Chapter 58

An old shipmate

"I'll get it!" yelled Manny as he ran to the door. Opening the door he was surprised to see a young man he had never seen before standing before him, carrying a suitcase.

"Is Alex Halley here?" Inquired the young man.

When Alex heard the voice, he stopped laughing abruptly. "Oh my God, Jonathan, what are you doing here?" Alex said excitedly as he hurried toward the door to greet his visitor.

The young man dropped the suitcase from his right hand and flung himself into Alex's arms and the two hugged and hugged. Everyone else just stared at the two, wondering who the stranger was receiving such a warm reception from the usually cool Alex.

Finally, after a prolonged embrace, Alex broke the hug without releasing Jonathan and said, "Hey everybody, this is Jonathan, we were foster brothers a couple of times over the years. These are my new foster dads, Ryan and Kyle."

Both Ryan and Kyle glanced at one another and quickly read one another's minds.

"Dads? You have lucked out haven't you?" Jonathan said with a gay twinkle in his eye. Alex responded, nodding his head, as he continued to present the others. "These are my foster brothers, Manny and Mark."

Jonathan extended his hands to the boys.

"I am Emanuel, but you can call me Manny, if you are Alex's pana then you are mine too!" Manny said, while Mark just quietly shook Jonathan's outstretched hand.

"So, what are you doing here, man?" Alex asked his friend.

"Well, I've come to say goodbye before I leave town."

"You're leaving? Where are you going?" Alex said as he indicated a free chair for Jonathan to join the others at the table.

"Mark, would you mind getting a plate for our guest while I heat up some of this food for him in the microwave." Kyle asked.

"No, don't bother heating anything, I've already eaten. I'm fine, really." Jonathan insisted.

"Well how about some peach cobbler? Its not homemade, but that's what we're having for dessert tonight." Kyle said, playing the host. "Come on Mark, help me get the dessert dishes, please."

"So where are you going?" Alex said, trying to find out what his foster brother's plans were.

"Well, I was enrolled at the Staten Island Community College, but that wasn't my thing and one day I saw an ad for work up on the crab ships in Alaska. The pay is really good and I get to live onboard all summer." Jonathan said.

"I've seen a documentary on them on the Discovery channel. That's very hard and dangerous work." Ryan observed.

"I guess, but I'm pretty good with my hands and it will give me a good start money-wise. I've just turned eighteen, so I don't have to stay in foster care any longer." Jonathan said proudly.

"Hey, congratulations man! I'm sorry that I forgot your birthday." Alex apologized, giving Jonathan a typical teen handshake.

Ryan was feeling very uncomfortable listening to the conversation and worrying about how Jonathan might be influencing Alex.

In the kitchen preparing the dessert, Kyle asked Mark what was wrong?

"Nothing's wrong." Mark answered Kyle.

"I hear the sounds that you're making and what you say, but your face tells me just the opposite." Kyle said.

"It's no big deal, I just noticed that Alex didn't call you and Ryan 'Dads' but 'foster Dads' and the same with Manny and me." Mark admitted.

"I," responded Kyle.

"I?" said Mark with a quizzical look on his face. "Oh right! Manny and I."

"I noticed that too, Mark, but I don't think we should take it too much to heart, remember unlike you and I, Alex has been in and out of foster homes all his life, he's only been with us a matter of weeks, we can't expect too much of him right away, but he'll come around. You'll see – now help me get these plates out to the table." Kyle said.

That night Kyle and Ryan insisted that Alex's foster brother stay over and put him in the guest room. They were not surprised when Alex announced that he was going to sleep in the guest room as well.

Just before Ryan was ready to get into bed, he grabbed a few things and went over to the guest room. He knocked on the door before he entered and noticed that the boys didn't seem to be comfortable with his interruption, so he just put a bag on the dresser and said, "Guys, please look in the bag once I leave, and act responsibly." When he turned and shut the door he found Mark staring at him from across the stairway which divided the second floor. They both held each other's gaze. Finally, Mark bowed his head and turned and entered his own room. Ryan was tempted to go straight back into his and Kyle's room, but instead rapped lightly on the door to the boy's room.

"Come in." Mark called.

Ryan entered and saw that Manny was still in the bathroom.

"You OK, Mark?" Ryan asked.

"I feel so confused." Mark replied.

"That's OK, Mark. We all feel confused at times. There is no law that says that we have to have everything figured out all the time." Ryan tried to console Mark. "Are you feeling jealous, maybe?"

"Maybe, I really don't know if I feel jealous, or left out or hurt or just plain confused." Mark said, searching for the words to express his uneasiness.

"Mark, before I met you, before I learned to love you, I was learning to love Kyle. At first he may have felt a bit jealous of us, but because you came into our lives, our love for each other has grown deeper, but it didn't happen straightaway, but over time. You know that whenever Kyle is home with you and Manny, I still feel left out at times and even jealous." Ryan explained.

"We have to remember that Alex had a life, maybe not a great life, but he did have a life and friends before he came to us. Part of learning to love Alex is learning to love those he cares for, because they are a part of who he is." Ryan said, continuing to try to console Mark. "Mark, I would guess you are feeling some very new and powerful feelings, but I want to point something out to you and I don't want you to take me the wrong way."

"What?" Mark asked, now curious about what Ryan was referring to.

"Remember Alex's first day with us, when he went with us to your school?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah…?" Mark said.

"Do you remember how you jumped out of the car and ran off with your friends? Did you ever once ask yourself how Alex felt at that moment?"

"No." Mark responded, suddenly becoming aware that what he himself was feeling now was somehow similar to Alex's feelings when he was abandoned by Mark at a strange school.

"One more thing Mark – I can't help but wonder why you haven't invited your friends over since Alex has joined our family. Please understand, I am not mad or judging you, but only asking you why? When I came out of the guest room just now, I felt like you were judging me."

"No, I wasn't." Mark replied.

"I didn't say you were. I wasn't talking about you. I was telling you how I felt." Ryan said.

Mark put his arms around Ryan and they embraced.

"Mark, we are all broken in one way or another. But I love you as much as if you were my own son and that is the truth. You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life! However, you are not perfect. But even though you are not perfect, you are totally lovable." Ryan kissed the top of Mark's head and felt a deeper closeness to him as he felt Mark's arms tighten around his neck.

Across the hall, Alex had jumped up off the edge of the bed where he had been sitting, kissing Jonathan when Ryan knocked on the door, and ran over to look into the bag.

"Oh, Jesus! I can't believe this!" He said as he pulled a couple of condoms and a tube of KY lube from the bag. And both boys began to laugh.

"It looks like your foster dad is really a cool guy!" Jonathan said.

"He's better than cool. The first day I entered this house, I just wanted to run away and Ryan even said I could. But that would have been one of the worse mistakes of my life. I have never been happier than living here. You know, if you want we could have sex, but Jonathan, I'd rather we invite Mark and Manny over here to sleep with us and I know that getting to know these two guys will be a shitload more fun if you don't mind?"

"Sure, I didn't expect to be shagging you again tonight anyway, but how about one more kiss before you go get them?"

After a passionate kiss that almost convinced the two to forget about Mark and Manny, they finally broke apart and Alex went across the upstairs balcony to the boy's room.

Alex knocked on the door before going into his, Mark and Manny's room. "Hey guys, are you asleep yet?" he called.

"No, what do you want?" Mark asked.

"How about you and Manny sleeping with me and Jonathan in the visitor's bed, its plenty big."

"Right on!" responded Manny enthusiastically. Mark, was more hesitant, but didn't want to be alone and welcomed the invitation. All three crossed the balcony over to the visitor's room side of the house and entered. Mark felt a bit awkward at first in his pajamas, but Manny relaxed everyone quickly with his fighting for the middle of the bed. Once everyone was under the covers, Jonathan asked Mark some questions.

"Got a girlfriend?" Jonathan asked, but before Mark could answer, Manny was mocking him.

Eventually the topic came around to kissing and Mark admitted that he had never kissed a girl.

"So have you ever kissed a guy?" Jonathan asked boldly.

"Mark has a virgin's lips" Alex teased.

"You mean Alex hasn't taught you how to kiss yet? He taught me years ago!" Jonathan bragged. "Come on Alex, teach your bro how to use his pucker."

"Teach me too," said Manny.

Alex moved his head into position and pressed his lips to Mark's. Mark was feeling very uncomfortable especially being straight, but he was also very curious about the big hullabaloo about kissing. Jonathan practised on Manny and ran his tongue across his lips.

"Oh, man! That is dis-gus-ting!" Manny said as he wiped his mouth and everyone laughed.

"Manny use your tongue to explore my mouth." Jonathan directed. It took Manny a bit to overcome his inhibitions, but once his tongue slid into Jonathan's mouth and made contact with Jonathan's tongue he needed no more coaching. He put his arm around Jonathan's neck and put what seemed a full-nelson on him to ensure that the sensations he was discovering never ended.

Mark seeing the effect kissing Jonathan had on Manny began to kiss Alex in earnest. Suddenly all the anxieties that Mark had felt just a short while ago across the balcony all melted and drained out of him. He forgot himself totally and felt himself drawn into the passion of oral pleasure with someone that he cared deeply about. Mark's sexual preference remained unaltered as he delighted in this new way of being united with Alex. Then Mark and Manny kissed while Alex and Jonathan shared a liplock. Compared to Alex and Jonathan, Mark and Manny's kiss seemed quite tame. The boys then shared a few more intimacies as they solidified their brotherhood and fell asleep in a position that would challenge any casual observer to decide which arm or leg belonged to whom.

To be continued.