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


Two hours after they had left William Carson at LAX to fly back to San Francisco on Sunday night, Cam and Kevin were sitting in the den watching Hawaii 50 on the big flatscreen TV and trying to read their textbooks at the same time, with only indifferent success.  Cam was at Alex's desk trying to make notes from his cinematography text, and Kevin was using a yellow marker to highlight information in his physics text.  When it came to Hawaii 50, they thought Alex O'Loughlin was hot!  And O'Loughlin in action was a serious diversion.

They heard the garage door open and then close, and shortly thereafter the kitchen door open and shut.  A minute later, Carl Emrick, home from San Rafael, poked his head in the door of the den with a big smile on his face.

"Dude!" Kevin said.  "Getcher ass in here right now!"

Leaving his duffel bag at the bottom of the stairs in the hall, Carl more or less bounced into the den looking very happy.  He sat down beside Kevin on the couch.

"We missed you, ya little shit," Kevin said, putting his arm around Carl's neck and pulling him over for a kiss on the cheek.

"That's right!" Cam confirmed.  "You've got your nerve leaving us all alone here just to go see your boyfriend."

"You weren't all alone!" Carl protested.  "You had Casey, and William was here.  Where is Casey, by the way?"

"He's in bed," Cam said.  "We asked him if he wanted to stay up until you got home, but he said 'No!' and threw up just to make his point."

"Is he sick?" Carl asked.

"No," Cam said.  "I was just fuckin' with ya.  It was his bedtime, that's all."

"Tell us about your trip," Kevin said to Carl.

"It was great!" Carl said.  "Andy picked me up at the airport, and we stayed at his parents' house on Friday night.  We were wondering what the sleeping arrangements were gonna be, but his folks never even offered me the guest room.  All his mother told me was, 'I put fresh sheets on Andrew's bed.'  So that's where I slept, no questions asked. 
We made love, but we were quiet about it."  He grinned.  "After a week apart, he's an animal, though!"

"I'm glad things were cool with the Helders, man!" Kevin said.  "I guess that answered your question about what his parents" attitude is toward you two."

"Yep," Carl said.  "They were really nice to me.  They went with us to the martial arts dealie in San Francisco the next morning, and the three of us were Andy's personal cheering section.  He was awesome, by the way, and took top honors!  I was so proud.  And so were his folks.  We sat with them at church this morning."

"Did you move over to Mom's house for Saturday night?" Cam asked.

"Yes.  And Andy's folks were very understanding about it."

"Where did you sleep when you were home?" Cam asked.  "And did you sleep together?"

"Oh, yeah.  In your bed.  There was splooge all over it when we were done. 
Of course, that wasn't the first time there's been cum in that bed!  Anyway, I left a note for Rosa and Yolanda not to change the sheets so you two would have something to look forward to the next time you go home."

Cam laughed.  "Thanks, dickwad!  I hope we can return the favor sometime."

"Did William have a good time down here?" Carl asked.

"I think so," Kevin said.  "We hit a couple movies, and worked out, and played Wii, and went swimming over at the Millers'.  I think he relaxed a little bit.  He'd been under a lot of stress during football season."

"Man, is he in shape!" Cam added.  "He's really ripped, and he's grown a couple of inches.  He's as tall as I am."

"Good deal," Carl said.  "Did he tell you about his love life?  Berto mentioned that William's been taking a little break from dating after having a confrontation with Ian and Mary."

"Yeah, he mentioned that," Kevin told Carl, but didn't elaborate on William's situation.

"Was Mark P.O'd about William coming down here without him?" Kevin asked.  "William thought he might be."

"Yeah, he was pissed," Carl said.  "I wonder why William didn't bring him?"

"You'd have to ask him," Cam said.

"O.K.," Carl said.  He yawned.  "I think I'll take my bag upstairs and unpack.  It'll be an early night for me."

"Andy wore your ass out, huh?" Cam said, laughing.

"You got that shit right!" Carl admitted with a grin, standing up and stretching.  "But I'm missing him already."

" 'K, Dude," Cam said.  "Glad you're home."

Carl walked over to Cam at the desk and gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek before heading upstairs.

"Thanks," Cam said.  "See ya in the morning."

Kevin looked at Cam after Carl left.  "I'm glad the Helders are cool with Carl and Andy.  And I'm glad Carl had a good time."  He smiled.  "Just like we did this weekend with William."

Cam nodded and smiled bigtime, remembering their bedtime frolics.

*  *  *

Cam walked into the den at home Tuesday afternoon after getting home from school.  He was wearing a T-shirt that said "Carpe Diem" on the front of it.  Kevin looked up from his physics textbook with a smile and gave his partner a quick once-over, starting with Cam's tan, handsome face and scanning down.  He paused extra long at the prominent bulge in the fly of Cam's 501's before moving his gaze down and reaching the young man's big feet, encased in work boots for a change instead of sneakers.

"What!?" Cam demanded before sitting down in one of Alex's Scandinavian leather swivel chairs across the room.

"Your shirt should say 'Seize the Boyfriend,' not 'Seize the Day,'" Kevin said.

"Don't tempt me," Cam said.

"You're cuter than you have any right to be," Kevin told him.  "You're taking my mind off physics.  Your bod should be illegal viewing."

"Uh huh.  Why are you home this afternoon, anyway?"

"I explained to my professor that on the chance my boyfriend might be horny, I should cut class and go home early.  He said, 'You're brilliant, Mr. Stoltz, and your grasp of physics is so complete by now that you should take the day off.  Go home and sow the seed of your knowledge wherever you go.'  I promised I would sow my seed, and the rest is history.  Here I am."

"I see," Cam said.  "Well, for starters, why don't you come over here?"

Kevin turned down the corner of a page in his book, put it down, and went over and straddled Cam's legs, facing him, his hands cupping Cam's face.  They deep kissed each other and looked into each other's eyes.

Cam leaned forward, putting his nose to Kevin's chest, breathing in his scent through his T.  It was all Kevin, smelling of soap and testosterone.  Then one of Cam's hands snaked down between Kevin's spread legs and messaged his crotch.  Two seconds later he felt a growing firmness there.  Without saying anything, Cam suggested a change of venue by pointing up at the ceiling.

"I thought you'd never ask," Kevin said, standing up and pulling Cam to his feet, hugging the boy and kissing him on the lips.

"I'll tell Maria we'll be upstairs, so she doesn't have to worry about Casey when he wakes up," Cam said.

"OK," Kevin said, heading toward the stairs.  Cam turned his head to watch his partner's solid, beautiful ass in his Levi's moving away before he turned and went into the kitchen.

"Maria, Kevin and I will be upstairs for awhile, so you don't have to worry if Casey wakes up," Cam said.

"All right," Marie said, smiling.  She had a pretty good idea what was going down.  "I'm cooking the meat for Tacos for your supper tonight, by the way.  When you're ready to eat, just zap it in the microwave.  I'll leave the lettuce, tomatoes and other fixings in the refrigerator with the meat."

"Thanks, Maria."  Cam went over and kissed her cheek.  "Sounds good to me."  Then he hotfooted it to the stairs and took them two at a time to the second floor.

When Cam went into the bedroom, he went over to the baby monitor and turned it off so any noises he and Kevin made--and he knew there would be some--wouldn't be broadcast to the rooms on the first floor.  Kevin was sitting on the end of the bed taking off his sneakers and sweat socks.

Cam went over to sit down beside him.

"I love afternoon sex," he proclaimed, arm around Kevin and kissing him on the side of his head.

"You love sex, period," Kevin said.

"Right again, Ringo!" Cam said, as he bent down to unlace his boots and take them off.

"Why did you wear boots today?" Kevin asked idly.

"Snakes," Cam said.  "You never know when you're going to meet up with a rattler on campus."

"You're full of it today."

"Full of 'it'?  Yes, I am full of 'it.'  Soon to be less so, I hope."

They stood up and starting stripping each other down.  They were both half hard when they finished, and were gloriously naked.  Cam pulled back the bedspread before they fell into bed, kissing each other with lots of tongue as their hands roamed each other's body, knowing that the dance of love was imminent.

Cam cupped Kevin's swollen package as Kevin squeezed Cam's nips and twisted them a little.  Cam groaned and stroked Kevin's dick until it was granite hard, standing up, and adorned with a pearl of pre-cum at the slit.  That only took three strokes.

"I gotta have me some of that," Cam said, swiveling around on his side while keeping Kevin's cock in his hand and going down on it.  Kevin straightened his partner's legs out, swung around, and fellated his partner in one fell swoop.

They enjoyed each other like that for several minutes, Cam running his middle finger behind Kevin's balls and and rubbing his perineum until moving it on to touch his hole and then lightly penetrate it.  By this time lots of pre-cum was leaking into their mouths.

"Yum!" Kevin said, pulling his head back and running his tongue over his lips.

Cam pulled off Kevin's cock and lifted his head to look down at him.  There was no postponing the main event with more foreplay.  "You do me this time," Cam said.

Kevin smiled and reached into the bedside table for lube as Cam repositioned himself on his back and put his head on a pillow.  Lube in hand, Kevin stood at the end of the bed and pulled Cam's body toward him by his legs and then pushed them back.  Cam grabbed them and held them to his chest.  Before applying lube, Kevin knelt down and parted Cam's ass with his hands, repeatedly licking and pushing his tongue into his hole, penetrating it a half-dozen times.

Cam loved being rimmed and groaned with pleasure.  "Oh, fuck yes!"

"What?" Kevin said, raising his head and grinning.

"I was just thinking about how far we've come since the first time we had sex together.  We're really good at it now, if I do say so myself.  But you already know that."

"Hmmm," Kevin grunted his assent, popping the lube top open and greasing Cam's hole and then coating his own thick, stiff cock.  He tossed the lube on the bedside table, and grasping his dick, put the end of it to Cam's boy-pussy and popped it in after overcoming the initial resistance.

"Oh!" Cam said, frowning as Kevin first penetrated him and slowly buried himself in his lover.  Soon he was in all the way to his pubes, and positioned his chest down on Cam while Cam became comfortable with the welcome intruder inside him.

Motionless, Kevin studied Cam's face.  "Cameron, I love you to death, dude," he said softly.

Cam smiled, looking deep into Kevin's brown eyes.  He put his arms around his partner and pulled him tighter to his body, rubbing noses with him and feeling physically, mentally and emotionally full of the man he loved.

"Back atcha," Cam told his lover, rubbing his hands on Kevin's back and sides, then cupping his buttocks and fingering the crack of his ass, and finally stretching his arm to put his middle finger inside him.

"I like that," Kevin said approvingly about Cam's finger. He kissed Cam's chest and nibbled his nipples before snagging a pillow and putting it under Cam's ass.  That improved the angle so he could hit Cam's prostate with each stroke.  Kevin began to pump slowly, and Cam groaned appreciatively as that rampant cock explored him, his legs now on Kevin's shoulders.  Kevin lay down on top of his partner.

Kevin made sure Cam's hard penis, lying on his stomach and abs and still leaking pre-cum, was massaged with each movement of their bodies together.

"Kev, you fuck like a champ," Cam gasped, his eyes glued to his partner's face as their passion continued to ratchet up.

Kevin's only response was to pick up the pace.  He slowed down five minutes later to make things last, but then escalated again when he felt more in control of himself.  Cam began to raise his ass to meet and accentuate the feel of Kevin's dick each time Kevin thrust into him.

"Loving you, man," Cam whispered to his partner as their pleasure continued.  And continued.  And continued.

Fifteen minutes later, it was Cam who spewed first, wetting Kevin's chest as well as his own with one massive cumshot after another.  That was Kevin's signal to go all out, each stroke now marked by groans and exclamations from both of them.  It wasn't long before he emptied himself into Cam's body.  Cam could feel that it was a huge load, as always, with cum shots repeated until Kevin had no more to give.

The two guys stopped moving, sucking air into their lungs as if they'd been sprinting.  As indeed, in a way, they had been.  Kevin collapsed into the splooge between them after he slowly pulled out of his partner, crawling further up on Cam's body.  He lowered his head for a prolonged kiss, and then rested cheek to cheek with Cam, both of them so relaxed that neither of them moved at all for the next ten minutes.

Finally Cam stirred.

"Oh, fuck!" Cam whispered.  "I think that was the best sex we've ever had," he added.  "I mean it!"

Kevin turned his head, speaking softly into Cam's ear.  "You say that every time.  But you do inspire me, bud," he said.  "You know I'm all about touching you and making love to you whenever I can.  I want you to feel good."  He reached down between their bodies and scooped up some of Cam's semen on two fingers and conveyed it to his own mouth before scooping up more and feeding it to Cam.  Then they shared another long, heartfelt kiss, each tasting the result of their pleasurable coupling in the other's mouth.

Eventually Kevin rolled off Cam slowly and left the bed, staggering a little at first because he was so relaxed from having given his all.  He went into the bathroom and wet down a hand towel with warm water and brought it back to the bed.  He cleaned Cam up first, then himself.

They left the bed for the shower a few minutes later, wanting to wash up before Casey awakened from his afternoon nap.  The two of them held each other tenderly under the streaming water, the love between them confirmed and renewed.  Palpable.

When they came out of the bathroom, Casey was standing up in his crib waiting for them.  After drying each other, they picked Casey up out of his crib, removed a dirty diaper and put him in his bassinet for a bath after filling it with warm water.  The little boy loved water and, as usual, splashed his dads as they bathed him.  The little guy was in his usual good mood as the boys dried him, powdered, diapered and dressed him, and then got dressed themselves.

"Dad," Casey said very clearly, looking at both of them.

"Casey," Kevin said, pointing at the little boy.

"Here we go, dude," Cam told Kevin.  "He's starting to talk more and more, and he's getting around pretty good on those chubby little legs.  Now it's really gonna get interesting!"

"Yep," Kevin agreed.  "I'm sure he'll soon be talking a lot, just like you."

"And every word'll be golden," Cam predicted.

"Without a doubt!"

So they wouldn't forget later, Cam turned the baby monitor back on before they carried the little boy downstairs and took him to Maria.

"He smells clean," Maria said as she put her nose to Casey's head and settled him into his highchair to eat.

"Fresh as fresh can be," Kevin said, bending down to kiss the baby's head.  "Cam and I changed him and gave him his bath.  If you'll feed him, he'll be all set.  You can bring him to us in the den when you're ready to leave for home.  We're gonna study."

"All right," Maria said.  She loved the little guy and enjoyed being around him.  Every day her attachment to the boy had grown stronger over the time she'd been working there at the house.

*  *  *

The next morning started out at 6 a.m. the way it usually did on a school day.  Casey was still asleep when Cam and Kevin got out of bed and visited the bathroom.  Then they went back to bed for ten minutes.  Not for morning sex, which they both loved but was pretty much reserved for their more relaxed weekend schedule, but just to lie down together and cuddle before getting ready for school.  They had started doing that not long after Cam had been molested and was still healing, well before they had fully resumed their very active sex life.  It was just a time they devoted to holding each other and kissing each other and telling each other how much they were in love.  It was a great way to start a day, reaffirming their affection and intimacy before plunging into the day's activities.  It had become their ritual.

Then they would get up, don their running clothes, and roust Carl out of bed if necessary so they could hit the beach for their usual seven mile run.  On the way out, they greeted Maria, and turned Casey over to her so he could be fed.  After their run, they came back, showered, dressed for school, and ate one of Maria's good breakfasts.  Sometimes she fixed them bacon and eggs, sometimes pancakes, and sometimes giving them yogurt and bagels with cream cheese and cereal.

Kevin and Carl usually drove to school separately, leaving Cam to come later in his own car so he could go to the library first and then to his one class.  But Kevin was encouraged that Cam had already announced plans to go back to a full schedule of classes the next semester.

Cam's cell phone rang precisely at noon on Tuesday as he left his cinematography class to meet Kevin and Carl at the student center.  Art Smith was walking at his side.  Cam pulled the phone out of his pocket and saw that it was Alex calling him from London.  He saw a bench in front of them, and he and Art sat down.

"Dad!" Cam said happily.  "You're up early.  I was going to call you tonight.  How are you and John doing?"

"We're fine, son.  I just wanted to let you know that our movie will be finished as of today.  We're tired, but happy.  We think the studio and the public are really going to like this one.  We'll finish editing when we get home.  Anyway, first we're going to Paris for a little holiday to unwind before we catch a plane for the States."

"Good deal!" Cam said enthusiastically.  "You two deserve a little time off.  Are you waterlogged from the English weather?"

Alex chuckled.  "London's been pretty damp," he admitted.  "I'll be glad to see a little steady sunshine for a change and run on the beach when we get home."

"Have you guys been getting any exercise at all?"

"Yes.  I don't want John to get flabby."

"Hey!" John protested in the background.

Cam laughed.  "That's good," he said.

"How are Kevin and Casey and Carl?" Alex asked.

"They're all good, Dad."

"And you?"

"I'm great," Cam said.  "I finished up with the doctor a few weeks ago, and she and I really worked well together.  I'm feeling fine.  Mom made a good choice when she picked Dr. Owens to work with me."

"That's good to hear.  How is your mom?"

"She's doing well.  I don't know whether you know this or not, but she's moving to Stanford next year to teach.  As a full professor."

"That's great news!  I'm happy for her!" Alex said.  "It was only a matter of time before she made her mark."  Alex laughed.  "Of course, I mean 'made her mark' in addition to giving birth to you."

Cam chuckled.  "Now, now, let's not go overboard!" he said.

"What's she going to do with the house when she starts at Stanford?"

"Ian and Mary and the boys are going to continue living there, and Mom's going to live in their condo in town."

"Sounds like a plan.  I was hoping she wouldn't be put the house up for sale.  I know it will probably have to be sold someday, but I'm glad it's not right now.  It's a great place.  Lots of good memories there."

"I'm glad she's keeping it, too," Cam said.

"Anyway, John and I are looking forward to seeing you all," Alex said.  "I'll give Catherine a call and let her know we're on our way back in a week or so."

"She'll appreciate that.  We can't wait to see you," Cam said.  "But we'll still be here if you add a few days for your vacation.  Just let us know your travel schedule when you know what it is."

"Will do!  Love ya, Cam.  Give our love to Kevin and Carl, and kiss that Casey until he can't stand it."

"Okay, Dad.  Love you, too.  See ya when we see ya."

The connection was broken, and Cam looked over at Art with a big smile.

"We've missed them," Cam said.

"Them?" Art asked.  "Who is your dad with?"

"His partner, John Kelley."

"Oh.  Well, I can tell you'll be glad to see 'em," Art said.  He studied Cam.  "You don't know how lucky you are that your dad can say he loves you, and you can tell him the same thing--and mean it."

"Your folks don't tell you they love you?"

"My mom does.  My dad--never.  In his book, it wouldn't be the masculine thing to do."

Cam reached over and patted his friend on the shoulder.  "Sorry, man," he said.  "I really am fortunate."  He looked at the time on his phone.  "You ready to eat lunch?"

"Yep," Art said.

They stood up and resumed their walk toward the Student Union cafeteria.  When they arrived, they waved at Kevin and Carl, who were sitting at their usual table off to one side, and Cam and Art headed for the food line.  The food looked pretty good, and they both loaded their trays before walking over to the table.

"Room for two more?" Cam asked as they approached.

Kevin and Carl smiled and moved over to make room.

Art was surprised that day when Cam said grace aloud for both of them.  Before then, Cam had just said his own.  They dug into their food as Cam started to fill Kevin and Carl in about Alex's phone call.

"So, bottom line, you don't know exactly when Alex and John will be home?" Carl asked when Cam and Art finished eating.

"Not exactly," Cam said.  "I told him they should take as much time as they need to wind down, though."  Cam grinned.  "I guess Paris won't be a bad place to do that."

"I can't wait to see 'em," Kevin said.

"Me, too," Carl said.  "Y'know, I'm gonna have to think about getting a car to drive when they get back.  John's going to want the Highlander back."

"Well, that shouldn't be a problem," Kevin said.  "You and Dan own a freakin' car dealership, for gosh sake.  I've seen a neat little Cadillac crossover advertised on TV.  It would carry Casey and the rest of us without any problem.  Has a big engine, though.  That's probably not a good idea for a reckless little shit like you."

"Fuck off," Carl responded with good humor.  "If you can handle that hot Mustang you drive, I shouldn't have any problem.  It's a miracle you're not dead or in jail."

Art had remained silent, just taking everything in as the guys continued to kibitz back and forth on one subject or another.  When the conversation finally slowed, he spoke up.

"You guys wanna hear a good story?" he asked.

"Always," Kevin said.

"This is a story about involuntary muscle control," Art informed them.
"A University of Wisconsin professor was giving a lecture on
'Involuntary Muscular Contractions' to his first year medical students.

"Realizing this was not the most riveting subject, the professor decided
to spice up his lecture a little by talking a little raunchy like he knew his
students frequently did to each other.

"He pointed to a young woman student in the front row and asked,
'Do you know what your asshole is doing while you're having an orgasm?'

"'He's probably deer hunting with his buddies,' she shot back.

Art grinned.  "That was pretty much the end of the lecture."

Taken by surprise, Kevin, Cam and Carl began to laugh bigtime, and Art finally joined them.  Their faces turned red from laughing so hard, and Carl actually had tears running down his face and Coke streaming out of his nose.  Before they regained control, everyone in the cafeteria was looking at them.

They all stuck around after finishing lunch, intermittently chuckling when they thought about the story, until Kevin and Art and Carl had to go to their next class.

"Hey, Art, when you have a chance, why don't you bring some workout clothes over to the house and work out in the gym with us?" Kevin said before they parted company.  He pointed at Cam.  "Look at what I've accomplished with Cam, and you're way ahead of where he was.  He used to be a skinny little runt."

"You lie," Cam protested.

Kevin's invitation had caught Art off guard.  "Uh, ah, well, that would be great," Art said, breaking into a huge grin.  "Thanks."

Cam gave Kevin a hug before Kevin and Carl walked away for their next classes.  None of the passers-by paid any attention.

"I knew Kevin would come around," Cam told Art before Art left for his next class too.  "When you're invited to Kevin's 'gym hell,' that means he likes you.  But prepare to suffer."

"I could stand to buff up," Art said as they parted company.  "Laters, dude."

*  *  *

A week passed, and then Alex called the house, and Kevin answered the phone.  Alex and John had lived it up in Paris for seven days, and Alex gave Kevin their travel schedule.  They would fly out of Charles de Gaulle airport on Air France on Thursday morning for New York's Kennedy Airport, stay overnight in the city, and arrive at LAX on Saturday afternoon.  He said not to worry about picking them up because the studio would send a limo to the airport.

Kevin spread the word, and Cam and Carl were hyped to hear the news.  They let Maria know.  The house was always immaculate anyway, thanks to her, but she redoubled her efforts to make sure everything was perfect when Alex and John arrived home.  Kevin called Catherine at her office at St. Francis and let her know the good news as well, and gave her Alex's and John's travel schedule.  She said she already knew, because Alex had called her.

Catherine didn't let on how pleased she was that once again there would be some parental guidance in the house for the boys.  It wasn't that she didn't trust them, but she had always been just a little worried about the guys even though Sean and Susan Miller from next door checked on them periodically.  Catherine also knew that Maria was a steadying influence as well.

The next day the boys already had morning classes out of the way and were at lunch with Art Smith at the student center when Cam's phone rang.  His face broke into a smile when he saw it was Catherine calling.

"Mommy!" he said.  "What's new?"

"Are you sitting down?" Catherine asked, her voice sounding pinched and sad.

"Yes.  'Sup?"

"Cameron..."  She stopped talking for a moment to collect herself.  "An Air France passenger plane just went down over the Atlantic this morning, according to the noon news.  We don't know yet whether it was your dad's and John's flight or not, but it's possible.  I hope I haven't done the wrong thing by calling you right away, but I wanted you to be ready for the worst if it comes to that.  Let's just say our prayers and be prepared for anything that happens."

The telephone dropped out of Cam's hand to the table.  His face was contorted in disbelief.

"Cam?"  Kevin reached over and took his partner's hand.  "What's wrong?"

Cam was speechless, taking back his hand and covering his face.

Kevin picked up the telephone and said, "Mom, it's Kevin.  What's wrong?"

"Kevin, an Air France airplane went down over the Atlantic a little while ago.  We don't know for certain that it was Alex's and John's plane, but it may have been.  I wanted to give you boys a heads-up."

Kevin looked over at Cam, whose hands still covered his face.  "Thank you, Mom.  We'll call you back," Kevin said to her, breaking the connection.

He stood and pulled his chair around to where Cam was sitting, sat down and put his arm around Cam.  Kevin could feel his partner's body trembling, his face still in his hands, his body now bent over and resting his head on the table.

"You're scaring me," Carl said to Kevin and Cam.  "Tell me what the fuck is going on?"

"Dad's and John's plane may have crashed in the Atlantic," Kevin told Carl.  "But we don't know that for a fact yet."  He put his head down next to Cam's.  "We don't know for sure, Cam.  Let's just keep it together until we know something, dude."

Cam straightened up took his hands off his face.  His eyes were red and wet.

"You're right," Cam said.  "But I think I want to go home now."

"Me, too," Kevin and Carl said at the same time.

They all stood up to get rid of their garbage from lunch, leave their meal trays on the pile, and get on the road.  Bewildered and sad, Art followed the three shaken boys out of the Student Union.

"Art, did you drive to school today?" Kevin asked as the four of them made their way out of the front door.

"No, my dad dropped me off."

Kevin reached into the pocket of his shorts and pulled out his keys.

"Would you mind driving my Mustang back to Malibu?" he asked.  "I want to drive home with Cam.  Then we'll take you home."

"OK," Art said.  "Which parking lot is your car in?"

"We all park in the same area," Kevin said.  "Just walk with us."

Kevin put his arm around Cam as they walked.  Cam didn't make a sound, but tears were running down his cheeks.

"We just got him back when we moved down here," Cam told Kevin.  "And now we're losing him again.  For good."

"Let's wait before we say that," Kevin said.  "We don't know anything for sure.  Not yet."

They reached Kevin's Mustang first in the lot, and Kevin pointed at his car, giving Art the keys.  Art peeled off from the group and unlocked the driver's door.

"I'll meet you at the house," Art said, opening the door and sliding behind the wheel of Kevin's pride and joy.  He adjusted the driver's seat and mirrors, started the car and backed out of the space, looking both ways.  The Mustang murmured with restrained power as Art drove off toward the exit.

They reached the Camaro next, and Kevin held out his hand for the keys.  Cam gave them to him, and went around to the passenger door as Carl continued on toward the Highlander further down the lot.

"I'll see you at the house," Carl said.  "Maybe there will be some more news by then."

By the time Cam and Kevin and Carl arrived home, the Mustang was already in the driveway with Art sitting on the rear bumper.  Art stood up as the boys pulled their vehicles into their usual parking spots.

"Thanks, Art," Kevin said as Art passed him the keys to the car.  "Uh, do you want to go home?"

"I think I probably should," Art said.  He looked down at the ground uneasily.  "I don't know what to say to you guys right now.  I wish I knew how to help."

"I know," Cam said as the four of them stood in the driveway.  He went to Art and gave him a hug.  "Thanks for being a friend, man."

"Let me know what you find out, will ya?" Art asked.  "And if there's anything I can do. . ."

Cam nodded, and headed for the house with Kevin at his heels..

Carl took Art home.  It was a sad, mostly silent trip.

*  *  *

Maria was surprised to see Cam and Kevin home so early from school.  Casey was upstairs for his afternoon nap.  Cam walked away toward the study while Kevin filled Maria in on the tragic possibilities of the day, as yet unconfirmed.  She was crushed, and sitting down at the kitchen table, began weeping.  Fighting off his own tears, Kevin sat and held Maria's hand until they both pulled themselves together.

Kevin went down the hall to the study then and found Cam standing in front of the little bar in the corner, breaking the seal on an unopened, decorative bottle of Grey Goose vodka.  Cam took a tumbler off a shelf and half filled it with vodka.

He started to lift it to his lips when Kevin stood behind him and gently pinned his partner's arms to his sides.

"I'm fucking numb," Cam whispered.  "But not numb enough," he explained.

"Yeah," Kevin said softly.  "I get it.  I'm numb, too.  But nothing in that glass is going to make our situation any better, if worse comes to worst, dude.   I know this has been one hell of a bad year for you--for us--but I don't think this is the way to handle it.  Whether Dad and John are dead or whether they're alive, do you think this is how they'd want us to face our situation right now?"

"What did I do to deserve this?" Cam asked quietly, his voice breaking.  "What did we do to lose them like this?"

"We haven't done anything wrong, Cam.  You're the best boyfriend, the best person, I've ever known on this earth, dude," Kevin insisted sincerely.  "You're loving, you're kind, you're giving, you never judge people, and you always do the right thing.  You've made me a better person.  If Alex and John are gone, please don't bring yourself down by blaming this on something you've done or haven't done.  That's just not true."

Cam remained silent.  He put the vodka glass down on the bar and didn't make any effort to raise it to his lips.  Kevin turned him loose and swung him around gently, putting his hands on either side of his face, pulling him close and kissing him on the lips before moving back a little and looking deeply into his partner's green eyes..

"Listen, Cam," Kevin continued, "whether you realize it or not, you're the fucking leader for all of us guys in our family.  You're our heart.  You're an inspiration to every one of us.  Sure, I may run the gym and the athletic side of things and kick ass when I have to, but when it comes to having an influence on the guys about the big problems and issues in life, and on our values, you're DA MAN for every one of us.  If Dad and John are really gone for good, we're gonna face some big problems and big adjustments.  But we're gonna have to help hold things together for the family.  Especially you.  We'll have help from Mom and Ian and Mary, but all the guys are still going to be looking to you to show us how it's done when we face a disaster, and how to move on.  I hope you know you have my total respect and love.  I love you so much!  I'm gonna need you, or I may not make it.  I lost my own dad because he was a criminal.  Same thing for Carl.  Don't make us go it alone.  Please, Cam!"

Cam stared at his partner, and tears began running down both their faces.

The grim possibility of life without Alex and his partner was finally beginning to settle into their guts.

"You're right," Cam told Kevin, turning back around and stared at the glass on the bar.  He opened the Grey Goose bottle again, and picking up the glass, poured the liquid back into it without spilling a drop.  He capped the bottle and put it back in the cabinet, and put the glass down in the little bar sink.

Facing Kevin again, Cam put his arms around him, and they clung together.

"Thank you, Kev," he said softly.  "I really appreciated hearing what you said.  I'll try to do my best for everybody if the worst comes true."

"I know you will.  Watching you the last few months has already showed me what you're made of.  You're cute as hell, but you're also as tough as hell.  Now I guess we'll find out now what I'm made of.  I just hope I can measure up." 

Cam squeezed him harder, and rubbed noses with him.  "Why don't we go upstairs for awhile?" he asked.  "I just want to be alone with you right now."

"Same here," Kevin said, taking Cam's strong hand in his own.  They went up hand in hand to their bedroom and lay down on their bed, clinging to each other, and soon fell asleep.  Blessed sleep, avoiding the pain of loss for the moment.

*  *  *

Two hours later, and the bad news was confirmed.  The Air France flight from Charles de Gaulle had disappeared from the radar about an hour after departure, and both France and the United States were marshaling operations to look for survivors and wreckage.  Winter had yet to hit with any ferocity in Europe that fall, but the chances of any survivors were slim to none, or so the talking heads on TV were saying.

Catherine had called.  Cam and Kevin had both talked with her, and although she seemed calm, Cam could hear the deep sorrow in her voice.  She admitted to Cam at long last what he had long ago realized, that Alex was the only man she had ever loved.   Or probably would ever love.

Catherine had informed Cam and Kevin that she would be coming to L.A. the following day.  She said Ian had pulled all the boys out of school in San Rafael, and had chartered a plane to bring the whole family down to L.A., along with Father Mason.  Father Blackburn had given Mason the week off to help support the family in L.A. in their grief and to help Father Ryan make arrangements for a memorial service for Alex and John at St. Dunstan's.  Cam and Kevin were immensely cheered up to know that the whole family would be with them during the days of sorrow yet to come.

Ian and Mary had telephoned Cam and Kevin for a brief conversation, expressing their condolences and trying to encourage them.  The boys were grateful for the call, which only made them look forward even more to seeing the San Rafael part of the family despite the sad events that would bring them to L.A.

Shortly after hearing from Ian and Mary, Dr. Owens had called Cam in response to the news in the media.  She was brief and to the point.

"Cam, I want you and your family to know how sorry I am about the loss of your father and his partner.  You're special to me, and I'm always available to you and your family. 
Please call me if you need me."

"I will," Cam said.  "I learned so much from you, and it looks like what I learned will have to do double duty now."

"You have my number," Dr. Owens said, and ended the call.

*  *  *

Cam was determined that he would not fall into the severe malaise which had gripped him after he had been molested on the beach.  When they went to bed that night, after Alex's and John's deaths were confirmed, Kevin asked Cam if he wanted him to contact Dr. Owens the following day.  Cam filled him in then on the doctor's call, and said he didn't need to talk to her, at least not yet.  .

"Dr. Owens taught me a lot of techniques about how to deal with depression," Cam added softly.  "Getting a lot of exercise is one way.  So please don't let me sit around on my ass in a blue funk, Kev.  I can't let myself go downhill like the last time."

Overcoming for the moment his own deep sorrow over the loss of his two father-figures and mentors, Kevin pulled Cam into his arms, touching his face and hair gently.  "I won't let you go, bud.  You know that.  You're my soulmate, and whatever happens in this life, good or bad, we're in it together."

Comforted, Cam eventually drifted off into a troubled sleep in his partner's arms.  Kevin remained awake for a long time, just holding his boy and loving him.  He found himself asking God why they were facing yet one more challenge in what had been months of negative fallout from the attack on Cam down the beach.  It had been a terrible event which had strained their every emotional resource just to stay on an even keel, and Kevin had suffered right along with Cam during the latter's recovery.

Kevin wasn't a crier, but before he went to sleep, he shed more tears for Alex and John, both of whom had been so supportive of him and his relationship with Cam.  They had loved him just for himself in ways that his blood father never had been capable of doing.

Finally Kevin drifted off himself, holding on tight to his best friend and lover.

The alarm clock went off at its usual time the next morning.  Kevin stretched out a muscular arm and hit the snooze button.  His and Cam's eyes met, full of their common grief.

"I might take this morning off from running," Cam whispered, looking away.

"I don't think so!" Kevin said.  "You asked me to keep you moving, and that's exactly what we're gonna do."   They snuggled together for a few more minutes.

When the alarm went off again, Kevin killed it and slid out of bed, and grasping the top sheet and light blanket they had slept under, snapped them off his partner, leaving him naked and exposed and rolling up in a ball from the chill of the air conditioning.

Cam groaned but complied with Kevin's demand, sliding out of bed and heading for the bathroom with his morning hardon wagging in front of him.  Kevin followed him after a quick check on Casey, who was still sleeping soundly.  Going into the bathroom, he took a mental snapshot of Cam's strong, straight back, his muscular bubble butt, and his nicely developed legs as his lover walked ahead of him.

As usual, the two guys shared the toilet while they emptied their bladders.

"Can I tell you something?" Kevin asked as they shook off and Cam flushed the toilet.


"This isn't going to be a fun day for us.  But just in case we don't have a private minute later, I want ya to know I love your bod, dude.  Especially that cute, tight little ass of yours.  I'm just sayin'..."

Despite his dread of the day ahead, Cam couldn't help giving his partner a smile, and reached over to put his hand on Kevin's neck.  "Thanks, man.  I can never hear that too often.  And back atcha!"

Once back in the bedroom, the two of them put on their jocks, running shorts and tank tops, followed by their socks and running shoes.  Kevin gently picked up Casey, whose diaper was still dry, to take him down to Maria.  Cam walked down the hall and knocked on Carl's door, then opened it.

Carl's eyes were open, but his bedcovers were up to his neck.

"I thought we might not run today," Carl said.

"No such luck," Cam responded.  "Getcher ass up and meet us downstairs.  If you don't, you'll just lie around in bed jacking off."

"You know me too well," Carl admitted agreeably.  "Okay, I'll be down in a minute."

Maria poured the three runners a glass of orange juice down in the kitchen as they arrived.  Her
eyes had dark circles under them.  There wasn't much conversation.  After downing the juice, the three guys went out on the patio and did their warm-ups, with Alice and Samantha weaving in and out around them, oblivious to the previous day's tragedy.  Those dogs were eager to hit the beach.

"We're gonna do eight miles this morning," Kevin announced to his companions
after they finished stretches.  He reset his pedometer.

"Why the extra mile?" Carl questioned.

"Because we all need more exercise right now," Kevin said.  "We have some tough days ahead of us."

Carl just nodded.  They headed for the hardpack at the edge of the water, and headed up the beach with the dogs running ahead of them.

*  *  *

The stretch limo Ian had rented pulled into the driveway of the house in Malibu about 4 p.m. that afternoon.   Thanks to William's heads-up cell phone call, Carl, Kevin, Cam, Casey and the dogs were waiting in the driveway for the new arrivals from San Rafael.  Carl nearly fell over when the first person out of the car, unexpectedly, was Andy Helder, who headed right for him and picked him up and swung him around in the air.  Following in quick succession out of the car were William, Mark, Berto, and Dan.  Catherine stepped out next, looking tired and drawn, and then Ian and Mary, and last of all, Father Mason, dressed as usual in his black suit and white collar.

All the boys were casually dressed in T-shirts, board shorts, and flipflops.

Despite the underlying sadness everyone was feeling, the greetings were prolonged and even a little joyful that the family was all together.  Kevin made sure to give Mark Carson an especially warm greeting and a kiss on the cheek to assuage any hurt feelings the boy might have because William hadn't brought him down to L.A. on his last visit.  The priest hugged Cam and Kevin for a long moment, kissing them on the cheek and telling them softly how sorry he was about Alex and John.

Ian slipped the limousine driver a nice tip, and the big car backed out of the driveway and headed back toward the Pacific Coast Highway.

They had all started heading into the house with their luggage when a taxi pulled up.  Jeff Miller had asked for and received a four day leave from Assurances to be with the family during their time of trial, and had headed right for Malibu.  He hugged Cam and Kevin, murmuring condolences, also kissing them each on the cheek before shaking hands with the rest of the family.  Ian studied the new arrival closely, and was pleased to see that the young man looked so well.  His treatment was obviously bearing fruit.

"Hey, guys, grab a sleeping mat out of the garage on your way in." Kevin instructed the boys.  "We'll all be sleeping in the living room while you're here."

The guys grinned, groaning simultaneously for effect, as if carrying the mats was a big imposition, but did what Kevin had asked.

The visitors each greeted Maria warmly as they entered the house.

"Thanks for taking such good care of the slobs who live here," wise-ass William quipped to Maria after telling her hello.  "Without you, this place would be a pigsty."

Maria laughed.  "Now, William, they're good boys," she told him.

"If you say so," William responded.

After stashing their own suitcases and garment bags in the living room, the boys carried the adults' luggage upstairs to the assigned bedrooms.  Ian and Mary were in the master bedroom, Catherine in Cam and Kevin's room with Casey, and Father Mason in one of the two last, usually unoccupied, bedrooms down the hall.  Because Andy had traveled down to L.A. with the family, Cam told Carl he could stay in his own bedroom with his partner if he wanted to, but Carl said he and Andy would sleep in the living room with the rest of the guys.  Andy didn't look too delighted about that, but that's the way it went down.

The new arrivals were pretty well settled and gathering in the living room when the doorbell rang.  Kevin went to answer it, and found Father John Ryan standing there.

"Father!" Kevin said, holding the door back for the priest.  "Come on in.  Perfect timing.  Everybody from San Rafael just got here a few minutes ago.  We're all in the living room."

"Hello, Kevin."  The priest stepped inside and shook Kevin's hand, and then gave him a hug.  "I'm so sorry about Alex and John.  How is Cam taking it?"

"Well, he's determined not to go back into a depression like he did after the episode down the beach.  Dr. Owens called earlier just to touch base with him."

"Good.  Are you all right?"

"I'm hurting, but hangin' in, Father."

"You know I'm available if you want to talk."

"Thanks.  I appreciate that.  I know Cam will, too."

"I just stopped by to see if we could make some preliminary plans for a memorial service," Ryan said.  "You know how well respected Alex and John were at St. Dunstan's and in the L.A. artistic community.  There are a lot of people who will want to say good-bye to them along with the family."

"I'm glad you're here, Father.  We were going to call you about doing some planning for the funeral.  Father Mason is here, by the way."

"Good.  I was hoping he could get some time off and come down here.  I'm sure you know he loves your family a lot."

"That's mutual," Kevin said.  "Come on in.  Let's join the others in the living room."

Father Ryan saw Maria in the kitchen as they passed through the hall, and he stopped and greeted her warmly before he and Kevin went into the living room.  The room was full, with some of the boys sitting on the floor here and there.  The guys were unusually quiet and subdued.

"Look who's here," Kevin told the crowd.  Everyone stood up and greeted the priest, and he went around the room saying hello and offering his condolences.  He hugged Catherine and Cam, and kissed them on the cheek.  He greeted Jim Mason warmly, also with a hug.

"I hope I'm not barging in," Father Ryan said, "but I wanted to see you all to tell you how sorry I am, and to offer help with planning a memorial service for John and Alex.  I'm sure you know how well thought of they were in the parish and in the Hollywood community.  They're going to be greatly missed."

"Thank you, Father," Catherine said.  "We're grateful for our close relationship with you and Father Mason, and we appreciate your thinking about us and coming by at a time like this.  How is your family?"

Hearing that question, Mary Carson looked at her friend Catherine, probably her best friend in the world next to Ian, and thought how like her it was to think about others even in the midst of personal tragedy.

"The family is all good," Ryan said.  "Thank you for asking."

Then they got down to planning, with Father Ryan first stating that suggestions for the memorial service from the entire extended family would be entertained, with final decisions being made by Cam, Catherine, Kevin and himself.  The family murmured their approval of that approach.

Cam made the first suggestion, that the service be a sung Solemn High Mass.  He asked if Father Ryan would celebrate, Father Mason serve as the deacon of the Mass, and asked Ian Carson if he would be a eulogist along with either Father Mason or Father Ryan when it came to the homily.

Everyone looked at Ian first, and then at the two priests.

"It would be my honor to do that," Ian said.

"Father, as celebrant of the Mass, I think you should preach as well," Mason suggested.  "I could stand to hear the message of hope you're so good at delivering."

"I'll look forward to it," Father Ryan said.  "Now, what day of the week and what time of the day do you want the service to take place?"

"How about Tuesday at 11 a.m.?" Kevin suggested.  "That way we could provide a nice lunch for people afterward in the parish house.  I'm sure we can find a caterer, even on fairly short notice, to provide a buffet.  It should be a nice buffet, though.  Nothing cheap to honor Dad and John.  That's if the parish house is available after the Mass, Father Ryan."

"I'm sure it will be, Kevin.  But let me just check with my secretary to be sure."

The priest pulled out his cell phone and stepped out into the hall for a moment to talk, and was back almost immediately.

"We're good on the parish hall," Ryan said.  "My secretary will check for any other conflicts, but let's assume for the moment that the date and time are good."

"Excellent," Kevin said.

When Cam heard the confirmation of the date and time for the memorial Mass, the reality of the situation hit him anew, and he lowered his head and stared at the floor.

Conversation about the Mass continued.  Catherine mentioned a few of her favorite hymns that she thought would add meaning to the service, and Father Ryan wrote them down in his pocket diary to include in the bulletin.

Kevin suggested that the family look through the house for pictures and mementos which could be put on display at the front of the nave for the visitation.  Cam agreed, and also suggested that they call Alex's and John's studio to see if there were photographs and any other memorabilia there which might be of interest to family and friends at the parish church.

Cam sat quietly listening to the Mary and Ian and the two clergymen talk more about the service.  The young guys, most of them sitting on the floor, listened intently to what was going on.

Carl sat with his arm around Andy.  It was obvious to everyone how much in love the two of them were.

For some reason Cam became especially conscious at that moment how handsome and how masculine all the boys in the extended family were.  So handsome that they were beautiful.  Starting with William Carson and Berto, every one of them was buff and great looking.  Obviously Berto had been working them all hard in the gym up in San Rafael, and they'd been faithful about their daily run, because under their T's and board shorts it was easy to see their developed chests, arms and legs.  Cam was sure that each of them was well on the way to six-pack abs under their T's.  And between their legs--Cam remembered well from their naked swimming days in the pool in San Rafael that they were all well hung, from bigger than average to spectacular.  He had to stop looking at the guys because he could feel himself getting hard.  Having that happen during a discussion of his father's funeral would clearly be inopportune and inappropriate.

Cam glanced at Kevin, sitting beside him, who had seen him looking the boys over.  Kevin grinned at him and reached over and squeezed his neck, and then dropped his hand down to rub his back for a minute.

When the meeting was over, Father Ryan thanked them all for their input, and excused himself to head back to St. Dunstan's.  Ian, Cam and Kevin walked him out to his car and offered their own personal thanks to him for taking such good care of the family.

*  *  *

Mary and Catherine went to the kitchen to help Maria start supper after Father Ryan left.  Maria had driven to the grocery late the previous day for extensive shopping, and there was plenty of food in the house.  Even the refrigerator and the freezer in the garage were packed with goodies.

The women put their heads together and decided they would have grilled hamburgers, baked potatoes, baked beans and green salad for the evening meal, followed by apple pie a la mode for dessert.  Maria had seven apple pies baking in the two ovens already.  Ian agreed to do the grilling on the front deck when it was time.

Catherine and Mary let Maria know as they worked how much they appreciated the good care Kevin, Cam, Casey and Carl had received from her.

"Well, I love those boys," Maria said.  "Kevin and Cam and Carl are fine young men, so considerate to work for, and Casey...well, Casey is just a dream to be around."  She laughed.  "Casey makes me want to have another baby, but my husband won't hear of it."

They all laughed and continued chatting as they thawed twenty-five pounds of hamburger, cut up buns, readied and washed enough potatoes for everyone to have two each, and washed lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and avocados for a green salad.

"I know you've enjoyed it here," Mary said to Maria as they worked.  "But this has obviously been more than just a job for you.  No amount of money would make you do all that you've done.  Truthfully, you're like a member of the family, and we couldn't begin to thank you enough for all the care you've given the boys."

"You're awfully nice to say that," Maria said.  "Do you think Cam and Kevin will continue to need me here now that Mr. MacKenzie and Mr. Kelley are gone?"

"Absolutely!" Catherine said.  "The boys will want to finish school down here at UCLA, and where would they find someone to take care of Casey with love the way you have?  So I think you're going to be here for a long time if you want to be.  Please don't even think about looking for another job."

"That's a relief," Maria said.  "I need to work, but I do love working here."

Jeff Miller stuck his head into the kitchen.  "I'm gonna go next door and see my mom and dad for a few minutes," he said.  "I'm not positive they know what's happened to Mr. MacKenzie and Mr. Kelley."

"Let them know, Jeff," Catherine said, "and ask them to come over for supper and bring Juanita with them.  There's plenty of food.  Tell them we'll eat at about 6:30, but they can come over earlier for a drink."

"That's nice of you, Mrs. MacKenzie," Jeff said.

"Jeff, I'm 'Catherine,' and this is 'Mary,'" Catherine said.  "The boys call us all by our first names, so you may as well join the group."

"Thank you," Jeff said with a smile, and left for the patio shortcut to next door.

He slid open the door to the front deck, and found William Carson and Kevin standing there with Cam.  They were in a circle with their arms around one another.  Cam was looking out at Santa Monica Bay while silent tears traced pathways down his cheeks.

William nodded at Jeff, who didn't interrupt them as he walked toward his parents' house.

The next few days were going to be rough on all of us, Jeff thought to himself.

© 2012 Don Hanratty

Sorry this chapter is so late.  I didn't like writing about the deaths of Alex MacKenzie and John Kelley.