By: Dreams

Disclaimers: Nope, sorry, can't say there are any. All of the characters are mine. I take full responsibility for all of their actions. Hmm ... On second thought ... I've never seen them before in my life. They just followed me home one day ... really ...

Violence/Sex: No violence, I don't think. I guess that would depend on what you mean by "violence" ... I don't think there is any. You can decide for yourself. And sex? Umm ... I'll go on the safe side and say there will be. But don't go suing me for false advertisement if you can't find any. It really depends on what you mean by sex. As there are people in some cultures that show their affection by licking each other's eyeballs, it is possible that my definition of sex may be different than yours. Mine may involve cows in ballet slippers for instance ... wait, that doesn't sound right ...

Warning: This story involves an in-the closet actress, online relationships, Puerto Ricans, the Spanish language, Starbucks coffee, angels, boyfriends, sexual relationships between women .. and a ton of other random things that poured forth from my artistic loins. If none of the above things interest you, then you may not want to partake in this little tour of my demented psyche.

Dedication: to you and you and you you and you .. to people living with living with ... ::notices there are people watching:: Ahem. Sorry. Too much "RENT" for me. Strike that. There can never be too much RENT. Unless it's the kind you have to pay. But my point.. and I do have one .. is that this story is dedicated to you. Thank you for taking the time to delve into my madness. What a brave soul you are .. muahahaha <coughcough>

Special Thanks: To Amber, Cindy, Camilla, Christy, Amy, and Robin. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know what I'd do without you guys.

Write me: Cause I'd love to know what you think. I may be reached at amazonkiwi@aol.com


13

Kris decided it was time to face the music. So that Sunday she got on the subway and headed uptown to Queens. William's apartment was in a relatively nice neighborhood. He shared it with some guy named Mark, whom Kris had never really met.

At the front steps, she hesitated before pushing the button that would announce her arrival. William wasn't expecting her, and she hoped he wasn't busy.

"Yeah?" came a voice through the intercom.

Kris didn't recognize it as her brother's so she guessed it was Mark. "Uh, hi. My name is Kris Milano. I'm here to see William."

There was a pause and then a beeping noise announcing the door was unlocked. She stepped inside, making sure to shut the door behind her. William's apartment was on the second floor, so she headed in that direction.

William was waiting for her when Kris walked up. "Kris," he said, sounding surprised. "I wasn't expecting you."

"Am I interrupting?" Kris asked, worried she'd come at a bad time.

"No, no," William assured her, stepping aside. "Come in."

The apartment was small. One bedroom, one bathroom, one kitchen that doubled as a living room. Kris found herself wondering where William's roommate slept, though she was starting to get the idea.

Kris stared at the wall for a moment as she noticed one of her paintings framed and proudly displayed. She remembered that painting. She'd given it to William when he'd moved out. It was of the family on one side and William on the other, with the moon at top center, uniting the two. "You still have that," she said, surprised.

William smiled beside her. "Of course," he responded, "It's gonna be worth millions some day."

Kris grinned at her brother.

Mark appeared in front of her a moment later. He smiled as he offered his hand. "Mark Welch," he said, smiling brightly.

Kris shook his hand and smiled back. "Nice to meet you." He wasn't exactly what she'd expected. For one, he wasn't Puerto Rican. More like the all-American type. Blonde hair, blue eyes, surfer boy tan. And he didn't really seem gay at all. Then again, neither did William.

"Want anything to drink?" Mark offered.

"No thanks," Kris replied.

William led her to the living room/kitchen and offered her a seat on the ratty old couch he'd found on the sidewalk somewhere.

Kris watch the two guys sit down at the kitchen table in front of her. They stared at her expectantly and she decided it would be best for her to begin. "I came to see how you were doing," she said to William. "We haven't really talked since you know." She wasn't entirely sure what to call it.

William shrugged. "I've been fine," he responded. "It's not like I wasn't expecting that kind of reaction." He watched her for a moment. "How are they doing with it?"

Kris shook her head. "It's now a taboo subject," she replied. "Nathan brought you up at dinner on Friday and Carlos snapped. They're definitely not coping well."

"And you?" William asked.

Kris hesitated, glancing at Mark. She felt a bit odd having this conversation with her brother's roommate in the room.

Mark seemed to sense this because he rose. "Perhaps, I'll go take a walk and let the two of you talk."

William held up his hand to stop him. "No, stay. Please."

Mark sat back down, casting apologetic eyes on Kris.

"I love you, William," Kris finally replied, smiling slightly. "I don't care if you're gay. I was just shocked, you know? It was probably the last thing I thought you'd say. But Leigh helped me regain my senses on the subject. You broke her heart, by the way."

William laughed, obviously relieved. "I'm sure she'll get over it."

Kris looked over at Mark. "So, Mark, where do you sleep?" she asked, trying to keep a straight face.

Mark looked totally shocked by the question. He opened his mouth to respond but nothing came out. He just looked helplessly at William.

"With me," William replied hesitantly.

Kris did her best not to laugh. They both looked kind of cute all blushing and nervous-like. "I see," she said. "I'm gonna have to tell Carlos."

William's eyes widened.

Kris finally started laughing, feeling better than she had in a while. This wasn't so bad.

"I hate you," William said, laughing along.

Kris smiled at her brother. "You love me," she told him. "So how long have you two been together?" Finally, the mysteries of her brother's life revealed. She couldn't remember the last time she'd known about any of his relationships. For a while, she'd thought that William was asexual. Ironically, it never occurred to her that he may be gay.

Mark spoke up. "Two and a half years," he answered, proudly.

Wow. That must've been tough hiding it all that time. Kris suddenly felt bad for her brother. Two and a half years was a long time to keep something like this a secret. It couldn't have been easy for him.

"So, what happened on Friday?" William asked suddenly. "Leigh called. She wanted to know if I'd seen you."

Kris sat back on the couch with a sigh. "Nathan was pissing me off," she responded. "Carlos, too. I just needed to get away for a few hours."

"Why were they pissing you off?" William wondered.

"Because they want to rule my life," Kris responded simply. "Nathan was talking about me transferring to Harvard and getting married and having kids. And Carlos was all for the idea."

Mark shook his head. "What did you tell them?"

"Nothing," Kris admitted. "I blew up at Leigh later."

William leaned forward. "Kris, you don't have to do what they tell you," he told her. "They're not going to be happy unless you do exactly what they want, but you don't have to forsake your happiness for theirs. They've lived their lives already. You live yours."

Kris smiled at her brother. "Thank you," she said. "I just wish I was as brave as you."

Mark laughed. "Him? Brave? Please. You should've seen him run out of the apartment the other day cause there was a little mouse in the bathroom."

"You were scared of a little mouse?" Kris teased. "You? Mr. I'm-So-Manly?"

William glared at Mark. "You're in big trouble."

Mark stuck out his tongue. "I'm so scared."

Kris smiled. She liked Mark already. He reminded her of a little kid, even though he had to be close to William's age. Kris estimated he was about twenty-five or twenty-six. Though he looked more like twenty. The Winnie-the-Pooh tee shirt didn't help.

"So, how's business?" William asked. "Sell anything else since the last time?"

Kris shook her head. "I sat out there yesterday for a few hours but it looked like it was going to rain, so I packed everything up." She brightened. "Oh, but I received my first fan mail."

William appeared interested. "Do tell."

"This person, J.R.," she explained. "I'm not sure if it's a guy or a girl though. I should ask. Well, anyway they wanted to know if had a gallery of my work." She laughed. "We've been emailing back and forth for the past week or so."

William clapped slightly. "Good work."

Kris beamed. "Why thank you."

"How are things with you and Nathan?"

Kris's smile disappeared. "They're okay."

"That doesn't sound good," Mark commented.

Kris sighed. "Is it a bad sign when you can't wait for your boyfriend to move away?" she asked needlessly.

William and Mark exchanged a look.

"I'm sure we're just going through a dry spell," she continued. "I'm sure things will work out." Though she wasn't entirely sure she wanted them to work out.

* * *

Dear Kris,

If you go forth with the collection, I would like to place my order to buy it from you. Doesn't matter how much it costs. I'll pay anything :o)

I can understand how you feel about your art. It's tough to bear your soul to the world day in and day out, and feel yourself rejected. And I find it admirable that you persist on doing so. But trust me when I say, that it's better to be rejected for being who you are, than accepted for being somebody you're not.

You must be having a really rough week for my emails to be cheering you up so much. If you ever need to talk about anything, well, I'm available.

Take care,

J.R.

Dear J.R.,

Are you serious about buying the collection? I'll start on it, if you are.

Thank you for what you said, regarding my art. I guess you're right about it being better to be accepted for being myself, but more often than not, that's not the way things turn out. I wish I could be brave enough to change my life around and live it the way I want to. But I'm not sure I'm strong enough to do that. Sometimes being accepted for who you're not is better at least you're accepted.

Take care,

Kris

PS: What does J.R. stand for?

14

The hosts of the show introduced themselves, smiling so brightly, Julianne was sure their faces were frozen in that position. They made small talk with the actress while their crew set up the backdrop and the lighting.

Julianne fussed with the microphone tucked on the collar of her shirt. It kept scratching against her throat. Or at least, that's what she complained to the people doing the interview. It appeared to throw them off. Like they didn't know how to handle the situation. It amused her.

At long last, everything was set up and Julianne sent a silent prayer for the torture to end as quickly and painlessly as possible.

The guy behind the camera counted off and then the little red light came on. Julianne transformed herself into her publicity persona.

"I'm Michael Jacobs."

"And I'm Susana Clark. We're here with Julianne Franqui, star of the smash-hit show, Guardian. Glad you could join us, Julianne."

Julianne smiled. "Happy to be here, Susana."

Michael leaned forward. "So, Julianne, we're here on the set of Guardian. But this isn't for the show, correct?"

Did they really think the audience was that stupid? "No, Michael, you're correct. This is actually the set for Guardian: A Second Chance, which should be hitting theaters early next fall."

"Let's talk about your character for a moment," said Susana. "Tell us about Kiara."

"Kiara is a guardian angel, who is trying to make up for the life she lived while she was human. She tries to redeem herself by helping others on earth."

"If she was so bad," Michael began, "How did she manage to become an angel?"

"Well," Julianne explained, "She got killed while saving somebody else's life. The boy that she saved prayed for her soul. So God made her an angel. She wanders around Earth, helping people in distress."

"So how does she achieve redemption?"

Julianne smiled. "That's kind of what the movie is about. She is reunited with the boy whose life she saved. And once again his life is in jeopardy. She's got to find a way to help him. If she succeeds, she gets the choice of continuing her life as a Guardian or returning to Earth as a human. Second chance at life, that sort of thing."

Michael nodded. "So does she achieve it?"

Julianne laughed. "Guess you'll have to watch the movie to find out."

Susana laughed as well. "So basically the show will continue with the outcome of the movie?" she asked. "If Kiara continues as an angel, she continues as an angel on the show. If she returns as a human, the show changes to her life as a human being?"

"That's correct. The movie will premiere before the TV Show, so it won't spoil the ending of the movie." She laughed. "That's provided you go see the movie before the season premiere."

Susana nodded. "Is it much different working on a film than on the show?"

Julianne considered the question. "Well, the movie has a different director. For the show, we pretty much had somebody different every episode. But Gina Loeb, the director for A Second Chance, is excellent. It's nice to have that consistency. It's also nice to work with a bigger crew and a bigger budget. Everything's kind of the same, just on a larger scale."

Michael smiled. "Well, thank you for joining us, Julianne. We wish you luck with the movie. It sounds like it's going to be a hit."

Susana turned to the camera. "Thank you for joining us on this exclusive interview here on the set of Guardian: A Second Chance, coming to a theater near you this fall. I'm Susana Clark with Entertainment TV. Have a good night."

"Aaaaaaand you're clear."

Julianne removed the microphone from her collar and handed it to one of the crew people.

Susana smiled at her. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Julianne," she said, extending her freshly manicured hand.

"Likewise," Julianne replied, shaking the woman's hand. She shook Michael's too for safe measure. Then as politely as possible, excused herself and ran off to the trailer.

Once safe, she collapsed on the couch. Free at last. Sitting up, she grabbed the laptop. It had been days since she'd checked her mail and she wanted to know if Kris had responded.

She wasn't disappointed. She read the email a few times, debating on how to respond.

Dear Kris,

I definitely want to buy the collection. Definitely!

I understand what you mean about not being brave enough to change your life around. I have a similar problem. I guess with me, it's that I feel that when people look at me, they don't see who I really am. I've perfected the art of being somebody else to the point that my entire persona is just a lie. I just want to be myself.

Though I suppose to do that, I'd have to figure out who that is first. It's gotten to the point that when I look in the mirror, I see a jaded reflection. Just billions of tiny fragments reflecting different parts of me. I long to see the whole picture.

But that's life, right? I guess you take what you can get, and then move on.

But you know, change doesn't have to mean an entire revolution. Just one tiny step can make so much good without shattering any protective barriers. Maybe if you do something that makes you happy every day, the unhappy aspects of life won't seem so meaningful. They say it's the little things that matter, right?

Take care,

Julia Raye

Julianne stared at her name. It had been years since she'd written it. How strange, that complete honesty should start to feel like a lie.

As she sent the email, Julianne wondered what reality was anymore. "This is what I get for watching The Matrix too many times," she muttered.

thirteen


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