Saints Ch. 2
The three had taken it upon themselves to take care of this stranger. When Achilles was done with school, instead of going home to do his homework, Diana and he would go and take food to Hosea. His body, for a while, rejected everything given to him but slowly he was able to keep things down and seemed better. His seizures became less frequent and he stopped constantly shaking.
Achilles had managed to clean up the Fortress with Adam’s help to repaint the murals. It turned out that a few people had found the Fortress unlocked and decided to trash the place for its next users. Hosea had apologised profusely for his acquaintances but no matter what he said, Adam and Diana wouldn't speak to him.
Achilles, feeling bad for their new acquaintance, would talk to him even when the others gave him the cold shoulder. He would be the one to keep him company late into the night before walking home in the dark. He couldn't stop himself from wondering what Hosea was up to during the day when he was gone. When they were together, he knew Hosea was happier and that was reason enough to keep coming back.
Hosea was seventeen, same as Achilles. He liked the Beatles and the Everly Brothers. He had a younger sister named Maria and a brother named Solomon. His family had raised him Christian but he didn't believe in God and was fascinated by Buddhism. He liked to read and had been a good writer in school, but hated mathematics and science. He had been kicked out by his family when they had realised that he liked men, or at least that's what Hosea told him. Before meeting Hosea, Achilles had never met a homosexual before and had doubted that he would. Curiosity bubbled to the surface of Achilles’ mind.
“So you're a homosexual?” Achilles had asked.
Hosea winced. “Yes, but I don't like that word. That was what my dad called it, and he booted me. Kind of a sore subject, you know what I mean?”
“I'm sorry, I thought you'd prefer it over ‘cocksucker.’” Hosea nodded and gave a dry chuckle. “Or we could come up with a term for it.Something no one would know what we're talking about.”
Hosea thought for a moment and then laughed. “How about the Strain? Since they say it's a sickness?”
“Your disregard for societal normal makes me smile.”
Achilles smiled at the memory. A couple weeks had passed and he couldn't stop thinking about Hosea. Whenever he did think about him, he felt...lighter. Happier. He wanted to be near him, thought about what it would be like to know him.He thought about that angel he had met, spasming in the corner, gorgeous even in agony. He shook his head, the feeling falling silent to the back of his brain.
He stretched, holding his hands over his head and popping his back. He glanced at Hosea who was reading one of his books. The spine read, For Whom the Bell Tolls. It was not one he recalled selecting for himself and figured it had been a Christmas present from Adam or Diana; his family had only ever given him copies of the bible or related studies. “Hemingway, eh? I've never read that one. You'll have to tell me if it's any good.”
Hosea looked up at Achilles and smiled. He shut the book and set it on the ground, sprawling back into the pillows. “I can barely understand what the b*****d is saying, to be honest.”
Achilles laughed. “I doubt I could either.”
“I never got to finish school. Maybe I would have learned some of this if I had.” He shook his head and swiped a hand over his eyes. “You know what they said, the night he made me leave? ‘Your sister shouldn't grow up around that.’ Like it's a disease, or an illness. Something to be cured with rounds of shock therapy and a shrink. They say taking hormones works, but I don't believe in it. I think God did this, did this as a joke. What a cruel joke.”
Achilles put a hand on Hosea’s shoulder. “It’s not your fault. They're jerks, that has nothing to do with you. No matter what everyone says, it's not a sickness; this is not wrong.”
Hosea licked his lips and sat back up, still looking down. His eyes were glassy when he finally looked at Achilles. “Sometimes I wish I wasn't. I mean, I wish I hadn't been born like this. A homosexual. It would have been so much easier for me.” He picked up the book and flung it across the room and curled his hands into fists. He let out a small scream, the sound muffled by his closed mouth. “I don't want to live like this. I hate myself. Sometimes I feel like I should just get the gun and pull the trigger. Everyone would be better off, anyway. If I wasn't around.”
Achilles awkwardly wrapped Hosea in a hug, pressing the boy’s head to his chest. “Ssh. Don't talk like that. It's not your fault this happened to you. It's going to be okay. One day people are going to be okay with you.”
Hosea melted in his grasp, physically relaxing against Achilles. Hosea wrapped an arm around him, pulling him closer until the two were flush. They laid like that, Hosea still crying softly and Achilles trying to comfort him, awkwardly patting at his back and trying not to reel away from the overstimulation of having someone hugging him. He had never liked being touched but he knew this was a time that Hosea needed it.
Hosea pulled away, arm still around Achilles. “Thank you. For everything.” His gaze flickered downward and before Achilles could speak, Hosea’s chapped lips were on his. Achilles couldn't breath and he opened his mouth, pulling away slightly.
“Hosea,” he began, but the other boy shook his head and closed his eyes, once again closing the gap between the two. He kissed him again, this time firmer and more sincere. His hands ran down Achilles’ arms and stopped at his hips, grabbing him gently and pulling him impossibly close. Achilles’ mind raced, thinking about the implications of the kiss. He began to panic, knowing what would happen if someone found them.
Achilles pulled away. “S***, man. I um...I really didn't mean to give you that impression. I'm not...I'm not into guys. Not like that. I'm sorry if it came across like that.”
“Have you ever tried?” Achilles shook his head. “Then how would you know? What if you are?”
Achilles tugged at his hair. “I can't. My family would kill me. We're Christians. Well, I'm not a Christian, they are, but...oh Jesus, what did I do? You can't tell anyone about this. My dad could lose his job…”
Hosea’s brows knit together. “Why does it matter if people know?”
“Because they would think it's wrong.”
“What do you think?”
“Hosea, you know I don't agree. But I could get in trouble for this. I have a family and friends and I don't...I just can't. I can't be that for you.”
Hosea folded his arms over his chest. “So what if people know? Why does it matter if I want to touch you like this, why does it matter if all I want is to be near you,” he murmured, arms coming out to graze Achilles’ sides.
Achilles jumped back. “Hosea, I'm guessing you're new to this. I'm sorry, but I said no.”
Hosea nodded. “Sorry. I, um...I'm gonna take a walk. You can go home, Achilles. I don't think I'll be back for a little while.” He dug his hands into his pockets and stood up, walking for the door. He paused and turned, as if he wanted to say something, but then kept walking.
Achilles picked up the books in the stack that Hosea had been reading and one by one threw them across the room. He grabbed other books, hurling them at the walls. He ran at a wall and slammed a fist into the brick, enjoying the sickening pain that shot through him. His vision blurred but he kept going, smacking fists into the walls until he couldn't even see what he was hitting. He screamed at the top of his lungs, not caring if anyone heard him or came to see what was going on. He began to sway back and forth, his ankles wobbling under his weight. Achilles fell to the ground and this time, there was no one there to pick him back up.
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