Standard disclaimer applies: If you find reading this type of information offensive, do not do so. Also please note that in this chapter all sexual activity is alluded to and in now way is depicted.

This story is 100% fictional. The towns are real, but the people, locations, and business are made up. Any action or resemblance to any person living or dead is pure coincidence. Also please note that all work is the proprietary property of the author.

Please enjoy.

***Challenges Part X***

***Modern Day***

The sky started to grow dark as Justin and Matt drove back towards town. Justin did not recall there being any rain in the forecast, but then again the New Mexico weather changed quickly.

As they got into town large raindrops had started to splatter the windshield. Justin loved the rain; One of the upsides to living in Seattle. He made his way through town and reached his house. The rain was pouring quickly, and it made it difficult to see. Lighting arched across the sky.

Before getting out of the car he looked in the rearview window. His eye was starting to turn blue where Matt had landed a blow. He rubbed it a bit and figured it would grow bigger before tomorrow. "Great!" he said to himself. "What a way to meet someone."

He got out of the car and ran to the house, knowing that the faster he moved the more he got wet, but still, it was something he enjoyed as a kid. Rain was a rarity, and he enjoyed every minute of it.

Once he got inside he knew he wanted to avoid his mother, and father if he was home, with his shiner. He made his way up to his room to get out of his wet clothes and to take a nap. He was emotionally and physically weak from his afternoon: Emotionally drained from having to deal with Nate, and physically drained from his fight with Matt. He needed that release of energy. He just hoped Matt would not get hell from his wife for having a knockout brawl with his little brother.

He got to his room and sat on the edge of his bed. He could really use a nap, but he could also take a shower. He still had dirt in his hair from his fight. He grabbed some clean clothes and laid them on his bed, and then he went to take a shower.

In the shower he let the water run over his body. He washed off, and put his hands on the wall under the showerhead, and let the water run down his back. He watched some of the dirt run down the drain and sighed. He had cried for a long time with Matt, and he did feel somewhat better. However, the pain was coming back. He also could feel the anger within him, rising once more. He had to fight to keep it under control.

He decided he needed to take a nap. Turning off the water, he grabbed a towel and started to dry. He looked at himself in the mirror, and frowned. He wasn't sure about it, but there was something different about him. He never was comfortable looking at himself in the mirror, but now he looked like a stranger. Maybe Matt was right. Maybe doing what he did, changed him, and made him a different person.

"Bah!" He said to himself as he wrapped the towel around his waist. He had some defined muscle on his arms, but the rest of his body was smooth. He always thought he was cute, but sometimes he wondered. Ever since Nate left him he always had an image problem. Now he was feeling foolish forever thinking Nate left him because he was no longer attractive. It was because of a woman.

He made his way to his room, and started to put on his clean clothes. A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts. He looked down. He had shorts on, but no shirt. Figured he was descent.

"Come in."

The door opened and Lori stepped in. "Oh." She said as she saw Justin standing with his shirt off. "I am sorry." She turned started to turn around.

"It's okay." Justin said grabbing his shirt, and pulling it over his head. "Nothing you haven't seen before."

"I suppose." She stood by the door. "Matt is taking a shower. He is incredibly dirty, and has a swollen jaw. He said he had fallen down in the mountains with you, and hit his jaw on a rock. Now I see you with a black eye. You two had it out." She fixed him with her stern eyes.

Justin laughed a bit. "Naw. We just had a misunderstanding. He was trying to be helpful, and I was trying to be an ass. We both got our way."

"You two." Lori shook her head. "I hope it helped either way. That eye is going to get worse before tomorrow. Your date may think you're a bad boy."

"I hope that is what he is into!" Justin grinned. "When you leaving?"

"I think we are going to leave after dinner tonight." She sighed. "I know your mom wants to make another special meal for us. She has gotten more excited with me after she knows we are getting a child of our own."

"And I will not hear the end of it." Justin sighed as he sat down on the bed.

"I am sorry bud." She moved over to set next to him. "You have turned out to be an awesome person. All the things in your life, have brought you here." She reached over and gave him a hug and kissed him on the check.

Justin smiled and hugged her back.

"I will let you take a nap." She stood up and walked out closing the door.

Justin smiled to himself, and started to lie down. He stopped with an arm bracing him on the bed and looked at his cabinet. The drawer to his dresser was open. His bottle of cologne sat on the top. He got up to put the bottle up. As he was about to close it, he saw a piece of paper inside.

"It can't be." He said to himself as he reached to grab the paper. He hesitated to pull it out, as he did not want to relive any more memories. He reached in and grabbed the paper. It was a Christmas card he had received from Nate for their first Christmas together. "I thought I lost this."

***December; 16 years ago***

Justin sat in seminary class bored as usual. He liked seminary last year, but this year there seemed to be something different. Maybe it was the new teacher: Sister Conrad. Her husband was a student at Tech, so she was not much older then the four seniors present. He was sitting next to Nate as he always did, with Kimberly on his other side.

There was three weeks of school left, and he was anxious for it to start. He would have more time to spend with Nate, and he would not have to sit here at 6:30 in the morning.

The whole point of seminary was to help high school age students gain a better understanding of their faith, as well as to provide a `spiritual' barrier to the hardships of high school life. At first it was awkward, as Sister Conrad did not hide her displeasure of Nate and Justin sitting next to each other. She kept a stern on the two to make sure they were not doing anything inappropriate. Cody, the boy who was always kind to them sat on the opposite side of Nate. This of course made some people whisper behind his back that Cody was also secretly gay. 

Justin was constantly getting himself into trouble in seminary. Every time there was a setting in the Old Testament that said homosexuality was a sin, Sister Conrad emphasized it. Justin started to challenge, and make her explain every conceivable aspect to the verse.

His big victory came when they were discussing the book of First Samuel. He could tell that she was about to skip over the story of King David and Jonathan. Justin was not about to let that one slide by, as to him; it was a basic account of David and Jonathan as gay lovers. He got called into the Bishops office for that one next Sunday. Justin grinned every time he thought of the look on his teachers face when he asked her why they were going to skip that story. They were no longer allowed to engage each other.

"Just a reminder," Sister Conrad was finishing up the lesson, "Next week will be our last week prior to Christmas break. We will be having final's on what we covered so far, and the study guide is in your folders."

Justin grabbed his things and waited for Nate to finish up his stuff. They rode to school together every morning, so as to have more time together. Today it was Nate's turn to drive.

Justin slid into the passage seat, throwing his backpack into the back seat. He reached over and gave Nate a kiss after he had buckled in and started the car.

"I wanted to do that all morning." Justin grinned.

"Me too." Nate pated Justin on the leg, and looked out his window to the car next to his. Jenny and Johnny where sitting in the car next to theirs. Sometime during the year they had decided to start dating. They both had disdain for Justin and Nate, and they were not afraid to show it.

"Maybe Johnny is dating Jenny because he wants to exert his `manhood'." Justin said seeing Nate look out the window. Jenny was getting heavy with Johnny, and kept turning her head when he moved to her neck and giving the look like she was doing something right.

"Or maybe Jenny is just a slut." Nate kissed his hand, and blew a kiss her way, which made her frown and pull directly way from Johnny who looked like he had just gotten his lollipop stolen by the play ground bully.

Nate moved the car into gear and started the drive to the high school. The drive would take 15 minuets since they would be arriving thirty minuets prior to the first bell ringing.

"So what are your plans for Christmas?" Justin asked reading some of his notes for a first period exam.

"I think we are staying here." Nate thought the question over. "We usually go to grandmas, but this year my mom has invited my Uncle Ron with his partner Tim. I think she wants me to feel better."

"Awesome." Justin grinned. "I hope I can meet them."

"Do you think your mom will let you come over? For Christmas Eve dinner?" Nate grinned. "You can invite the family over if you want."

"I can." Justin laughed at the idea of his mother meeting another gay couple. "Matt and Lori have invited them over for dinner. I have declined since I said I would be busy that night with you. Mom had a fit, but dad said it was fine. As long as I am home Christmas day."

"Sounds good."

They drove the rest of the way in silence, while Justin flipped through his notes reviewing.

Nate pulled into his parking lot and turned of the car. He sat for a moment looking at his wheel.

"What's wrong?" Justin said as he paused reaching for his bag in the back seat.

"I want to give you something, but I am not sure if I should do it now, or if I should do it later." Nate played with a lose string on his wheel cover. "I mean it's not your present."

"Well you can always give me my present on Christmas Eve." Justin smiled and put his hand on Nate's shoulder. "I don't have anything for you to return right now."

"It's okay." Nate said and reached under his seat and pulled out a blue envelope that obviously contained a Christmas card. "I wanted to give this to you."

Justin grinned and took the card. He opened it pulling out a card with the top half in blue, and the bottom half in white, representing snow. He turned it over to look at the front, and there was a small Christmas village scene. Across the top were the words in silver glitter, "Peace on Earth". Justin grinned and opened it up where Nate had hand written the words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", which was Justin's favorite Christmas song.

"I love it!" Justin said leaning over and giving Nate a strong kiss. He pulled back and put the card back into its envelope. "I think it is the best thing anyone has given me. Ever!" He reached back and pulled out his backpack and slid the card into the front pocket.

***

Justin and Nate made their way into the commons area of high school holding hands. They were looking for their friends. Everyone in school knew they were a couple, and for the most part were ignored for it. They got a couple of words murmured under the breath of some students, but they ignored them.

They found Neil, Scott, and Grayson sitting on a portion of the round concrete circle that surrounded the tree in the center. There little group had grown bigger since the start of the school year, and the table that used to house the four, now moved to a larger space.

"Hello gents!" Nate said coming up on the small group waiting. "I see Kimberly has yet to make it."

"She is at her locker." Neil said looking off towards her locker. "She will be back in a moment."

"Anything fun on the block today?" Justin asked Scott and Grayson. He had afternoon classes with Neil and they had two tests that afternoon.

"Just the typical." Scott said with half closed eyes. "I think we all have tests this week, with next week being dead week. I am so looking forward to the end of this semester."

Scott was usually a good student, but his attitude turned south recently, and Justin had no idea what was going on. The one who never held back his emotions, now silenced. It was odd, and un-nerving.

"Hey boys." Kimberly came up whipping her hair around her shoulder as she had the habit of doing. "Doing anything I should be worried about?" She winked at Justin and Nate.

"Only that which you would find embarrassing." Justin grinned. He had taken a seat next to Grayson. Nate had taken a seat behind Justin and they were leaning against each other for support.

Kimberly had sat next to Neil giving him a kiss. "Hello sweetie."

"Lady." Neil said kissing her back. "Good morning?"

"Almost." She looked at Justin and grinned. "Since he has to be a good boy, Seminary is no longer fun."

"What can I say?" Justin said. "I want answers, but they only want to give them so long as it is non-controversial."

Nate laughed. "Controversial? You are down right obscene in your attitude according to Magistrate Conrad. You are just a heathen!"

They all laughed at his joke, as they were familiar with Justin's attempt to provoke a response from his seminary teacher in regard to homosexuality. Of course Justin had always be contrary when something didn't make sense, but when it came to Church, Justin always ruffled feathers that made him unpopular with some of the older people in the church. This adventure into loving Nate was just another `phase' that many felt he would grow out of.

Grayson coughed a bit. "Is that Cody Lane?" He whispered into Justin's ear.

"Yea." Justin grinned. "Fancy him?"

"No." Grayson turned a light shade of red. He was still fragile about his sexuality, but had become stronger being around Justin and Nate.

They continued to talk as there other friends started to come around prior to the first bell ringing. There were two girls that had joined the group, mostly due to Neil, Justin figured. Sarah Rodriguez and Kristin Martinez where there names, and he found them to be amusing. Sarah and Nate had become close friends, much like Kimberly was to him.

The first bell rang which singled the need to get to class in ten minuets. As they gathered their stuff, Grayson poked Justin in the ribs and motioned his head towards Cody walking towards them.

"Hey Cody." Justin said as he walked up to the dispersing group. Grayson stayed behind. Justin grinned as he could tell Grayson had a crush on the hulking senior.

"Hey Justin." Cody smiled, and then looked at Grayson and grinned a bit larger. "Hey Grayson."

"Hi." Grayson said shyly. Justin raised his eyebrow at this and wondered if something more was there then just Grayson having a crush. "Hey Justin is there anyway I can talk to you after school?"

"Sure man." Justin thought for a moment. "You want to come over after school? I am sure my mom would enjoy having you over as you might be the good `straight' influence I need."

Cody laughed at the concept. "I am sure she would. We can use the Christmas party we are planning for church as a reason for my visit."

"Devious." Justin grinned.

"See you after school." Cody started to walk towards his class and shot a glance at Grayson. "See you later as well Grayson."

Justin looked at Grayson and swore the poor boy was about to faint.

"No crush huh?" Justin laughed wrapping his arm around Grayson and tussled his hair. "Maybe he has a thing for you too?"

"Yea right." Grayson said fighting away from Justin. "He has a girlfriend. Anyway what would someone like him want with someone like me?"

"Don't sale yourself short. You are very attractive." Justin let Grayson go. "I am sure you will find a guy. Maybe not here in high school, but you will find someone."

***

Nate pulled up in front of Justin's house dropping him off after school. Justin always felt uneasy about Nate brining him home like this, but he figured he was just getting dropped off after school. They sat talking for a moment.

"What do you think Cody wants to talk about?" Nate asked looked at the front door. He always had the feeling Justin's mom was watching them to make sure they were not doing anything `sinful'.

"I am not sure." Justin shook his head. "I noticed he was looking at Grayson as if `wanting' him. But I am not sure. I could just be seeing things."

Nate laughed. "Cody? He is the epitome of what it is to be straight. Connie and him have been dating for almost as long as Matt and Lori. It would be odd if he `switched' teams."

"I don't know." Justin laughed at the idea. "I best get going. Thank you so much for the card. I love you."

"Love you too." Nate said back squeezing Justin's hand. They did not dare kiss in front of his house, as his mother would come screaming at them. Nate always wanted to see what it looked like, but Justin reminded him that he had to live with her.

***

Going inside the house, Justin found his mother as usual in the kitchen getting dinner ready. He always wondered why she spent so much time getting meals ready.

"How was school?" She asked him as she rolled some dough out on the counter.

"It was good. Had two tests today, and a math test tomorrow. I know I passed them today." Justin went to the fridge and pulled out a root beer. "I am not sure how I will do on the math."

"Just make sure you spend some time studying." She rolled out the dough. "How is Nate?"

Justin coughed a bit; as he was shocked she would ask that question. "He is doing good."

"Have either of you found a girl yet to be interested in?" She asked.

"No." Justin sighed. Figured it would be something like that, he thought. "We are happy as it is."

"You would be happier with a girl." His mother calmly replied taking the rolled out dough and putting it into a pie pan. She went over to the stockpot and pulled out chicken pieces she had been boiling and placed them on a chopping board to cut up.

"Speaking of people that have girlfriends," Justin said knowing his mother was attempting to goad him. "Cody is coming over in a bit to talk about the Christmas party that we are having at Church next week."

She didn't respond as she took the chopped up chicken pieces to another large bowl and dumped them in. "Is he still with Connie?"

"As far as I know." Justin took a drink and leaned against the counter. "He is committed to that relationship, unless something has changed."

"Maybe he will be a good influence on you." She went to the refrigerator and pulled out some vegetables and started to chop those as well. "Your brother was too supportive, and I am sure Cody is not as supportive."

"I am sure." Justin said grinning. She must not have been aware that Cody thought Justin and Nate were brave for doing what they did in front of the whole school.

"Will he be staying for dinner?" She asked looking up. Justin knew his mother missed having Matt home to feed, and having a guest would make her day.

"Possible." Justin said shrugging. "I am not sure how long it will take tonight. I am going to take a shower before he gets here."

His mother watched him go up the stairs.

***

Justin walked down stairs as he heard the doorbell go off. As he got to the bottom of the steps his mother had opened the door and was inviting Cody into the living room. He took a deep breath in as he saw what Cody was wearing. He had changed into a tight fitting shirt that left nothing to imagination. Justin knew that Cody was a member of the football team, but never dreamed he was so well defined. He had defined abs, and his chest was broad, and he could see his nipples clearly in the shirt. He was wearing a baggy pair of pants, and Justin had to concentrate not to stare.

"Thank you." Cody said to his mother.

"So you two are going to be busy talking about the Christmas party?" His mother asked closing the door.

"Yes ma'am." Cody said. "We have a bit more planning to do, but should be ready to go. It is always fun working with Justin. He always wants things in order and nothing left to chance. I think the Bishop likes him for that too."

"Are you still with Connie?" His mother cut to the chase with her questing. Justin sighed.

"Yes." Cody laughed a bit. "We are happy."

"Good." His mother looked at Justin. "I can just hope that he can see how much happier you are with a woman." She turned around and walked back towards the kitchen.

"Sorry about that." Justin said to Cody. "She thinks you will be a good influence on me. Make me see the error of my ways."

"Oh my." Cody said. "Maybe I will."

"Come on." He motioned for him to come up to his room.

Once inside his room, Justin pointed to the bed. "Have a seat." Justin pulled his office chair around and sat in it facing Cody, who had started to fidget with his hands. "So what advice do I have to offer?"

Cody sat on the edge of the bed silent. Justin had to will himself not to stare at his chest. He could feel his pants start to get tight as he became aroused.

"Justin," Cody finally said, "How did you know you were gay?"

Justin was a bit shocked at this question, even thought he knew it was the question Cody was going to ask. Justin pondered the question attempting to think what it was that made him realize he was in fact attracted to me.

"Well," Justin started trying to make sure he did not say anything that would make Cody upset. "I think it was the fact that I liked being around my male friends and not so much my female friends. I know Kimberly liked me that way for a long time, but I myself never felt more of a connection to her. I also noticed that I enjoyed watching guys run around in a tight shirt like yours, then girls running around showing cleavage." Justin laughed a bit that he admitted he was looking at Cody's body.

Cody blushed. "Oh." He looked down at his shirt. "I am sorry. I didn't think. I always change shirts after practice, and this is just more comfortable for me. I am sorry." He attempted to cover himself up.

"No your fine." Justin laughed. "Nate and I always watch you when your working out and stuff. It's a good show."

Cody laughed relaxing a bit. He got quiet again. "I love Connie." He said after a moment of thinking. "I know she loves me. We have been together for a long time, but sometimes I get the feeling that I am not happy enough."

"Grayson?" Justin put out. "I noticed you looked at him."

"Yea." Cody blushed harder. "I love his face. It is just adorable, and I want to grab him all the time. I want to see what it is like to feel him pressed against my body, and his lips touching mine." His eyes went wide as he realized what he had just admitted too. "My God." He put his hands to his face and Justin could tell he was on the verge of crying.

Justin got out of his office chair and sat next to Cody, and wrapped his arms around the strong man who was now on the verge of tears. As his hand touched Cody's muscular arms he felt another growth of emotion fill his pants. He had never touched someone that was as built and solid as Cody. He willed himself to deal with the situation.

"Cody," Justin started, "I want you to know I love you, and you are who you are." He pulled Cody into him as he turned his head and cried into Justin's chest.

"I am scared." Cody said. "I see you and Nate so happy, and I wonder if I am that happy. I wonder if being with Connie is what I need, or is there something else."

"Listen." Justin pushed Cody up and made him look at him in the eyes. "I have no idea what you are, or what you need to do. You will never know unless you follow your heart. Maybe you just need some time away from Connie. Maybe that is all. Maybe you can hang out with us and get to know Grayson better. I think either way, you owe it to yourself to know."

Cody smiled in the tears that had covered his face, and looked at Justin. "I don't want to cheat on Connie with anyone. I actually ended it with her last week. Told her I needed to think some things through. I understood if she didn't wait for me. She said she understood, and figured it was coming. Said she saw it in my eyes." His eyes grew wide. "You don't think she suspected I was questioning my sexuality?"

"Maybe." Justin thought of Lori and how quickly she picked up on Nate and his desire. "Lori could tell Nate was just by looking at him the first day. It was amazing how she could."

"She scares me sometimes." Cody laughed and pulled himself fully away from Justin. "Like she could see your soul or something."

"You have no idea." Justin shook his head thinking of all that time Lori knew he was up to something.

"Justin," Cody started. "Can I ask a favor?"

"I suppose." Justin smiled. He still could not get over the fact that this giant of a man was sitting here crying in his bed.

"Can you just hold me for a bit?" Cody looked down at the bed. "It felt good to be held like that."

"Sure." Justin smiled. He pushed himself up against the frame of the bed and Cody lay next to him. "But we do need to finish planning that Christmas party."

"In a bit." Cody said. He snuggled himself up next to Justin and closed his eyes. Justin looked down at Cody and wondered how such a large person could be so vulnerable. He was amazed that he had found the strength to do something that other could not do. He leaned his head down and kissed Cody on the top of the head and leaned his head back. Nate was not going to believe what happened.

*** Modern Day ***

Justin woke up with the card lying on the bed open. He grabbed it and glanced at the words to the song that Nate had copied so many years ago. He was surprised that as he read the words the anger he felt, the animosity he garnered for Nate started to ease. His discussion with Cody that day about finding yourself was in bouncing in his head. He had given Cody the idea that he needed to find out what made him happy. He had been with Connie for years, and ended it because he felt he needed to find a different direction. How could he have given that advice to Cody and be upset with Nate for doing the same thing.

He rolled up and sat on the edge of the bed still looking at the card. He looked at the last line where Nate had written a personal message: "I will always and forever love you, no matter what may happen. Love, Nate."

Justin sighed heavy and lifted his head up and arched his back trying to stretch it out. He was a damn fool for doing what he had done. Matt was right. Anger was not the way to solve this. Nate may have done it a horrible way, but Nate had to do it. He was not happy and needed to find what made him happy. If Justin truly did love Nate, then he had to forgive him for those actions. Justin could not keep him from being happy at his own expense.

He pulled out his phone and started to text Nate, but closed it and put it back in his pocket. This was not something to do over the phone. He had to make things right. He jumped up and grabbed his keys to his car, and his wallet and ran out of his room. When he made it to the first floor, Matt and Chris were sitting in the living area playing a video game.

"Hey!" Matt said spying Justin grabbing the front door. "Where you off too?"

"Nate's." Justin said smiling.

"I thought you were there and it did not go well?" Matt looked confused.

"I have to fix it." Justin walked out the door into the rain that was still pouring before Matt could respond. Matt just smiled and went back to playing the game with Chris.

***

Justin pulled up to Nate's house for a second time that day. The rain was still falling in large drops. He had butterflies in his stomach. He reached over onto the passenger side seat and picked up the Christmas card. He hoped Nate would talk to him. Ironically, he hoped that Nate had forgiven him, even though Justin had failed to forgive Nate.

He climbed out of the car and made his way to the door. He paused a moment before ringing the doorbell, but pushed his mind to get through the task at hand. The chimes rang, and he waited patiently looking around the front yard he had not really noticed in many years. There were several flowers growing, which was a nice touch. The door opened turning his attention back to the front of the house.

The scene shocked him more than he had anticipated. There was Nate, with his eyes red and swollen from apparently crying. Justin almost burst into tears seeing him like this. He felt sorrow and remorse for his actions earlier. He instantly put his hand up to Nate's face and rubbed his check bone.

"I am so sorry." Justin said with tears forming in his eyes. "I am so, so sorry."

Nate pushed his head against Justin's hand, sighing softly at the touch. Justin reached up with his other hand and put it on the other side of Nate's head. It had been a long time since he had touched Nate, and now that it was hear, it brought back all the old feelings. All the old feelings came back, and he started to forget them.

"Justin." Nate said pulling him out of his trance.

Justin shook his head and pulled his hands back and turned red in embarrassment.

"I am sorry about that too." Justin said stepping back. "I know you are supposed to get married."

Nate pulled the door open and stood aside to let Justin in. Justin walked and stepped inside hold the card in his hand behind his back.

"After you left, Sarah and I got into a argument." Nate said walking slowly towards the living room area. "She said I lied to her, and was not completely honest about our relationship."

Justin remained silent. He was not sure how to respond. He knew he was a fault for this and knew saying `sorry' was not enough.  He just slowly followed behind him.

"I told her I had been honest, that we had done things." Nate put his hand against the doorframe that lead into the living room. He looked like he was on the verge of passing out. "She said I neglected to say that it was unprotected. That I put her life at risk for having unsafe sex."

"IÉ" Justin started to say, but just bowed his head. The idea of Nate having something was beyond comprehension. As far as Justin knew they had not had sex prior to that event. But as it turned out he had sex with Sarah well before they had done it. The question he had was if Nate had lied to him, then what is to say he did not lie to Sarah.

"I thought she accepted me for me." Nate flipped over and leaned against the wall. "I guess I found out how she truly felt. That I must thank you for."

Justin walked over to Nate and grabbed his hand. Nate grabbed it back and squeezed hard. Justin closed his eyes trying to prevent himself from breaking down. Nate collapsed to the floor, all energy apparently removed from his body. 

"Come on." Justin said grabbing hold of Nate's arms and pulled him up. "Lets get you up to your room, and get you cleaned up."

Nate allowed for Justin to pick him up and make his way back to his bedroom. Their Justin placed Nate on the bed, and went to work pulling off his clothes. A good shower would fix things. It had been a long time since he had to help Nate get undressed and into the shower. Justin chuckled under his breath as he pulled off Nate's shoes and socks. Within a few minuets he had Nate out of his clothes.

Justin stood back and got ready to help Nate get into the shower. He paused for a moment and marveled at his body. He still had the similar look. Not defined, but he had a tight body. Apparently he still kept up his swimming. He hesitated a moment before grabbing ahold of Nate, afraid of what the physical contact might lead to.

"Alright." Justin grunted as Nate put his whole weight on him. "Wow you have gained weight." He laughed but Nate just grunted and shrugged. Justin helped Nate walk to the shower, where he deposited him on the toilet while he turned the water on.

"Justin," Nate said still looking down at the floor. Justin thought Nate looked like a little kid who was too tired to even know who he was. "Do you hate me?"

Justin felt the water and pulled the plunger to divert the water to the showerhead before turning around.

"I always have." Justin kneeled before Nate. "I felt bad after I said what I said. I even have the shiner her to prove my sorrow." Justin rubbed his eye.

Nate looked up and noticed the black eye that had gotten larger. Nate snapped out of his depression and put his hands on Justin's face, probing the area around the eye.

"What happened?" Nate said looking at the eye.

"Matt and I had a bit of aÉdisagreement." Justin laughed, reaching up to grab Nate's hands. "He made me see the errors of my ways. He of course, also has a battle wound that is square on his jaw." He grinned.

Nate looked directly into Justin's eyes.

"I see it." Justin said as he moved his arms around Justin and pulled him closer. "Lori was right."

Nate grinned and kissed Justin on the lips gently. Justin groaned as he felt the energy of the kiss pass through his body. The feeling he had when Nate kissed him the first time those many years ago, washed over him. Justin reached his hands up and grasped Nate's head and kissed him back harder. They stayed that way for several moments before Justin pulled away. He looked deep into Nate's eyes.

"Should we be doing this?" Justin whispered, afraid of the answer.

"Justin," Nate said pulling back as well, "I love you. I never stopped loving you. But I do not think our lives will ever go back to the way it was."

Justin laid his head against Nate's chest. The sound of his heart was like a familiar song that one never forgot, no matter how long ago it was. He closed his eyes. He knew they would never be together again, but he also did not want to break away. Nate stroked Justin's hair.

"Well the water should be hot by now." Nate said pulling Justin up a bit. "What say we give it one last go?" He started to pull Justin's shirt off.

***

Justin woke lying next to Nate, both of them naked. Justin looked over at the clock on the wall and noticed it was almost 5:00. He needed to get home prior to Matt leaving so he could tell him what took place. He glanced over at Nate who was asleep still. He was breathing softly, and Justin wished he could sit and watch. He knew the moment was fleeting, but also felt as happy as he did 16 years ago.

He rolled out of the bed and looked around for his clothes. They had the foresight of bringing them into the bedroom when they were done taking their shower so as to have them available. Justin quietly moved around the room and pulled his clothes on.

He turned towards the bed and watched Nate sleep. Justin felt a tear form in his eye, but he pushed it back. He knew this was a fleeting moment, but he knew it was for the best. The closure he truly needed: to know Nate still loved him, and for Nate to know he loved him as well.

As he was about to leave, he saw the card sitting on the nightstand where he had placed it before getting Nate to the shower. He reached for it and opened it up, looking at the song one last time. It was a song he used to remind himself of the time when he and Nate were together. That time was no more.

He took the card and ripped it in half, so he could keep the script that Nate wrote about always loving him. He grabbed a pen off the desk and wrote his own inscription on the top half he had ripped: "I will always love you, and always be here for you. When you want to finish the song, look me up. Love Justin."

He slid the card onto the pillow he had been sleeping on. He then leaned across the bed and kissed Nate's forehead.

"I am glad we forgave each other." He whispered and silently went out the door.

***

Shocked? And hey! This is the 10th chapter to this story! Thanks to all that are reading, and thanks for giving me a reason to continue the story!

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