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Dabeagle

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About Dabeagle

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    Avid gamer and voracious reader. A VW junkie and sports fan.

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  1. Dabeagle

    Chapter 4

    Candy & Kisses Chapter 4 By Dabeagle email I worked early on Saturday and got done at three. My phone had more than a couple of messages from Cathy and Ginnie, begging for details on Zack. I smiled and thumbed through my contacts to send him a message. I didn't call him Zack Rowan in my list. Nope, he was Perky Tits. Me: Hey. So the girls want to know how our hook up went last night. What should I tell them? I chuckled to myself, confident that he'd find it humorous. I motored home and walked into the chaos that was always in effect in that house. "Jerry!" my little sister cried out. "How do I do this?" I walked into the living room where she was playing Minecraft. "I don't know. What are you trying to do?" I asked. "This. Look. It's broken." "Why did you break it?" I teased. "I didn't!" she said defensively. I sat down on the floor with her and started trying to figure out what she was doing. My phone vibrated and I fished it out while trying to help my sister. Perky Tits: Tell them I don't put out on the first date. A laughing, crying emoji followed it and I chuckled. "Jerry!" my sister whined at my divided attention. "Okay, okay," I said with a chuckle and set my phone down and played with my sister for a while. She got bored kind of quickly, though, and I headed upstairs to get out of my work clothes and get showered; if I didn't I'd smell like burgers and fries for the day. I was kind of over the smell and taste of fast food. I sat down on my bed with my school-issued laptop and started going over the work I had due for English. It was a poetry paper, and while I didn't really like poetry, I was secretly pleased whenever I understood one of the works in a way other than the obvious. My teacher was always trying to show us the relevance of lines and kind of decoding them, and I was the first to say it didn't always work. But when it did, it was sort of like solving a puzzle and I felt like I'd discovered something. I was interrupted by my phone ringing. "Hey, Cathy," I said, my eyes lingering on my screen. "So is he gay or what?" she asked without preamble. "Is who gay?" I asked, distracted. "Who," she said in frustration. "Zack Rowan! Jesus, Jer, I thought you'd tell me if you got a boyfriend!" Her tone pulled me fully into the conversation and away from my homework. "Zack? No, he's not gay!" I said firmly and rolled my eyes. "It's just weird," she said a little petulantly. "You just said a few days ago you'd do him, now you're hanging out and not returning my texts?" "I had to work today," I told her with a sigh. I pressed on the bridge of my nose with my fingertips. "Look, Zack is straight. He's actually really nice, and I will say that if he was gay, I could see dating him. He just invited me to play video games with a couple of his friends." I decided not to complicate things by telling her I hadn't realized he was inviting anyone else. "Who was there?" she asked after a slight delay. "Seth Kilgallon and..." I swallowed as my face heated up. "Brandon McCall." "Oh." She fell silent for a moment and I cleared my throat. As if none of that had been said she then asked, "What are you doing?" "The poetry homework," I replied, feeling as if I were on safer ground. Don't ask me why. "You want to go to the JV football game? Ginnie has her eye on some freshman," she said, the derision plain in her voice. "Um, no, thanks. I'm going to finish this and get the math done so I can do what I want tomorrow." "Oh, all right." She paused again. "You would say if you were seeing someone, right? You sound different." I chuckled. "I'm not seeing anyone, Cath. Wish Gin good luck with her fishing trip." I struggled to get back into the poetry assignment after her call. I kept coming back to how I reacted when Brandon's name came up. I can so clearly remember how nine-year-old me had been bursting with weird emotions, and that led directly to kissing Brandon on the playground. I could pull up that feeling as if it were kept close in case I needed it. On the heels of that heady, drowning feeling I was slammed with the shame of being pushed away, of people laughing at me. It felt oppressive and the old anger rose in me. It must be nice going through the world as Brandon McCall. The fucker. I went down for dinner with my family, and that pushed thoughts of Brandon, Cathy and Zack out of my head for a while. Cal was trying to hurry because he had a date. He was dating a pretty cool girl, Liv Fitzpatrick, and I was silently jealous of him and his successful dating life. My older sister - the oldest of us kids - was out at a concert with friends. She was crazy for this band and my parents were afraid she was going to hop in someone's van and follow the group around the country or something. "Where were you yester-night?" my little sister asked suddenly. Non-sequitur, thy name is pre-teen. "I went to a friend's house," I told her. "Nosy." "Cathy?" she asked brightly. "No." "Ginnie?" I wrinkled my brow. "No." At this point every face was looking at me. I looked around at them, miffed. "I have friends!" Cal cleared his throat. "So. Is this friend...cute?" He started to snicker and I flipped him off. "Hey. Not at the table." My dad pointed his fork at me, then smiled. "What's his name?" I rolled my eyes. "Zack. He's not gay." "Is he nice looking?" my mother asked. "Yeah," I conceded. "He's nice. Pretty cool." "How do you know him?" my dad asked. I sighed. "Remember that party people are talking about? Where all the kids got caught by the cops?" Heads nodded, rapt in attention. "Well, I crashed it, got drunk, stuck my tongue down Zack's throat and - ow!" I exclaimed, leaning back from my mother so she didn't smack my arm again, laughing as I did. "Brat!" she said with a laugh. "Tell us about this friend. You haven't bothered with anyone for a while." I laughed at her and shook my head. "He was at the party. He doesn't usually go, but this time he went and had too much. I helped him out when the cops got there." I shrugged. "He said I treated him like a friend and he wanted to hang out. Kind of see if we were missing out on each other, I guess." "That's awesome. Although," Cal said with a snicker, "I was kind of hoping you did lay one on him. I hear drunk guys are easy. I know I am!" "Hey! No drinking!" my father said, his voice getting deeper. "I'm kidding!" Cal said with a laugh. "You're not funny! Stop laughing!" my dad said, the corners of his mouth curling despite his words. "I promise, no drunk sex," Cal said, unable to contain his giggles. I was laughing too and my mother had her mouth covered. "What's drunk-ex?" my little sister asked. "Oh, honey," my mom said, mastering her giggles. "Big people kiss and do other things with their bodies. But if you have alcohol, you don't always make the same choices you would if you were sober. We don't want Cal to make mommy and daddy into grandma and grandpa, not just yet." She scrunched her little nose. "What's sobers?" My dad picked up the explaining and I looked at Cal and snickered again. My parents never shied away from explanations. They said we saw violence and language on TV and at the movies; human bodies were small potatoes in comparison. It made a lot of sense to me, and I credit that kind of thinking as the reason my brother and sister hadn't gotten anyone, or themselves, pregnant yet. Cal leaned over while my parents were busy being explainers. "Zach. You mean Zach Mosher? Artistic nerd or maybe...Zack Rowan? Soccer nerd, right?" Almost everyone is a nerd of one sort or another to my brother. "Yeah," I said with a nod. "Soccer. You know him?" "Not really," he said. "I'm all about the idea of college, you know? Can't wait for my senior year to end so I can get on with life. Still, I heard he's a nice guy." He paused and looked at me for a minute. "I don't know if it would be a private thing to you, but he's got a good rep. I'd approve of him as your first official boyfriend." Official. Because sneaking around with that snake James hadn't been. "He is really nice. If he were gay, I really think I'd be happy with him. But he's not. We really are just friends. New friends," I said, keeping my voice low. "Okay. Well, I hope you tell us if your boyfriend status changes. Then the parents can worry about you having drunk sex instead of me," he said and said the last part loudly enough for our parents to over hear and start chiming in. Cal was the devil, man, but cool as fuck. After dinner I finished my homework and texted with Ginnie and Cathy. They were still going on about the dick pic of Hunter's, though now there was some doubt as to whether it was him or not. In a way I liked the idea of Hunter not being hung like a fucking horse. It made him more human. I picked up my laundry off the floor before I went to bed. Sunday is our chore day - funny story about that. When I was about five I remember my parents giving us a choice of church or chores. My sister said church since anything sounded better than chores. One sermon was all it took and we'd been doing chores every Sunday since. In the morning I had breakfast and cleaned my room. I didn't think I was overly slovenly, but my mother disagreed. Once that was done I was responsible for cleaning the living room, so I dusted, vacuumed and generally spiffed the room up. Cal had the bathrooms and Janice had the halls and stairs. My baby sister, Amanda, was still being trained on her room, but my folks were also having her empty garbage to teach her responsibility. My parents always did the kitchen, but then they liked cooking together, so I think it's a special space for them. Zack called around eleven-thirty. "Hey. I'm bored. What are you doing?" "Almost done with chores. What do you have in mind?" "Iced coffee. I got a craving, man," he said and groaned a little into the phone. "Oh, well if you groan at me like that, I'll take you wherever you want," I said with a snicker. "Yes! Free rides for life!" Zack said with a laugh. "You feel like hanging out? The Beanery has comfy chairs." I glanced at the clock. "Yeah, totally. I need, like, an hour though." "Sweet. See you there." I finished up my chore and went into the kitchen. "I'm finished in the living room. Is it okay if I shower and head out to meet Zack at the Beanery?" My parents shared an exaggerated look. "Not you guys, too," I said with a groan. "We're just friends! I promise, if I get a boyfriend it won't be a secret!" "Okay, sure," my mom said with a grin. "Oh my God!" I groaned as I left them to their silliness. Freshly showered and dressed, I headed out to my car with a pop in my step. The Beanery is a small chain, but they don't act all corporate. Zack was leaning against his car and looking at his phone. "Hey," I said in greeting. He looked up and smiled. "Hey, J." He bobbed his head and put his phone away. "I so need this iced coffee. My parents read some article about how bad caffeine is or something and they are cutting it out. Decaf coffee, sodas, you name it. I need a fix, man!" he said with wide eyes and grabbed my arm, giving it a good shake. I just laughed at him. "Let's get in line then, junkie," I said with a snicker. We queued up and placed our orders, then moved to the end of the counter to wait for them. "Did you hear about Hunter and Julie?" he asked, turning to me quickly. "Uh, no?" I asked. "Cathy didn't say anything. Why?" "Holy shit, dude!" he said, grabbing my bicep and practically bouncing. "Seth was out with Malina last night at the movies, right? And all of a sudden Julie stands up and starts screaming at Hunter in the movies about how he's flashing his dick all over town and how he's too small to be bragging! She totally flipped her shit!" My mouth dropped open. "No way! So it was true? He was sending Sarah Goldman dick pics?" "You knew?" he asked, shock in his voice. "You've been holding out choice gossip, man!" Our order came up and we retreated to a corner and ensconced ourselves in comfy chairs. Zack sipped through the straw and rolled his eyes. "God, tastes so good." I laughed at him and sipped my own drink. "So you knew he was sending out pics? When did you hear?" he asked. "Cathy told me Friday," I replied, leaning back into the soft chair. "Sarah sent the pic to Ginnie who showed me." I frowned. "Come to think of it, Cathy was going to tell Julie that night. I wonder if she did?" "You didn't ask her yesterday?" "No," I said with a sigh. "She's still convinced we're dating," I said, letting my finger wave back and forth between us. "Even my family is busting my balls." He tilted his head. "That's so weird," he said and gave me a lopsided smile. "I've heard guys joke about dating, but I've never had someone think I was, like for real." "She's just going off the things I told you," I said, a little embarrassed, but glad Zack seemed so easy-going about it. "She knows we weren't friends, she knows I gave you a hand when you got drunk - and she's convinced we hooked up - and then when you invited me out Friday. She thinks all that adds up to I'm sneaking around with you." "Huh," he said, leaning back. A thoughtful look settled on his face. "Have you dated before?" I cleared my throat and looked away before looking back at him. "Sort of. I told you about James Plessy." "That's not dating," he said with a slow shake of his head. "I mean going out in public, hanging out and just being you. Not what he wanted." A stinging passed through my eyes, and I blinked it away. "No. When you put it like that, I haven't." "Maybe she's just hoping you are?" he asked and shrugged. "She thinks I'm not telling her everything." I paused for a second. "I guess that's true. I didn't tell her you had a friend that came out to you. I don't know if that would be better or worse, though." He shook his head and sipped from his drink before replying. "Does that always happen? I mean, you hang out and people assume you're screwing?" "No," I said, truthfully. "I just don't have any guy friends. I mean, it's new, you know? They speculate because their lives are empty and they need something to do." I started laughing at the end and he joined me. "Well, no offense, I hope it doesn't get in the way when I ask Amy Gates out tomorrow," he replied. I thought for a moment, trying to picture the girl. "She have long, curly hair?" "Amy? Yeah," he said with a bob of his head. "She dated Patrick Peterson last year?" "Really? You have to bring up an ex?" He fixed me with a sour look, but the edges of his lips were curling. "Don't worry, you're nicer than he is," I reassured him and he laughed. He sipped his drink and then started to bounce his leg, the toe of his shoe flexing. "I've had my eye on her for a while. What do you know about her?" I thought for a minute. "Not a lot. She hangs out with the drama kids. I'm pretty sure she sings in the choir." My eyes lit up and I turned to him. "Oh! She helped set up that collection last year when that family had that house fire, remember?" "Right," he said with a short nod. "It was part of a student government thing. She's pretty, you know? Not like, runway model, but more like a real person." "Zack," I said teasingly. "You sound like you're in love." "Yeah. Maybe," he said and then chuckled. "I've talked to her a little. We worked on that science project at the end of last year. I don't know, she seems...cool." I took a sip from my drink and said, "There will be so many gossips that will be let down when we don't date. You know that, right?" He blushed a little and laughed. "We'll have to get you set up next, then." "Yeah, no thanks," I said with a laugh. His phone rang and he reached down to answer it. While he did I sent a quick text off to Cathy. Me: Heard Julie flipped shit in public. Details? "I'm over at the Beanery with J. Yeah, meet us. Sweet, see ya," Zack said as he disconnected and tossed his phone on the small square table between our chairs. "Seth?" I asked, nodding toward his phone. "I'd love to hit him up for details of that meltdown." My phone buzzed and I glanced down as Zack replied, "Nah, Brando. He's close by, going to come join us." I paused at his reply. Shit. Brandon McCall. Why did he have to be friends with Zack? "Cool," I replied absently, reading Cathy's reply. "I guess Cathy did tell Julie Friday night. They had some kind of fight, but Cathy didn't mention it because she and Julie fight all the time anyway. I guess Julie confirmed it, though, so she went nuclear on Hunter. Guess he's not getting laid for a while." "Holy shit. That's epic," Zack said with a giggle. "I'm not taking pictures of my Johnson for anyone." "Aww. Come on, Zack," I teased him as I tapped a reply to Cathy. She'd asked what I was doing, so I told her I was out with Zack. She immediately called so I answered. "What's up, hag?" I asked her. "You're out in public with Zack?" she demanded. "Yes," I replied with a roll of my eyes. "Zack and I decided we could be friends in public. Jesus, Cath." "Put me on speaker," she demanded. Ugh. Women. Check that. Nosy women. I put the phone down on the little table and hit the speaker icon. "Okay, Cath. You're on speaker." "Zack?" she asked. "Yo," he replied, much too heartily. I think he was enjoying this. Weirdo. I think I like him a little more. "Where are you guys?" she demanded. "J and I? Beanery. Iced coffee is my jam," he said, sounding silly. I covered my mouth to stifle a laugh and he grinned at me. "J? You mean Jerry?" I didn't hear his reply, because it slammed into me all at once. At most people might call me Jer, but for most situations it was Jerry. Unless I was in deep shit, then it was Jeremiah. Or my brother wanted to annoy me, then it was 'Miah. But a long time ago, there was someone that did call me J. He used to have trouble with the R sound as a kid and he always sounded like he was calling me 'Jewwy', so he'd modified it and called me J. Or Jay, whatever works for you. But now someone else was calling me that and I had to wonder...why would he talk about me? "Gotta go, Cath. Brando is here," Zack said and glanced at me, rolling his eyes. He stood to greet Brandon, who looked hotter than fuck. His hair was damp, so it was darker at the root, but it lay on his head inviting someone to run their fingers through it. His tee shirt clung in the best possible way and his jeans were the very definition of a nice fit. So much to hate about him. Ugh. Brandon smiled and waved at me and I nodded and tried to smile. He walked to the counter with Zack beside him, talking animatedly; probably about Hunter and Julie. I took the phone off speaker and put it back to my ear. "Just me, again." "Are you hard? You're hanging around the hunger strike squad," she asked with a giggle and snort. "Funny, Cath," I replied sourly. Fuck if she wasn't right, though. It just wasn't fair. "Get me a picture of his abs, if you can," Cathy said, trying to be serious. "Really? How do you suggest I do that?" I asked in annoyance. Brando - Brandon and Zack walked back over, Zack still bubbling along and Brandon with a juice in hand. Brandon was laughing, which somehow looked sexy. How does someone look sexy with their mouth open, eyes kind of squinted and sounding like a donkey? Okay, he didn't sound like a donkey. It was a cute laugh, but he needs some kind of flaw. Shit. I wonder if he has a pecker like Hunter? "That still Cathy?" Brandon asked as he pulled another comfy chair over to join us. "Yeah. She wants a picture of your abs," I said, mostly because I didn't seem to know what to say. Brandon blushed a little, then pulled the hem of his shirt up. "Tell her not to share it like Hunter's dick, okay?" Brandon asked and started to laugh. His abs tightened, the perfect fucking golden tan of his skin practically glowing. I forgot to take the picture. Screw Cathy, anyway. I ended the call, forgetting to say goodbye, and picked up my drink. "So yeah, I'm still not clear if Julie broke up with him or just shamed him to an early grave," Zack said and chuckled. "Sounds like she dumped him. You think she would, J?" Brandon asked. Jolted by my old nickname on his lips - the one he'd given me - I frowned. "He's awfully pretty. Even if he's hung like a field mouse, he's got a tongue, right? Still useful?" I shrugged and they both burst out laughing. I smiled, but more of a sympathetic response. My mind was trying to churn, but I was avoiding whatever that sneaky bastard was up to. "I gotta hit the bathroom," Zack said as he stood and crossed the room. "So, you coming tomorrow? Angelo's has a deal on slices on Monday nights," Brandon said, his tone kind of speculative. It was a weird fucking tone and it set my nerves on edge. Even more on edge. I cleared my throat, which suddenly constricted and then sipped my drink. "Um. I could, I guess. I didn't know there was a...deal." "Yeah. They have this shrimp Marsala pizza. I know, I know, it sounds rank, but it totally rocks." I frowned. "That sounds horrible and interesting all at once." He snickered. "Yeah." He went quiet for a beat. "You should come." I started to take a deep breath and then, stupidly, tried to take a drink at the same time. I mean literally, my hand totally fucking betrayed me and shoved my straw in my mouth just as I started to inhale. I know my cock is a traitor, but my hand? Maybe they spent too much time together. I don't know if anyone else can breath a frappucino, but I wasn't very successful at it. I coughed violently and set my drink down while covering my mouth with the other hand. My throat felt as if it were on fire and my eyes were watering like someone was chopping onions. I was a little unaware of my surroundings for a minute or so, but when I started to process things again I was conscious of a hand on my shoulder and the most gorgeous green eyes looking into mine. "You okay, J?" he asked. "Need some water or some fresh air?" I shook my head, but the look of concern on his face was unmistakable. Just what the - you know what? I am just going to ask that question. "What fucking game are you playing with me, Brando?" I asked sharply, my voice kind of shredded. He leaned back, registering shock. "What?" "No one has ever called me J, but you. Now Zack is calling me J. Which means you're talking about me. Are you looking to embarrass me again? Why don't you just do it now, huh? We're in public, you have a full house for an audience." I stared at him, my eyes still watery, but I was determined. No one screwed with my emotions more than Brandon McCall and it pissed me off. He gave me a pensive look. Slowly he resumed his seat. God he was beautiful. Even through the turmoil of the situation, I knew my stomach was tightening and my pulse escalating just because he was himself. My shoulder was burning where he'd laid his hand and I just knew, with a feeling of self-loathing, that I'd be thinking of those green eyes later and how close he'd been. My cock was stirring just thinking about it. Fucking traitor. "More iced coffee," Zack said happily as he dropped into his chair and resumed drinking. He glanced at us and seemed to become aware of the tension between us. "Um. Guys?" "I was just asking J to come out with us after practice tomorrow." Brandon looked at me blandly, though even that was smoldering as far as I was concerned. "You should totally come," Zack said, running with the idea. "If I'm lucky, Amy will be with me. What do you say, J? Up for it?" I tore my eyes away from Brandon with an effort and looked at Zack. I knew it couldn't be coincidence, and it left a pit in my stomach. Why would Brandon be talking about me? What was he saying to Zack? What sort of little fuck game was going on? "Why do you call me J?" Zack blinked for a moment. In a measured tone I said, "The night you stumbled over drunk you called me Jerry. The next morning, you called me Jerry. All of a sudden, I'm J. Why is that?" Zack stared at me for a moment and then I got my confirmation as he looked over at Brandon. "Okay. I'm not sure what little bit of fuckery is going on, but I'm out," I said as I gained my feet. "Wait," Brandon said, also standing. "I can explain. I just...why are you so hostile, J?" My eyes wide I said, "Hostile. You wonder why. Seriously?" I stared at him and he lifted and dropped his arms helplessly. "Yeah, seriously." "How about shoving me to the ground and the entire class laughing at me?" I demanded, my eyes prickling with fresh moisture. He looked confused for the briefest of moments, and then Brandon's jaw dropped. "I was nine!" "Well, I wasn't too young to learn my lesson!" I snapped. He lifted an eyebrow. "Not to haul off and kiss someone without consent? And, Christ," he held his hands out to his sides. "Fourth grade? You've hated me since fourth grade because I didn't know how to handle another person kissing me?" My lip trembled. "Yeah, I learned that lesson, too. What else I learned? I was different and no one let me forget it. I learned what fag meant and how to live my life without friends. Maybe it all ended for you when you pushed me away, but I've been paying for it ever since." Brandon's eyes glistened and he nodded his head slowly. "Okay. I guess I can see that, now. I mean, J...I was nine. I'm sorry. I had no idea you were hurting." "How about when my new name was Jerry the Fairy?" I said bitterly. "I never, ever said that. I never called you that. I swear to God, J." His eyes shimmered with emotion and my body continued to respond with nauseating contradictions to his mere presence. "I have to go," I muttered and slipped around Zack. He called out to me, but I felt embarrassed, hopeful, aroused and just plain tired. I climbed in my car and drove home. I took the stairs two at a time and flopped onto my bed before tears started to flow. I was too mixed up to think; all I could do was be carried away on the tide of conflicting emotions warring within me.
  2. Dabeagle

    Chapter 5

    One big thing, to be addressed in the final chapter.
  3. Dabeagle

    Chapter 5

    There is one more chapter - and the all post one week ahead at my personal site, on Sundays. I'm really glad you've enjoyed seeing how this turns out, but I'd think there should be one big question you'd be asking yourself.
  4. Dabeagle

    Chapter 5

    Afterglow By Dabeagle email I woke early and stretched before padding to the bathroom. On my return I slipped beneath the sheets and snuggled behind Parker, who sighed in his sleep but was otherwise undisturbed. With my arm already draped around him, I slipped my fingers between his and closed my eyes, not to sleep, but to dream. I had no idea what last night meant, other than what he'd said - echoing that statement from the time we were teens. I didn't know what had changed; this had never happened when he'd come to visit before. The problem was I wanted more. More dinners and lunches out. More holidays and family events. More road trips and snuggling under a blanket for a movie. More kissing and more sex. More Parker. I guess that was the problem with fooling around. It was okay as long as nobody went and fell for the other person. I've always loved Parker - as a person, as a friend and a brother. I'd never counted him as a lover because it seems an awful lot to tag him with based on one night of jerking each other off. Now? Now I wanted more. He'd stoked a fire in me. I nuzzled the back of his neck, laying butterfly kisses on his warm skin. He stirred slowly and pressed back into me, tightening the grip on my hand. "Uh oh," he said in a playful tone. "I think I told you once that sex was cool, but holding hands was too intimate." He started laughing softly, his back shaking against my chest. "It's after," I said to him. He sighed deeply and nodded, his hair whispering against the pillow. "Yeah. Let me go pee, first." He rose from the bed and I watched him in the palest of morning light. It wasn't enough, but hot damn Parker had grown up nice. I think I'd kind of blocked it out, but my blinders were off in a big way. I heard the flush of water and he crept back into the room. "Scoot over, bed-hog," he said with a snicker and I slid over to accommodate him. I reached out and ran my fingers into his hair and dragging him forward for a chaste kiss, determined that this bubble where we were together wouldn't end just yet. My heart-rate increased as our lips met, getting no resistance from him. "Tell me, Parks," I said. "Okay," he replied, in a small voice I'd not have said he possessed. "It's like this. I travel for work and, as I've told you, that wasn't really a good thing for trying to build anything with anyone. I had a few hook ups, but after a few times I started to feel kind of empty afterward. I was missing things - stability, consistency...love. So," he said and cleared his throat. "I was in Texas for a moto-cross thing and there was a party after we wrapped things up. We were in the hotel bar kind of late, having some laughs and this guy was making eyes at me." "Is this where I get jealous?" I asked to break some of the tension. He laughed lightly. I could see more of his face as the light strengthened outside and I drank him in. "He reminded me of you a little, actually. Kind eyes, nice laugh. We were just talking, nothing interesting, and he made a move on me. Kissed me." Parker's eyes were focused on mine and I stared back at him intensely. "What happened then?" "He wasn't the first guy," he replied, seeming to ignore my question. "I've been hit on a few times, and even hit on a few guys myself. It's...." "It's what?" I asked, my heart hammering. "He...wanted to come to my room, but I said no." His eyes fixed on mine. "Just so I'm clear, I'm saying I've spent time between the sheets with both sexes. Sometimes at the same time. I let myself out of that box a long time ago." "You never really mentioned any of that before," I said with a frown. He shrugged. "I know. It didn't seem important to bring up before. Like, it wasn't relevant to anything we talked about or anything. Now, it does." "How?" I whispered, my heart hammering. "When I...got to my room I started thinking I wanted to come home and see you. I kind of felt like I needed to, but my contract had me traveling for two more weeks. You may remember I started to call a lot. Check your schedule, see what you had going on." "I thought you just missed me," I said, teasing, yet full of wonder. "I did," he said seriously. "When I got to your office I felt like a big weight had been lifted off my chest. Like I could breathe again. I needed to see you, and I couldn't wait for you to get done with your work day." His hand found mine and he held it firmly. "As soon as I got to you, I knew. I was home. It's a feeling I can't get from anyone else. Your office, your apartment, your car, this bed...it's home because I'm with you." "Parker," I said, breathless and trying not to let my emotions carry me places that would hurt me. "I always thought you were straight. As much as I'd love for you to be gay...we both know-" "We both know what I was at fifteen. Does anyone know who they are at fifteen?" He moved slightly closer, his legs brushing mine and then his knee bent and forced its way between my thighs. "Shane, I told you I was a little gay for you. I did the hetero thing in high school and I dated girls and did my thing. I've mostly stayed on the hetero line, only stepping off here and there. I was looking for the right person and...but I never, never forgot what we had." "I know. We were always best friends no matter what," I said softly, afraid to dare too much "You're still my best friend. I want more, though. I want to try, Shane. The reason I have a job interview in town is because I need to be with you, to follow through on this...epiphany that everything I wanted was right in front of me." I closed my eyes. "I want to believe in this, Parks. You have no idea. But how can you...wait, you said you hit on other guys?" "A few," he admitted reluctantly. "They all had some part of you in them - fun, attractive, smart. They weren't good enough, though." "I'm afraid," I said and opened my eyes. "I'm afraid because the last time I fell in love - and I already love you, Parks, you know that. The last time, when it ended, it destroyed me. I'm afraid of what happens if you're not gay or bi or whatever. Or if this doesn't work." He shook his head. "I can't promise it'll work, Shane. All I can promise is that I'm always going to love you. It would be the biggest mistake of my life not to listen to myself now and come to you and lay it all out. To try and make a life with you. I'm risking everything to be with you, Shane. Just...give me a chance. I won't let you down." Squelching my fear I surged forward to kiss him and he returned the fervor. Breaking the kiss I nodded at him. "Okay, Parks. I want more, too. I want you with me. So let's do this." ~AG~ The drive home was fairly quiet. We held hands for much of the way, until our hands or arms started to become uncomfortable. We stopped at the store and Parker picked out things he wanted to cook with. We finally got home mid-afternoon. I helped put the groceries away and then headed into the bedroom. Parker followed me and immediately took his pants off. "Jesus, it's good to be home," he said with a sigh and rolled his head on his shoulders. "Mmm, it is," I said as I wrapped him in my arms and settled my hands on his ass. He smiled and leaned in to kiss me, and he left me struggling for breath as he pulled away. "Holy shit!" I said, panting. "You weren't kidding about not holding back!" "Now isn't the time," he said. I studied his face and said, "I can't believe this. You are trying for a job here, you're changing your whole life for me. I..." I sighed and smiled at him. "This sounds stupid, but I felt so abandoned and worthless after Travis left me. It was hard, too, losing you at the same time. To have you here with me...I didn't think I was worth that." "Shane, Shane," he said with a playful curl in the corners of his mouth. "Is that what you got out of what I said? I always did have to explain things to you." "Explain, then," I said softly. "I didn't change my life for you. I realized you are my life. The middle of it. If you need to know how serious that is, I destroyed a body pillow for you." "You...what?" I asked and laughed at the silliness. "You know how I feel about body pillows," he said demurely. "But I wanted you. So I had to tear a big ass hole in it." My mouth dropped open. "I never asked, but you...wrecked the pillow to cuddle me?" "You were always good cuddle material, Shane. I told you that for years." I pulled him close to me, feeling the heat of our bodies through our shirts. "I love you, Parks." "I love you too, Shane." He sighed and squeezed me. "I have a question, though. Do boyfriends have some rule that says they only have sex at night?" "As opposed to...?" "The afternoon. Before I cook dinner. Like, now." I started stripping clothes off. "I was only asking," he said with a grin. I took his hand and pulled him toward the bed where he reinforced how much he wanted us. Me. Oh, and how I wanted him. Needed. ~AG~ Monday was sort of a mess. The staff meeting was raucous, and the drama and speculation about Marcia ran rampant through the day. I think the full time staff were glad they still had jobs, but the temps were kind of used to the short term nature of work and were more interested in gossiping at the moment. I grabbed another cup of coffee and retreated to my office, but was shortly joined by Vickie. "You look pleased with yourself," she said as she leaned in my doorway. "I am," I said with a smile. "The work we do here, I believe in it. I'm really glad it won't just go to waste." "I'm glad I still have a job, so thank you for that," she said and then slipped further into my office to sit down. "I have a marketing degree; I don't know if you were aware. Is there any chance of my moving up to a full time position?" I smiled at her. "I did know. Alan oversees most of that, but I'll check in with him and see if there is anything brewing." "Thank you," she said and then smiled slightly. "You know, it's interesting how life changes us." I leaned back a bit and sipped my coffee before replying. "How do you mean?" "I was raised in a small town where people were what you might call 'judgy'. The white folks looked down on us black folks, the church-going folks looked down on everyone else - even each other. But in all that, there is always a bottom of the pile group that everyone looks down on." I frowned lightly. "You mean gay people." She nodded. "I don't know why. When I came to the city I brought all my small town small mindedness with me. I have to be honest with you, though. More than anyone else in my life, you've opened my eyes time and again about judging people. Even now, after you basically saved everyone's ass and here I come asking for more and what do you do? Tell me you've done enough or to pull on my bootstraps and help myself? No. You just say you'll try to help. Again." I smiled and glanced away. "A friend asks for help, you help. I don't think it's that spectacular a thing." "Except not everyone believes that, and...well, enough on that. Where is that gorgeous guest of yours? Is he bringing you breakfast this morning?" I smiled dopily. "No. He made breakfast this morning before I left." "Oh. Now that's serious," she said. I glanced at her. "It is, Vicki. It suddenly, perfectly is." She smiled widely. "You are a lucky, deserving man, Shane. I'm happy for you." I blushed and nodded at her. "Thank you." She headed back to her desk and I sipped my coffee and smiled to myself. Making love with Parker was consuming. There was no other way to say it. Our first attempt as teens had been exciting, satisfying and completely fulfilling. He had given me a confidence I still struggled to put into words. When I transitioned to being sexually active with Travis, it had been different, yet fulfilling as well. Travis and I had gone through the awkward growing pains of teens who were trying out new things. Testing. It had been awkward, endearing and exciting. Giving myself to Parker had been a bit about teaching, but it wasn't like fumbling teens - though the excitement was pretty close. We were able to skip over the fumbling and awkwardness of our youth and home in on pleasing the other. While I was committing myself to this new relationship - this new facet to an old relationship - there were still parts of me that struggled to accept the new reality. Having Parker fuck me certainly cleared up a few lingering questions. You don't keep it up like he did if you weren't attracted. I'd always wondered about the difference between fucking and making love. If you have sex and you love each other, does that transform fucking, the act, into making love? Although we loved each other, the sex was very hot, very determined and not slow in a way I thought of as making love. In my mind, that was a slow, comfortable experience. To me, fucking implied a speed, a...perhaps a hornier experience. My libido, which had faltered many times over the past few years, was now focused on Parker and getting home to him. Parker had always been desirable to me. He was under-the-radar cool, smart, funny and good looking. I hadn't pined for him, which was a comfort. He'd been a constant companion through both of our lives, and I'd always appreciated his role as my best friend. My brother. I'd be lying, though, if I didn't admit that the last few years of sporadic dating hadn't reminded me of the things I'd lost, things and people I missed. Travis had been one person I'd missed quite a bit, but romantically he was farther away than he'd ever been. I'm genuinely pleased that he's in love and living happily. Parker, though, had always been the other big missing piece for me. Much like he'd said to me, no one could replace him in my life. There were advantages, too, with us coming together when we were a little older than we had been. I hadn't asked what he'd actually done in bed with another man, but he had treated my prostate like a boxer does a speed bag. Just thinking about it had me wondering if I could get away with going home 'sick' so I could get back in bed with him. You might think that all my thoughts of Parker were sexual. I had to admit, I was going through a phase where there was an awful lot of that. I hadn't had someone that I connected with in bed like I did now since Travis and I were last together. That's a lot of time. I liked being wanted, desired. It made me feel good, to know it was someone I loved that loved me back that also wanted me in bed as much as I wanted him there. I guess we'll wind down, eventually, but I hoped it wouldn't be soon. My phone rang, and just like that my reverie was over. I spent the rest of the morning on the phone and trying to make sure our operations moved forward as planned. Parker showed up about one with a bag in hand. "Hey," he said and leaned over casually to kiss me, as if he did it all the time. "Hey," I said warmly. "What are you doing here?" "Lunch. Who knows what kind of processed crap you shove down your gullet when I'm not around," he said and pulled out plastic containers with egg salad sandwiches and sliced fruit. I glanced at my watch. "Oh, man, I didn't even notice the time. Thank you, babe." He beamed and we dug unto the food he'd prepared. "How's the first day back?" I explained about the drama and gossip the temp staff had been engaged in and how the morning staff meeting had been a little wild with questions and shock at Marcia's betrayal. I smiled and described my conversation with Vickie. "She had us figured, didn't she?" he asked and chuckled. "Yeah. Actually, Travis's grandpa saw something there, too." I shook my head, thinking how odd it was that others saw something I didn't see myself. "You want me to pick up something for dinner?" I asked. "No. I went this morning and got a few things. I have the crock pot cranked up, now. We'll have dinner after." "Oh, okay. After?" "Yeah. You owe me from Saturday night. I'm collecting when you get home." He looked at me steadily, the light of mischief in his eyes. I paused for a beat. "You mean...?" "Have to get all the sex in we can before I get this job. It's regional, so I'll still have some traveling, but maybe you can come with me sometimes?" he asked. I made a few taps on my screen and turned the monitor off. "What are you doing?" "I'm going home with you," I said with a grin. "Jeez, horny? There's more to me than my body, Shane," he said in a teasing tone, standing as well. Adjusting his package belied his words. I came around the desk and cupped his face, kissing him. "Yeah, there totally is. But I know how funny, smart, and cool you are. I have lost time to make up for discovering how good you are in the sack." "Well, I think you should stay at work." He smiled at my look of disappointment. "Anticipation, Shane. Besides, you'll have to take it easy with me for my first time." I turned and flipped off the light to my office. He laughed. "I'm not doing it here." "I'm leaving with you," I said firmly. "I'm going home to you and everything that goes with that." "If you leave now, people are going to know we're going home to fuck." "I hope so. They can be jealous all they want." Parker stood, the food forgotten. His face had a look of...wonder? "You really do want this, don't you?" "I'm done waiting, Parks. I'm going home. Are you coming with me?" I asked and held my hand out. He grinned and took my hand and we walked through the main floor and toward the exit. As we passed Vickie I grinned at her. "I'm going home sick, Vickie. I'll see you tomorrow." "I need to catch that flu," she said dryly, but returned my grin.
  5. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    Really? How interesting. It's funny how side-characters can catch our attention.
  6. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    Rampant speculation, I love it!
  7. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    Candy & Kisses Chapter 3 By Dabeagle email Friday came and I packed up what I'd need for the weekend from my locker. My math and English teachers always seemed to think the weekend required extra homework. With my bag over my shoulder I headed over to the side exit of the school and met Cathy, who was talking to Ginnie. Ginnie was showing Cathy something on her phone and they were both intensely interested. "What's up?" I asked as I joined them. "Ginnie got a picture. Um. My God, Gin, show him!" Cathy urged. Ginnie turned her phone to me and I reached out to bring it closer. "Whose dick?" I asked as I scoped out the short cock on her screen. "Hunter Christiansen," Ginnie said smugly. "He sent it to Sarah Goldman last night and she sent it to me." "Really?" I asked and raised an eyebrow. "Yep," Ginnie said with a smile. "Huh," I said and handed it back. I glanced at Cathy and she nodded at me. "Well, he's still pretty. Nice to know he's not packing, though. Why's he sending dick pics to Sarah?" "He heard she's a lesbian," Ginnie said with a laugh. I raised an eyebrow and looked at Cathy who was giggling. "He thought that was going to change her mind?" I asked and they both burst out laughing. "Man. That's a disappointment." "Not a...big one, though," Cathy said and burst out laughing. "Come on. A guy is more than the size of his tool," I said, unable to keep a chuckle from my voice. "Why else is your sister dating him? And speaking of, has anyone told her he's sending out pics?" "It's why Ginnie showed me. I can't wait to get home tonight and tell Julie," Cathy said with a wide grin. "I'd say that's evil, but I know Julie. Couldn't happen to a nicer person," I said with laugh. "The football team is heading for their bus. What are we supposed to look at today?" Ginnie asked. "Jerry would do Zack Rowan, so I guess we'll be nice and watch the soccer practice for a while," Cathy said with a teasing smile. I rolled my eyes at her. "Really? What's special about Zack?" Ginnie asked as we drifted toward the practice field. "He's a nice guy. Like I said, there is more to a guy than the size of his tool," I told her. I didn't bother to correct any ideas they had about me being head-over-heels for Zack. It didn't really matter anyway, and it might be entertaining for an after-school chat. We took seats on the benches near the field and checked out the team, who had spread out to warm up. "Garrett French. My God, I would walk across broken glass for a shot at him," Ginnie said and moaned for emphasis. "Which stick-man is he?" Cathy asked. "Over there, with the black sleeveless shirt. I hope it's loose enough to see some nipple action," Ginnie replied and leaned into Cathy, laughing. I chuckled and glanced over at Garrett, who was decent looking in my estimation. He was a nice guy, as far as I knew, and I could have probably gotten into ogling him if it weren't for the fact he was standing next to Brandon McCall, who was lifting the bottom of his shirt up to wipe his forehead and exposing some seriously sexy abs. "Who's that with the tight stomach?" Cathy asked. "Brandon McCall," I replied automatically, his name bittersweet on my tongue. "Huh. He could use a few pounds, but he's got some steel up front, right?" Cathy asked. "I would lick every single inch of-" "Fuck this, I'm going home," I said suddenly, cutting Ginnie off. "What? Why? We're looking at the stick figures you like so much!" Cathy exclaimed. I wasn't sure why, exactly. I just felt this twitch in my stomach when Ginnie started in and I didn't want to hear any more. If pressed I think it's just I don't want to hear positives about such a douche. I mean, yeah, he's the absolute sexiest guy at school, but that doesn't mean I want to hear others talk about...argh! I had to get a bit closer to the field to reach the parking lot, and as I did I was pulled from my weird state by someone calling my name. I turned toward the voice and Zack was jogging over to me. "J," he said as he drew closer. "Busy later?" I frowned lightly. No one calls me anything but Jerry. Except my mother - she calls me Jeremiah when I'm in shit. Or Cal, who keeps using the part of my name usually left out when he calls me 'Miah. I don't think anyone had called me...well, maybe this one time.... "Hello?" "Huh?" I asked, looking into Zack's curious expression. "You okay?" "Uh, yeah. What's up?" Well, no wonder I was off my game. Zack never talks to me - I mean, no one does outside of Ginnie and Cathy. Zack smiled uncertainly. "I was asking if you're busy later. I mean it's Friday, so maybe you have plans. Are you free?" I adjusted my bag. "Uh, I could be, maybe. What's up?" "I was just wondering if you want to game at my house later. I have practice until six, but if you wanted to come over around seven-thirty? We can eat some junk and play some games." I glanced past his shoulder where Ginnie and Cathy were staring at me and the weird interaction I was having with Zack. Looking at him all I could wonder was why - and so I voiced it. His expression looked hurt for the briefest moment before smoothing out. "I appreciate what you did last weekend. It was a real stand up thing to do." I nodded. "That's cool, but you don't owe me or anything." "I do, actually," he said with a smile. "I owe you huge. But this isn't about that. I just figured you'd been cool and I'd like to know you better." I blinked at him a few times. I think I was waiting for a punch line, even though that didn't seem like Zack's style. He was waiting and I smiled tentatively. "That...sounds cool." He brightened up. "You know where Crestwood is?" "The development? Yeah." "Number eighteen on Pembroke in there. See ya!" he said and left me with a small wave and a smile. Huh. That was odd. Good. But odd. I glanced again at Ginnie and Cathy. They were off the bleachers and heading toward me. Oh, jeez. They're going to think there is something between Zack and me. Normally I wouldn't think that was anything to worry about, but now? The last thing I needed was them spreading it around that Zack and I were a thing. "What was that?" Cathy asked as she approached and simultaneously turned to look at the soccer team. I turned and started walking toward my car as they fell in around me. "So you know that party everyone's talking about? All the kids that got busted?" I asked them, cutting off whatever they might want to ask. "Yeah. It's all anyone can talk about. Why?" Ginnie asked. "Well, Zack was there and he came over to get away from the cops. Kind of threw up, was all a mess and stuff," I told her. "Wait, you mean at your aunt and uncle's?" Cathy asked. "Yeah," I confirmed. "He just figures if I was cool enough to help him out, maybe we could be friends. That's all." Cathy looked at me with an expression of curiosity. "You said you'd do Zack, though. Is this part of some plan or something? Oh my God!" she said, stopping short. "Did you and Zack hook up?" I turned on her sharply. "No! I'm fucking human, Cathy! I don't take advantage of drunk guys! Jesus!" She stepped back a pace and looked a little miffed. "Well, okay! I guess I just figured if he showed up horny...I wouldn't have said no. I mean, it's still getting laid, I guess even if he is emaciated." "He's not...argh! He's just a nice guy, okay?" I demanded of her. I turned and headed for my car, not caring if they followed me or not. ~C&K~ I pulled up to number eighteen on Pembroke about a quarter after seven. I had debated whether I should dress nicer than I might normally, but decided against it. I wasn't there to impress anyone, and I wasn't trying to get Zack to look at me. I had pulled on a soft hoodie over my tee shirt and put on clean jeans, but that was it. He had a nice house. It wasn't quite like my aunt and uncle's kind of neighborhood, but it was in the same general style. I pressed the doorbell and waited, shifting a little on my feet. The door opened and Zack smiled out at me. "Come on in," he said, standing aside. I nodded and stepped just past him. Where my aunt and uncle had earth tones and basically looked like a beige monster had been turned inside out and stretched against the walls, Zack's place had blues and greens that melted from the entryway down the hall that I could see. Family photos and splashes of color gave the walls life; something my aunt and uncle's place sorely lacked. "Come on," Zack said, waving me to follow him. We passed an empty room with a piano and then he paused in an archway where his parents were sitting, watching TV. "Mom, Dad, this is Jerry Mason from school," he said. They looked up and smiled in greeting and I waved a hello, smiling. At least I hoped it was a smile. Zack waved me to follow him and we headed deeper into the house, descending a set of stairs into a furnished basement. The space was totally built for a hangout and I relaxed a bit. I'm not really sure if I expected something bad to happen, but I had been a little tense. "Have a seat," Zack invited before plopping down on a couch and crossing his legs under himself. He was wearing a tee shirt and soccer shorts, so he was sporting his well toned legs. I couldn't help but to notice; they were right there on display after all. I sat and put a folded leg on the couch so I could sit comfortably and look at him. "Nice house," I said. "Thanks. We've lived here since I was born. I've always liked it," he said with a nod. "So listen, I totally plan to play video games or hang out with you tonight, but I know you were kind of taken off guard this afternoon when I invited you." "Yeah," I said with a nod. "I wasn't expecting it. I don't want invites out of some sense of obligation, either." "I get it," he said, holding a hand up. "I promise, that's not what this is about. I did want a chance to say thank you, though." He took a deep breath and smiled widely. "Just by putting up with my drunk ass you saved a friendship, kept me from getting an appearance ticket that would have landed me in a world of shit...it wasn't a little thing, even though it was in some ways." I nodded slowly. "Well, I think I told you, you have a good rep at school. You've never done anything to me or against me. Nothing for me, but you know...I'll take it." As his smile dimmed, he nodded at me. "I fixed things with my friend. I owe that to you, completely. The rest, too. So you just have to ask, and I'll be there. But the more I thought about it, you actually treated me like a friend. I can appreciate being direct with someone, but also not being an asshole about it. It got me to wondering and...well, I just wanted to know you better. Maybe try and build a friendship out of that...experience." I liked the way he was explaining his reasoning. I could respect that and I really liked that he was someone who thought about things instead of just doing, despite the impression I could have drawn from his drunken evening. "So...your friend forgave you?" I asked, not wanting to voice any of my thoughts. He nodded and smiled. "He did. We talked it all out. I don't know why I reacted the way I did - I honestly don't. I don't think of myself as a bigot, and like you were saying, if he had been interested in me then I could have politely said I didn't feel that way." He leaned forward a bit. "It kind of felt like, you know, he'd been being deceptive. It wasn't true, really, because we all had just assumed. But...that's what it felt like." He paused and said, "Like we'd been fooled." I thought about that for a second. "I guess if I'd had the option of not telling the world, I might have." I glanced at him. "It didn't work out all that well for me so far for everyone to know." I paused and let my gaze flicker over his face. "I don't know if I'd have done it differently, honestly. If I'd had friends and was afraid of losing them, I might have lied." He nodded and let out a little sigh. "That's essentially what it came down to. I couldn't see it, until we talked. I mean, you know it feels different with you because I knew the first time we talked who you were, that you were gay. That didn't bother me, which went through my head when I went back to have that talk." He fiddled with this hands restlessly and shrugged. "Like when we were in the kitchen, when you said you'd checked me out? It didn't surprise me or matter because I knew you were gay. I knew the score and it made sense to me. With him, it felt different. I didn't understand why I didn't know this about him." His brow wrinkled and he let out a little sigh. "I guess my reaction says why I didn't know, though. I still have my friend, though. So...I owe you, big time." I shifted uncomfortably. I wasn't used to the idea of being owed. I mean, maybe from a sibling, but that was different. "Well, I'm glad it worked out." "So were you and those girls checking us out today?" he asked, a small smile playing about his lips. "Not really," I said, relaxing a bit into the armrest. "Cathy has a thing for the deformed members of the football team, but they were gone today. Ginnie was drooling over Garrett French. She was hoping his shirt would be loose enough to show some boob." He threw his head back and burst out laughing. I smiled. It was sort of like talking with the girls. Or, maybe, I was just being myself. Either way, I liked feeling comfortable with a guy and there not being any lingering suspicion that I was after him or something. It felt...normal. "Garrett is probably the biggest horndog on the team. She might have a chance if she's just looking to get laid," he said with a grin and some trailing giggles. "I think I'll just let her suffer," I said with a snicker. Thinking of Cathy, and how she was pushing about why Zack had spoken to me today I pressed my lips together. "Uh, not to freak you out, but those two will probably assume there is something going on between us." "What?" he asked, bubbling in laughter. "Why?" "Well, we were checking out the team and you talked to me. You waved to me in front of her the other day," I said, ticking these items off on my fingers. "She knows me so she knows we haven't hung out so...." I thought of her 'top four' thing the other day and I blushed a little, but he didn't seem to catch it. "Well, I don't think I'll worry about it too much." He got an interesting smile on his face, "So, who were you checking out?" I frowned lightly. "Why?" He tilted his head slightly. "Don't you and Cathy or Ginnie talk about people you're interested in? I do that with my friends." He tilted his head toward me. "Friend." I blinked a couple of times and then chuckled. "Cathy is into football players. Like the linemen. The bigger and hairier the better. She calls you soccer guys stick-men." I knew I was dodging, but I don't think I was really wanting to tell him I was drooling over one of his teammates. "Stick-men? Maybe compared to some of those guys! They're like the trolls in Harry Potter, right? Remember at the end of the first movie?" I laughed and gave my voice a warble. "Troll! Troll in the dungeons." I paused and looked at him. "Thought you ought to know." He rocked back and forth laughing. "That was perfect. I love Harry Potter." I grinned back at him. "Me, too. I started reading some of it to my little sister." "Oh, right, you have sibs. Cal seems cool." "He is, just don't tell him I said so," I said with a smile. "Okay, so, Cathy likes linemen. Ginnie is all wet for Garrett, but who were you looking at?" I chuckled a little uncomfortably. "Why? I mean, it wasn't you. I told you I checked you out last weekend, but I'm not stalking you or anything." He blushed, but smiled. "I wasn't trying to say you were. Besides," he said with a snicker, "I invited you so you kind of suck as a stalker if you wait for invitations. I was just trying to get a sense of what kind of guy interests you. Like, do you like Garrett?" I shrugged, still feeling odd. "He's nice enough to look at. Seems like a nice guy. I could say that about most of the soccer team, though." He nodded but didn't reply. I felt a little weird with the silence, so I started talking again to fill the void. Sue me, I'm not used to being social. "Cathy doesn't have any real hopes of getting one of those football guys. She just rates them for sex, not relationships." "Everyone has a list like that," Zack replied. "Like, Julie Miland is such a bitch, but I'd fuck her six ways from Sunday." I blinked and then started to laugh. Cathy would find it hilarious that one of her so called stick men would bang her sister, given the opportunity. He smiled back at me, blushing, but not too embarrassed I guessed. "Cathy and I are jealous of her. The only guy in the school we agree on is Hunter Christiansen." I laughed a little as I said it. It was fun telling Zack, a guy. It was cool having a normal, friend-type interaction without the back and forth of Cathy's banter. She was snarky. Zack was just...talking to me. Besides, everyone wanted to fuck Hunter. Right? "Hunter is one strange dude," Zack said as he shifted and let one of his legs dangle off the couch. It was funny, the more I was around him, the more attractive he became. He wasn't going to stop me in the street and make me stare, but I could see why someone would fall for him. Totally cool guy. The doorbell rang and Zack jumped up. "The other guys are here. I'll be right back - do you want a drink?" "Other guys?" I asked, but he waved as he headed up the stairs. I felt tense and stood up. I debated leaving, but I'd have to walk past everyone and that thought made me more uncomfortable. I thought about it and reasoned I probably didn't have anything to fear - his parents were right upstairs and he'd been super nice every time I talked to him. I won't quite say I trust him, but I did like him quite a lot. Enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. With an unsteady sigh I decided to wait and see. A few minutes later Zack came thumping down the stairs with two boys in tow. Seth Kilgallon from work and...well, fuck me side-ways. "Hey, Jer," Seth said with a little smile. "Hi, Seth," I said and tried a smile out. I wasn't sure how well it worked because my attention was focused behind him. "J. How are you?" Brandon McCall put a hand out, and I took it by reflex. So fucking warm and soft. I instantly threw wood and felt sick to my stomach at the sight of him. My chest felt tight, and only more so as I answered him. "Good. You?" "Another day in paradise," he said with that fucking smile of his. God, I hate him. I let go of his hand, wondering if that was the hand he jerked off with. Fuck. I need to focus on another guy or something. Zack, unnoticed by me, had gone by with a soda can for each of us in hand. He pressed a Coke into my hand and I thanked him quietly. "Okay, warm up with a little Mario Kart? Then I definitely want some Smash Bros.," Zack said with a grin. "Set it up, loser," Seth said, challenging him. "You came in last, if I remember right," Brandon said. He looked at me. "Are you any good?" I shrugged. "I can beat my little sister." "Little sisters can be fierce," Seth said and looked at me with mock solemnity, much as Cal might have at home. I pointed at him, rising to the challenge. "You, I will wreck." We all got controllers, and the night changed. I'd never spent an evening like that in the company of friends. I'd played with my family - hey, with four kids there is usually someone to play with. This was a different vibe, though. Maybe it was more precious because we didn't live together, and they definitely didn't know me or I them. Not with any real familiarity. Plus, I did kick Seth's ass. We moved on to Smash Bros. and that was fun, too. Zack's dad hollered down the stairs once to keep it down, but that was the only thing to break the fun. I actually sort of forgot Brandon was there. Almost. When it hit eleven I said I had to go. Brandon was staying over, but Seth had to go home as he and his family was going somewhere in the morning so he had to be up. I put my hand out to Zack. "Thanks for the invite." He took my hand and pulled me into a bro hug, which shocked the fuck out of me. "Anytime. Talk to you tomorrow?" "Uh. Yeah, sure." "I'm going to your room to get changed," Brandon said to Zack. He put a hand out to me and we did a sort of high five, but not. If he'd have bro-hugged me, I probably would have shoved my tongue so far down his throat he'd have thought he was getting a rim job."Your little sister trained you well. Next time, I will get even with you." I snorted uncomfortably, my body warring between wanting to choke him and wanting to knock him onto the couch and make out with him. Instead I followed Seth out the front door and down the walk. "Want a ride?" I asked. "I live three doors down, thanks, though," he said. He turned toward me, coming to a stop and I mirrored him. "That was fun. I hope you come again." I glanced back at the house and then at Seth. "Is there something going on? Why are you guys being so nice to me?" He tilted his head and wrinkled his forehead. "I think we just discovered we liked you. If you like us, then I guess we'll hang out. Have some fun times. If you don't, then...well, that sucks." I thought about that for a second. "I'm sorry. I did have fun. I just...this is new." He smiled. "You fit in with us. Give it some time." He turned from me, wishing me a goodnight and headed for his home. I lay awake in my bed, turning over the events of the evening. There were tons of details that swirled like snow in a storm, but one kept coming back to me. His hand. His smile. My stomach tightened, but my dick stood tall. This wouldn't be the first time I'd jacked off thinking about Brandon, not even close. This was different, though. This wasn't just my imagination, it was augmented by the knowledge of how his hand had felt, how he'd looked even better up close. Sure, I still had that weird dichotomy where I felt the urge to punch him as well as kiss him, but I was alone now. It was hotter than any personal time I can ever remember. I swore as I got close, thinking of touching him again, and it was some kind of record for how hard my balls emptied. I wonder if it's possible to pull a muscle from cumming too hard.
  8. Dabeagle

    Chapter 4

    Afterglow By Dabeagle email We were subdued after the hearing and went over to get a late lunch at a sandwich place that had opened in town. Parker was very quiet and I let him be. We glided through the streets, the car quiet inside and insulating us from the world. Once in the parking lot of the cafe, Parker hesitated and then said, "Do you think I did the right thing?" "Yeah, I do." I hesitated. How much must it tear him up to have spoken against his brother, even though Steve is a grade-A jackass? "Look, Parks, I don't know what it takes out of you to do the right thing. Your parents...they're like my parents, too. The thing is, I've never been close to Steve or even liked the guy. How could you do anything other than what you did, though?" He nodded slowly and glanced out the window. "The part that bothers me is that there was always this lingering question about a potential 'something' that my grandfather had done to him. No one ever discussed or speculated so I don't know if it was some kind of physical abuse, mental, sexual or what. I know my folks never let me see the old man." "Okay...?" He looked at me with a serious, defeated expression. "What if it's not Steve's fault? What if that screwed him up and all this is...from that?" I sat quietly for a moment, not because I was considering it seriously, but because I wanted him to think I had. Or rather, that I was doing so now. I'd wondered about Steve before and I'd reached a conclusion quite a while ago. "Parks, if your grandfather influenced him, he's had plenty of chances to try and work on himself. Unfortunately, like therapy, you only get out of things what you put into them. Steve is who he is. You can only be a victim so long before you have to question your actions and motivations." I licked my lips and continued, "I could understand Steve talking to your parents about your grandfather or asking for therapy or counseling or even just to talk. If Steve blames your parents for leaving him there, I'm sure your parents have blamed themselves far longer. "But he didn't do that. Instead he attacked them. His rage is his justification. He blames them and he blames you for being born after him when your parents were more stable." I took a breath and looked into Parker's eyes, which were focused on me. "What if I had-" "No. None of this is your fault," I said definitively. He looked at me steadily and then a tiny smile curled the corner of his mouth. "Are you about to pull up that shit where you claim I'm yours, now?" "Damn right," I said and smiled at him. His smile grew wider and soon we were both laughing. "Come on, let's go in and eat." "After lunch, we should go see the little guy's grandparents. They always had baked goods." I shot him some side eye. "Was that code?" "Pie, Shane. Not getting baked," Parker said with a snicker. We had a pleasant lunch, a contrast to the morning mess of my job, the scene at the prison and our conversation in the car. We took a leisurely drive around the old town, stopping across the street from his old house. "It's weird, you know," he said as he looked out the window. "It just doesn't look right anymore. I can't totally put my finger on it, but there's something wrong with the place." I nodded and a shiver ran up my spine. "I've noticed it about the whole town. It all feels slightly off. Like we're in some alternate reality. I almost feel like I should be waking up and I'll be sixteen again." We drove on, eventually stopping on front of a house I'd spent a lot of my late teens in. Travis's grandparents had been a shock to they system, initially. They were true hippies, domesticated only enough to hold down jobs and raise their grandson. Without his influence, or perhaps the perception of responsibility they'd felt, things had declined. The front lawn was longer than any in the neighborhood, the bushes were running wild and tree branches were leaning awfully close to the house. I knocked and we waited as shuffling noises drifted through the front door. Travis's grandma was definitely showing her years these days. She looked at us in mild confusion and then her face lit up before turning into a thoughtful frown. "I was certain strippers are supposed to show up in bow ties and tiny underwear. You're completely overdressed," she said seriously. "Janet, you're incorrigible," I told her. She beamed at me and we hugged and then she pulled Parker in close. "It's good to see you, boys. Come in, come in. I'll put on some coffee and see what kind of pie we have!" she said happily. We preceded her into the kitchen, which seemed to have stood still in time. We took seats and she puttered happily, setting up her coffee pot and getting cups out. "Who was it? Oh, hey!" her husband said as he entered the room. We stood and exchanged hugs before taking our seats while she put plates and a cherry pie on the table. "I saw this at the store, I couldn't pass it up." "Janet, I've never met a pie you could pass up," I teased. "Damn right," she said with a bright smile. "Fuck dinner, eat dessert first, I say. Life is too damn short." We laughed and I caught a thoughtful look on Parker's face. I wonder if that old saw about life had tripped something in his head? About Steve or his parents? I wish I could read his thoughts, sometimes. "Have you seen the photo of the ring? He posted it just a few hours ago." Her husband pulled out his phone and started pressing the screen. "It's quite a dandy." He turned the screen to show us Travis' girlfriend with a small diamond ring on her finger. "Travis proposed?" I said in shock. "I thought he'd do it here - he's coming for Thanksgiving, you know? I hope you'll find time to come visit. I'm sure he'd love to see you both," Janet said while pushing plates out to everyone. "Let me just get that pot." I mentally shook myself. If I'd had any lingering hope that Travis and I would one day reconnect, it was dead, now. "So...you haven't met this girl yet?" I asked, grinning widely. "Nope! I'm looking forward to it, though," his grandfather said as he put his phone away. "Oh, I'm not missing this!" I said and grinned harder at Parker. "What are you so smiley about?" Janet asked as she poured the coffee. "Oh, I'm just remembering my first few times here. I think Travis proposing to her out there was a strategic move!" I burst out laughing and Janet looked at her husband before they both grinned. "Now, Shane," Grandpa said as he put a hand out to me. "Are you saying we shouldn't tell her where to find the lube in case she's one of those ladies that needs a little extra moisture?" Parker laughed, covered his mouth and snorted through his fingers before turning sideways and braying. His face went beet red while grandpa looked satisfied. "Well, not that I would tell you what do do," I said as seriously as I could. "But I think a gift basket would be nice. With sex toys, batteries and that sort of thing. Spice up their experience." "Hot damn, good idea," Grandpa said and looked at his wife. "What do you think?" "I think Shane is trying to see if we'll shock the poor girl out of ever orgasming again," Janet said wryly and then started to chuckle. "I'm not sure Shane ever recovered from his first trip to our table, here." "Hey, I had a healthy sex life after that, no question," I said with a hand in the air as if to testify. Well, I suppose I was, actually. "Oh, I know," Grandpa deadpanned. "Berry used to smile so much it made me jealous." My grin faded as I looked at him across the table, his expression somewhat solemn. "Um, what?" "You could have spread the wealth, Shane," Janet said. I glanced between them and was on the verge of losing it when they started to laugh. "Did you see his face?" she asked her husband. "Dude! You were turning on another generation!" Parker said and slapped my shoulder. "You guys are twisted," I said with a smile and shook my head. I put a piece of pie in my mouth and hooked a thumb over my shoulder. "What's with the wilderness in your front yard?" He let out a sigh. "Well, partially because appearances don't mean as much, but it's more that I'm seventy-two and it's a pain in the ass." "We could do it," Parker said, glancing at me. I nodded. "Sure. We don't have to be back in town right away. Besides, it'll cut back on whatever you do to get ready for Travis's visit." "I'm not stupid enough to say no!" he replied with a scratchy laugh. "A lot of folks would have expected this stupid dance where I say you don't have to and you say you don't mind. I think we already know all that crap and I accept your help, gratefully." We enjoyed the slice of pie and coffee, catching up a little bit. Janet brought us some old sweats and sneakers of her husband's. Parker was struggling with a string in the sweats that had disappeared into the lining so I went out first and met Travis's grandpa by their shed in back. "You know, Shane, Janet and I had hoped that Travis would end up with you. We've always loved you," he said abruptly. I was a little startled. "I think the feeling is mutual," I replied. "Travis and I were over a long time ago, though." He shook his head slowly. "No. In some ways you'll never be over. There is a place we all keep close for our first time. Flashbulb memory I think they call it, where you have clear memories of important events. Like remembering where you were when 9/11 happened or the Kennedy assassination." He glanced at me and squinted. "You were the first person to love Travis for who he was. You gave him the opportunity to believe that someone really could love him. Janet and I always loved you for that. We were glad you were his first. In many ways, we wish you were his last, as well." He paused and glanced toward the house. "You two make a fine damn couple, though. We're happy for you." My eyes widened and I chuckled. "Parker isn't my boyfriend. Don't get the wrong idea, he's the best, but-" He placed his hands on my shoulders and gave me a quick shake to stop my rambling. He looked me in the eye and said, "There is more. There was always more between you two. He did right by you, and maybe was true to himself at the time by letting you go to Travis and exploring who he was with that girl with the big boobs. I can see it, though. Open your eyes, Shane." "I'm...going to start the lawn," I said a little uncomfortably. I pushed the mower toward the side of the house and Parker bounded out the back door, the waistband of the sweats a little askew. "I'm setting trends, baby," he said lifting his arms and tilting his hips. I laughed at him, shook my head and headed out front. The next few hours were filled with the sounds of small engines - lawnmower, hedge trimmer, weed whacker and a blower. The work didn't really take my mind off of the old man's words and I kept stealing glances at Parker. Back in high school I'd maintained a list of guys I was interested in. They all had different things I'd liked about them, but Parker had been the first one I'd actually talked to. We'd formed a great friendship, the best of my life. We'd fooled around once and I can honestly say it was the purest form of sex one could have. I'd felt great afterward and we hadn't become weird with each other. If anything, we'd bonded that night closer than friends, but not as lovers. Then I'd dated Travis and fallen in love. Parker had dated Angie for a while, then they'd broken up. They'd dated other people, almost to spite each other, and then they'd date again for a while. I never understood it and I'm not sure they did, either. They had some chemistry, but it wasn't always combustible in a good way. Then, of course, Travis had left me and went to school. Parker did as well, but that had hurt less as we would see each other, at least every other weekend. Travis was in California and whatever we had couldn't stretch across that much space. After graduation Parker had gotten a job with an agency that worked all kinds of events, and he traveled to announce competitions of all kinds. He came home at least once a year and we'd hang out like old times. We never lost sight of our relationship, and we slipped effortlessly back into it whenever we were around each other. I had expected that to change as we got older, that Parker's ability to be my Parker would wear off as the world and life changed us. But he was still my Parker. Travis hadn't come home much, by contrast. Summer courses, internships over a break - after he graduated he slipped effortlessly into working toward his masters. He was in a place that valued his mind and he was thriving. As I looked at Parker now, he wasn't that solitary kid that skateboarded but didn't hang with the other skateboarders. He was a fit, attractive man with an obvious joy in him, and yet at his core he was still that same fun-loving guy I'd always loved. Maybe that's what Travis's gramps saw - just how Parker and I were together. I guess anyone might think we were in love - we do love each other, after all. With the light dying we put away the tools. Janet shooed us inside and told us to go get cleaned up and dinner would be ready soon. "I assumed you'd both want fresh clothes in the morning, so I took your things and stuck them in the wash." I paused. "That's going to put us in town late," I said to Parker. "Stay here, go back in the morning," Janet said with a wave of her hand. Parker shrugged and I joined him. "Okay. I'll hit the shower, I guess. Uh, what should I wear after, though?" "Since you won't entertain an old couple and go in your birthday suits, I put a couple of thick robes in Berry's old room." Janet smiled at me winningly and I rolled my eyes. We went back into Travis's old room, which was devoid of character with him gone. The bed was there, but moved as was the dresser. His games and TV were gone. It was as if he hadn't existed. I spotted my phone, light blinking to let me know I had something waiting. I grabbed it and thumbed through to my voice mail. Mike. "Hey, Shane. Things went kind of fast. The board got wind of things, not sure if the senator's office had anything to do with it, but we're being folded into a new campaign that's tied directly to the senator. We're some kind of new entity, but reorganized and officially attached to his office. Looks like you saved some jobs, boss. See you on Monday - staff meeting at eight." "Huh," I said as I dropped the phone. "News?" Parker asked, flipping off the old sneaker and wiggling out of the sweats. "Yeah. Looks like I still have a job," I said and explained the message. "Sweet. You need to pay for our apartment, so that's good news," he said with a grin. "Oh I do, huh? Wait, our?" I narrowed my eyes. "God, you stink," he said and I rolled my eyes again. I pulled off the old sweats and kicked off the sneakers and yelped when a sharp crack landed on my ass. "Hey!" I exclaimed and turned around to see an entirely unrepentant Parker smiling at me. "Looks like you didn't entirely go to seed. I figured you'd be a total couch potato by now," he said with a snicker. "Hah," I said with a snort and grabbed a robe before heading to the shower. Dropping my underwear to the floor I adjusted the temperature and climbed in. After all that work it felt fantastic to feel the grime and sweat rinsing off my skin. I simply stood under the spray, not wanting to clean just yet, but knowing I'd need to for Parker to have some hot water. The thought of Parker made my cock twitch, but I grabbed the soap and hurried to get clean rather than let my imagination take flight. Parker and I swapped places and I wandered out into the kitchen. "Just in time for my famous rosemary chicken, roasted potatoes and green beans with garlic, oil and vinegar. Oh, and a beer really completes this," Grandpa said from over by the stove. "I'll take those old sweats and your underclothes for the wash - you didn't put them back on, did you?" Janet asked, horrified. "No, Janet," I said with a roll of my eyes. She bustled off and moments later we heard Parker yelp as she opened the door to the bathroom while he was showering. I grinned to myself. Lecherous old gal. Once Parker joined us in the kitchen, dinner was served. We both looked ludicrous in thick robes and nothing else, but it didn't seem to matter much. The food was excellent and the company fun. They liked telling stories about the days when Travis and I were a thing, which would morph into stories of their youth. They'd had a long and colorful life and their stories were strangely fascinating, like looking through a window in time. It kept us going for quite a while. Then they wanted to do shots. I'm serious. We only did three, but tequila is strong stuff and I'm still not sure they didn't make up the whole 'lick it, slam it, suck it' chant. After three, though, Parker and I were both feeling the time, worn from our work outside and the long day as well as the nightcap. We headed back to the room we were sharing and Parker started to snicker. "What?" I asked, trying to undo the little knot I'd put into the belt of my robe. "We're in the room where you lost your virginity," he said and laughed. "I did not," I protested, finally getting the knot undone. "I lost that at my old house. Thanksgiving night after you walked Zane home." Parker let out a whistle. "You worked fast," he commented. "Nah," I said as I let the robe drop in the darkness. "Travis stashed lube in the room ahead of time. It was all him." I jumped as Parker's hand touched my arm and then warmed when he pressed his body to mine. My pulse raced even as my brain tried to muddle through what he was up to. "Parks?" "Mmm." His mouth on mine brought back instant memories of our one night together and it took me mere moments to put one hand in his hair, holding him in place and one on the small of his back. It was simultaneously odd and completely natural to be molded to Parker's body, to feel his tongue wrapped with mine. He broke the kiss, panting and leaning against me. "Damn, Shane. You've gotten better at that." He pulled on my hand, dragging me to the bed hidden in the dark room. "What are you doing?" I asked, not resisting at all. Parker pulled me down and rolled on top of me, stopping my questions with his lips for just a moment. He ground down into me and I up into him. Breaking the kiss he nibbled my ear a little and I giggled at the touch. "Parker...what are we doing?" I asked quietly. "After," he said insistently. "But Parks," I said, in a final flimsy challenge. "We had wet sheets after last time." "Don't worry. I have a plan." With that, his kissing grew to an assault on my lips and mouth and I let go of any final reservations or hesitations. Parker was in my arms and the world didn't matter, for now. No senators, no conniving bosses or stupid prisons. No traveling job for him, no feelings of abandonment in me. Parker's kissing had, in my memory, been a consuming affair I'd not wanted to end and that hadn't changed. I lost myself to kissing him. I imagined I could feel time stretching, touching that long ago night in my old bedroom. The excitement. The desire. Undeniably as well, the love. I groaned lightly when he broke the kiss and moved his lips down to my chest, his tongue flitting about my hard nipples. When he continued his kissing - a direct line south, I knew what was up. I put a hand on his shoulder. "Parks?" "What?" he asked breathlessly. "Are you...I mean," I said hesitantly and then my resolve firmed. Parker was a grown man, he knew what he was doing. "I told you, Shane. We're both single and it might not be a one time thing. Took a few years to get to a second time, but hey," he said and grabbed my dick, waving it in the darkness. "Here we are." "Flip around," I said firmly. He grunted a question, but then complied and moments later I was blowing my best friend. Neither of us could moan loudly with a dick in our respective mouths, but we still tried. I sure wasn't letting this opportunity pass and I did everything I could think of to bring pleasure to Parks without bringing him off right away. I licked his balls, stroking his dick and then reversed that. I cupped his ass cheeks, gripping them and sliding my hand around to drag across his perineum. Parker was a quick study and soon he was bringing me to the brink, so I focused on the slick hardness in my mouth, holding it taut at the base and sucked and slurped for all I was worth. I suppose it was sort of a competition, but the end result was the same - no wet spots on the sheets. We kissed lightly afterward, snuggling in close and enjoying a true afterglow. I felt comfortable and sated, my energy levels dropping to near zero. Parker was nestled into me as usual and we drifted into sleep.
  9. Dabeagle

    Chapter 2

    Calvin is the older brother, I think he's about as out of his shell as a person can be 🙂
  10. Dabeagle

    Chapter 2

    Even in the beta process, the 'Miah thing was commented on, and it didn't click until later in the story. I always thought it was reasonably up-front, but what do I know? 😂
  11. Dabeagle

    Chapter 1

    It depends on the company. When we had Time Warner, no. With the new company, yes - now. The routers we had to start with didn't.
  12. Dabeagle

    Chapter 2

    Candy & Kisses Chapter 2 By Dabeagle email I got home Sunday afternoon, and it was a huge relief. My aunt and uncle had wanted to chat about their trip, but I just wanted to go home. I felt a little bad since they gave me an envelope with cash for my house-sitting, but I got over it. I felt happy to see my own house after so many days. My whole extended weekend off from school, and that whole time had been used up by this house-sitting deal. The manager at Burger Joint, where I worked part time, hadn't been thrilled so that had made two of us. On the whole, though, the money was decent, and my encounter with Zack had been cool. I walked in and was greeted by the craziness of my home life. My little sister, Amanda, had a cape around her neck and a stocking cap on her head as she went charging past me, yelling something unintelligible. My older sister was in the kitchen talking to my mom and my older brother was in the living room, leaning on the arm of the couch with his headphones buried in his ears. "You're back! How was it?" my mother asked. "I hated it," I said in as polite a tone as I could muster. "Their house sucks." I opened the fridge and got a nectarine from the drawer. "What? All the houses up there are nice!" my sister exclaimed. "Why didn't you go up, then?" I asked as I leaned against the counter. "Because she was grounded," my mom announced and she and my sister made a face at one another. Turning to face me my mom asked, "What was so wrong with it?" "Bland. Quiet. No wifi." "Oh, you poor thing. Did you have to read a book or something?" she asked with a laugh. "He can't read," my sister teased. "I choose not to," I said haughtily. "Actually, the cops showed up Friday night to bust up a house party next door." "I heard about that," my brother Cal said as he entered the room, one headphone dangling. "George Fredricks was telling everyone to come up for a lit party. I heard fourteen kids got appearance tickets, and they were still trying to figure out how the alcohol got there." He opened the fridge for a piece of fruit as well. "I hear their parents are in deep shit." "Hey!" my mom snapped. "Sorry," my brother said and looked at me with a grin. "They're just in shit." "Calvin!" my mother said in her best warning voice and my brother laughed and said he was sorry again before departing. My little sister came charging through, arm in the air like the statue of liberty, with something held aloft as she made her war cry. "Hey! That's my lipstick!" my sister, Janice, exclaimed as she took off after the littlest member of our family. My mother shook her head and smiled at me. "Didn't you enjoy a break from all this?" I laughed at her. "No. I feel like I'm finally back to normal." I wandered back into the living room and sat down near Cal. He pulled an earphone out and looked at me. "See anyone get arrested?" "Nah. Hey...do you think I'd have more friends if I weren't gay?" Cal tilted his head. "Why would you change yourself for other people?" I frowned. "I wasn't suggesting I try to be straight. I was just wondering if you thought I'd have more friends if I weren't." He snorted and shook his head. "'Miah, you should know if people can't accept you for who you are, they aren't worth knowing no matter who you are." "I really hate it when you call me that," I said with a sigh. "I know," he said with a grin. "What's this about being straight, though? I'm straight, I got like five friends." I titled my head. "I always thought you were kind of popular." "Sure, I guess. Popularity doesn't equal friendships. I care what my friends think of me, but screw everyone else." I thought about that for a moment. My brother had a way with words, sometimes. He was smarter than I think most people realized, but I think I was the only one to really know how deep he was. "What brought this line of thinking on?" I shrugged. "I just keep people at arm's length. I was just wondering if that was smart." "You have reason to," Cal said kindly. "If I were you, I'd probably do the same." He paused. "I don't think you'd have more friends. You're still kind of lame." I turned and quirked an eyebrow at him. Then again, sometimes he's as deep as a mud puddle. ~C&K~ "Carlos Martinez," Cathy said. I wrinkled my nose. "He's more fat than muscle," I said, and shifted on the cold metal bleacher. It was Monday and school was over for the day. It felt nice to be back outside after being cooped up all day. "You think? The uniform looks good on him. Oh," she said and put her hand on my arm. "Ho Park." I frowned. "Why is it you like all these steroid dudes?" "They work out! What's wrong with a manly man, anyway? You like those boys that look like they'd break," she said and scoffed. "You're picking offensive linemen the size of a Silverback - and by the way, they have about the same social skills. Would not shock me if they actually flung poo when they get pissed." Cathy and I had a fundamental difference of opinion on what constituted an attractive guy. She liked guys who were tall and wide and who had suspect vocabularies. I liked the slender guys with pretty faces and bodies I could wrap my arms around. She liked the ones with hair thick enough to look like they were covered in moss. I actually liked to see skin. Cathy was also a big girl. I don't know if that played into her taste for larger guys or not. I guess I looked like the sort of guys I was interested in, though I think my legs are hairier than they have any right to be. "There. You probably like that one," she said. I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, if he wasn't all diseased from your sister's vag," I said with a snort. Hunter was about the only guy we actually agreed on. In fact, it was Cathy's fault we were hanging out here in the first place. I have zero interest in how football is played nor does she, but she likes watching the players. I sighed. Well, I like some of them. Yes, they are wide receivers, but I won't walk into that joke with her - then it'll be on to references about tight ends. "Who are your top four?" she asked. "Top four?" "Yeah. Top four hottest guys in the school. The ones you'd do, no question," she said. "Four? That's weird. Why four?" "Because everyone does top ten or top five. It's lame," she said. "Besides, I don't think there are ten guys in this school I'd do." I grunted. "We talking relationships?" "No. They can be douches. We're just talking about sex, not love," she said. "Like, I'd totally do Tevon Al'Quar. He's completely stuck up, but hot." I grunted again. He was right up her alley, including being unobtainable. Well, I guess mine would be, too. "Pete Delacroix," I said. "He's so skinny. What is it with you and skeletal guys?" she asked and laughed. "Slender. I don't like beefcake-like guys," I grumbled. "What pile of flesh do you have at number two?" "Andre Wilson. I would ruin him." "We're leaving Hunter out, right? Like, he's a no-brainer?" "Completely. I've seen dogs whimper just wishing they could hump his leg." I thought for a moment. "Ricky Sandoval. Dude is seriously cute." "Well, at least he looks like he's eaten this month," she said with a roll of her eyes. "Alan Michaels." "Seriously? He has no neck!" I said with a laugh. "On the other hand, Gordi Lemson has a super nice neck. I'll bet I could put, like, ten hickey's on one side, no problem." "Seriously? He looks like one of those African kids from that tribe that uses rings to stretch their necks." She wobbled her head exaggeratedly to demonstrate and I shoved her. Laughing she pushed her hair from her mouth. "I think I could take either of the guys I already said - Carlos or Ho. I think I'd give the edge to Carlos, since he can grow a beard and I'm not sure Ho has any hair anywhere, 'cept his head." I chuckled. A minus to her was a plus to me. Chattering voices drew our attention as the soccer team walked past the front of the bleachers, maybe ten feet away. They were heading to their bus for a game. I spotted Zack walking next to none other than Brandon Fucking McCall, the only guy that was hotter to me than Hunter, but who still made me spitting mad. If I were honest, a little sad, too. "Mind get overwhelmed with skinny-boy choices?" she asked and laughed. Zack glanced up at the noise and waved at me hesitantly. Did he hesitate because it was me or because he wasn't sure how I'd react? Don't overthink, it's a wave. I waved back and he smiled as Brandon turned to see who he was waving at. Even at a distance the guy was my wettest dream. He looked at us curiously and turned back toward Zack. "Zack Rowan? You'd do him?" Cathy asked. I looked away from the soccer team and toward Cathy. No way was I going to tell her about McCall. The jokes about how I'd already been rejected by him in fourth grade would write themselves. "Yeah, I'd do Zack," I said honestly. Besides, hot though he was, Brandon would be more like a hate-fuck than anything else. Just thinking of his pretty eyes and golden skin had me - no, fuck that. "I have to go to work. You want a ride home?" I asked as I stood up from the bleachers. "Yeah. I have had enough of daydreaming," she said. After dropping Cathy off I headed to The Burger Joint. My shirt was in the back seat so I pulled it on over my tee shirt and went to go clock in. I was pleased to see Seth Kilgallon was working the register - at least I'd have something to look at to pass the time. When I hit puberty I began to wonder if I was the only one that thought about sex as often as I did. As time has passed I've become reasonably certain I just have an active, healthy libido - unless Cathy is as sex-crazed as I am and we're the outliers. I pondered that as the shift wore on. Monday nights weren't especially busy, but we did get slammed a few times. Seth was really good at the register, so we didn't have many screw-ups when the rushes did come; an added bonus of working a shift with him. During a lull Seth wandered to the back of his area, which was the front of mine where I prepped the sandwiches. "Hear about the raid at the party this weekend?" he asked. He brushed back his brown hair and his eyes sparkled with the telling of gossip. "I heard fourteen kids got appearance tickets," I said, echoing my brother. "Not just that. The Fredricks? The parents, I mean? I heard they are being charged with supplying the liquor, even though they weren't there. Plus Rob Anderson got alcohol poisoning and ended up at the ER with his folks - who were righteously pissed," he said with a broad smile. I didn't hold it against him. There is always a certain amount of fun in having avoided the stupidity committed by others. "Damn. I guess it pays not to get invites, huh?" I replied with a shake of my head. "I wanted to, but I had plans with a couple of friends. They kind of fell through, though," he said, trailing off. "Oh?" I asked, more from boredom than actual curiosity. Seth talked to me here, but like most other people, we really didn't interact anywhere else. It's my fault. I don't trust people. It's their fault I'm like that, though. Seth was like the majority of people at my school - probably fine up close, but I don't put myself out there to find out. This was safe, though, and I liked Seth well enough in this place where our roles were defined and there could be no judgment for interacting. "Yeah," he said slowly, almost as if he were unsure he should speak. That piqued my curiosity. "Everything okay?" I asked to prompt him. He glanced at me and his expression shifted to something unreadable, at least not by me. "A friend of mine told us he's gay. Took us by surprise. It was..." he hesitated and then looked me dead on. "Was it tough for you to come out to your friends?" I frowned. "I'm not sure there was ever a doubt. I don't know what it is, but I've never exactly been in a closet. Everyone knows I'm gay," I said with a grumble. Ever since fourth grade. Brandon - why had I thought kissing him would be a good idea? Or maybe the problem was I hadn't thought. I'd been so excited in seventh when James had...further proof not to put yourself out there. He winced slightly, and flashed an apologetic look. "I guess that wasn't easy. Was it?" I took a deep breath and thought for just a minute. I'm not sure why this subject is coming up so much now, with Zack this past weekend and now Seth. All of a sudden people care about what being gay feels like. I wasn't sure what to think about that. I guess it's good for them to think, finally. Probably good for their friend. I'm not sure how it affects me, if at all. "It sucks," I said honestly. "I like me just fine. My family likes me just fine. The kids at school liked to make me a little miserable; but mostly it's quiet and a little lonely." I smiled at him to shake the melancholy feeling stealing over me. "It saves on having to buy anyone birthday presents, since I don't have many friends." Seth pursed his lips slightly. "What?" I asked. He looked at me with a measured expression. "I guess I understand, now, why you always seem mad. I know I don't say much to you because you always look like you're in a bad mood. I mean, the rules are kind of different here, I guess. You're different here." I thought about that for a moment, but the conversation was interrupted by people coming to the counter. I wasn't flamboyant; I didn't have any of the stereotypical characteristics that marked someone as gay. I had no lisp, limp wrist or whatever; my sexuality was just common knowledge. Even so, I'd known very early that boys looked better, to me. Kissing Brandon McCall on the playground had been spur of the moment, and my parents had talked to me that night. They told me kissing someone who is okay with being kissed is okay, but doing what I'd done wasn't. "Everyone has the right to decide if someone else can touch them," my dad had said. There was no recrimination about who I'd chosen to impose that kiss on. I'd never been more at home than I was with my family. The same hadn't been true at school. I'd been teased and wondered if what I'd done was wrong, but my parents assured me it wasn't, and that it would take time for others to figure that out. My mother had said it best. "It's just common for boys to like girls and girls to like boys. It's not right or wrong, and one day most of them will figure that out." I processed the orders Seth put through quickly. The one question that was burning in my mind was how he had resolved the situation with his friend coming out. It also seemed like too much of a coincidence that Seth and Zack both had a friend come out - it must be the same person. Right? I wrapped the last sandwich and slid it down the chute, then poked my head around the end of my station. Seth was sliding the tray over to the customer, who nodded her thanks and turned to go eat. Seth turned and lifted an eyebrow at seeing me waiting for him. I leaned against the station and tilted my head to one side. "So. How did things end up with your...friend." He glanced behind him and then leaned against the counter. "It was rough. We were all surprised, I think. I'd never wondered if he was gay, or any of my friends. It just...never occurred to me." He shrugged. I wanted to ask if Zack had been there, but for some reason I was reluctant to give that information up. "So you all worked it out?" "Not right away," he said and shuffled his feet uncomfortably. "One of us kind of...went off the deep end. He came around the next day, though. He patched things up. It's all good, now." Hah! It was Zack! "So, you weren't there when they made up?" "No. We'd stayed over. Gaming all night, you know? I mean, afterward. We just kind of hammered it all out, first. But he didn't come back over until early afternoon the next day. I'd gone home, already." "Was it all about being surprised?" I asked. "Or was there more of a problem? Religion or something?" He frowned lightly. "I think...well, the guy that left? I think he was kind of saying some things we were wondering, at the time. Like if our friend was crushing on us or something." "What did he say to that? Your friend, I mean." Seth looked down. "He said we were assholes. We kind of argued a while, but we finally figured out he was right. It just took some of us longer than others." I nodded slowly and saw Seth in a bit of a new light. Admitting to being wrong isn't easy for some people, but doing so in a charged situation is much harder. I could respect that. I cleared my throat. "I'm glad you did the right thing." He looked up and held my gaze for a moment. "I'm sorry no one did the right thing by you." I looked down and pursed my lips. There was no real reply I could think of, so I just turned and went back to my station. Minutes later more people arrived and work became a distraction, one I needed. I don't like the feelings of self-pity I indulge in once in a while. After being burned a few times, I preferred to keep people away from me. A safe distance. I don't know if I ever, in some universe, have been considered a popular kid, but I was sure as hell avoiding finding out if I ever could have been in this one. It's easier to be kind of thorny and convince people to just leave you alone. The problem with that is you miss out on good people. People with potential, like Seth. Like Zack.
  13. Dabeagle

    Chapter 3

    Afterglow By Dabeagle email I stepped out of my car and stretched, trying to work the kinks out. I ambled up to the entryway and stopped to get my mail on the way to my apartment. Bill. Advertisement. Ad cleverly disguised as something official. Oh, and something actually - nope, another ad. Opening the apartment door my nose immediately registered a wonderful smell that was completely alien in my apartment. "Is that a pot roast?" I asked, my voice tinged with wonder. "With potatoes, carrots, celery and onions all marinating together." I set my bag and mail down and crossed the room to hug Parker. "You're going to make someone a great wife, someday." "Asshole," he grumped and pushed me back. I smiled. "It smells fantastic, Parks. You weren't kidding about this cooking thing you're into, huh?" His chest puffed a little. "I've made some pretty good stuff. I hope to add this to my list tonight." He glanced at the clock. "You have about thirty minutes. Go get cleaned up." "Cleaned up? What," I asked as I looked down at my clothes and then sniffed my armpits. "Why?" "Um, you left without showering this morning?" I frowned and looked away. "Did I?" "Trust me. Go." I shrugged and wandered into my room, stripping off clothes and made my way to the shower. My stomach grumbled at the scent of that food. I chuckled as I ran the water, amazed that my Parker had culinary interests beyond eating. I thought of Parker out in the kitchen cooking and a warm, quivering emotion ran through my chest and down my stomach. I wondered how long he was planning to stay. Idly I entertained the thought of Parker and me making a household together. It wasn't the first time I'd had that thought. When you date as many scrubs as I have, you spend a lot of time daydreaming about a better relationship. I finished up and head back to my room for a shirt and underwear - I didn't bother with even sweatpants since Parker was here and the whole 'legs free' thing was in force. "Hey, how long are you in town for?" I asked as I re-entered the room. "Well, about that," he said and paused for a moment, looking at me. It was a weird look, but I couldn't tell why. "What?" I asked and looked down. "Legs free, right?" He turned and opened the cupboard to take out bowls. "How would you be with me bunking with you for a while?" "Seriously? I'd love to have you here. How long are we talking?" Ever since Parker graduated from college a few years ago, I'd very rarely seen him. We used to get together when he was in school, even though it was over an hour away; we'd both made the effort. With his job I was lucky if I saw him twice a year. "Well, there's a job in town. I have an interview next week and it would save me a ton to avoid a hotel-" "Sweet! Why didn't you say so?" I asked with excitement. "It's a lot to ask," he said and lifted both his eyebrows. "You've got one room, single guy in the city. I didn't want to presume you'd be cool with that." I tried to quiet my excitement. "Well, yeah, I guess I see your point. So, I should hang a sock on the doorknob and you'll go get a coffee or something?" He stared at me and I looked back steadily. He set the bowls down by the stove without breaking eye contact and I reached blindly to get us silverware while maintaining the stare. His eyes darted once to make sure the ladle was going into the pot, after missing twice, and I crowed in victory. "That doesn't count!" he said immediately and started to laugh as I told him it totally did. We filled bowls - the meat was overcooked and falling apart which, in my opinion, is perfect. We settled on the couch and Parker spoke back up. "Seriously, I don't want to cramp what you've got going on. Don't feel obligated," he said and I waved him off. "Shut up. You know I'd love to have you here. Just take the win, will you? Jeez," I said with a snort and flicked the TV on. I spooned some of the food and immediately gave an appreciative groan. "Parks, this tastes just like your mom's recipe! So fucking good!" He smiled in approval. "It's never quite as good, but I can't complain about it." "Dude," I said as I glanced at him. "This brings back so many memories. Cold freaking days when we got to your house and your mom would fill us up with these leftovers? That was the best." He smiled, a sly, secret smile, but instead of saying something off-the-wall he nodded and said, "It was pretty perfect. Good food, good movie, average company...." "Hey!" I said with a snort, picking up on his dig at me. He grinned. "Okay, the company was the best, too." I growled at him and spooned more food. Damn, he'd gotten to be a pretty good cook if he was catching up to his mom. "Speaking of old memories, I don't think you told me how your mom and old Cliff are doing?" Swallowing I nodded my head. "Good. I don't know if they'll ever get married, but they are happy. Cliff is talking about retiring and selling his shop." Parker shook his head. "I really didn't see you moving into his place. I guess he was a decent guy, huh?" I tilted my head from side to side. "I can't complain. Whatever he had for 'personal protection' was locked away and I never saw a gun or bullet while I was in his house. I'll grant you, I didn't go looking, but it worked out." "What does he think of what you do for a living?" "He's actually supportive," I said with a bob of my head. "He says there will be legislation some day, and people who advocate for guns would be better off working with people than against. Like." I waved my spoon. "Not so much people who want to ban guns, but people who want mandatory safety training, licensing and insurance, proper storage to keep things safe from kids. There really is a list of things gun people and non-gun people can agree on, so that's where we are aiming." "I'm really proud of you, Shane," he said with a little smile. "You could have folded up after all that crap with your father. Look at you now, though." I nodded slowly. "I've had help." The conversation stalled there, maybe because we both knew what would be said. Parker had been a bridge back to living my life, a reason to be. Travis followed soon after. Then there were the friends we'd made in high school. It all radiated from Parker, though. None of it would have happened without him. We both had seconds and then just a little more before settling under the blanket and chilling with the TV. We turned in early since we had a long drive the next day. Parker decided to fuck with me, though, and nibbled my ear. "Dude. It's been a while. Keep that up and you're going to get laid," I said with a chuckle. He rested his forehead on the back of my neck and shook with laughter. "Hey, weren't you seeing anyone?" He shook his head, rolling across my neck. "I hooked up, some, but it doesn't really work trying to travel and build anything. I mean, look at you and Trav. You guys were solid. If I ever needed a lesson in the importance of being there for a relationship, that was it." "Yeah. I can't really argue that one. Hey!" I said and turning my head toward him, though I couldn't see him in the dark. "Maybe you'll find someone in town and stay!" "Maybe," he said non-commitally. "I'll start thinking about people," I said excitedly. "Shane! No fixing me up!" "Why not?" I asked, bubbling with laughter. "Go to sleep. Punk." One might be forgiven for thinking if you were used to sleeping alone that it would be hard to adjust to becoming a human body pillow, but I always sleep well with Parker cuddling me. Waking up still sucks, but he makes the night so much better. "Vickie is close by, but I'm not sure she deserves you," I said speculatively. "I'm...not sure how to interpret that!" Parker replied, snickering. "Maybe I'll just stay here with you. Not everyone is good cuddle material." I resettled and felt comforted by Parker's presence behind me, though I have to admit having a beautiful man holding me in bed - especially one with the heart of Parker - meant I wasn't going to fall asleep anytime soon. It had been a while for me, and though Parker and I had only fooled around the one time, it was certainly seared into my memory. My mind wandered back to his last comment and I thought about his body pillow. The last time he'd stayed I'd headed out early to work, but when I'd come home I'd found the pillow in the trash with a tear in the cover. I'd never figured out how that had happened and hadn't asked. Fuck, have Parker cuddle a pillow or me? How stupid had I been? Of course, considering he was off limits, maybe I wasn't so smart after all. ~AG~ We got on the road just before seven. I'd showered while he'd made breakfast and I went around the corner to get us coffee while he got ready. His breakfast was a to-go wrap sort of thing, which was very good, and we were making good time to our hometown when my phone rang. "Hi, Shane, it's Mike in research," the voice announced. It always sounds kind of funny coming from my car speakers. "Hey, Mike, what's the good word?" I asked. "Weird. I'm not sure I'd call it good, exactly." "Oh? What's up?" "Kathy said you asked me to dig on Gordon Isaacs and I think I stumbled on something. Uh," he hesitated and then sighed. "It looks like he's being backed by a dark money PAC, but what makes it weird is that...well, Marcia is listed on the paperwork." I slowed the car and stared at nothing for a moment. "Marcia Harris? Director of our office Marcia?" "Yeah," he said with resignation. "I don't know if she gave notice or is planning to leave or was going to play both sides until the election, but the secret is out. What do we do?" That was the question - what do we do? "I'll call you right back, Mike. Have you told anyone else what you found?" "No, just you. I'm not really comfortable sitting on this, but I don't know what to do about it." "Give me five minutes, Mike. I'll call back." I chewed my lip as we continued on our way, wondering what the right path was. "Your boss is a double-agent?" Parker asked. I blinked and looked at him, sort of having forgotten he was there. "Uh, yeah. Sounds that way." "So what will you do?" I sigh. "I'm thinking of my options. First is to confront her. That puts the power in her hands, though. She can spin things while she does whatever she can in the time she has left. She's smart, so even being caught by surprise can be put to use for her." I hum to myself for a moment in thought. "I can call our board, tell them what's happening. It'll make us look bad, for sure. I don't know how it would affect the office. They might close us, depending on how much damage was done to our credibility." "Anything else?" I tilted my head. "Yeah. I could contact the senator's office." I thought for a moment, my ideas solidifying. "Her defection, playing both sides, will probably kill my agency," I said with certainty, feeling despondent. "The scandal would be pretty big and trust in us would take a beating." "Couldn't you recover from that? I mean, you could lead that place, right?" "I could," I conceded. "But I'd have to completely rebuild the name. I have no idea what the financial or political fallout would be. But the senator has liked the approach I've pitched several times, and he won't like being forced by this group toward something he doesn't believe in. I'm thinking...I might be able to become part of his staff." We rode in silence while I turned that over in my head. I was startled when Parker asked, "What about the rest of the office?" I sighed. "Most are temp staff. Mike is full time along with about four others. I might be able to make a case to take them all with me. Hey, do you mind driving?" "Pull over. This should be cool, watching you wheel, deal and be all bossy and stuff." I snorted and pulled the car over so we could swap seats. That done I disconnected the Bluetooth and called Mike back. "Okay, Mike, this is how I see it. I want to bounce this off you and see what you think." I laid out what I'd said to Parker about the options as I saw them. "The only way this is worse is if Marcia isn't actually involved. How sure are you of the data you have?" "Funny you ask. I did more digging - it's legit. She's going to implode this whole thing we built, isn't she?" "Well, she wasn't doing us any favors. Let me talk to the senator's office. After that, we have to figure out how to bring this to the board." I paused and cleared my throat. "Are you good with me offering to bring the full time staff to the senator?" "Yeah. I need a job and I believe in this. Keep me posted, okay?" "I'll call back. We should keep this between us, for now. Don't scare anyone until we know more. Agreed?" "Done." I hung up and took a deep breath before dialing again. "Nick? It's Shane. Listen, things just got weird." I spent a good twenty minutes on the phone with Nick as we worked to figure out a way to control the damage, and on my end, to save jobs. Marcia playing the senator's office for idiots - not to mention the rest of us - would embarrass the senator and squander our credibility. It was a potential public relations disaster. "So let me make sure I understand. The Senator creates a new task force under the auspices of his office - you and five other people - who will be his point people on this issue, and the organization will close?" "Most likely, depending on the board," I agreed. "This enables the senator to keep the people who have been working on this in place and beat Marcia and her PAC to the punch with the press. The only other option if the Senator wants to keep a separate entity is to work something out with the board." "Okay. Have your guy send me the evidence and I'll get in with the senator shortly." I called Mike back and gave him the address to send the information. I couldn't believe I was doing this, but Marcia...well, I never would have thought this of her. "So, what'll happen to the other people?" Parker asked as he drove. "They are temps, mostly. Essentially, my aim is to secure the full time people and then co-opt the funding we have so that no one loses their job." "But you'd be the director or something?" I smile. "I doubt it. There are two others with more experience in the office. I was just the one who had the research guy looking in the right direction at the right time." "Well, being lucky counts for something," he said with a chuckle. "Well, it would make life interesting," I agreed. We chatted idly and tried to find something worth listening to on the radio. During a lull I thought back to the day I got a panicked call from Parker, asking me to go to the hospital to check on his parents. It's funny. Even though my own father had committed suicide and tried to make me die with him, I didn't really think much about parents dying. Like, it seems kind of surreal - like seeing a teacher out of school. Just bizarre. I'd hopped in my car and kept Parker on the line the whole way. His mother had called from the hospital after Steve had attacked them; he'd really done a number on his father's knee. I had arrived and floundered for a moment trying to find the emergency entrance because the hospital had built so many new wings or offices or something that nothing was where I remembered. When I finally did find his parents he begged me to stay and make sure they were okay until he could get there. His mother was shaking. It's the biggest thing I remember about that day, the tremor that ran through her and never really seemed to stop. She'd hugged me and just held on while they worked to get her husband's knee situated. They ended up operating, but not until the following day. Steve's attack really changed them. Mr. Reid had always been fairly active - he'd been a nurse, after all. The knee didn't rehabilitate well. Parker and I agreed that something essential had been taken from his parents that day. They had less fight in them, less hope. I checked in on them a few times a week, keeping Parker informed once they'd convinced him to go back to school. It was no hardship - I liked the Reids and Parker was my best friend. The Reids had always welcomed me, and while it sounds cliché to say they treated me like an extra son, it kind of worked that way. Checking on them usually involved staying for dinner, fixing some minor things that Mr. Reid couldn't quite do yet in the bargain. I'd go with Mrs. Reid to get the car looked at, not because of my extensive knowledge about cars, but because she said the mechanic didn't try to pull as much crap when a man was involved. I guess I filled in for Parker while he was getting his education, and I was happy to. "Place looks like a plant for making toilets or something, doesn't it?" Parker asked as we pulled into the parking lot. The building was squat and vaguely turd-like, with peeling patches where the poured concrete walls showed through like scabs. "Considering what's inside, more like a shit processing plant," I replied. Parker glanced at me, snorted and then started to snicker. "Nice, Shane." He looked back at the building with its chain link fence topped with razor wire. I looked at him while his eyes roamed the structure. Quietly he said, "I wonder, sometimes, why I'm not more like Steve." "I have a theory," I told him seriously. "Oh, Christ," he said with a smile and a roll of his eyes. "Okay, let me have it." "Only so much cool goes into each family. You clearly got more than your fair share." He sat waiting as if there was a punchline and then smiled at me. "Well, thanks, I guess. I thought you were going to bust my nuts." "Eh. I like to surprise you. So, shall we go try and keep him behind bars?" We walked up to the entrance and went through the check-in procedure. We were escorted through the building, going through doors that locked behind us before a guard cycled the door ahead of us. It felt foreboding, and I'm not sure how anyone keeps their sanity in a place like that. We were brought to a medium sized room with a long table at one end, behind which sat three people. There were two small desks, two chairs at each and only one person seated. We sat in a group of chairs for what one might call a gallery, I suppose, to wait for Steve's hearing to come up. After perhaps five minutes a door on the far end of the room opened and Steve was led in, shackled at the hands and feet. He shuffled slowly to one of the tables and sat beside the man who, I assume, was his lawyer in this process. One of the three people behind the long table brought the room to order and we were finally underway with this nasty business. They spoke to Steve, who stood to respond to them. "Steven Reid, you're here to petition for parole. What evidence would you offer this board that you are rehabilitated and ready to re-enter society?" the man in the center asked. "Sir, I've spent the last four years working on my education so I can get a job on the outside. Two years ago I converted to Christianity and have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The things I did to get me in here, those are on me and I have learned that, uh, the error of my ways. Armed with my education and my faith, I can be, uh, become a compatible...contributing member of society. Sir." The three member panel looked down at paperwork before them and the lawyer gestured for Steve to sit. The board member on the right, a woman with a wrinkled face and ill-applied lipstick, held a single sheet of paper in her hand. "I have here a letter from your parents that has been entered into the record of these proceedings. They detail a brutal attack that you perpetrated upon them. Can you explain your actions?" she asked. Steve stood again, awkwardly. "Yes, ma'am. I, uh, had been drinkin' and druggin' with some friends and we were going to go down to Vegas. I didn't have no money for gamblin' and for drinkin' when we got down there and I thought it was a good idea to go borrow from my parents." "Borrow? Mr. Reid, you hospitalized your father, who still hasn't fully recovered the use of his knee, and bruised your mother's arms and chest in your attempt to 'borrow.'" "Yes, ma'am," he said and nodded his head. "I didn't think they'd be at home." He placed a hand on his chest, which dragged the other one up by dint of how tightly shackled he was. "I admit, things got out of hand." She pursed her lips at him. The man seated on the left spoke up. "I understand that a family member is here to offer testimony?" "Yes, sir," Parker said as he gained his feet smoothly. "Please come forward and state your name for the record." Parker moved past our chairs and stood beside the second table and its occupant. "My name is Parker Reid, sir." "Thank you for coming, Mr. Reid. What would you like this board to consider as it deliberates?" "Sir, my brother has a long history of making poor choices. I used to feel sorry for him. My parents once thought that my grandfather did something to him, but nothing they did was ever able to help Steve. He attacked me in my own high school because he wanted me to deal drugs there." "Shut up, you snitch," Steve said in a low, menacing tone. "You will remain silent, Mr. Reid, or you will be removed," the man in the middle said. He held his gaze on Steve for a moment before nodding at Parker to continue. "Thank you, sir," Parker said. "My brother betrayed my parents. He attacked them and maimed my father for life, forcing him to retire from his nursing career and accept disability. They have since relocated in order to avoid my brother, should he be released. He is a violent man, and no matter what he tells you today, he hasn't changed." "You spoiled fuck!" Steve screamed as he struggled to his feet. "You got everything! Precious little Parker!" "Guard, remove the prisoner!" the man in the center thundered. There was quite a commotion as Steve was removed, yelling and threatening the whole way before peace finally returned to the room. The man turned back toward Parker. "Please continue, Mr. Reid." Parker looked away from the man and said softly, "I don't enjoy speaking against my brother. We were never close. But if it's not my parents, then it will be someone else's parents that he goes after next. I know...you can't keep him forever. But he should serve out his full sentence." The room was quiet for a moment and then the woman said, "Thank you, Mr. Reid. I appreciate the effort it takes to travel and appear in person."
  14. Dabeagle

    Chapter 1

    12 more chapters to go - I hope you enjoy it!
  15. Dabeagle

    Chapter 1

    The story is complete and runs 13 chapters - so you will get to see it through.
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