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For The Fans: Chapter 1

Avi

AlexandertheBait: My dick died…mind if I bury it in dat ass??

Have you ever wondered…

There’s this recurring dream I’ve been having for the last few years. I don’t have it that often, but every time I do, it’s exactly the same.

I’m at the top of a very high building in the city. I’m not sure which one… But from how high it seems in my mind, I’d say maybe the Empire State Building.

My muscles are tight and bunched, my teeth chattering. It’s so realistic, I can practically feel the cold breeze rushing through my hair…

There are no guardrails. I’m at the very edge… My toes are hanging over.

And the thing is, I know I should back up. I know I should do everything in my power to launch myself backward, away from sudden death.

But it doesn’t happen that way.

Every time, like some sort of suicidal Freudian slip… my foot slips.

And I fall.

I’m falling and falling, but not fast. It’s slow. Suspended in the air, I float past each of the building’s windows. Birds fly by as I spot people inside, going about their business. Sometimes I recognize them.

Mom is usually in there. She looks up and sees me levitating outside her window. And she smiles, which always twists my stomach into knots. She looks happy, and I think it’s because she doesn’t know the truth.

She’s blissfully unaware that her son is about to die.

But the thing is, that while I’m in my weightless nosedive, I’m not afraid. The thrill of descent takes over, hypnotic reverie bringing me not to death… but to life.

I always wake up before I hit the ethereal ground, shooting upright in bed with that eerie sensation that you’ve literally been hovering in the air, and when your consciousness snaps back into place, you actually crash back down onto the mattress.

I used to think it was aliens abducting me in my sleep. Or the programming of my simulation. Could be true.

But maybe it’s more like a bridge, or a gateway. A door left open by the mind’s eye.

And no matter how scary it can be at first, I just can’t help but wonder…

How it truly feels to fall from up high.

None of this is literal, of course. I’m not morose, and I don’t actually want to jump off a building. But my subconscious seems fascinated by the idea of floating willingly into something else. Being happy about the fall into the unknown… Laughing and waving to the people in the windows as I plummet.

I know what you’re thinking… This dude sounds high as fuck.

It’s a fair assessment, because usually that’s the case. But not right now. In fact, I’m currently itching to get home so I can smokey smoke and erase the memories of yet another stressful day in high school. It’s been three months and I’m still getting used to this place. But to be fair, high school in Brooklyn wasn’t exactly my favorite either.

Three months ago, my lovely mother and I relocated from the city we called home, to a cozy part of the historical northeast you may have heard of—Boston. Leaving New York was difficult for me, because I truly loved it there, despite the one very bad memory that prompted us to pack up for a fresh start.

Brooklyn had been Mom’s and my home for my entire life, and more than half of hers. New York City raised me just as much as my parents did.

Three months isn’t enough to forget everything I loved about the city. I miss the loudness, the dirt and grime that everyone pretends isn’t there. The people who don’t give a good God damn what they look like or how others perceive them. New York is a cluttered hub for all of the realest people I’ve ever encountered.

Not that Boston is bad. It has its qualities, though we’re not even living in Boston, per se. We moved to a small city on the outskirts called Malden.

Starting at a new school, in a new city, is exactly like I imagined it would be; a constant pull on my nerves. Between getting used to Boston and all of its little quirks that make it vastly different from New York, settling into the groove of sophomore year while attempting to make friends and keep up on schoolwork that doesn’t interest me in the slightest… it’s been a hectic few months.

But I think I’m managing. Mainly because I met a kid named Kyle who sells me weed.

All in all, it’s been fine, but for someone like me, who’s already pretty antisocial as it is, I’m having a bit of trouble making friends and fitting in… A skill I’ve never really excelled at.

I’m kind of a weirdo, and I don’t want to have to change myself just to make friends. I’m a strong believer in it’ll happen if and when it happens. If there are people out there who also love art and emo music from before their time, who fan over cryptids and true crime and Tarantino, then we’ll eventually find each other and become friends. Why force it?

Ah, the introvert’s paradox. Waiting for other nerds to come to you.

So sure, I haven’t made any real friends yet—except for Kyle—I’m not doing well in school, and I’m constantly aware of how Boston is so not Brooklyn. But still, I won’t be deterred. After all, we’re here to Subway start fresh, and I wouldn’t say it’s gone as stale as that nasty bread just yet. So I’m optimistic.

My phone buzzes in my pocket while I’m stepping off the bus. I pull it out once I’m across the street, opening Instagram to check a new notification. Walking up the block to our apartment with only peripheral vision on the sidewalk, my eyes are mostly fixed on the direct message.

HollyLang333: Your drawings are so sick *heart eyes emoji*

A tiny smile graces my lips. Until I trip and almost drop my phone because I’m not paying attention to where I’m walking.

Holly is a girl from school. She’s in my art class. I thought I was hallucinating when I saw her peeking at one of my sketches earlier… But I guess I wasn’t. Because now she’s creeping my Instagram profile and messaging me.

Oh snap! Loser Avi hooks one!

I’m excited, because like I said, this never usually happens. Holly is definitely cute, and she actually smiled during the few times we’ve exchanged real words, which I have to assume is a good sign. But more than anything, I like that she’s complimenting my art. This whole thing is an ego boost I could definitely use right now. It feels good.

Maybe not floating in my dreams good, but I’ll take what I can get.

Speaking of being up high, that joint, though. Mom’s at work for another hour, so I’ll have time to blaze before she comes home and yells at me about it.

She knows I like to smoke for my anxiety, and she’s not crazy about it, only because Hannah Vega has never done a drug in her entire life—she barely even drinks. I’ve tried explaining to her a million times that weed is legal now, but she just keeps on with that under eighteen nonsense.

What difference does that make??

I’m almost eighteen… In two years and one week, but who’s counting?

I really don’t think those two years will make a huge difference in the grand scheme, but I guess parents see it differently.

Mom looks the other way when I come home smelling like weed on weekends. She still gets on me about it, but for some reason, it’s not as much of a capital crime in her eyes to smoke a little gange on Saturday as it is on a school night.

I don’t get it. But apparently, it’s one of those things that only makes sense to moms.

Typing back a causal thanks with a smiley face emoji to Holly, I stuff my phone away as I approach the front door to our building, waving at our landlady, Rosemary, who lives across the street. She’s always out there, watering her flowers and mowing her eight-foot patch of grass, wearing this weird straw hat that makes her look like a poorly dressed extra on Little House on the Prairie.

Strange lady. I like her. Plus, I’m still not over the accent.

Paahhk the caahhh. Wicked good chowdaahh.

Hilarious.

Taking out my keys, I unlock the door with one hand, using the other to fish a joint and lighter out of my backpack, juggling everything while walking up all the stairs to our third-floor apartment. The second I’m inside, I’ve got the joint between my lips and I’m flicking my lighter over and over, trying to get it to light. I think maybe it’s time for a new one…

I finally get it lit as I’m stalking through the living room, toward the door to the back deck. Unfortunately, I come to a fast halt when I find my mother sitting on the couch, staring up at me with her brow raised.

My eyes widen and I quickly pluck the joint from between my lips. “Oh shit… how’d that get there??”

My mom rolls her eyes while I stub the joint out on my tongue. “Avi…”

“What are you doing home so early, mother?” Flashing her my most innocent smile, I bat my eyelashes, really laying on the look how sweet and adorable your son is act.

I’m anticipating the admonishing, so I dump my backpack on the floor and just wait for it to come. But when it doesn’t, I pay a little more attention to her face. She’s smiling, but she looks kind of tense as she pats the couch cushion next to her.

“Come sit, son of mine,” she says, calmly. “We need to talk about something…”

Gulp. Okay…

I already don’t like this.

My mom is my best friend. That probably makes me sound like a huge loser, but I think we’ve already established that I am, so if the worn Converse sneaker fits…

It’s been just the two of us for a while now. We’re all each other has.

As it stands, we communicate openly, so there’s never really much need for serious talks. But the impression I’m getting from her rigid shoulders and the way she’s wide-eyed staring at me is one of an impending conversation… One that gives me Dejá vu like a Vietnam flashback.

Mom’s eyes overflowing with tears of devastation. “I need to tell you something, Aviel… It’s about your father.”

“I’ll just stand here.” I fold my arms over my chest petulantly. As if standing up will make whatever this is less real.

“Aviel, for the love of God, just sit down,” she huffs.

“Fine…” I mutter, stepping over to the couch. “But I’m doing it because I want to, not because you’re telling me to.”

She chuckles and shakes her head as I take a seat next to her. “Okay, fine. You’re the boss.”

My throat is all dry and scratchy as she reaches for my face, brushing her fingers through my dark hair.

“How was school?” she asks, and I squint at her.

“Mom, please. You clearly have something to say, so let’s cut the small talk and just get to the point. You’re stressing me out.”

Showing me a sympathetic look, she tilts her head. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I don’t want you to be upset…” Her voice trails, and I lean in, my skin crawling all over in suspense. “But I have some news.”

What news?” I ask quietly. I’m trying to be patient and let her work up to it, but my fingers are twitching.

She swoops in a breath, letting it out slowly before she hits me with, “I met someone.”

My entire body feels frozen solid, like someone ordered an ice sculpture of a shocked teenager.

I don’t know why, but this is the absolute last thing I ever expected her to say.

Mom’s brows knit together while I gawk at her like she just told me she wants to become a rodeo clown. “Avi… are you alright?”

“Uh… what?” My head shakes and I force myself to blink a few dozen times. “Yea, yea. I’m uh… I’m… fine?” I don’t mean for the word fine to come out like a question, but I’m just really confused right now.

She met someone…? As in, like, a person… she wants to… date??

My mother has gone on a few dates over the years, but it’s never led to anything. Usually, she just tells me she’s going out with a friend, or something along those lines. She’s never felt the need to sit me down and talk to me about it.

My mother shifts. “Okay… because you look kind of pale—”

“So you mean you’re gonna… go on a date with someone, right? That’s fine,” I tell her casually while trying not to fidget.

She clears her throat. “Actually, we’ve already gone out a few times.”

“Oh…” My mind is running in jittery circles, like a hamster on a wheel. “But you didn’t mention anything…”

“I didn’t want to bother you with it until it was serious.” She blinks her deep blue eyes at me.

“Wait… so you’re saying it is serious??” My voice croaks out of my throat. “Who is this person?”

“His name is Tom.” The way her face sort of lights up even saying his name tightens my gut.

Tom?” I can’t help the way I scoff. “That’s a stupid name…”

“Aviel.” She glares at me. “That’s rude.”

“Sorry.” I rub my eyes. “I’m just… I’m surprised, that’s all. This is kind of coming out of nowhere… You’ve never sat me down to tell me about you dating before.”

She squeezes my arm. “I know, baby. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to keep it from you, but I just figured with the move and you being busy at school… I wanted to give it a few dates before I told you. To make sure I really liked him.”

I swallow down even more dry uncertainty. “And you do?”

She nods. “Yes. He’s really sweet and smart. And he has a boy your age…”

“Where did you even meet this guy?” I ask, still flabbergasted, but trying not to let it show. I don’t want to be acting like an immature idiot, but this is really throwing me off. “And how did I not notice you’ve been going out on all kinds of dates?”

“He brought his car into the dealership,” she tells me. “He asked me to lunch, and we ended up having lunch a few times. And then a couple dinners…”

“So when you said you were working late…” I mumble, piecing it all together.

“I’m so sorry I lied, Avi,” she whimpers, taking my hand between hers. “It’s just… this is all so new for me. You know I haven’t…” She pauses, her eyes falling to our hands. “I haven’t had a real relationship since your father.”

The way those words sting my chest feels like battery acid pumping through my veins.

My dad died when I was six. It’s been ten years, and my mom hasn’t had a meaningful relationship since. That sucks.

I don’t want her to be miserable. She’s still young, after all. Just because she lost the love of her life unexpectedly in a tragic accident, that shouldn’t mean she never gets to be with anyone else.

Granted, I know literally nothing about love. I’ve never even had a girlfriend… Unless you count Kelsey Lachlan in sixth grade, who I dated for three days. Or Taylor Nguyen, the girl I used to make out with on occasion back in Brooklyn. And I definitely don’t think I’d count them as anything relationship adjacent.

Really, it’s not that I don’t want to date, I just haven’t found anyone who’s swept me away… The way Tom apparently has to my mother.

“Oh, baby boy, I can see you spiraling,” Mom says, launching herself at me.

She grabs me in her arms and squeezes me tight, brushing her fingers through my hair. It reminds me of when I was little…

When we’d both be crying over the loss of my father.

“Mom, I’m not a child,” I grunt, wriggling out of her hold. “And I’m not fragile. I can handle you dating. I just wish you didn’t feel like you had to hide it from me…”

“I know, Av,” she squeaks. “You’re such a good son. That’s why I needed to tell you the truth.” She cups my jaw with her slender hand. “It’s just as strange for me to be feeling this way, I promise you.”

Nodding, I take one last heavy gulp, swallowing down my hesitations. It’s not the end of the world that my mom likes a guy. He’s just a guy. He’ll never be my father.

“So… you really like him?” I force a smile, and she grins.

I have to say, she looks years younger right now; illuminated by this new relationship. And not that I really want to dwell on these thoughts… but I guess it means this Tom person must be important to her.

“I do, Av,” she breathes. “He’s really great. I can’t wait for you to meet him.” My eyes go wide again, and she chuckles. “When you’re ready, of course.”

I let out a slow breath. For Mom…

I can be happy for her. I’m sure I can manage… meeting this guy.

And when I do, he’ll have to pass my test. If he’s not good enough for her, then this will be a very different conversation.

Suddenly, something she said sticks out in my mind. “You said he has a son my age?”

She nods enthusiastically. “Yes! I haven’t met him yet. We were waiting to talk to you both first…”

This is something they’ve been planning??

“Mom… How long have you actually been seeing this guy?” I narrow my gaze at her.

She chews on her bottom lip for a second before answering. “It’s been about… two months.”

“Two months?!” My eyes are bulging all over again. “We’ve only been living here for three months! Jeez, I guess the sharks are circling the chum here in Boston…”

“Avi!” She glares.

“Okay, fine. The pigs are hunting for truffles.” I grin while she stares at me. “You’re the truffle… ’cause they’re fancy.”

She pinches the bridge of her nose. “How did I make this person…”

My smirk widens.

“Aviel, I told you I’m sorry for keeping it from you,” she goes on, sighing regretfully. “Can you please not make me feel bad about this? It’s a strange situation, for all of us. I mean, Tom is coming out of a nasty divorce… We just wanted to make sure it was something real before we told you boys.”

My stomach clenches like a fist. The way she’s talking… it’s like we’re already a family. The four of us…

Me, Mom, Tom… and this other kid.

Stepbrother??

Whoa… trippy.

I’ve been an only child my whole life. I would have no idea how to be a brother…

“Mother, I have something very serious to ask you,” I mumble, and she gawks at me. “Can I please go smoke?”

She lets out a laugh, and it quirks my lips. Despite the unease slinking around inside me, she’s still my mother, and my best friend. Epic Momma’s Boy, reporting for duty. As long as we’re still us, I’m sure it’ll all work out.

But now I definitely need to mellow before I really do start spiraling.

“Okay…” Mom straightens. “You can go outside on the deck while I start dinner, and I’ll pretend I don’t know what you’re doing out there.”

I grin and stand up. “Thanks, Ma.”

She smiles, her voice stopping me before I can leave the room. “I love you, Avi.”

Pausing with my back to her, I peer over my shoulder to show her a casual smile that feels only a bit stilted. “Love you too, mother.”

On my way outside, with my joint already lit between my lips, tension grips my muscles and unease cradles my thoughts. I don’t want to think that things are about to change drastically, again, for the second time in three months…

But tell that to the weed I don’t stop smoking until it’s at my fingertips.

Sedate these rabid thoughts, please.


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