David's Initiation: Epilogue 2
Draginacht@aol.com (AKA Jeff)
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction and any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental. The story contains graphic descriptions of sex between men. Anyone who is forbidden by law to read such material must stop now. This story is being posted to the Nifty Archive solely for the entertainment of its readers.
Dear friends and fans of "David's Initiation," this is the final installment in David and Tony's saga. The responses following the end of "The Partnership – 18" ran something like: "YOU CAN'T STOP NOW!" or "PLEASE KEEP ON WRITING, I CAN LIVE WITHOUT MY DAVID FIX!" Those were some of the nicest ones. Some readers were actually angry that I had ended the story because they wanted to know how it really ended. Well, after lengthy deliberation I decided that since I knew how the story really ended I had an obligation to share it with you. Therefore, what follows is that conclusion. I hope it satisfies any lingering questions you might have about how David, Tony, PD, and the rest of the cast share their lives.
Now, back to PD. One would think that he would have problems adjusting to the trauma of losing his mother and the surprise of gaining a father. And he did. But the problems weren't big ones and he quickly realized that he was safe and loved. Dave's instincts seemed to be on track. From the beginning he'd established a few simple routines designed to create memories. One was that twice a year, on Mother's Day and again on Tiffany's birthday, Dave and Tony would take PD to the cemetery so he could place some flowers on his mother's and grandparents' graves. Dave believed it was important that PD grow up with an appreciation of his relatives.
One of Tony's contributions was to speak Italian with PD. The boy picked it up quite easily and thought it was neat to be able to talk in another language. That ability also made him popular with Mama and Papa Mancuso. And to celebrate his thirteenth birthday, his fathers took him to Italy and Greece for two weeks. In preparation for the trip, for 10-weeks Dave and PD attended a one-night-a-week class of conversational Greek. They'd come home from class and Tony would quiz them – all in fun of course.
Dave and Tony were understandably concerned about how to handle the `gay' issue, knowing it was bound to come up someday. And it came up when least expected. One Saturday in early spring (PD was approaching his tenth birthday) Dave, Tony and PD were having lunch at the kitchen table when out of the blue the nine-year-old asked a question.
"Daddy, what's it mean if someone's gay?"
Dave and Tony smiled at each other. They'd talked about how they should answer that question so Dave took the lead. But first he had a question of his own.
"I'll explain that but first I'd like to know what prompted you to ask that question," Dave asked.
"Oh, one of the guys at school said his brother was gay but he couldn't tell me what it meant."
"When a person is gay it means that he or she is attracted to someone of the same sex."
"Well," PD thought for a second, "does that mean that all my friends are gay, `cuz we like each other?"
"No," Dave chuckled, "probably not at your age. How old is you friend's brother?"
"I dunno, maybe 15."
"Then he's old enough to know that he likes boys instead of girls," Dave replied. He wondered how far this conversation would go and he didn't want to give PD more information than he wanted. PD was quiet for a few minutes; Dave and Tony imagined they could see the wheels spinning in PD's head. Then he had another question.
"You and Uncle Tony are boys, does that mean that you're gay?"
"Yes, we are gay," Dave replied then Tony hastened to add his own information.
"And your dad and I are also married, just like Uncle John and Aunt Kate because we love each other." PD was again quiet for a few moments before asking his next question.
"Well..." PD paused and looked at Tony. "If you're married does that mean you're my dad too? Like I have two dads?"
"Well, yes, I suppose you could say that," Tony replied.
"Then why don't I call you `dad' instead of `Uncle Tony'?"
"We thought it might be a lot simpler that way," Tony answered. "Having two dads can get pretty complicated, don't you think?"
"Yeah," PD chuckled at the thought. "I can see that. I suppose I have to wait an hour before I can go swimming," PD stated.
Just that quickly, his interest in the `gay' topic satisfied, he was ready to move on to something else. There would be other discussions over the years and PD would learn that his family's private life was something to protect.
In the summer following his fourteenth birthday, PD took his first step toward establishing his independence. Steve and Alex Roehl convinced Dave and Tony that letting PD spend the summer on the ranch with them would be a great experience for him. PD had spent enough time at the ranch and had become very fond of his Roehl family. And he loved the adventure of riding horses and was intrigued by the prospect of working with cattle. A summer on the ranch was ten times better than Boy Scout Camp.
Dave and Tony were waiting outside security when a very tanned PD came walking down the concourse wearing his ten-gallon hat and looking every bit like the experienced, confident traveler he was. Although they'd kept in touch via e-mail and phone, PD talked non-stop all the way home and through dinner. Later that night Dave lay in Tony's comforting arms, tears in his eyes as he tried to cope with the realization that his little boy was growing up.
PD would spend the next four summers at the Texas ranch, enjoying every minute. Each year, however, immediately after school was out, Dave and Tony took PD on a two-week trip to some interesting locations. When PD was 15, they went to London and Paris. When he was 16, they went to Warsaw, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. When he was 17 they went to Australia, saw Ayers Rock and the Outback. And when PD was 18 they visited China and Japan.
The bond between Dave, Tony and PD continued to strengthen. Whether it was through playing tennis or basketball on the all-purpose court Dave had installed or through the traveling they enjoyed together, they always communicated well. Dave was responsible for that.
One Saturday morning when PD was twelve years old, he and Dave had just finished three sets of tennis and were sitting in the shade at the side of the court. PD started the conversation with a question.
"Dad, I know that..." Pd began then paused. "How will my penis know when it's supposed to get hard? I mean like for sex?" Dave wasn't surprised because he and Tony had made sex an open topic of discussion hoping PD wouldn't have any inhibitions about asking questions.
"You have erections now, don't you?"
"Yeah but, like it's at the weirdest times. When I'm with a girl, how will I know?"
"First of all, I know you know about not having sex with anybody until you're like thirty years old."
"Awe Dad, you're messin' with me again, aren't you?" PD began to laugh.
"Yeah," Dave chuckled. "Look, Son," Dave had a serious tone to his voice and PD caught it. "Very soon now your testicles will begin producing a hormone called testosterone. That hormone is going to start coursing throughout your body and it's going to cause a lot of physical changes. Your voice will begin to drop to a lower key – remember when that happened to JD?"
"Yeah, that was funny," PD chuckled.
"You'll begin to grow hair under your arms and in your groin area, and you'll start to grow taller at an accelerated rate. Your muscles will also begin to develop much more than they are right now, too." PD raised his right arm out to his side and flexed his biceps as if checking their size. "And your penis will begin to grow longer and thicker.
"It's already bigger than most of the guys in my Boy Scout Troup," PD replied proudly.
"You've been looking?" Dave asked with an impish grin.
"Well yeah, everybody looks."
At that moment Dave thought of a topic he wanted to discuss about growing up. It was an idea he remembered from reading Mark Twain but he modified it a little.
"Well, when your hormones begin to flow, that's about the time Tony and I will begin to loose our intellect – we'll start getting dumber and dumber."
"What?" PD asked with astonishment.
"Yeah, you just wait and see. And the older you get the dumber we'll become. You may even get to the point when you'll be embarrassed for people to know that we're your parents."
"Oh, c'mon," PD exclaimed doubtfully.
"Yep, but there's hope. About the time you get to be nineteen or twenty years old Tony and I will begin to recover; we'll stop being so dumb. But all the while we'll still be your parents and you'll have to do what your parents say. I just want you to be tolerant and forgiving of our condition. Can you do that?"
"Sure, Dad." PD stood and hugged his father.
Throughout PD's teen years there were moments of disagreement and PD's response would be something like "You just don't understand," or "Why won't you let me do that?" Whereupon Dave or Tony would look PD in the eye and say something like "Oh, we must be in one of our dumb periods again. You'll just have to forgive us." The comment always brought laughter and was enough to defuse the tension.
Dave and Tony liked to entertain on a regular basis and PD was exposed to many successful, professional, positive roll models. When the time came for him to select a university, his choice was strongly influenced by four specific people: his Aunt Gloria Redmond, Walt Richardson, and Alex and Steve Roehl. PD decided to attend the University of Texas and study for a law degree. Neither Dave nor Tony was surprised because they'd watched PD begin to lean in that direction during his junior year in high school.
With PD away at college, the house seemed empty. The two dads never passed up an excuse to fly to Texas and just happen to drop in for a brief visit – always announced, of course. Several times during vacations PD brought friends home. And just like when he was in grade, middle, and high school, PD made sure his friends held no biased attitudes toward gays. Several times during the Christmas break, PD played host to a group of his fraternity brothers and their girls at the Vail condo. Those four years passed so quickly and yet so slowly.
One sad event happened during PD's first semester at UT – Rex died. Rather than hide the fact from his son, Dave called to break the news. When PD came home for Thanksgiving he placed some flowers on Rex's grave - Dave and Tony had buried him near his favorite tree in the back yard. Dave always wondered if Rex had died of a broken heart after PD went away to college but he never expressed those thoughts to his son. After all, Rex was quite old by then and had a few medical problems so his death wasn't a great surprise.
In the fall PD's first year at law school he called home and informed his dads that he would be spending the Thanksgiving holiday in California with a friend. As disappointing as that announcement was, Dave and Tony had plenty of family to be with and accepted (reluctantly, of course) PD's plans.
A couple of weeks later, PD called when he knew he'd be able to catch both of his dads at home so they could use the speaker-phone in the library.
"So how was California?" Tony asked. He and Dave were sitting on the edge of the desk as they talked to the phone.
"It was... well, it was great. Now I have to ask your forgiveness, if I may," PD began.
"What have you done now?" Dave asked. He remembered some advice Tony had given PD once – `It's easier to get forgiveness than get permission.' This appeared to be one of those occasions.
"Of course we'll forgive you. You ARE going to tell us why we need to, aren't you?" Tony asked and winked at Dave.
PD chuckled. "Of course. The reason I went to California at Thanksgiving was so I could talk to the parents of the girl I'm going marry and receive their blessing."
"MARRY!" Dave and Tony exclaimed in unison. "But you're too young to get married," Dave added.
"Yes, Dad, I've met the most wonderful woman and I can't imagine not spending the rest of my life with her."
"Well, what's her name? Where'd you meet?" Tony asked.
"How long have you known her? Where's she from?" Dave added.
"Whoa, you two," PD chuckled. He had this picture in his mind of his two dads leaning on the desk and almost shouting at the phone. "I've asked her if she'll come home with me for Christmas and she agreed. And we'll answer all your questions when we get there. Is that okay?"
"Of course it's okay," Dave answered. "You want us to pick you up at the airport?"
"I'd rather you wait at the house. That way I can walk my future bride to the front door and surprise you. I just know you two are gonna love her."
"Okay, Son, however you want to do it. Just let us know what we're supposed to do," Dave replied.
"Will you be here in time for dinner?" Tony asked.
"We haven't made reservations yet but I think so. Can we count on having some of your famous Chicken Marsala and a good wine?"
"You bet your sweet ass, you can!" Tony exclaimed. They all laughed.
"Well, I need to get going but I'll e-mail our schedule when I know more. Love you both," PD said.
"Bye, son," Dave said. "Bye, Kid," Tony added. They heard the phone disconnect. Neither man spoke for several seconds as if lost in his own thoughts.
"Can you believe it?" Tony broke the silence. Our boy's gettin' married."
"Yeah," Dave replied as he wrapped his arms around Tony's neck and hugged him tightly. "I'm so happy for him."
"Hey, hey," Tony pulled back and kissed the tip of Dave's nose. "Is that a tear I see? That's not like you, Love."
"Well, permit me – I'm entitled." Tony chuckled and held his partner tighter.
Tony was practically floating around the kitchen and into the dining room and back making sure dinner would be a very special event. The house was filled with the mouthwatering aroma of the marsala wine. Dave was sitting at the kitchen table sipping on a cup of hot tea and trying to stay out of Tony's way while he impatiently watched out the window for PD and mystery fiance to arrive.
"They're here!" Dave shouted as he jumped up from his chair, almost knocking it over.
"Okay, okay," Tony replied as he removed the apron from around his waist. "Be calm, Dave, just be calm," he said as he hurried to join his husband waiting at the door.
"I wish he wouldn't keep secrets like this."
"You know where he gets it, don't you?" Tony asked sarcastically.
"Hush now, I'm opening the door."
The Lincoln Town Car stopped abeam the steps leading up to the main entrance to the house. PD got out on his side and walked around to the front passenger door. He ignored his two dads whom he saw standing in the open door while he opened the car door for his fiance.
The first thing Dave and Tony saw were a pair of shapely legs swing out and delicately place two high-heal clad feet on the pavement. Then they both gasped with surprise.
"DONNA?!" Both men exclaimed simultaneously.
PD held Donna's hand to assist her from the car as both of them grinned from ear to ear. Donna King, daughter of Adam and Connie King, granddaughter of Steven and Alex Roehl, walked up the steps as PD closed the car door behind her.
"Hi, Uncle Dave," Donna said as she wrapped her arms around Dave's neck and kissed him on the cheek. "And you too, Uncle Tony," as she hugged him like she had Dave. "It's been much too long since we've seen each other."
"It certainly has," Dave acknowledged, "and from all appearances we've been in the dark about a lot of things." He smiled and chuckled.
"Well, Dad, Uncle Tony, are your surprised?" PD asked.
"Oh, I don't think 'surprised' even begins to come close to describing our feelings at the moment," Tony exclaimed with laughter. "Boy, you got lots a splainin' ta do," Tony said directly to PD as he closed the door behind him.
"Come, sit down, kick your shoes off and relax," Dave said as he led the party into the great room. A fire was burning in honor of the occasion and it added a cozy, family atmosphere to the room.
"What IS that delicious smell?" Donna asked. "I didn't think I was hungry until I smelled that. When do we eat?"
"Unless I miss my guess by a large margin, that's Tony's famous Chicken Marsala. Right, Tony?" Pd had dropped the `uncle' title right after his freshmen year at college.
"You're right about that, PD. Dinner will be ready in about thirty minutes." Tony replied.
"There'll be no eating until we get, at the very least, a halfway reasonable explanation of this situation," Dave interjected. "But before we begin, I could use a glass of wine. Anyone else?" He walked toward the wet bar with an order for three more glasses.
"Now," Dave said after everyone was seated and had sampled the wine. "We're all ears." PD and Donna sat in one of the love seats holding hands while Dave and Tony sat across from them.
"Before you go gettin' all upset, I want you to know that Donna and I had no intention of hiding anything from y'all." PD was smiling at his dads. It's just... well..."
"Maybe I'd better tell this, Dear," Donna interrupted as she looked into PD's eyes. Her right hand was resting affectionately/seductively on PD's left thigh. Pd just patted the back of her hand and said "Okay." He knew when it was wise to step back and let his woman do the talking.
"Well," Donna began. "PD and I met that first summer he spent at Grandma and Grandpa Roehl's ranch. I say we met because that's about all we did. I don't think we even cared for each other at first. And every summer thereafter my sisters and I would spend a couple of weeks with Grandma and Grandpa while Mother and Daddy took some vacation. Over time we learned to tolerate each other and then became quite civil." Donna turned and smiled up at PD then continued.
"While PD was doing his undergraduate work at the University of Texas, I was at UCLA. For the next few years our schedules and commitments prevented us from being at the same place at the same time. That is until last year when I decided to go to grad school at Austin."
"Okay, my turn," PD interrupted. They smiled at each other. "I was walking to a lecture one morning when I noticed this stunningly beautiful female form walking in front of me. I sped up and finally drew even with her and had already decided to make a pass. Try to imagine my surprise when that lovely figure turned out to be this lovely woman." PD and Donna both laughed at that moment. "It was like I was seeing her for the first time. We began dating and talking and... well, one thing led to another and here we are." By now PD had a huge grin on his face. "We e-mailed a lot this past summer and when we got back to school I didn't waste any time asking her to marry me." PD leaned over and kissed Donna's cheek.
"Mother and Daddy were ecstatic when they found out," Donna continued. "I hadn't told them anything either because... well, just because. This seemed awfully serious and I wanted to be sure before I said anything. So when we went to California for Thanksgiving and broke the news, it was Pandemonium City. Mother's gone up to a totally new level of excitement preparing for the wedding."
"So does that mean you've set a date?" Dave asked, finally able to find his voice.
"Not really," PD spoke up. "We're looking at some dates next June but we wanted to wait until we talked to both of you."
"Bless you my son," Tony replied. "We must have done something right."
"Oh, you did a lot right, if I may be so bold," Donna chuckled.
"I don't know how to top that except to say that I need to go check on dinner."
"Good, that'll give me time to get our luggage. And we can get cleaned up before we eat." PD turned to Dave. "Dad, I thought Donna should be in the upstairs master and I'll take my old room, if that's all right?"
"That sounds just fine with me," Dave replied as they all stood and began moving toward the main hallway. Dave was quite relieved that his son had suggested the room arrangement because he was unsure exactly how to approach the subject. Like, were they already sleeping together? If so, would it be appropriate for them to share a bed in this house? Dave wouldn't have been offended at that but he felt that it was none of his business; he just didn't want to create any embarrassment for anyone. And PD had diffused the situation with his simple proposal.
Dinner became a wonderful experience. Tony's Chicken Marsala was delicious as usual but the greatest reward was being able to sit around the table and talk with tons of laughter. They took a break to clear the table and load the dishwasher then returned to the table for coffee, desert, and more conversation. Donna already seemed a member of the family because they had all known each other for years.
The answer to the accommodations question became clear the following morning. Dave arose early to start the coffee. On the way back to the bedroom he noticed the door to PD's room was open. Savoring the opportunity to once again watch his son sleeping, Dave crept up the stairs and tiptoed to PD's door. The bed was empty. In fact, it had never been slept in. Dave turned with a knowing smile and proceeded to his bedroom.
On Christmas morning the family opened presents as they always had. Dave and Tony hadn't been able to purchase anything for Donna but PD had taken care of that by FedExing presents ahead. That afternoon they drove to visit Dave's parents. Then all six went to Kate and John's for Christmas dinner where Donna and her 2-karat diamond ring were the center of attention. Mark wasn't able to be there because of his football schedule but being a football family, everyone understood. JD and Susan were there with their families and Matt brought his partner. The crowd noise was so great at one point that Kate had to find an old referee whistle and blow it to get everyone's attention for the announcement that dinner was ready.
This was Donna's first visit to the area and PD spent the next few days showing her where he went to high school and visiting with old friends. Their itinerary included a visit at the McGregor and Richardson households plus a special visit with Aunt Gloria. Georgia was beside herself with excitement. And she embarrassed PD by telling stories about his youth. All in all it was a great visit.
The wedding went off as scheduled the next June in Malibu and all of the major contributors to PD's life were present. Dave chartered a plane to take him, Tony, Georgia, his parents Nancy and Bob, Kate and John, Matt and his partner, and the Richardsons to California. Steve Roehl chartered another plane to transport another large contingent from Texas.
When the wedding was over and the newlyweds were on their way to honeymoon in Fiji, Dave and Tony had some private moments with Alex and Steve.
"You realize what this marriage does, don't you?" Dave asked as they relaxed in the privacy of the suite Steve had reserved.
Alex gave Dave a questioning look. "I don't follow you, David," she replied.
"The union of Donna King and Paul David Baker reunites the Paul A. Roehl Trust with the Roehl family."
Alex, Steve, and Tony looked at Dave with astonishment. "By damned, Dave, I think you're right. I hadn't thought of that but it's true," Steve exclaimed.
"Actually, it joins the Baker and Roehl families in a way that circumstance years ago prevented," Tony offered.
"Wow!" Dave exclaimed softly. "That's almost too scary to think about."
"Then let's not think about it," Alex suggested. "Let's drink a toast to family."
"To family," Steve exclaimed.
"To family," Dave and Tony followed as they lifted their glasses in salute. They accepted fate as it was presented to them and went on with their lives.
(Now back to the beginning of Epilogue 1.)
There was a knock at the bedroom door.
"Come in," Dave announced.
"Are you decent?" PD asked through the partially open door.
"Would you listen to that boy? Of course we're decent," Tony replied.
"C'mon in," Dave laughed. He and Tony were already through the shower and partially dressed.
"I wanted to go over today's schedule to make sure we're together on everything," PD advised. Most of the morning would be spent at home where Dave and Tony could enjoy their grandkids and great-grandkids. They would leave for the country club at 11:30 a.m. where Dave and Tony were to celebrate their golden anniversary. Based on the RSVP replies Donna had received they expected a rather large crowd.
The stretch limo pulled up in front of the main entrance to the club and Dave, Tony, and the rest of the clan disembarked. The group proceeded into the club ballroom where several guests were already waiting. They all approached Dave and Tony to congratulate them and wish them many more years together. The couple then took up a position just inside the ballroom door to greet the rest of the guests as they arrived.
The guest list was a collection of family and close friends. The entire Close family came, including Kate and John Close, Mark Close and family, Matt Close and partner with children, JD Close and family, and Susan Close Teague and family. Sophia and Sean were there along with Shannon and his family and Tony's brothers. Connie and Scott King even flew in from California. Walt and Tonya Robinson were there, along with Senator Jim Lewis and partner, the governor, the mayor, Father Tim, his partner and the entire neighborhood, and many friends from Philos. Notable by their absence were Dave and Tony's parents, Steve and Alex Roehl, and Georgia. They had passed away several years ago but they were remembered with love.
Berk and Mike were among the last to arrive. The four friends hugged and kissed each other. No words were needed as the four friends shared so many memories. Dave's Platoon was missing two of its members. It seemed like only yesterday when Berk called and said he was taking Dan to see the doctor. Dan had a fever that wasn't showing any signs of subsiding and Berk was concerned. A few days later Dan was in the hospital and his prognosis was not good. It seemed that the combination of his HIV and the long-term use of combative drugs had taken their toll on his body and his organs were beginning to shut down. Dan was only 56 years old. And as the five remaining friends gathered after the funeral to reminisce, they realized how Dan had actually beaten the odds and lived and loved longer than anyone would have hoped for.
The other four Platoon members drove Berk to Key West where he and Dan had shared so many wonderful days. The five men watched as the sun disappeared into the Gulf setting off a dazzling display of colors against the clouds. Dave, Tony, Mike and Todd watched, as Berk, following Dan's request, sprinkled Dan's ashes along the shore, tears streaming down his cheeks as the gentle waves rolled onto the sand as if coming to say one final goodbye to a good friend.
About a year later Todd was driving home from work and was fatally shot during a car-jacking. Dave, Tony and Berk rallied around Mike with their love and supported him through his grief. Two months later Mike moved in with Berk. Their long friendship proved to be the perfect chemistry for a loving relationship after losing their partners over such a short time.
A couple of years after later, Dave and Kate helped their parents sell their home and move to a retirement community. They had helped Nancy and Bob find a very comfortable, very upscale (thanks to their children) facility built around a golf course that offered an active social life, a swimming pool, and on-site medical supervision. Nancy and Bob chose to live independently in an efficient patio home. They had the option of preparing their own meals or going to the facility dining room. And as their needs changed they could move to assisted living or nursing home care as needed. The entire experience caused Dave and Tony to think about some of their friends who were getting on in years and need assistance. The question they asked themselves was, where do old gay men to go when they reach the stage in their lives where they aren't able to take care of themselves?
When one of the houses in the neighborhood that Dave and Tony had helped develop was severely damaged by fire, Tony proposed they purchase the land and construct an assisted living facility. They would have to get a zoning change but with support from neighborhood residents, that turned out not to be an obstacle. The building wasn't very large but it was just what the gay community needed.
The anniversary celebration was a great success and two very tired men were more than ready to get back to the house and turn in early.
"I'm tired," Tony admitted as he used his cane to slowly lift himself from the kitchen chair. He and Dave had just finished the lunch that Mildred, their current housekeeper/nurse/caregiver, had prepared. Mildred prepared their meals and made sure they took their meds at the correct time. "I'm gonna lie down and take a nap. You coming?"
"Damn, Love, ever since you turned ninety last month you're taking naps all the time," Dave chided. Both men chuckled. "Yeah, I'll be there in a few minutes. I want to talk to Mildred for a second."
"Right. I may start without you." They chuckled again and Dave moved in for a quick kiss.
Tony limped slowly down the hall toward their bedroom. He already had one hip replaced but decided more surgery wasn't for him. He looked around the room and thought of all the wonderfully intimate times he and Dave had shared. He made a right turn into the bathroom and used the urinal before returning to the bedroom. Arriving at the edge of the bed, Tony turned around, sat down, leaned his cane against the nightstand and stretched out on top of the bedspread.
A few minutes later, Dave walked into the bedroom and followed Tony's path into the bathroom before lying down. Dave was tired too. These naps he and Tony had become accustomed to taking seemed to be needed more frequently and last longer. Dave went around to his side of the bed and lay down. After resting for a moment he rolled toward Tony and placed his arm around the man he treasured. Dave knew immediately that something was wrong. He listened. Nothing. "Tony?" he said softly. No response. "Oh, Tony... oh, Tony," Dave moaned sadly. A tear formed in the corner of his eye and began rolling down his cheek. He leaned over and kissed Tony's lips. This was the first time he'd ever not received a response. Dave wrapped his arm around Tony's chest, slid his leg up and over Tony's, rested his head on his lover's shoulder, and closed his eyes. His heart broke.
When Mildred checked on the men later that afternoon she was greatly saddened by what she found. Both of her men had been in ill health the past couple of years; they were showing their ages. She had prepared for this day and knew what to do but found reality to be vastly more difficult than planning for it. Mildred went to the library, found instructions Dave had showed her and dialed the phone. Paul David Baker received the news with heartbreaking sadness. He gave Mildred a few instructions on how to proceed then began making phone calls of his own.
"C'mon, Dave, hurry up!" Tony sounded insistent. "Here, take my hand."
Dave reached out, grabbed Tony's hand and laughed as the two men hurried through the tunnel toward the light. "Are you sure this is where we need to go?" Dave asked.
"Hello, Tony, David, we've been waiting for you."
"Tiffany?" Dave exclaimed. "But..."
"No buts, there are lots of loved ones lining up to welcome you," Tiffany explained. "An before we go any further, I have to give you both a big hug and tell you what a terrific job you did raising Paul David, or PD as you call him. She hugged and kissed both men.
"You look so young!" Tony exclaimed.
"Oh yes, everyone here is twenty-six years old; even you two."
"Really!" Dave sounded surprised. "Tony, just look at you! And you're not limping!"
"And you're just as handsome as the day we met, Grunt," Tony chuckled. "No wonder I fell for you!"
"Just like I did." Dave and Tony turned their heads and were greeted by Paul Roehl. "C'mere you two; I've waited too long for this privilege." The three men embraced as their hearts filled with joy.
"Our turn, our turn!" Dan shouted. All six members of the Platoon were reunited and they all took turns giving hugs.
"You guys just wait a few minutes," Tiffany ordered. "Let's take care of the welcoming then you can have them to yourselves. David, do you recognize these two?"
"Mother! Dad!" Dave didn't immediately recognize his parents because they were now twenty-six years old.
"Mama! Papa!" Tony exclaimed.
Other members of their extended families were present and Dave and Tony enjoyed hugging each one of them.
"Okay," Dan chuckled. "Now you have to come with us. We have a hot tub waiting and we all get to initiate y'all."
"What?!" Dave exclaimed.
"Initiate?!" Tony asked. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"Of course he is, you doofus," Mike chimed in. Everything works here. And I mean EVERYTHING."
The Platoon, which now included Paul, wondered off arm in arm toward some large hot tub to get reacquainted.