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|Name:||Kalen Tobias Mercer|
Kalen Tobias Mercer was grew up in Woodbridge Township in New Jersey. He was the only boy in a family with six children and he was the youngest. This left him with a long-suffering tolerance of his sisters, especially considering there was nearly a five year age gap between him and his sister that came before him. In fact, when he was a baby and a toddler, she used to think his sole purpose in life was to be her life dolly so he wasn't brought into the most masculine of environments so he stuck very close with his dad and their family friends from up the street, the Davison family who had twin boys the same age as him, Michael and Martin.
Things got tough for Kalen when his dad got cancer when he was nine and he passed away quickly after his diagnosis. Only being 9 at the time and left the only boy in the family, Kalen really went in on himself and began to struggle with school. It was Mr Davison, Michael and Martin's dad who was a teacher at their school, who took Kalen under his wing to help him through the tough time and help him stay on top of his grades. Mr Davison was ultimately the reason why Kalen decided he wanted to become a teacher himself. He wanted to be the sort of cool teacher who could help kids like Mr Davison helped him. It was a kindness he would never forget, which was why things would take a much more difficult turn for him by the time he got to college and started his degrees.
It was in junior year in high school that that Kalen started to date one of the twins, Marty. Their friendship just turned into more one night after they went to the carnival together and Kalen slept over at the Davisons. That wasn't a first, he quite often stayed over there but that night, things got hot and heavy with Marty after Michael fell asleep in front of the TV and they lost their virginities to each other in a very awkward and somewhat amusing first time for them both. They were inseparable after that, and them dating never even impacted on Kalen's friendship with Michael, who was happy for them both. They still all hung out as a trio together, until Michael's interested began to differ a lot and he started to hang out more with people with the same interests.
Kalen always supported Marty's desire to join the Army, just like Marty supported Kalen wanting to become a teacher. They knew it would be hard, but they did make the naive resolution that they would stick together, no matter where the college and their careers took them... even if it meant going long distance for a period of time. Kalen got into the University of Pennsylvania and when Marty enlisted, he was posted to Baltimore, Maryland, where he went on to make his way into Special Ops. The distance worked - at first - with only an hour or so drive, give or take, between Baltimore and Pennsylvania and they managed to tough it out for a couple of years before things began to fall apart at the seams.
It was nearing the end of his second year at college that Kalen was mugged and sexually assaulted on a late walk home from the library after trying to cram for finals. It was when Marty was incommunicado on a training operation, so Kalen didn't have an immediate way of getting in touch with his boyfriend, or he would have called in straight up. Instead, he called Mikey, who drove straight to Pennsylvania to be with him through the ordeal where he was hospitalised for three days, subjected to a rape kit, and had to have surgery to stop some internal bleeding. During the time in hospital, he had way too much time on his hands, never even knowing what to say when his mother and sister came to visit him... so he didn't say anything.
But during that time, he made the very tough decision not to tell Marty what happened because he knew if he did, Marty would throw in the towel with the Army and sacrifice his whole ambition for him. Kalen wouldn't be able to live with that, so he started to cancel out on their arrangements so Marty wouldn't see him with the injuries and wouldn't see him again until after he was healed. He made flimsy excuses about needing to study or being too tired for a visit because the trauma made it hard to think straight... all the while desperately wanting to be with him. It just took a horrible turn when Marty finally came and it culminated in Marty accusing him of cheating. Kalen just snapped, and something he would come to regret later, but they had a massive argument and Kalen broke up with him, telling him he never wanted to see him again. It was over, and Kalen cut all ties to the Davison family too because it was too hard to remain friends with them, with Mikey because he looked so much like Marty, and just tried to pick up the pieces of his life.
He was never really the same again. He heard that Marty got deployed away on some super secret military Black Operation, but he could never let his mind linger on it too long or he would have been too much of a mess to make it through college and then grad school for a degree in Special Needs Education. Once he was fully qualified and trained, he scored a job at a private high school in New York City as an art teacher where he taught creative writing and photography, and became involved in a program where he gave extra lessons and support to students with special or additional needs. It was with that program that he has came to work with Will Jackson, after had to miss a lot of school from a battle with leukemia, Toby Preston because of ongoing struggles with dyslexia, and very briefly, Justin Campbell after his diagnosis with a mental illness before he came to be externally tutored when he scored a role on Broadway.
Now, he lives in a cute little apartment on New York's Upper West Side and he has been single for about six months after a brief relationship fizzled out for no particular reason. Or perhaps the reason being that his boyfriend hadn't been Marty, and every guy he had attempted to be with since moving to New York because he had been lonely weren't Marty either. He loves his job, he's very proud of all the kids he works with, and he's content... but he's not happy. He hasn't been happy since he lost Marty, but he knows that's his cross to bear because of the decisions he made to give Marty the freedom in the career he so desperately wanted. His closest friend is Taylor Wishart, who he met at a bar one night and they ended up confiding in each other about their painful pasts. They slept together, but purely because they both needed company. They made the mutual decision that they didn't want to risk the friendship, so anything else remained purely platonic.