Begin Anew: A Friend In Need

By dabeagle - Chapter Two

"A ride? A ride, how the hell do you expect to find a house based on its description?" I asked with a more than a touch of annoyance.

"Well, how would you have made it a surprise and still gotten the phone number?" Grant shot back.

"Besides," Case interjected, "phones might still be down up there, might not do us any good to have the number."

"But then we could get the address, couldn't we?" I asked.

"I doubt it," Cris said, "Ever try finding Casey's number in the book? It's probably unlisted."

I was trapped in a web of reason, and I hate that. I looked at Grant and apologized.

"I guess you had it right in the first place, I'll shut the hell up now," I volunteered, which drew a chuckle.

"Ok, so what does the house look like?" Case asked.

"Well," Grant began, "it sits on a hill outside of town."

"Oh, well, that's unique," Sheila said sarcastically, "Tahoe is nothing but hills and mountains!"

"Well, it has huge windows in the front from floor to ceiling, both floors," Grant offered getting a bit frustrated.

"Ok, well that eliminated about a third of the houses, I guess. What else?" Casey asked.

"There's a large front yard and a circular driveway, and it's blue with gray trim, and it's in a tiny town with one General Store and a coffee shop across from it," he said.

"Well, that's something I guess. We really need something four wheel drive though, do you think your dad would let us use the Jeep?" Kyle asked Casey.

"I don't know, I'll call him and see." Casey left the table and we were once again alone with the thoughts of what we were up to. I got up to refill the mugs while Grant began speaking to all of us at once.

"I really appreciate this guys, it's no fun being in that place," he said with a great deal of emotion held in check. We all knew how tough it had been for him in there, and I think the thought of another nice guy being there really had us on edge. As I walked around the table I thought I ought to let them in on my conversation with Ashley.

"Oh, by the way, Ashley is having his surgery tomorrow so we need to go to the hospital about eight thirty," I said.

"Tomorrow? Why didn't he tell someone?" Sheila exclaimed.

"He told me, what am I, chopped liver?" I asked.

"You know what I meant, don't play hurt with me," she said, "why all the secrecy?"

"He doesn't want us to make a big thing out of it, ok? I told him it came with the territory, but maybe he'd be more uncomfortable with us all worrying like mad so lets just be kinda cool and supportive, ok?" I asked while walking around the table refilling cups.

"You? The strong silent type?" Kyle smirked.

"Bite me, Kyle," I said with a grin.

"Hey, Case will get jealous!" Kyle grinned.

"Jealous of what?" Case asked, reentering the room and resuming his seat.

"Justin is flirting again," Grant whined to Casey.

"I was not!" I yelped, still a bit nervous from the falling out that occurred over my attraction to Grant.

"Yes he was, he wanted me to bite him," Kyle said.

"Plus he stuck his tongue in Grant's ear," Cris chimed in.

"I did not!" I exclaimed.

"He kissed Cris," Grant said.

"Liar!" I laughed.

"He grabbed my chest," Sheila said.

"See you guys had me going up until Sheila, now I know your fulla shit!" Casey laughed.

"At least he wasn't taking his clothes off," Kyle said, making a face.

"Hey!" I said, playing at being put out.

"I won't complain!" Grant said, which was so out of character for him we all just looked at him, except me of course who was busy turning redder than red.

"What?" Grant asked with a small smile spreading across his reddening cheeks, as the group started laughing again. Well what do you know, Grant thinks I'm cute too.

Case had permission to borrow his Dad's Wagoneer, so we were heading out to squeeze into his Saab for the ride to his house when Ash rounded the corner. The wind was whipping and we were going to cart him off with us, but he begged off saying he wanted some quiet time tonight, get online and talk to some people and stay warm, as opposed to us idiots who were heading out on a wild goose chase.

So we piled in the car. Sheila got shotgun by virtue of staring us all down so I ended up on Kyle's lap, which was not the worst place to be!

"Don't hit any bumps," Kyle told Casey firmly.

"Why not?" Casey asked, his grin visible to only Sheila, except that I could tell by his voice he was grinning like a madman up there.

"Cause your boyfriend would have too much fun, that's why! Besides, he's got a bony ass," He laughed shoving me a bit, "Shift over some!"

"I do not have a bony ass! It's a nice ass, Casey says so all the time!" I said triumphantly.

"Ok, enough talk about Justin's ass, let's talk about Kyle's," Sheila said smiling sweetly.

"Oh yeah, sure, talk about my ass in a car full of fags!" Kyle grinned.

"Good topic! Who wants to start?" I asked while the car began it's trek to Casey's house.

"Hey! Don't do it!" Kyle warned.

"It's got a nice bubble shape to it," Cris said kind of shyly.

"Hey!" Kyle said.

"Is it firm or soft?" I asked Sheila.

"Depends on if he's excited or not," She said facing forward, deliberately not looking at Kyle. There were a few eyebrows going up in the car. Kyle was reddening as I had at my house and I was amused with it, and allowed my body to relax on his.

"So if he's horny, he gets all firm back there?" Cris asked devilishly.

"Yeah, it's like buns of steel," Sheila said with a giggle. I spotted Cris giving Kyle an appraising look out of the corner of my eye and Kyle flipped him off. I was suddenly aware of something somewhat unexpected. There was a hardness pressed into my backside. I turned slowly to look Kyle in the face and he met my eyes momentarily before turning to look out the window.

Had I turned him on, or was it simply the proximity and the natural raging hormones of a guy? Difficult to say, but I'll tell you this, it did wonders for the ego.

The car ride continued and we hit a few rough patches as we climbed slightly in elevation to the Fremont family compound, and Kyle was ground into me with each rocking motion the car threw at us. I think Kyle was thinking anything he could to get out of the situation, but his, um, you know had other ideas. I tried moving forward a bit towards the ends of his legs, but a large pothole sent me back into him, and his hardness behind me was unmistakable.

I began, involuntarily, to think of the first time I had laid eyes on Kyle, how much I had wanted to touch him and how much it meant to me that I was his friend on so many levels. Could he have a latent interest? Not that it mattered, I was with Casey through and through, but still it was an intriguing thought. I inched forward on his legs and his arm restrained me and I heard a small whisper at my ear.

"If you don't mind I'd rather not have you slam into me again, it's bad enough as it is," he muttered. I gave him a small nod, then settled back and tried not to be wicked and evil, which is almost always fun.

Each time we hit a bump my backside would slide up and down a time or two on that hardness and a small whimper came from him, too small for the raucous sounds in the car to allow it to be heard, but I heard.

The final three hundred feet or so were dirt road and the car rocked on it's springs and I was more or less forced to grind into Kyle unmercifully and I suddenly felt his hand clamp on my leg, the left side nearest the side of the car, and his hardness pulsed and his breathing became ragged behind me. Suddenly I felt bad, but at the same time I felt a sense of confidence in my appearance, in that I had turned a straight man on so much that he had, well, you know in his pants.

The car slid to a stop and both doors popped open, Casey headed in to get the keys and the rest headed over to the Jeep. Sheila walked around to collect Kyle, who excused himself saying he needed to pee.

"Need help?" Sheila enquired with a smile.

His face blanched and he went inside in a big hurry. I shook my head and went over to Cris and Grant who were staking out seats in the back end so they could lay down if they chose. The mid-afternoon sky was fairly bright but the wind whipped the air and dust about making it much colder than it actually was. I got in the front seat and Sheila climbed in the back seat to share with Kyle.

Casey burst from the house heading for the Jeep, Kyle appearing momentarily and walking a bit slowly, he glanced in my eyes and looked away quickly as he climbed into the back seat. Looks like life just got more complicated.

The ride to Tahoe was uneventful. It's a quiet, beautiful place with casinos right on the border where the California line is. It's like they built them as close to the border as they could get away with out going over or something. There were four big ones up here, Caesar's Mountain Kingdom, The Horizon, Harvey's and Harrah's Tahoe. Their lights were on already, small glittering kingdoms in the afternoon that was slipping away from us. Casey pulled into a strip mall parking lot and put the truck in park.

"Ok, I'm thinking that Quinn lives in the Nevada side because if he were on the California side their people would have him, not Nevada's, right?" he said, seeming to think out loud. This was previously unconsidered, since Tahoe is split by the California-Nevada border.

"Yeah, that makes sense," Grant replied, "He said there was like one main drag with a coffee shop and a general store kind of thing."

"So let's ask if any place around here fits that description," Sheila suggested. Case nodded in agreement and headed over to a small newsstand on the end of the parking lot. He went in and we waited, watching through the glass as he spoke to the fellow behind the counter. We saw the guy pointing and gesticulating with his hands, then it seemed as though he was drawing or tracing an imaginary map for Case.

He came trotting back a few minutes later and climbed back in the truck.

"Bingo! Ok, if we keep going for about a mile there will be a turn to go over a pass, much higher elevation than our Mount Rose Highway, he says about twenty minutes down the road is a town that matches that description perfectly," Casey reported.

"Yes! Let's go!" Grant exulted, and Case started the truck up again. We stopped for gas, which was really expensive up here, all over the state actually, and then settled in for the next leg of our journey.

Continuing up the road about a mile there was a turn, a left, that was almost a one eighty. We took the road, which shrank to a narrow two-lane job in no time flat, and just kept going up and up. The rock walls, rough and spotted with snow, lined the road, occasionally giving way to flat land with large rock outcroppings. Huge chunks of ice clung to the stone with an odd blue tint to the frozen water. Stunted trees struggled here and there to survive among the arctic conditions, and the wind howled with the late afternoon that was quickly escaping us. The opposite side of the road was guardrail and a steep drop off, enough to make you sick to look at it.

The sky was turning a steel gray, forbidding and imposing. It seemed as though this area would be dumped on again, soon. About fifteen minutes later we entered a small town, the name on the sign was obscured by the stacked snow, and just the very top of the sign was visible, stating 'Welcome To'.

We spotted the General Store that Drew had mentioned, complete with a heavyset fellow behind the counter eating from a block of cheese and reading a paper. We pulled in front of the store and climbed out, stretching our legs before heading into the store, inadvertently ringing the small bell over the entryway.

"Good afternoon! Such brave travelers to be out in this weather. Big storm tonight, you know that don't you?" said the shopkeeper as he set down his paper and took stock of us with a round, open face.

"Is it supposed to get really bad?" Case asked.

"Another two feet they say, and the Northeast of America thinks they get snow! Bah, they get flurries, a few flakes! We get enough to make you think it stays white here all year! But you're not here for a weather report, are you? No, I didn't think so. How can I help you?" he asked.

"We're trying to help a friend of ours get in touch with another friend here. Our friend's name is Drew Maloney," Grant began.

"Drew? You know this boy?" The shopkeeper interjected. We nodded as one and the shopkeeper continued. "Such a sad story, his Aunt Greta was such a good woman. Knew nothing about raising boys, but she had a good heart. Where is Drew now? He is safe, yeah?" he inquired.

"He's pretty sad, actually he misses his friend here, and we're trying to find him," Grant said seriously.

"You mean Master Andersen? Quinn? Such a good boy, they had a run in here you know," the shopkeeper said.

"What do you mean a run in?" Sheila asked.

"Well, young people such as yourselves, always in such a hurry. One was going in, one was going out and boom! They meet. Master Quinn is a good boy, he helped Drew, was very responsible and I think that day, he became more of a man than his father ever was, not that I should be talking so much, but if you don't hear so much it doesn't sound like I talk so much, yeah?" he said with a smile.

"So that's how they met?" Sheila asked.

"No, they knew one another for a brief moment, but they had to talk to each other here, this is true. I think Drew was a little uncomfortable, maybe Master Quinn intimidated him, I couldn't say. But Master Quinn liked Drew right away, I could see this."

"Can you tell us where to find Quinn?" Casey asked.

"Sure, sure I can help you. Take this road here, when you get to the end of the block where there's no more buildings then you go straight for about a mile and a half. On your left hand side there will be a pretty house with a big lawn in front, and boy I wouldn't want to mow it! The house is blue with gray trim, big windows all by itself. You can't miss it." He smiled broadly.

"Great, lets get going!" I said.

"Wait, you've been traveling. Here, growing children need to keep their strength up," he said reaching into the cooler behind him and withdrawing small plastic containers of milk, one for each of us, "especially when your doing the work of angels, yeah?" he said smiling broadly again.

Ok, so you couldn't help feeling kinda warm and fuzzy, right?

We piled back into the Jeep and headed slowly through the town, which still showed the after effects of the massive dump of snow that had buried it. A few people walked about, bundled against the cold and hurrying, heads down. We drove past where the sidewalk ends and the mountains took over again, snow piled high enough to create walls on either side of this simple two-lane road. We moved steadily through the snow, up a bit higher until there was a break in the wall of snow and a blanket of snow ran chest high to a house that sat reflecting light out onto the tundra like a jewel.

The Jeep made it's way up the drive, following tracks that had been laid down previously by some other large vehicle. Coming to a stop behind the house we piled out, breath pluming out in front of us as we huddled, before Grant broke for the back door of the house. As he reached the porch a guy stepped out, even dressed as he was in sweats he was breathtaking. Grant's jaw seemed to be frozen as the guy opened the door and looked at us all.

"Can I help you?" he asked, and I think I wasn't the only one that was hearing orchestras when he spoke. Cris kicked Grant, bringing him back to life.

"Uh, yeah, sorry. I, I mean, we're looking for Quinn Andersen?" Grant stumbled.

"That's me," Quinn said, eyes narrowing a bit.

"Hey, Quinn, you might not remember me, I'm Casey Fremont. My brother Harry and I used to go up to the Washoe Club, you used to swim laps there. We met a time or two," Case said extending his hand as he approached, and Quinn reached for it automatically a small smile crossing his face.

"Hi Casey, wow this is a surprise, I sure do remember you. Please, come in." Quinn said stepping back into the house and allowing us on the porch where we removed shoes and hung coats. We moved into the kitchen where I saw the fixings for cocoa and began forming the thought that some should be made. I was shaken from that thought when I realized Casey was introducing me, duh!

"You guys are a long way from home, huh?" Quinn asked, speaking again before we could answer, "What brings you out here?"

"Do you know someone named Drew Maloney?" Grant asked, finding his tongue again. The reaction in Quinn was immediate, amazement flared across his beautiful features and he sat down hard.

"Dude, are you ok?" I asked worriedly.

"How do you know Drew? Where is he? They promised they'd let me know where he went, now they are telling me they can't, that it's confidential and my lawyer he..." tears trickled from one eye, then the other cutting channels on his face, "doesn't know if there's anything that can be done, but my mother pas promised to do all she can."

Casey sat across from him and Sheila walked behind to knead his shoulders.

"Give us a minute, okay guys?" Casey asked, and we shuffled out of the kitchen and into the dining room, which was too big to be called huge, it was monstrous. The room was dominated by a massive table made of thick, dark wood and matching chairs with complimentary upholstery. Small half tables graced the walls and a huge hutch with china displayed adorned one end, while a matching hutch sat at the opposite end displaying crystal that twinkled in the sunlight that spilled through the windows.

Sheila moved with Cris and Grant into the next room, but I was spellbound.

"Just? Justin," Kyle said to me, standing about three feet away.

"Yeah?" I said not looking at him, still drinking in the room.

"I need to talk to you, bud," Kyle intoned. I turned to face him and took a seat as he did the same, leaving one chair between us.

"What's up?" I asked, immediately realizing my poor choice of words. He grimaced before continuing.

"About what happened in the truck, I, uh, I'm sorry," he spluttered.

"I'm only sorry if it's upsetting you, I don't think any better or worse of you," I replied with a shrug, "You know I have always been attracted to you, so it's kind of an ego booster to know I have some effect on you too," I said quietly, trying to be matter of fact and non-threatening.

Kyle sat quietly studying his hands before answering me. "I never thought of any guys like that 'til you came along and turned the whole damn thing upside down on me. I know I like women, crave them even," he looked up at me, "but sometimes I do wonder what it would be like if I......ever did something like that," he said. I felt my heart swelling with love and pride that he'd share that with me, that had to be hard.

I stood and walked around the chair between us and stepped behind him, grasping him into a hug.

"It makes me nervous, Justin," he said softly. I squeezed him in response, "What'd I do to deserve you, huh? You're always good to me."

"Cause you're my friend, and I love ya," I replied.

"Trying to steal my boyfriend, Pritchard?" Casey's voice teased from the doorway as he entered the room.

"I was going to ask Justin the same question," Sheila replied entering from the way she had left the room.

I looked from one to the other, Kyle smiling softly before Casey continued on, "Well, looks like we have another passenger, who wants him on their lap?"