I deeply, deeply apologize for the long delay in posting this chapter. Real life has been a total bitch, but things are getting better now.

I have started a Yahoo! Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/the_long_road_series/) for fans of The Long Road series to chat with each other, chat with me, get news, participate in polls, etc. Membership in this group must be approved (this is done to keep out spammers and spambots). When you click on the Join this Group button, it will ask you why you want to join this group. Just enter Nifty, or whatever you want (I'm the only one who sees this), and as soon as I get the request I'll approve it.

Anyway, here's Chapter 18. I hope you all find it worth the wait.

~Jim

Chapter 18

Two days later Aaron was sitting at his desk at Candle Crafts assembling handouts for his advanced candle making class when there was a knock on the door frame. He looked up and scowled slightly as he saw Cameron at the door. "Aaron, can I talk to you a minute?" She asked quietly.

"What is there to talk about? You made your feelings perfectly clear the other day." He said in a voice as cold as the ice in Antarctica.

"Please. I need to talk to you about Mitch."

"Mitch? Mitch who? Oh wait a minute. You mean your fiancÚ Mitch, who's fucking me behind your back." He replied, sarcasm dripping from his tongue.

"I'm so sorry about that. I know there's nothing going on between you two. I was just so hurt by the whole situation."

"I wasn't exactly tickled by it either. You made it worse by hurling accusations at me. That really hurt, Cameron." He said, addressing her by name for the first time.

"I know. I had no right to say those things to you. What can I do to make it up to you?"

"I don't know. I need some time."

"Time is what we don't have."

"Huh? What are you talking about?"

She went on to explain what the psychiatrist had told her. "So you want me to play along? This type of charade is what caused this whole mess to begin with, and this time you want me to actually sleep with him? I can't and won't do that."

"The psychiatrist doesn't think it will have to go to that extreme, just some handholding and light kissing should make things get sorted out in his mind."

"And what about Iukekini? How do you think he's going to react to all this? I'd basically be cheating on him and that I absolutely will not do!" He replied emphatically.

"So you'd rather see Mitch stay the way he is?"

"No, of course not." His tone and expression softened. "There must be some other way to help him."

"I don't know if there is nor not, but what if the three of us sat down with the psychiatrist and discussed it? Maybe we could come up with another solution."

"Let me call Iukekini and see what he says." A couple of minutes later he hung up the phone. "He's not too thrilled with the situation but he's willing to meet with the shrink and see if we can come up with an alternate solution to help Mitch. Why don't you come back when my class ends around five and we can talk more about it then?"

"Okay. I'll see you then, and Aaron?"

"Yes?"

"I meant it when I said that I was sorry."

"I'll see you after my class." He responded dismissively.

A little before five, Iukekini walked into the classroom and was greeted with a bear hug and a kiss. "Hi, baby, how was your day?" Aaron asked, breathless from the hot and heavy kiss.

"It was a typical day. How was your class?"

"It was good. They're really getting the hang of it. I think the people are really getting something out of the classes."

"Besides a chance to gawk at the hottest guy on the island?"

"Omigod, he was here?" Aaron asked, tongue in cheek, feigning excitement.

"From what I was told, he's the instructor." Iukekini replied, leaning in for another scorching kiss.

After the kiss they went into Aaron's office and sat down. "So what do you think of Cameron's request?"

"I don't know, Aalona. I mean, I'm all for helping Mitch out, but this I'm not so sure of. What do you think?"

"I, too, want to help Mitch, but this plan basically requires me to cheat on you, and, as I told her, that I absolutely will not do."

"I can understand your feelings on this, Aaron." Cameron surprised them. Both men looked up to see her standing in the doorway. "I don't like it either, but I don't know what else we can do."

Aaron waved her to take a seat as he got up, closed and locked the door to ensure their privacy. Reseating himself at his desk he first glanced at Iukekini, then looked Cameron straight in the eyes. "So what exactly did the shrink propose I do when he said to go along with Mitch's delusion?" The tone of his voice and the hard look in his eyes said loud and clear that he wasn't going to be happy with her answer.

"Basically he said to go along with Mitch and that you shouldn't have to do more than hand-holding, hugging, and at the most some light kissing. He said nothing about sleeping with him."

"And what is this supposed to accomplish?" Iukekini asked, his tone of voice conveying his annoyance.

"He said that Mitch would eventually get the feeling of wrongness and once that happens things will get straightened out in his mind."

"And how long am I supposed to do this before he gets straightened out?" Aaron asked, somewhat relieved that he wouldn't be expected to have sex with him. No matter how he felt about Mitch that was a line he would not cross.

"The psychiatrist didn't think it would take very long, but he couldn't give a specific time frame."

"And there's no other way?"

"He didn't say one way or another."

Aaron and Iukekini exchanged looks. "Perhaps if we all sat down with the psychiatrist and discussed it, maybe we can find another way." Iukekini said.

"I called Doctor Mahuani and he said he's there until nine tonight and he can see us at seven-thirty."

"Mahuani? He's great. Whenever one of my fellow Firefighters has a hard time dealing with a fatality or a serious injury, he's the one everyone goes to." Iukekini responded with a little enthusiasm.

Aaron sighed deeply. "Okay, let's all go get something to eat and then go to the hospital."

"Does that mean I'm forgiven?" Cameron asked hopefully, her eyes tearing up.

Aaron looked at her for a moment before getting up and walking over to her. "Yeah." He said as he held out his arms to her. She rushed into them and cried on his shoulder for a few moments.

Later as a group they all gathered around a table in Doctor Mahuani's office. Nervous apprehension was the mood of the hour as the doctor began to speak.

"Mitch's condition is called dissociative amnesia. It's a condition where the roles of people in his life get all mixed up. Sometimes things straighten themselves out and sometimes they need a little help. Mitch is the latter case. He believes that Cameron is his cousin and that Aaron is his boyfriend. At this point in time the standard therapy practices have been ineffective, which brings us to where we are now. It is my firm belief that if everyone plays along with him that everything will get straightened out in his mind in short order."

Aaron exchanged a glance with Iukekini. "There's just one problem. I'm in a monogamous relationship with Iukekini and I won't do anything to jeopardize that. I have no problem hugging Mitch, but I will not sleep with him. I'm sorry, but I just can't do that."

"I understand, Aaron, and I'm not asking you to sleep with him. I really don't believe it will come to that. What I am asking is that you act like his boyfriend, hold him, hold hands with him and maybe give him a light kiss or two on occasion. Can you do that?"

He was silent for a couple of minutes as he mulled over the Psychiatrist's request in his mind. "I guess I could do that. It can't go any further than that, though."

"That's all I asking." With that statement the meeting broke up and everyone left. As Aaron and Iukekini got into Aaron's car, Iukekini rounded on Aaron angrily."

"I DON'T BELIEVE YOU DID THAT!" He shouted.

"Did what?" Aaron asked, completely baffled by Iukekini's sudden change in attitude.

"You just agreed to be Mitch's boyfried!"

"No, I didn't. Baby, you're my boyfriend. My only boyfriend. I agreed to PRETEND to be Mitch's boyfriend. I also stipulated that I would not sleep with him."

"And just WHY did you agree to that?"

"Because Mitch is my best friend, and this whole mess is my fault." The guilt and shame in Aaron's voice completely diffused Iukekini's anger. Gently he took hold of Aaron's chin, lifted and turned his head to look him in the eyes.

"Baby, how is this in any way your fault?"

"It's my fault because of that stupid God damned charade to keep me from being outted. But you know what? Let them find out and kick me out of the Air Force. I don't give a flying fuck anymore. The only thing I want is to be with you."

"Is that what you really want, to be kicked out dishonorably? You told me a while back that if that were to happen you'd never be able to get a decent job with a bad conduct discharge on your record."

"They don't do that anymore. Now it's a general discharge which gets automatically upgraded to honorable after six months."

"Still, what would you do for work? The only thing you know is firefighting and candle making. The HFD isn't hiring right now and you wouldn't be able to make a decent living at Candle Crafts."

Aaron shrugged his shoulders and hung his head. "You're right of course. Also, where would I live?"

Iukekini smiled. "I don't think housing would be a problem. You'd move in with me."

Aaron looked at him and smiled his usual breathtaking smile. "I love you so much." He leaned over and kissed him.

"How much time do you have left on your enlistment?"

"Two years and four months."

"Why don't you stick it out. By that time the HFD would probably be hiring again and I'll do whatever I can to get you in, if you're interested."

"I don't know if I can wait that long to be able to spend time with you openly."

"If we stick to our plan of the crash fire training, you won't have to. I'm absolutely positive that it will work if our respective Chiefs agree, and I don't see why they wouldn't. It makes all kinds of sense."

"Okay, but please don't be mad at me about the Mitch situation. I love you and only you."

"I understand now why you agreed to pretend to be his boyfriend. I'm really not comfortable with the idea, but I'll go along with it.

"Thank you, baby. Now, why don't we go to your place so I can show you how much I love and appreciate you."

"In bed, I hope."

"I suspect we might not get that far. We might make it to the living room couch. Might." They made it as far as the living room floor before they were both naked and Aaron was giving Iukekini's ass a fast and furious pounding.