Don Hanratty

My Belovèd is mine, and I am his.
Song of Songs 2:16


After Cam had left to pick up Teri for dinner and the prom, things are around the MacKenzie household were a little more subdued than usual.  The absence of Ian and Mary Carson, Yolanda Vega, Mark, and then, at least for that night, Cam, had left a vacuum in the normal chaos at meals.  Carl and Dan Emrick and William Carson talked a mile a minute and kept everyone entertained, but Kevin was quiet.  Catherine watched Kevin out of the corner of her eye, knowing that no matter what he said to the contrary, he was concerned about Cam's prom date with Teri.

Kevin had excused himself soon after he finished eating, and scooping up Casey who was sleeping in his rocking crib in the kitchen, trudged up the back stairs to his bedroom.   He'd put the baby down in his upstairs crib, and sat down in the rocking chair to wait for hunger pangs to awaken the child.  Catherine had followed Kevin up the back stairs as Rosa and the boys busied themselves cleaning up the dining room and the kitchen.  She knocked on the open bedroom door and walked into the room.

"Hi, Mom," Kevin said, rocking slowly with a reflective look on his face.

Catherine had walked over to him, and bending down, kissed him on the top of his head.

"You were quiet at supper tonight.  Are you feeling all right?" she had asked.

"Yes," Kevin said.  "Just a little tired, I guess."

Catherine had pulled over Cam's computer chair, and sat down next to him.

"Are you feeling worried about Cam taking Teri to the prom?" she asked.

There was a pause in the conversation as Kevin considered what he should say.  Well, he loved and trusted this woman, he thought to himself.  He might as well be truthful.

"Yes.  I have to admit I'm a little jealous, to be honest."

"Let me tell you something about your partner," Catherine had said.  "I've lived with him all his life.  Before you came into the picture and became my son, too, it was just him and me after Alex left.  So I think I know him pretty well.  He was always a happy boy, but I've never, ever, seen him as happy as he's been with you since you became partners.  Cam makes it a point to be kind to everyone, but he doesn't give his deepest affections easily.  He loves you with all his heart, Kevin, and he loves Casey.  You have nothing to worry about when it comes to this date with Teri.  You and the baby are the total objects of his affection, and whenever he finally gets himself home from this dance and the after-party, his obligations to Teri will be fulfilled.   This issue will never have to be visited again.  You're in his heart in a spot all your own.  So I don't want you to worry about what's going to happen tonight.  Will you do that for me?"

Kevin looked at Catherine solemnly, and then a big smile creased his face.

"Mom, you always know just what to say.  I've known deep down that what you say is true, but I've been focusing on the worst that could happen instead of the best.  You're right.  Thank you for talking to me about it.  It's helped, believe me."

"The truth does that," Catherine had said, standing up and rolling the computer chair back to the desk.  "I love you, sweetheart."  She caressed Kevin's face, kissed him on top of his head again, and walked to the door, where she turned around.

"One other thing," Catherine had said.  "I'm really proud of you for the way you're taking care of Casey.  I'm proud of Cam, too.  You boys show me a lot of maturity.  This is such an important time for a baby, and you two are taking your job seriously.  Casey's going to be one heck of a kid when he grows up because you're investing so much in him now.  He's lucky to have you."

"We're lucky to have you, Mom," Kevin had said.  His eyes looking suspiciously moist, he had given them a quick rub to hide his emotions, turning his face away.  "That's the truth.  Thanks for everything you've done to make things go so well."

She had smiled without saying anything, and left the room.

Casey had stirred at last, and gave a little cry.  Kevin picked him up, and kissed his face gently.

"It's about time, little dude," he had told the child, smiling.  "I'm gonna feed you your best dinner ever!"  Carrying Casey in the crook of his arm, he retrieved a bottle of formula from the refrigerator, and heated it to the right temperature in the water on the hot plate.  Then he sat down with the child, rocking gently, while the baby fed hungrily.  After burping Casey, Kevin continued to rock the boy until the child drifted off to sleep on his shoulder.  Then he had put him down until his next feeding.

He fired up his computer.  After answering some emails and checking out a few gay stories on the net, Kevin changed into his workout clothes and went into the boys' workout room next door.  It was Dan Emrick's night to work out with Kevin, and he was waiting for him.

"Danno!" Kevin greeted him.  "You up for this?"

Dan laughed.  "Well, I knew if I didn't show, you'd come lookin' for me."

"You're so right!" Kevin responded.  "If I don't make somebody suffer before bedtime, I can't sleep.  Let's warm up."

The two of them started some warm-ups, and their bodies soon had a thin sheen of perspiration on them.  Then William came into the gym in a cut off tank top that showed off his abs.  The white, elastic belt of his jock peeked out of his shorts at his waist in the back.  Man, the kid is gorgeous, Kevin thought to himself.  William started to do some warm ups, too.  He hadn't been scheduled to work out.

"Look what the cat dragged in," Kevin gasped out, his arms outstretched parallel to the floor, clutching weights and moving them around in little circles until he started to feel it.

"You don't think I want a wimp body like yours from not taking care of business, do ya?" William asked.

"Eat me," Kevin said.

"You wish," William responded, grinning.  He completed his warm up exercises, and sitting down at a machine, begun some triceps extensions.

"Now," Kevin said, concentrating his attention on Dan, "sit down on the bench give me some nice, slow curls."  He handed him a weight.

Dan complied, and bending at the waist, had begun the curls with first one arm and then the other.  He had started to sweat more now.  Kevin made him do curls until Dan's arms felt like spaghetti.  Those arms were pumped, though, and looked impressive.

"Good boy," Kevin had said.  "Now lie down on the bench and give me some crunches.  Your abs are starting to look good, man."

Dan groaned, but he knew Kevin was right about the improvement to his abs.  His sixpack, even in its early stages of development, was readily apparent.  Lying down, Dan started his crunches.  Sl-o-o-ow crunches that really put him to the test.  By now the sweat was pouring off him.

Kevin then had him do some leg thrusts on one of the machines, at a slow pace as usual, followed by some cable flyes.

Dan had sat there on the last machine when he was finished.  He was tired when he stood up, but he "felt the burn" and was in a good place mentally.

"Dan, I wancha to know, you're doing really great!" Kevin told him, standing behind him and giving the muscles in the boy's neck a quick massage, digging his fingers deep.  "Thanks for stickin' with this.  I'm really proud of you, dude."    He patted him on the ass.  It made Kevin feel good to pass on some of the good mood that Catherine had put him in.

Dan was pleased at the praise, and smiled.

"Thanks," he'd said.  "Are you gonna lift?" he asked.  "I'll spot for you."

"Excellent," Kevin said.  "But first get a sweatshirt out of Cam's and my bedroom and put it on so you don't cool off too fast.  There's one on the bed, I think."

Dan did that, and then Kevin ran through his own lifting routine under Dan's watchful eye.  When he finished up that exercise, Kevin gave the boy a dap, and they parted company while Kevin continued to work out a little more on the machines.  When he was done with the machines, William had still been there, sitting and watching Kevin.

"I hafta say, you know your shit in the gym, Kevin," William said, leaning back against the machine where he was sitting.  "Thanks for all the help you've given all of us, dude."

"No problem.  You're all doin' great!" Kevin had said, perving on the boy and hoping he wasn't too obvious.  "You're lookin' good," he added.

There was a pause.

"Uh, y'know, you and Cam got me a date with Melanie a few weeks ago," William said.  "She's outta town right now for a month or so.  Do you think you could recommend another girl for a date and give her a call for me and mention my name?"

"Fer sure, man," Kevin said, grinning.  "Ya want ugly or cute?  Nice, or slutty?"

"Uh, cute an' slutty would be cool," William said, not so sophisticated that his face didn't color up a little.

"No prob," Kevin had said.  "Of course, if the girl's easy, Father Jim will have to go with you on your date.  You're way too young to get laid."

William had laughed.  "Don't be a dick," he said, unconsciously touching his crotch.

"I can find you the right girl," Kevin assured William, and grinned.  "Someone who can discuss the Bible with ya."

"Uh huh."

Kevin lost the smile and looked at the floor.

"What?" William demanded.

"I know you're going to think I'm the biggest asshole hypocrite in the world, but..." Kevin said seriously.

"Why would I?"

"Because I don't want you to make the same mistake I did.  I don't mean not using protection and getting somebody pregnant.  I mean fucking somebody that I knew deep down I didn't care about.  To be honest, it bothered me back then, and now it bothers me even more that I did what I did.  I solved a physical problem and created a mental one.  I just hope you'll go slow."

"Easy for you to take the high road at this point," William said.  "You're gettin' laid every night.  And I don't mean there's anything wrong with that.  But I'm not gettin' any, and I'm fucking horny.  I'm ready."

"I understand that.  I have no right to say anything to ya.  But you know that Cam and I aren't just playin' around and getting our rocks off.  We love each other.  We'd be married if we could be."

The two boys stared at each other.

"I thought you'd be the last one I'd hear this shit from," William sighed.

"I know," Kevin said.  "Look, I'll find somebody for ya to date, man.  What you do or don't do is totally up to you.  Don't be pissed.  I just hope you'll give a little consideration to what I said.  When do you wanna go out?"

"Well, maybe next week."

"OK," Kevin said, giving William a slip and slide handshake and shoulder bump as the boy went by him to go to his room.

William smiled.  "Thanks, man.  I'll think about what you said."

*  *  *

After showering, Kevin went to bed early, but didn't sleep much during the first part of the night.  He'd wake up and put his hand on Cam's side of the bed, secretly disappointed each time he did so that his partner wasn't there.  Then he'd listened for any sounds from the crib that might mean that Casey was hungry, but the baby was sleeping soundly.  So Kevin didn't have any excuse to give up on the sleep that was eluding him and get out of bed.  Despite being comforted by Catherine's reassurances earlier that evening, thoughts of what Cam and Teri might be doing in their room together at the hotel kept intruding on his consciousness as he tried to drift off.

Kevin had meant what he'd told Cam.  He'd told Cam to do what he needed to do and what he wanted to do when it comes to sex with Teri.  But he also knew, especially after talking with William, that for a lot of reasons he didn't really want that to happen.  The advice had been given, though, and there was no taking it back..

Kevin was somewhat of a fatalist about what would happen on Cam's and Teri's date.  He'd always recognized the look in Teri's eye when she'd gazed at Cam.  He knew it well because he'd seen the same look in Heather's eye when he and she had been hot and heavy for each other, and had been having sex regularly.  So he knew well that when it came to Teri, her will and her desire to have sex with Cam were there, and they were strong, and she would try to find a way to make love to the boy she was so hung up on--all night, if possible.  And if she had her way, it wouldn't end tonight, either.  He understood it would be tough for Cam to resist her, knowing as he did his partner's strong, amazingly strong, sex drive and prowess.  Kevin was well aware that when Cam was in the throes of physical passion, the kid could last forever...

If having the care of Casey since he'd been born was changing Kevin, and it had, his long-term relationship with Cam had certainly had its effect on him as well.  Kevin could be a tough kid sometimes, always had been, but these days loving Cam and their baby had turned him into a marshmallow inside a lot of the time.  That was true even when he tried to give Cam attitude about one thing or another.  He just couldn't give his partner 'tude for long without wanting to take Cam into his arms and squeezing him until it hurt.  Lord, Kevin thought to himself, I'm such a pussy these days.  And all things considered, he wasn't minding it all that much  It came with the territory.  He reflected on how his and Cam's partnership had deepened and matured to include the care of Casey, and how much more demanding the care of the little boy would have been without Cam's help and support.

Casey stirred, and whimpered.  Good, Kevin thought to himself, snapping on the bedside lamp.  Now I have an excuse to get up and think about something else.  He rolled out of bed, went to the refrigerator and took out some formula, putting it in the pan of water and hitting the switch on the hot plate.  Then he went over to the crib, and there were two bright eyes looking up at him.  Casey was a little too young to smile and mean it, but it looked as if he were trying.  Kevin grinned, reaching down and picking the the baby up.

"You're one spoiled little dude," Kevin crooned softly to the child.  "And that's just the way you're supposed to be right now."

The water in the pan began to steam as Kevin sat down on the edge of the bed, holding Casey in his arms, talking to him softly and waiting for the formula to finish warming.

*  *  *

Teri awakened Cam in their hotel room at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning after the prom.  Cam still had his arms around her in bed, holding her.  She liked that, and she felt safe and warm, but she also still felt queasy and had to use the bathroom again.

Cam let go of her, groaning a little at the earliness of the hour as he rolled over on his back and Teri walked away.  He lay there, half hard in his khaki shorts, partly from having a full bladder, thinking about Kevin and their baby.  It had only been a few hours since he'd seen them, but he was missing them.  Cam smiled to himself.  He was whipped, he had to admit it.  Pretense notwithstanding, it was incredible how much Kevin and Casey had him right under their thumbs.  They were on his mind all the time.

Teri came back and crawled into bed as Cam got up and used the bathroom himself.  He came back and crawled into bed beside her.

"I should probably go home," she said.  "I still don't feel good."

"All right," Cam said.  "I'm sorry you're sick."

"Thanks.  I still had a pretty good time at the dance.  Thank you for taking me."

"Yeah.  I had a good time, too."  He looked at her.  "You know I'll always care about you, Teri, even if it didn't work out for us."

Teri nodded, smiling sadly, and they got out of bed and began to gather their belongings to head out.  Cam telephoned the front desk and had them call a cab.  It was waiting for them at the front door of the hotel after they checked out, and they were on their way.

Cam walked her to her front door when they arrived at the McKees' house, and gave her a final kiss good-bye.   Her cheeks were wet with tears, turning the knife in Cam's gut about hurting her even though he knew it was inevitable and that he was doing the right thing.  The door closed behind her, and he headed back to the taxi.  Ten minutes later he was home.  The gate was closed, so Cam used his front door key to enter the darkened house.  Making his way through the dark kitchen, he sat down on the bottom step of the back stairs and removed his shoes before he crept up upstairs, carrying his bag and shoes, kilt and dress shirt.  A faint light was coming from of his and Kevin's room through the open door.

Cam stopped in the doorway.  Kevin was sitting in the rocking chair in his boxers and a T-shirt, feeding Casey.  Cam didn't say anything at first, standing in the doorway unnoticed, watching his handsome partner feed their baby.  In the silence of the early morning, Kevin's love for the child was palpable.

Kevin finally noticed Cam standing there in the doorway.  Nothing was said between them as their eyes focused on one another.  But Kevin's eyebrows rose in the unspoken question of Cam:  had he done the deed, or not?

Cam smiled, and shook his head 'no.'  Kevin grinned in relief, and his lips formed a silent but fervent "THANK YOU, LORD!"  Cam went over to their bed to put down his stuff, and then walked over to the rocking chair, getting down on his knees and studying the baby and the young man holding him.  Cam reached over and touched Kevin's face.

"I've missed you and Casey all night," Cam whispered.

Kevin nodded and turned his face toward Cam, and the boys kissed, their lips touching gently.

"I'm gonna make this whole deal up to you," Cam said, brushing back Kevin's crew cut from his forehead. 

Kevin looked at him with a serious expression.

"You were gone what? eleven or twelve hours?" he said.  "You weren't here, and I was thinking about how hard it would be to raise a baby alone.  Without a partner.  It would be lonely, y'know, whether you're gay or straight.  I love Casey so much, but I don't know whether I could do it without you. 
They told us in baby class that this point in their development is really crucial, and Mom mentioned that again tonight.  You know what I'm talking about--the way he's cared for now is important for a child being able to bond with people later in life.  I believe that.  Casey's such a good baby--no colic or anything like that.  He hardly ever fusses.  Even so, I think he would wear me out without you.  Part of my energy for taking care of him comes from you, man.  Thanks for that."

Cam studied them both, and his face softened.  "Buddy, I'm always going to be here for both of you.  Let me hold him before you put him down."

"OK.  You can burp him when he's finished with the bottle."

"All right.  Give me a minute."  Cam went into their bathroom and cleaned his teeth.  He stripped down to his boxers and walked back into the bedroom.  Kevin stood up and handed him the baby, who was already starting to drift off after emptying the bottle of formula.  Kevin put a hand towel over Cam's shoulder, and Cam sat down in the now vacant rocker, holding Casey upright over his shoulder.  He smelled that clean baby smell and kissed the child on his arm before beginning to pat him gently on his back.  A series of little burps emanated from the child, and Casey began to fall asleep almost immediately.  Kevin went into the bathroom to use the toilet, and then came back, closing the bedroom door to the hallway as he walked by it, shutting out the world.

Cam continued to rock the child, softly tracing the contours of the little boy's face with his index finger until Kevin reached down for the baby, took him and put him in his crib.

"Now I want to hold you," Kevin said to Cam, taking Cam's bag and clothes off the bed and going to the closet.  He put his bag and the shoes on the floor, and hung up the dress shirt and the kilt before meeting Cam at the bed, where Cam reached over and unplugged the telephone.  The boys shucked off their underwear, straightened out the rumpled bedclothes, and slid into bed facing each other.  Kevin put his arms around his partner and pulled him close, crushing him against his chest for a moment and then relaxing, kissing the side of Cam's neck.

Up close and personal, they looked into one another's eyes.

"So, tell me everything!" Kevin whispered.

"Yeah.  Well, dinner was off the hook," Cam began with a grin, taking him at his word.  "I had free range chicken.  It was great.  Teri had salmon, thinking she was over a childhood allergy to it.  But she got sick from it.  I ate some of it.  It was good, and I didn't get sick, so it wasn't the restaurant's fault.  We saw Rafe Murrillo and Cassie Angstrom eating there, too.  Teri and I went on to the dance, and she was kind of out of it.  We shared a table there with Rafe and Cassie after they got there.  Rafe is outrageous!"

"Yeah," Kevin said.  "Actually, I like her better than I do Rafe."

"The prom committee had done a great job on decorations, and the band was excellent.  They did a lot of Black Crowes songs, so everybody was up dancing, if you can call it that.  Teri needed some down time because of her stomach, so I danced with quite a few girls."

Kevin gave him a poke in the ribs.  "What, no guys."

"You're the only guy I'd dance with!" Cam insisted, laughing.

"All right," Kevin said, smiling.

"There were a few tense moments when I had to rescue the smart little nerd who was in our physics class, Ralph Elliot--I think that's his name--from the football team.  Those guys are such pricks!  They had him surrounded and were just hassling him for no good reason.  So we had words, but it didn't get physical.  They called me a fairy,
and I thought at first they knew we were partners, but no, they were just being assholes.  Like usual.  They also made some comments about my kilt, and insulted the masculinity of anyone who plays soccer.  Can you believe that?"  Cam laughed.  "It's a good thing Rafe didn't hear 'em!  Or you, if you'd been there!"

"Sounds exciting.  So you did your good deed, huh?"

"Yep.  You'd have done the same thing."

"Yeah, probably," Kevin said.  "What happened after the dance?"

"Teri and I went to the hotel, and I got us checked in fast because Teri was about to hurl.  Awesome room, by the way.  A suite, really.  We changed clothes, I got her some antacids, and we got into bed--dressed, of course.  Teri told me she had planned to make love to me, and I let her know that I was tight with someone else.  I didn't tell her it was you.  She cried, and I tried to give her a little comfort without gettin' it on. We fell asleep, and slept until we woke up about an hour ago.  We got a cab, and I took her home.  That's was about it, dude."

Kevin smiled and rubbed noses with him.

"What did you do after I left?" Cam asked.

"Not much.  Fed the baby.  Then it was Dan Emrick's night to work out, so I put him through his paces."  Kevin smiled.  "Y'know, the longer I know that kid, the more I like him.  He's not a natural jock like Carl, but he hangs tough with the workouts and running every day, and he's really buff now.   He's lookin' good.  I think he's improved his appearance more than anyone else."

"More than me?" Cam asked with a grin.

"When you're perfect to start with, there's no room for improvement."

"Uh huh," Cam said, smiling.  "You got a line of shit a mile long."

"That's me."  Kevin paused.  "William came in and worked out for awhile, too.  He wants to go out on another date, and Melanie is out of town.  I told him we'd work on finding a girl for him.  He wants to get laid.  Now he thinks I'm an ass because I advised him to take it slow so nobody gets hurt."

"You and I know you gave him some good advice, but it's not always easy to hear it when your dick's hard.  The kid is shit hot, and he won't have any trouble talking some sweet young thing into puttin' out, I know that.  But I hope he doesn't, or if he does, that he's careful, at least."

"Yeah.  Well, enough of that," Kevin said, shifting gears.  "Listen, now that school's out, I want to have a party for the guys when Mark gets back home," he said.  "It's been a tough spring for these guys, a lotta pressure, and they've worked hard on everything--their studies, in the gym, running, you name it.  Whaddaya think?"

"Brilliant!  Like all your ideas.  Let's do it.  Maybe at the cabin?"

"Yeah!" Kevin said.

He fell silent for a minute, then looked at Cam with a serious look on his face.

"This bed felt empty tonight."

Cam kissed him softly.  "Thank you for trusting me to go on this date.  I wanted to be here with you and Casey, I hope you know that," he whispered.  "I'm glad I kept my word to Teri, though.  Now the deal with the prom is one less thing we have to worry about."  He paused.  "I'm here now, right where I belong."  He smiled, lowered his head and began to lick and nibble on Kevin's right nipple, standing out there on his pec just begging for attention.  The little nub firmed up right away.

"Yeah!" Kevin said, reaching down and taking Cam's half-hard dick in his hand.  He stroked it slowly half a dozen times, and then ran his thumb over the head of it, feeling a drop of moist pre-cum. Cam exhaled in a rush.

"I've been waiting all night for this bad boy to get back here," Kevin added, caressing his partner's dick and cupping his balls.  He ducked down and put the head of Cam's cock in his mouth, running his tongue over the head of it, tasting the sweetness.

The next half hour of preparation for the main event was sweaty, juicy and thoroughly energizing.  When they were both so horny they couldn't stand it, Cam lubed up his partner, put him on his back, and opened him up with an increasing number of fingers.  He finally entered him with Kevin's legs on his shoulders at first.  He could feel Kevin's ass tightening around his tool, and it felt so good.  Then, letting Kevin's legs slip down into the crook of his arms, he lay down on his boy's glowing body, unmoving at first, making certain there would be no discomfort when he started pumping.  Cam took it slow, escalating his thrusts only gradually so that their coupling would last longer.  Joined in passion, pleasuring each other, this physical reflection of their ever deepening mental and emotional relationship made life seem complete and perfect to them at that moment.  After long minutes, when the time of release arrived for them both, they didn't think they'd ever stop spewing.  Their bond of love and respect at every level of their being had been sealed yet again.

Cam finally moved out of Kevin's body, and they clung together in the warm, affectionate afterglow.  Cam knew he never wanted a third party like Teri or anyone else to be in a position to ask for, or to expect, a share of this, their most personal expression of love with one another.

Cam scooped up a dollop of Kevin's abundant spunk off the boy's abs on his finger, and put it to his lips.  It tasted good to him, strong, like Kevin himself.  The two of them lay there together in each other's arms for a long time, enjoying their feelings as they came down from their high.

Cam eventually went to the bathroom to get a warm, damp washcloth, and after they cleaned up, they fell asleep entwined and grateful to have each other.

"I love you, man," was the last thing Kevin heard as they drifted off.

*  *  *

Early the next morning Cam and Kevin had been up once to feed Casey, but had gone back to bed.  William Carson, naked except for a pair of gym shorts, knocked on their bedroom door about 10 a.m. and stepped inside.  The boy couldn't help grinning to himself.  He tried in vain to ignore the bed's physical dishevelment and the olfactory evidence that there had been a lot of sex going on in this room, and not all that many hours ago.  Well, more power to them, he thought to himself.  William was straight, but he started to get hard.

"Dudes," William said, "I think your dad is on the phone for you."

"Daddy, wherefore art thou?" Cam said to himself, groaning as he tried to wake up.  "Thanks, William.  We'll take it in here."

William left and shut the door as Kevin started to stir. Cam reached over to the bedside table, plugged in the phone, and picked up the receiver.

"Hey, Dad," Cam said.  "I was thinking about calling you today."

"Hi, son," Alex MacKenzie said.  "Late morning?"

"Yeah, it was prom night last night.  Just catching a few extra winks."

"You have a good time?"


"Who answered the phone?"

"William Carson.  He's a friend of ours from San Francisco.  It's a long story."

"Okay.  Listen, John and I want to come up and see you and Kevin, and the baby.  We have to go to England soon to scout locations for our next movie, and we all need to talk some more about your living down here next fall in Malibu."

"Kevin and I want to see you guys.  We miss you," Cam said, sitting up in bed in excitement. 

"We miss you boys, too."

"Do you think we could spend some time together at the cabin?" Cam asked.  "I was going to call you and ask if Kevin and I could go down there and take some guys with us.  They're staying with us, and we all need a break.  It's been a tough spring."

"Well, I don't see why not," Alex said.  "How many?"

"Uh, five, plus Kevin and me."

"I think we can handle that," Alex said.  "As long as they know that some of them will be sleeping on the floor," Alex said.
  "We have plenty of air mattresses, though.  The more, the merrier, you know that."

"Cool, Dad," Cam said.  "Actually, the parents of the other guys have a cabin in the Big Sur, too."

"Really?  What's their name?"

"Ian and Mary Carson."

"Ian Carson, the lawyer in San Francisco?"

"The very same.  He's a great person, and so is Mary," Cam said.

"Didn't I read that one of their sons was injured recently?  Shot?"

"Yeah.  Mark.  He was living here with us, too, until he was hurt.  He's still in the hospital, but he's gonna be all right."

"Obviously I have a lot to catch up on.  Anyway, I'd like to meet Ian and his wife and your friends."

Cam laughed.  "They'd like to meet you, too.  You're famous."

"Cameron, you're going to give me a big head.  How about next weekend for our get-together?" Alex asked, sounding happy.

"Sounds good to me," Cam said.  "Can we stay a little longer after you leave?"

"Yes."  Alex paused.  "Is your mother all right?"

"Yes.  She's doing well.  She'll be done teaching this week."


"Is Kevin there?"

"Right beside me."

"Let me talk to him, please," Alex said.

Cam handed the phone to Kevin.

"Hi, Dad," Kevin said.  "I miss you."

"Same here, bud.  How are you and the baby doing?"

"Great, actually.  Casey is growing like a weed and gaining weight, and wants to meet his grandfathers!  I don't know whether John wants to be a grandfather yet or not, but that's the way we're gonna play it."

"He'll be honored," Alex said.  "Uh, have you heard from your dad yet?"

"Not a word since I sent him an email that Casey had been born."

"Sorry, Kev."

"I'm not gonna let it bother me," Kevin said.  "Things are going too well to let it bother me.  He'll either get with the program, or he won't.  As long as I have you and John and Catherine and Cam and the baby in my life, I'm in good shape."

"All right, son.  I told Cam that John and I want to come up and see you boys, and maybe go to the cabin for a few days.  I'll call back and let you know when our flight will get into San Francisco, and maybe you guys can pick John and me up at the airport, and we can drive down to the cabin together."

"Excellent, Dad!  I'm gonna look forward to that.  Do you want to talk to Cam again?"

"No," Alex said.  "I love you, son.  Tell Cam I love him, and I'll talk with you both soon."

"Cool.  Bye, Dad."

Kevin leaned across Cam to put the phone back in its cradle, moving back slowly to his side of the bed, rubbing noses with Cam as he did so.

"Your dad said to tell you he loves you," Kevin said.

"Thanks.  Y'know, I'm really gonna look forward to partying with the guys up at the cabin..."

Kevin reached under the sheet and cracked Cam a good one on the thigh with his hand.

"Ow!" Cam protested.  "Dickwad!  What was that for?"

"I delivered an important message to you from Dad that he loves you, and I wanted to make sure you weren't concentrating more on partying than on what Dad told me," Kevin said.  He paused.  "Seeing Alex and John and having a change of scene with the guys is gonna be great!"

"Wunderbar, my little Kraut!" Cam said, looking at Kevin sternly.  "But striking your partner on the ass when he's vulnerable is a no-no.  Especially in front of the baby.  You need to apologize to me and to Casey, in that order, and right now!"

"The baby's asleep.  So I don't need to apologize to him."

"The baby's subconscious records everything," Cam said.

Kevin grinned broadly.  "In that case, based on last night, Casey's going to be a really great lover when it's his time.  'Cause last night was awesome!"

Cam couldn't help smiling.  "Yeah, you're right about that.  You outdid yourself!  From now on, you're gonna bottom for me every time we do it, 'cause you're perfect at it."

"No. Way."

"Way.  I'm just trying to help you develop your best skills to even higher levels."

"Your best skill is talkin' trash," Kevin responded.  "Based on past experience, you were born to bottom for me!  And you know the truth when you hear it."

"Humph," Cam snorted.  "Having good sex makes you truculent."

Kevin broke into laughter and pulled Cam close to him.  "Makes me what???  You're so fucking cute I can't stand it."

That made Cam laugh, and they lay there in bed laughing and hugging and kissing and feeling each other up until they started to get hard.

"You're just trying to have your way with me again," Kevin finally said.  "Let's shower and get some breakfast.  It's late, and you wore me out so much last night that I need sustenance."

"You'ew dishing up some big words yourself this morning, huh?"

"Sex stimulates the brain."

Cam went to jump out of bed, but Kevin caught hold of his ankle, and Cam partially fell to the floor on the edge of the bed.  Kevin stepped over him and ran to the bathroom, reaching the toilet first and beginning to relieve himself.  Cam came in and joined him, positioning himself over the toilet, too, and running a finger up the crack of Kevin's ass and keeping his hand there.  Kevin jumped, and his stream moved wildly around in the toilet bowl.

"If you make me pee on the floor, you have to clean it up," Kevin informed Cam.  "What's gotten into you?"

"You, many times.  But I'm excited about seeing Dad and John.  And having a little vacation with you and Casey and the guys."

"Me, too."

They stepped into the shower, and had some more playtime with an unplanned for but predictable finale for each.  Then they washed each other and went down to a very late breakfast.  Brunch.  Very Marin County.

*  *  *

The household worked out their plans over the next week based on Cam's and Kevin's conversations with Alex.  With a few additional wrinkles, that is. Cam and Kevin took Ian's Navigator to San Francisco on the way to the airport, but first they picked up Mark at the hospital.

It wasn't hot in San Francisco, but Cam cracked all the windows of the Navigator an inch or two when they parked at the hospital because Alice and Samantha were in the back.  Cam and Kevin went upstairs to get Mark.

Mark was sitting in a chair in his room,
looking bored and watching TV when the the boys arrived.  He was wearing a leather device similar to a bicycle helmet to protect the side of his head from injury until it was fully healed.  He jumped to his feet when they came in the door.

"Dudes!" he said, smiling.  "You don't know how happy I am to see you!"  He gave Cam and Kevin hugs, and kissed each of them on the cheek, somewhat of a departure for Mark from his usual teenage, straight boy reserve.

"Stylish headgear," Kevin commented. 

"Thanks," Mark said.  "They're all the rage for the walking wounded, man."

"Hey, buddy, things have been dull at the house while you've been gone," Cam said.  "We've been missing your wise ass remarks."

"I've been saving up," Mark said, laughing.

"Don't forget that you have a lot of work to make up for in the weight room," Kevin said helpfully.  "The other guys are looking awfully buff."

"Those wienies," Mark protested.  "Looking good?  That'll be the day.  Speaking of lookin' good, where's Casey?" Mark asked.

"Catherine's bringing him," Cam said.  "Mom's staying with your mom and dad at their cabin this week.  She just finished teaching her last classes 'til fall."

"Cool," Mark said.

Cam studied Mark.  He could feel his own heart beating in his chest because he was so glad that this boy was all right.  From all appearances, he would soon be back to his old self.  In truth, Mark was one of Cam's favorite people in this world.  Over the time they had all lived together, Cam had found him to be smart, good humored, even tempered, unselfish, affectionate, sexy and handsome, and a jock--all qualities that he admired.

"Let's grab your shit, and bounce," Kevin said.  "We're on the way to pick up our dad and his partner at the airport."

"That's what Ian just told me on the phone," Mark said.

Cam and Kevin each took one of Mark's bags, and they left.  Mark said good-bye to the doctors, nurses and nurse's aides one after another as the boys walked down the hall, and they all said good-bye to Mark by name, men and women alike, wishing him luck.  The kid's a charmer, Kevin concluded yet again.

They went down to the parking lot, found the Navigator, and added Mark's bags to those already there.  Border collies Alice and Samantha, relegated to the baggage area of the truck, gave Mark an enthusiastic greeting, licking his face as he petted them.  Cam leashed the dogs and took them over to a grassy divider in the parking lot so they could pee.  Then the animals and the three boys got in the truck and headed for the airport.

"I thought you'd be in the Camaro," Mark said, sitting belted in behind Cam in the Navigator's second row of seats.

"Not enough room," Cam said.  "It's against my better judgment, but Carl is driving the Camaro to the Big Sur.  He'll bring William, Dan and Berto with him.   Mom will bring Casey and pick up Ian and Mary and Yolanda at your condo here in town in her car, and bring them."

"This sure is a great way to start the summer!" Mark said enthusiastically.  "Considering everything that's happened lately, things can only get better."

"Yeah," Kevin said.  "True dat."  He reached down and turned on Ian's stereo, one of Bose's better efforts.  Counting Crows was soon blasting out of the multitude of speakers, and the guys were soon smiling as their heads bobbed in time to the music.  Kevin cranked up the volume.  There was no subwoofer because Ian didn't approve of them in cars, but the bass clef was still definitely in charge.  Foo Fighters was up next.

They pulled into the airport parking lot about 30 minutes later.  Cam checked his watch, and they had about 15 minutes to make it to the right gate.  They caught a shuttle, and soon were there.  The plane from LAX was on time, and passengers began flooding out of the ramp door and into the terminal, where armed, expressionless national guardsmen were watching the crowds.  Coming out of first class, Alex and John were almost the first to appear off the plane.  They put down their carryons and embraced Cam and Kevin, hugging them and kissing them.  If anything, the two men looked younger than the last time they'd seen them, Kevin mused.  They must be happy.

"Where's the baby?" John asked right away.

"Catherine has him," Cam said.  "We'll get him later."

Kevin introduced Mark to the new arrivals.  "Dad, John, this is Mark Carson.  Mark, Alex MacKenzie and John Kelley."

Smiling, the men shook hands with the boy.

"Mark, I read about what happened to you in the L.A. papers," Alex said.  "I'm sorry.  Thank God you're all right!"

"Thank you, Mr. MacKenzie.  It was a close one."

"Call me Alex, and this is John.  Everybody else calls us by our first names, including these two ne'er-do-wells when they think we don't hear them."  Alex gestured at Cam and Kevin.

Mark laughed.

"Dad!!" Kevin said.  "I'm shocked!  At how right you are."  They all laughed.

Cam checked out John as they all walked together toward the baggage claim.  The man's as much of a stud as ever, he thought to himself, watching the tall, muscular blond guy as he strode along confidently.

"Are you old goats getting proper exercise?" Cam asked, grinning.

"Well, yeah," John said.  "We miss having you guys around--so we can make you look bad."

Kevin groaned.  "I'm glad we have a weekend at least to re-teach you some humility," he said.

John chuckled and put his arm around Kevin's neck and squeezed.  "Lord, I've missed your line of crap."

Kevin laughed and put his arm around the man's waist.  "It's good to see you, John."

They reached the baggage claim just as the bags began appearing in the terminal on a conveyor, making serpentine loops around and through the gathering crowd.  The two men pulled their bags off the conveyer belt.  Cam and Kevin grabbed them, and put them on carts to go out to the shuttle which would take them to the parking garage.  In a matter of minutes, they were at the Navigator.  Cam pushed a button on the key fob, and the back hatch opened slowly on its own.  Ian and John added their bags to the pile in the back and met the dogs.  Cam fired up the truck and, once out of the airport, headed south toward Monterey County.  The stereo was now playing softly in the background.

Alex admired the inside of the truck as they drove along.

"Nice ride," he said.

"Yeah," Mark said.  "It's Ian's.  It's almost big enough to cart all of us around."

"I'm a little out of the loop, here," Alex said.  "You're all living in San Rafael?" he asked.  "How many of you are there?"

Mark counted them off on his fingers.  "Catherine, Ian, Mary, Yolanda, Cam, Kevin, Casey, William, Carl, Dan, Berto and me.  Twelve.  And Rosa is usually there at the house all day, too.  Thirteen."

"Hey, he counted without using his toes," Cam noted.

Mark reached forward from where he was sitting behind Cam and, without comment, slapped the back of his head.

"Hey, hey!" Cam cautioned.  "Watch it, dude!  Don't make me hurtcha!"

The freeways ended not long after they got into Monterey County, and Alex started looked for some place to eat.

"You guys hungry?" he asked.  "Food on domestic flights is a little skimpy these days."

"We're always hungry," Mark spoke up.  "I've been eating hospital food.  Too healthy.  Let's get some real crap to eat."

They all laughed, and Cam pulled into a chain drive-in.  They went inside to eat, and Mark outdid himself with all the hot fried food he ingested.  Fries, onion rings, two giant hamburgers, two big cokes.  One minute everything was there on the table, and then it was pretty much gone.

"Hm, hm," Mark said, burping modestly (for him).  "If my mom were here, she'd be telling me I just took two years off my life.  Ain't America great!  I can feel my ass getting fatter as we speak.  Uh, John, are you gonna finish those fries?"

John laughed and shoved his sack of potatoes across the table to Mark.  "Knock yourself out," he said.  Cam and Kevin got their fingers on a few fries themselves before Mark inhaled the rest of them.  Alex took the check, paid up, and they were off again.

When they arrived at the cabin and alighted from the Navigator, there was a cool breeze off the ocean.  It wasn't quite T-shirt weather yet unless you were exercising.  Mr. Anderson, the caretaker for a bunch of cabins in their neighborhood, had obviously been at work--a thin column of wood smoke from the chimney reached for the sky before the wind caught and scattered it.  A fire had no doubt taken the chill off the cabin.

Alice and Samantha were happy to be released from their prison, and ran for the undergrowth to do their business while their humans unloaded baggage and trekked up the back stairs to the deck.  Everybody no sooner went inside than they heard a car horn, and there were Carl, Dan, William and Berto in the Camaro.  They came trooping up the steps and into the cabin, dumping their bags on the floor by the door.  Kevin introduced them to Alex and John, and then the guys gave Mark a lot of attention.  The kid ate it up.

"You better have treated my Camaro right driving up here!" Cam told Carl when things settled down.  "She has ways of telling me if you didn't."

"Negative thoughts, negative thoughts!" Carl warned.  "You know how moderate I am behind the wheel."

"Just which split second in your driving career was that?" Kevin asked.  "I must have missed it."

"Yeah," Cam added.  "Berto, Dan and William were white as sheets when you pulled in here."

The crowd laughed as Carl blushed, caught by buddies who knew him and his driving habits all too well.

Alex MacKenzie looked around.  "Any of you guys up for a run?  I need some exercise."

"Good plan!" Kevin said happily, looking at the boys.  "How 'bout it, you pussies?"

"You what!!?"  William put an arm around Kevin's neck and squeezed hard.

"You magnificent examples of young manhood," Kevin said in retraction while he still had breath.

"That's more like it," William said, releasing his captive and whacking him on the ass, and reaching down to pick up his bag.  "Where can we change?"

"Pick a bedroom," Alex said, and the group scattered to change into jocks, T's and running shorts.

"Y'think I can run with ya?" Mark asked.

"I don't think so, buddy," William said.  "But call Ian on his cell and ask him.  He might want you to work up to running gradually."

Mark called, and the answer to whether Mark could run or not was an unequivocal "NO!"  But Ian told Mark that he could go down to the beach with the boys for a fast walk instead of an all-out run.  Mark went down to the driveway with the other boys once they were suited up, and watched them do their stretches.  Then, to accommodate Mark, they all walked with him on the road toward the ocean and together traversed the long, l-o-n-g stairway from the cliff down to the beach.

The clump of runners took off down the beach at a fast pace.  Kevin looked back as Mark, alone, trudged briskly after them through the sand, and he pealed off from the other runners and went back to the boy.

"I'll walk with ya, dude," Kevin said.

"You don't have to," Mark said.

"That's all right."

They walked in silence for a minute.

"I've missed ya, man," Kevin said.  "We all have.  It wasn't the same around the house without ya.  Thank God you're all right."

"Thanks.  That means a lot.  I've missed you guys, too.  Have things been goin' all right for you?"

"Yeah.  Casey has been such a good baby, and everybody has really helped take care of him, which I appreciate.  But I miss him right now, even though I know he's just fine with Catherine.  I know I can't be with him all the time, but still..."

"We all love that kid, you know that," Mark said.

"I know."  They continued walking at a good pace.

"Cam had his big date for the prom, and things worked out well," Kevin said.  "He looked really good in his kilt, by the way, all the kidding he got aside."

"I'll bet he did.  I wish I could have seen him."

"I have pics."

The two boys continued walking and talking companionably as the runners ahead of them turned into a blur on the horizon.

Cam and Carl were at the back of the pack of runners.  Cam liked it back there so he could watch the guys' asses.  Carl reached out and slowed Cam down a little bit, putting a gap between themselves and the other boys.

"I need to tell ya something," Carl said, looking straight ahead as he ran.  "Please keep it to yourself for right now, except you can tell Kevin."

"All right," Cam said, looking over at Carl curiously.

"I've spent a lot of time in counseling with Dr. Smith..."


"I'm gay."

Cam stopped running, turning and looking at Carl, who had also stopped.  They faced each other.

"I'm not hetero, bi or confused.  I'm really gay!"  Carl looked into Cam's face.  "Now the question is, what do I do about it, and who do I do it with?"

© 2006 Don Hanratty

Just before posting this chapter, I received two emails from M.G. pointing out a continuity error and another error in Belovèd.  They were deleted by mistake.  If he would resend them, I will appreciate it.