Saturday morning, we took the boys to sign up for baseball, which put them in a really good mood. Tryouts would be held the following Saturday and they were all excited, as well as worried, about making a team. Although I hadn't told them yet, I'd also convinced the league's directors to agree to put Joshie and Benny on the same team if they were selected. I withheld this information from the boys, though, because I didn't want them to get too excited before the tryouts, but I knew it would make them very happy once they found out.
After they finished signing up, we hurried home to get the others so we could go swimming. Dad and Pop decided not to go with us this time, because they wanted to stay behind and get our pool ready instead, but Noah, Dion, Trey, and Wyatt joined us. We didn't tell the boys about what their grandfathers were up to, because we didn't want them to use the pool before it was ready. So we merely told them that their grandfathers had other plans.
Once we got to the pool, I noticed Ryan and Noah kept their distance from one another, with Noah taking a locker all the way down by the wall, while Ryan stayed at the other end. They avoided each other once they got in the pool too, which was beginning to worry me. I didn't want the problem they were having to persist and affect the rest of the family as well, so one way or another I was going to hash this out with them before the weekend was over.
After we returned home and had lunch, Dad and Pop took Benny, Joshie, and Ryan to the park to work on their baseball skills again, so I had a chance to speak with Noah alone. "The situation with Ryan doesn't seem to be getting better."
"No it isn't, and maybe it's even getting worse. Last night after you guys said goodnight to us, he came over to my room and begged me to change my mind. I told him 'no', so he tried to convince me by saying he'd do it to me too. I told him it wasn't about that and I just don't want to do it any longer, so he got mad and went back to his room."
"Yes, I felt the chill this morning at the dining room table, and I thought the water in the pool might turn to ice with you two in it."
"It wasn't quite that bad, but I think you're going to have to get involved. I don't think he'll give up otherwise."
"Ok, I'll have a chat with Ryan after we tuck him in later."
I told Brandon what I was planning, because I felt it would be best if I spoke to Ryan alone. Ryan had talked to me about topics like this before, but he seemed hesitant about discussing those same issues in front of Brandon, so I felt I'd accomplish more on my own. Brandon agreed, and I assured him I'd fill him in before we went to sleep.
The rest of the day wasn't much better, and I think the others noticed there was a problem too, although they had no idea what the disagreement was about. No one said anything about it, although I frequently observed one or more of them staring at either Noah or Ryan, and it remained that way until we sent the boys upstairs to get ready for bed. After we'd tucked them in and Brandon had left the room, I confronted Ryan.
"Ok, what's going on between you and Noah?"
"What do ya mean?" he responded with a surprised expression on his face.
"I'm not blind and have seen how you've been glaring at him for the past couple of days. I also noticed how you two were avoiding each other when we went swimming earlier, so what's going on?"
"It's nothin'," he replied, although he wouldn't look me in the eye when he answered.
"It sure seems like something's wrong, so what's the problem?"
"I don't want to tell ya."
"You can either tell me now, or I'll go next door and get Noah so we can talk about this together."
"No! Don't do that!" he practically shouted, while looking totally panicked. "We was just doing stuff, but now he doesn't want to do it with me any more."
"What kind of stuff?" I followed, causing Ryan to look even more panicked.
"Do I have to tell ya?"
"No, because I can probably guess. You're talking about sex and helping each other out, aren't you?"
"Yeah, and it was great, but he doesn't want to do it no more."
"Well, he isn't gay, so I'm surprised he'd even agreed to do it with you at all."
"But he told me he did stuff like that with Elliot too."
"Yes, because he wanted to see what it was like. I would imagine that's why he agreed to do it with you, so you could find out what it was like for yourself. Now that you've had a chance to try those things, I would guess it's why he doesn't want to do it any longer. He must feel all of you're questions have been answered, so he wants to stop doing it now."
"Yeah, but I want to keep doin' it. It was great and I really liked it a lot."
"I'm sure you did, but I told you before that those things only happen if both people agree they want to do it. We don't ever force someone into doing those things just because we enjoy them."
"Yeah, I know, and that's why I didn't want to leave after I first got here. Once you explained that no one would force me to do stuff, I felt a lot better about living here."
"Then give Noah the same consideration. He obviously helped you for as long as he was willing, so just be grateful for what he did. I don't want to see my sons not getting along."
"I guess that was my fault then. I'm sorry."
"I'm glad you realize it, and now you just have to tell Noah too, so you boys can stop acting like the other one has cooties."
"Oh, I guess you've never heard that term before. Cooties are imaginary bugs that kids would claim someone else had when they didn't want to hang out with them."
"Oh, I see, cuz we've been staying away from each other."
"Yes, that's exactly what I mean."
"Ok, I'll try to talk to him tomorrow, but I'm not sure he will listen to me now."
"If you start out by saying you're sorry, then I think he'll listen to whatever you have to say."
"Ok, I'll do that then."
"Thank you, and sweet dreams," I said before kissing him on the forehead again, turning off the light, and leaving the room. Hopefully, another minor crisis has come to an end.
When Brandon and I went to bed, I told him what I'd discussed with Ryan and what he'd agreed to do. "So he didn't ask you to do it for him, since Noah wouldn't?"
"No, he never said anything like that."
"I'm surprised, but glad. I was afraid he might use the situation to try to tempt you again."
"Nope, that never came up."
Even though Brandon seemed relieved when he heard me say this, his comment pointed out that he was still leery of Ryan's intentions when it came to me. I prayed it didn't also mean that Brandon no longer trusted me or didn't believe it when I told him I'd never do anything like that. Thankfully, it didn't seem as if he was too concerned when we cuddled together and fell asleep, which allowed me to get a decent night's rest.
Things were pretty hectic the next morning as we grabbed a quick bite to eat before getting dressed and heading to church. I was slightly worried about Noah and Ryan being in the same Sunday school class, although I doubted they would say or do anything that would draw attention to themselves. However, I was hoping they wouldn't inadvertently act in a way that would rouse suspicions or raise questions about why they were upset with each other.
Later, when we met up again for the church service and took our seats in a pew, Benny sat on my left, with Joshie, Dion, Wyatt, and Trey sitting to his left. In the meantime, Ryan had finagled his way between Brandon and me, while Noah sat on the other side of Brandon, next to Grandpa Josh, with Grandpa Jake on the other side of him.
I was so preoccupied watching Ryan and Noah during the sermon to see how they were acting that afterward I couldn't even recall the topic of today's sermon. I also watched both boys when we went out for brunch and was mildly surprised to see that they had taken seats next to one another, as they normally would. I wasn't sure if they'd merely done this out of habit, or possibly because these were the only seats remaining once everyone else was seated. Instead, I hoped it was because they'd had a chance to resolve the situation, but I chose not to say anything and decided to wait and do that after we got home.
Once we finished eating and returned to the house, I grabbed Noah's arm and held him back as the others went upstairs to change. "I noticed that you and Ryan were sitting next to each other at the restaurant earlier. Does this mean you've reached some sort of agreement?"
"Yeah, he came over to my room first thing this morning and told me he was sorry. He said he wouldn't bug me about doing those things with him any more, so I guess the problem's taken care of."
"Are you satisfied?"
"Yeah, as long as he doesn't start in again."
"That's good, and I'm glad my little chat with Ryan seemed to help."
"Yeah, I guess it did," Noah added as he headed to his room.
When Benny, Joshie, and Ryan came downstairs again, Dad asked if they wanted to go to the park to practice. I think Dad knew they would want to do this, because he'd already asked us if we'd mind before he asked them. When they took off, Pop went with them, so I figured we'd be free for at least an hour.
I was surprised that Noah didn't ask to go down to spend time with Adam after the other boys left, but later I discovered that Adam had gone away for the weekend with his parents. I guess that explained Noah's lack of motivation as he headed toward the family room.
When Dad, Pop, and the boys returned home later, Ryan, Benny, and Joshie all went into the family room with Noah and we didn't see any of them again until we called them for dinner. They all seemed to be in a fairly good mood when they came to the table, so I concluded there were no lingering problems between Noah and Ryan.
While we ate, the three hopeful ballplayers were enthusiastically telling us about how they'd done while practicing, as well as how excited they were about the tryouts on Saturday. This helped me to realize how fortunate it was that Brandon and I had made another decision earlier, before finding out about the date of the tryouts. It would eventually affect the boys and avoid a conflict, although they didn't know anything about that at the moment.
After we finished eating, we went to the family room to watch a movie with the boys before we all got ready for bed. The coming week was going to be busy, possibly even hectic, so I and the other fathers wanted to get our sons off to a good start.
Dad took the boys to the park every night after they got home from school, so they'd be at their best for the tryouts. I hoped it worked, because I wasn't sure how I was going to console any of them if they didn't get picked to be on a team, but I guess we'd cross that bridge when, and if, we came to it.
Thursday was Benny's birthday, so we had a family party for him after dinner that evening. We'd picked up his birthday cake on the way home, and after we sang to him and he'd blown out the candles, Brandon helped him cut it, as I scooped out the ice cream. Once we'd finished eating, we let him open his gifts. Brandon and I gave Benny a baseball glove and a pair of cleats, while the boys gave him a bat that Joshie had helped to pick out. Benny was thrilled as he opened each package and thanked us repeatedly.
"You probably won't be able to use your glove at the tryouts, because it will need to be broken in first. Grandpa Josh said he'd help you with that, but you can wear the cleats and take your bat, along with the glove you've been using to practice with."
"K, but I love all of these things and hope I can use the glove if I make a team."
"It should be broken in by then, so you'll be able to use it for all of your games," Grandpa Josh assured him.
Each of those gifts were similar to the items Joshie had received the previous year when he was playing coach-pitch ball. This way Benny would have use of two of those things for the tryout on Saturday, and we hoped it would boost his confidence as he attempted to make a team. We were pleased when we noted his reaction as he opened each present, and as we were hoping, it appeared as if this birthday would be something he wouldn't soon forget.
I pulled Ryan aside and told him that if he made a team we would buy him gifts similar to those we gave Benny. I said they would be early birthday presents so he could use them during the current season, if that's what he wanted. He didn't hesitate and agreed he'd like that, so at least now he knew we hadn't forgotten about him and he'd have his own equipment to use if he made a team. Ryan and Benny were both in a terrific mood as they headed up to bed later.
Of course, we had to go to school and work the next day, so before we left the house we told the boys to have a good day. By the time we had dinner with them that evening, the three boys were nervous wrecks and totally worried about the tryouts the following day. Seeing this, we felt we had to find a way to calm them down, or at least distract them enough to ensure they'd be able to get to sleep later. With that in mind, I sat down with the other adults to figure out what we could do to assist them.
After talking it over with Brandon, Dion, Trey, Dad, and Pop, we decided taking the boys to the cinema complex to see a movie might distract them temporarily. "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" was playing, and although it wasn't something the rest of us would have chosen to see, we felt the boys would find it funny and it might take their minds off the tryouts. When I mentioned the idea to them they all wanted to go, including Noah, so I offered to accompany them. The other adults thanked me for doing this as we left the house.
I spent most of my time watching the boys, rather than the movie, and it seemed to have the desired effect on Benny and Joshie. They were both laughing and had obviously forgotten all about the tryouts, and by the time we got home they were already drowsy and ready for bed. We let them skip their shower and just hop in bed together, since we didn't want the water to revive them. Two down and one to go.
Although Ryan had enjoyed the movie, he was still on edge thinking about whether or not he'd get picked to play on a team. Although Dad had tried to assure him that he'd do fine, we were afraid that he was still too wound up to fall asleep easily. As I came out of his bedroom and was ready to go downstairs, I passed Noah as he was heading to the bathroom.
"Maybe I shouldn't have gotten my soda refilled," he joked as he walked past. "And don't worry about Ryan, he'll be fine."
"I hope so, but I'll check on him again before Brandon and I turn in, just to see how he's doing."
"How long before you'll be doing that?"
"I don't know, but probably not for another hour. Why?"
"I just wanted to know. That way if I heard someone walking around I'd know it was you, and not Ryan."
"Oh, ok, and sweet dreams after you finish up. I'll see you in the morning."
"K. Night, Dad."
I went downstairs and sat with the others for awhile, as we discussed the current situation. First of all, we decided to have a light breakfast in the morning so it wouldn't slow the boys down at the tryout. We also planned on offering each one as much verbal support as we could before we took them to the various fields. Since the tryouts were being held at the same time, Brandon, Dion, and Trey offered to take Benny and Joshie, while Dad, Pop, and I would go with Ryan. That way they'd all have some moral support and people cheering for them in the bleachers.
By the time we finished our discussion, I walked with Brandon up to the second floor, and as he turned to head to our bedroom, I continued up to the third floor. Noah must have heard me coming, because he met me when I reached the landing.
"Don't worry. He's fine and really relaxed now. I went over and offered to give him a blowjob, and he was thrilled."
"You really did that for him? I'm surprised, since you were so adamant about not doing it again."
"Yeah, but I explained it would absolutely be the last one, and he seemed fine with that. I just wanted to make sure he got plenty of rest before the tryouts."
"Thanks, and that was really sweet of you."
"I just thought it would help, because I really want him to do his best tomorrow. I think it will be great if he makes a team and gets a chance to spend more time with other boys his age."
"I agree, so thanks a lot. You're a great son and an even better brother." Noah blushed slightly.
"Ryan said something like that too, after he shot his wad."
"Yes, I'm sure he appreciated your assistance. Goodnight, again, and thanks for your help."
As Noah entered his room, I opened Ryan's door and peeked in. He was sleeping very peacefully and his lips were curled in a
slight grin, so I assumed he was still enjoying the effects of what Noah had done for him, even in his dreams.
After we woke the boys Saturday morning, we went downstairs and had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. Then, the boys got ready and grabbed the things they were taking with them, as we prepared to head to the fields where the tryouts were being held. Noah wished all of the boys good luck, but he wasn't going with us. He'd made plans to spend time with Adam instead, after explaining that he didn't want to have to choose which brother he was going to watch. The boys all said that was fine as we headed out to the cars to leave.
Brandon drove the SUV with those going with him, while Ryan and I rode with Dad and Pop. There were a lot of boys mulling around when we got there, waiting for things to get started, but suddenly one of them came racing in our direction.
"I'm glad you're here," the boy stated as he greeted Ryan. At about the same time I recognized it was the boy who'd been called down to show Ryan around the school on his first day.
"Everyone, this is my friend, Owen," Ryan stated after chatting with the boy for a brief time. "Owen, this is my Dad, Grandpa Josh, and Grandpa Jake."
"I'm happy to meet you," he said, and then he looked at me. "I think I've seen you at school before."
"Yes, when I enrolled Ryan and you were called down to show him around."
"Yeah, that's right. Nice to see you again."
"And good luck to both of you."
"I wasn't going to tryout until Ryan told me he was going to do this. I hope we both get picked for a team."
"I hope we get picked to be on the SAME team," Ryan added.
"Even if you get picked and are on different teams, you can still enjoy yourself and have a friendly competition," Dad added.
"Yeah, but it would be more fun if we were playing together," Ryan countered.
We watched the entire tryout, although we were concentrating on how Ryan and Owen were doing. They definitely weren't the best ones out there, but they certainly weren't the worst either, so we felt fairly confident they would both end up making a team. We just felt badly for those poor kids that wouldn't get chosen.
When the tryouts ended, we all said goodbye to Owen and hopped into Dad's car to return home. Brandon and the others arrived a short time after we did, because there were more boys trying out for the younger group. Brandon told us that both boys had done well and looked good, but he thought Joshie had done slightly better. He still expected they'd both be picked, so we weren't too worried. The three boys were all in good spirits as we sent them up to shower and change, since they all were dirty from sliding and running around.
"And put on a school outfit before you come down again," Brandon told them.
"Why?" Ryan wanted to know.
"Because we have something planned for after lunch."
"What?" they all chorused back.
"You'll see, but we need you to hurry getting cleaned up and changed. Just make sure you look really nice before you come back down to eat."
They were still grumbling as they raced up the stairs to do as we'd asked, because they were unhappy that we hadn't told them what we had planned. Once they disappeared, I told Brandon I was grateful that the tryouts hadn't lasted any longer this morning, or it might have messed up our plans for the afternoon. He agreed, as we waited for the boys to finish up.