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  2. mfa607

    Hellos and Goodbyes

    You sir have woven an amazing tale! This chapter was amazing. Thank you!
  3. jryski

    Chapter 1

    Only cuz you said so! I'll keep this story saved for a different day where I feel like reading a long funny story! thanks for the suggestion!
  4. jryski

    Chapter 5

    Oh Jesus!
  5. jryski

    Chapter 4

    Talk about a series of majorly unfortunate events. Wtf's up with their lives!?!?
  6. albertnothlit

    The Missing Hikers

    Thank you for your comments! I'm so glad you're finding the story entertaining despite (or because of?) its decidedly dark tone, and the next chapter will, hopefully, add another piece to the puzzle and open up yet more questions as to what is really happening... I can't wait to share the next chapter this coming Monday. I'm hard at work on this story, dedicating some time each day whenever work permits. It's all going according to plan so far! Thank you again, -Albert.
  7. jryski

    Chapter 3

    This is terrifying and so sad that Bobby is so confused when it comes to sex. Devon..... hmmm🤔🤔 maybe its normal to be that sexually promiscuous with strangers where they live? Iuno 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️
  8. FanLit

    Chapter 17

    Sunchokes? When I looked them up, they looked like knobby potatoes.
  9. December 23, 2016 "Dad!" I wrapped my arms around him and lifted him off the ground. Gavin stood about five eleven and weighed maybe a hundred seventy pounds, but in my excitement I manhandled him like a rag doll. "Put me down!" His deep, robust laughter rumbled through his body into mine as I held him against me. Chuckling, thrilled beyond words, I set him back on his feet without releasing him. I kissed his cheek, pressed my face against him, whispered, "I'm so glad to see you." A sense of barren heartache echoed in my voice. I hoped he missed it. When I let him go, however, his expression said otherwise. But he didn't comment, not then anyway, not in the middle of DFW International Airport with thousands of people meandering about the terminal in a crush of humanity. Instead he wrapped and arm around me as we turned toward baggage claim. "How've you been, Greg?" I snuggled him against my side and exclaimed, "Fine!" Uh, wanna tone down the enthusiasm so it doesn't come across like soap opera acting? His slight frown and minuscule nod, as though I'd shared some terrible news, seemed to echo my thoughts. Then he confirmed it by saying, "Insofar as 'fine' is concerned, you didn't sell it." Dropping my head as we jostled and bumped through a mass of people before splitting off toward the luggage carousels, I admitted, "Yeah ... Well ... I'm okay. Surviving, which is better than the alternative." His hand rubbed my back, the paternal love passing right through my heavy coat into my body. "Sometimes surviving's all we can do. But I'll let you in on a little secret: it's never enough." All I could offer by way of reply was a shrug before inquiring, "How about you?" "Moving back here is working wonders for my disposition. But, to be honest, I'd be better if my boys were happy." I wish people would stop assuming I can fix what's broken. * * * * * Dad sipped his red wine as the waiter took our plates away and unobtrusively left the check. I set my American Express atop the small tray and pushed it to the edge of the table. "That was delicious," he said. I nodded emphatically. "It's my favorite Greek restaurant. Authentic, traditional cuisine and a delicious assortment of wines." To emphasize the point, I toasted him with my wineglass before finishing its contents and setting it aside. "So you really think we can pull this off?" "Of course," I answered without hesitation. "You have the business acumen and I have the money and the technological know-how and the people and the contacts. I'll have clients lined up by the time we open our doors." Gavin chuckled. "Always the optimist," he beamed. An abrupt wave of sadness swept over me. I frowned, looked down at the empty table, then back to my father's eyes and said, "Mostly, but not always." His hand slid across the table and gripped mine, squeezing it, communicating much. "In other news," he added when he released his grip on me, "the office space is almost done—" "I've dealt with the tech installers, so the server room, lab, data center, phone system and wiring are up to spec. My people will start installing equipment on January third." "Excellent! I was scared you might leave that for me." "Only to watch you squirm in agony," I snickered. He kicked me under the table and muttered, "Asshole." "Greg?" Both Dad and I spun around to look behind us. Much to my surprise, Keigan had entered the restaurant without notice. "Hey, dude," I greeted as I stood and hugged him, planting a kiss on his cheek. He returned the welcome before releasing me. As I sat down, I kicked out a chair and said, "Join us." "Only for a minute. I came to pick up dinner." He settled into the chair. "Dad, this is Keigan, the friend I told you about who owns the burger joint. Keigan, this is Gavin, my father." The two men shook hands across the table and said brief hellos to each other. "I would've guessed either older brother or dad," Keigan said. Gavin puffed up like a parading peacock. "Older brother ... There's a compliment." "You don't look a day over sixty," I joked with my fifty-year-old father. He kicked me under the table. Again. "Hey!" I fussed melodramatically as I leaned down to rub my aching shin. "Clearly you two got your table manners from the same place." They glanced at each other before laughing. "Are we that much alike?" I asked my friend. Possibly because he'd been in Seattle for so long and I didn't spend as much time around him as I might otherwise have done, I never considered myself a reflection of my father. Everyone could tell I wasn't a reflection of my mother. "It's so obvious," Keigan said. "The wavy black hair, the glacial blue eyes, the blemish-free fair skin, the exotic Central European features—something softer than Russian but harder than British, that special place where genetics kicks out beautiful men without trying. He even has a similar build." Keigan waggled his eyebrows for effect. "Uh ... Okay," Dad mumbled, blushing. Suddenly something over my shoulder caught Keigan's eye and he smiled, though he took on that lustful gaze gay men sometimes get when their sight stumbles over a tasty example of the male gender. "Yum ..." he mumbled. "Gross! That's my dad you're talking about." "Not him," Keigan groaned while my father struggled against uproarious laughter. "Oh." I gave Dad a pitiful look and shrug, whispered, "His loss," then asked Keigan, "Fine. Who?" "The host seating people." After glancing back I said, "He's the owner." "Really? Hmmm ... Don't you think he's hot?" "If you're into the Greek daddy thing." "And you're not?" "Not really my type. Not that I have a type, at least that I'm aware of." I ignored the knowing looks both Keigan and Dad aimed in my direction. "So you're telling me you don't think he's all kinds of sexy?" Keigan asked. "No. Too burly. Too furry. I have no problem with body hair, don't get me wrong, but I'm not into getting rug burns from sex." The three of us bit off our laughter lest it get out of control. "I suppose ..." my friend muttered, eyes locked on the Greek restaurateur, "but he's pretty delicious." "So you're a daddy-and-his-boy kind of boy?" "No! I'm into equals. No dominant-submissive stuff, no daddy-son stuff, just equals." "Same here. But clearly you have eyes for the daddy type." "Not necessarily. I thought you were hot as hell the moment I saw you." I blushed and shrugged. He added, "I just like what I like and I think the guy's sexy." After winking at my dad I told Keigan in a breathy tone, "Would it make him hotter if I told you he has a nice dick, almost as big as mine, and he's versatile and really hot in bed?" Both men looked shocked, Gavin's mixed with straitlaced humor and Keigan's mixed with lubricious interest. "Does he really?" Keigan whispered overly loud. I couldn't hold back my chuckle. "How the hell should I know? I said he's not my type." He hit me, smacked me like I was a redheaded stepchild. The audacity of some people! Waving away any further outrage on his part, I told him, "I don't know anything about his sexual prowess or his ... ahem ... assets, but I do know he's gay, he's a really nice guy, he has the sexiest accent, and he's single." "Really?" Keigan couldn't help looking like a kid in a candy shop. Then his smile faded as he asked, "Or are you full of bullshit again?" "Still, K, not again. But no, I'm not kidding this time. All those things are true." Leaning close to him and speaking conspiratorially yet loud enough for Dad to hear, I added, "If you play your cards right, I'll introduce you to him. We've known each other for years; my company uses this restaurant for catering sometimes and for business lunches other times." Sitting back, I winked for effect. Grabbing my face and pulling me to him, he planted a sloppy kiss on my lips then responded, "You're on, Mr. Beaumont. I'll go grab my dinner and I'll be back. Then you can introduce me to ... Wait, what's his name?" "Yannis." "Yannis ..." he repeated, working the name around his mouth to discover its hidden flavors. "Right, Yannis. Okay, I'll be right back." He stood and turned, then immediately turned back and leaned toward my father. He quietly joked—at least I hope he was joking—"Not that I'm giving up on this daddy," to which he added a suggestive wink. Gavin melted into his chair, a massive blush exploding all over him. Once Keigan left the table on his way to the register, Dad gave me an interesting look, part curiosity and part confusion. "A close friend of yours?" he asked with a mischievous grin. "He's just a friend. A good friend, but just a friend." "Seems like a nice guy. Handsome, too." "Yeah, he's handsome." Leaning forward and dropping my voice to a muted level I added, "And he has a really hot body, all lean muscle in all the right places, plus he has a nice uncut cock." I licked my lips in as lascivious a manner as I could while biting back a laugh. "In case you're thinking about making him my stepfather." Dad's eyes widened in dismay as he scooted back, shaking his head and fighting a chuckle. "Ugh! That was completely unnecessary, Greg." "Unnecessary? Perhaps ... but it sure was fun." * * * * * December 31, 2016 When I stopped at the curb outside Kyle's old house, it had the deserted feel of a place long abandoned, though I knew they'd only moved out the day before, spending their final two nights at an airport hotel since all their worldly possessions had already been shipped to Florida in anticipation of their move. Nevertheless, it felt like a home with all the children gone. No, that's not it. It's bleaker than that, more barren, destitute even. It's like all the hope is gone, all the love. Maudlin thoughts wouldn't help me find Basketball Boy, so I shook them off as I allowed the car to creep slowly along the street. At the house Nate now occupied alone, a dark shape huddling against the garage caught my attention. It could've been a bag of trash, though I had my doubts. I parked at the end of the driveway and shut off the car. It was already obvious to me that I was looking at a person curled in on themselves as they sat on the ground and leaned back on the wall. There was no doubt in my mind who that person was. "Kyle?" My voice was gentle, calm. Standing a few feet from the loitering shape, my voice raised nothing but the slightest tremor, the movement of shadow in dark, hardly more corporeal than imagination. But I knew I startled him, even if only slightly. With my feet bracketing his, I knelt in front of him before reaching out and pushing back the hood of his sweatshirt. Kyle had his head resting on his arms which in turn rested on his knees. Everything he wore was dark, blue or black from the looks of it, and he was no more obvious than air. Unless somebody was looking for him. Like me. Gently running my fingers through his hair, his skin was cold yet he didn't shiver. In fact, he didn't move at all, not even looking up at the sound of my voice or the touch of my hand. I grabbed him under both arms and hauled him upright, saying, "Come on, Kyle. Let's get you someplace warm." He said nothing, his eyes vacant, his expression blank—not the blank expression I'd come to understand meant deep thought, but instead the plain expression of someone utterly lost. Basketball Boy allowed me to lead him to the car, settling him in the passenger seat and buckling the seatbelt before I got in the other side, started the vehicle, and drove away from the neighborhood we'd both once called home. * * * * * "No, not catatonic," I told Teresa over the phone, Kyle settled on the couch under a few warm blankets, a cold beer nearby if he wanted it. "He's just lost in his own head, emotionally bare I suspect." "How did he get out that far?" Shaking my head as I looked at the sixteen-year-old boy stretched out on my hotel suite's sofa, his eyes glazed and staring at the ceiling, I had no answer. "I really don't know. Walked maybe?" "In this weather? He'd freeze to death going all that way." "Cab? Uber? Hitchhiking?" "God, don't put that image in my head! Imagine what might've happened—" "Teresa," I interrupted firmly, "he's okay. He's here with me. I've covered him with blankets to help him get warm, he's resting on the couch, he's not bleeding, he has all his pieces and parts attached as far as I can tell ... I think it's something like shock, just this horrific feeling of abandonment." "You're right. Of course you're right. Thank God you found him! I can't thank you enough." "I couldn't have rested until I knew he was okay. I'm just grateful you called and told me he was missing. The moment you said it, I had an idea where I might find him." A disquieted sigh came through the phone, a mixture of frustration, worry, gratitude and relief, almost a motley moan. "We'll come get him," she insisted. "Don't be silly. You're way the hell out at DFW Airport. That's an hour away at best, then another hour back to your hotel." "I can't ask you to bring him out here. It's the same amount of time for you." "Let him stay here tonight. He'll get some sleep, I'll get him up early, I'll have him there first thing so he can pack and you guys can make your flight." "I couldn't ..." "I can. He'll be safe and warm and comfortable, plus he'll be where he needs to be in the morning without losing more sleep than necessary." A soft inhale and an understanding exhale came through loud and clear. "That's what he'd want, probably what he hoped for when he left," she mumbled. "I suspect as much." * * * * * By the time my call with his mother ended, Kyle had rolled onto his side, curled his hands together under his chin, his back pushed into the sofa, his expression still desperately empty, his eyes hollow and sightless. I sat next to him and stroked his hair, his cheek, his ear. "Kyle," I said softly. Without warning one of his hands came up and grabbed mine, pulling it down under his chin and gripping it like a lifeline. Then his eyes flicked up, met my gaze. And finally the tears started, no indication of them until the first one rolled down his nose. He pushed his head down so his mouth rested against my hand. His breath was hot, fevered, though not from ailment so much as emotional turmoil. He was sick only insofar as anyone is sick when they have to say goodbye to the person they love. Though I didn't share his feelings, I understood them perfectly well. "You found me," he whispered. "Of course I did." "How?" "Your mom called, told me you'd gone missing earlier in the day. She was scared out of her mind. You're staying at a hotel at one of the busiest airports in the world. Her imagination ran wild and provided all sorts of terrible scenarios to explain your absence." I leaned down and whispered in his ear, "You owe her a massive apology." He didn't laugh or smile, only squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, causing more tears to fall. "You have to take me back, don't you?" Basketball Boy's voice was so meek, so full of sorrow. It broke my heart to hear him like that. "No," I said quietly as I sat upright, my hand still in his iron grip. "You're staying here tonight. I'll take you back to the hotel tomorrow morning." "You'll leave me there ..." he grumbled. The accusation lacked venom but contained plenty of despair. "No, Kyle, I won't. I'll stay until you're on your way. I said I'd be there to say goodbye and I meant it." He kissed the back of my hand, a soft and sweet gesture. In response I squeezed his hands and pulled him to his feet. Wrapping an arm around him while he moaned, I started us toward the bedroom as I said, "It's time to get some sleep. We have an early morning tomorrow and you have a long, hectic day ahead." That elicited a disgruntled groan even as he let me lead him toward slumber. * * * * * After using a spare toothbrush to deal with oral hygiene, he moped toward the bed as he stripped off his sweatshirt, tossing it into a nearby chair. Then came the shirt, the shoes, the socks, the jeans. In only a pair of boxers, he slithered under the covers, pulling them up to his chin. "You're going to break some hearts in Florida," I told him before I rinsed with mouthwash. "Huh?" After spitting I explained, "You're an attractive young man, Kyle. Your body's responded really well to the workout regimen Nate and I put together for you." I glanced toward the bed in time to see him shrug. "Puberty and metabolism," he mumbled. "Teenagers!" I laughed. "Honestly, though, you've added muscle in all the right places. Your physique has filled out nicely. Have you noticed how defined you are now?" "Yeah." "You're going to be popular when you get there. Just keep up with the workout and diet like you have been." "I will," he said, a note of embarrassment in his voice. If he was a few years older and if my own emotions weren't bogged down in a hopeless case of unrequited love, I wouldn't hesitate with him, and not just because of how sexy he is and how attractive in an everyday way he is. I know him, know the person behind the hot image, and I like that person, love him even. "You're a special young man, Kyle," I admitted whilst undressing down to my boxer briefs, stowing my dirty clothes in the closet's hamper. Over my shoulder I added, "You're going to grow up into a special man. Anybody will be lucky to win your heart." All I got in response was a grunt, something between dismissive and abashed. Shutting the closet door, I stepped back into the bathroom to collect the used towels so I could pile them in the corner where the maid service would find them the following day. Every time my eyes glanced in the mirror, Basketball Boy's hungry stare was roving over my exposed skin—and even the skin not exposed. Maybe I should've worn shorts. "It's a survival trait, remember?" "What is?" "Being able to function around someone you're attracted to without calling attention to the fact that you're attracted to them. Trust me when I say every gay man worth the membership card knows being obvious around the wrong people is the quickest way to get hurt." "Why are you telling me that again?" "Because you've been eye fucking me since I started undressing." Under his breath he muttered, "But you're not the wrong people." "No," I agreed, "no I'm not." "Does it bother you?" "Not now. It did at one time, as I told you, but not now. Now it's just flattering, even a bit embarrassing." "Why embarrassing?" "A young, attractive guy like you giving me all those wanting looks and flirtations expressions? I'm twice your age, Kyle. I don't know what you see in someone my age." "It's not someone your age I see, it's you." I blushed ferociously as I slid into bed beside him, the covers resting near my waist. His eyes never left my body. Tell him no funny business. He's just getting his fill before his chance ends. No harm in that. Giving him a mischievous grin I asked, "Do you want me to leave the light on so you can look at me all night?" His blush was eloquent, speaking of fantasies both exotic and mundane. Typical teenage thoughts, of course, driven by self-discovery and hormones. After clicking off the bedside lamp, I settled back, hands behind my head, eyes staring at the dark ceiling, feeling good that I'd found him and feeling good about his future. He was a bright kid, adaptable, young. Young people love hard and fast, and first loves are the biggest, most memorable of our lives. Still, he had his whole life ahead of him to find the right man, to find his happiness. "Greg?" he ventured, not whispering but not speaking loudly either. "Hmm?" "Can I ... Can I come closer?" Not moving, I muttered, "Mm-hmm." At no time did I doubt we'd wind up in each other's arms for the night. Not for funny business, mind you, but there'd be no harm in letting him enjoy slumber's embrace in the arms of the man he loved and had to leave behind. For only one night, I couldn't deny him that small pleasure. He scooted closer, closer still, moving in small increments, perhaps frightened, obviously nervous. I could tell by the bed's motion and the sound that he was only a few inches from me, the last few inches a vast chasm of space between what he imagined and what was real. Finally deciding to help him along, I wrapped an arm around him, pulling him to me so his head rested on my chest, his body pressed up to my side. His sigh was profoundly beautiful. He'd sleep well, I knew. * * * * * January 1, 2017 When I woke in the morning not long before my phone alarm was set to sound, I was on my side and Kyle was nestled in against me, his face to my chest, his legs intertwined with mine, one arm slung over my ribs and the other holding my hand, my other arm wrapped around him. It was sweet. Innocent and sweet. Giving his hand a slight squeeze and nudging him a bit with my chest caused his head to snap up and his sleepy eyes to open. "You didn't try to take advantage of my innocence last night," I protested with mock indignation. The fiery blush that exploded in his cheeks rapidly spread down his neck and up to his ears. He immediately pressed his face against my chest to hide his reaction. I leaned forward and kissed the top of his head. "Come on. Time to get moving." * * * * * Both Gerald and Teresa assaulted Basketball Boy with stern scowls when we arrived at the hotel; Teresa even scolded him, albeit quietly, yet she wanted to say more than she did but refrained, likely because it involved confronting what Kyle hadn't told them yet, that longing to see your first love one more time before saying goodbye. For her part, MJ showered him with hugs and whispers and playful smacks, which elicited huge grins and giggles from both kids. At the airport outside the security checkpoint, beyond which I couldn't follow, MJ threw herself into my arms and held me as if her life depended on it. "I'm gonna miss you," she whimpered. I squeezed her tightly as I said, "I'll miss you too, sweetie. But we'll keep in touch, I promise. You have all my contact info, including all my social media accounts." She nodded against my neck. "You won't forget me, will you, MJ?" I asked facetiously. "God, no!" she cried. I hugged her tightly before setting her feet back on the ground. When I straightened and looked at her face, it felt like I was causing heartache left and right. She was near tears, for goodness sake! Wow ... I didn't realize she had it that bad. Wiping away a stray tear with my thumb, I quietly told her, "You call me anytime, MJ. You get in touch however you want whenever you want. You hear me?" She nodded, dejected, but said nothing. She was too close to crying to speak. When she spun around and shuffled away, I didn't feel too terrible for her. At thirteen, she'd meet so many new people and have so many new experiences in Orlando that she'd soon be telling her friends about the silly little crush she once had on some old neighbor guy, then she'd toss back her hair and give a sly smile to some cute boy across the way. I shook Gerald's hand, then he surprised me by pulling me into a bro hug. "Thank you," he mumbled quietly, "for everything you've done for my family." Taken aback by this sudden show of emotion on his part, the sudden closeness he demonstrated, I hugged him with equal fervor and replied, "You and your family have done just as much for me, Gerald." He released me and stepped back. I added, "Take care of them." "I will." Then he turned and joined Kyle's sister near the security line. Teresa's hug was potent and lasting. "You've been a blessing to us," she whispered in my ear. "I can't thank you enough. I just can't." "Thank you for the gift of your friendship. Thank you for raising two very precious and beautiful children. Thank you for letting me be a part of your world, even if only for a brief time." With tears in her eyes she said, "I assure you, Greg, we're just as grateful you've been a part of our world." She touched my cheek briefly, then surprised me with a quick peck at the corner of my mouth, her thumb gently stroking beneath my eye. The wetness she spread told me I was suffering as much emotion as the rest of them. Teresa glanced at her son, sullen and bereft and withdrawn, then glanced back at me and smiled sadly, giving a slight nod. And with that she joined her husband and daughter. Basketball Boy didn't move. He just stared at me. His mouth moved a few times, unspoken words dying before passing his lips. I closed the distance between us and pulled him into my arms. "I'll miss you something fierce," I mumbled, my voice threatening to break. "Oh God ..." he groaned as he clung to me, his grip tight and confining and desperate. He buried his face against my chest and sniffled. "I don't want to go," he cried quietly. Whispering into his ear I said, "We're never more than a phone call away from each other. We'll talk all the time, I'll come visit when I can, and Teresa and Gerald already said I can fly you back here for my birthday party on February third." "I don't wanna go ..." Bracketing his face with my hands, I pulled him away from me enough to see his face. He was so full of woe and sorrow and the kind of pain that comes from deep inside. "Have you come out to Teresa and Gerald?" His surprised shock faded quickly as he answered in a hushed tone, "No. Only MJ." "So you get to check out boys with your sister, huh?" Though brief, his smile shone bright before he ducked his head. "She brought it up. She said she's looking forward to it." I chuckled. What a wonderful relationship they had. What a fantastic deepening it would enjoy with this new shared secret, this new shared interest. "Why did you want to know about them?" he asked in a shaky voice. Wiping away his tears I leaned close and said, "I guess I can only give you a hug if they don't know." Confusion gave way to realization which gave way to pleasant surprise. Without preamble he released me and spun around, rushing over to his family, whispering quietly to them, mostly to his mother and stepfather, each of whom nodded sagely and with understanding, trying to look as though what he told them came as a surprise. At that they both failed miserably. Each hugged him quickly before letting him return to me. "They already knew," he grumbled. "Really?" Even I didn't believe the phony surprise in my voice. Through a subdued laugh he gave me as serious a smirk as he could while saying, "My little secret hasn't been much of a secret, huh?" "Not to the people who love you." Eyes wide and panic stricken, Basketball Boy seemed ready to die right there for the anguish he felt, the terrible loss he imagined. I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him against me again. "Youth rebounds and recovers quicker than youth realizes, Kyle, a trait of the young we adults can admire and envy but can't emulate or acquire. We lose it in the transition to maturity. Unfortunately. So don't be in too much of a hurry to grow up." He trembled in my arms with silent lamentation. I nuzzled near his ear as I said, "You'll meet all sorts of new people there, make all sorts of new friends. And one of the boys you meet will steal your heart. What you and I have is wonderful, but it can't be more than it is. That boy, that special young man you meet, will be able to give you more. I promise." Shaking his head, attempting to negate reality, he sniffled but said nothing. "Look at me, Kyle." He did. So woebegone, so distressed. It wouldn't be long before all of this seemed like a silly schoolboy crush to him, his first foray into the feelings he'd only recently admitted to himself and those around him. "You call me anytime, day or night, no matter what. If you want to talk, if you need to talk, if you just need a friendly voice or an understanding ear, you call me." He nodded in silence, tears on his cheeks. "We'll talk often, text, e-mail, social media, phone, whatever. And you'll be back in a month for my birthday, for the whole weekend. That's not long at all." "I know," he mumbled. Placing my hand over his heart, I fought back tears as I said, "You and me, Kyle, we'll always be connected right here, you hear me? What we have is special and it's powerful and it won't die if we care about it at all." He kept nodding but said nothing. No doubt words would cause a complete emotional breakdown. Cupping his cheeks in my hands, using my thumbs to wipe away the unending moisture there, I leaned down and kissed him. No tongue, no lust, no erotic intent, but instead I poured into the kiss all the love I felt for him, all the sorrow his absence would cause, all the unending strength of the bond we shared. I poured my soul into that kiss, into Basketball Boy, into Kyle Wakeham, the neighbor boy who'd turned my life upside-down, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, and through my lips I told him I wouldn't change a minute of what we'd had together. He nearly passed out, so overwhelmed was he by the unexpected intimacy of a kiss that held no sensual promise. His hands grasped my arms to steady himself as he leaned into me, his legs wobbling, his body trembling. When I broke the embrace, only a few moments had passed, but the rejuvenated life in his face made me think it had been a kiss that lasted hours, if not days. "I love you," I whispered. "Remember that." "I love you, too," he returned, his voice shaky and uncertain. I watched them wend their way through security. Kyle kept glancing back, making sure I was still there. Beyond security, inside the terminal proper, they turned left. Kyle's eyes remained locked on mine until he disappeared in the surging crowd of travelers. Only then did I turn and walk away, my tears flowing and my heart breaking and my mind wishing the past year had ended so very much unlike the reality I faced.
  10. Headstall

    Down Syndrome Awareness Month

    Thanks, Val. I had a down syndrome friend when I was a kid... he lived in our house which was divided into apartments. I remember that he was fun to play with, and his mother baked amazing stuff!
  11. Bah, apparently you can't edit and publish a chapter at the same time without messing up, even if the chapter was NOT post-dated. :facepalm:

    There's a new DDD chapter up, but it doesn't appear on the story update list on the main forum page. :no: I hope you find it anyway.

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. northie



      you can't edit and publish a chapter at the same time without messing up,

      It's been that way for a long time, Tim. It's best to publish, then sort out any problems. :hug:

    3. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      Or edit and save, and then publish the chapter afterwards.

    4. Timothy M.

      Timothy M.

      But yeah, I feel quite stupid for messing up. :( I should have known better.

  12. Theliel sat cross-legged on their new king size box bed and looked at the different test tubes laid out in front of him. On the left – Diego’s green, on the right – Azrael’s swirling purple vials. He hadn’t seen such different samples since he evaluated the Angel / Imp team, but he instinctively knew they’d match anyway. Seeing Diego standing beside Azrael had been stunning. Their auras reminded him of a butterfly’s wings. They’d even become iridescent when they mixed. He opened his portable reader, certain he wouldn’t need it to confirm the match. However, knowing Ayil’s obsession with protocol, he pushed one of Diego’s vials into one of the slots, then Azrael’s beside it. The resulting numbers confirmed his initial assessment. To be on the safe side, and because it was proper protocol, he tested a second set. Just when the confirming ‘ding’ sounded, the door opened and Sablo came into the room. “You started without me!” “Of course. I don’t need you hovering and bombarding me with questions. This is a CC matter, Sablo.” “It’s my brother.” “Which is why I’m sharing this with you, against proper protocol.” “As if you care for protocol. Give me the results, please.” “What I said before. Their auras match.” “Are you sure?” “Nah, why would I be?” When Theliel saw the immediate relief on his lover’s face, he continued, “I randomly said what came to mind.” “What!?” “I’m kidding. Jeez!” “Why the fuck would you do that?” “Because you’re annoying. Of course I’m sure! Do you know how long I’ve been doing this?” “No, it didn’t come up until now.” “Seriously, Sablo!” Finally understanding he’d just insulted Theo badly, Sablo relented. “I’m sorry, baby. It’s just....I don’t like this Azrael guy.” “Azrael is a wonderful angel and person. Diego can count himself lucky.” “Did you…?” Theo raised an eyebrow, silently daring Sablo to continue that question. Sablo couldn’t contain himself any longer and yelled, “Were you two together?” “For a short time, yes.” Sablo glared and opened his mouth to comment. It was the perfect moment for Theliel to swoop in. He pressed his lips onto Sablo’s and pushed his tongue in between. His lover’s indignation instantly blew over. He instead opened his mouth wider, moaned, and grabbed Theo’s ass. “How about having some of the scones you bought together with cake? Before I reward you for being such good host earlier and not offending your brother’s future partner.” “You’re reading my mind.” Fetching a plate with the scones and two mugs, Theo closed the door by pushing his butt against it. Then he placed everything on the floor and jumped on the bed beside Sablo. He leaned down, snatched a scone and took a huge bite. “Yum. I didn’t know scones could be delicious. They always looked so dry and boring.” “Stop right now!” Theo froze mid-bite. “You forgot the cream and strawberry jam.” Sablo did a small come-hither gesture, and the two containers appeared next to him. He fumbled with the snap cap of the small jam jar. The lid flew across the room, and a large red blob landed on his chest. Theliel eyed the mess slowly dripping down Sablo’s flat stomach hungrily. Lightning fast, he grabbed the other jar, opened it, and poured the whipped cream on top of everything. He dipped his scone into the mix. “Perfect.” Sablo swiped a finger through the cream. “Are you going to clean that up?” “Naturally.” Theo pushed him until he was resting on his back, wiggled himself between Sablo’s legs, and licked across a nipple. “Delicious.” It was a long while before they finally slept. *** The next morning, Sablo was woken by his phone ringing insistently. Next to him Theo grumbled about the noise while Sablo fumbled for the annoying device. He took the call without checking who it was from and barked, “What?” The icy voice of Ariel almost made his eardrum freeze. “What the hell were you thinking? I asked you to deliver a message, not cause a war between Cupid Central and Guardian Central.” “Um, Sir, we were actually rather polite, but Ayil…well, he seemed slightly deranged, Sir.” At the mention of his boss, Theo sat up and stared wide-eyed at his lover. There was a slight pause before Ariel’s tone thawed a bit. “I wouldn’t take your word for it, but since your brother implied the same thing, I guess I’ll have to believe you. Unless the two of you conspired to tell the same story?” “We parted ways right after the meeting with Ayil, Sir. Diego came for dinner last night, but Theo and another angel were present, and we didn’t discuss the meeting with the Cupid Central boss at all.” “Hmpf, well, I’m officially assigning you to go with Diego on his next mission as the GC representative. For some reason,” his voice grew new icicles, “Ayil seemed to think you’d be there. I don’t trust him to do an impartial evaluation, so you’re to document every step. There must be no doubt of your brother deserving the award.” “Yes, Sir. I’ll do my best for Diego and Guardian Central.” “A good answer, Sablo.” The commander hung up, and Sablo groaned. “What was that about Ayil acting deranged?” “I’ve only met him a few times, but he definitely acted different yesterday.” “I still can’t believe you complained to him about me being away for too long when I got sent to Australia.” “He was the one who shot us, so he should expect crazy romantic stunts if he dispatches my lover on stupid missions. But my whole point is, Ayil was annoyed then too, but he listened to my arguments and gave me answers. He didn’t mumble to himself or suddenly decide to take it out on my boss.” Before Theo could reply, Sablo’s phone rang again. This time he checked and smiled with relief when Diego’s name popped up on the screen. “Yo, bro, did you get woken up by an angry Roman too?” “Never mind that. My mission starts three hours from now. Get yourself together and come down to my office pronto.” “What’s the hurry?” “We need to talk. Is Theo there?” “Yeah, he’s sitting next to me.” “Tell him thanks for a great meal last night, and sorry for dragging you out of bed. Then get your butt in gear.” Sablo stared at his phone in astonishment as Diego hung up on him. “Um, Baby,” he began, but Theo cut him off. “I heard him. You can grab the shower, and I’ll make you a quick breakfast.” “You’re the best. I’ll make it up to you when I get back.” “Yes, I am, and I’ll hold you to that promise.” *** When Sablo entered his brother’s office and temporary home, Diego was sporting a fresh crew cut and crisp, new, army boots and fatigues. It reminded him of another unanswered question. “How come you’re exempt from the regular angel look of bare feet and longer hair?” Diego snorted. “You wouldn’t believe the bureaucracy shit I had to go through for this. The boots weren’t too difficult; I simply told Ayil I was distracted from my missions because I felt uncomfortable with bare feet in combat zones and disaster areas.” “You’re not substantial enough to feel anything you walk on.” “I’m substantial enough for those kids to feel me hold their hand. But I meant uncomfortable in my mind, idiot. You try walking on a battlefield with dead bodies, or running on burning embers, and see how it fucks with your head.” “Fair enough, since you wear those boots all the time anyway. But how did you get the commander to agree to your hairdo?” “I never liked the requirement of letting my hair grow, so I always kept it as short as possible. But having it past my ears and fluttering around the top of my neck was bloody annoying.” “Let me guess. You wrote a petition to Ariel for a crew cut rather than simply doing it.” “Yes, yes, we all know you’re the rebel who hates asking for permission. Don’t you get tired of that image after more than 70 years?” “We may evolve to keep up with human society, but our personality stays the same. You know that.” “It’s OK to change and mature. You already did. Otherwise, you’d never have settled down with Theo five years ago.” “Stop changing the topic. How did you manage to wrangle a crew cut out of Ariel? I’ve seen the surprised looks you get from other Guardians, and some of those crusty, old idiots would love to report you.” “You’re right. I’m all for respecting tradition, but flexibility is necessary too. When I convinced Ariel I needed something familiar to ground me during those special missions, he gave me a signed and stamped chit. If anyone tries to give me grief over my looks, I show it to them, and tell them to take it up with the commander.” Sablo burst into laughter. “I bet that shuts them up quick as fuck.” Diego chuckled and nodded. “Now, if you’re done bitching about my hair and how I dress, we need to talk about the mission.” “Sounds ominous.” “It’s not too bad. We’re going to a boat with refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.” “A boat?” “Mmhmm. Do you still want to go with me? I know you get seasick just looking at waves.” “I have to. Ariel’s made it official. He said he doesn’t trust Ayil.” “Makes three of us, then. And maybe your new Guardian body can’t get seasick.” “No such luck. Theo took me on a boat trip, and I puked my guts out when it got windy.” “But like you said, if you’re on a mission, you’re not substantial enough to be affected by the physical world.” “Let’s hope it works for nausea too. But I think I’ll skip lunch, just to be sure. Do you know how long the mission will last?” “No idea, but I hope it’s short, as I have you and Ayil breathing down my neck.” “Let’s hope the kid is a survivor.” “I talked some more with Azrael after we left last night. Apparently, the special cases are children who have higher than usual potential to achieve good in the world. Their souls are collected to be reborn immediately. Or if the kid survives but loses a good person who’s essential to them, the soul of that person will become their future Guardian Angel.” “Why are you suddenly being all chummy with Azrael? Yesterday you freaked out over the idea of dating Death.” “I don’t know. But we had a talk in Azrael’s garden, which is absolutely amazing by the way, and I want to find out more. So going on a date seemed logical. You suggested it, bro. How come you’re all upset?” “I know, I know. I just didn’t expect you to go for it. Have you found out if Azrael is male or female?” “We haven’t been on a date, and you think we had sex already?” “So last night wasn’t a date?” “No, that was bringing a friend for dinner. Theliel’s friend too, as it turned out.” “Don’t remind me.” “They’ve lived a lot longer than us, Sablo. Are you going to be jealous of who your partner’s been with a hundred years or more ago?” “Good point.” “And you weren’t exactly inexperienced either, before you met Theo.” “Whatever. But him and Azrael having a fling suggests he’s a guy.” “Fine with me. I’m interested in Azrael as a person; gender is secondary. In fact, the mystery of not knowing adds to the allure.” “You were always attracted to that…that what do you call it?” Sablo tilted his hand back and forth. “Ambiguity? The androgyne look? Genderqueer people?” “Whatever it is, Azrael seems to have it.” “I admit I wouldn’t mind having both. Perhaps that’s possible with an angel like them. If Azrael can change gender at will….” Diego let the sentence go unfinished, getting a dreamy look on his face. “Hmm, no wonder Theo’s testing showed a perfect aura match.” “What?!”
  13. Timothy M.

    Chapter 3

    Richie should have told Gabe's father about being hit. I wish he'd said something to the teacher about any stress being due to his so-called father refusing to honor his mother's wishes. He needs all the allies he can find. I'm glad Richie keeps telling the sperm donor what he thinks of him. It's best to get all that anger out in the open.
  14. Kapucinski

    Chapter 18

    Oh crap, this is so not good. I hope Zampa grows fast and saves the day! Nobody is going to hurt her momma Paulie and her servant Corbin 😾
  15. jryski

    Chapter 1

    Holy shit! Bobby's parents deserve a death sentence!
  16. Today
  17. Kitt

    My Mental Illness Is Not Your Punchline

    Will not happen again.
  18. Timothy M.

    Chapter 1

    Oh, you should definitely keep reading. This story gets better every chapter, and you'll miss all the parts if you don't continue.
  19. Thorn Wilde

    My Mental Illness Is Not Your Punchline

    Thank you for reading it, and for getting it.
  20. Wesley8890

    Chapter 3

    I hate anyone who hits their child in anger like that. I understand a swat on the butt for acting out but hitting a child in the face like that is unforgivable
  21. jryski

    Half Jack

    I loved it!
  22. jryski

    Half Jack

    I didn't like it.
  23. jryski

    Chapter 1

    Oh damn they made everything so confusing lol. 😂😂😂 maybe spidey, deadpool, and iceman can have a threesome one day in a alternate universe. Huehuehue 😜😜😜
  24. Thorn Wilde

    Half Jack

    Glad you liked it!
  25. Thorn Wilde

    Chapter 1

    Yeah, I checked, and it's not canon. It's an alternate future comic. It takes place on Earth-70237, which is an alternate universe. All the Marvel universes have now been merged so they've retconned so much stuff, lol! Either way, though, this is a future that never happened.
  26. Valkyrie

    My Mental Illness Is Not Your Punchline

    Thorn, you nailed this perfectly. Language influences thoughts and reactions. Using mental illness terms like this diminishes the struggles people with these disorders go through daily. It can be deflating to people with 'invisible' disabilities to hear these types of statements. People don't tend to understand what they can't see. Thank you for this.
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