Tim and the Guys


Chapter 7

The following fictional narrative involves sexually-explicit erotic events between men.  If you shouldn't be reading this, move on.

In the world of this story, the characters don't always use condoms.  In the real world, you should care enough about yourself and others to always practice safe sex.

The author retains all rights.  No reproductions or links to other sites are allowed without the author's consent.  

Thanks to Tom for doing the editing chores, and to my Nifty Six colleagues.


As Chaz said, the summer of 2003 wasn't a very happy one.  We missed our brother Mark and his beautiful Lori.  I worried a lot about Max, who seemed to be pining for David or Tim or both.  

I worried about Ced.  It was good to see him healing up physically, but I understood how frightened he must be to have lost such a big chunk of his memory.  He had applied for and been granted delayed admission, so he didn't have to start law school at Ann Arbor until January.  Meanwhile he was working at his dad's law office weekdays, with time off to see his therapist, Dr. Conkley.  His dad also let him have time off when Chaz and I came to see him because the doctor had said our being there was a kind of therapy for him.  

I felt bad because I knew Rick had moved to town and, though I didn't know him well, I felt I should have done more to make him welcome.  But with my classes and our trips to Shaker to see Ced, it seemed there wasn't much time.  Besides, I felt a little awkward inviting a faculty member I hardly knew to dinner or whatever.  Chaz and I talked about it, though, and decided we'd have to do something for Rick.  With Cedric not around and Tim in his funk, the only friends Rick had in this town weren't available to him very much.

Most of all I worried about Tim.  I knew what he was going through, but not because I had ever experienced anything like that.  I've just always been able to pick up very strongly on Tim's vibes or whatever.  I usually know what he's feeling and sometimes even what he's thinking.  He and I don't understand it, but we both recognize that we have this amazing connection.  

Our second meeting with Ced was on the Tuesday following our first meeting on Saturday.  Chaz and I managed to get our workout in at 7:30 that morning so we could clear our calendar.  We both had things we had to do in the early afternoon, so it was about 4:00 by the time we got there.  When we drove up, Ced, who had obviously been watching for us, came out onto the small porch at the top of the steps to his apartment.  He hugged us and led us inside.  He seemed agitated.

"Okay, you guys.  I'll see if you want something to drink in a minute.  But first, you gotta explain these pictures.  I found them this morning with my commencement program.  I picked it up to look at it, and these were with it."

They were the ones I had taken.  One showed Ced in his cap and gown standing next to Tim in his full academic regalia, doctoral hood, gold tassel on his cap, and all.  They had their arms around each other and were smiling at the camera.  The second showed them in the same spot, but in this one they had taken off their caps and were kissing.

I handed them to Chaz, who had seen them because he and I had copies of the same poses.  He handed them back to Cedric.  "Well, Tiger, I guess you'd better tell the man what he wants to know."  He chuckled.  "You're the articulate one."

"Guys, forgive me if I don't find this funny.  Why am I kissing Dr. Mead?  What the fuck went on last year?"

"Well, Ced, it's a long story.  Chaz and I will tell you, but maybe we'd better sit first."

"Oh, yeah, I'm sorry.  Sure, sit down.  How about a beer, Chaz?  Trey, I seem to have developed a taste for chardonnay and I've got a bottle cold.  Would you like some of that?  I do remember that you like wine sometimes, right?"

"Sure, Ced, I'd love some chard."

"Beer for me, please, Ced, if it's not too much trouble."

Ced rolled his eyes.  "Since when has anything been too much trouble for my brothers?  I'll be right back."

He returned quickly with our drinks, and we all sat.  He raised his glass, so we followed suit.  "To the four of us.  Wish Mark could be here."

"To the four of us," Chaz and I said.  I was thinking that the toast should have been to the five of us.  Or six of us?

"Okay, now that's all over.  Tell me what went on between me and the little prof."

Chaz and I had discussed whether or not to tell Cedric about the weekend events leading up to his going to Tim and literally sweeping him off his feet.  We were, of course, both terribly embarrassed to have to confess what we had done to Tim.  Furthermore, we didn't want to upset Ced, as we most surely would have if we had told him about that.  So we agreed that we'd try to give him a version of the story that started just after he and Tim had become lovers.

"Ced," I began, "what do you remember about Tim?"

"You call him `Tim' like he was a friend of yours."

"He is, dude," Chaz said.

"All in good time.  Please, Ced, just answer my question."

He took a sip of his wine and set the glass down.  Then he took a deep breath.  "You know, I've been asked to try to remember things so much in the last month that my head hurts.  But here goes.  I remember that fall of 2001 I was taking a course with Mead.  I really enjoyed it.  He was maybe the best prof I'd had at the university.  And I have to say I thought he was cute.  No, more than cute, sexy.  I may have had the hots for the little guy."

"Are you sure, Ced?  Was it just a case of sexual attraction?"

"Yeah.  Most people wouldn't think so, but I thought he was a sexy dude.  And, as I said, I thought he was a cool professor.  I remember I signed up for a course with him in modern lit for the spring term.  I think I even talked you into taking it, didn't I?  But I don't remember anything about being in that class.  Don't remember anything about that semester, actually.  So, come on, what happened?"

"You don't remember anything about you and Tim that term?"

"No, man, I don't."

"Well, long story short, by mid-March you and Tim were lovers.  You slept at his place more than you slept in the apartment you and Mark were sharing.  Before long the brotherhood had expanded to include Tim, which is why Chaz and I talk about him like a friend.  He is one of our best friends.  We feel as close to Tim now as we do to you and Mark."

"Holy shit!  So, go on.  What happened after that?"

"Well, at the end of the year, Tim moved out of his apartment and leased a townhouse.  You and he moved in together.  You chose most of the furniture for it, in fact.  During that summer you worked for your dad, as you are now, but you spent most of your weekends in your new home with Tim.  He was teaching a course in the Lost Generation.  I took it.  It was fabulous.  That's when I decided I wanted to teach English in college.  With some encouragement from Tim, I changed my major."

"God, I've missed so much!"  He paused, running a hand over his close-cropped head.  "But go on, please."

"Sometimes Tim came here to spend the weekend with you.  I think he and your parents hit it off from the get-go.  I know he loves them, and Angel has told me they love him.  They could see that you were happier with Tim than you'd ever been before, and that made them happy."

"Sheesh.  No wonder mom gets that strange look on her face when his name is mentioned.  So what happened in the fall?"

Chaz said, "Well, bro, our little group expanded.  Tim's best friend from his undergrad days at Kenyon showed up three doors down the street from your townhouse.  His name is Max.  Father Max Hewitt, actually.  He's the assistant priest or whatever they call them at St. Peter's Episcopal.  Tim and Max both ran cross country at Kenyon, and they've been running just about every morning together since then."  He grinned.  "In fact, dude, you had a major case of jealousy when Max first appeared.  Then Tim managed to convince you that you were his main man, and now you and Max are pretty good friends, too."

"I can't believe this.  And dammit, guys, I just can't remember any of it.  Go ahead, tell me more."

I picked up the narrative.  "At Christmas time Dr. Fairchild had a big party for the undergrad English faculty at her house.  Tim was the guest of honor because he'd published a paper, and his book was being published by Stanford University Press.  The faculty members were invited to bring a spouse or guest.  Tim took you, so you two more or less came out at that time."

"My God, what did the guys on the baseball team do?"

Chaz answered him.  "We had to wait until baseball season to find out.  Your coach had everything under control.  You got one threatening call, but the coach figured out who it was, reamed Mullens a new asshole, and after that everybody went back to treating you pretty much like they always had."

While that was sinking in, we all took another swallow of our drinks.  Ced seemed to be processing what we'd told him.

"I don't know what to say.  And I don't think I can deal with any more revelations like that for a while.  One thing I'll want you to tell me next time is how you two straight arrows became lovers.  I see the body language.  I know you love each other.  I gotta know this.  Is the sex good?"

Chaz turned red, and he seldom blushes.  "Yes, Ced, take my word for it.  Sex with the Tiger is the best I've ever had."

Ced leaned toward me and we high fived.  "Welcome to the club, dudes.  I think that's so great!"

He leaned back in his chair.  "Now, I'll have a bunch more questions next time, but just one more for now.  If Dr. Mead, I guess I can call him Tim, though that still seems strange, if he and I were lovers for over a year, how's he doing?  Is he pissed because I don't remember anything?"

Before I could say anything, Chaz almost exploded.  "Pissed?  No way!  The little guy is miserable."

"Yeah, Ced," I interjected, "Tim realizes that your memory loss isn't your fault.  You know, he was at the hospital as much as your parents the whole time you were in your coma.  Max said Tim even asked him to pray for you."

"Even?  Why even?"

"Well, Tim's pretty much an agnostic.  He certainly isn't religious.  But he was so worried about you he and Max went to the hospital chapel and Tim asked Max to pray."

"Damn!  I can't believe this.  The poor guy.  Sounds like he really does care about me."

"Brother Jones," Chaz said, "that little man is just like totally devoted to you."

"Then he must be hurting.  He must think I'm a real jerk not to have seen him."

"Tim understands that you haven't been allowed to see him.  It hurts, but he understands."

"Guys, I don't know what to do.  I still feel as if he's just a prof I liked a year and a half ago.  I can't pretend to have any more feelings for him than that.  But I feel sorry that he's unhappy and that it's my fault."

"No, Ced, it's not your fault.  You can't help it because this happened to you."

"Well, I think I ought to see him and tell him I'm sorry for his pain.  And I'll do that if Doc Conkley says it's okay.  But, you know, I can't just start being his lover again.  I don't know.  Do you think it would be better just not to see him?  Or write him a note?  No, that would be cold.  A phone call?  No, too easy.  What should I do?"

I looked at Chaz, who, by his look, tossed the ball right back to me.

That was a tough one.  Tim might be hurt whatever happened.  But then, I thought, Tim is too intelligent not to have figured out for himself that Ced can't regain his feelings for Tim until he gets his memory back.  

"Maybe you should see him.  All you can do is be honest.  Tell him that you still can't remember anything.  Tell him you have been told how much you two meant to each other.  Tell him you understand how difficult this must be for him.  What more can you do?"

"I really do feel sorry for him.  But I can't pretend to something I don't feel, guys."

"He wouldn't want ya to, bro," Chaz said.  "And think of this.  Tim's our friend now.  You two are going to bump into each other sometimes, so you and he need to be cool with each other."

Ced heaved a big sigh.  "Okay.  You say you live close to his place now?"

"Uh huh."

"Well, don't tell him I'm going to see him until I run it by the doc."

"Ced, you've just given me an idea.  You are driving again, aren't you?"

"Yeah.  Not much, but I can drive."

"If the doctor approves, why don't you come out to campus and see Tim?  Then you could come over to our place and we'll have dinner together?"

"With Tim?  That might be pretty awkward."

"No, I agree, it would be too awkward.  I was thinking about just the three of us.  We could talk about old times."

"Sounds cool."  He looked at his watch.  "Okay, guys," he said, "Angel's expecting us for drinks before dinner, so we had better show up over there."

We left Ced's apartment over the garage and walked across the parking area to the main house.  We had wine and canapés with Angel and Jake, followed by a dinner of cold roast beef with abano sauce, cold asparagus spears, and a salad, along with marvelous hot rolls.  We talked about everything except Ced's condition – and Tim.  Angel served coffee and chocolate mint ice cream with her home made toll house cookies in the living room afterward.

Finally, Chaz and I left for the drive back to campus.

At our condo, he and I studied for a couple of hours.  Finally, about ten o'clock, I said to Chaz, "Babe, you know I'm not a morning person.  And you got me up extra early today so we could work out.  I think I'm ready to pack it in.  That session with Ced was pretty tense, too."

Chaz gave me a leer.  "I'll pack it in.  In your ass."

"Well, you'd better be super good tonight, just to keep me awake."

We had, in fact, a long, slow, comforting lovemaking session.  As he spooned up behind me afterward, Chaz said, "Tiger, you remember you told me last summer you and Raul went out to some field in the country and tried to make love?"

I chuckled.  "Yeah.  That was a real fiasco."

"Well, babe, I think it's been kind of a downer around here lately, what with everybody's problems.  What say tomorrow afternoon you and I go find that field?"

"And . . . ?"

"And let us do what you and Raul couldn't."  He gave me a squeeze and licked the back of my neck.

"But neither your car nor mine has a hood, Greeley."

"Yeah, but we both have SUV's with backs in them.  I thought maybe sex in the back with the tailgate open might be nice – or on a blanket.  Let's take the Tahoe since it's got more room back there, just in case we need it."

I thought about that.  "Yeah, if we're not arrested."

"Well, you did say it was pretty deserted."

"Big guy, you've got a date."

It was 2:00 the next afternoon by the time we got back to our place.  We grabbed some sunblock and the lube, put some beers in a Styrofoam cooler, and headed for the country.  I had trouble remembering where the exact field was, and we took a couple of wrong turns before we found it.  But we did find it.  We were way down a narrow road with open fields on either side.  Queen Anne's lace and blue chicory were growing along the roadsides.  

"There, that's the place.  We haven't seen a house or a truck for miles.  Why don't you just pull under that big tree?"

The field looked as if it had been mown several weeks earlier, and the second crop of grass was about a foot high and very soft.  We threw down a king-sized blanket.  Then Chaz got that devilish twinkle in his eye.  "Ya wanna even out your tan, Tiger?"

"Why not?  I don't think we need to worry about shorts here."

So we stretched out on the blanket.  I promptly went to sleep, and I think Chaz did, too.  The next thing I knew, he was tickling my nose with a blade of grass.  
"Better turn over, blondie.  You're prolly brown enough on that side."

"I've got a better idea."  I pulled him down into a kiss.  He didn't fall on top of me, fortunately.  He landed on his belly at about a 45 degree angle to my body.  But he put his arm over my chest to pin me in place while he kissed me.  It lasted until we were both gasping, all thoughts of the back of the Tahoe forgotten.

"Now, Greeley," I said when I was breathing normally again, "I want you to lie down on your back."

He grinned at me and rolled over onto his back, lacing his fingers behind his head.  He was hard, of course, as was I.  

I reached over and got a long blade the grass.  "You are to keep your hands where they are, understood?"

"Yes, sir!"

I allowed the tip of the grass to trail around his nipple, and he immediately began to wiggle.  "Trey, babe, that tickles."

"Tough titties.  Take it like a man."

"If my titties were tough, I wouldn't be complaining, shithead."

I worked over first one of his nipples and then the other.  I don't know whether they became any tougher, but they certainly got harder.  I loved how rigid they grew and how they protruded from the aureolas.  I thought of using the grass to tickle his pits, but I knew he'd bring his arms down to protect himself, and I didn't want that.  So, instead, I ran it in lazy looping patterns all over his chest, gradually moving closer and closer to his navel.  I didn't actually tickle inside his navel, though, again because I didn't want him to change his position.  Chaz was partly laughing from the tickling of it and partly moaning from the stimulation.  

Abruptly I stopped.  His big cock was hard, lying flat against his belly, reaching almost to his navel, dripping precum.  I used the blade of grass on the top of one of his feet and then worked my way slowly up his leg, paying particular attention to his sensitive inner thigh.  He began to wiggle his butt and then thrust it into the air.

"Babe, I don't think I can take much more of this."

"Shaddup, you wuss.  You wanted this little party, now you'll just have to take what comes."

He laughed.  "I know what's gonna come if you don't quit."

"Okay, okay!"  I didn't repeat the process on the other foot and leg.  Instead, I pulled his heavy phallus upright and began to lick it all over.  I could never get enough of the taste of his juice.  Finally, after I had him really writhing, I put my hand around the base of his cock and swallowed the rest of it.  That was still a lot to swallow, but I'd had plenty of practice.

He gasped.  "Ohmygod, Tiger, I don't know how you do that to that big ole thing, but it feels fantastic.  Oh, yeah, suck it!"

Again, after a year of perfecting my technique, I knew how to use my tongue, lips, cheeks, even my throat to get maximum effect, and soon poor Charles was thrashing around on the blanket and moaning.  If he was saying words, they were incomprehensible.

It's funny what you are aware of at a time like that.  As I worked on my lover's monumental cock, I was hearing all the sounds of the country.  You'd think in a place like that it would be quiet, but it wasn't.  Insects in the grass were making their chirps constantly.  Jar flies in the trees at the edge of the field sounded like low-pitched sirens.  There were song birds in the woods, and occasionally the caw of a crow rasped overhead.  In the distance there was the occasional moo of a cow.  This bucolic symphony was accompanied by the slurping sounds I made as I worked on Chaz's cock, and the continuo was provided by the moans of one Chaz Greeley, who brought my rustic reverie to an end by flooding my mouth with his seed.  As accustomed as I was to swallowing his cum, this took me by surprise, and it seemed he was shooting an unusually large load.  I swallowed what I could, but cum dribbled out of both corners of my mouth.  

Chaz lay still for a moment.  Then he opened his eyes and grinned.  "Ya missed some."  He wiped one side of my chin with his middle finger and held it toward me.  In a pavlovian reaction, I opened my mouth.  He inserted his finger, and I sucked it clean.  He repeated the process with the cum still dribbling down the other side of my chin.  Then he caught a spot on my chest, wiped that up, and fed it to me.  

My cock by this time was bright red and wet with my precum.  Chaz looked at it and grinned.  "Where you wanna stick it, babe?"

"Most of the time when I see that ass of yours it's covered up.  And it's so high I have to look up to it."  (Only a slight exaggeration.)  "Now that I have it in captivity, I want to prong it."

He handed me the lube.  "Be my guest.  How do you want me?"

"Stay where you are."  I grabbed the pile of our clothes and put them under his head, making sure he wasn't lying on a wallet or anything.  Then I smeared my tool with its own juice and a little lube.  Finally, I put some more lube on a couple of fingers and worked them into him.  I'd discovered that Chaz didn't need a lot of prep, even though my cock, which was nowhere near as long as his, was just as fat.

He pulled his knees back to his shoulders.  I pulled his ass up, so most of his weight was on his shoulders, and, taking aim, stuck my dick, which felt as if it were on fire, against his pucker.  It should have sizzled.  Chaz grinned at me to let me know he was ready for me, and I slowly pushed in.  I didn't stop until my pubes were against his ass.  

"God, that feels so hot," he said.  "I love it.  So fuck me, lover."

As if I wouldn't!  I couldn't have stopped at that point if the sheriff had arrived with a posse.  Unfortunately, it didn't last as long as either of us might have wanted.  Perhaps it was the al fresco setting, perhaps the length of time I had been hard while I ministered to Chaz.  Whatever, I soon exploded, pumping what felt like a record amount of jizz into the talented ass of my partner.  I collapsed on top of him and lay there, panting.  He ruffled my hair with one hand and patted my ass gently with the other.

"Well, you and Senor what's his name didn't have much success last summer, but this was one fine fuck, Withers.  We should do this more often."

"We do it nearly every day, big boy."

"Well, duh!  I meant in a place like this."

"Yeah?  You know the more we did it the more we'd risk getting caught.  We'd probably be fined and sent to prison for performing a lewd act in public."

He chuckled.  "Hey, out here in the wilds of Trumbull County we might be lynched for being fuckin' homo-sex-yulls."

I stuck my tongue in his mouth and shut him up for a few minutes.

We managed to get our clothes on and get away from there before the sheriff and his minions showed up.

*          *          *


Emptying bedpans wasn't my favorite thing.  But I had gotten used to it.  

I graduated from high school in May, and the best thing about my summer was that I was working with Dante at the hospital.  We were going to room together in the fall when I started to the university.  The olds had agreed to let me share an apartment with Dan rather than live in the dorm.  I think they recognized that I'd be better off with him.  They knew he was pretty mature and would be what Dad called a "steadying influence" on me.

So, Dan and I worked full-time all summer at the hospital.  They kept us so busy we didn't often get a chance to sneak into "our" closet and get in some groping and kissing, much less a blow job.  But at least I saw him five days a week.  And we spent most of our weekends together.  

Sex was a problem.  My parents had accepted and come to like him.  His family tolerated me, but we didn't go there often.  Neither one of us thought we could have sex in our homes, though.  He gave me a blowjob once in a restaurant restroom, but I was so scared someone would come in while we were doing it I didn't enjoy it much.  One Saturday night after a movie we went behind the mall theater, to the delivery area of several mall stores, and I sucked him off.  I hope he liked it.  But I was so scared we'd be caught I didn't even get hard when his sweet cock was in my mouth.  

I lost most of my friends at school when they found out I'd been involved in the attack on Steve.  But a couple of guys and a few girls stayed friendly with me after I explained that I had made it up with Steve and he and I were friends.
One of them, Tiffany, called me one evening.  She said she thought I'd want to know that Richie and Jeremy were getting out of jail.  They were on probation.  She seemed to know the whole story.  She said they were not allowed to be together, since being with anyone who'd been in prison was a violation of their probation.  And they were not allowed to get anywhere close to me.  

The next day I told Dan.  He said he didn't trust those guys, but he hoped they had learned their lesson.  He gave me a hug and a kiss and told me to be careful.  And he said when we worked late, he'd walk me to my car.  I think he was more worried than I was.  I was looking forward to being a university student and to sharing an apartment with my hot guy.  Besides, as the summer went on, I never heard anything more about Jeremy and Richie.

*          *          *


It was a busy summer.  I was scheduled to take courses both summer terms.  Becca was in Erie, so we only saw each other on weekends when I went to Erie or she came to campus.  

My dad the ass doctor (aka proctologist) was still unhappy that I wanted to be a nurse.  Somehow that demeaned him.  But he did, fortunately, continue to pay my bills.  

I didn't have time to go to the pool where I swam a lot the previous summer.  Changing majors had put me behind, and I found myself much more interested in my courses now that I was really sure what I wanted to do with my life.

I talked with Trey or Chaz on the phone a couple of times a week.  They were in summer session, too.  They kept me informed about Cedric's condition.  What had happened really got to me.  I liked Cedric a lot, and the thought that he couldn't remember anything about his relationship with Prof. Mead really depressed me.  And I also felt sorry for Tim, who, I knew, loved Cedric totally.

I still managed to have lunch once in a while with Jared on Saturdays when I wasn't in Erie or Becca wasn't with me on campus.  During the summer, we got together every week.  And Dante came, too.  Dante was a mature, responsible guy, and I was glad Jared had someone like that in his life.  I knew Dante would protect him and see that he behaved himself.  

It was fun to sit in a booth at a restaurant and see how much Jared loved Danny.  I'd come to feel like Jare was my kid brother, and I loved seeing him with a guy who made him so happy.  

One day they told me that the two punks who had attacked me, the ones who had really attacked me, were out of jail.  From what Jared said, I got the idea that Richie and Jeremy were so restricted by conditions, they were nothing for any of us to worry about, and that was a relief.

Most weekends I was with Becca.  I liked it best when she came to see me because we could make love in my apartment and not have to worry about her parents hearing us.  I think they must have guessed what was going on, but they never said anything.  When I was there for Saturday nights, however, it really dampened the pleasure of our sex that we had to be so quiet and not let them hear what we were doing.

I found myself looking forward to classes starting after Labor Day, when Becca would be back in town.

One evening I got a call from Trey.  He'd called fairly regularly to ask how Becca and I were doing and to report on Tim and Cedric.  The news there wasn't encouraging.  Cedric still hadn't gotten his memory back.  This time, however, he was calling to ask me to meet him and Chaz at Noplace for dinner.  I told him I'd look forward to seeing the two of them.  They had been great to me after I got out of the hospital.  I told Trey I'd want a full report on what was going on with Ced and Tim.  He told me that Rick Modarelli was in town and would be teaching in the English Department that fall.  I'd heard that story, of course.  Then Trey asked me what was new with Dante and Jared, and I said I'd bring him up to date about them when I saw him and Chaz at Noplace.

*          *          *


After we kissed and Tim rushed home, as I said, I cursed myself.  It would be unethical in the extreme to try to move in on Tim while Cedric was suffering from amnesia and Tim was emotionally so vulnerable.  I had come to love Ced like a brother.  I respected what they had between them and knew that I couldn't allow my feelings for Tim, long suppressed, to cause me to do anything to come between them.  The kiss, I told myself, had been an impulse, a moment of extreme weakness.

The shocker, of course, had been that he returned the kiss.  But then, I realized, he needed that, needed some sort of affirmation from an old friend.  It didn't mean that he had any sexual feelings for me.  I just hoped my betrayal of his trust hadn't ruined everything.  

I fretted the rest of that evening and then did what I should have done sooner.  I prayed.  

The next morning I stopped by his place for our morning run.  He met me outside as usual.  We exchanged greetings and began our routine, culminating in our usual five miles.  After we had done our cool-downs, I flopped on his front stoop.

"Tim, I need to say something."

"Well, come on in.  We'll fix some breakfast together."

"No, I don't think that would be a good idea."

"What's the matter?" he asked.  "You afraid I'll attack you again?"

"Oh, shit, Tim.  Maybe I had better come in.  But look, we're both sweaty and need to get cleaned up.  Why don't we do that and then I'll come back?  I've got a coffee cake from Fein's.  Shall I bring it?"

"No, I've got sausage and eggs I should use up.  Just come on back when you're ready."

While I shaved and showered, I rehearsed over and over again what I was going to say to him.  Nothing I came up with sounded right.   As I tied my shoes I decided just to try to explain and hope the right words would come.

When I got there, I noticed that Tim hadn't shaved.  "You seriously going to let your beard grow?"

He grinned.  "Why not?  There's no one to tell me I shouldn't.  Maybe a new look will help me move on.  Wish it could make me into a new guy."

"Tim – "

"Come on, Max.  No sermons, no lectures this morning, please."

That hurt.  "Tim, I never realized you thought I lectured you.  I'm sorry.  I'll watch that from now on, I promise."

He handed me a glass of oj.  "No, Max, I'm the one who should apologize.  I didn't mean that as a criticism of you, though I can see why you thought so.  I just meant that since Ced's accident, all my friends have been trying so hard to take care of me.  I'm grateful, you know, but I feel a little . . . smothered."

"Yeah, babe.  I know.  That's how I felt when you guys were all trying to look after me when David moved out."

"Well, let's make a pact.  You feel free to tell me to fuck off when you're feeling smothered, and I'll do the same."

"Deal," I said, chuckling.

He soon had eggs, sausage, toast, raspberry jam, and coffee on the table.  He managed to do that without ever making me feel I didn't have his full attention.  Don't know how he does that.

"Now, Tim.  We have to talk about something."

He looked at me over a piece of toast he was buttering.  "Yeah, I know.  The kiss."

"Yes.  Tim, I – "

"Max, I could have kicked myself around the block after that.  I'm really sorry, man.  I know you were just trying to comfort me.  But with all that's happened and my fear that I'll never have Cedric back, something just happened, something I couldn't control at the moment.  There you were, my best friend.  You offered one thing, and I took something else.  I know you just wanted to comfort me, to reassure me.  I apologize for taking it further."

"Tim, my God!  You're incredibly generous.  That's not quite the way it was.  But I see now we were both acting from similar needs and with similar motives.  I've needed comfort and reassurance ever since David left.  You and the other guys have been wonderful to me.  But right at that moment, though I wanted to comfort you, I took a liberty.  I did something I shouldn't.  It presumed a relationship that, much as we know we love each other, we don't have.  I'm the one who must apologize to you."

He looked at me with tears in his eyes.  "God, Maxie.  I am so glad I have you in my life.  Whatever happens with Cedric, I hope you know I love you."

"I do, Tim.  And I'll always be here for you.  And Ced."

I felt like such a shit.

To be continued.