Who Says Three's A Crowd?

Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.


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WARNING! This story involves consensual sex between men. If this type of story is illegal where you live, not your cup of tea, or you are not legally old enough to read it, under the laws of your place of residence, stop right here!

I welcome your constructive comments; flames are another matter, and will be killfiled. I will respond to your e-mail.

Beyond the balcony window, the snow fell quietly, swirling around in the light of the parking-lot lamps and brightening the living room by the reflected glow. In the window's glass, reflections from the candles and the stereo's display danced -- the only source of illumination within the room as the three of us sipped mulled wine and talked, watching the snow fall outside and the drifts on the balcony itself grow deeper.

Although it was still Christmas break as far as classes were concerned, we'd all had to come back to our jobs only a few days after New Year's -- my lover Mike at the university bookstore, where he and his friend Jeff (now my friend as well) worked as stockers and glorified errand-boys, and I in the research laboratory of the professor who'd taught me microbiology and histology over the previous year, thanks to a whopping grant she'd gotten from the National Institutes of Health. Thus it was that the three of us found ourselves sitting in the living room of the apartment that Mike and I shared one Wednesday night in the early part of January, watching the snow fall and getting pleasantly buzzed off the wine as we talked.

I'd been drifting quite happily away from the conversation for several minutes, strolling blithely down memory lane and thinking back to another January night, two years earlier, in this same apartment. All of a sudden, I felt practically simultaneous punches on both my biceps, as my companions noticed and took it upon themselves to punish my lack of proper attention to whatever it was they'd been discussing.

"Earth to Ryan," Jeff teased, "come in, please. Over."

"Yo, dude!" Mike chimed in. "You wanna stand outside until you wake up, or what?"

"Sorry, guys," I responded. "I got to thinking about something else."

"A likely story," Mike answered. "Think we ought to believe him?" he asked, talking across me and addressing Jeff.

"Only if he tells us whatever it was he found so interesting," Jeff replied.

In answer, I leaned over to kiss Mike gently on the lips, which surprised him a little, since we tended not to be overly demonstrative around other people. But I only smiled fondly at him, mouthed, "I love you," and then turned toward Jeff -- still smiling -- and said, "It was on a night very much like this one, and in this very room, that Mike and I became a couple, two years ago next week.

"Now I'm surely prejudiced in this, but I think Mike is a wonderful guy, and I'm very happy he's been a part of my life these last two years -- as I hope he will be for many more years to come. I'd say that justified a bit of woolgathering, wouldn't you?"

Jeff blushed briefly, then smiled in return, nodded, and said, "Since you ask, yes, I agree with you on all counts. I haven't known him as long as you have, Ryan, or in exactly the same way, but I am very glad that he's been my friend this past year. I don't honestly believe I could've made it through some of the rough spots without his support. And I'm so grateful that you still felt able to share him with me as a friend, knowing what happened between us that one time..."

"Hey, now," I said, "I thought we'd all agreed that incident was buried in the dead past, and that we were going to leave it there."

"Sure we did," Jeff agreed, "and at least as far as a repeat performance is concerned, it has been -- not that I don't still find Mike attractive, or you, Ryan, for that matter. Doesn't mean I've forgotten what happened that weekend -- especially since one of its consequences has been a weekly visit to the counselling centre ever since."

At this reminder of the abuse Jeff had suffered as a young man at the hands of one of his brothers, a pall of sadness fell over the three of us. Mike had been the one to encourage Jeff to get into therapy after Jeff told him about the abuse one weekend the previous spring when I was out of town and he and Mike had gotten it on together in my absence. Wordlessly, I reached out and squeezed both of their forearms, a gesture composed of roughly equal parts of empathy, acknowledgement, and support.

Jeff sighed and said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to depress everyone by bringing that mess up. But since you mentioned it, Ryan, would you mind telling me how you two got together? I asked Mike about it once, but let it drop when he said he'd rather not talk about it without your permission. I'd still like to hear the story, if you've a mind to tell it."

I glanced briefly over at Mike, who nodded permission.

"I don't mind," I said, "and since he doesn't either, let me give you the abbreviated version. The unabridged version would take more time than I can afford, considering I have to go do subcultures first thing in the morning. Mike and I were both in the same chemistry class our sophomore year. He sat across the aisle and down a couple of rows from my place and, to put it mildly, I liked what I saw -- a lot. In fact, if it hadn't been that I'd taken honours chem in high school, I'd probably have bombed that course but good, 'cuz I sure as hell wasn't paying much attention to what Dr. Glass said during lectures!

"I couldn't stop thinking about Mike, and I was jerking myself off like mad and fantasising about him at least once a day for the first half of the semester. But my imagination and that chem lecture were the only places I saw him. I couldn't very well walk up to him in the classroom and say 'Hi, my name's Ryan, and I want to fuck you,' and I had no real contact with Mike outside of class, so I couldn't count on anything else to bring us together. Fortunately for me, just when I thought I was going to be spending the whole semester hopelessly fixated -- and frustrated -- the night before the midterm, Mike asked if I could help him with one of the review problems, which resulted in us becoming study buddies thereafter.

"Now at one point we were shooting the shit during a study break, and Mike let slip the fact that he packs eight inches, but up until a little end-of-term party he threw -- here, in fact -- I hadn't ever laid eyes on even one of 'em. It was late in the evening (or early in the morning, but it comes to the same thing), and just about everyone had already gone home. I was sitting right where Mike is now, and he was coming back from the hall bathroom; next thing I knew, he winked at me, yanked down his shorts and underwear in front, and practically waved his dick at me. It wasn't hard, of course..."

"What do you mean, 'of course'?" Mike retorted. "About half the time I spent in the john, I was thinking about Richard Nixon, Howard Cosell, and a bunch of geeky Dilbert types, trying to get my dick soft enough that I could get it back in my shorts. You don't think I wasn't turned on at the idea of flashing for you, Ryan? Hell, if we hadn't been in the library that time I first told you I swung eight, I'd have proved it then -- and if Traci hadn't decided she needed to pee right as I'd gotten it out of my shorts, I'd have had it hard for you in no time that night, instead of waiting three more weeks!

"Anyway," Mike continued, picking up the thread of the narrative, "I'd been noticing -- and appreciating -- Ryan for nearly as long as he'd been drooling over me. Neither one of us was dating at the time, though both of us, we later discovered, were playing around with the same guy, a friend of mine from high school who'd roomed across the hall from Ryan our freshman year. Turns out we were both also bitching to him about this totally hot dude we'd noticed in chem class but couldn't seem to connect with, but Ed kept his mouth shut about what each of us was telling him about the other. Not long after New Year's that January, though -- when Ryan practically split him in two out of frustration over me, and then I just about blew the back of his head off, shooting a load with him a few days later, 'cuz I hadn't seen Ryan for three weeks -- Ed decided he had to do something, if only to keep from getting hurt in the crossfire of our mutual frustrations.

"So Ed told me that he and Ryan had been doing it together for nearly a year, as time permitted and hormones prompted, and that Ry'd been mooning over me with him, not a week before I came and cried all over his shoulder about Ryan. After that, I was bound and determined to find some way to get through to Ryan that I wanted him just as much as he wanted me. Barely a week later, I'd driven up here with a carload of shit from home, planning to work my shift at the store, then head home for the rest of my stuff that night and bring it back on my way to work the following day.

"Only trouble with that idea was that when I got off work, there was a fuckin' blizzard howling over half the state and every road out of town was closed. We had two inches of snow on the ground and more coming down by the minute, winds blowing it all over hell and back -- and on top of ice, as it had been raining before it got cold enough to snow. Here I was, stuck with hardly a thing in the fridge, my VCR still back at home, and not a damn thing to do but wait out the storm and maybe go to work the next day. So I called Ryan to see if he wanted to play cards or something, to help pass the time..."

"'Or something' is right," I butted in. "Given the prospects of spending an evening alone with Mike, no distractions, no one else around, and no likelihood of being interrupted -- hell, for that I'd have gotten my ass over here if I'd had to build the sled all by myself and then raise the dogs to pull it!"

"Hey, who's telling this story, anyway?" Mike teased. "I whipped up a batch of hot chocolate laced with peppermint schnapps, lit some candles, cranked the thermostat, and waited for Ryan to get here. It only took him 20 minutes or so -- which, considering the conditions that night, was damned good for a guy on foot. I got him out of his soaked outer clothes, lent him a pair of dry sweats, and poured some hot chocolate down him to thaw him out a little, and then we played cards and shot the shit for an hour or so, just like the three of us were doing earlier tonight. Then Ryan noticed that I kept shifting my shoulders around and offered to give me a back rub when I mentioned that I'd had to check in nearly 200 boxes by myself that afternoon.

"That was when I knew we'd be getting it on that night. I figured that even if he could keep from getting hard, having his hands all over my bod, I sure didn't think I could..."

"Seems to me you managed pretty well," I chimed in.

"Only thanks to Tricky Dicky and the Dilbert crowd," Mike laughed, to chuckles from both Jeff and I.

"Anyway," he continued, "Ryan did pop a boner, which I felt jabbing me in the shoulder when he rolled me over to do my front side. I let him work on me a while longer, to see what might happen -- trying even harder to keep my dick at half-mast or lower -- when I decided that I was going to have to make the first move, Ryan being the gentlemanly type. So, I asked him if he wanted me to take off my shorts. He did, and I did, and the rest, as they say, is history."

"Did you guys move in together right then, or what?" Jeff asked.

"No," I said, "we didn't start living together until that summer. I had a studio that just barely had room in it for my bed -- which meant that Mike and I were practically forced to spend most of our time there together on the horizontal -- and Mike was living here with a straight-but-not-narrow roommate who knew Mike was gay and didn't care, and didn't even mind if I occasionally spent the night: a really nice guy. Unfortunately for him, his folks didn't much care for his grades that year, and insisted that he move back into the dorms until he got his GPA into a more acceptable range. My studio was on a nine-month lease, so when that ran out, I moved over here and sublet from Gene for the rest of that year's lease, and then signed a new one with Mike in my own right when it was up."

"Cool," Jeff said -- or tried to, anyway -- around a monstrous yawn. "Look, dudes, I hate to be the one to do this, but even if Ryan didn't have to go to work first thing tomorrow, I do -- and I'm beat, after hauling all my shit back up here from home today. Thanks for the company and the hospitality, as always -- and a happy anniversary to you both, if I don't see you before the day itself."

"Thanks, Jeff," I said, giving him a friendly hug before he rose to do the same for Mike. "Drop in anytime you're free -- you know you're always welcome."

"Yeah," Mike spoke up, hugging Jeff in his turn, and giving him a quick peck on the cheek, which Jeff returned somewhat hesitantly. "I'll see you at work on Monday, man."

"See ya!" Jeff called over his shoulder as he pulled on his coat and headed out the door.

"How much d'you want to bet he jags off before he goes to bed?" I asked my lover as we both tidied up the living room before heading off to bed ourselves.

"No bet, Ry," Mike answered. "He could've pounded nails with his dick, it was that hard when he hugged me."

"Well, hey, mine's not exactly soft, either," I put in.

"Funny you should say that, my love," came the reply I'd hoped to hear, "because I seem to be in something of a similar situation. Shall we?" he asked, beckoning from the doorway of our bedroom.

"Yes, let's," I told him, drawing the blinds and shutting off the stereo.

Afterward, as Mike and I were lying cuddled in one another's arms, enjoying that blissful, post-orgasmic and pre-slumber lassitude, I stroked Mike's chestnut hair and said, softly, "I won't ask you to violate any confidences, love, but has Jeff found a boyfriend to his liking yet, or has he decided that guys really aren't his cup of tea after all?"

"That's OK," he responded, "I have Jeff's permission to tell you anything you want to know. He told me I could when I started sitting in on some of his therapy sessions late last year. We figured that might help you to feel a little less weird about the whole situation -- but I haven't always volunteered information because I didn't want to keep rubbing your nose in it, so to speak.

"Anyway, to answer your question, yes, he's still in the market for a boyfriend, but he hasn't been looking all that hard since starting therapy. He's had a lot of stuff on his plate, you know, and I think it was a good thing for him to get his head on straight, if you'll pardon the expression, before he went out husband-hunting. But lately he has been talking about it again, so I gather he's feeling sufficiently 'together' to begin making an effort."

"You don't suppose he's thinking about us in that regard, do you?" I asked. "I mean, he did come right out and say he found us both attractive."

Mike was silent for perhaps half a dozen heartbeats, thinking. Then he said, "I don't think so, Ry, at least not anything long-term. I mean, given what his life's been like so far, what would he know about long-term relationships? But I can tell you this much -- he seemed very interested in what we did together, that one weekend he and I spent in bed. Is there something hatching in that pretty head of yours that I should know about?"

I hugged him tighter, and said, "Turn 'round where I can see you, love."

When he had done so, and wrapped his arms around me as well, I spoke again. "This is going to sound really crazed, but I haven't been able to get the thought of Jeff, with us, in bed, out of my head all night. And right now, I don't know whether I'm more turned on or scared by that thought."

Again there was silence, save for faint traffic and building noises, for the space of a dozen heartbeats or so, before Mike spoke up again. "I have to ask this, Ry, even though I don't think it's true. Do you want out? Do you not find me exciting anymore?"

For a moment I felt my world come to a crashing halt about me, and I didn't like the feeling one bit. As the tears rolled silently down my cheeks, I took one of Mike's hands from around my torso and held it to the wetness on my face as I whispered, "Mike, angel, no! I didn't mean anything of the kind, and I beg you to forgive me for even giving you a reason to think I might have. I think I fell in love with you the first time I laid eyes on you, and even if it didn't happen at that precise moment, it's been long enough ago that it doesn't matter: I'm just glad it's true. I love you, Mike, and I always want you beside me, whether it's here in bed, or anywhere else we go together, for as long as you want to be there. These last two years have been simply wonderful, and I don't want to do anything that might put our continued happiness at risk -- so let's please just forget I even said anything about Jeff, OK?"

Mike squeezed me close, kissed me tenderly, then slacked his hold on my body, though without letting go of me completely. In the dim glow that leaked around the blinds and the spill from the LEDs of the clock radio on the headboard of our waterbed, I could faintly see the gleam of tears on his face as well. I ran the back of a knuckle along his cheekbone, wiping it clean, and kissed him back, hanging on to him as if he were a lifeline in a storm-tossed sea.

"Ry, my own and only, you don't need my forgiveness," he said, softly. "I'm overjoyed to hear you say that you want me to be with you until I tell you I want out, 'cuz those are words you aren't ever going to hear from me! If it were legal in this fucked-up country of ours, I'd marry you this minute and never mind the stares, the pointed fingers, or any of that bigoted bullshit. Hell, I may do that anyway, even if we have to go to Europe for it, though I'd rather it were here, so we could be with the people we care about.

"Now as far as Jeff's concerned, you know I think he's one damn fine hunk of man, and you seem to agree with me on that. It's true, he did seem very curious about what you and I liked to do in bed, that one time he and I were together, but that could just as easily be chalked up to an almost-virgin's natural curiosity. I don't honestly know how he'd feel about an invitation to join us for a round of the waterbed Olympics: it could go either way.

"But I have to say, Ry-boy, we need to be very damn careful about how we approach him on this, if we decide we want to. The one good thing I can say about having been unfaithful to you with him was that for once in his life, after what that bastard brother of his did to him, Jeff was able to experience being wanted, cared for, and cherished for who he is by another man, and not just used for cheap gratification and then tossed aside like some blow-up doll. I don't ever want him to have to feel like that again!"

"Nor do I, My-boy," I said, calling Mike by the pet name he much preferred to "Long Dong," which I'd begun to use after he kept bragging about the size of his cock. "If we do this at all, it has to be done carefully, so everyone understands exactly what's involved, no one's being coerced or pressured in any way, and nobody expects more than what the others are willing -- and able -- to deliver. But listen," I added, glancing at the clock, "it's already a quarter to one, and I've got to get up and go to the lab in another five and a half hours. What say we sleep on this, and talk about it some more at dinner tomorrow night?"

"Suits me," Mike said, kissing me once more and then whispering, "I love you, Ryan."

"I love you, too, Mike," I replied, kissing him back as he pulled the comforter over us and we composed ourselves for sleep.

As we'd agreed, Mike and I continued our discussion of l'affaire Jeff over dinner that night, after a very pleasant interlude in the bedroom upon Mike's return home from work to find me catching 40 winks. After much thought and discussion, it was decided that Mike should ask Jeff over for dinner on Monday after their shift at the store together.

We had agreed that nothing physical would take place that night between the three of us, as Jeff was obviously going to need some time to think things over carefully for himself, just as we had, before reaching a decision. Our plan was to let Jeff know that we were interested in the possibility of a ménage à trois with him, should he prove interested as well, and that whatever he felt about that invitation, we did want him to join us for dinner on Friday, our anniversary, if he was free. After that dinner, we'd ask him again about the three-way and proceed from there, either that night or at some other mutually agreeable time, if he wanted to give it a try.

Monday was a hard day for me to get through, both because it marked a return to the routines of the academic year after a month-long vacation, but also because of the knowledge that a very important, very delicate conversation awaited me at day's end. Luckily for me, my laboratory procedures had long ago become almost second nature, as it was certainly not aseptic techniques or my research plan that I was thinking about during my last class that afternoon, an independent research project with Dr. West, related to the work I was doing for her on her NIH grant. I don't even recall seeing the last rack of culture tubes, yet I streaked subculture plates from each of them, making the appropriate notations on each Petri dish and in my lab notebook -- and all the while I was wondering just what Mike was saying to Jeff, back home, and how Jeff was taking it. Then I stacked the Petri dishes in the appropriate parts of the incubator, cleaned all the instruments I'd used and put them in the autoclave to sterilise, cleaned up the lab bench where I'd been working, and scrubbed with antibacterial soap for the prescribed five minutes, still wondering what was going on at home, then sprinted out the door to my car and at least bent the traffic laws getting back to the apartment.

On my arrival, I rattled my key in the lock to announce (gently, I hoped) my impending entrance, then unlocked the door and stepped in, closing it quietly behind me. On the couch in front of me, Mike was holding Jeff in his arms and making soothing noises.

"How far did you get?" I mouthed soundlessly to my lover, and added, "Is he OK?"

"Basic groundwork," Mike mouthed back, and nodded to say that things were all right. He then spoke aloud to Jeff, "Here he is in person. Why not ask him yourself?"

"Hold that thought a second," I said, dropping my book bag and getting out of my coat, "and I'll be right with you."

Jeff sat up, knuckled a couple of tears from his eyes, and smiled weakly at me as I sat down next to him on the couch.

"So what's with the waterworks?" I asked, squeezing his arm to show I wasn't upset.

"Well," he answered, "it's just...wow! You guys have been so great to me this last year, and it's so beautiful to see you together, your love and your care for one another. It's great that you feel you can do that around me, you know, let me share in your love. And now you're asking me if I'd like to share in it even more deeply. I don't know what to say. Do you really mean it, Ryan?"

"Yes, Jeff," I answered, "I do -- we do. Mike and I talked this over carefully, and we agreed to ask you at least to think about it. But I want to be sure you understand that we aren't putting any strings on this invitation. If you don't feel you can accept it, that's fine: it won't change the way either of us feels about you. You'll still be a welcomed and valued friend, and we'll still want to have you as a part of our lives. Now if you do decide to accept this 'other' invitation, there are no strings attached to that, either. Even though we might all want to try this, that's no guarantee that it will work out the way we think it will, or that everyone will enjoy it as much when it's a fact and not just a theory. Mike and I thought it best to leave things open until we all had a better idea of what was involved and how we felt about it. And lastly, it would be unfair to you to ask you for a decision about this tonight. Mike and I have already had plenty of time to think things over, and you deserve that chance as well. What we'd like to do is have you over for dinner on Friday, which is our anniversary. Whatever you decide about the other invitation, we'd still like you to help us celebrate our special day, if you're available. We can all think things over this week and see how we feel about it on Friday. If everyone still agrees we should try it by then, we can think about times and places and guidelines. Are we all OK with that?" I asked, to nods from the other two.

"Well all right, then. Let's get some dinner going: I've spent all afternoon playing around with deadly bacteria and couldn't even get a snack -- I'm starved!"

The end result of the evening was that after a careful discussion of how Mike and I had arrived at the decision to make both invitations, Jeff accepted the one to dinner on Friday, at a nice Spanish restaurant we all liked, and agreed to think about the other one very carefully, subject to confirmation on Friday. As the week wore on, both Mike and I had our occasional doubts about the whole idea. Some of mine, in fact, were still lingering even as we drove to meet Jeff at the restaurant Friday evening.

We all had a marvellous time at dinner: the food was excellent, as was the company. Jeff had brought us a card, in which he'd written, "Whatever else may happen between us, I just want to say that it's been a joy and a privilege to know you two this past year, and thank you so much for everything you've done for me. I'm honoured that you asked me to share your special day with you, and I sincerely want to wish you many happy returns. Love, Jeff."

When we'd both read the card and squeezed Jeff's hand in mute gratitude, we finished our coffee and cordials, paid the check, and went back to our respective apartments to change out of our "dinner" clothes, agreeing to meet up back at our place for the rest of the evening. Once we'd arrived, Mike and I changed into our regular around-the-house attire of T-shirts and sweats. Mike opened a bottle of a good Beaujolais and put it in a terra cotta cooler on the coffee table. While he got the glasses and some munchies together, I filled the CD changer with a mix of George Winston and Enya, lit the candles, and turned the torchère lamps to a "conversational" level, somewhere about mid-way between full flood and "ooh, baby, come fuck me now!" Mike had just brought in the glasses and set them on the table when Jeff arrived, also clad in sweats and a T-shirt, with a few flakes of snow clinging to his winter coat.

We disposed ourselves comfortably around the room, and Mike poured everyone a glass of wine -- explaining, as he always did, that after the first one, it was every man for himself. We talked for about two and a half CDs and a bottle of wine (I'd guess about two hours -- we don't have any very visible clocks in our living room!) when we hit one of those awkward moments where everyone in a room stops talking at the same time. We all sat and watched the snow fall in silence for a couple of minutes before Jeff finally spoke once more.

"Umm, listen, guys, I have a little anniversary present for you..."

"Jeff, you didn't have to do that," I said.

"Yeah, man," Mike agreed. "We're just happy you could share the day with us."

"Still," Jeff riposted, rising from his place and digging in his jacket pocket, "I wanted to get you guys a little something, just to show that I care. Go ahead, open it," he prompted, after handing us a small box about four inches square and a half-inch deep, wrapped in a heavy foil and tied with a bright red ribbon.

Since I tend to shred packages getting them open, I decided to let Mike do the honours. I sipped my wine as he slipped off the ribbon and carefully removed the wrapping paper before lifting the lid. Inside the box, nestled on a pad of that fake wool that jewelry stores use, was an assortment of condoms and a small card that read, "Use these in good health and think of me -- unless you'd prefer to use them with me. Love, Jeff."

Mike and I looked at each other, smiled, and then turned to look at Jeff, sitting all alone on the loveseat across from us, watching and, it seemed, barely breathing. Practically as one, Mike and I both smiled at him, nodded, and said, "Yes," to which Mike added, "What the hell are you doing sitting all the way over there? There's plenty of room here on the couch!"

"I didn't, like, want to crowd you or anything," Jeff replied, shyly, as he got up and came toward us.

"We don't want you to feel crowded, either, Jeff," I said as he sat gingerly next to me. "You're welcome to spend the night tonight if you'd like, or we can set another time."

"Tonight's fine with me," he said. "I brought a bag, just in case. It's out in my car."

"Why don't I go get it," Mike offered, "while you two get better acquainted or something. Keys in your coat, Jeff?"

"Umm, yeah. Thanks, Mike."

"No problem. Listen, why don't I move it while I'm out there? You're parked on a snow route, and it looks like we may already have two inches -- and if we don't we will by morning for sure, the way it's coming down."

"Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks."

"Don't mention it," Mike said as he bundled up and headed out the door.

"What do we do now?" Jeff asked.

"Whatever you'd like, or whatever you're comfortable with," I said. "We're all likely to be a little nervous about this; I think the best plan is to take it slowly and see how it plays itself out. Why don't we spread out a little here, take off our shirts, and wait for Mike to get back. I'll bet he'd enjoy that sight when he walks in the door," I added, stripping off my own T-shirt and helping Jeff with his. I pulled him into a closer embrace, taking the opportunity as I did so to run my hands lightly over the clear, unblemished skin of his sculpted, hairless pecs.

Jeff responded in kind, then ran his fingers through my hair and kneaded the back of my neck as he lay half-turned in my lap, eyes closed. I wrapped my arms around him, delighting in the feel of his warm, firm flesh against my own, and ran a couple of fingers lightly up and down the inside of his left thigh, just barely grazing against the bulge in his crotch. As I did so, he stopped kneading my neck and began gently to pull my face downward. Softly, my lips met his, then parted and invited entry beyond -- which was how Mike found us occupied when he got back a few minutes later, fairly well covered with snow.

"Well, now," he chuckled. "That's a sight for sore eyes, and it certainly warms my cockles, if nothing else. Mind if I join you?"

"I'd be disappointed if you didn't, love," I said, as both Jeff and I extended an arm to him.

"Then again," Mike said, "I don't know if we can all fit comfortably on the couch, at least in anything like the position you guys are in. Shall we take this to a bedroom, perhaps?"

"'Yours' or 'ours'?" I asked.

"What do you mean?" Jeff wanted to know.

"Usually, Mike and I sleep in my bed," I explained, "because it's a king size and in what's technically the 'master' bedroom, so the bathroom is right there. But Mike's got a queen- sized waterbed in the other bedroom, which is partly for appearance's sake, though he'll sometimes use it if one of us has a cold or something. Do either of you have a preference?"

"Not I," Mike said.

"Well," Jeff replied, "if yours is the bigger one, given that there's three of us, wouldn't that make more sense?"

"Works for me," I said. "You two take some candles in there, and I'll lock the doors and switch the speakers around. Don't start anything without me!"

"Maybe...maybe not," Jeff teased, carrying a candle in each hand as he left the room.

Shortly we were all seated, bare-chested, in a rough circle on the bed that Mike and I had shared for nearly two years. Around the room, the flames of a half-dozen pillar and votive candles flickered and danced, and Enya was playing softly from the bookcase speakers. We sat in silence for a few moments, holding hands or touching one another, each of us lost in his own thoughts.

Then Mike spoke up. "Jeff," he said, "do you remember what I said to you as I was stripping off, that first time at your place?"

"Umm, yeah. I think it was something like 'It's your party -- you call the shots.' Sound right to you?"

Mike reached out with his right index finger and gently touched the end of Jeff's nose. "Spot on, my friend," he said, smiling. He then half-turned toward me and continued, "If it's OK with you two, that seems like a good plan: the new man gets to call the shots the first time, and then we'll see where we might like to go after that. How's about it?"

"Works for me," I said. "Jeff? You OK with that?"

"Yeah," he replied, "I guess so, if you guys are."

"Anything in particular you have in mind?" Mike inquired. "Or any ideas about where you might like to start?"

There was a brief pause as Jeff thought about it, then he sat back against the headboard and said, "How's this: Mike, would you please undress Ryan; and Ryan, when he's done, I'd like you to undress him. Then you can both help me out of these," he finished, patting the crotch of his grey sweats.

Mike scooted closer to me on the bed, then drew me to him for a rib-cracking hug and a very wet kiss -- both of which I returned just as vigorously. Then I let go of his body, swiveled around and stood up at the side of the bed, facing Jeff, and held my arms away from my sides. Mike palmed my stiff cock through the fabric of my sweats, then pulled the waistband outward and untied the drawstring, letting the dark red fabric fall around my ankles. He then knelt to pull them off, one leg at a time, leaving me clad only in my Black Watch tartan boxers, which he then pulled down slowly and carefully past my hard-on and again assisted me to step out of them. Before he stood to take his turn at being disrobed, however, he shucked back my foreskin and swallowed my prick in a single dip, letting it slip from his oral embrace after milking it with his throat muscles for several moments.

"Ooh, nice touch," Jeff applauded from the bed. "Nice cock, too, Ryan."

To my surprise, I found myself blushing. Then I knelt before my lover to remove his clothing, except that I carefully worked both his sweats and his white Calvins over his rigid eight-inch pole at the same time, and deep-throated his dick before I helped him out of his sweats and underwear.

Virtually as one, Mike and I turned to face Jeff on our bed, cocks preceding us by several inches as I extended my right arm, and Mike his left, to help Jeff rise and stand between us. Mike and I embraced each other around Jeff, pinning him between our naked bodies, as first Mike, and then I, Frenched him for a good 90 seconds apiece. As we knelt to either side of him, Mike gently worked Jeff's sweats down and helped him to step out of them, as I did the same for his Fruit of the Looms after a few seconds' delay spent mouthing the wet spot on his jockey briefs where the head of what was obviously a very substantial cock rested.

"Basic black: I approve," I said, huskily, as I took notice of the half-inch wide figure-8 strap of black leather that Jeff had fastened around his balls and the base of his nine-inch-plus hard-on, which forced his egg-sized 'nads out to either side of the shaft.

"I've always liked the way that looks -- and feels -- wrapped around my cock and balls," he said, then subsided into soft sighs and moans as I gave his tube steak a dose of the same treatment I'd given to Mike's, not long before.

When I came up for air, I asked, "Should I take this off, too, or leave it on?"

"Better take it off," he said, "even though I like it. I've been wearing it since just before I got here, and I don't like to leave it on for much more than about two hours at a time. Don't want to cut off the circulation down there, you know!"

Mike and I each unsnapped one of his nuts, then Mike undid the center loop from around the base of Jeff's throbbing rod. When he had lain the strap on top of Jeff's clothes, Mike began to lick and kiss and nibble his way up the right side of Jeff's cock, so I joined him in doing likewise on the left, kissing my lover's lips around and over and under Jeff's quite substantial manhood.

A few minutes went by like that, and Jeff's cock was getting noticeably harder, when he said, "Umm, guys, how about we get back up on the bed and do this where I can get some lip-lock on your dicks as well?"

"Sure thing," Mike said, nodding to me as we each stood up, then cradled Jeff in our arms and laid him on his back on our bed before lying down beside him, our heads at his crotch, and our cocks pointing at his face from either side.

"One more thing before I start sucking on these beauties," Jeff interjected, wrapping a fist around each of our cocks as Mike and I resumed our mutual-reciprocal oral duties on his long slab of sausage. "When you feel like you're about to come, I want you to pull away and jerk off onto my body. I really want to pop my load while you guys are shooting off all over me."

Mike and I both agreed, then all three of us got down to seriously sucking dick. Jeff alternated between sucking Mike's cock and then mine as the two of us did our double- trouble number on his. After a few minutes, Jeff apparently got tired of moving his head back and forth so much, as he pulled our lower bodies in closer to him so that he could stretch his lips around both our cockheads at once, supplementing the oral action by wrapping a fist around each of our shafts and stroking in time with the motion of his mouth. At about the same time, Mike left me to work on Jeff's dong all by myself, which I quite happily devoured while my lover licked and sucked on Jeff's nuts, tight in their hairless sac against the base of the pole that I was hungrily burying in my throat about once every second or so.

Several very pleasurable minutes later, however, it was Jeff who let our two cocks slide from his lips to announce, "I'm gettin' close to shooting, guys -- better stop."

As he spoke, Mike and I disengaged ourselves from his prick and knelt on an angle to either side of Jeff's body, our cocks in our hands pointing upward along his chest toward his face. I was pretty close to popping a nut myself, and the sight of the man I loved fisting his rigid eight inches just as hard and fast as Jeff was jagging his nine and a quarter did nothing but spur me on.

Mike still beat me to it. With a tremendous grunt, he let fly an equally tremendous volley of silvery-white spunk that hit Jeff square in the face. About three spurts later, I fired off a salvo of my own that caught Jeff just under his chin. The rest of my load mingled with Mike's juices, pooling from Jeff's washboard abs up to the valley between his sculpted pecs.

For his part, Jeff looked like he'd died and gone to heaven. He'd stopped frigging himself when the first blast of Mike's cum hit him, half in surprise and reflex from having it land on his face, I suspect, and half so he could enjoy the show as it unfolded. When he'd licked off as much of the semen on his face as he could reach, he scooped up a fistful of our mingled juices off his chest and slathered it all over his cock with his right hand. In two seconds, he'd whipped it into a froth as his fist flew up and down his pole, making a slurping sound that was truly nasty (in a good sense of the word). About 15 strokes after Mike and I began to lick and suck his nips clean of the love fluid that coated them, Jeff groaned and went rigid as his cannon fired off its first broadside high into the air above our three bodies, which fell to splatter about equally on each of us. At least ten more shots followed the first one before Jeff let his deflating pole slip from the tight grip of his fist, bringing his hand to his mouth and cleaning off the liquid of his own load and the froth left from Mike's and mine.

"Thanks, guys," he said, softly. "That was excellent."

"You're welcome," I replied, licking another pool of jizz from his hairless chest and sharing it with him in a tender kiss.

"Absolutely," Mike echoed, kissing Jeff in his turn, and rubbing the last of Jeff's cum into the ridges of his washboard stomach. "Judging from the size of the load you just shot, I guess you were kinda excited there, huh?"

"You might say that," Jeff said, smiling at Mike and shifting position to draw an arm around both of us. As we seemed to be settling in for a post-orgasmic chat, I took Jeff's gesture as an invitation and snuggled closer to him, resting my head on his shoulder and slipping my right arm beneath his head as I caressed his broad chest and abs with my left.

"I think that went very well," Jeff continued, "and I kinda like the idea of each of us getting to act out a favourite fantasy with the others helping him out. If you don't mind, Ryan," he said, turning toward me again, "I'd like to let Mike go first: I feel I owe him at least that much for all he's done for me since I met him."

"I don't mind at all," I replied, pecking him on his left cheek and nuzzling briefly at the pulse-point just below his ear. "I'm quite content to be comfortably in bed and pleasantly occupied with both the man I love and another who is a very good friend to both of us. If need be, we've got all weekend ahead of us -- no reason to hurry or diminish anyone's enjoyment just for the sake of getting it in tonight. So take your time, guys, and let's do it right. I'll wait until tomorrow for my 'turn,' if I have to."

"I don't know about you or Jeff, here, Ry-boy," Mike said, turning onto his side so he could look at Jeff and me, "but I'm pretty sure I can get it up, get it on, and get it off at least twice more tonight. And since tomorrow's Saturday and none of us has to be anywhere first thing in the morning, we can stay up -- or awake, anyway -- as long as we have to."

With those words, he pulled both Jeff and I into a light embrace which eventually became a rather prolonged necking session, replete with long, lingering kisses, caresses, and the occasional gentle pinch or nibble. After half an hour or so of this foreplay, all three of us were again sporting rigid rods.

Eventually, Mike spoke up again. "Ready for action, guys?"

"I think that's pretty obvious," Jeff said, gesturing toward our three stiff dicks, all pointing toward the sky. "You still want to wear my strap, Ryan?" he continued.

"Yeah, I would. Thanks, Jeff."

"No problem. Let me just... Oh, thanks, Mike," he added, subsiding once more onto the bed as Mike rolled over, picked up the leather strap from the floor beside him, and handed it to Jeff.

I raised myself to a kneeling position and let Jeff buckle the center loop around the base of my throbbing cock, then tighten the other loops around my nuts, pulling them tightly -- but pleasantly, I found -- out to either side of the shaft.

"You're right, Jeff," I said when he was done, "it does feel great."

"Looks pretty nice, too," he said, ducking to lick a dollop of pre-cum from the hood of my foreskin. "What's on the menu now, Mike?" he asked.

"A little double-sucking action on my cock, for starters," he said, "while I return the favour at the other end -- just like we did last time. But for the main course, I'd like to suck Ry off while you fuck me, Jeff. Y'all can take turns playing with my schlong or whatever you'd like: the turn-on for me will be getting dicked at both ends by the two most important men in my life -- my lover and my best friend."

"Better make that 'our best friend,' My-boy," I teased him, "or I might not want to play."

"Me, neither," Jeff chimed in.

"OK, OK," Mike mock-pouted. "I know when I'm licked."

"Funny, I don't remember any tongues on your body recently," I said, bending to swallow the cock I knew nearly as well as I knew my own, as Jeff lay down on Mike's other side and licked at his low-hangers.

"Oh, yeah," Mike breathed. "That feels great -- keep it up!"

"We will if you can," Jeff interposed as I drew off Mike's eight-inch tool, leaving it glistening wetly in the candlelight as I let it slip from my lips and beckoned Jeff to join me in a side-by-side kiss and suck job similar to the one Mike and I had given him perhaps an hour before, as Mike was now alternately sucking and jerking on Jeff's cock and my own.

After 10 or 15 minutes of very pleasant oral exercises, Mike had us shift positions so he was lying perpendicular to the side of the bed. Jeff had gone back out into the living room to fetch his "gift box" of condoms that had set this whole scenario in motion, and I dug out the 16-ounce pump bottle of For-Play that Mike and I kept in one of the lower drawers of the bed. (Hey, when you're young, hung, and constantly horny, you use a lot and you want it handy, OK?) I was kneeling slightly straddled over Mike's face as he lapped my 'nads, tight in their sac and their leather bonds, when Jeff returned.

"I think it's a good thing I decided to stay tonight," he said. "It must've snowed another two inches in the time we've been back here, and there's a lot more coming down."

As he delivered this information, Jeff was beginning to tear open the condom package when I laid a hand on his arm and said, "Please. Allow me."

"Thanks," he said, relinquishing the foil-wrapped rubber and bringing his dick close enough for me to handle as I ripped open the package. But I think I surprised him just a little when I put the tip of the rubber over my cock and squeezed it, milking up a dollop of pre-cum into the reservoir tip.

"I like the thought of there being a little bit of my joy juice in there with your cock up Mike's ass," I explained. "Makes me all the hotter about the prospect of getting to watch the man I love get dicked by someone besides myself."

"Makes two of us," Mike said from behind me, "and if you keep talking like that, I may bust a nut right now, before either one of you gets a dick in me!"

"Almost ready," Jeff said, lifting Mike's legs and settling them on his shoulders as I finished smoothing the glove down Jeff's love muscle for him and handed him the lube, which he then slathered liberally up and down his firm nine and a quarter inches. A second dollop got worked into Mike's bung hole as Mike himself grabbed hold of my cock and swallowed it raw after addressing just four words to Jeff: "Please fuck me -- now!"

I was more than half expecting to feel just a tiny bit jealous as I watched Jeff sharing that most intimate of caresses with my lover, something which had been my sole privilege, with one exception, for the past two years. I was pleasantly surprised to discover myself wrong in that respect, and to note that Jeff, inexperienced though he might have been, still had the finesse to take things slowly at first and didn't just bang away full-speed with that pile-driver he had between his legs. In fact, I found the sight of him working his dick into Mike's ass so stimulating that I had something of a difficult time keeping myself from shooting off down Mike's throat right then and there.

I had just murmured those feelings to Jeff, who was in turn beginning to establish a steady rhythm of thrusts in and out of Mike's ass -- almost perfectly in time with the thrusts of my cock down Mike's throat, I might add -- when he leaned forward to kiss me in response. At the moment our lips touched, I felt a tingle go all through my body.

At first I thought it might have been static electricity, but quickly realised that if it had been, I wouldn't have felt it anywhere except at the point of contact between us -- and I doubt I would have liked the sensation nearly as much. About the same time I reached that conclusion, I noticed that Mike's mouth was no longer wrapped around my pole and that Jeff's lips were no longer pressed against mine. I opened my eyes to see Jeff, wearing a look of mild bewilderment tinged with something akin to wonder, drawing back from my embrace, just as Mike asked the question I'm pretty sure all three of us were thinking.

"What the hell was that?"

"I'm not sure," I said, "but it damn well felt good while it lasted!"

"There couldn't be a short in the heating element in this thing, could there, Ry?" Mike demanded, gesturing vaguely toward the head of the bed.

"Don't think so," I said. "I only bought this bed about a year before you and I got together, so it should still be in good shape even with all the bouncing we've done on it. Besides, if there were, you'd have to be in actual contact with the water to feel anything, and we'd all still be feeling it except maybe Jeff there, since latex is an insulator and he's being a good boy and wearing a condom before poking you up the ass."

Jeff smiled at my quip, and continued, "Go down on him again, Mike, please. I want to try something."

"Well, OK, I guess, as long as I'm not going to get electrocuted before I bust my nut. Here goes!" he said, suiting actions to words as Jeff pulled my face toward his again. This time, as our lips met, I kept my eyes open. I didn't see a spark or anything like that, but the tingle was definitely still there, though somewhat less intense than it had been the first time.

"What did you do?" Mike demanded, again letting my penis escape from his mouth.

"Nothing he hasn't done at least 50 times already tonight: he gave me a kiss, exactly like he did when he first started to pump away inside you."

"Just completed the circuit, that's all," Jeff interjected diffidently.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, when I kissed you, with my cock up Mike's ass and your dick in his throat, that 'closed the circle' for the three of us, if you like. Sure, latex is an insulator, but the energy we all felt wasn't strictly electrical, I don't think, at least in any ordinary sense of the word."

"You mean you've had this happen before?" Mike burst in.

"Not exactly in this situation, no," Jeff quipped with a smile, "and never quite this strong before, either. But something like it has happened more than once during a meditation session for t'ai chi, when the last person in the group joins hands with everybody else. I've read about it happening to other people, too, so it's not like it's another one of my little quirks. I guess I've always put it down to there being some kind of a physical linkage between people who trust and respect each other, in a peaceful atmosphere, when everything's goin' with the flow, the right kinds of things are happening, that kind of stuff."

"How on earth can you meditate for any length of time if that's going on in the back of your head?" Mike wanted to know.

"It doesn't usually last for more than a second or two. It's kind of like a green light on a traffic signal -- you know, 'The coast is clear, it's safe to proceed.' There's just enough of a feeling for everyone to know it's there, and that everything's going OK, and then it goes away. I dunno, maybe it's like a reward or an incentive to keep doing the right things -- if you do it right, you get this awesome feeling for a second or two. If it bothers you, though, Mike, I'll just make sure I don't kiss Ryan while we're, uh, hooked up like this."

"Well it sure startled me," Mike said, "but I don't know if 'bothers' is quite the right word. Tell you what," he added, "let's try it one more time, but keep the connection and see if it goes away."

Once more I pressed my lips to Jeff's, after whispering, "It's OK" to him in reassurance, then opening my mouth to his as my lover's slipped around my cock. The tingle was there, about the same intensity as it had been the last time, as soon as Mike completed the seal of his lips around the shaft of my prick. All of us held steady, waiting to see what would happen, when the feeling slowly faded away, just as Jeff had predicted.

"Wow!" I said, breaking the kiss -- and the connection. "That's certainly an interesting twist to an evening already full of them. Be that as it may, though, I don't know about either of you chaps, but I would really like to get my rocks off before too much longer."

"I'm OK with that," Jeff smiled back at me as he began to twitch his dick once more inside Mike's ass. For his part, Mike just nodded his head -- which sent some very pleasant sensations up my spine, considering he had my cock all the way down his throat at the time.

"Jeff," I asked, "will it get in your way if I suck Mike's cock while you fuck him?"

"I don't think so, Ryan," he answered. "And even if it does, I'll work around it -- I've wanted a chance to watch you two going at it for quite a while now."

"Well, we might be able to arrange that for later on in the weekend, at least presuming Mike is in the mood. For right now, though, let's operate and find out," I said, bending forward to complete the soixante-neuf position with Mike as Jeff renewed the gentle rhythm of his pelvic thrusts. It took a little effort to position myself so that I wasn't getting smacked in the forehead every time I went down on Mike when Jeff was on an inward stroke, but it did prove to be possible. It got a bit harder (pun intended!) as both Jeff and I picked up the pace of our respective ministrations, but I didn't exactly mind -- especially given the opportunity to observe very closely the movement of Jeff's proud fuck-stick in and out of my lover's ass.

Several minutes passed in this very pleasant fashion when Mike suddenly went very still, holding my cock in his throat, but not moving at all anymore. At the same time, I felt his eight inches stiffen and swell to attain the ultimate in rigidity and size, and I knew Mike was on the verge of ejaculation.

At that point, by whispered prearrangement with Jeff, I let Mike's cock slip from my lips after the first blast of his semen had filled my mouth. I shared that jizz with Jeff in a deep, passionate kiss, our tongues entwined to the point where it became difficult to tell whose was whose. Once again, the tingle returned when Jeff and I "completed the circle" with our kiss. The next burst of Mike's seed to fly out of his piss-slit hit me smack in my abs with an audible splat! as Mike, caught in the throes of both an incredible orgasm and this new sensation as well, emitted a long drawn-out groan and practically melted into the contours of the mattress beneath him.

The combination of the "bonding energy" between us, if you will, and the sight of my lover's essence falling in opalescent pools on his gorgeous body and dripping off my own as Jeff continued to pound his pud into Mike's ass was enough to pull my trigger. With some reluctance, I pulled my lips from Jeff's and my cock from Mike's and began to spew my own load, some of which hit Jeff's chest as he rocked his way home, and the rest fell to land on Mike's body and mingle with his own juices. Within a minute of the time I stopped shooting, Jeff pulled out of Mike's hole, stripped off the rubber, and blasted out his own semen over both of our bodies. Considering it was his second ejaculation of the evening, I was impressed -- and said so, as we turned from the pleasant task of licking and slurping our warm mingled essences from each others' bodies to a well-deserved rest.

"Uh, well," Jeff replied, blushing a becoming dusky rose colour, "when I'm really turned on, I tend to shoot a lot more and a lot harder than I usually do. Don't I, Mike?" he added, turning toward my lover who lay between us, his head resting on both of our arms.

"I'll say!" Mike responded. "Did you ever manage to cover up the snail track you made on your living room wall, that first time I fucked you?"

"Yeah, sort of. It took a lot of work, though, and I wound up having to paint over it anyway, 'cuz I had to scrub practically down to the plaster to get the stain out."

"Ry-boy," Mike added, "you should've seen it: he'd been sitting on my dick and chanting, 'Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Fuck me!' when he all of a sudden goes rigid all over and this enormous blob of spunk just barely misses my left eye, on its way to explode against the wall like a foot above my head. Then maybe ten more just like it wind up all over me -- my face, my hair, my chest, everywhere! When Jeff gets excited, he's a regular little joy-juice factory."

"Anything but 'little,' I'd say," I teased. "How big is your dick, anyway, Jeff?"

"Um, just a hair over nine and a quarter inches long, last time I measured it, and about five and a half around, an inch below the head. Any particular reason you ask?"

"Mainly just curiosity, but also because once we've rested and can rise to the occasion again, I'd like it very much if you'd give my butt some of the same treatment you were just giving Mike's. He'll be getting that from me, this time around."

"Ooh, you're going to play 'Man in the Middle,' are you?" Mike cooed. "Wish I'd thought of that."

"No reason we can't try that later," Jeff said, his flaccid penis beginning to swell ever so slightly as he spoke. "Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind some of that action myself -- though if y'all are willing, I may have to try it twice, to see which of you I like best in which position."

"I don't think that will be much of a problem," I said, "at least as long as the three of us can manage to get an erection for the task -- and I doubt that will be hard to do, given the delightful scenery I see around me."

"Here's a thought," Mike spoke up. "Jeff, how's about you just lie back and relax while Ryan and I give you a tongue bath. Care to join me, love?" he added, speaking directly to me.

"Just let me get out of this," I said, beginning to unsnap Jeff's figure-8 strap from around my cock and balls. "You want to wear it again, Jeff, or should I set it aside?"

"Yeah, I think I'd like to have it on again when I plow your ass. Not that I'm likely to need any help getting it up or keeping it hard, but it may add a little something to the experience for both of us."

"I'm fully expecting to enjoy it just with your meat up my butt, but hey, I'll take it any way you want to dish it out. Let me return the favour and buckle you up, OK?"

"Sure thing," Jeff replied. "I like the feel of your hands on my prick."

"That's nice, 'cuz I feel the same about the way your prick feels in my hands."

When I'd snapped the strap around Jeff's slowly lengthening member and his twice- drained nuts, Mike and I positioned ourselves to either side of Jeff, Mike to his right and I to his left. Starting with the soles of his feet, Mike and I slowly began to lick and suck and nibble our way over Jeff's body, up to his ankles, then up his calves to his knees and from there up his thighs toward his crotch. By the time we got that far, Jeff's dick was already beginning to point toward the ceiling, though it wasn't quite fully erect. We skirted his genitalia with only minimal ministrations, working around his pubic bush and up the pleasure path to his navel, which we must've spent at least five minutes licking and sucking, to moans of delight from Jeff.

From there, Mike and I worked our way lovingly up Jeff's rippled abs, licking in toward the midline from either side and frequently kissing as our tongues met at the center of the rectus abdominis muscles. We then spread outward along his diaphragm and the ridges of his lowermost ribs, eventually stopping to devote plenty of attention to his eraser-sized erect nipples. By the time we got there, Jeff's prong was again standing at full attention, as were both Mike's cock and my own, and Jeff had to tell us to stop -- "Unless you want me to shoot a no-hands load all over myself in the next couple of minutes," he added, grinning.

"Oh no you don't!" I teased him. "You're not popping off anywhere until I've had the chance to feel that pole tickling my prostate. Got a preference for a rubber?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "but can I go get something out of my bag before we get started?"

"Sure," Mike said. "What is it you need? We may have it here already."

Blushing and stammering a bit, Jeff replied, "Well, uh, it's a vibrator. I got it from the same place where I bought my strap and a couple of other things last year. I figure that since y'all are both going to be getting it up the butt, I might as well join you."

"Go ahead," I said. "We have a couple of dildos around the house, but none of 'em vibrate -- and besides, it's not really a good idea to share sex toys. Even though both Mike and I have repeatedly tested negative for HIV..."

"Me, too," Jeff interrupted.

"...you can't ever be too careful these days," I continued, "and AIDS isn't the only nasty thing you can get through sexual contact. That's one reason Mike and I still use condoms for intercourse, even though we've been monogamous -- or nearly so -- for two years. I'm sure it would be really nice to do it without the glove, but until we're sure, we prefer to play it safe."

"Hey, no problem. I'm clean as far as I know, but you're right better safe than sorry. That's one virtue to staying at home and playing with myself and my toys, even though it's been damned lonely sometimes. Be right back," Jeff concluded, ducking out to rummage in his overnight bag in the living room while I engaged in a low-voiced conversation with Mike.

"Love, is he really OK?" I asked him. "I mean, that comment about jerking off alone is getting me a bit worried."

"Ry-boy," Mike answered, "that's one of the things I love the most about you -- you just can't seem to stand seeing other people in distress and you won't ignore it if there's anything at all you can do to help. As far as I know, he's OK -- he's not running up huge phone bills on sex-chat lines as far as I know, and at least when I've been in the room with him and his therapist, he hasn't said anything that would lead me to believe he's so desperate for human companionship that he's going to do himself in if he doesn't get a boyfriend tomorrow. But yeah, I felt a tug at the old heart-strings myself when he said it. What did you have in mind?"

"Just an open invitation to join us for a little fun and games, when he's in the mood and the three of us can manage, if you're OK with that and he is, too. What do you think?"

"I don't mind if you don't. It's not likely to be easy to find a convenient time for all three of us to get together this semester, though -- you're going to be busy with your research, I've got my own honours project to consider, and Jeff's carrying something like 17 hours this term. How would you feel about making that an invitation to join whichever one of us happens to be available, if it can't be all three of us together?"

"I don't see any reason why we can't at least propose it. I mean, even if I do come home to find the two of you love-bugging it on the living room floor, at least I'll have been consulted in advance -- and I presume you two won't mind if I join in?"

"Join in what?" Jeff asked, having come in at the tail end of the last exchange, holding a vibrator that was just about as long as his own hard dick, though his flesh-and-blood member had shrunken somewhat during my "interlude" with Mike.

"Listen, Jeff," Mike said, "Ryan and I have a proposal to make. C'mon over here and sit down," he added, patting a spot on the bed between the two of us. When Jeff had settled in, he continued, "Ry and I have been having a talk while you were gone, and we'd both like it if you'd consider yourself more than welcome to join either or both of us any time you're feeling, well, horny and alone, at least until you've found someone you want to make time with other than the two of us."

"Since we've gone this far," I said, gesturing to include the three of us lolling naked and at least semi-erect on the bed, "neither Mike nor I think it makes all that much sense for you to have to jerk off at home alone unless that's what you want to be doing. Since we're all going to be busy this semester, it may not be possible to find a convenient time for the three of us to get together for fun and games like this, but we're interested in continuing that if you are, and neither one of us has any objection to the other pairing off with you -- again presuming that's something you want to do. What do you think?"

There were tears standing in Jeff's eyes as I finished speaking, and they began to spill silently down his cheeks as he replied, very softly, "That has to be one of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me in my entire life. I don't want to presume too much on our friendship -- which I hope will continue for a very long time indeed -- but I accept your invitation. I do hope to find someone of my own to settle down with into a relationship like yours and Mike's, but until then, I'll accept whatever loving either or both of you can spare me. I like to jerk off just as much as the next guy, and maybe even more so, since I've done so much of it while I was trying to figure out who and what I wanted in my bed, but it's not nearly as much fun as being with someone else.

"You two have been my main source of support this year, and have done so much for me that I couldn't even begin to repay you if I spent the rest of my life trying. I want to be sure you both know how much I appreciate that, and how much I value your friendship and your trust and respect, all of which I hope I will enjoy for a long time to come. I don't know if it's in a 'let's spend the rest of our lives together' kind of sense, but I really do think I love you both, and not just because we're lying here naked in your bed and fucking around together. I hope that's not out of line, but I did want to be sure I said it to your faces at least once."

At that, there were tears running down all our cheeks. After a short pause for kisses and tissues all around Mike spoke up. "Jeff-boy," he said, coining the nickname he and I would both use with Jeff ever after, at least during intimate moments when no one else was around, "you know I love you, and not just because you're a fucking gorgeous hunk of stud meat with a cock even bigger than my own that you both love and know how to use. I've held your hand often enough in therapy, or offered you a warm embrace and a shoulder to cry on this past year for that message to have gotten through. But if you think for a single instant that I did any of it to get something out of you, or that I expect to be repaid for my 'services,' I swear to God, I'll never speak to you again as long as I live!

"I don't know how it happened that I was in the right place at the right time to help you work through some really shitty stuff from your past, but I've got to say I'm damn glad that I was. Once you'd said something to me about how Brian used to treat you, there wasn't a chance in hell I was going to walk away from you unless you told me you didn't want me around anymore. If I'd done that, I couldn't hope to look myself in the mirror each morning, and I doubt Ry'd even want to speak to me, much less live with me and share a bed with me on top of that. You don't 'owe' me anything, Jeff," Mike concluded, cupping a hand beneath Jeff's chin and around his cheek, "though I understand that you feel a sense of obligation. But please, just let me be your friend and maybe a mentor, and let's not worry about keeping score, OK? Can we agree on that?"

"The same goes for me, Jeff," I added. "One of the things 'love' means to me is never having to worry about who owes what to whom. Mike and I used to be so uptight about whose turn it was to pick up the tab and stuff like that, until we finally learned that it just didn't matter. What's mine is his, and what's his is mine, so what's the difference? It still shocks me to think how close we came to breaking up over something as trivial as money. Ironically, in a way we have you to thank for our still being together: it was when Mike was telling me all about what you and he had done that weekend last year that I began to realise that he was what was important to me, and not the number of times each of us had paid for dinner or how much we'd spent on Christmas presents.

"You've been closer to Mike than to me this past year, and I both understand and respect that, but I do want you to know that I also care for you a great deal. As you say, I don't know if it's a 'happily ever after' kind of love, but I can honestly say that I do love you in some sense of the word. If I didn't, you wouldn't be here now -- I don't go to bed with anyone I don't love at least a little bit, and trust a very great deal. I want you to know that I don't begrudge you the happiness you and Mike were able to share that one time, though I do still feel at least a tiny bit of hurt that it was behind my back -- a hurt I hope will continue to fade, as it has this whole year, until there's nothing left of it before too very much longer.

"Lastly, Jeff-boy, I completely agree that you're -- how did Mike put it? -- a 'fucking gorgeous hunk of stud meat,' so I doubt you'll have any trouble attracting attention when you go out looking for Mr. Right. And speaking of fucking, what say we get to it? I still haven't had my chance to be 'Man in the Middle,' you know!"

"It will be my very great pleasure.....Ry-boy," Jeff said, shyly, the first of many times that he would call me by the pet name that hitherto had been Mike's alone for me.

"Hey, don't forget me!" Mike interjected. "I seem to recall a promise of a good pounding from you, too, Ry-boy..." The End.