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21. Cut to the Chase
It was a cool enough evening that Charlie and Josh chose to sit out on the patio of the Caribou Coffee on Halsted. Charlie looked up from his programming notes as Josh came back with two coffees. They sat there for a moment, notes and curriculum out, trying to ignore the tension filled space between them.

"How long have you volunteered at Haven?" Charlie asked, breaking the silence.

"About six months now. I just got inspired one day, I guess. My friends keep complaining about the rising crime rate in the neighborhood. They're hell bent on making it a race issue, I say it's education. I got so sick of arguing about it so I decided I'd do something instead." God, why did he have to be hot AND socially aware AND have a boyfriend?!

"That's pretty much how it was for me," Charlie said, hating that his answer amounted to little more than "ditto."

"So I guess this counts as us finally hanging out."

"I guess, yeah." Charlie chuckled nervously.

"It's great that you're a teacher too. Just... one more thing we have in common."

"We have more things in common?"

"Well... " Josh said nervously, going for Charlie's hand. Before Charlie could react by reciprocating or rejecting, a loud clamoring on the sidewalk broke the moment. A black trans girl with braids was running for dear life, pushing passers-by out of her way. Tyler was close behind in hot pursuit.

"LaTrice!" Josh yelled, running after her.

"Tyler!" Charlie yelled, running after him. Before they could catch up to them, Tyler made a flying tackle on LaTrice. As Tyler lay gasping for air in pain, Josh helped LaTrice up and kept her from running. Charlie helped Tyler up and restrained him from lunging at LaTrice in his weakened state.

"What the hell is going on, Tyler?" Charlie asked.

"Charlie, she's one of my attackers!"

Josh held LaTrice tight as she struggled to get away. "LaTrice, is this true?"

"Get the fuck off me Josh, this faggot done lost his mind!"

"You think I'd forget anything about that night? I may be one of your many victims, but I'll never forget you or your friends."

"Bitch you don't know me or my life! Don't even try to... "

"Everyone, just calm down," said Josh.

"What do I do? Should I call the police?" asked Charlie. LaTrice tried to struggle again, but Josh had a firm grip on her hands and shoulders.

"There's a zero tolerance policy at Haven. If a youth is arrested while staying at the shelter, they're blacklisted."

"She'll be out on the street?" Tyler asked.

"Yeah," said Josh. Tyler walked out of Charlie's hold and walked up to LaTrice, looking her dead in the eyes.

"Why'd you do it? Why me?"

"Why not you?" LaTrice spat back. "I needed the money, ok? It ain't that tough to figure out. I was doing the work-study thing Mr. Curtis set up, but that was getting me nowhere. How the hell am I supposed to get money for my estrogen shots on $5 an hour? So when my boo said she needed help to jump a couple guys, that there'd be cash involved, I went for it. You were just... the mark." LaTrice heaved a sigh. "I'm sorry it was you, but it could've been anybody."

"Where are you from?" asked Tyler.

"South Side. That's all you need to know."

"And I wasn't your first attack."

"I does what I has to do. Before Haven."

"But since... ?"

"You were the first one since, ok?"

Tyler turned to Josh. "How long has she been at Haven?"

"Four months, give or take," said Josh. "We're prepping her to get her GED. She's pretty smart when she tries. Or shows up for tutoring sessions." Tyler considered for a moment. "Her dad threw her out when she started transitioning. She was on the street for more than a year before she found Haven."

"That's my business, Josh!"

"My dad threw me out too," said Tyler. "Well in a way. I couldn't be a part of his family if I was gay. So I said fuck off and left."

"We got the same story, we gonna be best friends now?"

"Absolutely," Tyler said firmly. "Because when you get back to Haven, I'm going to watch you like a hawk. You're going to sign up to volunteer during the day, you're going to show up to every tutoring session you're scheduled and as soon as dinner is over, you're going to claim your bed, study, and go to bed. Got me?"

"Who the fuck do you think you are?"

"The guy that's not going to turn you into the police. Unless you keep on the straight and narrow at Haven And I'll be there to make sure you do. Do you get me now?"

LaTrice rolled her eyes. "Yes."

"Good. Josh will you escort my new best friend back to Haven?"

Josh put his arm around LaTrice, walking her back to Haven. He stopped and turned toward Charlie. "So can I see you again?"

"You can see me at Haven," came Charlie's reply. And they were gone. Charlie turned to Tyler. "You amaze me." Tyler released a heavy sigh.

"I almost lost it Charlie. I really almost did." Charlie kissed him on the forehead, proud of his roommate.

"But you didn't. You're a better man than me."

"I'm still so... like pumped with adrenaline. I gotta do something about it."

"I have a couple of ideas how we can fix that," winked Charlie.

Back at home, Charlie finally acquiesced and pulled an Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament with Tyler. He might've let Tyler win a couple of times. But just a little bit.

###

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Hello friends and fans,
While promoting the series at the GoPride booth at Market Days, my bag that had my MacBook in it was stolen. While I cannot replace the intellectual property, I'm hoping to reach out and gain your support in replacing my MacBook (and all the software that I got with it)

Even a dollar would help. Please visit http://igg.me/p/203358?a=1020165 and if you can't help, please share with your friends/family that might be able to. The irony of writing about crime in Boystown and then this occurring is not lost on me.

Thanks for your support in helping me to create more work. I am rushing to recreate what I lost for this week, so please apologize for any delays in the series this may cause.

Much love,

DB
I'm not sure what I would have done in Tyler's place. Sorry to hear about your stolen property. Recreating what has been lost is far more complicated and time consuming that trying to replace stolen merchandise. Unless the second version is better than the first...in which case, the situation can be considered a mixed blessing.

25. Possibility (Series Finale)

Today started like any other day. Charlie turned over and was met with the blinding morning sun shining in his face. He got up begrudgingly and started the morning coffee before heading to the bathroom take his morning piss.  He washed his hands then splashed some water on his face. He studied

24. Another Pint

Though Tyler was walking with clear intent and purpose and his earbuds were firmly in, blaring Jay Branan's cover of  "The Freshmen" in his ears, he heard the question clear as day:  "Do you a minute to save the children?" He stopped and smiled to himself, remembering how not even a year a

23. No Big

Charlie ignored all of Hunter's protests to just wait for the Halsted bus and hailed a cab home. "We're coming from the hospital," Charlie insisted. "He'll understand. And I'll tip him extra." Hunter's room was tidier then when he left it: Charlie must've cleaned up once the doctor had given Hunt

22. Waiting

The rain that fell in the cemetery felt more like an early June rain than a late August rain. Still...none of it felt real. Charlie couldn't remember the last time he wore his black suit. Tristan's funeral? Fitz's funeral? He couldn't remember who had given the eulogy. All he could do was throw a ro

21. Rage and Love

Part of him felt like he'd been sitting at the bar waiting for a drink his whole life, while part of him felt like he had just gotten there. Mostly, he was amazed at how awful the service was. How long until someone was going to take his order?   "Sorry, I just picked up this shift," said

20. Here Again

Tyler came into the room to find Charlie reading "The Little Prince" to Hunter. "What ya doing?" he asked.   "I've read somewhere that coma patients can hear you if you talk to them. I ran out of things to say so I started to read aloud."   "You ran out of things to say?" &n