The Long Road
  A story by J. Andrew Daniels

   Well, the typical warnings apply.  This story contains overtly sexual content and should not be read by anyone who isn't mature enough to understand it.  I will mention that some people feel the need to put a magical change in maturity on the numbers 18 and 21, however I've met 30 year olds with less intelligence then some 14 year olds.  This doesn't change the ages of consent, however.  So, if you're younger than your state and/or country feel is legal to read this type of thing, don't tell me or anyone else, and certainly don't blame me if you get all fucked up for the rest of your life.  Oh, and this will make you gay, so you better not read on unless you already are, or don't mind the idea of being.
    Now, on a simple note; if you're looking for a quick jack-off story, this isn't it.  This story may have some fantasmagoric sex scenes in it, however they don't happen quickly, and there is more story than sex.  So, if that's your thing, then read on.  Otherwise, don't bother yelling at me, 'cause I warned you!
    I proof-read the last installment after sending it to Nifty, and finding all of those grammatical errors and simple typos made me mad.  I'm too much a perfectionist.  Of course, rather than re-sending it, I'll just leave it as is.  The Prologue, as well as this and all future chapters are also posted on my website, so if you want the most updated versions, then check there.  The updated Prologue is also there, but not much has changed.  Some people who are like me will probably appreciate the small changes I've made.  Of course, if I miss anything, don't hesitate to let me know in as kind a fashion as you may.
    If you have any questions about the validity of this story, I have no comment. If you want to email me, feel free.

Chapter One

    It didn't take long before we had to break up our little reunion to rejoin the party.  I was still to open my presents, and my folks were excited to have this last birthday with me.  They knew that since my birthday was in April, from now on I would be too busy at school to come home and celebrate with them.  It's funny how clingy parents get when they know you're going to leave.
    Admittedly, it was a little embarrassing how my parents had arranged everything.  Like a sudo awards ceremony, people would get up on stage, stand at the podium and give a little speech about me.  Then they would produce their present for me, and I would have to come up and shake their hand and receive it formally.  I knew it was better to pander to them, but it still felt a little too much for little old me.
    Many of the people I'd known forever told stories of times I'd spit up on them while they were holding me as a baby, or times when I'd run here or there naked.  I even heard about the time I fell asleep naked against my dog when I was real young, and how there were pictures.  My grandmother, Nana Stevens, got up and told how her daughter was the best and most productive of her children.  How I was the best of the grandchildren.  How she loved and adored my whole family and hoped my little brother Ray would turn out like me.
    Grampa got up and gave a similar speech, totally unaware that his fly was open and half the crowd, including Nana Stevens were laughing at him, and not with.
    Throughout all this, I was constantly making eyes with Mat.  I had found where he was sitting, on the other side of the room from me to me dismay, and would catch his stare when I was going to and from the podium.  He would smile, and I would smile, and we would both know that things were going to be good from now on.  No more hiding from each other and no more denying who we loved.
    I was ready to tell the world, and I could have cared less what they thought.  I had said as much to Mat just before we returned to the party, and he seemed a little hesitant.  I understood, and decided I wouldn't pressure him.  We had the whole summer before moving off to college to figure out what we could and would share and with whom.  This is why, when it was his turn as my best friend to present me with his gift, that it was such a shock what he said.
    "Well, I've known Andy for three years now.  We met just before his fifteenth birthday, and spent most of the year getting to know each other.  I think the summer before tenth grade was the most important for both of us.  We, along with Jenn and Julie, found out just how much we had in common.  And, I think he's been one of the most influential people I've ever met.
    "There's something I've never told anyone.  I know that standing in front of all of Andy's family and friends is probably not the best place to look for therapy, but I've been dying to tell someone for a long time.  Now that I know who I want to tell, I want you all to be here when I do.
    "Before my family moved to Amherst, we lived in a small town in the mid-west where church was the only non school activity that anyone participated in.  Speaking about anything but God was blasphemy and children did nothing but respect their elders.  It was here that my family had lived for my whole life.  It was also here that I discovered that life isn't as easy as the church wants one to believe.
    "About a year before I moved, I met someone whom I easily fell for.  Admittedly, I was young and probably didn't love him as I could love someone now, but I did like him a lot."
    There were gasps coming from various points in the crowd now.  My mouth was completely agape, and I was getting very weird looks from my parents and friends.  Jenn was looking at me with that, 'Can you believe what he's saying?  I never knew!' look.  I just ignored them all and kept listening, forcing my mouth to stay shut so I didn't look like a complete ass.  I also watched Mat's face.  He was obviously on the verge of crying, but he swallowed it down and continued.
    "He--" His voice cut out a little, and he had to clear his throat to continue.  "He was as much in love with me as I with him.  We quickly developed a relationship under the noses of the hypocritical people around us.  My family didn't take long to figure out what was happening, and my mother supported me to no end."  He looked at her now, tears starting to flow.  I wanted to get up and go comfort him, but I knew he wouldn't want me to yet.  "My father was there for me, but he was a little reserved.  Of course, when two people know, it doesn't take long for others to figure it out.
    "Mike's parents soon stopped letting him see me.  My parents fought for us, trying hard to convince them that it was better to let us work this out and be supportive.  They wouldn't hear of it.  They put Mike into 'therapy' so he could be 'cured.'"  He looked down, the tears more obvious than ever.  Everyone in the crowd was silent, looks of concern and love on their faces.  Nana Stevens was even tearing up, since she'd gotten to know Mat over the years.  She sort of thought of him like another grandson.
    "During that summer, Mike--" He choked, and I couldn't help myself.  I stood up and walked up to the stage, going over and putting my arms around him.  Mat buried his head in my shoulder for a minute, crying hard.  I whispered to him that it was okay, and he didn't have to continue, but he just pushed me away and turned back.  "During that summer, he committed suicide.  He hung himself."  I was on the verge of falling apart watching him cry as hard as he was.  I kept thinking about how much he was hurting, and also selfishly mad at him for not telling me sooner.  I pushed aside my thoughts and held him again, not letting him push me away.
    Even with me holding him, he continued.  "We moved here shortly after.  My parents didn't think it would be good to have me around there anymore.  They didn't want me to end up like Mike.  They also convinced me it would be better to keep my little secret to myself.  They were right, because I was terrified of everyone.  I couldn't stand the idea of anyone finding out about me or who I was."  He paused and looked at me.  Our eyes connected, both of us crying and red, puffy and not our most attractive.  I loved him even more.
    "When I first met Andy," he began again, facing the crowd.  "I knew from the start that he was someone I would have trouble keeping away from.  He was so like Mike both physically and personality wise.  Even my mother commented as much.  As we grew closer, I found myself feeling for him what I was trying so hard not to.  And one day, I found out he was feeling the same.
    "We showed each other how we felt that morning, and it was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me.  Of course, thinking about Mike and what happened, I grew scared.  Without giving an explanation, or even anything more than telling Andy I couldn't do it, he honored me and we remained only friends.  Neither of us stopped feeling for each other, and there was no hiding it from Jenn or our other close friends.  But, the one thing that has kept me true to myself and my love of Andy was the fact that, without question, he was able to put his own needs and feelings aside for me.  He was able to put his own life on hold...for me."  He looked at me again, and more to me than the others, even though they could still hear, he said, "I love you more than life itself, Andy.  You are so much a part of who I am, and I want you to be a part of me forever.  I want everyone to know that I love you."
    We were both crying harder now, and we embraced, holding each other as we cried.  Pretty soon, I realized that the people in the crowd were clapping and hooting.  Jenn had come up on stage and was congratulating us.  Most of the people in the crowd started heading toward the stage as well until my parents stopped them.  It would have been a disaster.  My father, who joined us on stage and gave me a reassuring pat on the back, went over to the microphone and began to address everyone.
    "I'm not sure I can top that one.  I think Mat has definitely given Andy the best present of the day, but Colleen and I do have something we would like to present him with."  He looked at us, Mat and I with our arms wrapped tightly to each others' waists, and smiled.  "Mat, if you would be so kind as to allow our son to come forward?"
    Mat looked at me, and we exchanged one more quick kiss before I walked over to my father.  Wiping the tears, and smiling expectantly, I leaned against him.  He put his arm around me, smiling and looking out at the crowd.  Some people were still getting back to their seats, but most were watching intently.  My mother was now climbing up to us, holding a box that was neatly wrapped with silvery green wrapping with a silver ribbon and bow.  She handed it to me and pulled me into her arms.
    "I love you," she whispered.  "You're amazing."
    "Thanks, mom," I returned, holding her for a few moments before I let her go to dad.
    Released, she joined my father.  They watched as intently as everyone else as I began to unwrap the box.  It was about the length of a VHS tape, but taller.  More like a cigar box.  As the wrapping came off, I was actually sure it was a cigar box.  The box itself was plain white, but it was in the very design of one of my grandfather's boxes that were imported from Cuba.  I smiled, and lifted the lid.  Inside was a solitary item; a key.  It was a Ford key, and my heart fluttered and shook.  I couldn't believe what they'd done!
    "Mom!  Dad!"  I grabbed the key out of the box and looked at them in disbelief.  My eyes were filling with tears, and I thought I was going to cry for the fiftieth time that day.  "Oh my God..."  I was so in shock, I think I almost blacked out.  "Is it..?"
    "Yes, Andy.  It's an Explorer."
    "Oh my God!!"  My scream echoed in the mic and caused some reverb.  The loud squeal caused me to calm down and blush a little.  I looked out over the crowd with a huge grin and tears.  Everyone was smiling, and grandpa Stevens smiled broadly.  I knew it was partly from him, as my parents couldn't possibly afford this on their own.  "An Explorer!"  I was so excited that I didn't even think about anything else.  "Where is it?"
    "In the parking--" My father started.
    I didn't even give him a chance to finish.  I dove off the stage, looked back at Mat and waved for him to follow.  Running like lightning, I crashed through the doors outside and searched around for it.  I didn't have to search long as it was sitting only a few spaces from me.  It was forest green with gray base-boards.  The roof had a bike/gear rack, and I could see the open sun-roof.  My heart was literally about to jump out of my chest!  I ran over and shoved the key in the lock, opening it as fast as my little hands could turn it.  Pulling open the door, I dove in and flipped the switch to unlock the rest of the doors.  Mat was already climbing in the passenger side.
    "This is amazing!"  My parents were at the door, so I started up the engine.  The rest of the crowd was piling out of the hall as well, all shaking their heads and smiling.  When the engine purred into life, I pressed the button to roll the window down.  "Mom!  Dad!  I love you!!  Thank you so much!"  I didn't know what to say, but my body tried to express my feelings by crying even harder.  Mat held my hand, and mom and dad held each other.
    "You're welcome," my dad said.  "But I think your expression was payment enough."  His smile and gentle voice caused me to cry a little harder.
    I couldn't believe what they were doing for me.  And they didn't even blink when they found out I was gay.  I had the best parents in the world!
    "Take Mat and go for a spin.  Everyone knew this was the end of the party.  You two have fun, but be careful."
    "Oh God yes.  I wouldn't let anyone hurt my baby!"  And I meant both of my babies.
    My father laughed and my mom smiled.  They both pulled each other closer, waving as I backed the new truck out of its space.  Mat's hand tightened its grip, and I squeezed back a little.  We drove around town, the town I'd grown up in, and the town he'd come to spend the best years of his life in.
    I slowly started to come down from my high, still enjoying the Explorer, but starting to remember the story he'd told.  Our hands were still intertwined, as if they'd been formed together and were never going to come apart again.  I drove us down Main Street, following it until we were in Pelham.  After driving a little longer, the woodsy town around us fading to non-existence, we came to Rt. 202.  I took a left and drove up to the peak of the mountain before us.  At the top, there was an area for people to pull over to enjoy the view.  I pulled the truck over and stopped with us facing the valley below, turning off the engine and looking into Mat's eyes.
    "I love you."
    "I love you, too."  He smiled, looking like a weight had been lifted from him.  In a sense, it had.  He'd spent the past few years hurting and needing someone to help him, but hiding from me for fear something could happen to me like what happened to Mike.
    I leaned over and pressed my lips to his.  The warmth of them spread to me, the gentle kiss holding us together.  I didn't pull away, and instead just slowly and continuously kissed him.  Eventually, I reached out with my tongue, gently requesting an audience with his.  He granted the request, and soon we were talking in ways we hadn't spoken since that day on the island.  With years of lust and desire behind us, we began to kiss even more passionately.  Neither of us wanted to stop, and neither of us cared that cars were driving past behind us.
    Our hands began to join in the conversation, and soon I was feeling his chest and rubbing his nipples.  It didn't take long for them to get tired of his chest and work their way down to his pants.  As mine made their trek, so did his.  He had the button on my slacks undone and the zipper down before I even reached his.  Our kissing was becoming more intense, filled with the need of two mostly virgin and very horny teenagers who wanted nothing more than to be with each other.
    I pulled apart from him, the agony of that parting more than I cared to voice.
    "Not here."  He nodded his agreement and we put away what we'd almost fully exposed.  I started up the engine again, smiling at the sheer thought that this Explorer was mine, and this man in the seat next to me was also mine.  I turned on the radio and surfed through to RNX, 100.9.  Just my luck, Tori was on the radio.
    "...Steady as it comes, right down, to you, I've said it all, so maybe we're a Bliss, of another kind..." (Tori Amos, To Venus and Back - Orbiting, Bliss.)
    Now I had everything I could want.  The truck of my dreams, the man of my dreams, and the music I loved on the radio.  Nothing could possibly ruin this moment.  Holding Mat's hand, trying to think of where we could go, and just on a high that would never be surpassed, I was the happiest boy alive.
    "My parents have a cabin.  They wouldn't go there during this time of the year.  We could spend the weekend.  Make a whole big deal out of it, ya know?"  Mat's giddiness was shining through.  We knew what we were planning was right, and we'd waited three years to get to this point.  Nothing was going to make us feel guilty for it.
    "Sounds great!  Where is it?"
    "Vermont.  Up north, near the Canadian border.  We could even go into Montreal for dinner one night."
    Settled, Mat pulled out his mobile and dialed his parents.  I only half listened as he chatted with them, explaining the plan.  I could tell they were happy for him, because they kept saying things that made him blush and giggle.  When the conversation was over, we remained silent, just enjoying being together like this.
    When the truck finally pulled into my driveway, I could see that my grandparents were all over, as well as Jenn and Julie.  I knew that Mat and I wouldn't get time together alone for a while more.
    We climbed out and walked hand in hand to my door, opening it to the sound of laughter and loud talking.  The moment they saw us, they all started screaming like giddy school girls.  They ran over, the whole flock, and surrounded us asking about the truck, how it drove, us, the future, and many other questions.  Nana Daniels pulled me aside eventually and handed me an envelope.
    "I didn't want to give this to you in front of your friends and everyone, because this is our little secret."  She winked and folded my hand around it.  Pointing to my room, she pushed me off to go open the present alone.
    I shut my door and slowly opened up the envelope.  Inside I saw a few parcels of paper, which I carefully pulled out.  It seemed that the envelope was older than I would have thought.  As I unfolded the yellowish paper, at least seven one-hundred dollar bills fell onto the floor.  I looked at them in shock.  Not much money to many, but a lot to an eighteen year old who was still in high school.  I left them on the floor and began to read:

April 28th, 1978
Dear Andrew,

    I've just watched you be born.  The most amazing thing I've seen since the day I watched my own children born.  It's been a long time since I have held a tiny little boy in my arms.  I see in your eyes the future of my family and my heart is aching with love and admiration for you.
    Since you're too young to understand this, I've asked Nana to give this to you when you turn eighteen.  I feel that's as good a time as any for a boy to know his grandfather's dying wish.
    I'm sorry that I wasn't able to be there with you along the way.  I am also sorry that I couldn't watch you grow up.  I found out only yesterday that I don't have much time left in my life.  I've had a long life, though, and your grandmother has been the most loving person I've ever known.  She has made everything worthwhile.  I have no regrets, mostly thanks to her, and so I know I will leave this Earth with the knowledge that she, and my darling children, will raise you to be someone I am deeply proud of.  I hope to look down on you from heaven and see the young man I've helped give birth to.  I want to look around heaven and say, "That's my grandson.  He's the best grandson."  I know you've done me proud.
    I want you to take the money included in here and use it on someone you care about.  If you're anything like the rest of us, you'll have someone dear to you by now.  I'm sure you're already thinking of marriage.  I hope that you won't tell your Nana, as I know she'd only disapprove.  She never did like it when I gave money to the kids.  "You'll spoil them," she'd say.  Maybe, but it's my right.
    My last wish on this earth, Andrew, my namesake, is that you will live your life to the fullest and find yourself the kind of happiness I have had.  Love as much as you can, and enjoy everything.  Don't waste your time worrying or thinking of bad things.  And never withhold your heart, because you cannot find love without getting hurt first.
    To be honest, I cannot think of more to say.  This is the first time I've written a letter to someone I don't know, and will never know.  I only hope that it helps you to see the kind of person I was, and to know that even though we didn't get to play ball together, and that I didn't get to spoil you in person, that I loved you and always will.

Your Grandfather,

Andrew E. Daniels

    My heart ached.  I didn't know what to think, say or feel.  I simply cried because I knew that I was loved more than I ever had before.  A man I'd never known had looked into my eyes and been so moved as to write such a letter to me.  What more can one ask for?
    I picked up the bills, the old money that had been hidden in a letter my grandmother held onto for eighteen years, and I put them into my sock drawer.  On some sort of impulse, I pulled the letter to my face and smelled. I inhaled the scent of cologne.  The same cologne my father wore, and I now wore.  I felt, for a moment, that my grandfather was there with me, smiling.  I knew he was watching me and that he was proud.
    Wiping my face, I folded the letter back and replaced it in the envelope.  With a broad grin on my now red face, I walked back out into the party.  It had been a long day, and I was looking forward to spending the evening with my closest and dearest.

To be Continued...

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