Off to College Ch. 01byJTQuinton©
Everything had a slight yellow color from the lights overhead as Raven waited for the last bell of the day. He glanced around the room wondering how many of his fellow classmates he would see again after graduation the next week. His eyes caught on his best friend and he felt the smile start to slip over his face. The young man sitting quietly on the other side of the room had been Raven's best friend for years. They were nearly complete opposites in every way, but they had become fast friends. The day Matthew had arrived scared and alone on the first day of second grade Raven became his friend and protector. As Raven's mind started to drift his attention was recaptured by the instructor's voice. "Well everyone I want to thank you for a good year. I hope your summer goes well." Moments later the bell rang releasing school for the last time until fall.
Raven stood up, gathered his things and slipped from the room without a word to anyone. At his locker he grabbed the leather backpack he always carried his things in and started to turn away leaving the door hang open. "Hey thought you were going to wait for me?" The voice came from behind him causing him to jump and bash his shoulder into the open locker door.
"I'm still here aren't I?" he spun around and was immediately caught by Matthew's vibrant green eyes. His mind spun for another moment before he was able to get everything under control.
"True, but I wondered with the way you bolted after class." Matthew continued opening his own locker and grabbing his patchwork backpack out of it.
"Are we still heading out to the lake in the morning?" Raven asked turning to head down the hall toward the main doors of the school.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world." he tossed his patchwork bag over his shoulder with a smile. "I mean, a weekend with no parents and no responsibility. How can it go wrong?"
Raven just smiled, he wasn't about to voice any of the thoughts running through his mind. There wasn't anything he could think of that would make him tell the secret that he had kept since the summer before his freshman year. "Right. Just a pair of guys hanging out and getting drunk. Nothing bad can possibly come of that." he laughed.
The two of them made their way out of the school and across the parking lot to Matthew's car. As usual raven climbed in behind the wheel as Matthew gracefully dropped into the passenger seat. "You know someday I should really think about actually driving my own car once."
As he pulled out of the parking lot Raven glanced over at his friend, "Right you only let your parents buy the thing because you hated riding the bus. You don't use it other than for me to drive you back and forth to school, and anywhere else you need to go that you can't get your grandmother to take you."
"So, I enjoy letting you drive me around." he responded turning away to look out the window and hide what he knew must be shining in his eyes. It wasn't time yet to tell that secret. He didn't know if it ever would be.
Raven caught the sad look in his friend's eyes just before he managed to turn away, "What's got you worried Matthew?"
Matthew took a deep breath and faced his friend. It looked like time had come to get at least some of it out in the open. "I got accepted at State. Got the letter yesterday."
Raven's eyes flashed with pride for his friend, "That's great. So why are you worried?" he asked with a grin.
The light of pride in Matthew's eyes faded, "That's on the other end of the state." he said simply.
Raven suddenly knew what was bothering his friend, "You mean to tell me you are worried about the two of us leaving this foolish little town to face the big city and college life?" he fought to keep a straight face as he watched Matthew's face brighten.
"You ass. You didn't tell me you got your letter too."
"Nope, I was going to tell you this weekend. My parents don't even know yet." Raven smiled maneuvering the mustang around one of the hairpin turns at the edge of town. He loved driving the car, and knew it was going to be hard to leave it behind for a year as freshman couldn't have cars on campus.
"So we head to State this fall. Nice. After all they do have the best criminal law department on the west coast." Matthew knew it wasn't his only reason for wanting to go to State, but he was too scared still to admit the rest of the reasons to anyone but himself.
Raven smiled and carefully maneuvered the car down the road leading out of town, "My house or yours?"
Matthew laughed, "Yours, mine is a mess with packing and all. You also have the better TV."
"You mean my parents have the better TV. Mine is already packed and waiting in the garage to go to State." Raven told him slowing to a stop in front of an iron gate crossing the road. He waited while Matthew climbed out and opened the gate. They had done this so many times before that he wasn't surprised when he waited for him to pull through instead of getting back in the car before he closed and locked the gate behind them.
"You know I never did understand why your parents gate this place. It's not like they are rich or anything."
"You're right, they aren't. The only reason I can think of that they put that gate in to begin with was my older brother and his friends when he was in high school."
Matthew smiled, "Your older brother was insane. I don't mean to insult or anything but the man was just not in his right mind most of the time."
"You think maybe? That man killed six people and he was only 17 years old. I may have been only 5 when it happened, but I remember all the people coming out." Raven explained as he drove past the hedge line and up to the front of the house.
Matthew was about to say something when he caught sight of Raven's mother standing at the top of the stairs. "I thought they were out for the evening?" Raven parked at the base of the stairs where he always did, "Not yet. They are going out for a romantic dinner about seven o'clock."
"Sounds like a good thing."
"For them it is. After the stress of them trying to get me to go to my father's old college they need a break from me and I need more than a break from them." Raven felt a slight bit of anger creeping into his voice and tried to soften it with a smile. "Sorry they just make me so made with that damn college he went to. I do not want to go to a local college I want to get out of this damn little town for at least a couple of years."
"What college did he go to around here?" Matthew asked not able to remember if he ever knew.
Raven glanced at his mother who was still standing at the top of the stairs waiting for them. "Lane University, It's an all male technical university that doesn't have the programs I want. You see my father can't see me going in the law direction. He wants me to be a tool geek like him."
Matthew laughed as he reached for the car door handle. "Yeah right you a toll jockey. I don't think so. You want to be more into the darker side of life."
Raven climbed out of the car before answering his friend, "Darker side of life, thanks. Just because I want to work crime scenes doesn't mean I like the darker side of life." he waited at the edge of the steps for Matthew before heading up to face the anger he could see in his mother's eyes.
They had only made it about three steps up when she started in on him. "So Raven have you come to your senses, and decided to follow in your father's footsteps?"
He shook his head, "No mom, I am not going to Lane. I am in fact going to State. I have been accepted into their criminal law program." He hoped she wouldn't get going too fast. He wasn't in the mood for an argument over school.
"I can't understand why you want to go into the career, but I'm not going to push anymore. You are old enough to make your own choices." She told him watching as the two men climbed the steps. She moved back out of the way letting them into the front door of the house.
Raven glanced at the back of Matthew's head and fought to hold his thoughts in his head, "Thank you Mom. Are you and Dad still going out to dinner tonight?"
She smiled, "Yes. My next question is are you and Matthew still going to the lake this weekend?"
Matthew spoke up before Raven could answer, "Yes. It's the last weekend before graduation. We thought it would be nice to spend the time relaxing." he fought to keep his voice even and the nerves that were causing butterflies in his stomach under control.
Shelli caught the look on Matthew's face, but decided instantly that she wasn't going to stay anything about it. "Well the camping things are in the garage on the far wall." she turned away and walked over to the sideboard and poured herself a short tumbler of dark whiskey.
Raven felt her eyes boring a whole into the back of his head and turned to Matthew. "Hey why don't you head out and start packing the car. I want to chat with my mom for a moment."
Matthew looked from his friend to Shelli and back for a moment. "Sure. See you in a few." he didn't know what his friend wanted to talk to her about but he had learned long ago the strained relationship between Raven and his mother could use all the help it could get. He glanced back once but didn't slow down on his way out to the car.
Raven tilted his head and looked at his mother, "What is it that you have to say now?"
Shelli sighed, she wasn't sure it was a good idea to open the can of worms she was about to, but she was tired of dancing around what she knew. "Have you told him?"
"Told who what mom?" he asked completely confused by the change in subject. She shook her head, "Have you told that man you are in love with him?" her voice was steady and calm, while her eyes were dancing.
Raven stepped back and spun his eyes toward the door of the room. Matthew wasn't anywhere to be seen. "Damn it mom. How could you say such a thing? he asked his own voice shaking.
She laughed glancing at the door herself. She wasn't going to tell her son what she thought she saw in Matthew's eyes, however she was tired of seeing him hide the truth from himself. "Because my dear boy I know you. You may not get along with your father, but we have always been close. Maybe not as much in the last year or so. That is my fault. I didn't want to face what I could see." she paused hoping that she wasn't causing him any pain by going into this. She could see the shadow in his eyes starting to fade.
"What do you mean mom?" he asked dropping into the chair near the door.
"About a year ago I noticed how you look at Matthew. I left it be because in all honesty I didn't want to think that you might be gay." she lifted her hand as he started to say something. "No, let me finish before you say anything. You are my son, and nothing will ever make me stop loving you. I have always known you were different from other kids. You never wanted to play cars, or climb trees like the other boys. All you could think about was solving those old mysteries your grandfather would come up with."
Raven interrupted his mother, "I loved those mysteries."
"I know you did. It took me a long time to figure out that you were not going to be happy following in your father's footsteps and I will admit that I fought it every step of the way, but in the end I began to understand things a few months ago when I saw you mail out the application for State." she paused to look out the window for a moment before continuing, "That was about the time I noticed that you were spending more and more time with Matthew. I mean you two have always been the best of friends since the moment his parents moved here when you were in the second grade. I never thought anything would come between you and I guess I was right. Though I didn't think that you would fall in love with him. I was actually hoping you might fall for Karen."
Raven snapped his head up to look at his mother, "Karen of all the girls I know why would you want Karen?" he needed something to focus on for a minute while he absorbed the fact that his mother knew he was in love with his best friend and it looked like she had figured it out before he had.
"I'm not sure, back then I simply thought she would be a good choice for you. I wasn't ready to face what I knew in my heart." she dropped her head starting to think that Raven was upset with her. "Are you angry with me son?" she asked quietly.
Raven looked her in the eyes and saw the fear there, "No. I just didn't realize that you knew what was going on with my heart. I only figured it out a few weeks ago."
Shelli smiled, "I'm just glad you figured it out. Now I don't want to stick my nose any farther into your business than I already have, but there is one more thing I feel I have to say."
Raven took a deep breath, "What is that mom?"
She moved over and dropped into one of the chairs with a tired sigh. "I want you to promise me something. I want you to promise me that you will give him a fair chance." she looked him directly in the eyes as she finished speaking.
Raven felt his cheeks flame in a blush, "I can make you that promise mom. I'm just not sure he is going to want it. I remember the girls he dated over the last few years in high school."
"I can understand that. Now get out there and help him get things packed up for your trip."
He stood up with a smile and turned toward the door. "Thanks for caring mom. I just hope if things go well dad will be as open minded as you are."
Shelli coughed, "Don't count on it, but don't let what that old man thinks keep you from being happy with the person you love." She waved as he walked out of the library.
Raven keep his steps slow and steady as he made his way out to the car where Matthew was packing the things for their trip. He still wasn't sure what to say to his friend or how to say it so he just picked up one of the bags and helped pack the car.
Within a few moments the car was packed and they were getting ready to leave when Raven's father pulled into the drive behind him. "Just what I wanted to deal with today. Mom was strange enough, I have no idea what he is going to have to say to me." Raven mumbled before turning to face his father as the man climbed out of his car.
"Hello Father." He snapped out with what little respect he could gather.
"Son." The tone was cold and the man didn't spare a simply glance at Matthew. "I see you managed to get home to see your mother." He closed the door of his car and took a single step closer to his eldest son.
"I try to see her as often as I can. Is there something that I can do for you father? I was on my way out to the lake for the weekend." Raven fought to keep his temper under control, but could feel the anger creeping up.
"Yes there is. Your grandfather and I have been talking to our lawyer. We have decided that if you continue to be obstinate and go to State we will be cutting you out of our wills."