Chapter 1
Copyright 2005 Julien Gregg
Edited by Burt

This story is about homosexual teenagers.  If you are offended by this kind of story, then you shouldn't read mine.  If it is not legal for you to read erotic fiction where you live, then you should not read this story.  If you have questions or comments, email me.  You can also visit my webpage.  There isn't much there yet, but soon there will be exclusive content.  This story is copyrighted, so please do not duplicate it in whole or in part without permission.

Ok, so Tommy wrote his story.  I've read it, and I really liked it.  I had no idea how hard he had taken his mother's death.  I mean, I knew that he'd taken it hard, I just didn't know how hard.  I wish, now, that I'd been a better friend to him.  I hadn't been a shit to him or anything, but I could have been more of a friend than I had been.

That's why it shocked me so much when he asked me to read his story.  I mean he and I were never more than passing acquaintances really.  He lives across the street from me. We always say hello to each other.  I've been to his house exactly ten times since he moved in, and I never really hung out with him on any of those visits.  I was usually there to see Vince.

Tommy and I have become better friends since then though.  He's the one who convinced me to write my own story.  Like I told him, I don't know how good my story will be.  I'm not much of a writer.  I promised him, though, so here goes.  For those of you who don't know what the Hell I'm talking about, my name is Dustin Granger.  At the beginning of my story, I was seventeen years old and a senior in High School.  For the rest of the details, read the story.

The day it happened, it was so hot that I thought I'd pass out before I finished cutting Mr. Welsh's grass.  I was cleaning the mower when Keith Sulivan, my best friend, walked into the back yard of the Welsh house.  He had his shirt hanging out of the back pocket of his jean shorts.  His tanned skin was glistening with sweat.   The sun reflected on his golden highlighted brown hair.  He looked like a God.   Yeah, I had it bad for him, but if you could actually see Keith you'd understand completely!

"Hey perv," he said as he squatted down beside me, blocking the sun.

"Jerk," I replied, smiling at him.

This was our usual way of talking to each other.  He started calling me "perv" shortly after I came out of the closet to him.  Its his way of making a joke of it, because he swore to me then that he had no problem with my sexuality.  I believed him, because I'd told him three years before that day, and we'd been best friends still.

"What are the chances of me spending the night at your place tonight?" he asked as he helped me heft the lawn mower onto the back of my pick-up truck.

"Oh, I'd say the chances are good," I replied, wiping sweat from my brow.  "Mom and Dad have some kind of benefit to go to tonight, so they'll be home late."

"Awesome," he replied, smiling.  "Poker?"

"Nah," I said.  "Not enough warning time for the guys."

"We're still on for Sunday though, right?" he asked.

"Yeah," I affirmed.

During the summer, I always hosted a poker party on Sunday afternoons in my basement.  It wasn't officially summer, yet. We still had two more weeks of school to go before graduation, but I'd decided to start the parties a bit early this year.  This was our last year of high school.  We'd be losing touch with a bunch of our friends after the summer.

"Steve coming this time?" asked Keith as we got into my truck.

"I can't invite him, Keith," I sighed.  "You know that."

"Your old man is really wrong, Dude," he groused.

"I know," I agreed.

I was planning to tell my parents about my sexuality a year ago. But when Tommy Porter moved in across the street from us, and Steve Sutton moved in with him and became his lover, my dad flipped out.  He forbade me to have anything to do with Tommy and Steve.  He made it very clear that he hated homosexuals. So my plan to tell him and my mother about my sexuality was foiled after that.

"Any more lawns today?" asked Keith as we pulled out of Mr. Walsh's drive.

"You know I don't have any more," I laughed.  He never showed up until he knew I was on my last lawn.

I'd started this little business with one lawn three years ago, and by word of mouth, I had gained a few more later that summer.  By the time I was sixteen, I had twenty lawns around town, and my dad bought me a pick-up to carry my mower and other yard tools from job to job.  I had at least three lawns to do each day.  My work varied from just mowing to complete landscaping.  I really loved the work, but Keith hated anything that required manual labor.  He never helped me with any of my yards.

"Cool," he said, smirking at me.  "Pool filled yet?"

"Yesterday," I replied, turning into my drive and waving at Tommy Porter as I did.

"Very cool," he smiled.  "Can we swim?"

"After my shower," I replied.  "You can go ahead and dive in."

I bounded up the stairs, dropping my keys on the table in the hall, just inside the front door.  Keith shocked me by following me up the stairs, but then I remembered that his trunks were in my top dresser drawer.  We went into my room.  He started to strip.  Keith and I had never been shy about our bodies, so his stripping wasn't new.  I hadn't developed my lust for him over night either, so I'd long since learned how to hide the effect that his body had on me.  I even stripped for my shower before searching through the dresser for his trunks and mine.

"Hurry up," he said as I threw him his trunks and went into the bathroom.

In the shower I took care of myself, so I could keep from getting hard in my trunks in front of Keith.  It wouldn't have been the first time, but that wouldn't have made it any less embarrassing.  By the time I got downstairs and outside Keith was floating on his back in the center of the swimming pool.  I spent just a small extra minute gazing at his bronzed body before slipping into the cool water myself.  He acknowledged me by turning over in the water and going under.

As he came back up to the surface I got splashed in the face.  I laughed and splashed him back, and the war was on.  We started to forcefully try and dunk each other under the water, and his body kept sliding against mine as he tried to push me under.  This caused my dick to wake up.  I was too busy trying to get him under the water to worry about that.  What got my mind working was when I felt his hard dick poking me in the back.

"Woe," I said, pulling away from him.

"God," he moaned, swimming away from me.  He swam to the side of the pool, hefted himself up and out of the water and wrapped a towel around his waist before sitting down on one of the lawn chairs.

"Keith," I said before swimming to the side of the pool.

"No," he said, turning his head.

"What's wrong?" I asked, as I got out of the pool.

"I mean it, Dustin," he said in a warning tone.

"Whatever," I said, turning to walk back into the house.  I grabbed my own towel along the way.

"Wait," he called, but I didn't slow my pace.

"No," I said.  I wasn't sure what had just happened.  My mind was whirling with the fact that Keith had been hard.  I didn't know what to think, and I was trying hard not to let my imagination take off.  I did know that there was no reason for him to be mad at me.  His tone was uncalled for.

"Dustin, wait," he called after me as I walked through the back door of the house.

I ignored him and walked on into the house, through the kitchen and up the stairs to my room.  My mind was still spinning, and I was a little irritated by his angry tone.  I had to think, and I couldn't do that with him right in front of me.  Keith knew I was gay.  I'd told him almost as soon as I figured it out.  He didn't know that I was attracted to him.  At least, I hadn't ever told him that.  He'd never asked, so it wasn't like I lied to him or anything.  So what was his deal? He'd gotten hard, presumably from rubbing against me in the pool, but that wasn't my fault.  He's the one who started the whole thing.  So why was he mad?

I got no time to think about that one.  I don't know why I was shocked that he followed me through the house and upstairs, but I was surprised when he walked through my bedroom door.  He didn't say anything to me.  He looked at me once, but I looked away.  He finally stripped out of his trunks and put his shorts back on.  Then he sat beside me on the bed.  I still hadn't changed, so I was soaking the bed with my wet trunks.  I used that as an excuse to get up and walk away from him.  I was pulling on my boxers when he grabbed my hand.

"Wait," he said softly.

"What?" I demanded, pulling my wrist out of his grasp and pulling up my boxers.

He stood next to me, and before I could even register what he was doing, he put his arms around me and his lips brushed across mine so quickly that it was almost as if they hadn't at all.  I didn't get the slightest chance to process any of that, because he put his lips on mine a second time, and this time it was a real kiss.  I felt his tongue graze my bottom lip, and I instinctively opened my lips to allow him access.

Every nerve in my body began to tingle as he kissed me.  I wish I could say that I devoured his mouth with my own, but I remained completely passive during that kiss, letting him do whatever it was that he was trying to do.  A soft moan escaped him as he pressed his body against mine.  I could feel his erection pressing against my own.  At least that part of my anatomy knew what was happening.

"I want you," he said as his lips left mine.

Then he was pushing me gently back toward the bed, and when the backs of my knees hit the mattress I sat down.  He pushed further until I was lying on the bed, and then he was on top of me.  He was kissing me again, and this time his kisses weren't confined to my lips.  His lips traveled down my chin to my neck and back up again.  I was still very confused about the whole thing.  I had no idea exactly what he wanted from me.

When his hand wrapped around my cotton covered erection I gasped in surprise.  He squeezed, and an electric current ran though my entire body.  I swear I almost came right there! When his fingers began tugging at the elastic of my boxers, my confused brain finally got the point.  Keith was trying to have sex with me! For just a few seconds my mind continued to doubt what was actually happening.  Then I realized that I was about to get exactly what I wanted from him.  The only problem was that I didn't really know exactly what I wanted from him.  My jack off fantasies about him usually just had us doing what we'd already done.

"What are you doing?" I asked, letting the rational side of my brain be dominant for a spell.

"What do you think I'm doing?" he asked, flashing his sexy grin at me.  "I want you."

"You said that already," I replied as he pulled my boxers down my legs, exposing my hard dick.

He kissed me again to silence any more of my rational brain's comments.  Then he was pulling his own shorts down, and our erect dicks were pressing against each other with no clothing to separate them.  My mind was reeling, and my dick was pulsing.  I had no idea where we were headed, but my dick was certainly having the time of its life!

"Raise your legs," he whispered as our lips separated, and on some level, I knew exactly what he was planning.

I had all kinds of protests all set up in my mind at that moment. I was shocked to find that I was actually raising my legs as he pushed me further onto the bed, and I heard myself say, "Go slow."

He spit into his hand, rubbed it on my puckered hole, and I marveled that this would be the only lubricant I'd get for my first fuck.  When he spit in his hand again to rub it on his dick, which now looked massive to me, my mind registered the fact that he wanted to put it in my ass, I sighed a half sigh of relief.

As he fumbled around trying to find my hole, I noticed that my entire body was shaking.  I was excited and scared all at the same time.  My stomach was knotting up, and my heart was racing.  When he finally found home base, I nearly freaked out completely.  It turned out that I had nothing to be overly worried about though.  He smiled at me again and very gently started to apply pressure.

I don't know what I expected to happen, but I wasn't exactly prepared for the searing pain of his dick popping past my sphincter and into my ass.  My gasp of pain must have registered with him, because he stopped completely and started to kiss me with more passion than he had before as I got used to the intrusion.  The pain didn't last as long as I thought it would, when I told him to go ahead he slowly inched his way inside of me. I was blown away by the knowledge that I actually had him inside of me.

"Oh, God," he moaned as his pubic hair met my balls.  "You feel awesome!"

I wasn't verbalizing anything as he slowly pulled back, almost to the point of pulling out completely.  Then, I know my eyes practically popped out of my head as he slammed back into me.  He kissed me again as he set his rhythm, not quite pummeling his dick in and out of my ass.  I don't know what I expected to happen.  There were no fireworks or anything of the like.  I felt really full, and the feeling was both good and bad.  He was evidently having the time of his life.  His eyes glazed and unfocused for a while.  I was really there for the ride itself.  For a few minutes it seemed that he forgot that I was actually the one he was fucking.

Then he picked up his pace and started to mumble incoherent words as he jabbed his dick in and out of my ass.  I almost screamed when he slammed it all the way inside of me, and his body tensed up.  I could actually feel his dick expand as he pumped his cum into my ass, and I wasn't exactly sure what I thought about that feeling.  Shouldn't I have been all gaga, because Keith had fucked me? When he pulled out of me I felt more pain.  I wondered if that was normal or if he'd like ripped my ass or something.

He left me no time to ponder that, because he literally slid down my body and devoured my dick.  His teeth only scraped me once, believe me, that was enough! Then I knew what bliss could be as the feeling of his warm mouth wrapped around my dick finally reached the nerve center in my brain.  Here were the fireworks! Here was the end all be all of existence that I'd thought would come from having his dick inside me.  It didn't last nearly long enough for my taste.  I could feel my balls tightening in their sack.  I warned him, but he just clamped down on my dick with even more determination, and I unloaded the load of my young life down his eager throat.

When it was over we were both gasping.  He sat on the bed beside me, but he didn't look at me or say anything.  I didn't know if I should say something first or just let him alone.  Truthfully, the euphoria of my orgasm still had me in its grip, and I was riding the wave.  When I noticed that he was looking at me with a stormy expression on his face, my euphoria was canceled.

"Are you all right?" I asked, sitting up.

He didn't answer me.  He got off of the bed, yanking on his shorts, pulled his shirt over his head and turned his back on me.  I got out of bed and pulled my boxers back on, giving a small acknowledgement to the throbbing pain in my rectum, and stood next to him.  I didn't know what to say to him though.

"Put your fucking clothes on," he spat when he looked at me.

"What the Hell is wrong with you?" I demanded, and then his fist connected with my mouth and pain shot through my head.

When I opened my eyes again, Keith was nowhere to be found.  My hand went to my screaming mouth as I looked around the room in bewilderment.  What the Hell had just happened? My mind took inventory of the days events. What it came up with was that I got out of bed, happy that it was Friday, picked a happy Keith up at his house, and went to school.  Then I dropped him off, went home to change and mowed three lawns.  Keith found me at Mr. Walsh's house, rode back to my house with me and we swam.  Then we had sex, and he punched me in the face! The absolute best orgasm of my life had been followed up with a punch in the face.

I bummed around the house for the rest of the evening, thinking about what the Hell had happened.  I thought about calling Keith a few times, I even picked up my cell phone to do just that a few times, but I figured it would be better to let him calm down and call me first.  We'd never stayed mad at each other for long.  I wasn't even sure why he was mad at me.

Around supper, I finally checked my mouth at the bathroom mirror.  I used a wash cloth to wipe away dried blood from where my teeth had cut the inside of my upper lip.  I winced at the tenderness.  My lip was slightly swollen, and it was already turning purple.  He'd hit me pretty hard.

I went to bed in the same confused state that I had been in since Keith had left.  My ass was still hurting from the fuck he'd given me.  My mouth was hurting from the punch he'd given me.  Every time I tried to think of the awesome blowjob he'd given me, I remembered that he'd punched me right after. So, I shied away from thinking about it at all.  I figured that he'd be ready to talk by morning.

He didn't call before I left to do my first lawn the next morning, but he was always a late sleeper. It was only eight in the morning, so I didn't think much of it.  I was sure that he got a good night's sleep while I laid awake, thinking about everything I didn't want to think about.  All day long it was like that.  I don't know how I got through the lawns that day.  All I could think about was Keith. It was worse now than it had ever been since I figured out that I was gay and that I liked him.

I was surprised when he didn't show up at the Farley house.  He knew my lawn schedule that day, and he usually showed up at the last one of the day to ride back with me to the house.  That day he wasn't there.  I cleaned my mower and loaded it all by myself before driving home.  I waited until after I showered and dressed.  Then I called Keith.  His mother said that he wasn't feeling well, but she'd tell him that I called.

Maybe he was feeling guilty.  Maybe he was having the same kind of feelings that I'd had when I first discovered that I was gay.  If that was true, then he'd need a little time to sort all of that out.  I didn't care if we ever had sex again.  I just wanted to make sure that we were still friends.  I loved him, true, but I didn't want that to mess up our friendship.  I couldn't say anything about the sex we'd had, because I hadn't been the one to instigate it.

When my mother and father got home my mom noticed my bruised lip right off.  She grilled me for nearly an hour.  I lied and said that I'd done it while mowing.  I told her that I hadn't seen a rock in the yard.  When I ran it over with the mower it snapped back and hit me in the mouth.  She accepted the lie and went into the living room to watch television with my father.  He hadn't said a word about it.  I just went back upstairs to study for my finals.

The next day, Mark and Rick showed up to play poker, but Keith didn't come.  Instead of calling someone else, we just played without him.  I wasn't into it, and Mark and Rick kept asking all kinds of questions about my lip and why Keith wasn't there.  I almost blurted everything out to them, but I held my tongue.  I was happy to see them go home when they did, and that really sucked.  They were the only two gay people I was allowed to hang out with.  That was just because my dad didn't know they were gay.

I called Keith again after supper, but when his mom told him I was on the phone, he just hung up on me without saying anything.  I couldn't believe he'd done that.  I miserably went back to studying, but I didn't get any studying done.  I thought about the whole mess the whole time.  I finally gave up, and went to bed around ten that night.

I wasn't prepared for what happened at school the next day though.  I had already figured out that stopping to pick up Keith wasn't a good idea, so I drove on to school without turning onto his block.  When I got there, it was as if I was a social pariah.  No one talked to me, but they all whispered about me.  I walked into the quad and sat with Tommy and Steve, and even they didn't say anything at first.  They both looked nervous for a few minutes before Tommy finally spoke.

"We heard about Friday," he said.  "I want you to know that we don't really believe it, but a lot of people are talking about it."

"Keith's telling anyone who will listen," said Steve, backing Tommy up.

"What exactly did you hear?" I asked, fearing what I'd hear.

"Keith told us that you tried to have sex with him in your pool on Friday," said Steve.

"He said that you grabbed his crotch and told him that he'd love it," added Tommy.

"That's just not what happened!" I gasped.  I couldn't believe Keith would say something like that.

"We didn't believe that," said Steve.

"I can't believe he's lying to everyone like this," I said more to myself than either of them.

"What really did happen?" asked Steve.

"I really don't want to say," I replied after a minute of silence.  "Not yet, anyway."

"No problem," said Tommy.

When the bell sounded, I followed Tommy to History class leaving a bunch of staring people behind.  I couldn't believe it.  Keith was supposed to be my best friend.  How could he lie to everyone like that? Not too many people at the school had even known that I was gay until he'd told them this lie, and now that they knew, they thought I was some kind of rapist or something.

I walked into the classroom with Tommy, and everyone looked right at me.  I tried to pretend like everything was normal, but inside I was about to explode.  I sat in my seat and accepted my final exam as they were passed back through the rows of desks.  All through the final, I heard people whispering.  Mr. Calhoun had to call for silence three times.  The last time, he threatened to give the entire class zeros on the final if everyone didn't shut up.

The rest of the day was no different.  Each class I went to was filled with snickers and whispers.  Keith was in three of my classes, and he gave me a death glare every time he looked at me.  At lunch he didn't even come into the cafeteria.  I sat with Tommy and Steve's group.  None of them said a word about Friday.  I was very thankful for that.  Mark and Rick both told me that if I needed to talk, they were there for me.  Wendy practically sat in my lap the whole time.  I was thankful for the comfort, but she was actually crowding me.

When I got home from school, no one was home.  I was thankful for that.  I didn't want to even deal with my mom and dad.  I was sure that they hadn't heard the ugly rumor that Keith had started, but my mother was really good at sensing when something was bothering me, and I didn't know if I could come up with a lie to get her off my back.

I mowed three lawns, and on the last one I had to trim bushes and cut limbs off of a tree that was getting too long.  How I did it all without cutting my hands off or running over my feet with the mower, I don't know.  I was exhausted by the time the last lawn was finished, and all I could think of was going home, taking a long hot shower and crawling into bed.

However, my parents were home when I got there, and I didn't even make it into the house before I heard my father screaming at my mother.  It didn't take more than three words for me to figure out that they had, in fact, heard what Keith was telling everyone.  My father was actually irate.  I couldn't believe that it had gone this far.  I couldn't believe that any of it had happened to begin with.

"He's not staying under my roof another night, Karen," screamed my father.  "He can live with the faggots across the street for all I care."

"David, listen to yourself!" cried my mother.  "He's our son."

"He's no son of mine," he barked.

I just turned around and got back in my truck.  I had no idea where I was going, but I drove all over town.  I still had my back pack in the truck, and thankfully, my ATM card and checkbook were in it along with my school books.  I had no clothes to change into, so my first stop was the mall.  I hated walking into the place smelling like I did, but I had to get something to wear.

I make really good money doing the lawn work, so I could easily afford something to change into after I showered.  I bought a pair of jeans, a polo shirt, a bag of socks and boxers.  I had no idea where it was that I thought I would shower, but at least I had clothes to change into after I got that shower.

I didn't think about where I was going.  One minute I was at the mall and the next minute I was sitting in front of Tommy's house.  I sat there for a few minutes just thinking about all that had happened when Tommy came outside.  He walked up to the truck and I rolled down the passenger window.

"You all right?" he asked.

"Kind of got kicked out," I replied.

"Hungry?" he asked.

"Starved," I said as I heard my own stomach growl.

"Come on in the house," he said.  "Vince cooked but if you have a strong stomach, you can eat."

"Thanks, Tommy," I replied.

I couldn't believe that he was being so nice to me.  I barely knew him really.  We'd lived across the street from each other for almost two years.  I'd only talked to him at school and the few times I'd actually been inside his house.  Vince and I were pretty good friends, but since he'd graduated and gone on to Storyville University, he and I hadn't had much time to spend together.

"Hey, Dustin," said Steve, smiling at me when we walked in the door.

"Hey guys," I said.

"Why don't you take that bag up to my room and grab a shower," said Tommy.  "Supper's about ready, and I'm sure you're tired."

"Thanks again, Tommy," I said not knowing exactly how to express my gratitude.  I still had to think of where I was going to sleep that night but that would be easier to think about once I'd had my shower.

I'd never been upstairs in Tommy's house before.  His and Steve's room was very nice.  Their bed looked huge, and it was covered with a fluffy comforter and huge pillows.  I didn't know just how tired I was until I saw it.  I put my bag near the door, taking out the new clothes that I'd bought to wear and headed for the bathroom.  Tommy handed me a towel as I walked across the hall.

"Thanks," I said.

"Vince is going to make up the sofa for you later," said Tommy.  "You can stay with us until you figure something out. No worries and no arguing."

"Thanks again," I said stunned.  He was younger than me, but sometimes he seemed so much older.

After my shower, I sat down in the dining room with Steve, Tommy, Vince, and Andy to have some of Vince's meatloaf.  I quickly found out what Tommy had meant when he'd warned me about the food.  It didn't taste bad really.  It was just very dry.  The conversation was light and playful as the four of them bantered back and forth.  They teased each other about this and that and they basically just had a good time.  It was nice to see them interacting like that.  Supper at my house had always been a very quiet affair.

"So, Dustin," said Vince, "you're going to be staying with us for a while?"

"Looks that way," I said slowly.  I really didn't want to get into the reasons why.

"Well, if you're going to be staying for more than a few nights, we can always set up the empty room in the basement," he said.  "Don't worry though. Its on the other side of the basement from Andy's room."  They all laughed at that one.

"Thanks," I replied, smiling at their inside joke.  "I don't know how long I'll be staying."

"You're staying as long as you need to," interjected Tommy.

"Welcome to the family," laughed Steve.  "You've been adopted."

"Its a boy!" chuckled Vince.

We talked about schedules and getting me a key to the house.  Tommy called Tom Meyers to tell him that I'd be staying in the house for a while.  He talked to him for a little while and then we all settled in the living room to watch a movie on television.  We were interrupted by Wendy.  She came into the house without knocking, and she demanded to talk to me alone.

"What the Hell is going on?" she demanded when we got upstairs to Tommy and Steve's room.  "Ben called me and told me that you were going to be staying here for a while."

"My dad kind of threw me out," I said.

"Kind of?"

"Well, he never actually got the chance to say the words to me," I explained and told her exactly what I'd heard when I got home from doing my lawns.

"Oh, God," she said, sitting beside me.  "I knew Keith would call your dad."

"Have you talked to Keith?" I asked.

"Why do you care about him now?" she asked.  "Dustin, he's ruining your reputation and telling everyone that you basically tried to rape him!"

"But that's not what happened," I insisted.

"I know that," she said.  "I don't know what really happened, but I know it wasn't like that."

"I can't believe this," I sighed, trying very hard not to cry like a baby.

"Can you tell me what really happened?" she asked.

I sighed and ran my hands through my hair before my mouth opened and the entire day's events spilled out starting with going to school and ending with being punched in the mouth after receiving my very first blowjob.  After I was finished we were both quiet for a while.  She held my hand but she didn't say anything.  I don't know what I expected her to say, to be truthful.  I just felt better having told someone everything.  It was hard keeping the truth inside.

"Say something," I said after the silence had gone on for a while.

"I don't know what to say," she said.  "It sounds like he practically raped you."

"Not exactly," I replied.  "It wasn't as if I wasn't a willing participant. I was just stunned through most of it."

"I'm so sorry that all of this happened, Dusty," she said, using her private nickname for me.

Wendy and I kind of dated for a year before I figured out that I was gay.  It broke my heart to tell her and I know it broke hers to hear it.  She had Ben now and I was happy that she was happy.  Still, hearing her old nickname for me after so long forced me to break down and cry like the baby I was trying not to be.  She put her arms around me and rocked me.

"Everyone is talking about this at school," I moaned.  "My dad hates me and my best friend caused it all."

"Shh," she said, rocking me some more.  "Everything will be ok. Talk to my dad tomorrow. He already knows something is up."

"I will," I said, pulling back and drying my eyes.  "I think I want to quit school."

"Dustin, you're two weeks from graduation!" she gasped.  "You can't quit school!"

"Well, I don't want to spend the day at school with a bunch of people that think I'm a rapist," I said.

"Like I said, talk to my dad," she said.  "He'll work something out."

"He can't make them stop thinking that way about me," I said.

"None of your real friends think that way about you, Dustin," she said.

"That does help," I admitted.  "But the rest of them . . ."

"Aren't worth a pile of shit," she spat.

"Thanks, Wendy," I laughed.

"I'm serious," she said.  "We may all be younger than you, but we are you real friends."

"I know," I admitted.

After Wendy calmed down and left, I went back to the living room to sit with Steve and Tommy.  Vince had left for a date with Maria, and Andy was in his room in the basement reading.  The three of us watched the evening news before Tommy and Steve got me a sheet, blanket and pillow for the couch.  I admitted that I had nothing to sleep in and they said that my t shirt and underwear were fine.

"All guys here, Dustin," said Steve.  "No worries."

When they went upstairs, I settled in on the couch for my first night of exile from the home I grew up in.  I was surprised that sleep came so easily, but before I knew it I was drifting off, and Vince was waking me up and telling me to hit the shower while there was still time.  He said that Steve and Tommy hadn't come back up from their workout, so I had a little time.

When I came downstairs dressed in the new clothes I'd bought myself the night before and put back on after my shower, I was met by a very sweaty Steve and Tommy.  Both of them were panting from their workout but they were smiling.  They raced up the stairs to take their showers and I helped Andy with breakfast.

"Whenever you're ready to talk, I'm here for you," he told me as I made toast, and he made eggs and bacon.

"Thanks, Andy," I said.  "Not right now, though."

"Agreed," he replied.  "School first, work after. Then I'll be with Gage for a while. I'm not sure what time I'll be getting home tonight."

"It won't be today," I assured him.

"Like I said, whenever," he stated.

Over breakfast, I listened while Tommy and Steve ganged up on Vince.  They playfully teased him about his not being such a morning person while Andy and I chuckled at them all.  Things were very different in this house than they were in mine, but then I wouldn't be having breakfast, or any meals, in my house anymore.  Maybe one day, but not soon.  The fact was depressing, but I tried hard not to dwell on it.

Nick and Jeremy came through the door just as we were putting our breakfast dishes in the sink.  I noticed that Tommy and Nick completely ignored each other, and I wondered exactly why that was.  I knew that they'd had some kind of falling out a year ago, but I wasn't all that sure about what it had been about.  I didn't want to ask either of them about it, though.

In two cars and my truck we all headed off to school.  I didn't waste any time in the quad that morning, so I wasn't assaulted with the stares that morning.  I went straight to Mitch's office to discuss what could be done about school.  I didn't really want to quit school, but I didn't want to stay with everyone looking at me and whispering about me either.  I especially didn't want to sit in classes with Keith.

"I've been hearing some of what is being said about you around the school," said Mitch when I got to his office.  "I'll be talking with Keith about it later today as well."

"I don't know why he's saying these things," I said miserably.

"Well, Wendy tells me that you're thinking of quitting school because of this," he said.  "I just can't allow that to happen."

"I'm sorry, Mitch, but I don't want to stay in school with this going on," I said.  "Talking to Keith won't stop the stares or the whispers and I just can't stand it."

"Wendy also tells me that you're staying with Tommy and Steve," he said.

"Well, my dad kind of kicked me out," I replied, looking down at my hands in my lap.

"I've spoken with both of your parents," he informed me.  "Your father says that you are no longer welcome in the house but your mother wants you to come home."

"I can't do that," I said.  "If my father doesn't want me there, then I won't be there."

"I can respect that," he said.  "You're only seventeen years old though."

"I'll be eighteen in December," I countered.

"Well, as long as your mother knows where you are, you can stay where you like," he said.  "As for school I have a solution to your problem that is a bit unconventional, but I think it will work."

"What's that?" I asked quickly.  Anything that involved me not being around the student body would be good.

"Well, you have one final left to take," he said.  "That's today in second hour, right?"

"Analysis," I said, nodding.

"Well, why don't you just sit here with me until the end of first hour," he said.  "Then you can go and take your final and I'll release you for the rest of the day."

"Thank you," I said.

"I've talked it over with your councilor and we've both agreed that you don't actually have to be in school for the final two weeks after finals to graduate with your class," he said.  "So, if you don't want to be here, I'll clear it with the attendance office."

"Thank you very much," I sighed.  "I really don't want to be here."

"So, we'll see you at the graduation ceremony then," he nodded.

"We'll see," I said.  "I'm not sure about that either. I'm not exactly very well liked among the students. My father probably won't allow my mother to attend the ceremony, so I ay not even participate."

"I hope that you're reconsider that," he said.  "Graduation is very important and it will be a memory that you'll treasure."

"Not if everyone stares and whispers," I retorted.

We talked for the rest of the hour. He continued to try and convince me to participate in the graduation ceremony, but I wasn't sure about it.  He told me that I shouldn't let Keith and the others push me away from my own graduation.  I reminded him that it wasn't as if I wouldn't get my diploma if I didn't participate.

When the bell sounded I trudged off to Analysis class and my last final exam.  I felt relieved that this would be my last hour of high school but I was a little depressed over not being able to be with my friends.  I had to really think about that one for a minute or two.  My friends weren't my friends anymore and now I was getting friendlier with Tommy and Steve.  In truth, I was getting friendlier with the entire household.  Vince and I had been pretty good friends for a while but I had only met Andy briefly.  Outside of knowing that he was Tommy's best friend, Ben's older brother, and now Gage's boyfriend, I didn't know much about him.

Mrs. Bayfield was surprised to see me working on her shrubs so early in the day but thankfully, she didn't say anything about it.  She smiled at me and asked about my plans for the summer when I collected her money.  I chatted with her about nothing in particular for a few minutes, pretending that everything was ok.

Everything wasn't ok, though.  I thought about it all as I worked on Mr. Clarkson's yard a little bit later.  Keith and I had been best friends since we were little kids.  Almost all of our lives we'd shared everything with each other.  I was there when he wrecked his bike on the highway and nearly got hit by a diesel.  He was there for me when I fell off the monkey bars in grade school and broke my left leg.  There were so many memories of my life that involved Keith.  The last was the most horrible of them all.  How could he betray me like that?

Now my father hated me too.  I'd known that things were going to be rough for us when I finally decided to come out of the closet but I had planned to come out after I was already in college.  That way I wouldn't still be living in the house when he found out.  I would be a hundred miles away with a nice dorm room to hide in.  Now I wasn't even sure that he was still planning to pay for college.  What would I do if he didn't pay?

I was happy that Mitch had made it so that I didn't have to sit in school with everyone while they were all staring and whispering but even that felt like a bad thing.  I was supposed to be in school with everyone right then.  I was supposed to go to school until the final day and I was supposed to walk up on the stage in the auditorium to get my diploma with everyone else.  My mom and dad were supposed to be in the audience cheering for me when I did it too.  None of that was going to happen now.  Why? What had I done?

It was Keith that instigated the sex between us.  My ass was still sore from it.  He was the one that started it all and I didn't even do anything but lay there.  Why did he get so freaked out over it? Why did he have to start all of these lies about me? This was completely unfair and I didn't deserve any of it.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.  Thankfully I had enough work to do on Mr. Clarkson's bushes that helped me vent my anger.  By the time I was gathering up the clippings and putting them into the lawn bag, I felt a little better.  At least my anger had abated.  My depression was getting a bit worse, though, and as I mowed the lawn, I brooded over my father's reaction to my sexuality.

I didn't even know exactly what he'd heard yet.  Had Keith told him the same lie that he'd told everyone at school? That would be horrible.  If that were the case, I'd never be able to salvage my relationship with my father.  If Keith had told my dad the same lie, then I would probably never be able to face the man again.

Raking the cut grass gave me a chance to think about what my mother thought about all of this.  Mitch had said that my mother wanted me to come home so did that mean that if Dad had heard what Keith was telling everyone and Mom didn't know the story? Could that be possible? Or maybe she had heard the whole untrue story, but she loved me too much to hate me for it.  That wouldn't be much better really.  Disappointment was sometimes harder to accept than hatred.

By the time I collected the money from Mr. Clarkson, I was really worked up.  He could see that something was troubling me, but I told him that I was just stressing over my final exams.  He seemed to accept the lie as truth and I was off to my last yard of the day.  I had to get a handle on this, or it was going to drive me crazy.

Thankfully, the Patel lawn, my last of the day was just one that I had to mow.  I took care of that rather quickly, because the yard wasn't very large.  Mr. and Mrs. Patel were elderly and had no children, so there wasn't anyone in their family to mow grass for them.  Mrs. Patel had suffered a stroke the previous winter and Mr. Patel was busy with taking care of her, so he'd hired me to cut his grass once a week.

When I got back to Tommy's, I found my mother sitting in the living room with Vince.  They were talking quietly when I came in all sweaty.  When they saw me, my mother started to cry, and Vince smiled weakly at me.  He excused himself and went to the kitchen, leaving me alone with my mother in the living room.

"Hi, Mom," I said lamely.  I spread a sheet over the arm chair before I sat down, so I didn't get the chair dirty.

"Mitch called this morning and told me that you won't be going to school any more," she said, wiping her eyes.  "He also says that you don't want to participate in the graduation ceremony."

"That's right," I said.  "It isn't as if you and Dad will be there."

"Dustin, tell me what happened between you and Keith," she moaned, crying again.  "Tell me the truth."

"What have you heard?" I asked.

"He told your father that you tried to have sex with him in our pool and that he had to hit you to get you to back off," she said, averting her eyes from me.

"That's not true at all," I replied angrily.  "I'm not the one who started the whole thing. Keith is the one who started it and it went a lot further than touching!"

"What happened?" she asked.

"We had sex, Mom," I said, feeling the heat rise in my cheeks.  I couldn't believe that I was telling her this.  "Or I should say that he had sex. I was just pretty much there."

"Are you gay, Dustin? Is that true?" she asked, pleading with her eyes for me to tell her it wasn't.

"I'm gay," I said, looking away from her hurt face.

"But you didn't attack Keith," she said softly.

"No, Mom," I said, snapping my head around to look at her.  "What happened between me and Keith was completely consensual, but he freaked after it was over. He hit me in the face and now he's spreading all of these lies about me to everyone."

"I knew you wouldn't do something like that," she said more to herself than to me.

"What about Dad?" I asked.

"Your father is a good man, Dustin," she said evenly.  "He just doesn't know how to accept you for who you are."

"He hates me," I corrected her.

"He doesn't hate you," she said firmly.  "He's confused, Dustin. He needs time."

"But he thinks I'm a rapist or something," I said.

"I'll tell him what really happened," she said.  "I'll make him understand."

"But he'll still hate me," I said.  "I heard him yesterday, Mom. I heard everything he said about me."

"I thought you might have," she said.  "I want you to come home, Dustin."

"I can't do that, Mom," I said, and I was getting dangerously close to crying myself at that point.  "I can't live under the same roof with a man who hates me."

"So, you're going to stay here?" she asked, looking around the room.

"Tommy and Steve are giving me a place to stay until I know what I'm going to do," I said.

"You're only seventeen years old, Dustin," she said.  "You belong with your parents."

"Well, I don't belong with a parent who doesn't want me," I spat.

Tommy and Steve came in then from school.  My mother politely excused herself and went home.  She told me that I could come to the house in the morning after my father went to work to get some clothes and personal effects, but she expected that I would be home for good by the end of the week.  I didn't know if that was even possible with Dad feeling the way that he did.

I excused myself to take my shower after my mother left and Vince loaned me some clothes to wear after the shower.  I would go across the street in the morning to get some clothes and stuff, but I didn't want to be anywhere near the house when my father was home.  I didn't think I could stand a confrontation with him.  I didn't want to actually see the hatred in his eyes.

At supper, it was just me, Vince, and Steve.  Tommy and Andy were both at work.  Vince asked me how my visit with my mother went and I told him it was tuff.  I could go across the street in the morning and get some stuff.  He offered to give me a hand since he had no classes until after noon and I accepted.

"What about your dad?" asked Steve as he made short work of his spaghetti.

"My dad hates me," I replied.  "My mom says he doesn't, but I heard him say it with my own two ears.

"Sorry, man," said Steve, looking down at his nearly empty plate.  "I know what that's like."

I thought about what he said, and I remembered what his father had done to him I felt like a real prick for making him think about that.  He assured me that it was no big deal when I commented on how bad I felt about it as we were clearing the supper dishes, but that didn't make me feel any better.

After the dishwasher was started, I joined him and Vince in the living room for more mindless television.  I listened as the two brothers talked about their significant others.  I could hear the love in Steve's voice when he talked about Tommy, and Vince sounded as if he was in love when he talked about Maria.  I thought about what it would be like to have someone love me the way those two loved their partners.  I wondered if I'd ever really have that luxury.

When Tommy got home from work, Steve met him at the door.  I saw them kiss and their embrace spoke volumes about how they viewed time apart.  Tommy went upstairs to shower and change before joining us in the living room and I again gave them an account of my visit with my mother.  Tommy listened intently and when I was finished, he just smiled sadly at me.  I knew that he was thinking of his mother.

I sat talking with Vince after Tommy and Steve excused themselves to go up to bed.  They were running in the morning, so they needed their sleep.  Vince and I talked about setting up the spare room in the basement before he went to bed.  I asked about a bed and he told me there was already a double bed in the room.

"You really think your dad won't let you back in the house?" he asked.

"You didn't hear him," I replied sadly.  "He really hates me now. I'm sure that when my mother tells him the truth about what happened, he'll still hate me. He just won't think I'm a rapist anymore. He'll only hate me for being gay."

"I'm sorry," said Vince.

"Thanks," I replied.  "How are things with your parents?"

"Haven't heard a word out of either of them in going on two years now," he replied.  I was kind of shocked that there wasn't even a hint of sadness or disappointment in his voice when he said it.

We were still sitting there when Andy came home from his date with Gage.  He was smiling when he came in and he said hello to both of us when he entered the living room.  Vince asked him about his date and Andy told us all about the dinner that he and Gage had gone to.  It was a benefit for AIDS and Gage had paid $150 per plate to get them in.  Andy said that Greg Lougainous was there and Vince was impressed by that.

"You and Gage are getting pretty close," said Vince when Andy was finished telling us about the dinner.

"Yeah," replied Andy with a smile.  "I really like him."

"You've been dating for nearly a year now," said Vince.  "Any thoughts on cohabitation?"

"We've discussed it," he said slowly.  "Right now, though, I think the house is full enough."

"I won't be here forever," I interjected.

"Oh, don't think I was referring to you, Dustin," said Andy.  "It was just my way of saying that I don't think I'm ready for that step in the relationship yet."

"Point taken," I said.

"What about you and Maria?" Andy asked, turning the tables on Vince.

"Well," said Vince, blushing.  "I wasn't going to say anything about this for a few days, but I went shopping for a ring this afternoon after classes."

"You did?" asked Andy, smiling.  "Wow, Vince. I had no idea you were that serious about her."

"I'm in love with her," said Vince.  "I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I just hope that she feels the same way."

"She hasn't given you any indication that she doesn't, right?" asked Andy.

"She hasn't given me any indication that she does, either," replied Vince.

"Well, good luck, Bro," said Andy.  "When were you thinking of asking her?"

"Next Tuesday at the festival," he said, smiling.  "She loves that festival. I'm hoping that if she does feel the same way that I do, this will give her another reason to love the festival."

The festival was held yearly in the middle of Macarthur Park.  It was an arts and crafts festival.  There were rides and booths that sold food and drinks.  The main attraction was artwork from local artists and there was a craft show and sale as well.  It drew a huge crowd every year.  I'd been to the festival almost every year.

"Sounds romantic," said Andy.

"I'm trying to make it romantic," laughed Vince.

"Well, I have class early tomorrow morning," said Andy, stretching as he spoke.  "I'm going to head on down to bed guys."

"Night, Andy," we said almost at the same time.

After that, Vince helped me carry sheets and a blanket downstairs to the spare room.  There was a dresser and a desk already in there and the bed was nice and firm.  Vince said that everything in the room was brand new and that Tommy had bought it when they thought that Andy and Ben's cousin was going to be staying with them for the summer.  It turned out that Phillip wasn't coming, so the room was unoccupied.

After the bed was made and Vince was back upstairs, I collapsed onto the bed.  Sleep didn't hide from me that night and I drifted off into a night filled with dreams of Keith, school, and my father.  It was not a peaceful sleep and I woke up over and over again.  So I was still very tired when Vince woke me up at eight.

We were the only ones in the house and we ate cereal for breakfast before heading across the street to my parents' house.  My dad's car was gone and I knew he'd be at work.  My mother was sitting in the living room, but I didn't go in there to talk to her.  Instead, I led Vince up the stairs to my room.  My mother came up shortly after us with boxes for me to put things in.  That just made it all seem too real and I almost started to cry.  I hated that I was so ready to cry all of the time.

"I wish you would just stay home, Dustin," said my mother.  "Charles will be home soon and he's going to wonder what is going on."

"I'm sure that Dad will tell Charlie all about it, Mom," I said.  "If Charlie wants to know the truth, if he still cares about me after he finds out I'm gay, then he can come across the street to see me."

She started crying then, and I had to admit that when she mention my older brother, I was shaken a bit.  I hadn't even thought about Charlie coming home from college for the summer.  Charlie and I had always been close when he was living at home, but since he'd gone to college, he didn't have all that much to do with me.  Still, it would hurt if he hated me like Dad did.

After she went back downstairs, Vince and I started loading the boxes with clothes and a few other things.  I took the pictures off my dresser and desk as well as all of the papers and magazines out of the desk drawers.  My bankbook and checkbook were in the top drawer of the desk and I grabbed them too.  After grabbing my comforter and pillows off of my bed, I followed Vince back down the stairs and across the street.

He left for class while I put everything away in the dresser and desk, made my bed, and got dressed to mow lawns.  I just left my laptop in the box for later.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it for a while anyway.  I still didn't know about college.  I thought about Charlie all the time I was working on the four lawns I had lined up for the day.  By the time I got back to Tommy's, I was seriously considering calling Charlie to warn him about what he would hear about when he got home.

That night I had Tommy and Andy at home for supper while Vince and Steve went to work.  The banter at the dining room table was a lot different between these two.  Tommy asked a lot of questions about Gage and the AIDS dinner they'd gone to the previous night, but he didn't really tease Andy the way that Steve teased Vince.

"So you and Gage are no closer to getting more serious?" asked Tommy.

"I'm still thinking it over," said Andy.  "I'm a little worried that I'm taking too long to make up my mind though. I don't want Gage to just walk away from me."

"I don't think that will happen," replied Tommy.  "Gage really likes you, Andy."

"That's the problem," admitted Andy.  "Do we just like each other?"

"I can't answer that one for you," sighed Tommy.  "That's something only the two of you can figure out."

"Yeah," was all Andy said.

"So, Dustin," said Tommy, effectively shifting the spotlight in my direction to save Andy some comfort.  "What are you planning to do with your free days now that you aren't in school?"

"I've been doing my yard jobs earlier in the day," I replied.  "I've added one to each day as well. Vince helped me set that all up yesterday. Now instead of three after school, I do four starting around ten in the morning. I'm looking for more, so I can get the summer business flowing."

"What are your rates?" he asked between bites of his rigatoni.

"Depends on exactly what is needed and the size of the yard," I replied.

"Well, say this yard," he said.  "Mow the grass and trim the hedges. That sort of thing."

"Well, for a yard this size, the rate is $20 a week to mow, and an additional $15 for the hedges," I said.  "In the winter, the rate goes to $35 a week to shovel snow from the walks and driveway."

"Well then, count us in as one of your new customers," he said.  "None of us really enjoy taking care of the lawn."

"I couldn't charge you, Tommy," I said.  "I'm kind of living here too."

"I don't care," he said.  "I'll pay you $35 a week to keep the yard nice and the hedges trimmed. No arguments. I'll even talk to Tom and Shirley about their yard."

"Thanks, but this doesn't feel exactly right," I said honestly.  "I should really contribute something."

"And you will," said Andy.  "You're working, so you can help with groceries. When the bills come in grab one and claim it as your own from time to time."

"That's all?" I asked.

"That's all," said Tommy.  "House cleaning is assigned to days of the week. You get Thursdays."

"Thursdays?" I asked.

"The day that each of us work," explained Andy.  "We've been skipping housework on Thursdays and just piling it on to Fridays. That isn't really fair to Vince since Friday is his day, but it was only going to be until school was out."

"So I fill that void," I said slowly.  "That leaves two days."

"Weekends are the 'everyone pitches in' days," supplied Tommy.  "Just help out where you see a need."

"Can you cook?" asked Andy.

"Some," I admitted.  Actually, I could cook and quite well.  I just didn't want them to know that yet.

"Thursdays," said Tommy, smiling.

"Cool," I said.

"So, graduation," said Andy, changing the subject.  It wasn't one that I liked though.  "Any decisions?"

"I'm not attending," I stated.

"You've discussed this with your mother?" he asked.

"A little," I said.  "She cries when she sees me, so we don't talk much."

"I'm sorry, Dustin," said Tommy.  "I really am."

"It just seems wrong that you feel you have to miss your own graduation over this," said Andy.  "Are they really that bad?"

"The kids at school?" I asked.  He nodded.

"They're that bad," Tommy answered for me.

"Still talking about me?" I asked.

"Unfortunately," he admitted.  "A lot of us are trying to stop the rumor mill, but it isn't easy."

"Don't bother, Tommy," I said.  "It isn't important now."

"It is important," he argued.  "These are the people that you'll be living around for the rest of your life."

"Its not that dramatic," I chuckled.  "A lot of them won't return to Storyville after college, and some of them will move away to take jobs. There's the military to think of too."

"Still sad that you feel you have to miss your own graduation," said Andy.

"I'm not thinking about it that way," I said.

The subject was dropped after that.  I helped Tommy load the dishwasher and then we went into the living room to watch a movie with Andy until Vince and Steve came home from work.  When they did, I got a repeat view of the events of the previous night between Steve and Tommy.  I had to wonder if all couples were like them.  They seemed to be so loving all of the time.

The daily routine didn't alter much.  I took over the cooking and cleaning on Thursdays and I did my lawn work six days a week, taking Sundays off.  I was making over a grand a week, and socking more than half of the money away in my savings account.  The rest went into my checking account.  I figured that I wouldn't need more than $500 a week.  What seventeen year old really did? I was making better money than most adults.

On the night of graduation, I went to a movie with Ben and Wendy.  They were trying to keep my mind off of what I was missing, but I kept thinking about graduation all night long.  I was about to turn in for the night when my cell phone started chirping at me.  I picked it up, and my heart about exploded when I read the caller ID.  It was Keith.

"Dustin . . ." he breathed into the phone when I answered.

"What do you want, Keith?" I asked hotly, scribbling on my notebook out of frustration.

"I . . ." he stammered and then hung up the telephone.

I sighed and terminated the call on my end.  It'd been two weeks since he'd outed me to the entire school, our families and anyone else who would listen.  What did he think we had to talk about now? I'd missed my own graduation because of him.  My father wasn't speaking to me, he couldn't wait for me to move out of the house completely, and my mother cried every time I was around her.  What could he possibly think we had to discuss? Our friendship was effectively over and as far as I was concerned, there was no way of salvaging it.