David's Initiation: The Partnership 15

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 enjoyment of its readers.


Wednesday, after work, Dave and Tony drove down to pick up the boys. Kate had dinner ready and insisted that the two "sitters" stay and eat before leaving with their charges. One would think that three young men who had a pool of their own wouldn’t be interested in swimming in their uncle's pool but NOOO! Their uncle's pool had one special rule that theirs didn't and they were intent on enjoying it - the skinny dip rule.

Mark and Matt are now 7 and JD is 5 and their bodies are as tight, toned, and tanned as boys of that age can possibly be. Under their father's influence, the boys are constantly active in sporting activities. If it isn't soccer, it's baseball, swimming, scouting, or any number of other things. And as they swim and play around the pool, it is obvious that their development also includes the Close/Baker male endowment.

Thursday morning, Georgia is pressed into service taking care of the boys while Dave and Tony go to work. She is a familiar fixture around the Close household and the boys still view her as an authority figure. Tony is able to be home that afternoon so that Georgia can go to Philos where she's been volunteering since her son died and she moved in to her apartment over Dave's garage. For dinner, Dave and Tony take the boys to Chuck E Cheese and then to the video arcade in the Mall.

Friday morning, Shannon rode his bicycle down the street, which evened the odds. The previous Monday evening, Sophia and Shannon dropped in for a brief visit and Tony explained that Mark, Matt and JD would be staying with him and Dave while John and Kate are in Vail. He then proposed that she allow Shannon come to stay with them and she agreed, but not until Friday.

The boys now had a new place to play. Dave had decided to build a utility court behind the pool, a place where the Platoon could play basketball, volleyball, or tennis. So far, construction had progressed only as far as a cleared, level field and, the boys found it a perfect place to play soccer.

Tony stayed home in the morning and Dave relieved him at lunch. When Tony returned home later, the boys surprised him by asking to see some of the houses he's trying to sell. They all piled into Dave's F-250 and on the way to a local Chinese restaurant they drove past a couple of houses that had FOR SALE signs in front showing "Tony Mancuso" as the listing agent. They are quite impressed, which filled Tony a sense of pride. At the restaurant, Dave and Tony decided it wasn't too early to teach the boys how to use chop sticks and the meal turned into a lot of fun for everyone.

Saturday, the uncles took their nephews to watch a Major League Baseball game. They spoiled the boys by purchasing team hats and banners. Mark and Shannon pass on the banners and went for those large foam hands with the extended index finger. Back home, the boys cooled off by jumping into the pool while Dave and Tony prepared dinner - grilled hamburgers.

Sunday morning they all attended church and listened to Father Tim give a great sermon on the importance of families. After lunch, Dave and Tony treated the four boys to Six Flags. The four young men fell asleep on the drive home but after dinner at a Mexican restaurant they made a rapid recovery and jumped into the pool upon returning to the house.

Monday the boys are up early and play soccer and swim. They know time is running out because Kate and John will be returning that afternoon. Shannon leaves just after lunch with a promise to keep in touch through IM and E-mail. Mark, Matt and JD are showered, packed and ready to return home when their parents arrive just after 3:00 PM.

Kate and John appear well rested. By contrast, Dave and Tony appear exhausted. After a brief visit, John herds his sons into the car and the Close family departs for home.

Dave and Tony stand on the front steps waiving until the car disappears from view then turn, walk into their house and collapse in the middle of the great room floor. They'd have to think twice before doing something like that again. It had been a lot of fun, though. And the boys had enjoyed themselves immensely. Maybe there was a reward that wasn't immediately obvious and both men had a new respect for their sisters.


July 4, Dave was in the kitchen making sure everything was ready for when the other members of the Platoon arrived. Tony was in the bedroom changing his clothes when Dave heard the back door open.

"Anybody home?" Dave recognized Dan's voice.

"C'mon in," Dave beckoned. Seconds later Dan walked into the kitchen with Berk in tow. "Hey Dan, glad you could make it." Dave and Dan greeted each other with a hug and brief kiss on the lips. "And Berk, we're happy to welcome you into our house," Dave said as he released Dan and extended his hand toward Berk.

After observing the greeting Dan received, Berk was a little uncertain as to what kind of greeting he should expect. He was relieved when Dave extended his hand so he accepted it and they shook.

"I really appreciate you inviting me, Dave, you have a really beautiful home."

"Dan-boy," Tony exclaimed as he entered the kitchen. All eyes turned to acknowledge his entrance. Tony and Dan closed the distance between them, hugged and shared a brief kiss. "Hey Berk," Tony said as he released Dan and extended his hand toward the new guest. "It's good to see you again. Dan's been keeping you hidden." The four men chuckled as Berk took Tony's hand and shook it.

"Well, we're both pretty busy," Berk replied in an attempt to justify their absence. Again, he was relieved that he'd only been expected to shake hands. Berk's comfort level grew stronger by the minute as he realized that the men seemed to be going out of their way to respect his situation.

"Hey Dan," Dave began, "Now that we have a quorum how about digging into the fridge and pulling out a beer for everyone?"

"Got it, Honey," came Dan's reply. Berk noted Dan's use of the term of affection and he drank in the loving familiarity that existed between the other three men; he liked what he saw. "But, I don't know about Berk, he's a California guy, ya know, and might prefer some white wine."

"Say, stuff it Dan, not all California guys are winos, I drink beer too." The smile on Berk's face made it clear that he was only joking and they all enjoyed his humor. Dan opened the fridge and handed everyone a beer. About fifteen minutes later all heads turned toward the back door when they heard a voice.

"OH NO! Dan's already here and that makes us late!" Mike exclaimed as he and Todd made their entrance.

"Well now the party can start, the Platoon jester is here," Tony chuckled to the other three men standing next to him. They all laughed.

The Platoon members greeted the new arrivals with the customary hug and brief kiss on the lips. And when it came time to officially greet Berk, Mike shook his hand but Todd, feeling a special bond with his former nurse, insisted on a hug, sans kiss. The men continued to visit for about a half-hour when Mike brought up a new subject.

"Hey, Todd got his new car."

"Really!" Dave exclaimed.

"What'd ya get?" Tony asked. They all knew Todd had been taking his time trying to find the perfect replacement for his totaled Acura.

"Dave, I copied a page from your book and found a dealer certified "pre-owned" BMW 525i, not exactly in the same class as yours, powerwise, but just as nice. Only has 27,000 miles on it."

"You got it here? Can we see it?" Dave asked. Without hesitation, Todd motioned for everyone to follow him out the back door and within minutes six men were crawling all over the new car.

Back in the house, Mike was eager to have some fun. "Let's get this show on the road. Anybody ready to go swimming?" Mike looked around at the other members anticipating an affirmative response.

"I'm ready," Dan replied.

"Me too," added Berk. His comfort level as a member of the group was growing nicely.

"Okay if we use our regular room to change in?" Todd asked. His was really a statement to acknowledge that he and Mike understood that they were to wear bathing suits.

"Sure, Todd," Dave replied. "Dan, you and Berk can use your regular room, too." Then Dave had a sudden realization. "Berk, if you'd like to have your own room you can use the upstairs master."

"Thanks Dave, but I can share with Dan."


Upstairs in Dan's room Berk had a question. "Do you guys have your own rooms here?"

"More of less," Dan replied. "When we began gathering here several years ago we liked to drink a little so Dave offered, insisted actually, that we spend the night rather than drive drunk. It became a regular thing so we more or less claimed certain rooms as our own."

"That's amazing. I still find it hard to believe that you guys are for real." Berk and Dan had removed their clothes and only their boxer briefs remained. Dan wanted to stand and stare as Berk removed his last article of clothing but he just couldn't allow himself to be so obvious so he turned his back, dropped his underwear and pulled on his Speedo's. He did sneak a peek and found himself looking at Berk's naked backside; Berk was bent over slightly as he stepped into his trunks. The sight was enough to cause Dan to spring instant wood and he was glad Berk's back was turned. Dan quickly walked into the bathroom and ran some water as a diversion while his erection subsided. When he returned to the bedroom Berk was waiting.

"Ready?" Berk asked.

"After you," Dan replied as he extended his arm as if to invite Berk to go out first. Dan was disappointed to see that Berk was wearing boxer type swimming trunks, dark blue with geometric designs all over them. The effect was almost like camouflage in that it did an excellent job of hiding Berk's package.

As Dan and Berk were walking down the stairs they met Dave and Tony walking down the hall. Dan noticed how Dave and Tony looked up and gave Berk the once-over - twice. There was no doubt that they were trying to check him out.

"Mike and Todd may have been late arriving but they're first in the pool," Dave commented with a chuckle.

"Let's go have some fun," Berk exclaimed like he was getting into the swing of the group. Moments later the pool was being churned up by six adult males horsing around and having a good time.

"King of the Mountain!" Mike yelled, causing everyone to stop what he was doing.

"What's that?" Berk asked to no one in particular.

"Oh, we pare off and climb on each other's shoulders and then see who can knock who off their partners shoulders," Tony explained quickly. "Hey, this will be the first time in a while that we're even."

"Shouldn't that be, who can knock whom off their partner's shoulders?" Todd interjected sarcastically with a grin.

"Oh, just for that, Dave and I challenge you and Mike first!" Tony was laughing when he made the challenge.

"That's good," Dave added. "That way Berk can see how we play this game."

"C'mon Sweetheart, let's give him something to think about," Mike said to his partner and Todd went down on one knee with his head just above the surface of the water. That gave Mike a platform to step on so he could swing his leg up and around Todd's shoulders. Once Mike was securely in position, Todd stood up. Just as quickly, Dave had mounted Tony's shoulders and the combatant teams were ready for battle.

Berk and Dan watched as both teams pushed and pulled, each attempting to topple the other. Finally Mike and Todd caught Tony off balance and he and Dave went down to loud cheers from the other four men. Then it was Dan and Berk's turn to do battle and Dan faced a dilemma.

"C'mon, Dan," Berk said as he went down on one knee, offering his thigh as a step for Dan to use. Dan froze for a split second. He was going to be sitting on Berk's shoulders - in close physical contact. He knew he'd pop a boner - he couldn't escape it. Berk would have to know what was poking him in the back of his neck. Dan didn't know what to do but he was out of options - Berk was in position waiting for Dan to mount his shoulders. Dan stepped forwarded, placed his left foot on the top of Berk's thigh, grasped Berk's hands and swung his leg up and over his friend's shoulders.

At first Dan seemed to be okay - no boner. As he shifted his weight around to find a secure position, Dan felt himself begin to lose his balance and he instinctively placed his hands on top of Berk's clean-shaven head. That did it - instant boner. When Berk didn't seem to register any reaction, Dan began to settle down and get into the action.

Berk proved to be a solid platform and he and Dan made quick work of Mike and Todd. Everyone was hooting and hollering at the upset. Dave and Tony then got their chance at Dan and Berk and Dave caught Dan in a risky move and down he went. More hooting and hollering followed. So, at the end of the first round it was all even.

"Say, how do we know who wins?" Mike asked.

"Double elimination," Dave announced quickly. "Two losses and you're out. The last team standing wins."

"C'mon, Sweetheart," Mike stated in a determined voice. "Let's make quick work of Dave and Tony and then we'll knock off Dan and Berk."

"Yeah, like you and whose army," Tony challenged in reply. The fight was on. The two teams battled each other for over five minutes with neither one seeming able to gain an advantage. Then Mike made a miscalculation. Dave saw it and attacked quickly. There was a big splash and Mike surfaced sputtering and spiting water to loud cheers from Dave, Tony, Dan and Berk. Mike and Todd had gone down twice and were eliminated.

Dan was up quickly and ready for combat. He'd long since forgotten about his erection problem and it wasn't - a problem that is. Perhaps it was the brief rest they had while Dave/Tony battled Mike/Todd. Maybe Dave and Tony were getting tired. Or maybe Berk was experiencing a steep learning curve and his and Dan's teamwork was getting better. Whatever, Dave and Tony went down, leaving Dan and Berk as King of the Mountain.

"We always make sure the honored guest wins," Dave said with a smirk on his face as the men stood around shaking hands. Everyone had a good laugh at that exaggeration.

Dave and Tony excused themselves so that they could begin preparing dinner. Dave started the gas grill and went into the kitchen to get the steaks. Tony was setting out all of the items that needed to be carried to the table by the pool when Mike came in with an offer to help.

"Say, Mike…" Tony began a few minutes later as they prepared to go outside. He sounded rather hesitant.


"You and Todd seen Dr. Stern yet?"


"Whatta ya think?

"We think he's great. You and Dave?"

"Same." There was a pause in the conversation as the two men moved around the kitchen. Finally Tony asked the question he really wanted to ask. "Did Stern talk to you guys about rimming?"

"Oh yeah!" Mike exclaimed in a quiet, sultry voice.

"Well, do you and Todd… you know?"

"Oh yeah!" Mike's response was just as quiet but contained much more excitement than his previous reply and was accompanied by a wide grin. "You and Dave?"


"I guess it's not for everyone," Mike continued. "Todd and I got our booster shots for Hep."

"We did too," Tony acknowledged. "I'm really glad the Doc told us about that stuff. I had no idea."

"Me too. Todd seemed to know about it though."

"You guys need a hand?" It was Berk. He'd gone to the bathroom off the pool and continued on into the kitchen to see if he could help. He was beginning to get a feel for how the Platoon worked and he was trying to blend in.

The three men proceeded to carry the food to the pool area just as Dave was removing the steaks from the grill. Todd set out another round of beer but Dan declined because he was driving. He secretly wished he and Berk could stay the night together in the same bed but that wasn't going to happen.

"Berk, I thought you worked on Friday's. You get the night off?" Dave had been wondering about that ever since Dan said he wanted to invite Berk.

"Yeah, I guess it's all right to tell you guys, I got a new job."

"That's great," Todd exclaimed. "What're you gonna do now?"

"Shortly after Todd left the hospital I finished my training and received my credentials as a Nurse Practitioner, that's kind of like a specialized nurse. I've been looking around for the right job and when one opened up a couple of weeks ago I applied for it and got it.

"Where is it and when to you start?" Tony asked with obvious interest.

"I start Monday at the Stern Clinic of Internal Medicine. You know where it is?"

"Do we!" Mike exclaimed. "We all go to Doc Stern. He just did our physicals."

"They all go to Stern, I still go to Doc Gray," Mike clarified.

"Hey, I really like having a good friend working for my doctor," Dave stated. "That's just great."

"Yeah, Berk, that's super!" Tony added. Suddenly Berk was overcome with a feeling of happiness that he hadn't felt for a long time. Knowing that this group of men, whom he admired, considered him a friend really moved him. Finally he'd found friends in this large southeastern city and the emotion of the moment caused his eyes to become moist. However, because the sun had gone down and they were sitting in the fading dusk, nobody noticed.

"How about we clean up this mess and hit the hot tub?" Mike suggested.

"Great idea, Mike," Dan agreed as he pushed his chair back. "It's already 8:30 and I want to be home by 10:00."

"Why the big hurry, Dan, your hot date is right here." Mike knew he'd said the wrong thing the instant it left his mouth. Trying to recover he looked directly at Berk. "Sorry, Berk, I didn't mean…"

"That's okay, Mike," Berk quickly interrupted, "I know you didn't."

Mike hardly opened his mouth for the rest of the evening as long as Berk and Dan were still there. He was most embarrassed.

The men gathered in the hot tub for about fifteen minutes then got out and dived in the pool to cool down for five minutes and them returned to the hot tub. As the clock approached 9:30 Dan announced he needed to leave and he and Berk got out of the tub and went up stairs to get dressed. The rest of the gang got out of the tub and were waiting to say goodbye when Berk and Dan came back downstairs to leave. Before Berk left, all of the Platoon members gave him a hug of friendship, which he accepted with pleasure.


Dan pulled up in front of Berk's apartment and stopped to let his passenger get out of the car.

"Care to come up for a cup of coffee?" Berk asked. The drive had been very quiet and those were the first words either man had spoken since they entered the car at Dave and Tony's. Each man had a lot of thoughts churning in his mind. Dan really wanted to accept but felt like something was telling him it was the wrong thing to do. He ignored the feeling.

"Sure, but I can't stay long."

Berk had a really nice apartment. It had a living room, dining room, large kitchen with a breakfast area and three bedrooms, one of which he was using as a computer room. It was on the third, or top, floor of the building and there was a balcony off the living room that offered a great view of the city. Dan had been here several times and felt comfortable in the setting.

They stood at the kitchen counter sipping the fresh coffee Berk had just made when Dan decided to return to Mike's earlier comment.

"Ah… Berk, about what Mike said, I'm sorry. He had no right to…"

"That's okay, Dan, I'm not offended. I know Mike didn't mean anything by what he said. He's easy to figure out. He often opens his mouth before engaging his brain but Mike's a really nice guy and I like… I like all of your friends. And," Berk smiled warmly at Dan, "I'm glad you all consider me your friend."

Dan was about to burst. Why hadn't he listened to his earlier feeling and not accepted Berk's invitation for that cup of coffee. Since the moment he'd entered the apartment his emotions had been building and were now almost at the breaking point. He set his coffee cup on the counter and stared into it. Tears began to well up in his eyes. He had to find his voice.

"I… I think I should go," Dan managed to squeeze through his throat.

"Dan, what's wrong?" Berk wasn't oblivious to Dan's situation.

"Nothing… nothing." Then he looked up and directly into Berk's eyes. Berk could clearly see the moisture pooling there.

"Nothing? Surely you don't expect me to believe that, now tell me. We're friends."

"Dave warned me this wouldn't work." Dan was close to losing it. "I need to leave." He turned, prepared to begin walking toward the door. Then he felt Berk's hand on his arm. Berk wasn't holding him, preventing him from leaving. It would have been easy for Dan to pull away but he didn't. Berk's touch was enough to hold him.

"What did Dave warn you about?" Berk's voice was filled with quiet compassion and concern. With Dan standing still, Berk walked around and faced his friend. Dan took a deep breath and exhaled.

"I wanted us to be friends…" Dan avoided eye contact with Berk. He had to if he was going to get this out. "Dave warned me that it wouldn't work, that I shouldn’t, as he put it, 'hitch my wagon to a horse that couldn't take me where I want to go.' I thought I could make it work… but I can't." Now Dan looked up into Berk's concerned eyes. "Don't hate me, Berk, I just wanted us to be friends but… but I've fallen in love with you and I know it can't be." Tears were beginning to roll down Dan's cheeks.

Berk was moved with emotion. He wrapped his arms around Dan and pulled him into a hug.

"I'm sorry, Dan, so sorry. You are my friend… really. I couldn't ask for a better friend." Berk was using his right hand to stroke Dan's back in an effort to comfort him. Dan was where he wanted to be, his head resting on Berk's shoulder with his nose inhaling Berk's scent.

"Berk… Berk, this isn't helping," Dan said as he forced their bodies apart.

"No… I guess it isn't. I'm sorry Dan, really. Look! Let's forget this. Let's get together next Friday for dinner and a movie."

"I… I don't know, Berk, I need to think." Dan was nervously jingling his car keys in his pocket. "I'll call you, okay?"

"Yeah. If I don't hear from you by Thursday evening, I'm calling you."

Dan didn't reply. He just forced a smile on his face, turned and left the apartment.


Monday morning, Dave sat at his desk reviewing some specifications for a new project when the phone rang.

"Baker…" he waited for a response.

"Dave, it's Berk."

"Oh hi, Berk." Dave was a little puzzled to be receiving a call from him. "What can I do for you?"

"I want to ask you for a little bit of your time; I need to talk."

"Sure, Berk, what is it?"

"I'd rather not talk over the phone, can we meet? Is it all right with you? Are you available for lunch today?"

"Let me see," Dave stalled as he looked at his calendar. He remembered a meeting that would probably go well past the lunch period and might even be catered. "I'm afraid I have a conflict today but is tomorrow good for you?"

"Yeah, tomorrow's fine. Why don't you name the time and place - I'll be there."

"You know where Bankhead Park is?"

"Yeah, it's about half way between us."

"Why don't we get some subs and have lunch in the park… say 11:30?" Dave suggested. "The weather's gonna be nice and we'll have some privacy."

"I'll bring the subs," Berk offered. "What kind do you like?"

"Six inch wheat with turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato, olives, and honey mustard."

"Got it. Tomorrow at 11:30, Bankhead Park with subs. I'll be there. Thanks, Dave, I really appreciate this."

"See you tomorrow," Dave replied, wondering what this could possible be about.

"Bye." Berk hung up.

Dave sat staring at a blank wall for a few moments. 'What could this possible be about? Does it have anything to do with Mike's ill-advised comment about Berk being Dan's hot date? I'll run this by Tony this evening and see what he thinks.' Dave forced his brain to return to his work.

True to his thoughts, that evening Dave explained the strange phone call from Berk but Tony couldn't come up with any explanation that made sense.


Tuesday, 11:30 AM, Dave spotted Berk's car in the parking lot of the Bankhead Park and pulled up next to it. Getting out of his F-250, Dave looked around and saw Berk sitting on a park bench not far away and began walking toward him. At least Berk had selected a bench that was shaded.

The park was centered around a good-sized pond that served as home to a flock of friendly ducks. A concrete walkway circled the pond and served as a path for joggers and walkers. The bench Berk sat in was in the grass about five or six feet off the path and offered adequate privacy for their conversation.

"Hi, Dave, thanks for coming." Berk stood and extended his hand. Dave shook Berk's hand.

"You sounded serious, Berk, I hope everything's okay." Berk smiled and they both men sat down. Berk handed Dave his sub and drink.

"I forgot to ask what you like to drink so I got a Dr. Pepper and a Pepsi. I like both so take your pick." Dave reached out and picked up the Dr. Pepper. "Beautiful day, huh," Berk began as an introductory step to a conversation. He hadn't responded to Dave's comment about everything being okay and Dave noticed.

"Sure is, and thanks for choosing this bench in the shade." Both men opened their subs and began eating. They watched the ducks paddling peacefully around the pond and an occasional jogger would pass by. The overall setting couldn't have been more pleasant and emotionally soothing. Dave was eager to get started so after a few bites he forced the issue.

"This meeting wouldn't per chance have something to do with Dan would it?"

"Well… yes… indirectly." Berk began. Then he smiled at Dave. "That's one of the things I admire about you, Dave, you like to get right down to business. Actually, you might say this has more to do with me than with Dan." He watched Dave raise his eyebrows.

"Okay, where would you like to start?"

"Look…" Berk began hesitatingly. "I need to talk to someone and of all the people I know, you are the most remarkably adult about everything." He made eye contact with Dave who only smiled his appreciation. Berk then turned his head and focused his eyes on the lake. "I've asked myself where this all began but I suppose I ought to begin by saying I've not been totally open and honest with you and the rest of the guys." He took a sip of his Pepsi and continued. "You see, I'm not what I've led you to believe that I am. I know Dan has told you about how I flunked out of college. Well, I did. But it wasn't completely because I was partying like I said."

Berk paused as if collecting his thoughts. Dave waited patiently, having learned not to interrupt someone who is about to make a confession. After a few moments to chew and swallow a bite of his sub, Berk continued.

"My first semester at SDSU I was assigned a roommate at random. Sometimes that can be good and sometimes it's bad. This began good and turned bad." Berk paused to swallow a sip of Pepsi. " My roommate, Brent was his name, was the first white guy I ever got to know up close. He was damn good looking, and his parents had lots of money. I guess the quickest way to say this is that Brent was gay. He seduced me but I have to confess I was a willing victim. I was also grossly naïve and I was in total denial. Brent used his experience to bring me out my shell, perhaps 'closet' is the correct word. He was my first love and I fell really hard for him. I gave him everything; I committed my heart and soul to him. I thought we were meant to be together for life.

"Our second semester we moved into our own apartment and I was in heaven. My grades were okay, nothing to write home about. I was capable of doing better but I had a love life that was draining a lot of my energy. Everything was great until about three weeks before the end of the semester when I came home unexpectedly and found Brent in 'our' bed, on his back entertaining a brother. The guy, embarrassed by my interruption got his things and left. Well, the argument that followed was brutal. Brent was only interested in big cocks. He told me he'd found a new love who could do things for him that I hadn't even thought about. The betrayal hit me hard and I fell apart. I didn't even take final exams. That's the reason I flunked out."

Dave could hear the pain and anger in Berk's voice, something he could relate to. As Berk was talking, Dave's mind wandered back to that terrible day he learned of Paul's death and how painful it was, how anger almost consumed him. Granted, his situation was different, Paul had been killed in an automobile accident. Berk's lover had betrayed him, dumped him and then rubbed his nose in it. Old emotions were stirring in Dave's gut.

Berk sat facing the pond like he was in a daze, talking to himself, oblivious of the world around him. He continued.

"When I got back home I struggled to put my life together. My parents, God bless them, were very supportive and helped me find a counselor. But I finally came to the conclusion that no way did I want to relive that experience so I decided to swear off sex, became essentially Non-sexual. I drove all thoughts of love and sex from my mind. And once I was committed I found it rather easy to do. That allowed me get through four years in the Air Force without being outed. The longer it went, the easier it got.

"So that brings me to now. I'm a confused puppy. Life was good, simple, until Todd showed up in my wing of the hospital. His presence brought you and your platoon into my life. When I found out that you guys were gay and saw how you were able to live a basically normal life and witnessed how you support each other I was confused. That wasn't the gay lifestyle I'd seen where I came from.

"And then there's Dan - sweet Dan." That comment caused Dave to perk up. "He's such a great guy! After leaving your house last Friday we stopped at my apartment for a cup of coffee. That's when he told me he loved me. I felt panic! Didn't know what to do. My whole world began to turn upside down; I was shaken to the core. I have strong feelings for Dan but I'm not about to open myself up to what happened last time. As I said, I'm confused - totally. I'm missing something here, Dave, please tell me what it is." For the first time in several minutes Berk turned and looked beseechingly at Dave.

Dave had come back from his own private thoughts of Paul and had listened empathetically at Berk's tale. He didn't jump right in with an answer to Berk's request Dave just reached over and took hold of Berk's hand in a gesture of friendship.

"Berk, I wish I had a magic pill I could give you that would make everything clear, but I don't. But it seems to me that you've already got this figured out."

Berk looked at Dave with a questioning face like: 'Are you crazy?' Berk couldn't know that Dave was about to try some psychology on him and help him think about the positive side of his problem.

"Try to uncomplicate it for a minute. You admit you're gay - or you once were - you seem to have more than a passing interest in Dan, but you're not ready to risk the pain and suffering you experienced in your past. Is that right?"

Berk nodded his head, wondering where Dave was going with his idea.

"Life isn't pain free. I lost my partner a few years ago and I thought I was going to die. Well, I didn't. But I can understand how you feel. It took me a long time to open up to the possibility that I could love again. Then I found Tony and he helped me remember what love is all about. I would wager that you've gone through your period of mourning and your emotions are trying to tell you it's time to move on. I'm going to guess you haven't told Dan any of this."

"No… I haven't," Berk said with sadness in his voice.

"Share it with him. Has Dan told you very much about his life?"

"No, not really. Only that he lived in the Castro District for a while and that's where he contracted HIV."

"Dan is in love with you, Berk. I'd recommend you give it some time and see what happens. You know… a lot of relationships don't make it, so may of them being built on a foundation of only sex. You and Dan already have a well-established friendship and trust. That's a much more stable foundation for building a relationship. I'm not suggesting you rush into this; take your time. Date each other formally for a while. Talk things out. See if you can share secrets comfortably. Find out where you're compatible and incompatible and decide if any obstacles are insurmountable. Measure your mutual trust." Dave paused for a moment.

"Know this, all of us in the Platoon love and respect you and hope we can continue to see you as part of our group."

Berk turned his head to his left and looked into Dave's eyes. A tear was rolling down his right cheek. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. He cleared his throat and tried again.

"Thanks, Dave, you make such good sense. I guess I was too close and emotionally involved to see what you could see so clearly. Yes, I need to talk to Dan. We have a date Friday so let's see how that turns out. Now I suppose we need to be getting back to work."

"Yeah, you're right," Dave said as he stood and picked up the trash from his Sub. "You have my phone number - please call."

"Yeah, thanks. I say thanks but I'm not sure that's enough." Berk was now standing, holding the trash from his Sub.

"Just keep me informed, will you?" Dave asked.

"Sure thing; count on it." Berk surprised Dave by reaching out and wrapping him in a hug, which he held for about a minute. Dave was sure he could feel Berk relax as they stood together.

The two men walked side-by-side back toward their vehicles, depositing the trash in a container at the edge of the parking lot. Just before reaching their cars, Dave stopped and turned to face Berk.

"One more question, if you don't mind," Dave asked.

"Sure," Berk responded as he stopped and looked at Dave.

"Would you mind telling me how old you are? I mean, like, it's not important or anything but you look like you're close to my age. On the other hand, you’ve done so many things I suspect you're somewhat older."

"I'm thirty-two," Berk grinned. Dave's question was an amusing compliment and Berk appreciated the tact with which it was asked. "That makes me four years older than Dan, right?"

"Yeah," Dave smiled back. "At this point, age difference is irrelevant." They got into their vehicles, waived, and went their separate ways.


All afternoon Dave had to apply extra concentration in order to stay focused on his work. Like a computer application that keeps running in the background, Dave's mind couldn't seem to shut off some of the thoughts and emotions that started with his talk with Berk.

Arriving home after work, Dave walked into the kitchen to find Tony preparing to fix some grilled chicken with curly noodles and maranara sauce and steamed broccoli.

"Hi, Babe," Tony greeted Dave with a smile.

Dave set his laptop in a chair, walked up behind his lover and wrapped his arms around the hunk of a man and held him tightly. He laid his head against the base of Tony's neck. Tony could feel Dave's hardness pressing into the crease of his ass.

"Rough day?" Tony asked. The instant he said that he remembered that Dave was to meet Berk for lunch and perhaps that had something to do with Dave's behavior. He'd learned to read Dave's silence well. Tony was holding a pan of water in his hand that he was going to use to steam the broccoli. He set it on the counter, turned off a couple of burners on the stove and turned around to meet Dave.

"Um-hmm," Dave replied as he released his grip from around Tony's waist and waited for his partner to turn completely around. Taking Tony in his arms again, Dave placed his hand behind Tony's neck and pulled them into a soft, loving kiss; Tony's head began to spin. After a reasonable length of kiss, Dave rested his head on his partner's shoulder with his nose tucked under Tony's chin. He opened his lips, placed them on Tony's neck and let his tongue savor his lover's taste among the day's stubble.

"I sure could use some of your lovin' right now," Dave said. What Tony heard was a plea, 'I need you, Hon, please make love to me.' With their groins pressed firmly against each other, there was no doubt that they were both ready.

"Of course, Babe." With his left arm around already around Dave's waist, Tony placed his right hand under Dave's left cheek, and lifted. Dave pulled his knees up, wrapped his legs around Tony's waist and held on tightly. As Tony carried his lover down the hallway toward the bedroom he marveled at how light Dave felt.


The two lovers were moving in perfect harmony with each other, reading and responding to each other's needs and pleasures. Dave had needed to surrender himself to his lover and he'd done just that. His orgasm struck with unusual intensity and vocalization, almost like some demon was being exorcised. The instant feedback of Dave's pleasure was the trigger for Tony's climax. This time, with eyes wide open, Tony watched Dave intently as his hips thrust his tool deeper into his lover almost propelling his fluid of love from his body.

Dave's eyes were closed as he allowed his orgasm to effectively consume him. With each contraction his legs clamped more tightly around his lover's waist until he was totally spent. Tony held his position and felt Dave's grip weaken and his legs slide over Tony's hips and collapse on the sheet. The change of the angle and the softening of Tony's instrument caused a natural disconnect. Tony lowered himself to his right and pulled a totally relaxed Dave into his arms. Dave's eyes remained closed but he still sought and found Tony's lips. Following a brief kiss, Dave rested his head on Tony's right shoulder and drifted into a restful sleep.

Tony lay holding his lover, stroking Dave's hair. He was able to reach the top sheet and pull it over them for some comfort. Tony dozed for a few minutes but didn't actually sleep like Dave. He thought about how wonderful it was to have someone who loved him, needed him. And he knew that if the situation were ever reversed, Dave would be there for him just as willingly.

About thirty minutes later, Tony detected a change in Dave's breathing and prepared for him to awaken. Then, almost on cue, Tony's stomach cut loose with a loud growling noise. Dave giggled, an indication that he was now awake. Tony chuckled as a hot flash raced up and down his spine; Dave's giggle did that to him. Dave giggled again, a sure sign that he was back to normal.

"Hey, Stud, we'd better get you something to eat," Dave said than kissed his partner. "I love you."

"I know… (Kiss) and I love you too."

"I know," Dave replied quietly. Each man had gotten into the habit of reassuring the other that he knew the other loved him. It was a confidence booster for them both.

They took a quick shower, donned boxer briefs and headed for the kitchen to finish fixing the meal Tony had started. As they sat at the table enjoying the food, Dave related everything Berk had told him. Needless to say, Tony was totally surprised; he hadn't seen it coming. Dave also confessed that Berk's story had managed to reactivate some feelings he thought were long gone and that's why he needed Tony's love when he got home. Tony, almost a little too eagerly, assured Dave that his services were available any time Dave needed them.


(To be continued.)