This story details explicit gay sex between men, teens and boys. If you find this kind of thing distasteful, or if you are underage wherever you live, then stop reading this now, and delete this file. The story is completely fictional; the author does not condone or encourage any of the acts contained herein.



Chapter 44

By: Tim Keppler

I've read a number of articles that suggest that gay youth go through their teenage years in their twenties, and I mostly subscribe to this notion. I was quite closeted as a teen, afraid to admit to friends and family, especially to family, that I was...different. By the time I was in my early twenties, I'd started to date, and to have sex...recklessly. But, it wasn't until I met Tim and Jason that I really started to love someone...someones. It wasn't until Tim and Jason that love came first. It wasn't until Tim and Jason that I had the sense that someone loved me. The trouble is in the endorphins, I think. This is my theory, so I can't ascribe it to some expert. In your teens, you are just head-over-heels. You're not focused on sex; you're focused on love, on romance. I can remember having crushes on classmates in my early teens, just like all of my friends. But, while they were acting on these crushes, I was repressing them, hoping they'd go away, hoping, as the religious fanatics do, that I'd become asexual. I think I secretly knew that I was never going to have a crush on a girl. Failing that, what I wanted was not to have a crush on anyone. I wanted my desires to end in a sort of immaculate castration.

But they didn't end, and by the time I was in my twenties, I was doing what the straight boys had done in their teens, confirming all the stereotypes the religious fanatics had been propagating about gay guys, propagating and ensuring. Because the human animal can't not love. Love, desire, and sex, these are all built into our wiring. Making a distinction between "homosexuality" and "homosexual acts," as the Pope loves to do, is just flat-out absurd. No, it's worse, it's cruel. The cruelty of the Pope knows no bounds. The Pope thinks it's fine that I'm attracted to another guy, but if I go and kiss him, I've sinned. I just don't know what to say to that.

Why am I on this rant? It's Dinh, who is going through the same process I went through...at almost exactly the same age. But he's doing it in a very different way, a far more efficient way, and that's the problem. He's done two things. First, he's joined a number of "gay groups." On Saturday mornings, he goes to The Bay Area Frontrunners, a group of maybe five hundred gay men and women who go jogging together each week. It's a social club, but there's social, and then there's SOCIAL. It's very cruisy, because a lot of these guys are there looking for other guys to hook up with. I went twice years ago, and didn't like it much, but I went to be social (lower case). I was coming out, and was looking for friends -- people to talk to rather than to fuck. And it worked, sort of. I did meet a couple of friends. But, mostly I found it to be kind of...exclusive. Most of the members are Caucasian, which was fine with me, but apparently not with them. They weren't especially friendly, at least not to me. Chatting with a couple of other Asian guys later on, I found that my experience was not uncommon. They don't treat Asians very well. They don't treat us badly, but they don't really want to know us. I stopped going.

On the second and fourth Tuesday night of each month, Dinh goes to meetings of the sbQA (South Bay Queer and Asian). Their mission is "to be a leading social and support group that provides queer Asians and Pacific Islanders in the South Bay with a safe and fun place to come out and be comfortable with their sexual identity and ethnicity." I'd gone to this group, too, once or twice. I'd liked this group a lot more than Frontrunners because it was easier to make friends there. But, it, too, was very exclusive. In the beginning, I guess, they'd allowed anyone to come to their meetings, but later had restricted their meetings to Asians only. Anyone could go to their events -- pot-lucks, movie nights, bar crawls -- but the Tuesday-night meetings were reserved for Asians only. They found that they attracted quite a coterie of rice-queens (Caucasian guys who are attracted only to Asian guys). Their meetings were getting so cruisy that the Asian guys, who were there looking for a support structure for coming out, were starting to feel...awkward. The resulting "vibe," as Tim likes to say, was a little weird, and, ultimately, not very interesting...to me.

The second thing Dinh has done in the hopes of meeting the man of his dreams is to post personal ads -- in Yahoo Personals, on PlanetOut. On gay.com, and even on the Singaporean site fridae.com. The only reason I know this is because I'd Googled him one day, looking for an article he'd written for one of the trade magazines. I wanted to see if they'd published it yet. I found his Yahoo ad, and then went trawling for others. The ads have a very cute photo of Dinh with his shirt open. He looks like he's maybe 14, not 22. The text of the ad reads: "'In me, the river sings of love and commitment / My soul longs for you to hold me forever / Promise me that you will love me until my dying days / Hold my hand and let's walk this journey... /' So much for my poetic abilities. I am a fun-loving, caring Vietnamese-American college student looking for someone who can appreciate my tender side, someone who can nurture my soul. I've been hurt before, so if you're looking for a quickie, look somewhere else. I'm looking for someone I can admire, someone I can trust, someone I can love, someone I can..." How cute is that? Oh, yeah, and he lists his age as 25, adding three years. I have trouble believing he's 22 given the pictures he included, although those are recent photos. He does look much younger than he is. I wonder why he felt that adding three years was necessary.

The combination of his social clubs and personal ads must be working, though, because he's dating regularly. Some of the dates we meet, but most we don't. He's being very responsible about his social life, though. He's just as meticulous about his work for me, and is still pulling top grades, something I had to agree to monitor when I took him on as a teaching assistant. The head of the comp sci department would only support an undergraduate TA if his coursework was top-notch. He's pulling straight A's, as always. Most important, I guess, in terms of performance, is that he's happy. After the Brandon incident, he was so low, so depressed for weeks. Now he's upbeat, even bubbly. He's constantly making suggestions, really good suggestions, about how we can teach my classes better, and is just so pleasant to be around. He must be getting laid, in addition to just feeling better about himself because he is definitely more confident. Those were dark days after Brandon. We had to build him back up, and you gotta believe we all worked at it, especially Jason. For whatever reason, Dinh and Jason bonded at that time, Jason becoming a real confidant, probably Dinh's best friend, something I'm not sure Dinh has ever had before. Now they're thick-as-thieves, chatting away in Vietnamese as they prepare meals or work around the house. And it`s a good outlet for Jason as well. He was losing his Vietnamese language skills, he confided one day. Chatting with Dinh has helped him regain them.

I have the feeling that Dinh needs something more than just a boyfriend, though. I have the feeling that what he'd like is for someone to help...guide him. Jason has the same feeling. "Until he finds his Tim, I don't think he's going to be really happy. He's so much like me. He really doesn't want to make decisions. He needs to find someone to take care of him, and he doesn't seem to know this about himself. We've sort of danced around this, but he's not self-aware enough yet to recognize it. I wasn't either at his age, so I'm not really surprised."

I chat with Tim about Dinh, and he suggests that we "put him on the market." When he says this, I'm shocked, but mostly by how he expresses it. Dinh has already put himself on the market by placing personal ads. Tim suggests a series of dinner parties to which we invite dominant men, friends of his. Tim knows a lot of people, some his age, some younger. We have a lot of parties anyway, but haven't always invited Dinh. I mean, he's not really a part of our family. He lives with us, but isn't really family. This sounds like a good idea, an easy way to get him some exposure. Two days later, just as I'm about to send out invitations to a couple of Tim's friends, for the following Friday, Tim stops me in the kitchen as we're both getting coffee. He gives me a sort of half-smile. "I think Gary should be first."

I'm shocked. "Gary? As in Gary and Nathan?"

"How many Garys do we know?"

"Why Gary?"

"I just have a hunch. I think he and Dinh might hit it off. I had lunch with Gary and Nathan yesterday. Nathan really likes Dinh. I think they're kindred spirits at some level -- both south Asian, both very submissive, and both attracted mostly to Caucasian men. By the look of who he's bringing home, Dinh appears to be mostly attracted to older men. He seems to like them around Gary's age. I floated the balloon at lunch. I mentioned to Gary and Nathan that Dinh was dating...aggressively. They both looked...curious. Let's not do this as a dinner. Let's do this as a lunch -- keep it casual. Waddya think?"

"Okay. If nothing else, it'll just be nice to get together. I mean, they've met before, but not in this way. Yeah. Let's do it. I'll set it up."

I call Gary and Nathan's home, and reach Nathan. We chat for a few minutes, and I tell him what I have in mind -- a luncheon, at our place. I mention Dinh, but only obliquely. Nathan is excited, and calls out to Gary, who agrees. They will come the day after tomorrow. Cool.

On Thursday afternoons Dinh only has one class -- in the morning -- and is usually back by 11:15am. I tell him about our lunch plans, and he nods, smiling. Jason is going to cook Vietnamese, and believe me, he's good at it. We're going to have Vietnamese seared pork chops (one of my favorite things in this world), egg-crab cake, shredded pork, pickled veggies, and broken rice. We're also having sour catfish soup and spring rolls. This is one big lunch, but I know it will be delicious. Jason is cooking it, after all.

Gary, Nathan and Dinh arrive at the house at almost the same time, and the house is filled with the smell of fish-sauce. Fish-sauce is an extraction of anchovies. It's clear, amber, and very stinky. In its purest form, it's used as an additive to broths and other sauces, but it's also prepared as a dipping sauce by adding some sugar, some water, and veggies, usually grated carrots and Chinese radish. It's the smell of the dipping sauce that permeates the house. To anyone Thai, Vietnamese or Cambodian, it's bound to make your mouth water, both because it smells delicious, and because it signals that something delicious is about to happen. Nathan has already begun to shriek when he arrives, and he runs into the kitchen. Dinh arrives probably three minutes later, and rolls his eyes the minute he comes in. "Oh, Christ," he says. "Jason," he calls, "what have you done?" He, too, makes his way instantly to the kitchen where he finds Nathan literally jumping up and down.

"Can you believe this?" Nathan shrieks. "This soup, this soup is amazing." Sour catfish soup is a concoction of...I don't even know. It's laced with tamarind, fish sauce, a little vinegar, and bac ha (a veggie that tastes like celery, sort of, but has a totally different texture). Dinh goes to the soup pot, sniffs, and then tastes it.

"Oh, my god. This is amazing. This is better than my Mom's. Oh, god, Jason, this is so good. Where'd you learn to do this? This is incredible."

"Isn't it good?" Nathan screams, hugging Dinh. "It is just so good."

Jason is very placid, very laid-back, but is clearly pleased by the attention. "I'm glad I got it right," he says. "I wasn't sure how much tamarind to use." Jason is an instinctual cook. He doesn't really follow recipes. He just throws stuff in until it tastes right to him, but the fact that he even knows what to throw in is pretty surprising to me. I mean, I don't really follow recipes either, but I do look at them, at least to get a sense of what the ingredients are. Jason just knows that. He knows what belongs in everything, and adds it until he's got the proportions just right. I really don't know how he does that. It's sort of the same way he learns music, listening to a piece a couple of times and then playing it flawlessly. With food, I think he tastes it a couple of times, and then cooks it, and it's almost always perfect. I can't do that.

Gary and Tim, who have been sitting in the living room chatting, now appear at the kitchen door. "You guys are excited," Gary snorts. "What's going on?"

Nathan is nearly frantic. "Come taste this, sweetie. It's amazing."

Gary crosses the room to the stove, and sniffs the soup pot. "Isn't this sour catfish soup?" he asks Nathan.

"Yes, but taste it."

Gary takes the spoon handed him by Nathan, and dips into the broth. He blows and then he tastes. "Hmmmm. This is good. It's got more fish sauce than they use at Vung Tau, doesn't it. And, something else...I'm not sure..." Finally, he looks up at Nathan. "Is there five-spice in here?"

Nathan's eyes go wide. "Yes," he screams. "That's it! It's five-spice, right?" he asks, looking at Jason. Five-spice is a Chinese spice combination of Aniseed, Orange Peel, Pepper, Ginger and Cassia. It's very common in Chinese cuisine, but not used in Vietnamese cooking, and certainly not in a soup like this.

Jason looks shamefaced. He's been caught. "Yeah," he whines.

Nathan runs and hugs him. "But, it's so good, baby. Who cares how you got there?" Jason giggles, still embarrassed, but not very.

"How are you, Dinh?" Gary asks, reaching out and hugging him. "What've you been up to?"

"Getting ready for the end of the quarter. I've been trying to figure out how to pass my western civilization class. I don't have much of an aptitude for history, I guess."

I snaugh. "Yeah, right... He gets straight A's. He has an aptitude for pretty much everything, I think."

"Including men," Jason adds with a giggle. "We've been regaled with a number of very handsome men in the last month or so."

Dinh is flushed, but manages to defend himself. "I haven't noticed you complaining," he says with a laugh.

"Oh, no," Jason responds. "No. As long as they're handsome, Kenny and I are fine with your philandering," a comment that draws a laugh from Gary. "Actually, most of them are older than he is, so he shares our taste for mature men. He can bring home anyone he wants because I'm confident in his taste." Dinh is by now nearly crimson and cuffs Jason playfully.

"I see," Gary says, dramatically. And then he relents, and moves the conversation along. "You're a Comp Sci major, right?"

"Yup. I'm Kenny's TA. I grade his papers for him, and have been working on his games. It's been pretty fun."

"So, you're into gaming?"

"Yeah. It's what I want to do." And with that, a four-hour conversation begins about...everything. They talk about programming and game theory, initially, and then about the current crop of movies, about food, about Vietnamese history, about Project Runway, about everything, and it's not just Gary and Dinh who talk. It's Gary, Dinh and Nathan. This is Tim's little matchmaking gambit. He's ignited this. Jason and I know well enough to stay out of the way. We just let things blossom.

And blossom they do. I think Gary absolutely fascinates Dinh, and I know Dinh likes Nathan because he's told me. "I've never met anyone quite like him. He's so comfortable with himself. He's gayer than anyone I know, and I'm sure he knows that, and he just doesn't seem to care. I'd like to get to know him better."

By 4:00pm, as Gary and Nathan are getting ready to go, they invite us to dinner in two days time. All of us -- including Dinh. We all agree, of course, Tim with a wink at me. The boys are excited. They just adore Nathan. He's baby-sat for them, and wrestled with Kai, tickling him unmercifully. He's listed in our wills as the boys' godfather, whatever that means. When they see him they launch themselves into his arms. They all seem to shriek together...and then fall down...and then roll on the floor. We'll see them day after tomorrow (a Friday) for dinner. We can't wait.

In that time, Tim chats with Gary on the phone and expounds on his theories about Dinh. They talk about his immaturity and his need for guidance. Gary, to Tim's surprise, is open to the discussion, and has, in fact, already talked to Nathan about what it would mean to their relationship to accept Dinh into their family. Nathan is enthusiastic, Gary tells Tim. Nathan sees Dinh as a little brother, someone he can help to mold and to nurture. Actually, Nathan had said some time back that he'd like to extend their family. He's envious of the relationship between Jason and me, of the camaraderie we share, and would like a similar relationship...with someone. Jase and I are cousins, of course, and have known each other for years, but Nathan would like to achieve something like the closeness we have, though he knows that'll take time. Still, he and Dinh already are well on their way. They're good friends. Such a relationship is not impossible.

But, what's in it for Dinh? Quite a lot, actually.

On the professional side, Gary is a well-respected software engineer who can open a lot of doors for Dinh. He runs his own company, albeit on the business end of the industry rather than specifically in gaming. He's got a lot of contacts, and could smooth Dinh's way as he make inroads into the software world.

On the personal side, Gary is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet -- generous, kind, thoughtful and really caring. Nathan adores him, and Nathan is right. He is very dominant, which is why he and Tim never clicked as a couple, I imagine, because Tim's the same way. But Tim would trust him with his life, and on an intellectual level, they love each other passionately. I think of Gary as a huge teddy-bear. I'm 5'9". Gary is something like 6'5". He towers over me, but is nonetheless very soft. He'd do anything for you. I love him a lot.

And then, of course, there's Nathan. Nathan is just adorable. He's been a best friend to Jason and me since the moment we met him. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Kai. He's just so giggly. He's just so fun-loving. He is the gayest human being I think I've ever met, and very wise. Confucian wise. He's a Buddhist, and brings that to bear on his assessments of life, but he also just has very good common sense. Daily access to Nathan would lift anyone's spirits.

While Tim checks in with Gary, Jason talks to Dinh as they prepare dinner the next day. "You, Gary and Nathan were pretty thick last night," he giggles. "Was this the first time you'd talked to them?"

"Kinda. I mean, I'd met them before, but I don't think we'd ever talked. Nathan just cracks me up. He's so...what?"

"Effusive? Flamboyant? Effeminate? Gay?"

"Yes," he shrieks. "He's just so gay, so...himself. It's so...refreshing to be around someone who's so comfortable with himself. I really, really like him!"

"We all do. He's a very good friend. And, Gary?"

"Gary is..." He stops. Dead. And then he stares into space for almost fifteen seconds, formulating his response. Then he looks into Jason's face, and it's almost as if he's asking for permission to be frank. Jason shrugs, and Dinh starts again. "Gary is...hot!"

Jason has to work hard. He has to work really, really, really hard to repress his laughter. But he does. "In what way?" he asks, in the most measured voice he can muster, just a hint of a giggle sneaking in at the end.

"Well...he's huge, isn't he? I'm 5'5", and he must be at least a foot taller than me. And...he just looks very...cuddly, very...comfortable."

"Well, yeah. I know Nathan likes him."

"Yeah. I can imagine."

They make a long pause. They've been chopping Chinese radish while chatting, and Jason pulls a bag of On Choi out of the fridge, washes it, and spreads it out for chopping.

"What kind of a relationship do they have?" Dinh asks, peremptorily.


"Gary and Nathan."

"It's a lot like ours, like Kenny, Tim and me."

"Umm...what's that mean?"

Jason giggles. "Yeah, I guess it must be a little confusing to an...outsider. Gary and Nathan are married. They got married at the same time we did, during those five short months when same-sex marriage was legal in California. And...beyond that...Nathan is submissive to Gary. That means that Gary makes most of the daily decisions -- what Nathan should do during the day, what clothes he should buy, what car he drives. The mundane stuff. Nathan likes it that way. He doesn't really like making those decisions for himself. Nathan cooks, does some of the cleaning, and Gary, in turn, supplies...everything."

"And...umm...is there...punishment for misbehavior? I mean, you and Kenny get punished, right? I've...sort of...umm...heard it."

There's a long pause as Jason tries to figure out how to respond. Finally, "I guess there's punishment and PUNISHMENT. Kenny and I don't exactly get punished, but we do get spanked. Tim spanks us because it keeps us...centered...and because it reinforces our respective roles. I'm pretty sure it's the same for Nathan. It's a lot lighter-weight than what Kenny gave you, I'd guess. Our spanking isn't really intended as punishment. Ours is intended as an emotional outlet."

Dinh gives Jason a long, quizzical look. "What's that mean?"

Jason is a little embarrassed, but he's talked about this enough before that the embarrassment isn't debilitating. "Sometimes it's good to...umm...cry. You remember Tim at his party, sobbing through the chamber music? Tim loves the music, but he also loves what it does to him. Suddenly he's able to just emote. It embarrasses him to death, but the feeling of releasing all those emotions is really important to him. And, it's important to us, to me. For me, a spanking is atonement for unspecified sins, and it...umm...feels really good...to me."

Dinh nods, trying to understand. "So you think my spanking was...umm...more severe than you typically get?"

"That's my guess. Mostly our spankings are about us. When we're at the point of `remorse', Tim stops spanking. Your spanking was as much about Kenny as it was about you. He needed to exorcise his own demons, and he needed to do it with your ass," Jason says, giggling. "He was punishing you, and probably punishing himself a little."

Dinh nods, still trying to take it all in. "And you think Nathan is spanked regularly?"

Jason nods.

"And he likes it?"

Jason nods again. "If Kenny doesn't get his spanking every couple of weeks he gets really grumpy. He starts to feel like Tim doesn't care about him any more. He starts to feel...despondent. And he loses energy. He loses focus. He starts to feel...bad about himself. We like it. Yes. I imagine it's the same for Nathan."

There a long pause in this conversation as Jason pulls out a bag of yellow crook-neck squash and washes them carefully before spreading them on the chopping board.

"Do you think Gary likes me?" Dinh asks abruptly, finally tipping his hand.

Jason looks at him and rolls his eyes. "Well, if he doesn't, he sure paid a lot of gratuitous attention to you last night."

"Yeah," he says, giggling.

"Do you like him...them?"

"Yeah. Very much."

We pause. "I guess I should tell you that they've been looking for a third for a while."

Dinh looks confused.

"Tim and I were together probably eight months before Kenny joined us. Kenny came to our wedding. That's where Tim first met him. The three of us fell in love. Nathan would really like to have a relationship more like ours -- three people. I think he'd like a little brother, sort of what I am to Kenny. He'd like someone to take care of, like Kenny takes care of me."

They're quiet for many minutes as they start cutting up the squash. And then Dinh looks over at Jason. "You're kidding, right?"


"About...umm...Gary and Nathan looking for a third."

Jason is confused. "Umm...no."

Dinh goes back to cutting up the squash. And then... "Do you think they'd...."

And then Jason gets it, and giggles. "Why do you think they invited us over for dinner just two days after they'd seen us? It wasn't for more scintillating conversation with Tim, although he's always scintillating, and it wasn't so Nathan and I could compare recipes. If they could have come up with a way of inviting just you, without scaring the hell out of you, they'd have done that. As it is," Jason says with a theatrical yawn, "Tim, Kenny and I have to waste our time at this dinner when the only one they really want to talk to is you."


By tomorrow, however, Jason finds he has a rehearsal that will prevent him from going to Gary and Nathan's, and Tim is ill -- flu-like symptoms. It's just Dinh and me and the boys. I call Gary and ask if he wants to postpone, but he says no, we should come anyway. The food is prepared and needs someone to eat it, and Nathan is as good a cook at Jason (almost) so it'd be a shame to waste it. They've been looking forward to this, he says, and Nathan wants to see Kevin and Kai. Fair enough.

We arrive at about 6:20, and everyone hugs. (We're so gay.) The house smells amazing, of coconut milk, and curry, of lemon grass and garlic. Jason is very anal about always turning on the exhaust fan in the kitchen when he cooks because he doesn't want to "stink up" the house. But, I love the smells of good cooking, and this is Cambodian cuisine. It's very fragrant. It has the sweetness and spiciness of Thai mixed with the sourness, the savoriness of Vietnamese. Personally, I prefer straight Vietnamese cuisine, especially Jason's Vietnamese, but Nathan's cooking is always spectacular. I've no doubt that this will be quite a treat. As we move into the kitchen, Kai catches sight of Nathan over by the stove and runs to him, attaching himself to his leg. Nathan ruffles his hair, but then signals for me to come get him. "Careful, baby," he says. "You're gonna get splashed with hot stuff here." Kai looks sad. "Don't worry," Nathan says, "we'll snuggle in a few minutes," a promise that has Kai giggling again. Kevin, in the meantime, has been dutifully holding Dinh's hand since we left the car, and now takes Kai's hand, forming a little daisy-chain that makes Gary laugh as he comes into the room.

"Aren't you boys well behaved?" he says, ruffling Kevin's hair, earning a laugh from Kev. "Why don't you guys go into the living room? I left some coloring books and crayons out there."

"Yeah!" says Kai, dragging his brother behind him.

Why would Gary have coloring books and crayons? Because he knew we were bringing the boys. He probably went out and bought them this afternoon. Gary is an amazing guy. Very considerate, and very fun-loving. I understand why Nathan is crazy about him.

"So, how have you guys been in the long two days since we've seen you?" I snaugh, but Dinh dives right in.

"Great," he says. "I was thinking about what you were saying the other night about DBMS systems replacing some of the functionality of operating systems. Do you think that...." And they're off and running on another long discussion. Eventually Gary draws Dinh into the living room where they chat while watching the boys color. Nathan and I stay in the kitchen, finishing up on the meal.

"Waddya think?" I ask Nathan.

"I think he's adorable, and a little...damaged from something. I really like him. He seems very sweet."

"You don't like him any more than he likes you -- both you and Gary. Jason had a chat with him yesterday. He's really taken with both of you, and was stunned to learn that you liked him. I mean, it was no big revelation. We watched you all interact. We knew you guys liked him. The fact that he didn't know it tells you a lot about Dinh. He's not real confident in himself...socially."

"But, didn't you say he was a porn star?"

I giggle. "This guy must be the unluckiest guy on earth. He was a bit player in two movies. He got sucked off. Didn't even get to cum. And, wouldn't you know it, the night I bring him home to meet Jason and Tim, Tim starts eyeing him. Tim had seen one of those two movies. Tim, who can't for the life of him remember the names of people he meets until maybe the third or fourth time he meets them, does remember dicks." Nathan laughs. "That's not fair. He has amazing visual memory. He knew he'd seen Dinh, but it took him a while to figure out where. Dinh's folks are pretty poor. He did the porn thing strictly for the money, and didn't even get paid for one of them. The company defaulted, and he and a lot of others got nothing for their work. His first real sexual experience was with one of my students."

Nathan looks surprised.

"Yeah, he got played. And then he got his first spanking...from me. I don't think he liked it much."

"Oh my god," Nathan screams, breaking into peals of laughter.

"So, if he decides to join you, you're probably going to have to be gentle with him for a while."

"Gary is really good at judging what's appropriate for...people. He'll know how to bring him out of himself. He never pushes too hard, although sometimes it seems like it's too hard. But it isn't."

I nod. Gary and Tim have that in common.

We continue to chat for maybe another 20 minutes, until the meal is complete, and then Nathan and I carry the dishes to the dining room, Nathan gathering Gary, Dinh and the boys. Kai has to show him his latest masterpiece first, a portrait of Nathan himself that isn't bad for a four year old. "That's so good," Nathan says, giving him a hug. "That's really, really good! Thank you!" Kai blushes, hugging Nathan's leg as they make their way to the dining room.

The meal is really good, as expected. With Jason and Nathan, I think everyone just takes for granted that their meals will be really good, so I try to gush a little, to make sure I don't take them for granted. "This is so good, Nathan. Really delicious. The curry is just perfect, just the right mix of spicy and sweet."

"Yummy," Kevin says enthusiastically.

"Yummy," Kai echoes, following the lead of his brother.

"Yummy," Dinh says, awash in giggles.

"Yummy," Gary says, tongue in cheek, reaching over and squeezing the back of Nathan's neck, pulling him into a quick kiss.

After dinner, I put Kev and Kai down on Gary's bed and cover them with throws. They fall asleep quickly. It's been a long day for them, and their excitement about coming to see Gary and Nathan has worn them out. And then we all adjourn to the living room for tea and a small glass of Cointreau, a very French liqueur, something Dihn has had before, but not for years. "I can vaguely remember tasting this when I was probably five in Vietnam. My dad would dip his finger in his glass, and I'd get to suck it. His finger, I mean. I loved it. I haven't had it since. Like Kev would say, `It's yummy.'" We all laugh. "I guess sucking my dad's finger was a portent of things to come," he comments, drawing laughs from all of us.

"So," Gary says, "Dinh has never been to the Oakland zoo. We were chatting about this earlier. It's clearly a major gap in his cultural education. I was thinking we could take him tomorrow, him and the boys." Dinh is smiling, and Nathan is nearly crawling out of his skin with excitement.

"Yeah, that'd be good," I reply. "I think Tim, Jason and I could figure out something to do with a day to ourselves, without the munchkins."

"Well that's what I figured," Gary replies, smiling. "There must be something you've been longing to do...assuming that Tim's health has improved..." Gary has a vague half-smile, an ironic smile, and suddenly I realize that Tim isn't sick at all. Tim is fine. He just wanted to reduce the number of us coming to dinner tonight. That's why Gary had no problem when I called to ask if he wanted to reschedule. And then I wonder about Jason. Do they really have rehearsals at night? Will I find Jason at home when I got there? I'd been played, much like we played Tim on the evening of his big party. He was so going to tease me about this.

"What I'd suggest is that Dinh and the boys stay with us tonight. We have plenty of extra beds. This'll save us driving to your place and picking them up in the morning. We'll bring them home after the zoo, at around 4pm, and maybe we can have dinner at your place. Sound good?"

"Yup. Sounds good to me. Dinh?"

"Yeah. That'll be fun. I changed just before we came, so these clothes should be fine for tomorrow."

"And we have toothbrushes, and towels, and soap, and all that other stuff," Nathan chimes in.

"Cool," I say. "Well, I guess my work here is done," I say, enigmatically, quoting from some movie or other. "I'll go tell Tim and Jason the good news." And with that, I get up from my chair, grab my jacket, kiss everyone goodnight, and leave.

When I get home, it's only about 9pm, but Tim and Jason are already in bed. Tim is snoring softly when I slide into bed. His sleep patterns have been messed up for years. There's no knowing when he'll fall asleep, or when he'll wake up and start working. Jason is drowsy, but not yet asleep, and he rolls over and kisses me. "You are such a liar," I say, cuffing him.

"Yeah, but was the food good? Nathan is such a good cook. I knew what I was sacrificing."

"Spectacular, as always. Gary and Nathan are taking Kai and Kev to the Oakland zoo tomorrow. They're sleeping over, along with Dinh."

Jason giggles. "How sweet. Our three children will get to see the lions and tigers and bears."

"Oh, my," I respond, before wrapping myself around Jason, falling asleep in his arms. Oh, my...


Three weeks later I suddenly realize that Dinh has spent most of his spare time with Gary and Nathan. The zoo trip was a hit, I understand from Kevin, who is nearly frantic with enthusiasm when they get home, expounding on the virtues of arctic tigers. The boys also get to go to Paramount Great America with Nathan, Gary and Dinh, and to San Francisco. Between these "events" and dinners at Gary and Nathan's, some of which Dinh has either cooked or helped cook, I have the sense that the guys are getting to know each other. And this sense is reinforced by good reconnaissance, both Jason's and mine.

"He's just so cute," Nathan gushes one afternoon as we're sitting in a local playground watching the boys climb all over a jungle gym. "I mean, he's so...innocent. We watched the video of Brokeback Mountain. He'd never seen it. And when that fucking-scene between Jake and Heath started, he was totally embarrassed before he recovered and giggled. I don't think he could have been very comfortable with his porn life."

"No. He told Jason as much. He said he was never more uncomfortable in his life, naked in front of a room full of crew doing something he'd always dreamed of doing in the one way that made it almost unendurable. I don't know," I giggle. "I think he needs a stint or two at N'Touch in the go-go cages."

Nathan shrieks with laughter. "I don't think he'd ever survive that. I think he'd die of mortification."

"How does Gary like him?"

"Gary's sort of hard to get to know. He likes to take his time with new people. Dinh, though, is a lot like him. They're both...shy...deeply introverted. Gary and I hit it off because we're completely opposite. Where he's...withdrawn, I'm outgoing. Where he's quiet, I'm noisy," he laughs. "With Dinh, though, there's a sort of mutual standing. I think he's fallen in love. I know I have."

A day later, Jason and Dinh are preparing dinner. "So, how's with you, Dinh? We haven't seen much of you lately."

"Yeah, I've been pretty busy. Kenny has to get his grades in for the quarter, and I've been drowning in finals."

"And, you've been going out a lot," Jason snaughs.

Dinh cuffs him. "Yeah," he whines dramatically. And then he gets serious. "And I...umm...think...I'm..." Long pause, as if he's considering his words carefully, not because he doesn't want to disclose, but because he wants to be sure what he's feeling. "Umm...I think I'm...in love."

"Really?" Jason says with a smirk. "With who?" a comment that gets him cuffed again by a very giggly Dinh. "And which one do you love?"

Dinh is suddenly serious. "Actually, I love both of them. I think I love Nathan probably for the same reason Gary loves him. He's so upbeat, and so...natural. He's so bubbly. Sometimes, when he opens his mouth in public and starts to shriek, I'm a little embarrassed, and then I think `My god, wouldn't it be nice to be that...uninhibited?' I love his energy, and the fact that he absolutely doesn't censor himself. He is what he is. Take it or leave it."

"With Gary, it's the introspection I love, and his thoughtfulness. I had my chem final last week, and I'd mentioned that I thought it would be hard. I joined them for dinner like three hours later, and Gary had gotten me flowers with a little card that said `Don't sweat it. You'll get an A'. He's just very...sweet, and...very vulnerable in his own way."

That last comment stopped Jason in mid-slice, he later told me. "I looked at Dinh, and realized I was seeing a boy who had grown up." Just because you're submissive doesn't mean you have no responsibilities for nurturing your dominant partner. Gary is, of course, vulnerable in certain ways. God knows, Tim is. Tim is timid at parties. You have to stay with him, to keep him calm, because otherwise he'll flee. He's socially inept. He's afraid of phone calls. He doesn't like to hear the doorbell ring. He sobs through chamber music. If these aren't the marks of vulnerability, I don't know what is. As his beloved, you have to understand him, and help him though his crises, as he helps you through yours. And, you have to do it in a way that keeps his ego whole. This is the role of a true submissive. Dominant men like to think of themselves as invincible. They aren't. It's the role of their partners to help them over the rough spots in their lives without letting them know that they've been helped. Dinh had apparently realized this. He'd gotten it. It was a mark of maturity that surprised Jason, and convinced me that he was ready for this relationship.

Three days later, as Jason and Dinh were waiting in the car for Kev to get out of school, Dinh asks Jason if he thinks liking to be spanked is "normal". This question apparently came out of the blue. "What's `normal'?" Jason asked.

"Well, is it `okay'?"

"What's `okay'? I mean, did it hurt anyone," he asks, and then giggles, "well, anyone but you?"

"No." And with that answer, Jason realizes that Dinh has gotten his first spanking from Gary, and Dinh realizes that Jason knows.

"Did you enjoy it?"

"Umm...not at the time I was being spanked, but afterwards I felt..."


"Yeah! I felt...better."

"And, do you think you'd like to be spanked again?"

There's a long, long pause, and then meekly, "Yeah."

"And no one...else...got hurt?"


"I think you're way too concerned about what's acceptable to others. Live for yourself. I mean you're gay for god's sake. What can be `worse' than that? Does anyone but you, me, Gary and probably Nathan know you got spanked?"

Dinh shakes his head.

"And, will they tomorrow?"

Dinh shakes his head.

"And, did you enjoy it?"

Dinh nods.

"So, what's the problem?"

Dinh sits pensively for several minutes. Still no Kevin.

"Have you made love yet?" Jason asks. Dinh looks up and nods.


He flushes a bit, smiles, and nods.

Jason says he reached over and hugged him, and they just hugged for minutes. "Are you in love?"

"Yes," Dinh whined.

"Good. I'm glad. I'm so happy for you!"

And then Kev bounces into the car, climbing into the back seat with a new handprint pressed into a medallion of clay that's glazed hot pink. "I like the pink, don't you?" he asks me.

"Yeah, baby," I reply. "It's cute," giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Just like you," a comment that has him giggling furiously.

Published first at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nemo-stories/