Begin Anew: A Friend In Need
By dabeagle - All Good Things...
The truck was covered. In fact it looked like an icy lump, not even the tires being visible. The ice wasnt that thick, though, and a hand was enough to break the surface and get to the snow underneath. I was so embarrassed. I couldnt do much more than avoid Quinns face and glare at Grant, who seemed to be on the verge of the giggles all morning. Oh, revenge will be had!
Kyle and Sheila worked on the back of the truck while Casey and I cleared the drivers side. Grant and Cris worked on the passenger side, while Quinn cleared the front away. I dont care if I never see snow again after this! There are actually people out there who LIKE snow, and right now I am sure its due to a genetic defect of some sort.
At last enough was cleared away to get into drivers door of the truck, and Casey started it up. We trooped back inside to warm up while the truck did the same. The cook had set about breakfast while we were outside and the smells were enough to set my stomach rumbling, thats for sure. Casey stomped in from the back, boots covered in snow. He sat and unlaced them while Grant carried plates out to the dining room, Quinn following with silver, and Sheila supervising the mess. I say mess because this group just wasnt able to do anything seriously.
Hey, Justin, would you grab the buns, err, I mean rolls from the kitchen table? Kyle asked.
Very funny, smart ass, I replied.
Whatd I say? he asked while heading for the dining room as fast as he could. Did I say he was cute? Id strangle him at the moment!
We sat at the table, sniggers going around the table, and I was starting to get a little pissed off. Even Casey was getting into the act!
My toast is a little bare-assed. Can I have the jelly please? he enquired innocently, although the timing was right as Cris snorted milk through his nose. Better if it were orange juice, but you cant have everything, can you? Besides, I had business to attend to, like making Casey toe the line.
Hey, I think your ass was hanging in the breeze there too, how come there is no comment on his ass? I asked the table in general.
Because Casey would hang it out there and invite comment, instead of just going red in the face and trying to hide it, Grant said offhandedly.
Well, I havent seen it firsthand. How about giving me an eyeful, Case? Sheila asked breathlessly. Without missing a beat Casey stood on his chair and dropped his pants.
Folks were gathering their stuff, and doing it kind of slowly if you ask me. Honestly, I couldnt blame them. This house was beyond any of our means, any of our parents means, and we were reveling in it a little I think. I know I was. The house was like something out of a dream, even though it had been like a prison to Quinn for all this time.
Like what you see? Quinn asked, making me start a little.
I was just admiring the view. Its beautiful, I stated.
Yes, I love this area. My mother says that was why they left me here, because I was in love with these mountains and the snow. It IS beautiful, but it was still a prison, and one of my own making, as I am finding out, he sighed.
I find it hard to think of this place as a prison, I said truthfully.
Well, prison might be harsh as a descriptive term. I know that my parents werent here and I felt that they didnt care. I think a part of me wont really be satisfied until I see my mother. But, I was here. I was here and had no friends. No one to confide in, and it was a kind of torture. The prettiest cage is still a cage, Justin, Quinn opined.
I guess so. I guess my prisons have always had invisible bars, you know? They were in my mind, not a real place, I replied.
How do you mean? he asked. I looked over at him, stunning jewel in an already beautiful landscape, and I couldnt help but feel comfortable with him.
Well, like I didnt tell my folks I was gay. I was hidden and worried what they would think, I replied.
What DID they think? he asked.
Mom hates it, Dad just loves me as I am, I replied.
I was afraid too. I havent really said it, in so many words, but I love Drew more than I have ever cared for anything before. More than these mountains or this house.More than I mourned the lack of a relationship with my parents, he made me complete. I will always need him in my life
Thats great, though, you found someone, something, to grab onto. And now youll have your folks back too, I said.
Yeah, but youre no slouch! Casey is quite a catch! he said with a nudge.
Oh, I know it, I grinned, I was in love the second I saw him.
Did it take you guys long to get together? he asked.
Sort of. I mean, I guess we gave each other some really good feelings and our friends actually put us together, I replied with a blush moving across my face.
Your friends? You mean Grant and the rest of them?
Yeah, I smiled, Kyles uncle adopted Grant, and we all went to his house for dinner to celebrate. They all left me there to ride home with Casey. We kissed for the first time on that front lawn. He caught me, uh, staring at his ass, I smiled at the memory.
Damn, thats so cool, Quinn said softly.
How did you and Drew meet? I asked after shaking my cobwebs away.
Well, I met him when my old maid picked him up at the bus station. That was first. Then I ran into him as he came out from the grocery store in town, knocked all his stuff right from his hands, Quinn smiled at the memory.
Why did you do that? I asked.
I didnt mean to! he laughed at the memory, I was out for my run, and I was on the sidewalk in town, and he came out just as I was going by. It was an accident, but my God! He was so beautiful. Quinn sighed.
So you ran him over? I asked with a grin.
Pretty much! I had to go in and pay for some of his groceries and get him going again. He wouldnt let me walk him home, but I got him to come up for dinner a few nights later, and he was awesome to spend time with. He was intelligent, charming and very innocent in a way. He was just what I needed to make sense out of my life, Quinn snorted. Maybe my parents were right, leaving me here made me complete.
Its great you found someone, Quinn, not that it should have taken you this long, I remarked.
What do you mean? he asked.
Well, I dont know if you noticed, but you certainly left our little group at a loss for words. Even Grant, who is, arguably, the most attractive in our group, I said. Oh, lets be honest! The most attractive in Washoe County, and he has no clue! I laughed.
Who said my name? Grant said as he approached from behind.
He really doesnt know, does he? asked Quinn.
Not a clue, I replied with a grin.
Are you making fun of me? Grant asked, Whats so funny?
Master Quinn, I must ask you once more not to go out in these conditions. It simply isnt safe! Mr. Guinness implored Quinn, who resolutely finished tying off his boots.
Mr. Guinness, I do appreciate the concern, however something very important awaits me at the bottom of the Mount Rose highway. He makes me happier than I can ever remember being, and I find the risks acceptable, Quinn replied, not unkindly.
Even using your life as the bargaining chip? the cook demanded.
Yes, Quinn replied coolly and with out hesitation. Damn! This boy was in love!
Then I pray you arrive safely, the cook said softly as he handed over a thermos and a small basket, there is hot coffee and sandwiches for your trip. He turned and faced Casey, please drive safely. His back retreated into the shadows of the kitchen as we stood on the back porch.
I guess maybe then it struck me what we were really about here. Our business was bringing two people together that belonged. It seemed as though our lot in life was to bring folks together. First Casey and me. tThen Cris and Grant. Kyle and Sheila was a little snafu, to be sure I thought, as she slugged him for some perceived slight. I grinned wickedly at Sheila as I had the thought, She looked at me quizzically.
Just, your cheeks are all red, someone spank you? Case asked as the cold breath plumed from my mouth.
I think he looked really funny sitting in the snow. You should have seen it.
Ok, the heater would be nice now, Casey, Grant grumped from the backseat.
Keep your pants on, its getting there, he replied, takes a little effort to warm up the inside here, you know? Its a large space.
Hes not the one having trouble keeping his pants up! I mean, the Moon Brothers up there seem to have the market cornered on crack, Kyle mumbled, which drew a sharp look from me, and Grant burst out laughing.
Grant, if you didnt have such sweet cheeks we all wouldnt have had that misunderstanding a few weeks back, now would we? Casey remarked casually as the Jeeps heater struggled to warm the cab.
What do you mean? Cris asked quizzically.
Well, Grant doesnt try to hide anything. I mean, when he gets dressed there is NOTHING left to the imagination, Casey responded conversationally, just as if he were remarking that it was cold out. I caught on quickly and began to play into the joke as fast as I could.
We dont know whether he was surgically altered as a baby, or if hes au natural, since his jeans cant hide anything, I replied conversationally.
Thats not true! Grant protested.
Well, we all know what kind of underwear he has on. Those jeans are so tight you can read the label through them! I remarked.
Oh, come on! Grant whined.
And those tight shirts! I think he picks the mesh stuff so it rubs on his nipples and makes them stand out all the time. Doesnt that chafe, Grant? I would think the nipples would be a sensitive area? Casey said, looking at Grant in the rearview mirror.
Casey, I dont know what youre talking about. I dont do that! Grant fumed.
Hey, that is my boyfriend you are talking about, you know, Cris protested.
Well, hey, we call em like we sees em!
Picture Grant in that mesh shirt you were talking about and a G-string, Sheila said while leaning her head back as if to picture it in her mind.
Hey! Kyle and Grant echoed one another in the cabin of the Jeep.
What? Its OK if I still look, right sweetie? Sheila asked innocently.
Thats not looking, thats thats FANTASIZING! he protested.
Is that wrong? Cause I fantasize about you, you know Kyle, I said with a small grin.
Paws off! HE belongs to me! Sheila said while grabbing Kyles crotch protectively.
You guys are so twisted. Go back to imagining Grant in a G-String, Kyle said in an attempt to turn the conversation.
I dont have to imagine, I already know, Cris said softly, almost too softly to be heard.
Cris! Grant hissed, and we all burst out laughing.
You guys make me sound like some kind of whore or something! Grant whined.
Hey, if the shoe fits, Casey grinned.
Ok, all right, enough! Enough about my ass and my dressing habits, Grant said while mentally putting his foot down.
Or lack there of, Casey muttered which drew a chuckle from Quinn.
Lets talk about Quinns ass, since everyone stopped dead to look at his face when we got to his house, Grant said smugly and Quinn stopped chuckling.
Well, I think it looks real nice, even if he isnt brave enough to show it off like Casey is, Cris remarked with his face going fire engine red.
Is nothing sacred? Quinn asked deadpan.
No! we chorused.
Back East we always hear about this thing called black ice. Basically it means that the ice is so hard to see because it looks like the pavement. The ice is clear and you see whats behind it you know? Usually if you hit some you down shift as fast as you can and try like hell to regain control. If not, stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye!
It happened so fast I dont think we really knew what happened until it was over. That happened to me once, I walked out the front door of out house back east and we had had some freezing rain. The steps were all iced up, but you really couldnt tell that. I planted my foot on the uppermost step, and was suddenly horizontal, sliding down the stairs. I was there before I knew my feet werent under me anymore. That was what the accident was like.
All of a sudden the truck was sliding, bouncing off the guardrail on the right and then slamming off road about ten feet until hitting the jutting rock of the mountain side. I dont think anyone yelled or screamed right away as the windshield broke into a spider web of shattered glass that just barely hung together. Caseys head caused the pattern with his forehead.
I was dazed and Casey seemed to be in shock. Steam billowed from what could
only be the ruined radiator, and the engine gave a few strangled coughs and
Everyone ok? Quinn asked.
Oh my god, what happened? from Sheila.
I think I twisted my ankle, from Kyle.
Ok, everyone stay calm, lets see what the damage is, Grant cautioned.
Casey? Oh shit, there is blood everywhere, I heard myself say as I struggled to get free of the seat belt. Casey lolled in his seat, dazed and confused from the impact against the glass. A small, bloody smear sparkled on the cut pieces of glass as the ruined windshield sagged into the passenger compartment.
Does the truck have a first aid kit? Quinn asked as we started to exit the vehicle, myself moving to the opposite side of the jeep to try and get Caseys door open. I grabbed the handle and squeezed, the door not budging a bit. I squeezed the handle with all my might, panic setting in on me as I saw Casey slumped in his seat, and the door popped open about a foot, rocking back and forth on its ruined hinge. On closer inspection, the fender was pushed back and interfering with the doors operation. I pulled harder on the door and it moved with a great deal of metal squealing in protest.
Oh god, oh Case, dont be dead for crying out loud, I muttered. He was breathing, thank God! He even seemed to be coming around a bit.
Case? Baby, can you hear me? I said, barely registering the cold tracks of my tears.
What happen where are we? he muttered.
Just relax, stay awake babe, I told him as I realized he shouldnt be moved since he had a head injury. Coming over to this side of the vehicle was a waste of time! I slammed the door to try and seal him from the elements, and somewhere a voice was yammering that I could have done all this without opening the damn door to begin with. The door sprang open on the strength of the tortured metal, and I slammed my bodys weight on it to force the ruined door in place.
He all right? Quinn asked, Awake?
Hes awake, I just need something to stop the bleeding, I replied in a monotone.
Justin, stay with me here, I need you to tend to Casey while I check everyone else, ok? he asked and I nodded robotically as we moved towards the back of the vehicle and the stashed first aid kit. Kyle was being helped gingerly out of the back door, which was still operating correctly.
Right, Ill open the back and you have a seat. Well look at the ankle then, shall we? Quinn said while slipping a supporting arm under Kyle and helping him to the back, Sheila popping the tailgate for him. Quinn undid the laces on the boots and then tried to remove the boot.
Oh, damn that hurts! Kyle squirmed.
Sorry, Im trying to be gentle, Quinn said apologetically as he continued to apply pressure to the heel of the boot. It finally slipped off, agonizing minutes later.
Ok, I just need to peel back the sock, and as he did so a large, oversized ankle presented itself Is there a med kit in the truck? Quinn asked.
Yes, I said as I climbed into the back set and then into the cargo area looking for those little compartments built into the sides of most SUVs now. Under a blanket a square object injured my knee, and when I uncovered it I found a First Aid kit, which was ever present in all of the Fremont cars. Casey kept condoms in his, in case of emergency he told me.
Gold mine! I muttered as I grabbed it and opened the box. I removed some bandages and handed the remainder to Quinn. Moving to the front of the truck I settled back into the passenger seat with a barely conscious Casey and began to patch up his forehead.
Case? You have to stay awake, hon, you might have a concussion, ok? Baby? Can you hear me? he mumbled in reply and I continued to bandage his head.
Justin? I need to speak with you, Quinn said as he appeared at my side. I finished Caseys dressings and stepped out of the vehicle. Cris, Quinn, Sheila and Grant were all grouped together and I joined their huddle
What is Caseys condition? Quinn asked.
He hit his head, I dont know how badly. Hes disoriented, maybe a concussion, I explained feeling rather lame about it.
Ok, Kyles foot jammed under the front seat, his ankle is twisted pretty badly. He cant walk. Casey cant travel either, which leaves us five. One of us four must stay behind to tend to them, and I recommend two go for help, he said without mincing any words, I volunteer to be one of those that goes as I dont have anyone here that needs me. Sheila will want to stay with Kyle, Im sure, and Justin will want to stay with Casey, Quinn concluded.
No, I want to go, I said suddenly, which drew an odd looks from the group, I need to be doing something right now. I cant just sit and watch him. I need to be doing something to help, I explained.
Ok, then itll be myself and Justin, Quinn said.
Ill go too, if one of you gets hurt youll need the help, Grant said. Cris took his hand, whispered to be careful in a small embrace and with that small fanfare we were off, headed back towards the road that was well hidden by the snowfall.
I think I want to move to California, like San Diego, Grant said suddenly.
Whys that? So you can wear even fewer clothes? I asked.
So I dont have any snow, he said while sticking his tongue out at me.
Well, if you move to California, make sure to call me for a visit, Quinn said.
Sure, be happy to, Grant said genuinely.
Seems as if I am the only one on the West Coast that hasnt seen you nude, and I want to see if its as nice a view as Ive heard, Quinn sniggered and I laughed openly.
Why do you guys DO this to me! Grant fussed.
Because you are so damn cute and you havent a freaking clue, like any natural blond Grant! I said while continuing to giggle at him.
Well, Casey isnt exactly chopped liver you know, Grant replied somewhat embarrassed. That brought Cases current predicament back into focus and my facemust have lined with worry, as Grant was quick to apologize. We continued to walk in silence, the snow crunching under our soles and our shoes doing an awful job of keeping our feet warm. The wind howled and the loose snow blew off the ground around us. The three of us put hands over our faces to shield them from the onslaught, then pressed on when the wind let up.
The road snaked out before us, barely seen amid the shifting tides of snow, and it continued to descend in an aimless fashion. Scraggly trees grew in the forbidding landscape to our left, the rocks cracked where roots ran down to the earth beneath. The wind lashed mercilessly and more than once we had to stop and huddle together for simple companionship from the elements.
Jesus, that little town didnt seem to be that far from here the last time we were through here! Grant managed between his madly chattering teeth.
We should be getting close, Quinn said as we pressed forward and the drifts continued to blow across the road. Grant was suddenly tumbling and unable to grab a hand-hold as the wind caught him off balance, and the poor footing had him skittering towards the edge. Quinn leaped at him and landed almost a foot short. I took a few steps before launching myself at a frightened Grant who was sliding slowly across the icy crust on top of the snow.
Hold on! I called out as my weight crashed through the ice and carrying me down to into the snow beneath. My hand held fast to Grants outstretched arm and his slide stopped.
Jesus! Help! Grant called out. The snow crunched beside me as Quinn slammed his feet through the icy crust, bracing himself against the frigid wind.
Lift your legs and bring them down so you can dig into the snow beneath the ice! he yelled. I felt Grant shift and then a small tremor through him as his feet broke the ice. Quinn grabbed his other hand and pulled him forward and upright as Grant began to gain his footing. I had relinquished my grip on him and slowly stood , moving quickly away from the edge.
We all joined on the other side of the road, Grant heaving breath in and out and Quinn looking some what shaken at that point. I was confronted with the thought of losing Grant, and though Id have cheerfully choked him a little earlier in the day, I couldnt help but picture everyday life without him. Not pretty.
I moved to him and threw my arms around him and held him close to me, feeling his return grip on me. We clung to each other for I dont know how long, a silent affirmation of friendship in the true sense of the word. His eyes glistened a bit as he pulled away and he kissed my cheek.
Thanks, he said simply and I nodded in return. He turned to Quinn and pulled him close as well and rewarding him with a small kiss as well.
Uh, we better get down the road, the town shouldnt be far now, a clearly rattled Quinn stated.
I dont know how long we walked , and I am not really sure how far we had gone before Quinn let out a whoop and pointed up ahead. In between the clouds of swirling snow we could see the lights of a building in the distance. I wondered if it could be a mirage of sorts, a trick of the snow, but the light consistently appeared in the same spot when the swirling snow decided to reveal a bit of what it was keeping hidden. We trudged with renewed vigor as the light grew steadier in the distance, growing closer as the road became slightly more discernable.
A break in the swirls of snow revealed the edge of town. Darkened buildings that stood as a silent sentinel to the fury of all that Mother Nature unleashed. We passed the first few buildings in silence, concentrating instead on the light that was growing stronger ahead of us, and the sound of a noisy gas engine that was slowly making its voice known amid the howl of the wind.
Its the grocery store! Mr. Alexopoulos still opened his damned store! Quinn explained as we drew up on the little building. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting, beefy Mr. Alexopoulos behind the counter with his apron on, eating a snack of crackers and cheese while a covered coffee mug sat next to him. His eyes were down on some- thing, presumably reading as we came through the door he looked up at us and a worried expression crossed his face before he smiled at us.
Even angels get frozen wings, huh? What are you doing outside? This is bad weather, dont you know that? he said while wagging a finger at us, When you were here yesterday there were six, now I see three and one that wasnt there yesterday. Where are the other four? he asked in his heavy accent.
We had an accident, Mr. Alexopoulos, two of them are hurt, one might be badly, Quinn sighed with exhaustion, We need help.