A Hero Ends With You

Story by Sparrow Wolfess on SoFurry

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Sean lays in bed, waiting for his alarm clock to sound off, shrieking at him that it's time to wake up, head to school, do the same kind of work he does every day, get teased and bullied and come home. Looking over at the same clock that'll remind him to brace himself for the day, it reads in red LED numbers, "5:04 AM". He hasn't slept; how could Sean have had a nice, restful night's sleep with all that's going on in his head.

I just feel so alone. Ever since I told my mom that I might be gay, she's treated me like so much less. She's looked at me oddly, left bible verses all over the house in plain sight. I just can't catch a break, I just want peace. I need a hero. I need a knight to whisk me away and take me out of this stupid... life.

Shaking his head, Sean sits up and turns his alarm clock off before it has a chance to shout without mercy. Swinging his legs over the side of his bed, he looks at his feet and sighs. Standing, he walks into the bathroom in his room and flicks on the light. Immediately he sees his reflection.

I haven't even slept and my whiskers already look as if I rolled around a bunch. Eh... I probably did without realizing. The young fox admires his face in the mirror, starting from his black-tipped ears down his brightly orange-furred face. Opening his maw, he looks at his teeth and closes his mouth again. I can't really be bothered to groom... what would be the point? Nobody to impress.

Leaving his bathroom, Sean moves back into his bedroom and picks up a pair of jeans and a yellow shirt from the floor, slipping them on and leaving his room. He sighs with nearly every step, all the way to the kitchen where he figures he should eat something.

There are a few hours left before Sean needs to head to school, so a quick breakfast of leftover pizza and a cola sounded like the fasted solution. Heaping a plate with two large slices, Sean carries his cola and pizza into the sitting room where he plops on the sofa and turns on the television. The flickering lights in the darkness display an old cartoon - a black and white version of an old Bugs Bunny episode. As Sean blankly stares at the cartoon, he wraps his tail over his lap and continues eating his breakfast.

After thirty minutes of old-school cartoons, Sean's mother comes down the stairs, dressed in her light green robe and matching slippers. She looks over to the sofa, seeing Sean sitting quietly, eating his breakfast.

"Did you pray before eating that?" Sean's mother asks, "You know we pray before meals."

"Yeah, I did, Mom," Sean lies, sighing as he takes another bite.

"Good boy," says Mom a bit sternly, walking past the television into the kitchen, where she starts a pot of coffee.

"Yeah," Sean says under his breath, finishing his pizza. Again, his mind begins to wander. Dreaming of his perfect hero, Sean begins to feel a sense of emptiness as he dwells again on the subject. Maybe she... or... he... will be strong and protective. All I really want is someone calm and nice with a good sense of humor. I don't know. If I brought home a boy, Mom would completely disown me. I just know it. If I brought home a girl, Mom would just accuse me of having sex or something. I know she's got her religion, but I honestly wish she'd stop pushing it on me.

As the time comes, Sean gets his things ready to head off to school. The walk is - as usual - peaceful and quiet. The chilly morning air is calming and fills Sean's lungs and mind with a refreshing coolness.

But, also as usual, that peace is interrupted by students driving by. The Jackal Brothers, Ferald, Gary, and Hector drive close in their hand-me-down pickup truck, hanging their tails out the window and heckling Sean as they slow down to taunt him.

"Hey, gay boy!" shouts Ferald, "You like lookin' at my brother's ass, huh!? Don't touch it!" he laughs.

Sean lowers his ears and keeps his furrowed gaze ahead of himself. Trying his best to ignore the background heckling, Sean grits his teeth and presses on, simply getting to school.

"Hey! Homo!" Gary shouts, "Don't rape me!"

Sean has enough. He stops in his tracks and faces the trio, "That's enough! Look, whatever I am in my life has nothing to do with you, and stop joking around with stuff like rape! It's not funny and you're not cool for doing that!"

"Oh, he's pissed!" Ferald laughs.

"Come on, let's go meet our friends before the little fox collects them all," Hector says behind the wheel, speeding up the truck and heading into the school's parking lot.

I really just don't want to go today. I don't want to be trapped inside walls where hatred and cruelty is welcome. Ugh... I just... you know what? "Screw this... I'm ditching... I'm not putting up with this crap today."

Rather than making a left turn to go to his high school, Sean continues on straight, walking into town. Being a junior in high school, he looks tall enough to be mistaken as an adult. Taking the opportunity, Sean heads to the nearest movie theater to see what's playing. The streets aren't all that busy, so reaching the theater is a quick brisk across a few parking lots.

Sean looks above him and sees the titles that are currently playing. A horror movie called Don't go in There!_is playing, as is a romantic comedy called _Remembering Kristen. This has been a big topic among the girls at school. It's supposed to star a silver wolfess playing Kristen Declan, an aspiring actress who finds fame, but chooses an average young raccoon named Dean played by James LeRock, an A-list actor, to be her mate. Instead of dating celebrities, Kristen dates Dean and has a happy life with him.

This is an obvious choice... I really want to see this! Finally it came here. Sean checks his pockets and sees he's got thirty dollars. Five dollars was supposed to be his lunch money for the day, and the rest to just have on him for vending machines, snacks on the way home, and whatever else he'd need it for. Fifteen dollars for a movie ticket and five dollars on movie snacks sounds like a much better use.

Approaching the ticket vendor, Sean swishes his tail in anticipation, "One for Remembering Kristen please."

An old-looking Basset Hound smiles and nods, dispensing a purple colored ticket and holding out his paw, "Only fifteen dollars, young man."

Sean hands over the money and takes his ticket, "Thanks!"

"Enjoy the movie, thanks for coming."

With an arm holding onto a popcorn bucket and another holding onto a large cup of soda, Sean makes his way to the designated theater. It's already a bit dark. Luckily the floor is lit up a bit so he can watch his step. Sean can feel the stickiness of the floor on his paw pads, but ignores it. He finds a seat and sits down, politely folding his tail across his lap and using it to balance his popcorn and his soda without them tipping over.

"Man, this movie's lame," laughs someone next to him. Sean looks to his left and sees a Leopard smiling, "Kidding... it's a joke. 'Cause the movie hasn't started?"

"Oh, haha... yeah, I get it." Sean says, looking awkwardly away, avoiding conversation.

"Best part, in my opinion! I love the part where it's all... blank." the white leopard teases, pointing at the blank, silver screen. "Ooh, intense."

Is this guy for real? He thinks it's funny, but he's kind of annoying. "Haha, yeah... hey, uh, not to be rude, but... uh, no, I'll find a different spot. Haha, sorry."

"Oh, hey now - wait a sec. Movie's gonna start! They say the beginning is the important part in this one. If ya miss it, can't say I didn't warn ya," the leopard says, running a paw through his snowy white bangs.

"Uh... okay, but... I'm not much of a talker..."

"We're in a movie theater. I'll shut up once the movie's on, I promise," the leopard chuckles, "Oh, uh... I'm Danny. Nice to meet ya."

"I'm... I'm Sean."

"You look, and sound, a little young. Playin' hooky?" Danny laughs.

"Uh, actually... yeah."

Danny leans toward Sean, "Me too. I'm a Senior in the high school a town over. Don't tell my teacher and I won't tell yours."

Sean could feel his heart beating as the leopard smiles at him. Danny relaxes in his theater chair and his muscles can be seen, rippling a bit. Sean begins to feel a bit warm, but soon he's startled.

"You alright? Something on my shirt?" Danny asks, looking at his red shirt.

"N-no! No I just..."

"Oh... is it my pride bracelet? You're not offended, are you?" Danny asks, sounding a bit worried.

"Price bracelet?" Sean asks. His bracelet... it's got a rainbow charm on it. He's... gay? Looking at him, he seems kind of cute... but I don't know if his eccentric personality would be a good... match. "No, I'm not offended at all. In fact, I'm... kinda figuring myself out."

"Really? Huh." Danny says, sitting back in his chair, watching as the previews for other movies begin to play. "Well," Danny whispers, "If you're ever curious about stuff, you can talk to me. Who knows, maybe we can be buds, yeah?"

"Hah, y-yeah... I'd like that."

Sean and Danny share whispers and conversations throughout the movie. Sean learns a lot more about what it means to be homosexual and how one can tell if they are or aren't. The best piece of advice Danny had given Sean was "Even if you don't want to call it 'gay', just call it 'being yourself'. The heart cannot help who it falls in love with."

"The problem is... my mom is hella religious," Sean whispers, "If I ever brought a guy home, she'd probably disown me, or hire an exorcist or something."

"Yo, just tell her that you're the same little fox she's always loved since day one. All that's different is that you might like guys. Big deal." Danny says, putting a paw on Sean's shoulder. "If you want, I know a nice support group if you ever decide you need people to talk to."

Sean looks at Danny's paw on his shoulder and his heart skips a beat. The movie, Danny's voice, even the small chatter among the others in the theater fade to background noise. Sean can only hear the sound of his own heart beating.

"You okay?" Danny whispers, "Sean?"

"Uh, yeah," Sean says, casually taking a sip of his drink and eating a handful of popcorn, "Yeah, I'm good. I'm great!"

"Sshh!" whispers a squirrel in the seat below Sean.

"Sorry," he whispers, looking back to Danny.

"Wanna get out of here? The movie doesn't seem too interesting. I know a nice café, we can get to know each other." Danny smiles, standing.

"Actually, I'd like that," Sean whispers.

Having only his drink from the theater, Sean dumps his popcorn into the waste receptacle outside the theater. Following Danny, Sean can't help but watch Danny's tail swish elegantly as he walks. Stop staring! Don't be such a creep... you barely know him.

Danny looks back, noticing that Sean looks distracted, "Hey, you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine..." Sean says, smiling and feeling his face heat up, "I'm just nervous."

"Nervous? Oh, about your mom?"

"Uh, yeah. That's one thing."

Danny and Sean cross the street and walk a few blocks while Danny attempts conversation. Sean nods and smiles awkwardly while his thoughts race, all up until they get to the café. Danny holds the door open for Sean, allowing him to enter first.

The café's interior seems inviting. The smell of freshly brewed coffees and baked goods fill the air as a soft, plush carpet greets their footpads. The warm, inviting glow of the café feels comfortable and it's relatively quiet.

Danny and Sean approach the counter.

"I'll have some sweet tea and... one of those muffins looks good," Sean says.

"That does sound good. I'll have the same," Danny says, reaching into his pocket and bringing out a twenty dollar bill.

"These aren't that expensive," Sean chuckles.

"I know," Danny chuckles back, handing the twenty to the barista, "Thanks!"

He just bough be tea and a muffin... I could have bought it. I'll pay him back, then. "Here..." Sean says, handing over the cost of his tea and muffin, ten dollars.

"What's that for?" Danny says, turning his ears backward.

"Paying you back for the tea and muffin," Sean smiles, "I could have paid for it myself, but..."

"Nah, keep that. It's my treat. So... you said in the theater that you're worried about you mom finding out you like guys." Danny says, taking a sip of his tea. "She's super religious or something."

"Yeah," Sean says, peeling the wrapper off his muffin, "She hides bible verses around and I guess she _suspects_that I like men... but... I'm not sure if I should just... you know. Tell her."

"Coming out as gay or bi or lesbian or whatever you are is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever_be a mandatory thing. Coming out is completely up to you. So what if you like dudes? My father still has no idea. Doubt he'll ever know." Danny smiles, biting into his blueberry muffin, "And he doesn't _have to know."

Danny's being pretty supportive. I feel like I've known him all my life, though I just met him an hour or so ago. And why did he pay for my things?

"Hey, can I ask... something... odd?" Sean asks, swirling his straw around in his glass of tea.

"Yeah, ask away. Shoot."

"Is this... maybe..." Sean can feel his face heating up and the fur on his cheeks and neck standing on end. His tail twitches nervously as his hears flatten against his skull, "Danny... is this... like, a date?"

Danny sits silently for a moment, ceasing his chewing. Soon, the white of his cheeks' fur turns a light pink, "Well... I'll be honest. When I saw you... I immediately thought you were pretty cute."

"Me?" Sean asks quietly, slumping back into his chair, "N-naw... I'm not..."

"I've never seen fur that bright. When I looked at you, I felt happy. See, reason I'm playing hooky is... I get bullied a lot. I get so much shit at my school, you wouldn't believe it. I just tell my dad all my scars are sports injuries." Danny says, lifting up the sleeve on his shoulder revealing a large, closed, healing scar. "Someone decided to try fighting me after school... openly admitted to being a homophobe, telling me I deserved to die and whatever... and so he tried to fight me."

"Holy crap..." Sean whispers in awe, "I get bullied, too... but not that bad."

Danny sighs, "I had actually considered ending my life a few times... today being one of the days. I wanted to just have a peaceful, nice day to myself... catch a movie, go out to eat, just blend into the background before...you know."

"You were going to kill yourself... today?"

Danny nods, looking down at his muffin in shame.

"Hey... I've thought about it too. But... lately I've just been having this thought. I mean, even if I'm... gay...." Sean sighs, "s-someone out there loves me, right?"

"Of course." Danny nods.

"So... I hang onto that. Somewhere, someday... someone will look at me and say 'I want to be with him forever. He completes me'." Sean smiles to himself, "Someone will be my hero and whisk me away from all the hate and the pain in my life... and I'll be happy."

"You were kind of my hero today, Sean." Danny smiles reaching a paw out over the table and touching Sean's, "You really were. I hope this doesn't seem creepy or something but... you're really something."

Sean feels his face blushing even deeper. His eyes widen, further accentuating his coffee brown irises. His fur turns fluffy with fear, but a good fear.

This is it? Someone is interested in me? I feel... wait... I was the hero? "I... I'm not really a hero..."

Danny furrows his brow, "Sean, you're the only person who has really been actually nice to me lately. Even my old man can be rough sometimes, always expecting me to be manly and not like the things I like." Danny's paw begins kneading as a purring escapes from his throat, "You've really saved me. You're a hero to me."

Sean sprouts a tear in his eye, drooping his ears to the side as he looks at the happy looking leopard before him, smiling peacefully with gentle blue eyes. His stomach twists a bit and a lump forms in his throat. He feels himself ready to speak, and he can't believe his own words.

"Danny... do you uh... maybe... want to try... dating?" Sean stutters, blushing badly and choking on his nervous words.

"Sean... I... my God. I would love that." Danny says, his blue eyes lighting up like a Christmas tree. "I would so, absolutely love to date you!"

Sean smiles and sighs, relieved, as day goes on. Time seems to fly like he can't believe. This was the first time in a long, long time that Sean had actually smiles and felt like himself. Every time Danny would cross his tail over Sean's, Sean could feel a sense of joy. A small spark was ignited in him, and ever slowly it grows into a flame.

In the end, dreaming of a hero is one thing, but becoming a hero has much greater impact on this world.

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