrowing his brow. “Mama?”

“He’s in the truck, trying not to be seen. He’s watching for you.” She smiled brightly. “Have fun, baby boy.”

Jonathan kissed her cheek, grabbing the sleeping bag and blankets from her. “Thank you, Mama!”

Abby tossed his coat on top of the bedding, and he ran out to the living room, finding Travis waiting for him. His friend grabbed the blankets from him so Jonathan could put on his coat. Tugging his hair out of his collar, Jonathan grinned. “Ready to go?”

The two of them hurried out to Chad’s truck, tossing the bedding into a truck bed already boasting quite a bit of warm stuff. As Jonathan got into the back of the truck, he smiled at the beautiful man waiting there for him. Diving into his arms, Jonathan knew he’d never get enough of his beautiful man. As his mouth met David’s in a tender kiss, he recalled the dream he’d had during his nap after school. Nuzzling David’s nose, he murmured, “I took a nap so I’d be rested for tonight.”

“Me, too!” Stealing a kiss, David smiled at him. “Did you dream?”

Jonathan nodded. “I dreamed we’d just gotten married, and we’d had our ceremony under the tree at the creek. It was twilight, but you could see almost every star in the sky. We were holding each other and you pressed a kiss under my chin. Just as you did that, a meteor shower started and it was gorgeous. In the middle of it, we saw a comet traveling across the sky and you gasped. I asked what was wrong and you said it had just surprised you. I said what? You pointed then, and said, Look, it’s Halley’s Comet!

David smiled at him, running his fingers through Jonathan’s hair. “Next time that comet comes through, we’ll be almost ninety years old.”

“I know. I told you that, and you shrugged, saying, I don’t make up the rules. I just know the comets by name and they all come through so fast.

“Weird. I wonder what that means!” David grinned, pressing a kiss to Jonathan’s mouth. “Wish we could hit the library to figure it out.”

“Traditionally, comets in dreams mean change.” Jonathan smiled. “I took it as a sign that something big was about to happen… and then I remembered that we were going out on a date tonight. That’s big.”

David laughed. “I can’t believe you know that already!” Stealing a kiss, he met Jonathan’s eyes in the dim light of the truck. “I’m ready for it. I’m ready for the change that will bring me you.”

Another kiss took over Jonathan’s whole body and he tugged David close to him. “I’m ready to have you back in my life. I don’t want this once in a blue moon stuff… I want you. I want you back in my orbit—this time, forever.”

David smiled tenderly up at him. “I am in your orbit, forever. Aeternum.”

 

–FINIS–

Halley’s Comet: A Covenant Short

Promo with Quote SMALL

(Takes place during the months of October to December 1992)

“CRASH”

The third time started during a fire drill. The school was almost completely evacuated when Travis jerked his arm, nodding towards the parking lot. Jonathan arched an eyebrow, asking, “You want to skip school?”

He glanced over at Chad, who stepped closer to them, saying quietly, “Tomorrow’s a teacher in-service day. Ain’t none of ’em gonna give us a test today. Let’s go hang out at Travis’ house, have a beer, watch some football.”

“I can’t. Who would be here to watch out for David?” Jonathan scanned the crowd, looking for a beloved gold head.

Travis laughed. “He’ll be watched out for, Shea. You got my word.”

“How?” Jonathan demanded to know, but his friends took hold of his arms and backed out of the crowd to join the others in the student parking lot. Once they got to his car, Travis grinned at him, calling over his shoulder, “Follow me to my house!”

Jonathan rolled his eyes, unlocking his door and opening it only to stop dead in his tracks. David laid stretched out across the seat, his head propped on the palm of one hand. Jonathan shook his head, unable to fight the pull of his heart. Getting into the car, Jonathan reached for his boyfriend, elated when strong fingers grabbed both sides of his jacket and yanked him down for a hard kiss. David’s hoarse words struck Jonathan’s heart as those incredible blue eyes found his amber ones and held them captive, “I feel so lost… so adrift… without you. I need you.”

A horn honking lifted Jonathan’s spirits, and his lips in a wicked grin. “Wanna be bad?”

David’s shiny lips curled in a lazy smile. “I only ever wanna be bad with you.”

Stealing another kiss, Jonathan sat up and nodded at Travis as he jammed the key into the ignition, turning over the engine. Glancing down at David, he whispered, “Stay down.”

David nodded, playing with his hair as he watched Jonathan. “I can’t believe we’re actually living a Romeo and Juliet kind of life, can you?”

“No,” Jonathan groused, following Travis and Chad. “I really can’t. We’ve never been parted like this before and I swear to you, babe, I will never let something like this happen to us again.”

“Remember the kisses at Wesleyan?” David shifted in his seat, carefully wriggling until he’d completely switched ends and leaned his gold head against Jonathan’s leg. “I’ve been thinking about that night with you so much these past few weeks.”

Jonathan slid his hand into David’s warm hair as his smile grew wider. “I keep thinking about falling asleep with you, our bodies still slick from lovemaking, and I can feel your heart pounding next to mine.”

David pressed a kiss to Jonathan’s leg, rubbing it with one hand. “I can’t wait until the day you never have to take me home.”

Jonathan sighed. “Me, either. Looks like we’re almost to Cap’s house.” He ran his fingers through David’s hair as they pulled into Travis’ driveway. The four of them exited the vehicles and hurried into the house. Minutes later, Jonathan laid David back on the couch in Travis’ media room and tugged a blanket over them as he fell into his arms. He knew he couldn’t stop kissing David if his life depended on it… and when it naturally progressed into a powerful lovemaking, Jonathan memorized the feel of their bodies sliding against each other, the taste of David’s tongue, the friction caused by David’s dick rocking against his own.

“David—please—”

“I’m here—oh, please don’t stop!”

Jonathan pressed his face into the crook of David’s neck, biting down as he sped up his pace… and seconds later, lost in an ever-deepening kiss as David cried out in his mouth. His boyfriend’s nails dug into his hip and back as he arched, breaking the kiss to gasp as he hit hard. His tremors became Jonathan’s own as release neared and Jonathan clung to David as sacrosanctum crashed over them—

 

Day Before Thanksgiving

Jonathan tugged his knees up to his chest, holding close the precious gift given to him at school. He’d started to pour through it the second it had been transferred to his hands via the Mail Drop. Chad, like both their coach and Jonathan’s mother, had noticed Jonathan’s weight loss, and decided he and Travis had to help. They created a Mail Drop using Travis’ locker (he shared Chad’s on the second floor since most of his classes were on the second floor). After lunch, Chad spent much of his time on the third floor, so he’d check his locker for Jonathan’s morning love letters and put a book or two in there to cover the pick-up. He’d pass the letters to David in the halls and by the end of the day, Jonathan would have his replies.

David’s written words and poetry were all that really sustained him since Elisha had told Jonathan’s dad about the last time. Everything in his life had become affected since that trust had been severed: his grades were slipping, his guitar sat on its stand collecting dust, and his appetite left entirely. Disallowed the privilege of driving the Suburban, his mother now picked him up from school, but he made no conversation on the drive and from the moment he arrived home, Jonathan made a home in the silent dark. He showered by the light from the bathroom window, then went to his room and laid down on his bed, and he never joined them at the table. He didn’t sleep well, and oftentimes when he did find rest, his dreams centered on David and ended in a nightmare made up of his worst fear: David always died at the end.

Jonathan was never able to get to him in time, always reaching him as he took his last breath.

Closing his eyes, he focused on the words given him that day, unaware at first that his door opened. His mattress shook, and Jonathan lifted his head to see Cody crawling onto his bed. Reaching an arm out, Jonathan gathered his little brother close, kissing his blonde head.

“Mama and Daddy fighting?” Jonathan asked Cody, who nodded.

“I’m sorry, little brother. This is all my fault… all of it.” Jonathan sniffled, ruffling Cody’s hair. “I wish I could fix me, make me better, but—”

“You wouldn’t have David if you did that, and you know it. That’s not septical, Jonny.” Cody rolled onto his side to face his big brother. “You and David would be torture-ified. It’s not right and it’s not fair. You just love him like Mama loves Dad. How’s that bad?” Cody pushed his face into Jonathan’s chest, breaking down into tears. “What if Dad hates me because I end up liking a boy?” he whimpered.

Jonathan curled around Cody, tears for his brother mixing into the tears he cried for himself and David. Cody was right: it wasn’t acceptable to feel this way. Not for him, and definitely not for his little brother. He held Cody tightly, pushing his own face into the boy’s shoulder, whispering, “Dad could never hate you, Cody. Nobody could. It’s like Dave says all the time, you’re the stuff sunshine’s made of!”

“He also says that you’re the bee’s knees, baby boy,” their mother said from the door, a smile on her face. “It’s because my boys are the best and most wonderfulest people in the whole world.”

Cody launched himself from the bed into her arms and Abby caught him, rocking him as she shushed and reassured him. “Love my Cody-bug. Ain’t nobody ever going to be able to not love my Cody-bug.”

“Love you, too, Mama!” Cody tugged his head from her neck to say something, and Abby took the opportunity to cover his face in kisses, making him giggle, the familiar mirth his mother elicited from his little brother giving Jonathan’s heart a lift.

“Whyn’t you go get your shoes on and I’ll get your brother up and we’ll go get an early dinner and dessert from Stardust?” Abby suggested, both she and Jonathan startling at the squeal of excitement bursting from the wriggling boy in her arms. She laughed as he ran to his room a moment later and she moved across the room to sit down on the edge of Jonathan’s bed. “Baby boy… my heart hurts as I watch you stumble through each day, and I know your pain is raw, but Jonathan, you have to start eating. You can’t keep doing this to yourself. It’s not good for you and how does it benefit David if you weaken yourself?”

Jonathan shifted in his bed, putting his head in Abby’s lap. “Don’t we have church tonight?”

“Don’t change the subject on me. Your dad is going to a deacon’s meeting, but I have pies to make for Thanksgiving tomorrow. If you remember, your cousins and aunt and uncle are coming tomorrow afternoon.” She ran her fingers through his hair. “I want you to ponder on a message I came across during my daily devotion this morning, okay, baby?”

He nodded against her leg. “Yes, Mama.”

Her voice softened as she murmured words of hope from Paul the Apostle. “Second Corinthians 4:16-18 is its physical address for your reference later. Paul has this to say about hope in his letters to the Corinthians: Therefore we do not lose heart. Outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly, we are renewed each day. For our light and momentary troubles achieve for us an eternal glory which far outweighs them all. We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what can be seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

“He’s not talking about love, Mama. He’s talking about Christ—”

“Jonathan Abraham Shea, he’s talking about struggle, about pain like you’ve never known—pain like yours—and he’s saying that it will get better. Don’t lose hope. This isn’t the end. This house arrest won’t last forever—”

Jonathan lifted his face, looking up at Abby. “Mama, he said ‘my son will never date another boy.’ I do believe he’s thinking about making it last forever.” He sighed heavily. “I didn’t even get to see David on my birthday. Heck, he wouldn’t even let me have a birthday party for my one and only eighteenth birthday.” Jonathan laughed, but the sound held no joy. “I didn’t even get a birthday card from him. I mean, I guess I should be grateful that he remembered to wish me happy birthday when he dropped me off at school that day.”

She cupped his face. “What do I always tell you, baby? What do I always say when things get rough?”

This, too, shall pass. You always say it’s from the Word, and I always tell you that Confucius said it,” Jonathan answered, blinking back tears.

“Whoever said it, baby boy, it’s true. It won’t always be like this. It won’t always hurt so bad that you think you won’t withstand it, because if you and David are meant like I think you are, like you think you are, like he thinks you are—if you are, then you’ll look back at this dark time and you’ll realize then how strong I know you to be now.” Her dark eyes searched his amber ones. “How strong he knows you’ve always been.” She smiled, pushing his hair over his ears. “Can I point something out to you?”

Jonathan nodded.

“Ever wonder why David wanted to change his eye color to the one you told me?” Abby smiled softly, tracing his ear with a fingertip.

“All the time. I can’t understand why he’d wanna change that gorgeous blue to anything else. It’s still my favorite color,” Jonathan answered, his voice hoarse.

“I’ll tell you why, baby, and it’s going to blow your mind.” Abby pressed a kiss to his temple as she pulled him into her arms. “Because your eyes—the ones you got from your grandpa—they’re his favorite color. He wanted to see the world through your eyes.”

Jonathan pushed his face into her soft chest as the pain became too much for him to contain, and he broke a little more. Abby held him tightly, whispering, “I know she’s not your favorite singer, baby boy, but the girls at work listen to her album all the time—Sheryl Crow? They played this song today, and it was called “I Shall Believe”. I bought the album on the way home from work just so you could listen to the words.” Pulling back to look at his face, tears slipped down her own cheeks. “Oh, baby… hold on for me. Just a bit longer. I have faith that He doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I have faith that you are strong enough to weather this, and I have faith that David can weather this storm with you.”

Jonathan sniffled, dragging the heels of his hands over his eyes. “I will listen to it and Mama, I’ll do better. I promise.”

Tuesday Night Music Club would remain forever the only Sheryl Crow album Jonathan would ever own, and only two songs on the album would ever be played. “Strong Enough” would be David’s song for him later on, but “I Shall Believe” was Jonathan’s song for the remainder of the time they were kept apart.

 

On to Halley’s Comet: Orbit

Halley’s Comet: A Covenant Short

Promo with Quote SMALL

(Takes place during the months of October to December 1992)

“BURN”

The second time it happened wasn’t even a week later. Coach Caruthers had facilitated it after Jonathan experienced a dizzy spell and had to be replaced during practice. Angry at his body’s betrayal, he threw himself onto the bench and put his head in his hands. The coach approached him quietly, knelt down, and put a hand on Jonathan’s shoulder, whispering, “Listen to me, boy. Listen good.”

Jonathan lifted his gaze, blinking at the uncharacteristic tenderness in the high strung coach’s tone. “Of course, Coach.”

“Remember what was said back in Kelley’s office? Remember? How you fellas loving other fellas didn’t have nothing to do with how you play ball?” Coach Caruthers murmured, his brown eyes holding Jonathan’s amber steady.

“Here, Coach. You called me?”

Jonathan looked up at the first baseman, Bailey Strittmatter, though they all called him Bay. He was a good friend of Chad and Travis, and ever since the meeting in Ms. Kelley’s office, he’d been instrumental in keeping an eye on David in the halls as many of his classes were in the same hallways. Jonathan smiled at Bailey, who returned it warmly, saying, “Don’t worry about it. We gotcha.”

“Bay, need you to do a 3-2-1. Now.” Coach Caruthers squeezed Jonathan’s shoulder as Bailey left them, returning to their conversation. “I know that, technically speaking, it don’t. I know that, technically speaking, what caused this was you not being able to eat… or sleep. I’m not askin’ you to be inhuman. I’m askin’ you to push through this, boy. You gotta. He’s countin’ on you to keep breathin’, and you are the only reason he keeps comin’ to school. I seen him in his P.E. classes. He keeps tryin’ to hide the evidence of some pretty serious anger, and ain’t none of it as bad as the one time, but Jonathan… you gotta…” Coach looked up at the sky and then out at the field, pausing for a long moment before he continued. “Jonathan, you just gotta find whatever it is that fires you up, keeps you runnin’, because you two got a hell of a time coming. A hell of a time.”

“Complete, and exactly as you said, Coach!” Bailey called as he ran back onto the field.

“Thanks, Bay! Jonathan, come with me.”

He’s right. He’s so very right. God, I am letting myself succumb to despair when David needs me most. I’m an idiot. I’m such a freaking idiot.

Jonathan followed the baseball coach back into the school, so lost in his mental chastising he didn’t notice Coach turned the lock on his office door after he let Jonathan into the room.

“I’ll give you some time, but you need to close the blinds. God forbid someone see the two of you together,” Coach Caruthers stated, a familiar edge to his words as he smiled tightly before shutting the door behind him.

Jonathan turned to see David sitting in the chair closest to the door, his blue eyes wide as he looked up at Jonathan. Jonathan closed the blinds, swallowing hard before he moved over to David, running a gentle hand over the gold curls he loved as he whispered, “I’ve been a bad boyfriend.”

David stood, wrapping his arms around Jonathan’s neck. “You don’t know how to be a bad boyfriend.”

“I see you all the time, and all I can think about is that it’s been forever since your voice has been in my ear, that I can’t remember the last time I was able to walk next to you, and that all I want is to be able to not leave marks on you—”

David shook his head with a grin. “Babe… you leave the deepest mark on me. Your mark on me is a tattoo on my soul. Your name is all over me and when I go to sleep at night, I pretend I’m in your arms, that your breath warms my neck—” David pressed a kiss to Jonathan’s jaw. “—because I know that one day those things will be commonplace.”

“How are you so optimistic?” Jonathan murmured, amazement clear in his words as he held his boyfriend tighter. “Jonah hurts you—”

“You’re a man of your word. If you say it, it will happen. I am well aware that should we leave today, it would be hard for either of us to make our dreams happen, that likely, should we run away together, we’d be living on the streets and that’s a nightmare, not a dream, even if we were together.” David set his chin on Jonathan’s chest. “So, we graduate and then we get the hell out of this town.”

Jonathan smiled at him, sliding his hands over David’s trusting face. “I wonder how it is we never got here until this year.”

“Because it wasn’t time. It took a kiss—” David stretched up on tiptoe to kiss the same corner of Jonathan’s mouth Veronica had kissed. “—from a girl to ignite in me a truth which can never be extinguished.”

“Say it to me… tell me again.” Jonathan didn’t mean for the words to carry the same perpetual tremor his whole being bore. “Please, David.”

David nodded. “I belong to you. I belong to you and you belong to me. Amor meus in aeternum.”

“Forever—mine, forever!” Jonathan’s lips found David’s in a greedy kiss, his heart pounding in his chest in time with David’s. Their stolen time together, spent breathing each other’s breath as their hearts beat as one, was over quickly. A quick rap on the door broke them apart into two beings once more, and David darted out of the office, the smile he threw over his shoulder at Jonathan giving balm to the wounds he knew Jonathan carried.

As he walked out of the locker room seven minutes later, Chad and Travis on one side, Bailey on his other, Elisha leaned against the wall across from the doors, backpack on his left shoulder, eating an apple. Jonathan didn’t miss the irony and he arched an eyebrow, asking, “Why are you here?”

“Why was he?” Elisha answered, waggling his eyebrows.

“I’m sorry?” Jonathan clipped, his heart pounding. No… no, no, no, Elisha… please!

“Not sorry enough.” Standing up straight, he tossed the apple, two bites taken out of it, to Jonathan. “Catch you later.”

That night, when he got home, his father was waiting for him in his room, holding his telephone in his lap. Jonathan hit his knees in front of Bill before he could say a single word. “Please—please, please, please… I haven’t called him. I’ve followed your instruction, Dad. I swear it! You can’t take that—what if he needs help? Dad, please! Don’t take away his only lifeline—please!”

Bill furrowed his brow. “I think you’re exaggerating the situation a bit, Jonathan. Lifeline? That’s a word you don’t use casually.”

Jonathan shot to his feet, growling. “He missed an entire week of school and Momma Claire had me and Eli drop by his classes each day to get his work! One of the bruises on his arm was worse than the one I got in Little League. I accidentally touched it before I knew it was there and he passed out from the pain… but please, tell me that I’m exaggerating the situation!”

Bill stood up as well, his eyes flashing. “You’re suggesting that Jonah did that to his son?”

“There were two people in the house when it happened—that would be the day that we waited and waited for David to get here and he never called or showed. You remember that day, don’t you? You kept badgering me to call him and then you had to go because you had that deacons’ meeting?” Jonathan watched his father’s face for a sign of recognition.

“I remember. What’s your point?”

“That was when Jonah was beating him.” Jonathan took a shaky breath. “Please, Dad. Remember that I’ve never lied to you about anything, that I never make a big deal about things unless they need a big deal made—”

Bill’s free hand curved up under Jonathan’s jaw. “And you have to learn that certain things in life are non-negotiable. My son dating another boy? Never going to happen. It’s against God’s laws and I will not allow it. The idea that Jonah would hurt his boy in the manner you described is also ludicrous and disrespectful and I expected more from you in regards to Jonah Wolff. If you ever expect to get telephone privileges back, do better at the not lying to me part. I knew almost the minute you and David decided to break the rules again today. That’s twice now.” He loosed his hold on Jonathan’s face before turning and crossing to the door. “Phone is gone until I see improvement.”

 

On to Halley’s Comet: Crash