*earlier that day*
"Yeah I'm going to come out to my parents today." Michael says, and takes me by surprise. "Are you sure?" I ask. "So sure." He assures. "and If there's a negative response?" I ask. "I might get kicked out, might never get to leave the house again, and I'll obviously get a beating." And as those words come out of his mouth it physically hurts me like someone just punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me and then hit me again in the chest. "No Mike please I don't want them to hurt you anymore" I say, taking his hands and looking him in the eyes. "Hey, Ash, I love you more than I care for this" he motions to his body "and I'd rather be exactly who I am with a few bruises then not be who I am and have a broken heart and a boyfriend that I can't properly love" he says. "Alright well..." I say, still not sure. "Let's go home okay?" Michael suggests. "Yours or mine?" I ask. "Mine. If you'd please, come with me? Maybe when I come... Come out to my parents you can be there?" He asks, stuttering. "No problem, I'll be there every step of the way because I love you more than life" I say. "Thank you" he says, genuinely. "Okay let's go." I say and nod towards the bike rack where our were locked up.
Two girls pass us holding hands and leaning into each other and giggling and Mikey asks "are you guys a thing?" And they both look up and blush and nod. "Cute" I say and smile at them. "You?" The taller girl asks and nods her head at me and Mike. I nod and say "Can you keep it down?" And they both get a sympathetic look and they look at each other and look back at me and nod. "Thanks" I say and they walk off. "See. That's what I'm saying, I want to love you openly like that and be the boyfriend I should be" Mikey says, staring at the ground. "Did you see the l....look they gave each other before i said anything to them? they were just staring into each other's eyes like n...nobody else existed in the world. And the look they gave each other when we said we weren't out yet, like they remember when they weren't out and how h...hard it was" Mikey says, choking back emotion. "But I can't risk your parents freaking out and hurting you more than they already do" I say. "I can take it, I've taken it for the last 16 years." Mikey says with a stony expression on his face. The sleeves on his flannel are pulled down and he's never gone a day that I can remember without long sleeves and jeans to cover all the bruises and cuts his parents give him, not to mention the others at our school that beat him up and push him into lockers. Mainly his step dad but sometimes his mum will hit him with things around when he doesn't do exactly what she wants or the way she wants it done. His parents have always voiced their opinion on everything they think is wrong, like being gay for example and I know that's just another thing they will beat him to a bloody pulp for. Mikey makes me leave before they do it because he knows well that I would do something. "Listen. If we maybe get jobs and save up for awhile I could probably borrow money from my parents and we can leave, we can run away and we'd be fine, it sounds like some damn love movie or book but we could go and not look back" I say, not fully thinking what I said through as I often do. "It's a possibility" Mikey says, looking intently at the moving tire in front of him as I watch the gears turn in his head as he thinks about how this would work. "Yeah...yeah." He agrees.
We ride quietly the rest of the way to his house, my stomach flipping and knots tying tighter and my hands shaking, and I know Mikey feels the same thing. We throw our bikes down behind his garage and I hug him tightly, whispering sweet nothings like "I love you cupcake" and "it'll be fine" reassuring him that we're gonna be okay, and we proceed to walk inside.
"Michael... Ashton" Mikey's mum greets as we walk in. "Mumma Clifford" I say and nod my head at her. "What brings you here today?" She asks, rather rudely, in a snippy tone. "I was hoping to talk to you and dad today and I wanted Ash 'round. Could you maybe get dad and meet me... us the living room...?" Mikey asks, in an unsteady voice. Immediately she gets an angry look. "I will go get your father but it better be quick because if you can't tell I'm in the middle of making dinner" she replies, staring down at the carrots and onions she is currently chopping. "Thank you." Mikey says as we walk into his living room. "Hey, I love you" I say to him and pull him close. As soon as we hear footsteps approach we scoot apart and it hurts both of us. We've had to hide for so long but now it's happening and we have looked forward to this day for so long but now that it's seconds ahead of us I'm mortified. "Thank you for coming, I just wanted to sit you down and let you know that I respect you both fully and I'm more than grateful for the roof over my head and the food on the table and I respect your views but I don't believe everything that you do, and one of those things is homosexuality, which leads us to the reason we are talking" Michael says, strong and confident and I am holding back a smile because I am so proud of him right now. "And the reason is that I am gay." He breathes out, and I couldn't have worded anything he just said any better. I watch his parents process what he just said and the only thing I see is anger. Mikey tenses up and I scoot closer to him slightly to let him know 'I'm right here' and his step dad points a finger in my direction right away. "You. This is all your fault. You turned him gay. I can't believe this. I'm appalled right now." He says and angrily paces around the room. "It's not anything to do with him, yes, he is who I want to be with but he didn't whisper in my ear one day 'you are gay' and force me to be gay, I made the choice, well not choice but Dad it's who I am" Mikey says, and I feel pride building inside me hearing him stand up for me. "You're my son, my straight son, you can't just come in here and say you are gay and expect to live normally the rest of your life!" His mum exclaims. "And you, you can't keep seeing him. Michael I'm very disappointed in you. We are moving and you will be homeschooled, as for you, young man, you will leave this house, you will forget this ever happened, you will no longer see my son and you will break all ties and disconnect completely with my son" he says pointing at me. "I'm sorry but with all due respect sir I can't just do that" I say, blatantly. "All due respect sir my ass, I said get out of my house, and Michael get to your room, I'll deal with you in a minute." He says, moving closer to us on the couch. I don't move and Mikey grabs my hand and laces his fingers in mine and we sit there in silence. "I said get out!" He yells and Mikey flinches. I still don't get up and go and his face flushes red with anger. "I said get in your room!" His step dad yells and before I can do anything his hand flies through the air and slaps Mikey's face. Mikey doesn't do anything and that hurts me that he is so used to getting hit that he doesn't raise a hand to the wound or cover himself. He stands up still holding my hand and starts to walk up the stairs with me and before we even reach the stairs I feel a yank and I am being pulled by the collar of my shirt away from Mikey. I get dragged to the front door and thrown out, fighting the whole way but I'm not as strong as Mikey's step dad by far. I stand on the porch crying and looking through the window as Mikey's step dad walks back over to him and punches him and kicks him repeatedly and I try as hard as I can to get back in but it's locked with more locks than I can count. Mikey sees me through the window whilst still being beat and he mouths 'go home' to me and I nod 'no' profusely but he insists.
Bookshelves, coffee tables, and lamp stands fall on the floor as Mikey is dragged and kicked into the next room and out of my sight and am full on sobbing. It hurts to see my boyfriend being beaten and I can't do anything about it. I obey his request and I go home. I run as fast as I can, and cry harder than I ever have in my entire life.
(Still) Ashton's point of view
Before I get to the park I stop at the bank and get the check changed over to bills, mostly American bills because we will only be here a little while longer so we don't need a lot of our currency. I thank whoever is up in heaven for putting a stoned teenager to run the night shift, relieved that he didn't notice that he was changing such a large amount. After the bank I walk to the park, bittersweet emotions flooding through me; excitement to be with my boyfriend for the rest of our lives, free from our parents and peers, but sad because I am leaving my best friend and my little's and my home and the neighbourhood I grew up in and all the places I've made memories with the blokes. "and even if we won't admit it to ourselves we'll walk upon these streets and think of little elves" plays in my head as I walk on the streets that my music has filled at all hours of the night and our scent of spray paint has flooded as we expressed ourselves on the nights we couldn't sleep. I pass my old job, the corner flower shoppe, all the beautiful memories come and go through my mind. The street lights illuminate the street in orange hues and the chartreuse overhang giving shade to my favourite book store, the one where they wrap all the books in brown paper and give a brief description of the book on a tag attached to the book so you can't judge a book by it's cover. My heart beats faster as I near the park, my skin getting goosebumps as I stare into the cerulean blue sky and the lyrics come through my head "say my name, and every colour illuminates, we are shining, and we will never be afraid again" and those lyrics give me hope. I pull the hood up on my hoodie and pick up the pace as soon as I see the sign for the park entrance. "Sunshine!" Mikey yells as soon as he sees me. I run and place my bags down gently as does he and he pulls me into a warm hug and a passionate kiss. A catcall comes from a tree nearby and Mikey pulls out of the kiss laughing. "Luke I said go home" Mikey yells into the air. A sweet, innocent laugh comes and then a rustling of branches before a blonde patch of hair and a wide pierced smile comes out of the darkness and greets me in a hug. "Hi Lukey" I say and he giggles. "America yeah?" He asks and I nod. "Well mates have an ace time and don't forget about us" he says. "How could I forget a douche like you" Mikey says jokingly. "Okay I'll take you guys to the Porte" Luke says and nods to the curb. "Wow thanks mate" I say and Mikey smiles. As we get into the car Luke says "I really think what you guys are doing is right" and Mikey says "thanks man, and I'm sorry it had to come to us having to leave..." And he looks down at his feet, something he does often when he's upset. "Me and Cal have thought about it too I don't blame you" Luke says, and smiles at the thought of Calum. "You guys should come" I say, again, not thinking before I say anything. The car comes to a complete stop and Luke thinks about it for awhile, nervously biting his lip ring, but then says "Calum couldn't ever leave his little's..." And looks down at his feet. "You're probably right mate. Bloke is such a family man... he couldn't do that." I say and sigh that I ever opened my mouth. The rest of the ride to the air porte is quiet, the soft hum of Patrick Stumph's voice playing through the radio and Mikey's slight singing along of "the foxes hunt the hounds, it's all over now, before it has begun, we've already won." As we arrive it isn't too busy but the tension between Mikey and Luke is tight. "Listen" I say. "I can feel there's summat between you guys and someone's gotta voice what it is now because I do not want to leave on a negative note and have the burden of you guys having something between you while we are oceans away" I say and Luke cracks first. "I just really don't know what to do after you leave, what's the point of going to school? Why should I go to work? Who's gonna play guitar with me? What's... What's the point of...living?" Luke chokes out. He shakes his head in disbelief and stares at the ground. "Luke, Cal needs you, I don't know if this has ever registered with you before but Calum loves you. He loves you so much and if you dropped out of school and you quit your job and stop playing the guitar then his world would end because you are his world. Please don't let us leaving change the way you look at life... Mate we are going to miss you more than anything but you can't think about us leaving right now, you need to think of your life and your other half, Calum." I say, going to him and hugging him. "You're right, I'm being a twat and selfish right now, I need to think about him too. Thanks Ash" Luke says as he collects himself. "I rest the responsibility of being the cutest gay couple at school in your hands, since of course me and Ash will no longer be there" Mikey says with a smirk. Luke laughs through the last of his tears and smiles and says "passing the torch huh?" And Mikey verifies this by doing a 'pass the torch' gesture. We all laugh and Luke says "right then, well you need to get going." And hugs us both. "Love you man" Mikey says to him. "Love you too Mike, don't forget about me yeah?" Luke says. "Never" Mikey replies. We head to the doors, our bags hanging from our shoulders. "Are you scared?" Mikey asks me innocently as we walk through the doors. "Terrified, but it's not so bad with you right here" I say and he blushes and gets on his tip toes and grabs the sides of my face and pulls me into a kiss. "It feels so good to be able to do that in public" he says and I nod in agreement.
We hold hands as we walk through the porte and I use the bathroom while Mikey buys the next tickets out to America. As I come out of the bathrooms I ask Mikey "did you leave your mobile at home?" And he nods. "We are going to a place called Chicago, it's one of the major cities of America and I've heard of it before so I think it'll be a good place" he says and hands me the tickets. I kiss his cheek and we head to security. Mikey rolls his eyes when the patrol tells him he has to take off his belt, boots, and bracelets. I struggle to take off my own bracelets in fear of anyone seeing my wrists but then I think to myself "new life, new rules." Mikey sees that I took my bracelets off and slides closer to me and asks "are you okay?" and I nod and give him a quick grin and he smiles. We put our shoes back on and we help each other put our bracelets back on, tying and clipping and hooking all the different styles of bracelets we've collected. "I even packed my American flag shirt" Mikey says with a cheeky grin. "You're a giant dork" I tell him and he lays on my lap and looks up and at me and says "you too" and smiles.
"Gate A11 boarding for America now" a flight attendant says through a speaker and Mikey gets up. I follow him to the plane and he plops down in first class and I raise my eyebrow at him and he laughs and asks "what?" And I say "starting this out right and buying the most expensive seat on the plane huh?" And he laughs and nods. "My silly boy" I say as I ruffle my hands through his green hair. I pack our four bags in the overhead compartment, smiling when I see his guitar bag next to my cajon bag. I sit down next to him and pull my seat belt on and ask "ready for our biggest adventure yet?" and put my hand out. "Ready" Mikey assures and puts his hand in mine. I smile and lace his fingers in mine and I lean back in my chair and close my eyes, he lifts our hands and presses a kiss to my knuckles and does the same as me, hoping to catch a few hours of sleep on this long flight ahead of us.
"Babe wake up, what do you want to eat?" Mikey says as he shakes my shoulders gently. "What's my choices?" I ask and Mikey rattles off a list of foods and I decide one without even opening my eyes.
"Ashton, silly, you gotta eat, you can't just sleep the whole flight!" Mikey says and that causes a slight smile on my face. I open my eyes and stretch as people walk past back and forth next to our seats. "So wait what did I get to eat?" I ask, completely forgetting what I ordered. "Mac and cheese" he says. "And what'd you get?" I ask. "Mac and cheese" he says with a cheeky grin. "Copycat" I tease. "Nope you're the copycat, I ordered first." He supplies and reaches a hand to my side and tickles right under my ribs. "Were you two the mac and cheese?" A flight attendant clears her throat and asks dryly. "Yeah" I say, blushing, and nod and she hands us the two plates and before I can say thank you she's already walking away. "We probably did not give her the proper image of teenage guys..." Mikey says and laughs. "Tickling and mac and cheese? Yeah probably not" I add and Mikey laughs while forking noodles into his mouth. "We're fucking mad sometimes" I say and he nods.