Thursday evening, spring break.
Matt and Mike bathed the twins, put them in their pajamas, and then Mike took them back to the big couch in the den to read them their bedtime story. Story finished, Mike gave them good night kisses and Matt carried them to the bedroom to their cribs. The little guys were sleepy, so there were no protests when their dad laid each of them down, caressed their heads gently, and dimmed the bedroom light to a glimmer. The boys went to sleep almost immediately.
Matt rejoined his brother in the den and they watched a little TV, waiting for their father to call. When the phone rang about 7:30, each of them involuntarily took a breath. Mike answered, and then gestured for his brother to get on the extension, and Matt ran to the kitchen.
It was Justice Broman, as they had expected.
"Mike," the deep voice said, "this is Dad."
"Hi, Dad, it's really good to hear your voice. We've been waiting for your call," Mike said.
"Dad, it's Matt. I'm on the other phone. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Matt, but I'm missing my children and grandchildren an awful lot, I can tell you. I really want to see you all, and sooner rather than later."
"I miss you, Dad," Mike said. "It's been too long since we all had a chance to sit down and talk. I want to ask you right now if you and Mom can take a long weekend, maybe in early June, and come down for a visit?"
"That sounds good, Mike. Your Mom and I will try to make that work."
"We'll hold you to that, Dad," Matt said on the other phone.
"All right," Justice Broman said. "Now, I called because I hear from Mom that Jeff has a problem."
"Yes," Mike said. "I don't know how much Mom told you, but we got a call from Martha last night--actually, early this morning--that she found Jeff smoking heroin in his room when she came in late from studying. She was upset, naturally. We asked her to have Jeff call us, and he did earlier today."
Mike went on to fill Justice Broman in on both conversations and the instructions that he had given his young brother.
"Does what I told him sound reasonable to you?" Mike asked.
"Yes, Mike. I suppose there is some degree of risk in not yanking him out of school right now, but I think you've set some good boundaries for him for the next month, and then we'll go from there. Maybe I'm deluding myself, but this behavior just doesn't seem like Jeff at all."
"Dad, I think some college and even high school and grade school kids are under such pressure to succeed at everything they do today that drugs are very attractive as a stress reliever," Mike responded. "You probably don't know this, but I used to smoke marijuana once in awhile when I was in college until Matt made me quit. Drugs are everywhere, and you have to have a strong mindset to resist them. Or a brother like Matt. Anyway, I've explained to Jeff that we need to look for the reasons behind his using heroin, and we will. And of course, in addition to the high achievers, there's a whole other group of kids who just basically have no hope in their lives and use drugs to stay numb."
Justice Broman sighed.
"I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but it's a lot tougher world out there for youngsters today than when I was growing up," he said. "Your mom and I didn't have to face this kind of stuff."
"Life seems to get more challenging all the time, Dad," Matt interjected. "It's dangerous, too, for kids who don't know quite where they stand on things. The possibilities and the choices are endless, some good, some bad."
"I know," Justice Broman said. "Speaking of possibilities and choices, I understand you two have some news for me."
"Well, Mike and I are going to make our partnership permanent, and raise the twins together," Matt said after a short silence. "We love each other, and we want to make that commitment."
"We had a conversation a lot like this some years ago, so I don't need to go over the same ground again," Justice Broman said. "Whatever reservations I may have about same-gender relationships because of the way I was raised or because of the Church's teaching, I want you to know that I stand behind your decision--because I love you both and respect you. And I'm damned proud of you and what you've accomplished already in life. Besides, I've done some additional studying on the issue of homosexuality over the years, and I think the Church and government in general need to get up to speed on what we've learned about it. Orientation isn't subject to choice, and in my opinion, only God Himself can demand celibacy. He may demand it of individuals, and they should respond, but I don't think He demands it of homosexuals as a class. Long story short, I support you in what you've decided. Whatever setting or occasion or forum you use to take your vows, let your mother and me know, and if you want us, we'll be there. Period."
"You're incredible, sir," Mike said. "I don't know what to say."
"We don't want to cause you any public embarrassment, though, Dad,"
Matt said. "We'd understand if you need to take a
"Listen, you guys, at the risk of sounding like a simpleton, I follow the KISS principle when it comes to the priorities in my life. First, God. Second, wife and children. And third is the country, the Court and the law. There aren't any others. That makes decision-making a breeze. So, of course I'm going to be there if you invite me, no question. That's a no-brainer."
There was a palpable silence on the Chicago end of the phone.
"Dad," Mike finally said, "I don't think there are any other parents
in the world who can measure up to you and Mom. I
mean that. We love you so much..."
"We're very proud of you, Dad," Matt said. After a moment's silence, he asked, "Well, to get back to Jeff for a minute, what do you think of Mike's plan for him?"
"It sounds good to me. I think you're on top of things."
"Dad, if I could make a suggestion for when you talk to Jeff," Mike
said. "I know you're probably little disappointed in him
right now, but tell him you love him and that you know he can put this behind him. I don't think coming down hard on him will help the situation."
"That's good advice, Mike, and that was going to be my approach," Justice
Broman said. "I'm going to call him right after I
hang up with you, and I'll back you up on everything you told him."
"Good," Mike said. "I know he's probably a little on edge waiting to hear from you."
"One more thing, Dad," Matt said. "I'm going to try to transfer to a law school down here for next year. Do you have any recommendations?"
"Northwestern, U. of C., or U.I.C. are all good. I know some people at Northwestern if you'd like me to talk with them."
"Why don't we hold that in reserve," Matt suggested. "If I run into a problem, I'll call you."
"That will be fine, Matt. Mike, how is school going for you?"
"Good, Dad," Mike said. "I sure needed a break, though, and having Matt here has really made me happy. So, no problems at this end."
"Good. All right, then, boys, I'm glad I got to talk to you.
Thank you, thank you for intervening with Jeff. Your mom and I
appreciate it. We need to be able to count on each other, and I know I can count on you two. You both sound as if you're in good spirits, and that's a nice change from the past couple of years. That's just one more reason I want to support your decision to formalize your partnership. You're in my thoughts and prayers all the time, I hope you know that. Kiss those beautiful babies for us, please, and Mom and I will try to come to Chicago for a few days in early June."
"Thanks, Dad. I love you," Matt said.
"Love you, Dad, and I can't wait to see you and Mom," Mike added, and the line went dead.
"God broke the mold after He made that one," Matt said of their dad when he walked back into the den.
"This is true," Mike responded. "The broken mold explains why you're such a dud, dude!"
"'Dud, dude?' You talk funny, boy! And you look kinda funny, too. Whaddaya think's wrong with ya?" Matt shot back.
"Whatever it is, a few days with you is all it takes to bring it out."
"Shoot, you were bent as a corkscrew the first time I met you. And thank goodness for that," Matt said, grabbing Mike and trying to give him a hickey on his neck.
"Get off me, you animal!" Mike said, breaking away and running back toward their bedroom with Matt in hot pursuit.
Things got interesting once they hit the bed.
* * *
A thousand miles to the east, Jeff lay on his bed clad only in white jockey shorts, propped up on pillows, reading his history assignment for the next day. His physique, highly developed and beautifully defined, was that of the consummate jock. At 6', he was an inch taller than Mike and two inches taller than Matt, and didn't have an ounce of fat on his body. His body type was somewhere between that of Matt's brawn and Mike's swimmer's physique. He was smooth from the waist up, like Matt, except he had a light treasure trail running from his navel down to his pubic area, and had considerably more hair on his legs. His chest was a work of art, with quarter-sized aureoles around prominent nipples. He wore his brown hair in a brush cut like both his brothers. His face was masculine with a square jaw and beautiful, proportionate features, and his eyes were deep pools of brown like Matt's. He was, in short, an exceptionally handsome and virile-looking young man. And you knew with one glance into his eyes that he was not only built, but intelligent.
He idly scratched his crotch as he read. He was nervous as he waited for his father to call because he had no idea what his dad would say to him. Or what he could say in response, for that matter, that would sound reasonable.
He was seriously annoyed with Mike, having that day, at his brother's behest, told his girlfriend/supplier that their brief sexual affair and his own affair with H were over. He would kind of miss the girl, and sex with her had been all right, but it certainly hadn't been love between them. Although he had not slept well last night without a smoke before bed, he knew that the heroin had been a sedative for him, nothing more.
That Mike had planned his summer for him didn't sit well, either. But so far he had done everything that Mike had told him to do because he said he would, and lying was foreign to him. He might do things he shouldn't, but he never lied. He'd even gone over the chapel at Canterbury and sat for 10 minutes. What that was supposed to accomplish, he wasn't sure. It had been peaceful, he had to admit. But no one is his right mind sits in an empty church in the middle of a weekday.
He wasn't very happy with Martha, either, although he knew that she had called their brothers because she was frightened. But he knew better than to give her the cold shoulder and make her angry. If Martha really got on his case, it would be like having their mother close at hand to contend with, and it was best not to be on the bad side of either one of them. Anyway, he didn't need any more tension in the apartment or in his life than he was feeling already.
As far as Matt was concerned, there was no sense in even trying to discuss drug use with him. Jeff wasn't sure where it had come from, but the guy was psycho on the subject. Totally irrational.
He was wondering if his brothers had told their dad about his carnal relationship with his ex-girlfriend/supplier when the phone rang. Steeling himself for the worst, he picked up.
"Jeff? This is Dad."
"Hi, Dad," he said in a subdued voice.
"How are you, son?"
"I'm pretty good. How are you?"
"I'm fine, thanks. Your mom is here with me in Washington through the weekend, and she's well."
"That's good. I guess you're calling me because you talked to Mike and Matt," Jeff said, getting right down to business.
"Yes," Justice Broman said. "Is what they told me true?"
"I've always respected you for not lying to me, Jeff. Do I need to tell you how I feel about one of my children using heroin?"
"Mike tells me that you flushed your supply and ended your relationship with your supplier, is that right?"
"Yes." Jeff waited for something to be said about his choice of sexual partners, but his father didn't pursue that. Or else didn't know. He hoped it was the latter.
"That's a start," Justice Broman said. "Are you following through on the things that Mike told you to do?"
"All right. That's good. Listen, I didn't call to beat you up about this. I'm just very worried about you, I hope you understand that."
"Yes, I know."
"Do I have your word that you're off drugs, and especially heroin, for good?"
"I'm told that your grades are going to be up where they should be, and that you're not having any problems with baseball. Is this true?"
"Yes, I should make the Dean's List, and the coach has had nothing but positive things to say about my performance. So..."
"Good. I want you to know that I stand behind Mike's instructions to you one hundred percent. Now, if you and Martha want to keep the apartment at school for another year, pay the rent through the end of summer. Then pack up the truck after your last final, and you get your tail down to Chicago. If you're clean and sober, and I know you will be, Matt and Mike will find you a job. Maybe you'd like to lifeguard again?"
"That would be great!" Jeff said, some enthusiasm surfacing for the first time in the conversation.
"Well, the Park District will drug test you, I suspect. But that won't be any problem for you, will it?"
"Jeff, I know you've got a lot on your plate right now, and you're probably stressed out. But if you're having serious trouble sleeping, get some over the counter sleeping pills or see a doctor for something stronger. You need your rest. Will you do that for me?"
"Yes, sir, I will."
"I love you, Jeff. We all do. We won't let you down, and I'm asking you to reciprocate. Don't be angry at us."
"I'm not, really. But I admit it's a little annoying to have family watchdogging me all the time." Jeff almost said "spying on me all the time," but changed his words at the last second.
"Son, you can't buy the kind of concern your family has for you. You're a fortunate young man, and from our end, we're lucky to have you. So I'm asking you to go along with us."
"Do you want to say hello to Mom?"
"Yes, please. And thank you, Dad."
Jeff talked briefly with his mother, and then they hung up.
Breathing a sigh of relief that his dad had been so low key, Jeff went to the kitchen for a coke. He came back and lay down on his bed again, smiling to himself. Hell, another summer in Chicago on the beach would be excellent, actually, now that he thought about it. Women everywhere!
When he hit his history assignment again, he was in a much better mood.
* * *
The telephone rang at precisely 9:00 p.m., Chicago time. Matt and Mike were still lying naked and entwined in bed after a very satisfying romp in the sack. They'd had a brief nap, and then had been talking about their plans for the summer.
Mike answered the phone, and it was Jeff, good as his word.
"Hi, Mike. It's Jeff."
"Jeff! How you doin', bro?"
"I'm good. Dad called."
"What did he say?" Mike asked.
"He was surprisingly calm about the whole deal. I owe you for that, I s'pose. Anyway, he basically told me that he and Mom are worried about me, and that I should do everything you tell me to do. So, how does it feel to have a slave of your very own?" Jeff asked in seeming good humor.
"I'm likin' it, dude! Tell me about your day."
"I broke up with my girl, and I went to Canterbury this afternoon and sat on my ass for ten minutes. I went to class and to practice. And I'm clean. That about covers it," Jeff said with perhaps just a hint of resentment.
"How were classes? You make them all?"
"Yeah. Sameol', sameol'."
"Great, actually. I hit a home run with two on base. I'm a hero."
"Are you stressed out?" Mike asked seriously.
"Yeah, kinda. I didn't sleep too well last night. Dad said I should try some over-the-counter sleeping pills, and I'll get some tomorrow. If that doesn't work, he wants me to go to a doctor for something stronger."
"All right, sounds good," Mike said. "It'll take some time to find out what works for ya. Let me know what does. The main thing is to get through the next month with no problems."
"I will. Listen, Dad suggested that you might be able to hook me up with the Parks Department again so I can lifeguard."
"I think I can prolly do that, provided you hang in there with what I've told you to do."
"No problem, bro," Jeff promised.
" 'K, then. I'll work on it. Is Martha there?"
"No, she's at the library, I think."
"Ask her if she can come to Chicago during the first weekend in June. Mom and Dad are coming for a long weekend, and it would be a good chance for all of us to be together."
"I'll ask her," Jeff said.
"All right then, Jeff. Thanks for calling, and I'll be looking for your call tomorrow night. We love ya."
"Love you guys, too. Hi to Matt. Laters."
Mike hung up the phone, and rolled back toward Matt.
"How does he sound?" Matt asked.
"Good, actually. Still a little pissed, maybe. But good. Let's keep our fingers crossed. He says hi, by the way."
"He said hi and you didn't let me say hi back? I'm outraged. You call him back right now so I can say hi!" Matt demanded.
"If you don't, you're gonna be very sorry. Very sorry."
"No! Don't be ridiculous!"
"All right, then, it's story time!"
"Oh, no, not this time!" Mike said and struggled with the sheets to escape from bed.
He wasn't fast enough, and Matt got an arm over his chest and pinned him down. Then he straddled Mike and stared down into his blue eyes.
"Where did this cruel streak in your nature come from?" Mike asked, looking up. "Mom and Dad are nice, and so are Jeff and Martha. You're the only real brat in the family."
"I was always a nice guy 'til you starting forcing me to have sex. Doing the nasty with you brought out my latent sense of humor and a whole new side to my character. Aren't cha glad?"
"NO! Now get off me, lard butt!"
Matt bent down and kissed Mike, slipping him some tongue in the process.
"Yuck! Don't kiss me! Who knows where that mouth has been!" Mike said, turning his head to the side and scrunching up his face.
"You're prolly right to be afraid," Matt said. "It's been in intimate contact with your very own toxic tool!"
"You're a toxic tool," Mike said.
"What'll you give me to let you up?"
"Bwwwaaatttt!! Wrong answer, there's the buzzer! Listen up, bud–let's do this the easy way!" Matt said with a huge smile of satisfaction.
"Two doctors were in a hospital hallway one day complaining about
"'She's incredibly mixed up,' said one doctor. 'She does everything
absolutely backwards. Just last week, I told her to give a patient 2
milligrams of morphine every 10 hours. She gave him 10 milligrams
every 2 hours. He almost died on us!'
"The second doctor said, 'That's nothing. Earlier this week, I told
her to give a patient an enema every 24 hours. She tried to give
him 24 enemas in one hour! The guy nearly exploded!'
"Suddenly, they hear this bloodcurdling scream from down the hall.
"'Oh my Lord!' said the first doctor, holding his head. 'I just realized
I told Nurse Nancy to prick Mr. Smith's boil!'
"You should go to prison for perverted and unnatural jokery," he said. "That's a crime in Illinois! Gimme the phone book. I'm calling the States Attorney's office!"
"Can you read it while it's up your butt?" Matt inquired.
"You've gotten crude as you've matured. Er, maybe 'matured' isn't the right word in your case. 'Gotten older,' maybe?"
"Kiss me, and I'll let you go," Matt instructed.
"Way!" Matt said.
He bent down to claim his prize just as Mike heaved upward and threw Matt to the side. Mike scrambled from bed and ran for the shower with Matt hot on his trail. Matt followed his lover into the shower. They turned on the water and held each other as the warm spray enveloped them, laughing like little kids.
They washed one another tenderly, and when finished, toweled each other dry, and each brushed his teeth. Finished, Matt checked on the boys in the next bedroom while Mike remade the bed and climbed in. Matt came back, eased in next to his brother, and they lay there looking into one anothers eyes.
"I love you, Mike. I've never, ever, met anyone quite like you. For me, everything that's beautiful and wonderful in this world boils down to you. You make me so-o-o happy."
Mike lay absolutely still for a long moment, and then took Matt's hand.
"I dreamed over and over of being here with you like this the last two years," he finally responded. "I didn't really think it would ever happen again. How often does real life turn out the way we want it to? I'd given up on us, and sometimes I've been close to giving up on myself. But here we are, and I'm totally in love with you. You and and the twins own my heart, bro. The Lord has been good. I shouldn't admit it, but I can even stand your jokes if it means I can be with you and the boys. Thank you for not giving up on me."
Matt kissed Mike gently on the lips and caressed his hair back from his forehead. Snuggled together with commingled breath, they fell asleep.
* * *
The next morning after Matt and Mike had bathed, dressed and fed the twins, Mike received a phone call. It was the realtor handling the sale of the adjoining condo. She said that the current owners had accepted Mike's bid on the place, and wanted to know when it would be convenient to schedule the closing. Mike's fist punched the sky in triumph. He picked the following Tuesday, late afternoon, and told her he would have a certified check ready in the full amount for the meeting.
Giving Matt the news, they toasted each other in orange juice, ecstatic that their plans seemed to be falling into place. They drank their orange juice and coffee happily, thinking about the future, when Matt remembered their plans for the evening..
"Dude, we hafta get into our hip hop mode," Matt said to his brother.
""Whaddaya mean?" Mike asked.
"Arnie's coming over tonight."
"Hmmm. You're right! I'm getting majorly pumped already!"
"Are we gonna cook or order in?" Matt inquired.
"I donno. Why doncha give him a call and see what he wants to eat. For all we know, he may be a vegetarian by now, or something equally exotic."
Matt took the phone and punched the speed dial number Mike gave him. Arnie sounded groggy, but roused himself sufficiently to tell Matt that pizza and beer sounded good to him, and that he'd arrive about 8 o'clock. Matt apologized for waking him, and hung up.
"Eight. Pizza and beer," Matt reported in brief.
"Got it!" Mike said. "Listen, I hafta go down to school for a few minutes and check my mail and messages. You and the boys wanna come along?"
"Yeah! Will ya show us how you work on a cadaver?"
"I thought that's what I've been doing all week in bed."
Matt reached over and cuffed his partner lightly on the back of the head.
"Is that lively enough for ya?" he demanded.
"Ow," Mike said.
"Yeah, ow!" Matt said. "Keep it up, and 'ow' won't cover it!"
Mike vaulted one handed over the back of the couch, the boys watching in astonishment.
"I have a few choice words for ya, but I can't say 'em in front of the boys," he said. "Meanwhile, I'm off to the shower. And you stay out!"
"Then who will wash your fat butt for ya, dufus?" Matt inquired. "You're too much of a porker to get back there yourself."
Mike considered that for a moment.
"Good point. When you're right, you're right! Put the boys in jail, and let's get wet."
Matt put the boys in their playpen, making them none too happy, and followed Mike down the hall with an anticipatory grin on his face.
After their shower, they dressed themselves and the boys. Mike took Breakers for a quick outing on the front lawn, and they headed for the garage. They drove downtown and were lucky enough to find a parking space near the med school. A watery sun shown down on them, and a cool, blustery breeze was blowing off the lake.
Putting the twins in their strollers, they walked to the school and Mike led them first to the mail room where he retrieved a bunch of messages and memos that had piled up in his box. Then they headed for the cafeteria to grab an early lunch before the place got crowded.
Matt staked out a table with the boys while Mike went through the line and got soup and sandwiches for all of them. When he returned, they began to spoon some soup into the twins, still in their strollers. Then Matt and Mike ate.
Matt saw a good looking, lithe but well defined young man dressed in whites eying them from across the room. He had a cute face, thinning auburn hair, and a pleasant expression. Mike glanced up, saw him leaving the food line, and waved at him to join them. He walked like a jock, Matt noticed, and gave off good, solid masculine vibes. When he got closer, Matt saw he had a pair of nice, green-gray eyes.
"Sean, I want you to meet my brother, Matt, and this is Michael and this is Matthew," Mike said, pointing to the twins. "Matt, Sean Garrity."
Matt and Sean shook hands.
"Sean, grab a chair," Mike said with a smile.
" 'K," Sean said, and sat down across from Matt.
"How old are the boys, Matt?" Sean asked as he started to eat.
"Two and a half. I'm still waiting for the 'terrible twos' to hit in earnest. These guys can be pretty contrary sometimes, like their Uncle Mike, but on the whole, they're good boys."
"Mike had mentioned a while back that your wife had died," Sean said. "I'm sorry."
"Thanks," Matt said, not elaborating.
"Matt will be starting his last year in law school," Mike commented. "He's thinking about transferring schools and moving down here to Chicago, though."
"Cool," Sean said. "You gonna move in with Mike, then?"
"Yeah. Somebody has to take care of his sorry butt."
Sean laughed. "I s'pose. He's done great in school, though. If he's not number 1 in our class, he's close. He's good at everything. I hate 'im!"
"You're no slouch yourself, dude!" Mike said. Spotting a gray-haired man in a white coat in the food line, Mike excused himself and went over to talk with him for a moment.
Matt was surprised to see Sean checking out Mike's levi-clad ass as he walked away.
"You and the boys been here all week?" Sean asked Matt, coming back to earth.
"You must be good company. I haven't seen Mike is such a good mood for--well, forever," Sean said. "I really like Mike, and admire him. I've always wanted to get to know him better. But he stays pretty much to himself. He told me once he had a love affair that went bad."
"Really?" Mike asked, deadpan.
"Well, he's a pretty resilient guy," Matt said. He decided that if Mike wanted to tell Sean about their relationship, he could do that. But he was going to keep his mouth shut.
"Yes, he is. Hey, that's a nice ring you're wearing, man," Sean said, pointing at Matt's engagement ring. "I see that Mike has one, too."
"You don't miss much, dude. It's a family thing," Matt said.
"A family with traditions! That's unusual anymore."
"We're all tight."
"You're lucky. The less I see of my family and they of me, the happier we all are."
"That's too bad. We are lucky," Matt said. "Our family's gotten us through some tough times, believe me."
Mike rejoined them and resumed eating.
"So, Mike, are we ever goin' out for a night on the town?" Sean asked. "I've been waiting for a couple of years, now."
Mike glanced over at Matt.
"Prolly not, Sean," he said. "Matt and I are partners."
"Jesus! And brothers!" Sean said with a look of incredulity on his face.
"Easy, dude," Mike said. "We're adoptive brothers, just to set the record straight."
"Oh! Man, I apologize for what I was thinkin'!" Sean said. "I should mind my own business."
Matt started to tell Sean he was right about that, but he clamped his jaw and remained silent.
"Matt and I were lovers through the last two years of college, and now we're back together," Mike explained.
"Well, congratulations to you both. It'll be a challenge for a gay couple raising these little guys," Sean said, looking at the boys. "But a good challenge."
"We think we can do a good job of it," Mike said.
"I don't have any doubt about that," Sean said, appraising the two young men.
"Thanks," Matt said.
"So, you're the one," Sean said to Matt.
"The one Mike's been in love with all along," Sean said.
"I wanted to date Mike so-o-o bad," Sean admitted a little ruefully. "But I didn't stand a chance, and I can see why now."
"Are you dating anyone now, Sean?" Matt asked.
"No, no one steady. And I feel like time's getting away from me. I hit the bars, and everybody looks, well, so damn young!"
"Yeah, you're all of 24, 25," Mike said sarcastically. "A real old-timer."
"24, actually," Sean admitted.
Matt looked over at Mike quizzically, and then made a decision.
"Um, I'm not trying to matchmake here, but if you're free tonight, why don't you come over about 8 for pizza and beer?" Matt said "Another friend of ours is coming, too. He's really cute. If you can make it, you might like him."
"Hey, I'm not proud," Sean said with a laugh. "I'm not doing anything. I'll be there."
"Bro, you da bomb!" Mike said to Matt, smiling. He told Sean, "I think you met this guy at 'scoes the first time we ever met. Anyway, when you get to our place, park in the garage underneath the building--slot P-3."
"'P?'" Sean asked.
"Yeah, dufus. Penthouse. Ring us, and we'll buzz you in. Park the Boxster right next to my dirty ol' truck," Mike laughed. "Maybe some of the beauty will rub off."
"You live in a penthouse on Sheridan Drive, and you drive a dirty truck. I can't figure you out, Mike. What do you drive, Matt?" Sean asked.
"A truck, only it's older and rustier," Matt admitted.
"Daddy taught us to be frugal," Mike said. "And don't think I'm kidding!"
"What does your dad do?" Sean inquired.
"Uh, he's a judge," Matt said.
"Really. My dad's a lawyer here in Chicago. Where does your dad serve?"
"Washington, D.C." Matt said.
"The Supreme Court."
"Holy shit! That Broman?"
"Man!...I'm glad I didn't criticize any of the Court's recent decisions in front of you guys," Sean said with a laugh.
"Well, we're all pretty independent thinkers in our family," Mike said. "So it wouldn't have been a big thing."
" 'K," Sean said. "Listen, guys, I gotta hit it. Thanks for the invite for tonight, and I'll see you around 8."
"Laters, man," Matt said. "And by the way, it's a T shirt and jeans night. Our friend will prolly be overdressed, but he's a model. He can't help himself."
Sean laughed and walked off with a farewell wave.
"He's hot for your bod, buddy," Matt said quietly to Mike with a grin when they were alone.
"Oh, yeah, he is. When you walked over to talk to your professor or whoever that guy was, his eyes were glued to your ass like flies to a cow pie."
"Elegantly put, country boy, but wrong!" Mike said dismissively.
"He is! Of course, he's just appreciating true beauty."
"Yep! And that's my final word."
"Ha! Your final word? My ears should be so lucky!"
Matt rose from the table with a satisfied smile, and took the handle of Michael's stroller, prepared to get under way.
* * *
The guys were sitting on the couch in the den listening to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith wail and snarl from the stereo, at reduced volume so as not to wake the boys, of course, when the phone rang a few minutes after 8 o'clock. It was Arnie, down in the foyer. Mike buzzed him up.
"Yo, what up, dawg?" Arnie said when Matt opened the door to his knock.
"You are, dude," Matt said as he grabbed Arnie up off the floor in a bear hug and twirled him around. He kissed him on the cheek and put him down, giving him the once over. Arnie's beautiful cocoa skin radiated health. He had lost a little of his baby face, and looked more handsome than ever.
"I feel popular," Arnie said with a grin. "I should gravitate over here more often."
"Yeah, you should!" Mike said.
"How they hangin', guys? I've missed you," Arnie said. "I hafta say it's good to see the two of you in the same room, back together again. You were meant for each other." He kissed Matt and then went over and hugged and kissed Mike.
"We're happy about it," Matt said. "How'd ya know?"
"When Mike called and said you were here, I just knew."
"Smart man. Listen, before you sit down, I want you to see the twins," Matt said proudly. "They're sleeping, but you'll get the idea."
The three of them went down the hall to the boys' room, and tiptoed over to the cribs, placed side by side. Breathing gently, lying on their backs, the twins were oblivious to their visitors.
For once, Arnie seemed at a loss for words as they peered down at the two boys, their fine, blond hair shimmering even in the dim light.
"Holy, moly," Arnie whispered finally. "They're angel children. So beautiful! I wish I could hold them."
"You're gonna have your chances, bud," Mike said. "What's your fee for babysitting?"
"For you dudes, it's a freebie. Seriously, I love kids. You guys are so-o-o lucky. I envy you."
"Well, we feel pretty good about it most of the time," Matt said. "Once in awhile they test us, but they're really good kids, don't you think, Mike?"
"Yeah," Mike agreed. "They're great. They take after Sarah, fortunately."
Walking back to the den, Arnie slipped his arm around Matt.
"Sorry about your wife, man."
"Thanks. It hurt."
Without answering, Arnie hugged Matt tighter.
"By the way, bro, Mike and I are getting married, or whatever equivalent we can work out. Soon."
Arnie stopped in his tracks, his eyes shining.
"Congrats, dude! That is so wonderful! I'm a little disappointed, though, I hafta admit. I was hoping all along that I could get Mike out of the picture and I could have you all to myself."
"We don't know the details at this point," Mike said, smiling at his friend's last statement. "We're thinking about getting ourselves registered as a couple in Vermont if they haven't repealed the law by then. The family wants to be there. But we'll let you know. We want to have a ceremony of blessing back here afterward, but we have to find a clergyman who will do the job."
Arnie gave them two thumbs up and a big, beautiful smile.
They arrived back in the den just as the phone rang. It was Sean Garrity, and Mike buzzed him up.
Arnie looked at Matt and Mike curiously.
"We asked one of my buddies from med school to come over, too," Mike said to Arnie. "Hope that's OK. I think you met him one night at Roscoes awhile back."
Arnie looked down disapprovingly at the neatly pressed button-down shirt, khaki cargoes and white Nikes he was wearing.
"I look like shit," he said.
"You look fine," Mike said as he opened the door.
Sean, looking athletic in a Blink-182 T and skin-tight, faded 501's, came in and was reintroduced to Arnie. They bumped fists.
Arnie and Sean sat down on the couch, and Matt and Mike pulled up easy chairs, everybody casually plunking his feet down on the coffee table.
"I've spotted you from a distance at Roscoes every so often, Arnie," Sean said. "And haven't you been in some International Male catalogs recently?"
"Yeah, I've been in the last three catalogs. I like those gigs because the shoots are pretty painless, and they usually let you keep whatever you model. That's where I got this shirt and cargos, as a matter of fact," Arnie said.
"Lookin' good, bud," Mike said to Arnie. "You been workin' out?"
"You know better than that, dude," Arnie said. "I do try to run a couple days a week, though. You guys look like you all work out."
"Not!" Matt and Mike said simultaneously.
"I'm at the gym twice a week," Sean admitted. "Not enough to make a difference, I s'pose. I do run almost every day, though."
"Your chest and legs look good from where I'm sitting," Arnie said. "Whatever you're doin', keep it up."
"Watch it, Sean! He's hitting on you already," Mike said, laughing.
"You can't lie to these eyes," Arnie protested.
"Well, thanks," Sean said smoothly. "You're lookin' good yourself, man."
"Throw a bucket of water on 'em before this goes any further," Matt said to Mike. "They hafta eat pizza yet."
"Speaking of which," Mike said, "the pizza should be here any minute. Who wants something to drink?"
"Beer for me," Sean said.
"Got any chianti?" Arnie asked.
"Yep," Mike said, heading for the kitchen. "Come help me, Matt."
" 'K," Matt said, following his brother out of the room.
When they came back with plates, glasses, napkins and beverages, Sean and Arnie had moved closer to each other on the couch and were talking animatedly, looking into one anothers eyes.
Mike pinched Matt's ass, nodding his head toward their guests.
"What a cute little cupid you are, bro. See what you've done now?"
"Use it or lose it!" Matt said, pulling Mike into his arms, kissing him.
Two huge, deep dish pizzas arrived. Mike paid and gave the cute delivery guy a nice tip. They all joined hands as Matt offered thanks for their food. The conversation slowed while the four young men tore into their meal. By the time they finished, there wasn't even a piece of crust left. Naturally they drank some more to help settle the food. They talked about school, modeling, sports, the Chicago scene, and just generally had a good time. Sean and Arnie were obviously concentrating more on each other than on the conversation, though. Arnie wasn't queening it up at all.
The phone rang about 9 o'clock, and it was Jeff. Mike went into the kitchen and talked with him for about 10 minutes, and was satisfied that everything was going well. He went back to the den, giving Matt a thumbs up as he entered.
"So, Sean," Mike heard Arnie asking, "I'm just double checking, but you're gay, right?"
"As a goose," Sean said with a smile.
"Not really. My family doesn't know at all."
"That's stressful," Arnie observed. "I'm lucky, 'cause my family has known forever and gave me good support in school when I needed it most. I love 'em to death."
"I'm not close to my family," Sean said. "I have two brothers, one older, one younger, both married and breeding like good Catholic boys should. My mom has always been pretty much an invalid, and my dad--well, he's had his girlfriends throughout their marriage. My dad is also homophobic as hell, so I pretty much grew up in isolation so far my sexuality is concerned. In some ways, it's your typical dysfunctional family when it comes to communication."
"When did you know you were gay?" Arnie asked.
"I've known since before puberty. I compensated for being attracted to guys by playing the heterosexual wild man all through high school and college. I had the macho game down to a T. Naturally, the more women I dated, the more miserable I was. When I went to med school, I stopped dating women altogether, but I've haven't had a lot of luck finding men I'm attracted to, either, I hafta say."
"I have plenty of weird-ass guys comin' on to me all the time, but not too many nice ones," Arnie admitted. "I've gotten pretty selective in my old age, but I had a lotta dick in my younger days. I count my blessings I never caught anything, if y'know what I mean, 'cause I did everything and everyone who could be done, and then some."
"Yeah," Sean said.
Arnie got up went over to the shelf of CD's, and put some Ace of Base on the player. Pulling Sean to his feet, the two of them burned off a few calories dancing to the deep, strong beat while Matt and Mike watched them. They moved well together, Mike thought to himself. Arnie hadn't lost any of his great dance moves. He had a natural grace about him. Pretty soon Mike pulled Matt up, and the two couples danced for a few more songs.
Arnie continued to drink chianti until the bottle was empty, while Sean kept putting away the Heineken's. They were feeling no pain when Sean rose from the couch about midnight, wavering a bit, to say he should get going. Arnie got up, too, lost his balance, and immediately fell back down to a sitting position on the couch.
"Sean, it probably isn't such a good idea for you to drive," Matt said. "You're drunk, dude. You can either take a cab or stay here, if you want. Arnie, you can stay, too. You're both so cute you'd probably get molested on the way home, anyway."
"Mother!!" Sean joked as he hugged Matt and sloppily kissed his cheek. "I knew I'd find a duplicate of you in the outside world someday."
"Yo mama, bullshit!" Arnie said, laughing. "And if you're gonna cash in tonight, I want the Boxster, unscathed."
"You're wack, dude! I'm gonna be buried in that car!" Sean said.
"Maybe, but not tonight," Mike said.
"Alright, we'll cab it, ok with you, Arnie?" Sean finally agreed.
" 'K, I'm wit' ya, bro!" Arnie said. "Let's bounce."
"Anybody still able to use a telephone?" Sean asked, slurring his words a little.
Mike looked up the number of a cab company and phoned. They said there would be a cab there in 10 minutes.
"Sean, give me your car key," Matt said. "I'll leave it at the front desk for ya tomorrow, 'K?"
"Yeppers. Thanks for everything, guys," Sean said, handing over his key. "I've really enjoyed the evening, no shit."
"Me, too, dudes," Arnie chimed in. "You're my very favorite couple, and I love ya, and I love the kids, and I've missed you both like crazy. I'll call ya tomorrow."
Mike took them to the door, and watched until they got on the elevator before he shut the door.
Going back into the den, he saw Matt bending over the coffee table, stacking the plates and silverware. He grabbed him around the waist from behind and ran one hand down Matt's muscular stomach, under the waistband of his jockies and into his crotch, fondling his package.
"Feeling playful, are we?" Matt snorted. "Don't get me chubbed up before I take Breakers downstairs for a few minutes, huh?"
"Spoilsport," Mike said, withdrawing his hand after a final squeeze. "I'll take Breakers out. Hey, ya think Sean and Arnie will hook up tonight?"
"I dunno. They seem to like each other."
"I'll find out Monday and phone you back at school," Mike promised.
" 'K. If you're taking the dog down, I'll clean up here and get in the shower."
"No shower! I have plans for you, and I want you nice and gamy."
"Like you are every night, you mean."
Mike stuck his tongue in Matt's ear, and danced away before he could retaliate. Calling Breakers, he leashed him and went downstairs, taking the pooper scooper and a ziploc bag with him.
When Mike came back upstairs, the den was dark, and the only light showing came from his and Matt's bedroom down the hall. He removed Breakers' leash and hung it up, and went to the kitchen where he doublewrapped the ziploc bag and discarded it in the garbage.
He headed for the bedroom. Matt was lying supine on the bed under the sheet. They smiled at each other, and Mike went on into bathroom, where he washed his hands and face and brushed his teeth. By that time of the night he had a stubble. Rubbing his face, he ignored his whiskers and went back into the bedroom.
Sliding into bed with Matt, he turned on his side and faced his partner, ready to initiate lovemaking that he hoped would last until they were both raw. Reaching over, he pulled Matt into his arms. As their faces touched, Mike felt moisture. He backed off and took a closer look. Matt's eyes looked wet.
"Are you all right?" Mike asked quietly.
"You've given me a big problem," Matt said. "And I don't mean the usual hardon."
"Talk to me."
"This is just whining, plain and simple, and I'm kind of ashamed to even be saying it considering the problems that other people have. But tomorrow's our last full day together, and it's gonna kill me to pack up the boys and leave you here."
"I know," Mike said, caressing his brother's face.
"I don't know whether you do or not, Mike, fully. You're the heart of my heart. The love and generosity and forgiveness you've given me have been...awesome. You've let me back into your life, and that's more than I had any right to expect from someone I hurt as much as I hurt you. You're totally beautiful, inside and out. You make me high and happy and content, and now I'm re-addicted to you." Matt smiled. "So it's all your fault!"
"I'd love to take the credit, but I know better," Mike said. "I'm more sure than ever that you and I were meant to be. I lusted for your sweet ass the first time you showed up in our room at school in those perfect 501's--I can still see you back then in my mind's eye--the body from heaven. But I knew it was real love when you took care of me after my family was killed. I got a true measure of your soul and spirit. How many guys living a straight life, like you were then, would have been secure enough and caring enough to get into a gay friend's bed and hold him because he was hurting? Not many. So what we feel for each other flows both ways.
"Being gay in this world is no picnic, we know that, but I'll tell you, I think I've been blessed," Mike continued. "I've always kinda envied the straight guys that I see everywhere with their girls on their arms--life seems so effortless for them. I've always thought how easy and good my life would be if the Lord had just made me straight. But I don't think I'll have those thoughts anymore, because we've found our way back together, and I mean that spiritually as much as physically. Mom told me once that when you were growing up, you were occasionally willful, but that you also were basically kind and good and loving, and that you always fought for the underdog. She nailed it, fer sure. I love you to the core of my being for those wonderful qualities, along with your brains and great bod, and as far as I'm concerned, our love is carved in stone."
Mike paused. "And, of course, it doesn't hurt that you have a big, juicy cock," he added, grinning, gently palming the named appendage.
Matt smiled and kissed Mike softly, smoothing his lover's hair back from his forehead. They lay in each others arms for several hours, alternately dozing and waking until Matt asked Mike to make love to him.
More than ready, Mike straddled Matt's legs, and lay down so that his head was on Matt's chest, and he began massaging his brothers pecs and abs with his big, swimmer's hands. Then he reached up licked each of Matt's ears thoroughly, nibbling gently on his ear lobes and probing with his tongue. Matt groaned with pleasure. Mike began slowly to tongue and nibble the silky skin of his lover's chest, concentrating on the quarter-sized aureoles of his nipples until those little mounds of flesh were happily standing at attention. Gradually, ever so gradually, Mike began the exciting trek down to Matt's abs, making sure that none of the sexy topography along the way was neglected. He could feel Matt's cock growing turgid and poking him in the balls, even as his own penis was engorging.
Matt cupped Mike's butt, massaging and kneading the muscles of that beautiful ass. Bringing his right hand to his mouth, Matt wet his fingers and ran them up and down Mike's crack, passing lightly over his rosebud. Pausing then at the doorway, he pushed his middle finger inside, stopping at the first knuckle and letting it remain there, quiescent. It was Mike's turn to groan appreciatively.
The blood was singing through Mike's body as his tongue continued exploring, breaking only periodically to seek his brother's mouth and tongue, as if for renewal. Re-energized, the journey down Matt's glowing body resumed. Matt's navel became the focus of attention, and then Mike returned to the nipples to assure that they still stood tall.
Approaching his target from the side, Mike grasped Matt's dick, by this time leaking pre-cum, and licked the head of it repeatedly, savoring the sweet taste. Leaving Matt hungry for more attention to his cock, Mike moved down and began licking behind his big balls. Raising his partner's pelvis a bit, his tongue explored the area between his balls and his sphincter until, wanting more, he turned Matt over. He parted his ass cheeks, and began licking, probing and sucking Matt's sweet, almost hairless hole, glorying in the musky, masculine smell his lover exuded. Mike's tongue was loath to leave its sanctuary as he probed deeper and deeper. By now Matt's precum was really flowing, forming a small puddle on the sheet under him.
Eventually, nowhere near sated, Mike turned Matt back over and deep throated his cock, glistening with precum, several times. Then he put Matt's muscular legs over his shoulders, and guiding his own dick to his lover's damp and ready hole, probed at the doorway until the head popped in. Considerately, he waited for Matt to be comfortable accommodating him, then followed up with a long series of small thrusts until at last his pubes were against his partner's bottom. He was exultant. He was home.
"I love you, Matt," Mike said simply as he bent down and kissed his brother's waiting mouth, tongues battling, and then began the long and deliberate thrusts that incrementally increased Matt's sexual tension until he was sweating and sighing deeply. Knowing his brother's body well, Mike quickly found his partner's prostate where it pulsed near his tunnel, and massaged it repeatedly with the head of his penis. Matt groaned every time Mike hit its target, and now his precum was puddling in his navel and on his abs. Mike bent down periodically and licked it up, captivated by the taste of it.
Mike was a master cocksman, and sensing whenever Matt was going to cum, he slowed and varied his invasion until his partner came down from the brink, only then to resume the thrusts that brought him again to the heights. Matt tried to take his own dick and stroke it in time to Mike's thrusts, but Mike pushed his hands away and pinned them down. Matt unconsciously grabbed fistfuls of the sheet, and held on for dear life.
Both young men were breathing heavily and sweating profusely. Freeing his hands, Matt reached up and squeezed Mike's nips hard, pinching them between his fingernails, trying to stimulate him to shoot so that he could cum, as well. He also began consciously to relax his chute with each thrust his partner made, and squeeze hard with each withdrawal. Almost overwhelmed with pleasurable feelings, Mike continued thursting unabated into his partner's ass, his back locked.
"Mike..." Matt said gutterally, "please let me..."
Mike wordlessly said no, but he did push Matt's legs forward and lie down on Matt's torso so that the latter's dick was trapped between their chests and abs, and thus stimulated with each of Mike's thrusts.
At the point that Matt was ready to scream with frustration and sexual tension, Mike suddenly raised upright and Matt could feel copious ropes of his brother's cream shooting up his ass. One stroke on his own overheated dick, and it too began to spew cum, flying over his head, the first few shots plastering themselves to the headboard of the bed. Continuing to spurt, Matt's face was painted, and then his chest bathed in the thick, glistening fluid. His ejaculate was thick, and it seemed as if it would never stop flowing.
Mike finally stopped thrusting and fell forward on his partner, kissing him, and then collapsed limply, cheek to cheek with Matt. Both of them were breathing in great, ragged, uneven gasps. Neither moved a muscle for a good five minutes. Mike's penis softened and fell away from his brother. Great clots of cum coursed from Matt's rectum, puddling on the bedsheet.
As Mike began to emerge from his post-coital coma, he cleaned the spunk from Matt's face with his fingers, and fed it to his partner. Raising up on his arms, he used his tongue to move the cum around on Matt's torso, and then sucked it all into his mouth. When it was gone, leaving Matt's chest glistening only with saliva, he slid off of his brother and lay beside him, holding him as if there were no tomorrow.
They did not speak. Their love for each other, so keen it almost pained them, said everything.
They lay holding each other, looking into one anothers eyes, until sleep carried them off side by side, fulfilled and content.
* * *
Matt awakened first the next morning, and lay silent and unmoving in the disheveled bed, aromatic with the smell of male sex. He smiled, remembering the height and depth of their passion, surpassing any level they had ever achieved before. His eyes caressed Mike's face and chest as he lay breathing quietly.
The Lord is kind and good, he thought to himself. There is no other explanation for the foretaste of heaven he was experiencing loving Mike and being loved by him. Mike and the twins were the gifts of abundant life that God had given him. He continued to lie there, silently rejoicing.
His thoughts drifting, it occurred to him that he and Mike should to do something today that the boys would enjoy.
This last week, and Matt was pleased that Mike had been able to witness it, the twins had matured from talking in sporadic, disjointed words and phrases to speaking in complete sentences. Nothing complex, but real sentences. They were actually conversing with their dad and uncle and each other. It was scary how fast they were growing. It was just one more piece of evidence attesting to the fact that whether you're in control of your life or not, enjoying it or not, it keeps moving on.
Sliding out of bed so as not to awaken Mike, Matt picked up his jockies from beside the bed, slipped them on, and went into the adjoining bedroom where Matthew and Michael were sitting in their respective cribs, talking quietly to each other.
"Daddy!" Michael said, and Matthew stood up and held up his arms to be picked up.
"Hi, guys!" Matt greeted them. "Did you sleep tight?"
"Yes," Matthew said. "I hafta go peepee."
"You're such good boys!" Matt said, scooping them both up and carrying them to the bathroom. Removing their diapers, he put Matthew on the potty chair and Michael right on the toilet. They emptied their bladders immediately.
"You guys are doing so well. I'm really proud of you," Matt told them. "Do you want breakfast first, or do you want a bath."
"I'm hungry right now," Michael said, leaving no doubt.
Matt put their diapers back on them, and one on each arm, carried them to the kitchen. He put them in their highchairs.
"Well, what would you like to eat this morning?" he asked.
"Eggs 'n juice, Dad," Matthew said with certainty.
"Yeah, eggs 'n juice," Michael repeated.
"OK, how do you want your eggs?" Matt asked.
"With toast," Michael said. "You know, runny."
Matt chuckled to himself.
"Do you want a little bacon with that?"
"Yes!" Matthew smiled and clapped his hands.
"All right, then, it's eggs over easy with bacon. I'll give you your juice while the eggs are cooking, 'K?" Matt went to the refrigerator and poured two small glasses of orange juice and gave them to the twins.
Looking up, Matt saw Mike standing in the doorway in his boxers, smiling broadly.
"Morning, Uncle Mike," Matt said, and went over and kissed him, giving his chest an appreciative rub before stepping away.
"Hi, Unk Mike!" the boys said together. Mike went over and kissed each of them on top of the head.
"You guys started without me," Mike complained.
"No, we didn't, Unk Mike. It's not even cooked yet," Michael said.
"All right, then, can I help?"
"Please help, Unk Mike," Michael said, looking at his dad. "I'm hungry."
"I guess that's my cue," Mike said, laughing. "An uncle's work is never done."
Matt put on the coffee and fixed the toast, and Mike cooked. Before long they had the boys and themselves fed, and carted the young ones off for a bath. Ensconced afterward in their playpen, the boys began playing quietly while Matt and Mike went to shower. They held each other under the invigorating spray while the remnants of last night's glorious coupling washed down the drain.
"Last night was special," Mike said as he washed Matt's back. "It was intense. Thank you," he said.
"You were intense," Matt responded. "You are intense. I'll never forget how you made me feel last night for the rest of my life."
Mike rested his chin on Matt's shoulder from behind, kissing his neck, arms encircling his partner's chest.
"Listen, before you give me a woody and we hafta go back to bed, why don't we pack a lunch and take the boys and Breakers out to that park in the country where we had such a good time with the family last time they were here?" Matt asked.
"Great idea, actually," Mike agreed. "It's supposed to be sunny today and warmer than usual for this time of the year. It should be perfect."
The plan set, they finished showering and before long, after throwing together the necessities, had Breakers and the boys in the Blazer and they were on their way. Traffic out of the city going west was light at that time of day, and about 40 miles out they got off the tollway and went to the back roads. They were at their destination in a little over an hour.
The park was practically deserted. They picked out a grill toward the back of the area to cook their hotdogs, and unpacked the cooler and their human and animal cargo. The twins and Breakers were thrilled at the sheer space of the place, and immediately began exploring with Matt and Mike keeping an eye peeled for their whereabouts. Mike covered the table with a sheet anchored down with their cooler, and spread a blanket in the warm sun.
Matt retrieved the boys and the dog, and they all sat down together on the blanket.
"Daddy, let's walk," Matthew said.
"We'll walk in, hmmm, say, 10 minutes. OK? Uncle Mike and I need to rest," Matt told him.
"It'll be too late, then," Michael chimed in. "We should go now. Please?"
"It won't be too late," Mike told the twins. "We haven't even built the fire to cook hotdogs yet."
Matthew pointed at the sun, not yet directly overhead.
"Look," he said, "it'll be dark soon. Breakers wants to go now."
Matt and Mike looked at each other and had to laugh.
"They're little manipulators, just like you," Matt said. "How did they get your genes?"
"I dunno. But you taught me everything I know about manipulating, lawyer man," was Mike's rejoinder.
" 'K, guys," Matt said to the boys. "We'll walk now. Then we'll come back and play with the ball, all right?"
"Yaah!" the boys shouted, and clambered to their feet. Breakers danced around happily. Matt got up and extended his hand to Mike, pulling him up.
"Come on, Uncle Mike, it'll be dark soon." Matt said.
They picked one of the paths at random. The boys were definitely walking, not toddling anymore, and they moved along at a good pace. The path meandered through a meadow and then some groves of trees, and included a bridge over a sizable creek at one point. The boys were fascinated by the rushing water, and gleefully threw stones into it. Matt and Mike showed off their ability to skip flat stones across the stream.
"Matt, you've done a terrific job with these boys," Mike said out of the blue.
"Thanks, but whaddaya mean?"
"You're doing all the right things, the way you're bringing them up."
"Well, the child development people say that parents are supposed to do exactly what you're doing, particularly in the first three years," Mike said. "Like you reserve time every day for each of them as individuals and don't let anything interfere with that, you read to them, you talk to them a lot, you're physically demonstrative with your love, you set good guidelines for behavior, you maintain good discipline without being hurtful...I just think you're one great father. You've built bridges of love to these boys that will last as long as you're on this earth. I'm sure that's what Mom and Dad did with you and Jeff and Martha, and that explains the family closeness. I never had that, at least not from my dad. The amazing thing is that you've accomplished all this as a single parent. That hasn't been easy."
"Hey, buddy, just remember that my single parenting days will soon be behind me, Uncle Mike," Matt said. "After we're formally partnered and if it's something you want to do, I'd really like it if you adopt the boys."
"I'd love that. And I feel really honored that you'd ask me."
"You gonna share the indescribable glory and misery of parenthood, bro. I'm not doing this alone, and I'm not letting you off easy."
Mike didn't respond, but his big smile said it all.
The twins were tired about a half hour into their trek, so Matt and Mike each picked one up and carried him back to the blanket. The little ones conked out. The guys took their own T shirts off, and lay down in the warm sun, holding hands and snoozing a bit.
Matt woke up, and turned to Mike.
"The boys and I hafta catch our plane a couple hours after church tomorrow. I wanna thank you from the bottom of my heart for this week. I feel as if I have a new lease on life."
"Sweetboy, it's been pure pleasure," Mike said. "I've loved having you. The place is gonna seem empty without you all. The bed's gonna seem especially empty without you in it, by the way. Anyway, we both have a lot to get done this next month. I really feel energized now that you're back in my life. I'm gonna try to have all the renovations to the condo made by the time you and the kids get back. Fer sure, I want things to be ready by the time Mom and Dad and Jeff and Martha make it over here."
"That sounds great! Now, you're clear I'm gonna reimburse you for some of the costs, right?"
"Don't worry about it, dude."
"Uh huh. Just don't forget, 'K?" Matt said.
"Yeah, yeah," Mike muttered back.
Matt rolled on his side and put his arm across Mike's chest.
"Since you're being so difficult, now it's joketime."
"No-o-o," Mike said, trying to sit up.
Matt shoved him back down.
"Don't struggle, Doctor, it only makes the procedure more painful! And you'll wake the kids."
"You're bad to the bone, you know that?"
"Funny you should say that," Matt responded. "This story is about getting boned.
"These two men were cellmates at state penitentiary
for nine years. One day Larry said to Joe,
"'You know, man, it's been a long time since we had some
sex, so you oughta let me screw you.'
"Joe said, 'Are you crazy?!!'
"Larry went on to say, 'I promise you that it won't hurt and we'll
flip a coin and see who screws who, first.'
"So, Joe thought about it for a minute and finally agreed.
"They flipped a coin and Larry won.
Still having strong reservations, Joe asked,
"'How will you know if it hurts me or not?'
"Larry told Joe, 'If it hurts, you start making animal noises,
and I'll stop. But if it feels good, start singing.'
"Larry started the insertion and Joe screamed,
Mike covered his face with both hands.
"Y'know, you're gonna put me in therapy with this joke shit! They just keep getting worse!"
Matt pried his brother's hands from his face, and kissed Mike deeply.
"You love my jokes, and if it takes a lifetime, I'm gonna make you admit it!"
"I'd rather kiss a pig!! Oh gosh. Is that you or a pig snout I see before me?"
"I'll put a pig snout where you like it best," Matt said, laughing.
They hugged each other in pure joy, laughing.
Letting the boys sleep, they fired up the grill, starting cooking the hotdogs, and set the table with potato salad, condiments and soft drinks.
When the coals were ready, Mike cooked the hotdogs. They woke
up the twins, and each held one boy on his lap at the
table and fed him as much hotdog, potato salad, canned peaches and bottled water as he could be induced to eat. When
Matt brought ice cream bars for their dessert out of the cooler, the kids' eyes lighted up. They took them politely, and went over and sat on the blanket, chattering away to each other as they consumed them down to the sticks.
Matt and Mike ate then, gazing at each other reflectively across the
table, occasionally reaching down to feed pieces of
hotdog to Breakers. After they ate their own their own ice cream bars, they packed things up and walked the twins up the
parking lot to a park outhouse and let them relieve themselves. On their way back to the Blazer, they all had a mock race
which the twins proudly won.
The guys spent a few more minutes relaxing on the blanket talking to the boys, luxuriating in the sun and warm spring breeze. Then they put the dog, the boys and the picnic stuff back in the car, and took off for Chicago before rush hour was upon them.
Matt decided he was going to fix a special supper for Mike that night,
so once in town, they stopped at their friendly
neighborhood grocery to stock up before going home.
It was only 4:30 in the afternoon, so Matt started separating what clothes he wanted to leave in anticipation of returning to Chicago in a month, and packed the rest so he wouldn't have to do it all the next morning.
Once the bulk of the packing was finished, Matt and Mike sat in the den with the boys and watched a Disney movie.
The guys fed and bathed the boys, and then read them their stories and just talked with them for awhile. Matt started on supper for him and Mike. It would be a London broil with steamed vegetables and green salad, served with a good Burgundy, with ice cream for dessert.
They put the boys to bed, and after grace sat down across from each other in the dining room to eat.
"After we have our family gathering in June, I'm gonna let Mom and Dad take the kids for a few days while I go to Hartford to see the Bradfords," Matt said.
"Are you gonna tell them about us?"
"Yes. That's the main reason I'm going."
"What do you think their reaction will be?" Mike asked.
"I don't know for sure, but I have a premonition about it," Matt admitted. "I'm not crossing the state line into Connecticut with the boys until I know they're cool about a gay couple raising their grandkids. Powerful people who are used to being in control don't always understand their limits, and I'm not taking any chances that they might try to kidnap the boys to 'save' them from us."
"You don't really think they would..."
"I don't know," Matt said. "Maybe my suspicions are totally unfounded. I hope so. But I'm not taking any chances."
"Now you've got me worried," Mike said with a frown.
"Don't be," Matt reassured him. "We're going to establish the boys' residence here in Illinois. I just don't think it's prudent to put temptation in the Governor's way. After all, he has the Connecticut State Police at his beck and call. I don't want to have to go to court to get our kids back if he tries something."
Mike smiled when he heard the words "our kids."
They finished eating, cleaned up the kitchen, and then went into the
den and curled up together on the couch in the deep silence--no TV, no
stereo, no distractions. Neither spoke or felt the need to speak.
Mike cradled Matt in his arms, caressing his face and his chest.
They were totally at peace with one another as they each looked forward
to being together permanently, raising the kids.