The following story is for adults and contains descriptions of sexual contact between males. If you are a minor, then it is illegal for you to read this story. If you find the subject objectionable, then read no further. All the characters, events and settings are the product of my over-active imagination. I hope you like it. Mail me or if literary analysis interests you visit Eliot's Space.


by Eliot Moore

Chapter Two

Table of Contents

Six Point Nine (Fourteen Point Seven)
Seven Point Two (Fourteen Point Twelve)
Seven Point Four (Fifteen Point Two)
Seven Point Five (Fifteen Point Three)
Eight Point Three (Sixteen Point One)

Six Point Nine (Fourteen Point Seven)

Peter paused to listen to the old diesel generator and wiped his hands on the rag. It sounded alright. Anyway it only had to run for a few hours; at least until the batteries were recharged. There was not much call for power on the island. Gus needed his satellite feed for the computer and not much else, they heated with wood in the winter and that was really all that they needed. Gus and Mel did let him run the generator when he needed the tool shop. Peter decided he could leave the generator and stripped off the old coveralls. His shop was at the other end of the cabin and he thought about working on a new chair for Helga. He tried to keep her happy and she looked the other way when he needed her to. Instead he wandered out to the fence line and leaned against one of the posts. He looked down the trail that led to Mel's cabin. It was a fair way from the kennel and that was a good thing. Peter shuddered. When he was little Mel had made him sit and watch while he played with one of the puppies. Was it the second Conrad? Peter could not remember the name, but the puppy had been a friend. They had been the same size that winter and Mel knew he liked the puppy. They would sit together and Peter would listen while Conrad told him about his home. Conrad had talked about going home and he wanted Peter to come with him. Peter knew talking about that was pointless. They did not play with each other much. It was just nice to have a friend. Peter had been made to watch the whole thing. It had been small comfort that Gus had beaten Mel senseless with his big fists for wasting a good puppy. Gus had whipped Peter too for not warning him and then made him bury his friend by the shore. He had sat by the small mound of sandy dirt and cried.

The boy named Martin had not worked out. He had fought with Gus and tried to burn the kennel down. Gus had given him to Mel and that was the end of it. Gus told Peter there was no point in wasting time on a wild dog. Peter turned to look back at the dog run behind the fence. He could see some of the puppies out rough housing together. Ethan was not out there. Peter frowned. The little puppy worried him. He wanted the puppy to do well and he found the blond boy a distraction.

Ethan sat on his bed staring at the far wall. He wished he had a book to read. He wished he could get away. There had been no talk of ransom or threats of death. His door wasn't locked and he knew they wanted him to go out and play in the yard. He just wanted to be alone with his mom and dad. He closed his eyes and started a long conversation with his dad.

He heard a voice at the door and opened his eyes. It was Gus. Gus was always quiet and slow. He looked like someone's grandpa. He never raised his voice, but he scared Ethan. Ethan waited expectantly for Gus to give him a command. Gus smiled his grandpa smile and turned away allowing Ethan to return to his solitary day dream.

He wasn't left alone for very long. He opened his eyes a second time and found Peter at the door. "Sean, you should go out and play. I worry about you sitting in your kennel all day. When was the last time you played with the others?" Ethan didn't answer but he watched Peter intently. He always felt better when Peter was around.

Ethan had reached the kennel in the back of a stuffy van crushed against the six other boys and boxes of various supplies. He had slept through the final journey and woke in his room. Immediately he had felt panicked and wanted the reassuring presence of Peter. Peter hadn't come and Ethan had lapsed into a fearful silence for the next week. When after eight long days Peter appeared at his door he simply stared at him with large eyes ringed with fatigue. Peter had sat down next to him and Ethan had crawled into his lap and wrapped his arms around his neck. He had fallen asleep as the teenager ruffled his hair gently. Later in the night he had woken with a start calling for his mother. She wasn't there and a wave of pain crashed over him until he felt Peter's body close to his. He had turned his back on the cold and buried his face against the hound's warm chest. Peter's arm shifted around his shoulders and it comforted him as he drifted back into a deep sleep.

Peter walked over to the open door to the dog run and looked at the sunlight. He snapped his fingers and Ethan joined him. As he often did, Ethan slipped an arm around Peter's leg and leaned against him for comfort. Peter drew him out into the sunshine and they walked to the end of the fenced run. They ended up at the corner furthest away from Ethan's toilet. Ethan blinked in the sunlight and gazed around the familiar yard.

Peter pried him loose and stepped behind him. Ethan backed up until he felt Peter's familiar warmth and shivered in the heat until Peter relented and wrapped his arms around his chest. Four cages away Neville wandered out into the sunshine and leaned heavily on the chain link separating him from the sandy expanse of the playground. Ethan turned his eyes on Neville and started shivering again.

"The other puppies are playing football, why don't you join them?" Peter followed Ethan's gaze and seemed to read Ethan's mind. "Is that what is worrying you so much?" Ethan didn't answer, but he put a hand on Peter's arm. Grandpa Gus had hurt Neville. Ethan knew he couldn't trust Gus. Neville and the cries of boys filled Ethan's nightmares now. "You are not going to lose your balls Sean." Peter bent over and gently cupped Ethan's groin. "I told you, he was a pooch. Someone wants a fat little lap dog to curl up with on the couch in the evenings." He turned Ethan around and squatted in front of him holding him by the hips. Ethan gazed back at him with his usual silence. "Sean, someone wants you to be a hound like me. Gary and Wesley had to be circumcised, but you already were so you don't have to worry about that either. You're just right Sean. Nobody is going to hurt you." Ethan reached out and hugged Peter around his neck and when Peter stood up he wrapped his legs around the fourteen-year old just as he had with his father when he carried him up to bed. Peter cradled him as he breathed softly into Ethan's shaggy hair. Ethan felt Peter's fingers brush against the pucker between his cheeks. "I'll tell you what. If you promise to go play with the other puppies until wash time and do a good job of washing, I'll spend the night with you. Is that a deal?" Ethan nodded his head and squeezed Peter quickly. "Sean, look at me." He did not get a response so he tried again "Ethan!"

Ethan pulled away from Peter's shoulder and looked into the hound's eyes. Peter smiled at him, "Oh the looks you give me bright eyes." Then the smile dropped from his lips and Ethan realized Peter was a little afraid. "You have to start talking Ethan. I know you can. It's important. You have to start being part of the litter. If Gus thinks you are not going to work out... will you try?" It was as close as Peter had come to admitting that Ethan wasn't really safe. Ethan nodded solemnly and Peter suddenly squeezed his shoulders hard. "Ethan, you have to start talking!"

Ethan closed his eyes for a minute and then gave a ragged sigh before breathing "Okay Peter". He felt drawn into a tight hug and then he let himself slide back to the ground.

Peter cupped his chin to get his attention and he looked up into his face. "Talk to everyone, especially Gus." He pushed him away gently, "go play kid and remember your name is Sean now."

Ethan walked to the door by himself and then paused to look back at the tall presence that had become his only security. "Deal?" he asked.

"Deal" replied the hound.

Seven Point Two (Fourteen Point Twelve)

Peter was the only hound Ethan saw around the place. Gus and Helga ran it with another man called Melvin. There were a lot of boys though. Ethan kept his eyes open and noticed that besides the boys who had come with him there were nine boys who were older. Gus or Melvin ran activities Ethan had labeled "school" every day with the boys. Ethan fidgeted as he knelt on the floor. It wasn't a very comfortable way to sit. "Grab your ankles with your hands and rest your butt on them. Lean back a little so your package shows." Ethan glanced at the other boy and shifted his position. "That's better" School was not much fun but it did help to pass the long days.

"Nate, how long have you been here?"

"Well, I guess a year and some. Roy over there has been here two winters. There were two other boys when I came."

"Where did they go?" Peter talked about someone who wanted him, but he didn't say much about it. He was terrified of the knife and what would happen when they took him away from Peter. A much subdued Neville sat quietly next to him.

"Found a home I guess." Ethan heard his name called and he waited for a command. Melvin told him to heel and he gratefully stretched his legs and trotted over to the man. It was a simple game, but after sitting on the floor for so long he was happy to move around.

Ethan liked to sit at night and watch the light shimmer in the sky, "northern lights" his dad had called them. Ethan guessed he was "north" because the lights happened a lot. He watched the moon too. It had been full three times since he came to the kennel. Ethan was cold when he went out to squat on his toilet. He could see his breath most of the time now. He closed the door now to keep the warmth in his room and slept under the scratchy blanket Gus had left on his bed. He was careful not to take it off his bed. Marvin had seen him wrapped in the blanket one morning and he had lost it for three bitterly cold nights. Naked and cold, he would still sit for a while and watch the night sky. His birthday was in September. It must be later now, so he was seven now. He wondered what his mom and dad would have given him for his birthday.

There were no locks on the front door. Ethan slipped out one day when Gus had sent him back to his room. The other buildings didn't interest him. He was drawn to the trail passing into the trees and, encouraged by the heat of the sun, he started to explore.

He didn't know what to expect. Was there a road full of cars and trucks that would take him home? There might be a train track he could follow. He didn't think so. The days and nights were quiet at the kennel. He walked until the buildings were lost in the trees. The quiet and freedom felt good. He thought he heard voices and left the trail. The forest floor was a brown carpet of soft needles that cushioned his feet. A flash of light caught his eye through the dark trunks and he headed toward it.

It was open water. Ethan picked his way down the rocks to the water. The sun was shining and the birds made lazy circles. There was a breeze along the shore and Ethan shivered slightly. He saw a flat rock and gingerly hopped from bolder to bolder. The rock felt warm and he sat while he surveyed the water and the blue line of the forest beyond. The white-topped waves rolled in against the shore and Ethan watched with pleasure as the waves tossed small debris onto the rocks and sent the waterborne birds up and down.

There was no other movement on the lake. Ethan wondered if he was on an island. The shore looked far away. He looked down the curve of the shore and thought about following the shore until he found someone who would take him home. He got up and started to hop along the rocks. He should be going away from the trail.

The sun was beginning to dip toward the trees when Ethan hobbled to a stop near the gravel road that stretched a short way across the narrow channel, and then disappeared into the trees. He sat on a rock and looked at his foot. The smooth rocks had been easy to walk on, but his feet were cut now and he didn't want to walk on the gravel. The wind was beginning to bite and he started to shake. It was such a short way across the water, he wondered if he could swim over to the shelter of the trees. It looked dark and scary. The cheering sunlight had faded and he thought about a night in the woods alone.

Ethan stepped into the water and felt a shock as the cold began to numb his feet. He cautiously felt his way over the slimy rocks until the icy water reached his thighs. He was shaking violently now and he paused to look at the still water. He knew he couldn't do it. He turned back and quickly worked his way out of the water and back onto the rocks. When he sat down with his back to the wind he curled up, hugged his frozen legs and buried his face in his knees.

"Sean, heel" Ethan lifted his head and turned in the direction of the road where Peter stood loosely holding a leash. Ethan sat shivering on the rock until Peter snapped his fingers and sat by the side of the road. He patted the ground next to him and waited silently for Ethan to move.

The numb boy climbed slowly to his feet and limped over the rocks to join Peter. He sat beside him, his teeth chattering, while Peter softly snapped the leash to his choker. Peter let his hand run down Ethan's back. The hound stood and Ethan followed. They turned and started up the road back toward the kennel. Peter watched Ethan limp for a few steps and then lifted the boy up. Ethan wrapped his arms around the hound's neck and as he walked back down the road Peter felt the hot tears on his neck.

Seven Point Four (Fifteen Point Two)

They seemed to shower twice a day. Ethan liked the water but it was crowded in the room. Melvin often captured the moment on video tape. It was his turn to wash with Neville. He didn't like to touch him. None of the boys did. After so many showers Ethan knew what he was supposed to do. Ethan watched while Neville rinsed the soap out of his hair and eyes. "You got soap in my eyes again. Why can't you be more careful?" Ethan sighed quietly; Neville had found his voice again. Ethan decided he didn't have to answer that so he began to soap the fat boy's back and chest. He was used to Neville now and automatically played with his dick and empty sack. His mind drifted away from Neville's clumsy response and he dreamed of the rocky shore and the white and gray birds on the sparkling water. When they had washed the soap off Ethan noticed Gus watching him from the doorway. "Peter is going to bring you to my cabin tonight so you make sure you wash real well, you hear?" Ethan nodded back and reached for the soap a second time.

Peter wrapped the blanket around tightly and stared at the tools on his workshop bench. A heavy hammer caught his attention. He saw it falling repeatedly on the old man's head. It was a foolish thought. He had to stay close in case Gus called for him but he had taken a chance and slipped into the workshop. Staying the first night was familiar. Peter had done it so many times. Ethan was already crying when he crept away, that too was familiar. The first time, Peter could not remember his first time. It had always been this way for him. At first it was Gus and him, then Mel came and finally Gus started bringing the boys. When the boys came Peter no longer shared Gus's bed at night. There were weeks when Gus did not want to play with him. Peter found himself wishing Gus would not play with Ethan.

Even though Peter knew he should make Ethan walk back to his room he picked up the limping puppy when Ethan stopped and held out his arms. Ethan had said nothing since Peter had met him at the cabin door. As soon as the little puppy rested his head against Peter's shoulder he had stopped trembling. Peter spoke softly to him as he walked the familiar path around the fence toward the door to the kennel. "Are you thirsty Sean? Would you like to stop and get a drink?"

"Ethan" the puppy whispered against his shoulder.

"What?" Peter had barely heard him.

"My name is Ethan Yates." There was a slight crack in the puppy's voice as it gained volume. Peter shifted a hand from beneath the puppy's butt and hugged him. He did not reply. Gus always changed the boy's names. There was a tag on the choker welded around the puppy's neck with the name Sean engraved in it. Ethan had to get used to the change.

"Well now you're Sean." He shifted the weight slightly to open the screen door. The bugs were nothing to him now but the boys all complained bitterly about the Black flies when they arrived and Gus did not like them swollen from the bites. Peter was repairing screens all the time. "You need to remember that."

"Peter, please" Ethan's voice sounded so sad and Peter felt bad for the puppy. He put Ethan down on the kitchen counter. The puppy winced when his butt made contact but only his head moved as he followed Peter's progress around the dark room. Peter found one of the bottles that would help Ethan sleep and brought it back for the puppy. Ethan's eyes were still on him as he handed it over to him.

"Okay your Ethan still... but only when we are alone, okay?" Ethan was past smiling and his face was streaked and foul; even so Peter felt Ethan relax slightly. He watched the puppy wrap his lips around the wide head as he tipped the bottle back. When he had had a drink he paused to look at Peter. The teenager could see he was tired. "Can you walk now?" Ethan responded by holding out his arms. Peter scooped him up. Blood smeared the spot where Ethan had rested. When Peter set him down in his room Ethan curled into a ball with his blanket wrapped tightly around him. Peter wondered if he should stay. He was tired too. It was late and he needed to rest before morning. "Do you want me to stay?"

The blond head shook. "No"

Peter hesitated a moment and then left the puppy to his rest. Ethan listened to him close the door. There was no familiar click from the dead bolt. It had not been locked for... Ethan was not sure how long. What would be the point? Each day grew colder; he was naked, and trapped. Ethan shivered in the dark. Soon he would be forced to sleep with the others, but not tonight. A strangled sob escaped before he could bite it back. That started the tears again and his nose dripped freely. Ethan was frightened. He was in a blind panic. He needed his mom badly. She always took care of the hurt and he hurt very badly. Everything down there was on fire and his muscles would not work. It had not been like the bones at all.

Playing with the little wooden penises called bones had not prepared him for Gus. Ethan had sat in a circle with the boys he had arrived with. After a month he was used to being naked around the others. They wrestled together, stayed close for warmth, and touched each others privates. He watched as an older boy had shown how to push a bone into his butt as he fingered the smooth wood in his hand. When he had tried it himself he had been surprised by how uncomfortable it felt. He had oiled the bone but it still rubbed against the sensitive tissue of his butt. He had been relieved when his butt pushed the bone back out. Gus had used his fingers and a bigger bone before quickly pushing his huge cock into Ethan. Ethan had thought Gus was angry at him when he cried and struggled against his heavy weight. It had made the old man push harder into his butt and when Ethan finally screamed at a deep pain inside him Gus had grunted twice and crushed him into the mattress where he laid in shock smelling the sweat and heavy butt smells of the old man's assault. He had hoped that Gus was done and that Peter would return to take him back to the safety of his small room, but Gus had continued to play.

Peter got boners all the time. When he was with Ethan, Peter liked to rub against the young boy until his cream came out. Peter liked it when Ethan touched his boner. Ethan would do it when he asked because the young boy liked making the teenager feel good. When they were finished Peter talked about how much Ethan would like being a hound when his body got older. Ethan felt excited now when Peter licked his cock until it got hard. Peter told the eight-year old he wished Ethan was older like himself. Ethan thought Peter was lonely. He had told Peter they could play together when he was older but that had just made Peter sad. It had been different with the heavy old man. Lying curled up on his thin mattress with the wool blanket wrapped tightly around his quivering body Ethan swore he would not go back to Gus's cabin. Gus had hurt Neville and now he had hurt Ethan. Ethan did not want to hurt again. His determination collapsed minutes later as he realized there was nothing he could do to stop Gus if he wanted to hurt him again. The tears came hard.

Later he crawled out into the yard and squatted over the shit hole. The cold did not numb the burning pain he experienced when he tried to poop. It was worse than the time he ate a hot pepper at a friend's house. Ethan panted out strangled cries each time his bowls moved and a silver cloud of frost escaped his mouth. He felt like he was pushing his guts out. Ethan crawled across the bare earth and back to his blanket. In the depths of the night he heard a solitary plane engine. The planes were rare and they never got close. In desperation Ethan had imagined that the planes were his parents searching for him, but they never drew close and he never saw them. He knew he was alone and he did not understand why. His hand slipped down to touch the raw lips of his butt and he pulled it back as soon as he made contact. It still hurt and his fingers came away damp from the slick jell Gus had used. When he gripped the blanket closer to his face he smelled the mess on his hand and started crying again.

Peter had listened to the puppy for a while from the empty hallway that ran down one side of the Kennel block. He had gone to his room but sleep had not come. Wrapped in his blanket he had returned to the door to Ethan's room. He was not sure why the misery of the small puppy moved him. In his experience puppies always suffered from men. Gus and Mel had always used him and when they were away searching for new puppies Gus often expected him to have sex with other men. When you were young it hurt. In time you got used to it. Peter had seen it over and over again with the puppies who were brought to the Kennel. When Gus discovered he was a hound he allowed Peter to fuck the puppies. Peter had known other puppies to take it as hard as Ethan. The puppy named Martin who had just been put down had started a fire after he had been with Gus. Peter did not think Ethan would do that. He was torn between worrying that the little puppy was not strong enough and fearing that he would keep trying to escape or fight back. Peter knew puppies had to accept the situation.

Peter had about decided that the bottle of water had done its work and Ethan was drifting off to sleep when the sound of crying got louder. He knew he should not baby the puppy. It would not make his life better. Ethan, no Sean, needed to take care of himself. Still the sound grabbed Peter somewhere deep and he gave up. Ethan did not respond to him at first. When he was almost over the small ball shaking on the mattress Ethan uncurled and turned to him.

Ethan never doubted it was Peter. He knew the sound of the boy's breath and light tread as it came across the rough floorboards. He had been hurt that Peter had left him with Gus. Peter had not stood up for him; but now he was relieved to have him back. Peter cared. Ethan choked off his sobs and held out his arms begging Peter to hold him. Peter joined him on the mattress and pulled him onto his lap. After wrapping both blankets around them he leaned against the wall. With a corner of the blanket he wiped the runny mess above Ethan's soft lips and gave him a squeeze. He could feel the puppy's heart beating fiercely against his chest and stroked his hair. Heavy tears continued to roll down the grief filled face as Ethan, finally began to drift off to sleep. When Peter thought the puppy was gone he shifted him down onto the mattress so that he could get more comfortable. Ethan clutched at him fitfully and then relaxed as Peter lay down next to him. They spooned together under the double blankets; the younger boy comforted that he was not alone and the older at peace because he was needed.

Seven Point Five (Fifteen Point Three)

Ethan had been trembling since after lunch. He had been trembling since Gus had told him he would get to sleep with Mel that night. As cold as it was Ethan had retreated to his bed where he could be alone.

Neville and Wesley had been with him when Mel had stopped by the kitchen to warn Ethan to come to his cabin after dark. Neville was a virgin oblivious to the fear that desended over Ethan. The round boy had simply complained that it was not fair Ethan got to sleep in a warm cabin. Gus had called for Ethan three times and with Peter's coaching Ethan was adjusting to the old man's demands. Wesley had been with Mel. He had been sympathetic to the tears hanging on Ethan's lashes. "Tough Sean" was all he said.

Peter was making a conscious effort to play with the other puppies. He was aware that he spent too much time with Ethan. He was splitting wood while the puppies ate supper and as a result he missed noting that Ethan had skipped the meal. Peter was stacking wood when he noticed Ethan's elfin frame moving slowly down the path. Ethan was accepting the evenings with Gus so Peter watched the seven-year-old's progress with just a sad regret that children lived in a world where they had to play with old dogs like Gus instead of each other. Naked as they were, clad only in the ragged boots, most puppies would have run down the path. Despite the bitter cold Ethan glided in slow motion.

The reason became clear when the boy veered toward Mel's cabin. A deep cold seeped into Peter's mind as he carefully laid the last three rough logs on the top of his neat stack. Ethan had reached the cabin door and paused with his hand on the latch. Peter's eyes drilled into the boy's back as his hand groped for the axe beside the saw horse. It dragged his arm down as he moved closer to the path. Ethan finally moved to open the door and Peter was left standing uncertainly in the gloom, an unspoken warning he knew he would never give choking his throat.

Ethan tried hard not to shiver. The cold had been intense and he had been out too long. Wesley had advised Ethan that Mel had not seem to care when he had been nervous, Gus demanded enthusiasm, Mel, it seemed, just amused himself. Ethan realized he should have asked Peter for advice. He longed to be back in his room with Peter. "Sean, kick those wet boots off and come here." Mel's graveled voice woke Ethan from his trance. The boy scrambled to comply. Mel was pouring a drink at a counter. He tossed it off as Ethan approached. Ethan never found his way to Mel's bed. He did his best, but before long he screamed. It just seemed to encourage Mel.

Despite his warm clothes Peter was cold. When he heard Ethan's first cry of pain he had moved closer to the cabin door. Peter's heart was in his throat. Ethan was so gentle. The fourteen-year-old gave no form to his thoughts. He accepted Mel would do this. Peter had no right to interfere with the life of the kennel. This was his life and he had no imagination for anything different. Ethan was a good puppy, Peter reassured himself. He would not struggle. The pain would bring Mel the release he needed. Peter listened intently for Ethan's soft sobs below the man's low grunting. He shifted the heavy axe to the crick of his arm. It reassured Peter. At some level he knew he would need the axe if the crying stopped. Until then he willed himself to wait patiently.

Time passed and Peter swayed hypnotically in the still air under the pines. He froze when the noise ceased and then exhaled slowly when Ethan's high-pitched voice threaded out to him. He could not make the words out and Mel's rumbling voice cut the trembling stream off abruptly. Peter felt a surge of nausea. It was not too difficult to follow the man's movements around the small cabin from the sounds of his progress. Cupboards slammed and perhaps a glass bounced across the plank floor. Peter waited oblivious of the cold eating at his body.

Ethan's next cry slapped Peter across the face. He flinched then mastered himself and advanced a step toward the door. Mel had his second wind. Peter hugged the axe as the sounds of the man's labored rutting grew louder and the small voice abruptly stopped its sobbing. It was hardly to be endured. No; a quiet thought moving against the current of his life. Things are this way, but no; to be by the shore alone again with dirt-stained hands. Peter could have wept for his life but for the mercy that he knew no better world beyond the puppies' laughter and the bright eyes of a boy who would not give up his name. There was a whisper of change in him when the cabin door finally swung open.

Mel paused on the lintel, a bottle loose in fingers. They considered each other in silence before Mel moved past Peter knocking him aside with his shoulder. The slight teenager swiveled around to face the man's bare back. The axe felt suddenly light in his hands. He could use it easily. ''Get him out of my cabin Peter" Mel's voice was so casual. Peter watched him lean a hand against a pine and bow his head before the steaming urine began to splash against the bark. Peter hesitated for a breath then turned toward the open door.

Ethan twitched as Peter's numb fingers fumbled with the tight cords. He gave up finally and cut the puppy free with the axe careless of the damage done to the table. His fingers smeared blood on Ethan's neck as he caressed the dark bruise where the choker had been pulled tight. Ethan was limp in his arms as they made their way along the well trod path. The heavy axe lay not quite forgotten on the table.

It was still early and they encountered a few puppies on the way to Ethan's room. Even the youngest had been around long enough to meet the pair with resign stares. Ethan immediately curled away from him on the mat and allowed Peter to cover him with the blanket. Peter watched him for a few minutes before moving back to the hallway and down to the kitchen where the other puppies had gathered in the lingering warmth. He listened to their idle chatter as he stripped the work clothes off and hung them by the door. His sat until the puppies moved to Mat's room where they gathered in a pile and under their collected blankets. Peter was drawn back to Ethan's room. Ethan had not moved. He sat beside his him and suddenly began to shake. He found he could not stop.

Ethan woke at the sounds of Peter sobbing beside him. He had fallen asleep comforted in Peter's arms. His dreams grew troubled for a while and then he sensed Peter's return. He hurt, but Peter's sobs distressed him and he rolled over and then crawled over to his friend and climbed into his lap. Peter was cold against his skin so he reached down and pulled the blanket until he draped it over Peter's shoulders. Once the blanket was settled he drifted back to sleep.

Eight Point Three (Sixteen Point One)

Ethan squatted over the toilet and watched the hot steam swirl away from between his feet. The air was still and sparkled in the morning sunlight. His feet numbed quickly as he scooped fresh snow into his hand and rubbed his dirty rear. Finished, he quickly ran back into his room and scrambled back onto his mattress. The small room was chilly and he spent most of his time on the bed huddled in his blanket. In a while he would be able to eat and join the other boys before they were given time to play. Gus might train him today for a while and then he would have an opportunity to stay in the warmth of the common room. Later, he would cuddle with the other boys for warmth in one of the kennels.

Peter came with breakfast and Ethan was grateful to sit in his lap with the blanket wrapped around them both. Ethan ate the hot meatballs and sucked the hot milk out of the familiar bottle. Peter lay down and waited for him to wash his hands and face in the tepid water at the sink. Ethan lay on top of him when he returned. Peter's cock was hard against his stomach. Peter began to move it gently as he stroked Ethan's back and buttocks.

It was too early to rise and after Peter had licked Ethan clean he was content to let his young friend share his warmth. Winters were slow at the kennel. Gus insisted the sixteen puppies remain naked at all times so when the temperature crashed the boys were reduced to huddling in blanket shrouded piles. It was left to the young hound to do all the chores with the two older men. Gus and Mel seemed to think it was enough if they took care of themselves and for the last three years they had left the lodge and line of kennels to the resourceful hound. Peter had stirred the fire under the boiler and built up the stoves. Puppies came for their chow and milk while the hound checked the batteries. After everyone had scurried back to the warmth of their piles Peter was free to spend time with Ethan.

Ethan lay comfortably on Peter's chest and studied the picture from Disneyworld. It looked so bright and warm. It was just a battered postcard and his mom and dad had said very little; "Having such a good time. Tanya wanted your bedroom and toys. We know you won't mind sharing. Listen to Mr. Kenner and behave." Peter had helped him read the note. Ethan had been hurt and angry. He resented his sister. She would not take care of his PlayStation. He wanted his room back. Ethan had started to tear it up, but it was all he had to remind him of his parents, it was the only thing in the kennel that was really his.

They all missed having things. Sometimes the boys tried to keep a ball or hack sack. Peter always took things away. Even the stick Ethan found that looked like a gun was taken away. The boys had resorted to leaving the odds and ends they treasured in odd spots around the yard. Sometimes they even buried it. Ethan had his plastic penis, the one Gus called a bone, and he supposed that was his. To the inventive boys the flexible tubes became weapons and phones.

Ethan studied the worn card and melted into Peter's lean chest. His friend's hands wandered reassuringly over his back and probed at his bum. Ethan's small organ pressed into the moist mound of Peter's flesh. The morning dark passing into a grey dawn was the only measure of time.