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.
Challenges Part II
*** Modern Day***
After having a short chat with his mother, and avoiding the subject of his sexuality, Justin excused himself to his room. He was tired from his long trip and wanted to take a shower, and a nap. It was 3:00 in the afternoon, but he was still lagging behind an hour.
After his shower he laid down on his bed. Even though he only visited his parents at various times, his parents kept his room the way he had it when he stayed at home. His high school awards were still on the shelf, and his old computer, which was ancient compared to the laptop he was currently using, sat on the desk in the corner collecting dust.
He laid on the bed rubbing his stomach, as he had a habit of doing when he was in deep thought. He turned on his side and looked at his bed side table. It had several pictures, but the one that caught his attention was with his brother as Matt's graduation. He was very proud of his brother. He had gone to UNM, got a degree in biology, went on to graduate school and eventually got his doctorate in genetics. He currently owned a company in Albuquerque.
He grabbed his phone and yawned. He really should take a nap but he really wanted to see his brother. Since the weekend was coming up, he hoped he was coming down.
"Hey kid." Matt answered in his bright voice. Whenever Justin called, Matt had time to talk.
"Hey." Justin smiled. "I am at mom and dad's. You are coming down this weekend, right?"
"Yes sir! Wouldn't miss it!" Matt spoke off the phone for a second. "How long you plan to stay?"
"I think two weeks. I have some vacation saved up and I might stay longer. Depends on what happens."
"I see." Matt paused a second. "You going to see Nate?"
The question was inevitable. Matt loved his little brother, and did not like seeing him pain. Nate had caused him the most pain.
"I don't think so." Justin said with a pause. "He knows I am here, and wanted to talk. But I drove by his place, and apparently he is getting married."
"Married?" Matt laughed. "Who would marry him? The cheating b..."
"Sarah." Justin caught him off before he could say it. Nate had made an enemy of Matt, but he couldn't bear to hold hard feelings against him.
"Slut." Matt said under his breath.
"That's what Sharron said, but about Nate." Justin giggled at the like mindedness of the people in his life.
"She is awesome." Matt had met her when he came for a visit last summer. He found her charming. If he hadn't been married, Matt said he would so be into her. "I will see you tomorrow night around 7. I am hoping traffic is not bad here."
"See you then." Justin started to hang up. "Love you bro!" He said not sure if Matt had heard.
Justin put the phone down next to him on the bed. He loved his brother; the only person who really accepted him. The one person in his family he could tell his problems, his true problems too. He would have to tell him about Jason from the airplane.
***16 years ago***
After his conversation with Matt in the Bosque about his feelings, Justin made a true attempt to turn around his life. He started to do better in school, and hang out with his friends again. He was never sure if he should tell anyone else about his feelings, so he kept that to himself. Over the course of the next month, his parents did not feel worried as much and stopped trying to get deep into his life. Everyone chalked it up to teenage angst.
At church Justin tried to get his mind off his problems, and he tried to better with his spiritual studies. He made every effort to do as much as he could service wise.
Close to the end of April a new family moved into the ward. The father had gotten a job at New Mexico Tech. What was also exciting for Justin was they had a boy his age that was moving in as well. There were not that many boys his age in the ward, so anytime a new person arrived he was excited. There were two boys older than him, including his brother, and two younger. He was the only one his own age.
The Sunday that the new kid arrived would be one that Justin would remember for the rest of his life. He was sitting with his parents waiting for the services to start. He was looking around to see if the new family had show up. They were supposed to be here today, but maybe they were late, or were coming in later.
"Justin," his mother said, "Stop fidgeting around!"
"Sorry mom." Justin stopped looking around. He would meet him eventually.
As the services progressed Justin tried to look around, but his mother kept nudging him, so he never got a proper look.
After the services were over, it was time for the Sunday school services to start. This was where he would get the chance, if any, to meet this new kid. As he entered the room he stopped as quickly as he entered. Sitting in a chair was the most gorgeous guy he had ever met. He had short spiked blond hair, and blue eyes that seemed to sparkle on their own. His smile showed a row of perfect white teeth.
"Justin," the teacher broke his thought. "Are you just going to stand there or are you going to sit down?"
"Sorry." Justin quickly took the empty seat next to his best friend Kimberly Hellen.
"What's wrong with you?" Kimberly leaned over. "You look like you were smacked in the head with a pan."
"Nothing." He lied. He was in no mood to let his emotions get out of control now. He sat and listened to the lesson. Every now and then he took a quick look at the new kid. He tried to time it so that it looked like was looking at whoever was talking, but sometimes he just had to look over.
After the Sunday school lesson was over with Justin sat silently as everyone else go up.
"We need to talk." Kimberly punched him in the arm. "Now!"
Justin knew she was a force to be reckoned with if she did not get her way.
He followed her out of the classroom and down the hall towards the back of the church and out the back door so they would have some privacy.
"So what's up with you?"
"Nothing." Justin looked at the ground. He could not look her straight in the face. "I told you already."
"You come in this morning and you are flopping around like a fish. Then you get to class and you act like you were hit with a pan." She put her hand on her hip before continuing. "And during class you kept..." she trailed off.
"What?" Justin looked up at the silence from his friend.
"Oh." She said softy and then started to laugh. "I always wondered why you did not want to go out with me."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Justin got defensive. He was not sure to handle this, but he knew he would have to deny as much as possible.
"You like the new kid." Kimberly smiled. "This is awesome."
"Please don't say anything!" Justin almost burst into tears. "Please?"
"Oh I think this is awesome because I always wanted a gay best friend." Kimberly smiled and hugged Justin. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Oh sure just come out and say it." Justin frowned. "How was I supposed to know how you would react?"
"Let's get back in before people come looking for use and start to form inappropriate ideas." She grabbed his hand and pulled him close as they walked back in. "I think he is adorable too."
After church Justin sat quietly in the back seat looking out the back window. Matt sat next to him and could fill the emotions flow from his younger brother.
"Hey mom?" Matt asked causing Justin to jump slightly in his seat.
"Yes?" His mother looked over her shoulder.
"I know its Sunday, but do you mind if Justin and I go out to the canyon?" Justin looked at his brother like he was crazy.
"Sure dear. After you eat lunch." She smiled. She was glad Justin and Matt were talking again.
Justin started to open his mouth, but Matt just winked at him.
After they ate lunch they piled into Matt's truck and started to head for the canyon. It was a 30 minute trip but it was a nice drive and Justin was glad he got out of the house. His priesthood class was a bit awkward as the new kid was there as well. The boys name was Nathan McGraw, and was from Utah. Justin had the opportunity during the class to have some small talk with the new kid, and seemed pretty cool. He had to watch himself as he didn't want to seem over enthused about the new kid.
"So Nathan seems like a cool guy." Matt casually said as he drove up the highway.
"Yea." Justin just sighed as he said it. The chances of the boy returning his feelings were slim to none.
"Got it hard huh?" Matt giggled a bit as he could see the crush Justin had badly for him. "It's okay we all go through that stage. Just be careful with him kid. I don't want you to get hurt: emotionally or physically."
Justin grinned at his brother. His love for him was evident. He knew his brother would protect him as best he could. Matt knew the world would not be kind to his brother. There was a gay kid at school that had come out and he was harassed constantly. Matt stood up for him when he could, but he was not around all the time.
"Kimberly found out today." Justin said absently. "She figured it out when I was acting so `coy'." He held his hands up to make quotation marks around `coy'.
"Yea. Not a good sign when you run into a brick wall." Matt laughed. "I think when I met Lori I did the same thing. But when I did it, I did it with style."
"Yea," Justin laughed hard, "You acted like you forgot where you were. Really smooth."
They both laughed as they made their way up to the canyon.
They spent two hours marching around the canyon. Justin liked being able to talk without fear of being judged. Matt just enjoyed the time he could spend with his brother. Time was running out and he would be gone for large chucks of time.
"Hey Matt?" Justin walked up beside his brother as they made their way back to the truck.
"What's up?" Matt put his arm around Justin.
"Are you going on a mission?"
"I think so." He looked at his brother. "Why do you ask?"
"I don't think I am." Jason said somberly. "I don't think it would be a good idea for me to be around guys 24/7 in a living environment like that."
"You got to follow your heart." Matt sighed. "I think it is more expected of me to go. But I am not sure I really want to go. I am excited about college. Lori will be going with me. I think she is the one, but mom and dad are not thrilled that she isn't a member."
"I am sure if I told them I like guys they will forgive you." Justin offered as a joke. He hoped Matt would not take his offer.
"I am sure anyone would be good compared to that." He rustled his hair. "She said if I went she would wait, but 2 years is a long time for that. I have seen some guys come back and it was just too long of a time."
"I like her." Justin offered. "But like you said, you got to follow your heart."
They climbed into the truck and headed back home. Days like these made Justin smile, and he had many things to smile about.
As they arrived at school the next day, Justin and Matt made their way into the commons area. The center of the school was a large cement ring, with a tree growing in the middle. Around the edges were benches set up for other students to sit at. Even though Matt was a senior he never made Justin feel less by ignoring him like some of the other brother/sister combinations did. He always walked him in, and hung out with his friends for a bit before heading off to his own group of friends. For that, Matt was awesome to everyone.
As they neared Justin's friends, he could see that Nate was sitting across the table with Kimberly, and another friend Scott. Scott was cool, if not a bit of an egotistical jackass. He was the one that told the truth when no one wanted to hear it. If you wanted sympathy for your problems, Scott was not the person to talk to. If you wanted real help, that was Scott's most enduring quality.
"Hey guys!" Matt said as he walked up. "And lady." He smiled at Kimberly.
"Hey Matt." They all responded.
"Matt this is Nate." Kimberly pointed at Nate. "I am not sure if you were able to meet him Sunday. Nate this is Matt, Justin's brother."
"I saw you around, but never got a chance to say hello." Matt gave a strong hand shake to Nate. "Glad to know you, and found yourself a pretty good crowd here."
"Yea." Nate smiled. "I was worried that I might have a hard time finding people to hang with." He glanced at Justin with a slight smile. "Hi Justin."
"Hey Nate." Justin felt his face turn red.
"Well I am glad that you all have a resounding vocabulary this morning!" Kimberly spoke up trying to get the tension out of the air.
As they continued the small chat, a tall female, with brown hair that went to her waist, crept up behind Justin and quickly put her arms around his chest pulling him in tight for a hug. Justin jumped a bit, but then seeing who it was relaxed.
"Hey sexy." She whispered in his year.
Nate's eyes went big as he watched the scene.
"Hey! Hey! Hey!" Matt quickly jumped at this girl. "You always get me confused for my brother!"
"Opps." The girl let Justin go. "Sorry kid. Just you both are just so damn adorable, it's hard for me to sometimes tell the difference."
Justin blushed and grinned.
"Hey love!" the girl responded to Matt and gave him a frontal hug and gave him a big kiss.
"Hey." Matt returned the kiss. He pulled away and introduced his girlfriend to Nate. "Nate, this is Lori Hahn. Lori, this is Nate McGraw. He goes to church and a friend of Justin's. Lori has been my girlfriend since..."
"Forever!" Kimberly finished his sentence said and stuck out her tongue. "They just need to get married and get it all over with." Lori and Matt laughed.
Lori slid next to Kimberly so she could be directly across from Nate.
"So where are you from Nate?" she batted her eyes at him.
"Oh boy." Matt groaned under his breath.
"Um, Utah." He got the answer out, trying to avoid looking directly at her eyes. They were dark brown and they seemed to shine with an inner light. He also felt like they were penetrating his every thought. "Pretty close to Provo."
"Ah homeland of the Mormons." She smiled slightly as she formed the next question in her mind. "So did you have a girlfriend?"
"Oh." She frowned. Matt was watching the conversation with a bit of amusement. His girlfriend liked to ask the tough questions up front to get to know a person quickly. As he watched her think of the next question he saw her lips turn up in a sharp grin that gave him the feeling he was watching a predator stalk its prey. Before he could say anything the question slipped her lips.
Nate coughed a bit and eyes got big.
"Why would you ask that?" He asked with a bit of rage under his voice. "Just because I don't have a girlfriend doesn't mean I want a boyfriend!"
"Sorry." She just smiled. "I just want to keep an open mind. I never assume anything about anyone."
Justin watched the display with a frown coming on his face. He knew the chances of Nate returning his emotional feelings were slim, but based on the reaction it was a downright rejection.
"I guess we need to get going." Matt interrupted before Lori could ask another question that would be just as embarrassing."Come on." He grabbed Lori's hand as she stood up.
"Nice to meet you Nate." Lori said as she walked off, and winked at Justin.
"She really means good." Scott said out of the side. "She does ask virtually everyone that when she first meets them. Thought she usually waits a day or too."
Justin sat down next to Kimberly and looked into Nate's eyes which seemed to be giving of some sadness.
"So what's your schedule?"
As it turned out Nate and Justin had three classes together. One of them was PE which excited Justin. He wasn't sure if he could contain himself, but he had several hours to prepare himself.
For the next several weeks Justin and Nate became close friends. They spent virtually all their free time together. At school they hung out with Kimberly, Scott, and a couple of other friends, but outside of school they were at each other's house virtually every day.
Graduation day came and the time had finally come for Matt to leave this part of his life behind. To Justin this was a bitter sweet moment in his life. He knew he would never actually lose Matt, but not seeing him at school would be sad. He also knew that when he left for college he would lose any support at home in life he had.
Nate had come to graduation, alongside Justin. Justin had no other senior friends besides Matt, and Lori. He sat next to Justin who seemed tense, and on the worried side. Nate reached over and patted Justin on the arm and gave it a firm squeeze. He knew Justin and his brother were close.
When Nate's had touched his arm, Justin flinched as he felt a tinge of electricity flow through his body. He looked at Nate and gave a nod, and turned back to the ceremony. Matt was a good friend and brother. Now if only Nate would be someone that he could find support in.
As the school year came to a close, Justin and Nate made plans for what they were going to do for the summer. Justin typically worked for his father in the pasture fields and tending to the few sheep they had. The majority of the sheep they raised were used by kids in the community for show. His dad always produced some of the best show sheep, and typically they would bring in first prize. His dad said it is not the sheep that matters, but the person who molds the sheep.
Nate was trying to decide what to do for the summer. He wanted a job and had put several applications in. Justin wanted to see Nate more during the summer so he approached his dad about having Nate work on the farm. Since Matt was getting ready for college, he was no longer going to be working for his dad full time. His dad agreed and hired Nate on as one of the hands that would help with the duties of the farm.
On the first day of the job, Justin and Nate were tasked with making sure the last fields were getting water. They would have to watch the irrigation water, make sure the rows did not flood, but at the same time assure that they were watered adequately.
It was still May so the temperature had yet to get to extremely hot, so it was a nice day. The wind was blowing softly, and the smell of the wet land was invigorating to Justin. He loved the smell of the ground getting wet. Reminded him of all the times he was out here with his dad.
The big challenge was showing Nate how to handle the water, and to know when to turn water off and on. Nate was quick to catch on so they could both be running up and down the fields to assure the watering was done right.
They had started early in the morning around 6:30, so they were expecting to get done shortly around noon. As noon approached the last sections of the field were finishing up.
"I am getting hungry." Nate said as he patted his stomach.
"We will get something after this last section is done. Another 30 minutes or so."
A few moments later, Justin's parents came out to the field with some lunch bags for the boys to eat.
"Thought you boys would be getting hungry." She handed them the bags.
"Thanks mom." Justin smiled as he grabbed the lunch bags, and the bottles of water offered to him.
"Thanks!" Nate said as well.
"That last section should be done in a few minutes, so when you boys are done eating, turn the water off and head back in. Then make sure the sheep are taken care of." Justin's dad said as he looked at the field and was satisfied with the watering. He was worried that Nate and Justin might not be up to the challenge, but they had done a great job.
They ran over to one of the trees near the field so they could still keep a watchful eye on the water. They sat almost with their legs touching.
Justin's mom had made them turkey and bacon sandwiches, and included a bag of potato chips. Nate had his sandwich down in a few bites. Justin nibbled on his as he was too busy trying to keep his mind on the job, and off the friend that was sitting close by.
"I like it out here." Nate said, leaning back on his hands and looking up at the tree above him. "It is nice and quiet."
"Yea." Justin said eating a chip.
They sat in silence for a while as Nate just looking at the tree. He lay fully on the ground so he could look up.
"Nature has a way of surprising you." He watched as several birds were building a nest in the tree. It was an old cottonwood tree. They were everywhere along the banks of the Rio Grande.
"Yea." Justin replied again.
Nate tilted his head up to look at Justin and his unusual one word answers.
"What's wrong bud?" Nate asked. "You okay?"
"Nothing." Justin shrugged. "Just eating."
"Okay." Nate laid his head back down. He waited a few moments before making another comment. "So what's the deal with you and Kim? You ever going to ask her out?"
Justin chocked a bit.
"No." He coughed out. "We are just really close friends. Have been since we were in pre-school."
"She likes you." Nate said absently. "I can see it in her eyes. She looks at you like she wants to be with you."
Justin didn't respond. He looked at his sandwich and put it back in the bag. He only had eaten a third of it, but was not feeling hungry. This conversation was something he did not want to have. Not with Nate, and not with anyone, but was frequent between him and his parents.
"Of course," Nate rolled over on his side to look at Justin who had his head turned out towards the east side of the field, trying to make it look like he was trying to see something. Justin was on the verge of tears. "I suppose you don't like Kim like that because you like someone else."
"And who do you think that would be?" Justin turned his head with a snap and a glare in his eyes. A line of water was starting to form on his left eye.
"Me." Nate smiled. "I think you look at me, the same way that Kim looks at you."
"No." Justin gave a false laugh. "I think you full of it!" He reached up and wiped the water from his eye. He would not cry here. Not like this.
Justin started to stand to get up and get back to work, but Nate grabbed Justin's arm causing him to fall back crossing Nate's chest and bring them inches from each other's lips.
"No." Nate said holding on to Justin's arm to prevent him from moving. "I think you do like me." He reached up and grabbed the back of Justin's neck with his free hand. "Admit it."
Justin started to squirm. He was starting to become aroused with Nate holding him. He wanted to kiss Nate, but he also wanted to break free.
"I am not into guys. I am not gay!" He shouted louder than he had intended to shout, and turned bright red.
"Prove it." He whispered softly and touched his lips to Justin's.
Immediately Justin stopped fighting Nate, and sank down so his body down fully on top of Nate. He felt a charge of electricity pass through his body, and he kissed Nate back. He had wanted to do this since he first laid eyes on Nate, and now here it was: His first kiss.
They kissed for a few minutes, which to Justin felt like years.
"Didn't do a very good job of convincing me." He laughed as Justin rolled off Nate and onto his own back. Nate rolled over and started to rub his hand on Justin's chest.
"Wow." Justin looked at him and his blue eyes. "I did not know how much I really wanted to do that. I mean I knew I wanted to, but, wow!"
Nate laughed again and stood up and offered me his hand.
"When did you know I liked you?" Justin dusted his pants off and picked up the lunch bags and crumpled them up so he could throw them away later.
"I just noticed how you would stare at me." Nate looked down at the ground. "And I of course stared back at you. I guess you never noticed. I just took time to act upon it, to make sure that I was not dreaming it."
"I don't know if I would have acted on it." Justin kicked the ground. "I mean we aren't supposed to be doing that. It's wrong."
"Nothing wrong with kissing is their?" Nate grabbed my hand. "Nothing in the scriptures that says you can't show affection is there?"
Justin thought about it for a moment and Nate was correct. Affection was not a sin. So why should he be worried about that? He squeezed Nate's hand and then let it drop. His parents could show up at any time.
"I think we better keep it secret for a while anyway. I am not sure how my parents would approve of us being affectionate like that." Justin started to head for the nearest turn-out for the water. It was time to close the last section.
Later that night Justin was laying in bed thinking about the day's events. The moment that Nate's lips touched his sent sparks down his spin and into every fiber of his being. Now, thinking about that kiss, sent the same response.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a car door being closed. It was Matt back from his date with Lori. Justin smiled as he thought about the reaction Matt would have for him. But should he tell Matt what happened? Should he include Matt in on this discussion? Matt had been supportive of him, and Matt wanted him to be happy. So why should he not include him in on the happiest day of his life so far?
He could hear the front door open and close. Matt would end up talking to their parents before heading up to get ready for bed.
Justin again thought of Nate. How far could he go before what they were doing was a sin? He figured that holding hands, kissing, cuddling, and sleeping next to each other would be okay. As long as there was not touching of each other in a sexual way, he would be okay. He did want to remain faithful as long as possible. But how long would that last?
A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. He sat up quickly as the thoughts of being with Nate had turned him hard, and his pajamas did very little to hide that fact.
"Come in." he squeaked as he attempted to act casual.
"Hey kid!" Matt stuck his head in. "Just wanted to see how the day went and say goodnight."
"Went good!" Justin said with too much enthusiasm and a little too high pitched.
"Really?" Matt turned and looked down the hallway to make sure no one else was coming and came into the bedroom and closed the door. "Went good?" He walked over to the bed and sat down.
"Yes." Justin bit his bottom lip and looked away from Matt. He could never look Matt in the eyes when he was trying to hide information. Matt had a way of pulling truths out, without even saying a word.
"Spill it." Matt said softly.
Justin sighed and resigned himself to tell Matt what had happened.
Matt smiled as he listened to Justin tell the story about the day, and how it ended with Nate giving Justin a kiss.
"That's great!" Matt said giving Justin a big hug. "I am so happy for you."
Justin had a look of disbelief on his face. "You aren't upset?"
"Why would I be? I mean you need love just like everyone else." He stood up and started for the door. "I mean you will have to make the decision on how far you want to go, and what that might mean for you in the long run. But you are you, and I want you to be happy. If Nate makes you happy, then that is what you should be heading for."
Matt opened the door and started to walk out, but turned around.
"Don't let anyone ever tell you that you are not a good person, or that you are bad for the feelings you have." Matt winked at Justin and closed the door.
Editor's note: I hope you are enjoying the story so far. All chapters are in the process of getting a revision to eliminate some mistakes and also to make the story flow more.
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