The Guy Next Door. by starlight


Justin and I were sitting on the beach. The festival was still going on but we wanted to stay where it was less crowded. Everyone else decided to go look around. Justin and I needed to talk about us; with all the other shit, we hadn’t had time.

He didn’t want me having to rearrange my whole life for him. I wanted us to stay here.

“I can be anywhere.” He tells me.

“Sometimes we'll need to go to Pittsburgh, but I can work from here. I think clients would like coming here for meetings. I could buy the house next door and use it for meetings and a place for them to stay while they’re here. Gran doesn't seem to want to live there.” I tell him.

“She only bought it thinking I might like privacy.” He tells me.

“I don’t want to go back, there's nothing there other than Gus. Lindsay and Mel would love coming here and Gus already loves it here. We can always go there if we want to see him.” I tell Justin.

“You don’t feel like Michael has anything to do with why you want to move away from your friends?” He asks me.

“If nothing happens to Michael, he would end up being a reason to leave, but I didn’t want to stay in Pittsburgh the rest of my life. I’ve always planned to leave there. I once thought I wanted to go to New York because it was where I thought I needed to be to say I made it in advertising. Coming here and finding out that Gran recommended me when she’s used those agencies told me it wasn’t location, but my reputation that made me one of the best. I want to be here because I found the place and the person that quiets my thoughts.” I tell him.


Brian and I were in the kitchen when the guys came in. They were still trying to figure out any way to get the church lady.

“Did you know that after they convert them they marry them off to each other?” Riley tells us.

“I don’t get it, I tried it once and it took thinking about a guy just to keep it up,” Emmett tells them.

“Ben tried talking to one of the couples. I don’t care what they say, one of the guys checked Ben out.” Daphne tells us.

“I don’t care what you drug me with, I’m gay and it doesn’t change because someone tells me it’s wrong,” I tell them.

“Whatever they did keeps anyone from saying a bad word about them,” Daphne tells them.

“I don’t get it, I sort of looked up some of the things that are done and that’s some twisted shit,” Blake tells me.

“Too bad we can’t undo all the hard work that made them think being gay was wrong,” Emmett tells us.

“Even if we did, what would it do to make them stop doing it?” Riley asks.

“They would be able to file charges if she did the same thing to them. They aren’t minors whose parents could consent. Two of the couples she sent to invite the kids in town to her church were our age.” Ben tells us.

“Convert the converted. Right now you're dealing with the aftermath of being cured from what they now view as a disease. When you recover from a disease, you don’t bad mouth the doctor whose treatment you might have hated at the time, you sing his praises.” Gran tells us.

“How would you even go about undoing what is essentially brainwashing, that apparently started with your family and led to being involved with the old witch?” Emmett asks us.

“I’m sure you boys all had your tricks to land men, just use them to show that being gay isn’t something you can turn on and off.” She tells us.

“Want to go to church tonight? Look at it this way, we put them out of business and hey, maybe she can make Michael’s stay in jail fun.” Riley asks us all.

“They have a meet and greet after church, where they like to work the crowd, answering questions. Get me a person who will talk and I’ll get them to make a statement.” Mel tells us.

“You all make it too complicated,” Daphne tells us.

“What’s your suggestion?” Riley asks her.

“Show up, hang around and see if the assholes have anywhere they don’t want you going in the house. They aren’t going to want anyone accidentally finding anything. They are only having this open house so it looks like they have nothing to hide. We get there and invent a reason for the cops to look where they don’t want anyone to go.” She tells them.



We’d been there for a couple of hours, being told how we were denying ourselves all the things God wanted for us. Everyone was welcome anywhere on the first floor. The cops showed up at the front door and Church Lady tried to tell them it must have been a prank call.


“Hey, a kid told me to go upstairs if I wanted to get stoned. I thought you should have the cops explain to them drugs are bad.” Riley tells the church lady.

“There aren’t any kids in my house.” She tells him, looking worried.

“I saw the bong pipe and want to save the poor souls,” Riley tells her.

The cops went upstairs past her when she tried to stop them. We all made it so she couldn’t leave as we heard more police being called. When they came down and handcuffed her, she told us it wouldn’t save our friend being like us.

“You can try to save him while sitting in the cell next to him,” Brian tells her.


I was driving into town after flying back from a business trip. Gran hired Kinnetik to take over her campaign. It meant me having to be in Pittsburgh more than I had in the last year. Justin had a convention to attend for Time Bender. People were going crazy when they found out the man who Time Bender ran from had been the person who sent Time Bender the messages when the real villains were rewriting time. It helped that he didn’t turn it into a romance comic, the relationship was established, but he wanted the comic to show how the partnership made Time Bender stronger.

Michael didn’t get off as easy as everyone thought he would. He couldn’t prove he was drugged or kept in the house, like the three people the cops found. Church lady wasn't going to add to the kidnapping charges. Michael ended up getting a year in jail and three years of probation that Carl made sure he had to serve in Pittsburgh. Michael tried to get sympathy from all our friends about being kidnapped and drugged. He complained to everyone, saying who knows what might have been done to him when they drugged him. He got doors slammed in his face and Mel slapping a restraining order on him from the whole town of Sandcove. The sheriff wasn’t going to have Michael bothering anyone in this town.

Justin and I made it work when life had us away from Sandcove. When he started feeling the pull to not sleep, but to stay all night up, he flew to where I was and it was all he needed. My business picked up when clients would show up thinking ‘why not get a vacation out of a business trip’. My team came and gave them a reason to hire Kinnetik. Justin didn’t argue anymore about staying in Sandcove affecting my business. He also made it so Gus could visit most weekends and the girls found it easier to take vacations together, knowing Gus was with us in Sandcove. Mel told Justin that they both wanted to eventually move here.

We bought Gran’s house when she started dating again. Telling us that detectives really knew how to get down to business. It didn’t help when she and Deb would want to give each other details, loud enough for all of us to hear. The guys ran to the water, praying for a wave to swallow them.

Riley took Emmett with him to most of his competitions and stayed with him in Pittsburgh, before telling Emmett steel versus ocean was a no brainer. Emmett worked with Ginger on the clothing line, which meant Riley didn’t have to. Ginger told Emmett he was the brother she never had. Riley was just happy not to attend meetings. Emmett found the family he lost when Riley came along. Riley found someone who could let him have fun without trying to kill himself.

Ted and Blake stayed in Pittsburgh so Ted and Cynthia could run Kinnetik. They had a long distance relationship for a couple of months before Ted begged Blake to stay. Blake packed up and headed for Pittsburgh.

Ben sold his book and found moderate success with it. For a while, he talked about it being time to move on and maybe get back into teaching. Justin said Ben felt left out when all of them got in relationships but him. Ben told me he really never meant to stay, it was just a place to heal for him at first, but it became hard to leave a town like this. Paul came to work on an account four months after leaving and Gran rented him a house next door to Ben, saying it worked for me. I understood. I never planned on staying either, until I met the guy next door.



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