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Danny looked over the huge pile of cheese fries on the plate between him and Brandon. The burger was juicy, hot and running down his hand. He had to be careful to keep it from splattering onto the fast-food table and his white shirt. But when he looked down, there was a splotch of grease right above one of the snaps on his new western shirt.
Brandon glanced at Danny. “What’s wrong?”
“I got shit on my new shirt. Mitch is going to kill me. He said I’d never keep a white shirt clean. And I’ll be damned if the first time I wear it, I get stuff on it.”
Brandon moved beside Danny and peered closely at the stain. He backed away and nodded. “I think I can get that off. It’s just a little grease and they have a bottle of the soap for dissolving oil in the art room.” He became more quiet. “If that’s okay with you.”
“You think? That would be great. I really don’t want to hear all the ‘I told you so” jabs from my grandpa.” He fussed at it for another minute before the rest of Brandon’s statement. “What do you mean? Why wouldn’t it be okay?”
“Danny, you know I’m gay? Right?”
Danny studied him for a minute, not sure if he wanted to laugh or panic more. He saw the dark shadow flow across Brandon’s face. The smaller guy started clearing his stuff from the table. He never met Danny’s eyes. “I need to go study. I guess I better go. I’ll catch you later.”
Danny shot across the table and grabbed Brandon’s hand. “I don’t care if you’re gay. That’s great so far as I’m concerned.”
Brandon studied him. There was no question that he wasn’t certain if Danny could be trusted. He knew he had to make a choice, and he decided on the side of the guys in the white hats.
“Look, my sister and I have two dads. We kind of have two grandpa’s too. Mitch and Darrin saved our dads.”
He nodded, trying to will himself with the rest, to push it past the knot in his throat. When it did come out, it was louder than Danny intended. “And I’m bi.” Now it was Danny’s turn to brace for a reaction.
Brandon made several attempts to say something and then sat back and studied Danny. “At least coming out wouldn’t have been a big deal.”
“I haven’t told anyone. Bi is kind of…odd.”
Brandon’s jaw dropped and he stared at Danny for several minutes before he began to laugh. “I guess it doesn’t matter, coming out is dramatic for everyone.” Without any hesitation he moved closer and looked at Danny’s shirt. “Yeah, we can get that out. Your grandpa won’t even be able to tell. Come on.”
Brandon started cleaning the table and after a moment in a daze, Danny pitched in to help. He turned to Danny and motioned to him. “Come on, it’s not going to just float out, we need soap and water.”
He followed Brandon into the bathroom and stood watching as he worked soap and warm water into one of the thick brown paper wipes. He stepped close, pulled Danny’s shirt tight, and began scrubbing it. After a minute or so he tossed the wet mass of paper towel into the trash and grabbed a clean one. He worked back and forth between wet and dry towels until the spot was gone.
“There, done. Stick it under the hand dryer for a minute and it’ll be fine.”
Danny glanced at his wet shirt and then back to Brandon. He felt a little self conscious as he held his shirt under the warm air. A few minutes passed and he decided it was dry enough. He checked it out carefully and then smiled at Brandon.
“It looks great! Thanks so much.”
Without giving it much thought he grabbed the smaller boy and gave him a hug. At that moment, Mark and Kyle walked into the bathroom.
“Oh, Jesus! The fags are making out in the bathroom. They’re probably waiting for—“
Danny drew back and punched Mark directly in the nose with all the power he could get from fourteen years of farm hardened muscle.
Mark fell to the floor screaming, blood gushing from his nose. Brandon turned to him with a huge smile on his face.
“I’m sorry you’re going to get in so much trouble, but you just made my year.”
A crowd of teachers swarmed them, asking them a barrage of questions. But Danny couldn’t seem to wipe the smile from his face or deny the sense of satisfaction that filled him.
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