Grounded in Air
Copyright © 2009 by the author under the pseudonym Gee Whillickers. All rights reserved.
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This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual place, event, or person, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This story is intended for adults and contains subject matter not suitable for children. Parental Advisory in effect.
** 4 **
"Do you know Ray very well?" asked Mr. Dorian after a few seconds of uncomfortable silence.
"Uh, no. We just met at lunchtime. He wanted me to meet you. He didn't say why," answered Donny.
Donny watched Mr. Dorian's eyes crinkle in thought as he rubbed his chin with his right hand, the one that had held the blackboard eraser. Chalk dust was now spread onto his chin and across one cheek. Donny suppressed a smile at this, but kept quiet.
"You'll have to forgive Ray. I think he forgets that not everyone is as open as he is, or has his propensity to, um, act quickly," said Mr. Dorian
"So why did he want me to meet you?" asked Donny. Several thoughts were running through his head. Some more interesting than others, but he was still feeling awkward. He wasn't used to talking to people this much anymore.
More chin rubbing. "Well, I'm not really sure yet. But I know Ray and he does everything for a reason, believe me. I guess we'll have to maybe try and figure it out."
"Mr. Dorian, he called you Fred. Your first name. You're a teacher. How come? How do you know him?"
Fred walked over to his desk and sat down, waving Donny into the chair next to his desk. "I'm sure you've heard of Ray's ordeal? Everyone in the school seems to have."
"Yes. Well kinda. I know he, like, almost died, and was in a bunch of pain or something, and now he's ok and back at school."
"Well, yes. There's more to it, but it wouldn't be right for me to tell you that. I'll let Ray do that. However I will tell you that it took a close group of people, friends and family, to help him through it. We, that group, got pretty close to each other over the past few weeks. That's why he calls me Fred instead of Mr. Dorian."
Donny found that despite this information he was feeling a bit frustrated. Everything he found out just led to more questions. How did Ray figure him out? Why did he want him to meet Mr. Dorian? Just exactly what was Ray's relationship with Patrick, with Dennis, with Mr. Dorian? He had some guesses, he couldn't help but wonder exactly how close their relationships were, but he was sure he must be way off. His ideas were too weird. Still, the way Ray talked about Patrick. The way his eyes lit up. The way Donny felt immediately jealous when he saw Ray's expression when talking about Patrick. He had to know more.
"So, um, you must know Patrick? And Dennis?"
Fred's expression changed. He looked straight at Donny, his eyes boring deep. "Sure, I know them. What did Ray tell you about them?"
Mr. Dorian's expression was making him uncomfortable. It was like he was trying to read his mind, ask a question without asking. Donny answered, "Well, not much. He told me they were his friends. Real good friends." Donny blushed slightly thinking of the possible implications.
"Dammit Ray..." muttered Mr. Dorian. Then his voice became stronger and he smiled again. The penetrating stare was gone. "I love that kid, but sometimes he drives me crazy. He leaves us here to figure all this out and I have no idea what you know and you have no idea what I know, and we're both too damn scared to ask directly." Fred's smile became a grin.
Donny felt himself grinning back. He liked this teacher. "So how do we figure it out then?"
Donny felt something shift inside him. All his barriers, his reticence to connect to people, were disappearing. He wouldn't have believed anything like that could happen so quickly. Maybe the built up pressure of being alone so long, the need to have some people around him. He felt like talking, interacting. He wanted to spend more time with Fred. And with Ricky, and maybe Ray. A taste of it had made him hungry for more, like a starving man might feel after the first bite of a delicious meal.
"Come on, help me bring these two boxes out to my car." Fred said. "I have to grade this homework on the weekend. Maybe we don't have to figure it out right away, but, if you want, we can take a walk and chat for a bit."
* * *
Fred Dorian was astounded. He knew exactly what Ray was trying to do. But he wasn't at all sure he liked this. This kid was a student at his school for god's sake. And despite Ray's obvious confidence in Donny, he needed to be careful. For both of their sakes. He couldn't even ask him if he wanted a ride home. These days, someone seeing a boy getting into a teacher's car after school was suicide for a teacher. Looking over at Donny though, he couldn't help notice the straight black hair, the smooth face. Damn, he was cute. And, from what little he could gather so far, interesting, smart, and funny. Fred knew that Ray wouldn't have introduced Donny to him if he hadn't known a bit more about Donny too. Still, these were dangerous waters indeed.
After dropping the boxes into the back seat of Fred's car, they began walking towards an ice cream shop a few blocks away. Still a risk, thought Fred, but one he had decided to take.
They sat down at a small round table in the ice cream shop. It had all of these really high tables with chairs you had to climb on and your feet couldn't even reach the floor, you had to rest them on these crossbars halfway up the legs of the chair. For some reason, Fred knew, most boys loved that. They had chatted on the walk to the shop. Nothing groundbreaking. Just small talk mostly. A guy had ridden by on a motorcycle and Donny had eyed it and had described the bike in detail, including make, model, displacement, and history.
"You like motorbikes, obviously," Fred said.
"Yup. I have one. Mine's kinda old and junky. Motocross. I race it"
"You race it?" This was a bit surprising, thought Fred.
"Yeah. It's all kids around my age. I love it. It's so much fun! But, it's real expensive and we don't have much money so I end up missing a lot of races and stuff because my bike is always falling apart."
Fred was watching Donny while he talked. Talking about this made Donny seemed animated. Even happy. Before that, when Ray had introduced them, he seemed to be suppressing some kind of sadness. Fred found himself really being drawn in. He wanted to know more.
"Sounds fun. Maybe I should come and watch you sometime."
"Really!?" Donny's expression was elated. That was quickly replaced by a sad frown. "Um, maybe that's not a good idea."
Fred frowned. "Why not?"
"Well, because...Just because."
Fred waited for a moment, then seeing that Donny had no plans to explain himself he smiled and said, "Donny, I'm still a teacher. An English teacher, among other things. Like I'm going to let you get away with an answer like, 'just because.'" He made sure his expression let Donny know he wasn't really serious, but that he was curious.
"Well, 'cause I'm not sure a guy showing up to watch me, one I'm not related to, would be a good idea. Half the kids there already figured out I'm ga...Think I'm weird." Donny blushed from his forehead down to below his collar.
Fred was very careful to make sure his face showed a kind and accepting smile. Now why in the world did he admit that? Freudian slip? Accident? On purpose? "Well, I don't care if you're weird. Or gay."
Donny stared at him. He looked like he was ready to run for the hills if he took a breath the wrong way.
Time for a subject change, thought Fred. Making sure his voice was even and casual he said, "So how's the hot fudge?"
Donny looked down at his untouched sundae. "Oh. Um, I haven't even tasted it yet." He began to scoop up a spoonful.
Donny ate two bites and then set his red plastic spoon down again. He seemed to be gathering his courage to say something thought Fred.
"Is that why Ray wanted us to meet?" he asked bravely.
Smart kid, thought Fred. "You mean because of what I said? That I don't care if you're weird? Or gay?"
"Maybe. What do you think?" asked Fred.
Instead of answering, Donny asked a question of his own. "Are you gay, Fred?" Donny looked down at the table and grabbed his napkin and started fiddling with it right after asking this question.
Fred noticed it was the first time Donny had used his first name. And he had asked the question that any man like him finds hard to answer when he's not sure of the boy. How much to trust? Is he ready for an honest answer? He copped out and gave a half-answer. "Well, kind of."
Donny's lips slowly turned into a smile. He looked like he had reached a conclusion and his eyes looked up into Fred's now instead of down at the table. "Would you have a boyfriend that was someone like you? A guy around your age?" Donny asked.
Oh god. I hate smart kids, thought Fred. Lie or trust? Stay safe, or possibly open up doors? Dammit. How the hell had control of this conversation completely turned onto Donny?
"Probably not," he answered. "It depends on the guy I suppose."
Donny smiled even more if possible. "What about with someone younger, like a teenager? Or, maybe, like someone my age?"
Busted. Oh well. He reached his decision. "Yes, I think I might...It depends on the guy I suppose." He looked steadily into Donny's oh so cute eyes.
"That's why Ray introduced us. You like boys. And I like...um...well...I like men," Donny said.
Brave boy, thought Fred.
"Well, we were right." said Fred. "We figured it out."
* * *
Donny's eyes scanned the spectator area as he donned his racing gear before finally spying Fred. He grinned to himself in his helmet. He almost hadn't made it to the track on time. His mom's fast food job had called her into work. Donny's mom had told him he would have to miss going to the track this week. Donny had argued, they had gone back and forth a bit, and finally she had agreed to drop him and the trailer off at the track before going to work, and then come back to pick him up after her four hour shift. A frantic phone call had been made to Mr. Crayson to ensure he would be there upon Donny's arrival to provide supervision. It was all set. Donny had arrived later than usual and if it wasn't for Mr. Crayson's help he never would be able to prep himself and his bike in time.
Donny thought back to yesterday's conversation as he watched Mr. Crayson make adjustments to his bike. He remembered leaving the ice cream shop and feeling a thread of connection to someone. Friendship. Maybe more? Things that he couldn't remember feeling in a long time.
Donny had chatted incessantly with Fred on the walk back to the school. He didn't remember the last time he had talked so much. It was so good to just let himself go, to talk to someone, to not feel quite so lonely. Deep down, he knew he might end up regretting this, but right then, at that very moment, he didn't care one bit. He mentally told his doubts where they could shove it. He liked Fred. He was having fun. For the first time in a very long time, he was looking forward to possibilities. Possibilities that made his stomach flutter and even made his penis tingle. That's why, once they were back at Fred's car, Donny told Fred where the track was for the weekend's race, and what time it was.
He had changed his mind. He wanted Fred to be there.
It was strange, thought Donny. After meeting Ray and then Fred, most of the thoughts that were going through his head at first, when he figured out things about Fred, and about Ray, were about the possible physical relationship. About sex or related to sex. Now, it was different. After talking to Fred and starting to like Fred it was more than that. The thoughts of sex were still there, very much so, but there were so many more things to think about now. Emotions that had had forgotten the names to, or even feelings that he didn't ever remember having before.
Mr. Crayson stood up and turned to Donny with a grin. "You got somebody important to you in the crowd today? You're looking into those stands like a lost puppy." Then seeing Donny's blush he changed the subject. "Ok, fire her up Donny. I've adjusted a few things for ya, see what you think."
Donny threw his leg over the bike and pulled it off the stand, balancing its weight between his legs. Turning on the kill switch he gave the kickstarter a good kick with his right boot. The bike fired right up, first try. He twisted the throttle a few times experimentally. The sour note in the engine was gone as far as he could tell. He couldn't remember the last time his bike sounded so good. He grinned towards Mr. Crayson.
"Thanks! What did you do?" he yelled over the engine.
"Just a bit of a carb adjustment, a new plug and wire, and a few little tweaks here an' there. Give'er hell Donny and show 'em what you can do out there."
Donny gave Mr. Crayson a broad grin and a thumbs up before moving his bike towards the starting area. Not even the sneering look from Ryan Tiller could dampen his mood today.
* * *
Donny stood near the spectator area and listened to the public address system announce the results. "Second Place -- Donny Sherbrook!" Donny raised his arms and pumped his fist once while the ribbon was placed on his neck. His eyes sought out Fred's in the stands. He wasn't hard to find. He was the one clapping most energetically and yelling the loudest. His race had been awesome. His bike ran better than it had for ages, and Donny had ridden with a focus and energy he hadn't felt since, well, since he couldn't remember. It was weird. Just knowing that someone was in the stands watching him, someone other than his mom of course, seemed to spur him on, give him the motivation he'd been lacking for a while. Maybe there was something to what Ray had said the other day. How you need to have people around you.
Donny pushed his bike towards the his trailer and looked up to see Fred approaching him with a grin a mile wide on his face.
"Donny! That was awesome! You were great out there."
Smiling in return, Donny replied, "Thanks Fred. My bike was running great thanks to Mr. Crayson, so that's partly why, but I thought I rode well today."
"I've never been to a bike race of any kind, or even a car race for that matter. It was more fun than I had imagined, especially because I knew you were in it. Thanks for opening up my eyes to something new."
Donny just smiled and blushed slightly in response. He put his bike onto its stand and walked the four steps over to where Fred was standing. He opened his arms and took one final step, pulling Fred into a close hug, pushing his face into Fred's shirt and squeezing his arms tight. It was the first hug Donny had experienced with anybody, other than from his mom, in a very very long time. He could feel Fred tense in surprise for just a second, and then the warmth of his arms as they encircled him and began squeezing back, much gentler than Donny. Donny closed his eyes for a moment, reveling in the feeling of Fred's hands rubbing up and down his back.
"Thanks for being here Fred," Donny said.
Donny opened his eyes to see Mr. Crayson approaching.
"Helluva race you rode there Donny. Nicely done," Mr. Crayson said. Three seconds passed, an inscrutable look on Mr. Crayson's face. "Maybe you have an introduction to do Donny?"
Donny realized he was still hugging Fred and pulled away in some embarrassment. "Oh. Mr. Crayson, this is Fred. Um, Mr. Dorian. He's a teacher at my school."
Another infinite three seconds of silence while Bill eyed Fred carefully. Finally Bill raised his hand for a handshake. "Nice to meet you Fred. I'm Bill Crayson, I run Crayson Motosports and am responsible for Donny here today."
Donny noticed the slight emphasis on the last part. He watched Fred introduce himself. The men looked each other over, obviously trying to figure each other out. Donny could feel his heart rate increase, nervous butterflies in his stomach. He couldn't quite catch all of the looks the two men seemed to be sending back and forth, but he could feel the sudden tension in the air.
Fred said, "Donny says you get some of the credit for his race today. For looking after his bike."
"Well, he doesn't have the support some of the kids here have. It's the least I could do. Donny's a great kid and deserves the help," answered Bill, his eyes cautious, "Listen, sorry, but I gotta ask. Why is one of his teachers here today to watch him?"
"A mutual friend seemed to think it would be a good idea," answered Fred, with a small smile. "I wanted to support Donny. I think he could use it."
"So Donny, what subjects does Mr. Dorian teach you?" asked Bill.
"Um, well, actually I don't have him for any of my classes."
Donny noticed the searching look on Bill's face as he looked at Fred. He felt he had to jump in, to try and defuse some of the tension he felt. "Fred's great Mr. Crayson. I begged him to come. He wasn't going to at first, but I wouldn't let him say no."
Bill looked at Donny for several long seconds before answering. "Ok then Donny. You're lucky you have such supportive teachers." Bill lifted Donny's bike onto the trailer and turned his attention back to Fred. His voice was almost too casual when he said, "I expect you'll treat him with all of the dignity and respect he deserves." He had the kind of look on his face that could easily be read by both Donny and Fred as "or else."
"He only deserves the best," answered Fred, his face expressionless.
Donny was relieved when just then he spotted his mom's minivan pulling up. This conversation was very uncomfortable. His mom stopped the van and opened the door to step out.
Donny ran over to his mom for a hug. "Mom! I got second place! Mr. Crayson fixed my bike and Mr. Dorian from my school was here to watch me!"
Laura hugged her son. "That's great Don. Now, I'm real tired and need to go home and rest. Let's get the trailer hooked up."
Donny wrinkled his nose the strong and rather unpleasant smell of slightly burnt grease, french fries, and hamburgers coming from his mom's uniform, and pulled back to see the exhausted look on her face.
Bill spoke. "Donny was great today Laura. You should've seen him. I don't know what got into him, but he seemed extra motivated today." Once again, he glanced over at Fred. "Listen, I'm glad you're here. I gotta run. Ed's minding the shop and I gotta go relieve him. We'll talk to you later. Good job today Donny." His eyes returned to Fred. "Nice meeting you Fred." He didn't offer a handshake.
Bill then turned and walked off towards the parking lot.
Donny noticed his mom's eyes on Fred. "Oh! Mr. Dorian, this is my mom. Uh, Laura Sherbrook. Mom, this is Fred Dorian, a teacher from my school."
They shook hands. Laura spoke first, "Nice to meet you Mr. Dorian. I'm glad someone could be here to support him. Don spends too much time by himself."
"Glad I could be here Ms. Sherbrook. You have a great son, and he was amazing out there today."
"Please, call me Laura. Sorry, I don't mean to be rude but I'm dead on my feet. We really have to get going. It was nice to meet you Mr. Dorian."
Donny had an idea. "Mom, how about if Fred drives me home after we get something to eat. I know you don't want to go home and cook anything. You can go home and rest and I'll be home after we eat and then I'll clean and unload my gear."
"Donny, don't you think that's a bit rude? You should wait for an invitation first," said Laura.
Fred answered, "No, that's ok Laura. I was going to invite him actually. But I wanted to be sure it was fine with you first so I hadn't said anything yet. I think that would be a great idea, and I wouldn't mind at all. I'll help you hook up the trailer here first if you like, and then if it's ok with you we'll just go and grab a sandwich or something and I'll have him home in a couple of hours."
After the trailer was hooked up Fred and Donny watched Laura drive away with Donny's bike trailing behind.
"Come on kiddo, let's go celebrate your second place finish." With Fred's arm around Donny's shoulders and a smile on Donny's face they made their own way to the parking lot.
Not too much later they were pulling into the parking lot of popular steak house.
Donny said, "A steak house? Cool! I thought we were just going for a sandwich?"
Fred pulled his car into a spot and turned it off, looking over at Donny. "I thought you deserved something a bit more special than that."
Donny smirked. "Something a bit more special? So, is this kinda like a date?"
Fred laughed. "You're quite the kid, you know that Donny? I'll leave that up to you. If you want it to be a date, then it's a date."
Donny didn't answer, just smiled over at Fred as he opened the car door and exited the vehicle.
On the drive to Donny's house afterwards Donny was elated. They had talked and talked, mostly about nothing, but a lot about themselves. The more he got to know Fred the more he liked him. And knowing that he like boys, well, that just made him tingle all over. It seemed too good to be true. For some reason he kept thinking of a potted plant he had in his room. He usually forgot to water it and it would often look droopy and half dead. Then he would take pity on it and remember to water it and put it in the sun on his window sill. A day later it would be full of life again. He felt like that.
"Pull into that parking lot over there," Donny said.
Fred did so. "Why?" he asked.
"Because if this is a date then I need to take care of something before you drop me off at home."
Donny slid over on the seat and moved his arms around Fred's neck, pulling him close. Donny then looked into Fred's eyes and slowly moved his lips towards Fred's. His gentle kiss lasted for several seconds before Donny moved his head back slightly and smiled.
"If it's a date then it needs to end with a kiss," Donny said.
"Well, I guess I can't argue with that." Fred pulled Donny in for another kiss. His lips once again meeting Donny's smaller ones. This time the kiss lasted longer and was just slightly wetter, mouths very slightly open as they explored each other's lips.
Donny pulled himself into as much contact with Fred as he could with the steering wheel in the way. He swung his leg between the steering wheel and Fred's leg, where he could feel Fred's erection against his thigh. His knee was mashed against the seat between them Fred's knees. It wasn't particularly comfortable. Donny pulled away from the kiss slightly.
"Your dick is hard," he said. His face showing both amusement and wonder.
"Well, yeah. What do you expect with me holding and kissing someone so cute, warm, and wonderful? Besides," Fred flexed his leg against Donny's own very hard penis, "you're pretty boned up yourself there kiddo." With that he leaned in for another brief kiss.
"Ok Donny, this is a pretty public place. I think we'd better stop. Not that I want to, but maybe there will be other times if that's what we both want. We'll talk. Right now, let's get you home."
Donny pulled away reluctantly and slid over onto his side of the car. "Fine, but there better be other times. You can't get me all hot and then leave me to fend for myself."
Fred laughed. "I suspect you know very well how to fend for yourself just fine, and I'm sure you'll be fending almost as soon as you get up into your room."
"Fred!!" He made this into two syllables as he blushed hard.
Fred just laughed in response before asking, "Do you want to come with me to a barbeque next week?"
"A barbeque? Um, I dunno. I'm not really used to being around a lot of people these days. Especially people I don't know."
"Well, you'll know at least two people. Me and Ray. You'll also get to meet Patrick, and Dennis, and a bunch of other great people," said Fred.
"Well. I guess. But don't be surprised if I act kinda shy. Big groups like that aren't really my thing. I'll ask mom if it's ok."
"Great. I'm looking forward to it. Now let's get you home." Fred leaned over for another smooch before putting the car in gear and pulling out of the lot.