The next day, before they saw their first clients, Kyle shared the case of Dr. Jim Downing with Ryan in their supervisory session. Ryan raised his eyebrows remembering the nightmare that Kyle had suffered the night before. He naturally wondered if it was what had triggered Kyle's memory. But there wasn't enough time to explore his suspicions and so both he and Ryan concentrated on Jim Downing's situation.
Ryan was impressed with Kyle's perception and the way he helped the client maintain his equilibrium. "You seem to push just in the right places and then pull back to allow the client a chance to integrate into his own mental constructs the issues he seems to need to explore." Ryan congratulated Kyle. He and Kyle then explored the needs of the doctor in terms of a preliminary diagnosis and then began to work up a possible strategy for responding to his needs.
Ryan wondered why Kyle didn't seem to be more depressed and how he could so coldly analyze the client's situation, and yet keep his own feelings from clouding his vision. Ryan made a mental note to question him later.
He then left his office to meet with the committee of his students who had volunteered to help him organize a segment of the Gay Pride Parade to consist of ordinarily-dressed professionals. They were to meet in the student union of the university. It was only a few minutes walk from the building where Ryan had his office to the building that housed the student union.
When Ryan arrived at the small meeting room, the students were already stuffing envelopes with a letter of invitation, which they were sending to all the doctors, psychologists, dentists, lawyers and teachers in the area. The cost of such a project would have been prohibitive, but they were allowed to use the third-class mailing permit that the university enjoyed as an educational institution – plus the addition of a small announcement pointing the readers to the university's home page on the web offset most of their expenses.
Basically the letter requested the support of professional people in favor of gay rights, but not necessarily in favor of blatantly displaying their sexuality. A few students from the Gay Alliance at the university were also present at the meeting and questioned the group's intention, thinking that they wanted to put gays back into the closet.
A Gay Alliance member raised the issue: "We can see your position. But the parade already has many groups who will be displaying their sexual preferences in a way that is both vivid and for our taste quite blatant."
Ryan decided to pick up the baton and answered for the students, as they seemed puzzled by the antagonistic reaction: "We want to march in the parade, because we share all gay peoples' claim to equal rights. But we also want to show the public that gays are already a very real and active force within society and at the same time just as there are those who manifest their homosexuality, there are others who consider this to be a personal and private matter and have no wish to use shock therapy on the public."
Unfortunately, there was no way for Ryan to anticipate how much support this segment of the demonstration would receive. They hadn't asked those that received the letter to respond and commit themselves beforehand. As the day neared, the organizers became more anxious and began to doubt that they would achieve their goal.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we will be walking behind the Gay and Lesbian Parents group. I will be walking there – even if I have to carry our banner alone, I will be there. If one of you accompanies me then there will be a 100% improvement over me walking alone. Just remember each and every one counts and even if only one stands up for his rights, at least that is one more than the last time." The younger members of the committee admired Ryan's bravery, but none of them wanted to be identified as either foolish or a loser and so the anxiety in the group continued right up to the last day before Gay Pride Day.
* * *
Alex continued with his reading lessons and was progressing nicely – Manny even commented that he had begun to join the human race and started calling him his pana! Perhaps it was that Alex had perceived Manny's sexual orientation or perhaps it was just the novelty of having a younger, dependent, brother that helped break down his façade. After Edwin died and Alex observed how deeply it affected Ryan, Alex began to be more considerate to him and an outsider would even say downright solicitous.
Mark observed this gradual change in his adopted brother, but wasn't fully convinced that Alex was in fact accepting him as an equal and as a brother. Being normally an optimistic fellow, it was uncharacteristic of him to keep his guard up, but he did. He just felt that Alex was not to be trusted and wondered about his hidden motives. This bothered Mark himself, but no one had ever humiliated him as deeply as Alex (except for the kidnappers) and when he was near, Mark could not help but tense up.
One day, Mark was studying hard before his SATs and Alex came into their room and very naturally put his hands on Mark's shoulders.
"Wow, man, you're so damn tense, how can you learn anything while your body is so uptight? How about I give you a nice massage."
The idea of a massage sounded very attractive to Mark, but he still had very little confidence in Alex and so he just fluffed off the offer. Feeling Alex's hands on his shoulders confused him as he both enjoyed being touched but at the same time felt threatened by Alex.
"Come on, I ain't going to rape you!" Alex said frankly as he intuitively perceived that Mark still hadn't accepted him into the family.
"It's not that. I just need to study." Mark tried to squirm out of the situation.
"Don't lie to me, Mark. You aren't good at lying and I can tell you are always uptight when I come near you. I guess I can't blame you. I'm sorry that I treated you like shit when I came here and I really do appreciate your help with the reading lessons. So, how about it. Give me a chance to make it up to you." Alex pleaded.
Mark moved his head negatively from side to side as he weighed Alex's words. Alex bowed his head as his old-time feelings of rejection began to re-emerge in his stomach. But before he got to the door, Mark said, "OK, but only on one condition."
"What's that?" Alex asked suspiciously, thinking that Mark was about to demand some crazy extortion.
Mark stood as he said, "that you hug me first and prove to me that you love me as a brother."
Alex jumped into Mark's embrace and the two reinvented the meaning of a brotherly hug. The two orphans began to weep and comfort each other as they shared their love for one another. Their love, although immature, sprung from their deepest loneliness and provided them the thrust towards each other that served to meld their hearts.
"You better release me, or you're going to give me a hard-on." Alex joked.
"Get hard, I don't care. You're now my brother, and if that makes you aroused, so be it, but don't ever let me go." Mark said sincerely.
But Alex did let him go and then led him down into Ryan and Kyle's play-room, which was locked and off limits to the boys, but a simple lock was no obstacle for Alex and he had the door open in a flash. When he turned on the lights, Mark's eyes were fully dilated as he took in the vision of all the sexual toys that Ryan and Kyle had accumulated over the years.
"Here, get naked and put this towel around your waist." Alex ordered. Mark's anxiety levels began to rise again, but after the embrace the two had just shared he didn't want to have any doubts about Alex and so he complied with the command.
Alex watched as Mark stripped off his clothes and delighted in his younger brother's well-formed body. But he was equally determined not to take advantage of the situation and gave Mark a massage to die for. There was nothing sensual about the massage, which was more like one would expect for an athlete.
Mark only doubted slightly when Alex's hands slipped under the towel to include his gluts, but Alex was very careful not to cross the line and the massage ended with Mark's promise to return the favor one day. Both felt that somehow they had consummated the love expressed in their first real embrace with a physical contact that was also a very real experience of love-making. Mark was learning how to trust Alex and Alex learned the importance of respecting limits.
When they went upstairs, they completely forgot about replacing the lock on the door. Naturally, inquisitive Manny was the first to discover the oversight and he exploited the opportunity to investigate all that the room contained. When Kyle came down later in the day to clean the sauna his eye immediately caught sight of the open door. He did a quick ocular inventory and noticed that the small vibrating dildo and the bottle of lubricant were missing. He smiled to himself, but he also began to worry that this had the potential for some grave consequences.
* * *
That night at dinner Ryan discussed how he and Kyle would meet in order to march together in the Gay Pride Parade. Both Alex and Mark immediately expressed an interest in participating, but Ryan thought better of it. "Look guys, that might not look too good in a social workers' report and since you're not adopted, I don't want to chance losing you."
Both Mark and Alex moaned in disappointment and Kyle noticed the sudden syncopation between the two and wondered what this indicated. Manny expressed no interest in the parade and that too sparked Kyle's curiosity.
"Manny, did you wash your hands before dinner?" Kyle asked.
"Uh huh." Manny said instinctively, and Kyle quickly retorted: "Let me see them." Manny held out his hands to Kyle who was sitting next to him and inspected them carefully.
"Yes, they do seem to be very clean and soft…" Kyle said as he pulled Manny's hands to his cheek. Manny giggled and called Kyle a 'fag hag.' But Kyle noticed the very definite odor of KY gel on Manny's hands. But he kept quiet for the moment.
After dessert, Kyle said, "Ry it seems that someone was using our play-room and left the door open afterwards."
Ryan looked up, deeply shocked.
"It was me," Alex said, just as Mark piped up "No, it was me!"
"They're lying, it was me and I can prove it." Manny said.
"That won't be necessary. But after dinner if you took anything from our room it better get back in there before I notice it missing. And I would like to make the point that neither I, nor Ryan, go through any of your private things. We respect your privacy. I don't think we ask too much of you to respect our privacy as well. Do you all agree?"
"Yes, sir" all three responded in simulcast.
"Sir, I apologize. I opened the door in order to use the massage table." Alex confessed.
"Who did you massage?" Ryan asked, concerned that it might be some kid from the neighborhood and the complications that that could cause.
"That would be me!" Mark volunteered.
Everyone looked shocked and didn't know whether to be angry, pleased or just plain surprised.
"Well it would seem that we have caught the culprits. They admit their guilt. But I think that there are extenuating circumstances so instead of grounding you I think you two should give Kyle and myself a nice massage each before we go to bed this evening." Ryan said. "Do you concur, Dr. Darling?" Everyone was now all smiles. "I do concur, Dr. Loud. But I think we should move the massage table out of our private room where it will be available to everyone."
"What about me? Don't I get a massage?" Manny said, looking disappointed.
"No, Manny, you don't, we're not going to reward you for taking something that belongs to Ryan and me."
"Ryan and I" Manny corrected Kyle. "And how did you know I had taken anything?" Manny asked.
"Never mind, just know that I know and now your punishment will be to be tickled for ten minutes." Kyle said as he and everyone else fell on the hapless boy who began to laugh with the pleasure that only a loved son knows and enjoys. Manny would forget many, many things about an ugly childhood, but this memory was being etched on his mind and would be the reason that when he died at a very ripe old age, he died with an enigmatic smile on his face, fully expecting to be tickled as he strode into heaven.
To be continued.
This story and others by Deepdiver are posted earlier on www.tickiestories.us