"The Many Things That Make Me" is the 50th episode of Desperate Schoolboys.
As the schoolboys attempt to engage in a weekly poker game, each one of them find themselves thinking back to the many events that led them to form the profound friendship that stands strong to this day.
My friends were under times of stress...
Flash to the four schoolboys standing around Fraser's grave. (See "The Greatest Lie of Omission") Flash to Josh walking out of Dean's grandparents' home, and Dean slams the door behind him. Flash to Rena and Mary bringing Rocky home from the vet. Flash to Joe comforting Katie after he and his friends meet up to discuss the murder. Flash to Ben seeming uncomfortable at Liz's side. Flash to Ericson Lyons in the woods where Fraser is buried.
And what do people do in times of stress? They play games...
We see the four schoolboys gathered around a green poker table at Rena's home. "You boys have fun," Miguel tells them before heading off upstairs, whereas Rocky resides in the kitchen, chewing on his favorite toy. "Poker," Joe says happily. "Yep, we could make it a weekly thing," Rena suggests. "Definitely," Ben agrees. "Perfect way to take our mind off of things," Josh adds. "So... shall I deal?" Rena asks, and they all nod in agreement.
However, they soon found this to be ineffective.
The four of them are still sitting around the table, a little later. "Why did none of you tell me that you don't know the rules to poker?" Rena asks. "Well, you don't know either! You kept dealing us ten cards," Ben points out. "I like a round number..." Rena tells them. "Well this is a big waste of time," Joe says. "You said it," Josh agrees, slamming down his deck. "Now, now, we shouldn't quit just 'cause Josh is so far ahead," Ben says. "I was winning?" Josh asks. Ben shrugs, "Possibly." The rest of them follow Josh's lead and slam down their decks. "What you guys wanna do instead?" Rena asks. "Well... we could talk?" Ben suggests. "Ooh, fun!" Joe exclaims sarcastically. "Well it can be," Ben says, "This whole thing was meant to be a bonding experience, right?" "I guess..." Rena says. "I thought it was just to take our mind off things," Josh tells them. "Yeah, me too," Joe agrees. "We can still bond!" Ben tells them. "Why do we need to bond? Isn't murder enough to 'bond' us?" Josh asks. "That's all we ever talk about these days," Rena points out. "Exactly," Ben says, "We should talk about something else." "Like what?" Joe wonders. "Each of us round this table should tell each other what they're thankful for." "Like Thanksgiving?" Josh asks. "Yes, we'll tell each other why we're happy we have each other," Ben says happily. "Sounds a bit..." Rena starts. "Corny," Joe finishes for him. "I'll start then, shall I?" Ben says, ignoring them.
And that's how the four of them would get to the root of their friendship, through conversation and giving thanks.
Benjamin Ashdale began to think of the support given by his friends over the years. He thought of how awkward and anxious he use to be. And he thought of when he met Liz Taylor...
Ben is sitting in the classroom when he looks up to see Liz Taylor walk into the class, seeing her for the first time. (See "Who You Really Are, Part 1") The screen zooms out to see it is a science classroom and that Ben is sitting beside Joe, following their meeting and walk there. (See "Worthy of Belief") Ben is staring at Liz, unaware that Joe is talking to him. Joe taps him on the shoulder, "Um...hello?" Ben shakes into awareness, "Oh, sorry." Joe looks over at Liz, realising who he was looking at, he smirks, "Go and talk to her." Ben begins to sweat, "Oh, I don't think so." "Why not?" Joe asks. "Look at her, and...look at me," Ben says pitifully. Joe looks sympathetic.
The scene changes to Ben sitting with Joe, James and Rena. "So what's going on?" Ben asks. "We are going to help you with talking to girls," Joe says. Ben looks uncomfortable, his arms begin twitching in anxiety, "You don't need to do that." "I think we do," James says. "It's all about leading the conversation," Rena says. "About confidence," James adds. "So what makes you feel like an expert?" Rena asks. Ben ponders and then says, "History...trivia of wars...and serial killers." "Something else," Joe assures him, "Trust me." Ben ponders again, "I did just learn a cool magic trick." "Perfect," Rena smiles. "Girls dig magic," James adds. "Go and try it out," Rena says, pointing over to Liz. Ben stutters, "I don't think so..." "How about a practice first?" Joe asks, pointing over to Katie. Ben nods nervously and then walks over to Katie, taking out his magic cards. The three boys watch as Ben greets Katie, they introduce themselves and things seem to be going smoothly. They keep watching as Ben takes out his cards, asking Katie to take one, but Ben's hands are shaking so much that he ends up dropping the cards. The three boys watch as the cards go flying all over the cafeteria floor, they all shake their heads.
And how his friends helped him through it...
Ben is sitting with Joe. "So how's things going with Liz?" Joe asks. "They aren't...I just don't have much experience with what to do about girls," Ben admits. "You must have some experience?" Joe asks. Ben looks down, in thought, he gives a painful face. "What?" Joe asks. Ben shakes his head, the memory too painful. "You can tell me," Joe assures him. "At my old school," Ben begins, "I was sitting in the library when a friend of Connie Hillman came over - Connie Hillman was easiest the prettiest girl in school - and she tells me that Connie wants to meet me after school in the sports field. I couldn't believe it...why would Connie Hillman want to meet with me?" "She wasn’t there?" Joe asks. "Oh, she was there," Ben says, "Along with the entire football team. They, they stripped me naked and tied me to a goalpost. So many kids were there watching." "And none of them tried to help you?" Joe asks. "I begged them to. I kept begging them...but they just all watched," Ben begins to tear, "Finally they got bored and left, I was found a couple of hours later by a teacher, who phoned my parents. That's the real reason we moved to Wiksteria." Joe puts his arm over Ben's shoulder, "Nothing like that is going to happen at this school. Your friends won't let it." Ben smiles.
All the while, enduring his family...
Ben comes in from school. Walter, who is sitting down reading his paper, says, "How was school?" "Okay," Ben smiles. Lydia looks over concerned, "Only okay? Are you getting bullied again?" "No," Ben tells her. "So you made some friends?" she asks. Ben nods. Lydia looks suspicious, "Already?" Ben nods again. "That doesn't sound right," Lydia remarks, "Are sure these boys aren't just using you?" Ben looks down glumly. "We don't want anything happening like your old school," Lydia continues, "I hope you learned your lesson from that, Benjamin, I mean when you walk alone and speak so awkwardly, how do you expect other children to respond?" Ben begins walking up the stairs to get away, however Lydia continues, "And you need to begin talking to some girls, invite some over here...unless....Ben, are you impotent?" Ben continues marching up the stairs. Lydia shouts after him, "Ben? Ben?! Don't ignore me, Benjamin!" Lydia turns to Walter and exclaims while beginning to tear, "Walter, our son is impotent!" Walter, who hasn't been listening to the conversation, is still reading his paper and says, "That's nice." Upstairs, Ben begins frantically sorting and cleaning his room, desperate to create perfection.
...And Ben knew that enduring these times would not have been possible without his friends.
Present-Day. Ben says to his friends, "I can't thank you guys enough for all the support." "That's alright," Joe assures him. "No, you don't understand. I would have been so alone with you guys. Thank you," Ben smiles.
Joe Hadland used to seem oh so happy. He was, at a time, simply joyful. Not much more to it...
Flash to Joe chatting casually with Rena and James, a smile on his face.
It was rare to see him without a smile... back then...
Flash to Joe, still with a smile on his face and laughing, now conversing with James, Rena and Ben.
But things soon began to take a toll. Things which would turn happy little Joe Hadland into a cynical nightmare...
We see Joe arriving home from school. He's smiling right up until the moment his foot enters the house, and then a frown appears on his face, followed by a loud sigh. "Mom? You home?" he asks, throwing his rucksack onto the floor. There's no reply. He wonders on into the kitchen where a note is seen on the counter. Joe reads it aloud, "Be back later... Guess I'll be making dinner again." He then sighs and scrunches up the note, throwing it into the trash can in the corner.
Later that night, Joe is sleeping in bed when suddenly, something is heard shattering downstairs. Joe sits bolt upright with a start, and slowly steps out of bed, exiting his bedroom. He crouches at the top of the stairs and sighs when he sees the source of the noise. A drunken Annie is seen making out with some guy next to a vase's remains on the floor. "Let's take this upstairs," Annie says, "But be quiet, you'll wake my son..." And as the two of them begin to ascend the stairs, Joe rushes back into his bedroom and closes the door. He leans up against it and slides down to the floor where he sighs sadly.
And after all those things, mixed with one horrible, horrible incident, had done their job, Joe was finally sent to one man he certainly had no interest in seeing.
Joe is seen sitting on a couch opposite Dr. Sonya, who's in an armchair with a notebook. "I have to say," Sonya starts, "It's very odd that a student be sent to see me before school has even begun. I think you're the first. Unique, one might say." Joe grunts an insult. "What was that?" Dr. Sonya asks. "Nothing..." Joe utters. "So, why do you think you were sent here?" Brad asks. "I know why," Joe says. "Oh? Enlighten me," Brad tells him. "My mom finally clocked onto something," Joe explains. "Clocked onto what?" Dr. Sonya asks. "None of your business," Joe states. "Now Joe, I am your therapist. This is a safe space. There is nothing you can't share with me," Dr. Sonya assures him happily. "Is that a two-way street?" Joe asks. "I'm sorry?" "What's your favorite color?" Joe wonders. "Um... red, but I don't see what that's got to do—" "Favorite film? Favorite book? How old are you? What's your first name? What's your father's first name? What's your mother's maiden name? What college did you graduate? When did you have your first kiss? First crush? How tall are you? Do you work out? Do you live here alone? Girlfriend? Boyfriend? Wife? Husband? Kids? Are you good at sports? How old were you when you became certified? What's your pin number? Social security number? How old were you when you lost your virginity? Have you yet?" Joe asks in a stream. Dr. Sonya remains silent, baffled. "See? People don't always like to share their personal information," Joe points out. "This isn't about me, Joe..." Dr. Sonya starts. "Don't bother," Joe tells him, "I just wanna be silent." "That rather defeats the point of therapy," Dr. Sonya interjects. "Then by all means, leave," Joe tells him. "This is my home. You should be the one to leave, if anyone," Brad says. "Not very good therapist, are you? Asking patients to leave in the middle of a session," Joe points out. Dr. Sonya smirks. "What's so funny?" Joe asks, annoyed. "You," Dr. Sonya replies. "Good therapists don't laugh at their patients, either," Joe states bitterly. "Well, you've made yourself very clear that you don't want my help," Sonya says. "I've only just met you, I'm hardly going to accept the help of a stranger, nor would I accept it from my friends," Joe retorts. "So you're proud, eh?" "Not really..." "So modest." "Shut up," Joe demands. "Do you hide behind angry words often?" Dr. Sonya asks. "Okay, don't try to psychoanalyse me," Joe requests. "I don't have to, you're doing it all for me." "Shut up!" Joe exclaims, standing up, "Just shut up!" He then picks up a lamp from Dr. Sonya's end table and launches it across the room where it shatters into tiny pieces. "Thanks for nothing, 'doctor'," Joe says, heading for the door. "I look forward to seeing you next week," Dr. Sonya tells him, and Joe gives his new therapist the finger before slamming the door behind himself.
And Joe's rage kept constantly getting him in his own way, pissing off teachers and friends alike...
We see Joe sitting alone on the playground, during a time of isolation (See "Partners in Crime"), watching his friends from afar. Josh, Rena and Ben are seen conversing and laughing without him, and Joe sighs to himself. However, someone soon sits beside him, and Joe looks to his right to see Katie Vaala at his side. "Um... hi. Katie, isn't it?" Joe asks. "That's me," Katie says joyously. "No offense, Katie, but... can you go away?" Joe asks. "Am I interrupting your whole self-harm-y emo vibe? Sorry. It's just when people are upset I get the urge to hug them and I really wanna give you a hug right now," Katie tells him. "Are you kidding me?" asks Joe. "Would you like a hug?" Katie asks. "I really would not," Joe tells her. "You know you do," Katie assures him. "I really don't," Joe states. "I'll wear you down eventu—" "You freak, can you just piss off?!" Joe exclaims, now annoyed. At this, Katie's smile turns to a frown and she steps off the bench, standing opposite him. "You know, I was just trying to be nice! Everyone knows you around this place as a massive douche, but I figured 'no, they're wrong, he must just be complicated'. Way to prove them right..." Katie tells him disapprovingly, before walking away from a saddened and self-pitying Joe.
But nowadays, Joe was an open book, and he would use this more recently-acquired pleasantness to finally tell his friends exactly how he felt.
The four schoolboys are seen to be, again, sitting around the poker table in Rena's house. "You know, I've pulled a lot of stupid shit over the years," Joe starts, "Snapping at you guys, throwing stuff out windows, isolating myself, but... no matter how much of a dick I act, you guys always see me through. I mean, who else would do that? You're so forgiving; it's crazy. It's just... thank you. Thanks for everything."
As Renato Abelho thought back on his past friendships, of course he thought of the first friendship he ever made...
Flash to little Rena and Ali playing at the orphanage.
And he thought of the day when their friendship was forced apart...
We see Mr. Silver bringing a little Rena out of the orphanage room, and leading him to his office. (See "The Truth Comes Out, Part 2") It is dark outside, being the middle of the night. "I have someone I'd like you to meet, Filipe," Mr. Silver says. Rena looks up to see Justine and Rudolfo standing in the office. "They're going to be your new mommy and daddy, Filipe," Mr. Silver adds. "Renato," Rudolfo corrects. Mr. Silver nods, "Renato. Of course." "What's a Renato?" Rena asks. Justine kneels down beside him, "That is going to be your new name, darling." Rena stands confused, "My name is Filipe." Rudolfo chuckles, "He has character." "Indeed he does. Renato is pretty popular around here," Mr. Silver comments. Rena glares at Mr. Silver in response to the orphanage owner calling him by what's apparently his new name. Mr. Silver smiles, "So what do you think?" Rena looks at Justine and then whispers to Mr. Silver, "I don't like her." Justine grabs him loving by the shoulders and smiles, ignoring the comment, "Look how scrawny you are. We'll soon take care of that. We'll fill you up with good food. How does that sound?" Rena nods his head, with the faint whisk of a smile. "I do try to feed them well," Mr. Silver tries to defend himself. Rudolfo then states, "We'll be off now, Mr. Silver." "You don't want his stuff?" Mr. Silver asks. Justine looks in contempt at what Rena is wearing and says, "We'll get him new stuff." Mr. Silver nods, as the family head for the door. But Rena stops in his tracks, "Isn't Ali coming?" Justine and Rudolfo look confused. Mr. Silver tells him, "I'm sorry. It's just you who is being adopted." Rena says sadly, "I don't wanna be adopted. I wanna stay here with Ali." "Everyone needs a family," Mr. Silver tells him, "You can't stay here forever. And soon, Ali will be adopted too." "Friends aren't like families, Renato. Families are forever," Justine tells him. Rena looks at her with contempt and says, before heading out the door, "My name's not Renato."
We flash to Mr. Silver closing the door, after the newly formed Abelho family have left. He turns to see Ali standing in the hallway. She looks and him and asks, "Where did Filipe go?" Mr. Silver stands, "It's late, Alison, go to bed." "Where is he?" she demands. Mr. Silver replies, "There is no boy called Filipe here." Ali looks confused, "Yes there is, silly." Mr. Silver shakes his head, "I don't know who you're talking about, Alison." Ali goes to say, "But..." "Alison, go to bed!" Mr. Silver interrupts. Ali turns and runs to the bedroom, beginning to weep. Mr. Silver watches and then sighs to himself.
And so Rena enjoyed life with his new family...
The scene changes to an older Rena sitting at the breakfast table with Rudolfo. "Last night was a lot of fun, huh?" Rena asks. "Sure was," Rudolfo smiles. "And you liked Ali, right?" Rena says. An uncertain look overcomes Rudolfo, but he then smiles, "She seemed lovely." Justine then walks in with breakfast. She says, "Oh, darling, Ali is all wrong. She isn't good enough for my little prince." Rena looks confused, "What do you mean?" Justine stutters, "Well, she's nice, but...I just think you can do better. No girl is too good for you, remember that." Rena looks unhappy as Justine begins plating the breakfast. "Aren't you going to eat?" she asks. "I'm not hungry," he remarks, getting up from the table and exiting. Justine sighs but Rudolfo turns to her, "What is wrong with you?!" "We can't have him dating that girl," Justine says. "Why on earth not?!" he asks. "You heard what she said, she's from the orphanage," she explains. "So what? The boy has found a girl that makes him happy. Doesn't he deserve to be happy? Hasn't he been through enough?!" Rudolfo demands. "Our son is happy!" Justine angrily states. "Don't pretend you don't hear him at nights," Rudolfo retorts, beginning to tear with guilt, "He is our son and he is in pain over something that we did to him... But ever since he started dating that girl, he's been happier than I've seen him in a long time. That girl has been so good for him. And you will not do anything to ruin that!" Rudolfo then stands angrily from the table and goes outside the room, to find Rena. He sits down beside his son and says, "Your mother is just being overprotective. She thinks no one is good enough for you. Because she loves you." "You liked Ali, right, dad?" Rena asks. "Right," Rudolfo smiles. Rena smiles back and then hugs his dad.
Then one day, Rena decided to introduce his girlfriend to his friends...
Rena and Ali are walking through the cafeteria towards a table where Rena's friends are already sitting. Ali looks nervous, "I hope they'll like me." Rena assures her with a smile, "What's not to like?" She smiles and they go over.
His friends who were there, when his girlfriend no longer was...
Rena is sitting glumly, with his friends gathered round him. "I know this is awful but you need to try and get over Ali," Joe says. "Yeah, it's been months," Josh adds. "I know...but it's so hard," Rena says. Ben pats him on the shoulder, "Whenever you're ready, Rena." Rena then looks across the street to see Mary and he smiles. The boys all follow his line of vision, and they smile. "I think he's ready," Josh says. Rena nods.
...And they had been there ever since.
Present-Day. Rena says to his friends, "I want to thank you guys, for always being there when my life turns shit. And let's face it, that's a lot of the time. I wouldn't have gotten through it all without you guys. So thanks."
In the time that I knew him, Josh Miller was a player...
We see Josh in the corridors of Wiksteria High, making out with some random girl.
It probably should have been obvious that he was overcompensating, but back then, we were too busy judging him to consider that possibility...
Flash to James, Joe, Rena and Ben walking down the same corridor, conversing casually. They all turn to Josh and watch in disgust as he eats the girl's face. Josh's eye briefly flickers to them before they carry on walking, shaking their heads. "What's that? The fifth girl this week?" Joe asks as they walk away. "God knows," Rena says. Meanwhile, Josh pulls out of the kiss. "What's wrong?" the girl asks. "Sorry, I gotta be somewhere," Josh tells her, "But... see you soon." "I'll be counting on it," the girl says, and Josh exits the corridor, walking in the opposite direction of the other schoolboys. Josh then turns a corner and walks along the adjacent corridor where a girl is seen waiting. "And what sort of time do you call this?" the girl asks, but Josh immediately grabs her and kisses her passionately. She slips her hands down his pants but he suddenly pulls away. "What's wrong?" she asks. "Nothing... it'd nothing..." he utters. "You know... I've always hated maths," the girl starts, "And my mom won't be home for another hour or so, we could sneak out. Make a little use of the quiet." "I... don't think so," Josh says. "Why not?" the girl asks, "Don't tell me you care about your education. The way I hear it, you're barely in school now. Always taking girls out on that motorcycle of yours. Could I have a go?" she asks. She goes into kiss him again, but he turns away. "So what do you say?" "I can't," Josh tells her. Her smile drops, "Why?" "I gotta, um... the janitor asked me to feed the fish in the staff room, and, um... I have this really important lesson, and... um... I really need the toilet!" At this, he suddenly runs away, and the girl watches in confusion. He soon ducks a corner and leans up against the lockers. He slides down them with a large sigh and, now on the ground, he begins to cry.
Josh was an insecure person. Had I looked into it further, I would have easily determined why...
At Josh's house, he is seen to be having dinner with Bob. "Say dad," Josh starts subtly, breaking the silent. "Yeah?" Bob grunts. "How come we didn't invite Uncle Carl and Uncle Pete to Christmas last year?" he asks. Bob smirks at this, "'Cause they're fags, and I like to keep a clean house." "Right," Josh says glumly, hanging his head, "That's what I thought." "So, uh, how's the girl situation?" Bob asks. "It's... going fine," Josh replies. "And how about the friend situation?" Bob asks further. Josh looks confused, "What do you mean?" "Well, you're always telling me of your conquests, you never tell me who you're hanging out with between them," Bob points out. "It's... fine. I hang out with Kimo and that," Josh replies. "Meh, Kimo's a dick," Bob states. Now Josh smirks, and Bob continues, "I mean a proper tight nick group of friends. Every kid should have one. I still stay in touch with my old school friends." "Really?" Josh asks. "Yep. Childhood bondages, son. They last for life. You should make some." "I think that's the first piece of proper advice you've ever given me..." Josh says, smiling. "Of course, you don't wanna get too close to anyone; people'll think your bumming 'em," Bob says, laughing to himself, and Josh returns to his dinner, attempting to laugh but glum once more.
And Josh took that advice, and ran with it.
At school the next day, Josh is seen approaching James, Rena, Joe and Ben out in the schoolyard, and they all go silent upon seeing him. "Um, hi..." James greets. "Hi," Josh says. "What do you want?" Ben asks. "To talk," Josh tells them. "About what?" James asks curiously. "I saw they way you guys looked at me yesterday, and... I wanna tell you that I'm not like that. That guy that you saw, that you who you were disgusted by... that's not me." "What do you mean?" Rena asks. "I'm just trying to say... don't presume to know me. When I met you guys the other week in the cafeteria, you seemed alright. You seemed, despite quips... kind." "Right... thanks..." Joe tells him. "Carry on," James encourages Josh. "Right," Josh says, "To the point. Um... I guess, just... behind all the girls and the popularity, I'm real. I'm a genuine person, and genuine people need... genuine companionship." "Are you asking to be our friend?" James asks, smiling. "Suppose I am, yeah," Josh tells them. "Come," Ben says, "Sit with us." Josh smiles and does so.
Soon the five schoolboys are seen on the same bench, laughing and conversing. Kimo suddenly comes over, and says, "Oi, Josh. What you doing with these fags? Jimbo's brought some rotten eggs in with him, we're gonna put them in the vents and—" "Piss off, Kimo," Josh says. "What did you say to me?" Kimo asks. Josh stands. "I told you to piss off, and don't bother me, or these people, again." "Um... K," Kimo responds dumbly, walking off in confusion.
And from that day forward, I, and the rest of us, considered Josh Miller a friend.
In the present day, Ben says, "Guess it's your turn, Josh." "Oh, um... I guess I'm happy that you guys accept me for who I am... I never have to hide around you... I can be myself," Josh tells them, smiling, causing the three of them to smile in turn.
Rena is seen approaching James' house and knocks on the door. James answers, and Rena asks, "Do you have time to talk?" "Come in," James tells him.
The two of them are next seen sitting in James' living room. "My mom has been driving me crazy lately... She's just so... her. I mean, my dad's alright, but I swear to God, if she approaches me in the middle of school to hand me one more bagged lunch, I'm just gonna... piss in a cup and throw it at her." James laughs, "Lovely." "I just feel kinda cut off from everyone else." "So, why'd you come to me? Why not talk to your dad?" James asks. "Whenever I try to talk about mom, he gets all weird. Keeps insisting that what she does, she does out of love. But she's just so controlling. If one aspect of her or my life isn't absolutely perfect all the time... she freaks." "Well isn't it good that she wants your life to be perfect?" James asks. "But real life isn't perfect. It's real," Rena points out. "I suppose... But I wouldn't read too much into it. Your mom does love you, I can tell. And if things continue to get worse, just talk to her. You'd be surprised as to what it can achieve." "Thanks, James... you always give the best advice." James smiles appreciatively.
James is now seen sitting opposite Joe. "Third guy this week she brought home last night... and it's Tuesday." "And her promiscuity, it bothers you?" James asks. "Of course it bothers me," Joe says. "You don't seem bothered... you always seem rather... chipper." "Yeah, I seem rather chipper," Joe tells him. "What do you mean?" James asks. "I mean, I'm angry all the time! I can't help it! Every time someone annoys me, I just have fantasies of ripping their heads off..." "Right... that's not normal," James says. "I wouldn't say it is, no," Joe says. "Well, what I say is, stop suppressing everything. You're allowing it all to bottle up, and it's making you into a time bomb. If you don't let the anger out gradually, then...." "Boom," Joe finishes. "Boom," James nods. "How should I let out my rage then?" Joe asks. "When someone annoys you, you tell them they're annoying you. When someone yells at you, you yell back. Don't just sit there and take it. And stand up to your mother, you have nothing to fear. You're strong, Joe. Stronger than you know." "Thanks, James. I hate your glasses," Joe tells him. "What?" James asks. "You told me to tell people when they're annoying me..." Joe points out, and James laughs.
James is now seen sitting opposite Ben. "I'm in love," Ben says. "Love? Are you sure?" James asks. "When I see her, my heart races. My palms sweat. When I talk to her I have to suppress the urge to tell her how I feel, or just... grab her and kiss her." "Right," James says, "And it's getting worse?" "I', being forced to love her from afar," Ben says, "Watching her but never being with her... I hate it. It's agony. Sweet agony..." "Well, first off, I'd stop sounding like the lead protagonist from a bad romance novel," James says. "Sorry," Ben tells him, smiling. "I'm not sure what to tell you, Ben..." "And it's not just Liz, my mother has been on my case more and more lately. The other day, I accidentally put my elbows on the table during dinner and she wept." "Wept?" "Like a baby," Ben confirms. "Always the mother issues..." James says to himself. "What?" "Nothing." "So..." Ben says, at a loss. "So," James picks up, "I say we get some ice cream stick on a rom com and you can moon pathetically over Liz all you want. You have nothing to hide from me." "A rom com? Seriously?" Ben asks. "What can I say, you got me in the mood," James says, and Ben smiles.
James is now seen sitting opposite Josh. "Can you keep a secret?" Josh asks. "I like to think I can, yes," James assures him, "What is it?" "I'm... gay," Josh admits. "I see..." James says. "You don't have anything to say to that?" Josh asks. "Well, I can't say I'm all that surprised, to be honest. The overcompensation, the personal grooming... we all kinda figured... what is a surprise, however, is that you're telling me first," James says. "You all know?" Josh asks, surprised. "Everyone has their theories. Nothing's confirmed... well, now it is." "Don't tell the others," Josh requests. "Your secret's safe with me, don't worry," James says, "But why did you tell me first?" "Because..." Josh starts, "I had to tell someone, and... you've always seemed the nicest, I guess. You gave me a chance when I asked to be your friend." "Thanks," James says, "So I'm the only one who knows?" "Yes," Josh says. "Your father doesn't know, or—" "God no!" Josh exclaims, "He'd fucking lynch me!" "I see..." James says again, "So you came here... someone to tell me?" "Pretty much," Josh says, "And, I gotta say, it feels so much better to get it off my chest. I'm so tired of how I live my life... I wish I could have a fresh start." "I'm sure you can. All you need to do is show people you can change," James says. "Yeah... thanks," Josh tells him, "And thanks for accepting me." "Why wouldn't I have?" James asks. "It's made me feel better about the whole thing," Josh says. "Glad I could help," James tells him. "Me too," Josh agrees.
In the present, the four schoolboys are seen sitting around the poker table. "I wish James were here," Rena says. "Me too," Ben agrees. Joe and Josh nod also. "You know what? We should finish this game," Josh says, "For James." "For James," the others agree in unison. And with that, Joe deals the cards.
Yes, I miss my friends more than anything, and it makes me happy to know that they miss me as well. Looking down at them now, I knows that I will be forever grateful for their help... They would support me in difficult times...
We see Ben holding his deck of cards.
...They would forgive me, no matter the trouble...
We see Joe holding his deck of cards.
...They would always be there for me when life was unfair...
We see Rena holding his deck of cards.
...They would accept me for who I was, and never judge me for it...
We see Josh holding his deck of cards.
And for that, I shall never stop giving thanks.
Flash to James, Rena, Joe, Ben and Josh all sitting together in school, conversing, and laughing happily. They all appear to be enjoying themselves, and James smiles widest of all, looking at his friends and feeling joy. The flashback soon ceases, and the screen fades to black.